Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Wellwood and Attitude

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In a piece that says that Kyle Wellwood is testing Alain Vigneault’s patience, Kyle is quoted as saying that he’s not overly concerned about the trade deadline next week.

“I don’t know what kind of value I’d have right now,” he said. 

Kyle should have mouthed the usual platitudes about controlling the things he can control and trying not to worry about what he can’t control. He is already trying the patience of his coach and this type of self-deprecating humour surely does not go over well with Alain.

Getting traded is the least of Wellwood’s concerns. If Gillis does get a forward next week, Kyle could be going to Winnipeg. Vigneault thinks it is very serious matter – going so far as to call Wellwood out in the media – and Kyle makes light of his circumstance. It is this sort of incident – along with certain pictures – that lead to whispers (shouts, even) about his attitude and approach to the game.

I don’t think those criticisms are fair even though Wellwood isn’t helping himself with his remarks. I think Vigneault should relax. If Wellwood was good enough to score thirty goals a year, he’d be labelled as a happy go lucky guy who maybe marched to the beat of a different drummer. He wouldn’t piss off Alain Vigneault at all.

I’ve been dubious about Kyle Wellwood from the very beginning but that’s based on my assessment of him as a hockey player. I don’t think his bundle of skills – the things he can actually do on the ice – adds up to an NHL player. It isn’t attitude that is preventing Wellwood from scoring 30 goals. He wouldn’t be a better player even if you gave him the personality of Alexandre Burrows. I think we frequently hang “attitude” labels on the not quite good enough snipers and playmakers because their skills are so visible and so attractive.

If Wellwood doesn’t succeed in the league, the storyline will be that another very talented player’s career foundered on the rocks of character and work ethic. That will be nonsense because, except in a very narrow sense, he is not a very talented player.

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Comments

9 Responses to “Wellwood and Attitude”
  1. Magicpie says:

    He did have 42 pts in 48 games 2 years ago.

  2. Dennis_Prouse says:

    Every guy who plays in the NHL is supremely talented – believe that. Heck, if you play one game in the show, you were a great player.

    I grew up with guys who were absolute magicians with the puck, could skate like there was no tomorrow, etc., and they never quite made it. There was also a guy who was a little older than me, but who was still playing Juvenile hockey at age 17 and looked like he was just playing for fun with his buddies. His name was Brett Hull.

    It’s a game of inches in the pros – Everyone is so good, and the game is so competitive. The difference between winning and losing each night, between scoring and not scoring, is so incredibly small that you want to explore every possible advantage you can in order to succeed. This is why coaches rip out their hair when they see a guy like Wellwood, who could be achieving so much more than he is. He has the talent to be a solid second line guy in the NHL, getting maybe 70 points a year and getting second power play time. Underachieving guys just drive coaches insane, and that’s Wellwood all over.

  3. Kel says:

    Yet how come Wellwood these days loses the puck every time an opponent pressures him? And the only good thing that he can do is to intercept passes? I am afraid Tom is right, that his offensive talent is overhyped.

  4. Tom says:

    This is why coaches rip out their hair when they see a guy like Wellwood, who could be achieving so much more than he is. He has the talent to be a solid second line guy in the NHL, getting maybe 70 points a year and getting second power play time.

    I don’t think there is any evidence that Wellwood could be achieving “so much more than he is.” That’s exactly my point. What do you see that I don’t?

    Brett Hull didn’t become great because he had a great attitude. In fact, the opposite is the case. If Wellwood could get open like Hull and could shoot like Brett, he’d score a bundle and Vigneault would love him.

    Kel, I don’t think Wellwood’s offensive talent is overhyped. He’s got great hands and he’s a good playmaker. Its offensive talent in general that is overhyped. Every time we get a scorer who doesn’t make it, we label it attitude. Even when a scorer makes it but doesn’t deliver as much as we think he should, we say, “He could be as good as he wants to be, but”… (Alex Kovalev, anybody?)

  5. pevans says:

    It’s so, so, gratifying as a Leaf fan to see Wellwood punt away his latest chance in the NHL.

    I was always impressed with his hands and nose for the net (his foot speed left quite a bit to be desired) but after several mercurial seasons, it just became clear that he lacks the discipline to put in the work to get the most out of his talents as an NHL player.

    He’d apparently rather coast by on 75% effort and a lack of conditioning than hit the gym, take his opportunity seriously and establish himself as a second-line scoring centre.

    He seems quite content to be a fringe player making an extremely good salary by normal people’s standards and enjoy the fruits of what that money can buy — judging by the photos I’ve seen, a lifetime supply of Beer and donuts, to start.

    Unless another organization thinks they can squeeze something out of him, I suspect he’ll be in the AHL by the beginning of next season at the latest, if not out of pro hockey altogether.

    So maddening.

    • Tom says:

      It’s so, so, gratifying as a Leaf fan to see Wellwood punt away his latest chance in the NHL.

      I feel badly for him, like I feel badly for every player who isn’t quite good enough.

      I was always impressed with his hands and nose for the net (his foot speed left quite a bit to be desired) but after several mercurial seasons, it just became clear that he lacks the discipline to put in the work to get the most out of his talents as an NHL player.

      How exactly did this become clear? How do you know he is coasting? I’d like somebody to name one scorer like Wellwood whose failure to make it was not described this way. It’s bullshit. It isn’t work ethic that makes him too small and too slow.

      Unless another organization thinks they can squeeze something out of him, I suspect he’ll be in the AHL by the beginning of next season at the latest, if not out of pro hockey altogether.

      Probably. Me, I think it will be because he is not good enough. I don’t understand why the conventional wisdom has to decide that he could be good enough, but chooses not to make the sacrifices required. We do it over and over again. We never say this about grinders who don’t make it. We only say it about scorers. Why?

      Surely there have been scorers who don’t score quite enough because they simply aren’t quite good enough. Why do we insist on demonizing these guys?

  6. Kel says:

    Boy oh boy, people still don’t get Tom’s message and cling onto the media’s myth about hard work and attitude. If you believe in the media, you’d think that any player can be a superstar if he works harder. And apparently a lot of people still do believe that the only reason Wellwood is not doing well is because he’s lazy. After watching him since his arrival in Van, I can say that he’s not lazy. He simply doesn’t have the size and speed, and his good hands so far haven’t compensated. Of course, playing him with Pyatt and Bernier doesn’t help either.

  7. Matt Fenwick says:

    This is a slight diversion, in that it applies more to Vigneault’s comments than anyone’s in this thread, but,

    For anyone who’s really skeptical of the value of the whole Corsi/percentages/underlying numbers thing, this is really an object lesson.

    I posted on November 27 — the Canucks having ripped off a 10-1-2 record in their last 13 — the following: “By the way, anyone want to bet against Wellwood’s work ethic suddenly becoming an issue again once that Shooting% drops back below Mario in ’92 territory?”

    His rate of Shots For to Shots Against and Attempts For to Attempts Against are *identical* since that day to what they were during the awesome stretch. The puck’s just not going in at the same sick rate (btw, nice save Kipper).

    I’m right with Tom; Wellwood just is who he is. If his effort is lacking, then OK, but it’s the same deal whether he’s filling up the net or not.

    I think he’s probably good enough (if someone can get past the phlegmatic appearances) to stick in the NHL for a while. A guy who’s about (if not quite) a wash at EV who can create PP offense is valuable. (Note that the Canucks’ PP shooting rate, i.e. SF/60, is <a href=”http://www.behindthenet.ca/2008/5_on_4.php?sort=29&mingp=10&mintoi=1.5&team=VAN&pos=”higher for Wellwood on-the-ice than for any other Canuck.)

    The bounces can make you look like a hero (and earn you a lot of money), or they can be pretty cruel. C’est la jeu.

  8. Tom says:

    A guy who’s about (if not quite) a wash at EV who can create PP offense is valuable.

    Except Wellwood is not valuable, at least not to the Canucks. That’s my opinion. I’ve watched him pretty closely since Tyler made his post last year and I can’t see the value unless he scores at the impossible rate he was delivering earlier in the season. At the very least I don’t think he would be as valuable as a centre who could be sent out there for defensive zone faceoffs and kill penalties.

    He might be able to hang around in the league as a top six forward on a poor team, but he’ll be one of the reasons why the team is poor. In that case he would stick around until the team could upgrade him.

    I like the way you used the Corsi numbers in this case – to demonstrate that there is really no difference in Wellwood’s play – but I’m still skeptical when the numbers declare him to be valuable.

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