By Jmacwilli (aka Say my Name)
Character. Fans love to tout their favorite players as being worth exponentially more to their team because of this notion of "heart and soul", or "character", or being an "identity player". From nervous hand-wringing to abject anger directed at anyone who dare consider these players as expendable they light up blogs with their fear and/or venom.
The funny thing is this notion is rarely considered by GM's as they are putting together their teams, and rightfully so. A player is judged 98% on his skills and effectiveness, 2% "character". And no, I am not talking about whether he rescues cats from trees and smiles at children, rather that "game" character that fans endlessly drone on about.
THAT kind of character is the kind that is applied to successful teams/individuals in retrospect...after performance has occurred. Doesn't anyone find it interesting that you never hear of "character" players who don't perform? Were it so critical wouldn't there be at least ONE team who kept a below average performer (impact - not stats) simply for such a rare and vital trait? And what of losing teams? Why do we hear so little about the character of terrible teams? Are they simply devoid of character? C'mon you know the answer...
Holy King Messier just oozed character, right? It was instrumental to the success of both the Oilers and the Rangers, right? Well, what happened when he went to Vancouver? Did the most charismatic leader in perhaps ALL sports suddenly LOSE his character? Or, and more likely, did character simply not move the needle as compared to being less effective due to age and not playing with skilled players like Leetch, Kovalev, Richter, Zubov, Graves, Lowe, Gretzky, Beukeboom, Nemchinov, Anderson, etc...?
The identity of a team is not shaped by these "character" guys. (Read that again.) The identity of a team is shaped by how it performs...and performance is 98% skill and preparation....NOT this mystical "character" most fans worry about. But...whoa..once a team wins, or a player performs...oh sure...the character was INSTRUMENTAL, FANTASTIC, VITAL, IRREPLACEABLE.
Ha! If the fans had their way they would keep everyone they believed had this magic grease...and yet still be the first to condemn them when the 98% NON-intangible elements of their game declined with age. What is Callahan's character going to be worth when he can't bang someone on the boards? What will Girardi's character be worth when he can't keep up with a winger, or clear the crease? The same vitriol spewed by those who said the Rangers dare not lose this "character" will crash down on these players like a tsunami of hypocrisy.
Fortunately, sports teams are not run by fans. GM's understand that the only thing required for fielding a winner is skill and preparation. Hell...most veterans are not even required. College football programs turn over their "veterans" often every TWO years and still field fantastic teams that play with all the "heart and soul" in the world. Hmmm...not sold because you think the competition across the board is level? The US Olympic hockey team took a bunch of kids and managed to beat a world of PROFESSIONALS, with ZERO veterans. Success beyond measure. Egad!...how did they do that without any players over twenty-five? Without proven "character" guys??? Military units assemble "heart and soul" in WEEKS. Within any team, character is simply performance.
The interesting thing about free agency is that fans continually think of it as keeping players they "don't want to lose" while in reality it is the opposite. Excluding the VERY few super-star players, the GM's of virtually every physical sport would ALWAYS prefer to have ALL of it's players under 25 rather than over. However, the simple truth is that there are not enough good players in their early to mid-twenties to fill the rosters league wide. Therefore GM's are forced to keep an assortment of players older than their mid-twenties in order to field a competitive team. The equation therefore is not who do they want to keep, rather who are they forced to keep. Which one of these players whose dollars are going up while their physical condition is peaking or declining is the least likely to harm your team over the long term? The GM's are insurance actuaries who would much rather cut these players loose and are now forced to gamble on the least "bad" scenario of declining cost to performance ratios.
So, how does this relate to the Rangers? Take a look at the team. Forget about how they play when they are at "the top of their game". (All logical assessments dismiss the deviations farthest from the center of the bell curve) Do the Rangers as presently constructed have a team which can, when rolled out on a night of their AVERAGE performance, play with or beat the upper echelon teams average performance? No, of course not. Only a fool would disagree.
So...now that we have hopefully dismantled the fan's illusion of "character", it would be in the Rangers best interest to trade virtually any player who is not a "top-tier NHL superstar" for any younger and cheaper player who could offer similar performance over the next few years WHILE CONSIDERING the likely decline due to age in the player you are letting go. Ipso facto - trade old for young. And...as the Rangers do not really have ANY "top-tier NHL super star" players....this means that everyone would be available...any time...any year....until you have what you think CAN compete on an average night with the upper echelon teams in the NHL.
After that, let the skill, youth and preparation take over and watch them win, again and again and again. THEN watch (and laugh) when all the less knowledgeable fans "ooo" and "aww" at all of the "character" on the team.
Is character important? Ask Jimmy Devallano, head scout for the Islanders during their Stanley Cup Dynasty and the brains behind Bill Torrey and Al Arbour...He would go to the players home towns and talk to elementary school teachers, friends, parents and neighbors of the players...He scouted Trotier,Gillies,Potvin,Bossy and the Sutters to name a few and when he left the Islanders organization to scout for the Redwing's their first round pick that year was Stevie Y... Devallano always mentioned character of the players he was scouting.
A- DZ trade was terrific, and B- character is not overrated, just look at EVERY Stanley Cup-winning team. They have a sense of identity, based upon a core of hard-hat workers who drive the bus. I can't hate this piece any more. I hope the fee you collected for upping this senseless trash helps one of the mini-Kevins through college, because otherwise it was worthless and makes you look ridiculous.
NEMCHINOV MENTION FUCKING AWESOME , #13 , GOT HIS STICK FROM A PRACTICE EARLY IN 94', MAGIC BABY. FIRST RUSSIAN T O EVER HOLD THE STANLEY CUP
Callahan has strong character because of his relatively consistent effort and willingness to sacrifice to make a play. Without this effort, his reputation as a character guy would be a shadow of what it is today. You can see how this season he has not been as effective as a leader or as a contributor. His play is not as strong as last year. Equally, his reputation as a character guy is weaker. He is NOT worth more than $5.0 million, at the very most.... anyone who thinks otherwise needs a basic training course on economics 101.
Say My Name, you know we agree most of the time, but I think this article is very misleading. I whole-heartedly agree that an aging "character"player with an expiring skill set is not worth a long term commitment with high end money (which I think is what you really want to say). Yet, the generalization that you can build a team on skills alone is similar to likening our sport to Basketball or Football where an individual superstar can win a championship. I never want to be associated with the arrogance and lack of integrity that exists in other professional sports. I always want to believe that a player with heart/character has that X-factor that great hockey players need in order to win. The best metaphor I can think of is a conversation I had with my step dad, a US Army Veteran. I once asked him, "what branch of the military has the most dangerous/lethal officers." He said "they're all lethal". I said, "well which one would you least want to see in a dark alley" He said "a Navy Seal". I asked why and he said "you can stab them, shoot them, break all of their limbs and they'll just keep coming. In order to stop them, you have to kill them." That never-give-up nature is what you need when you're in the trenches. Call it competitiveness, call it determination, call it tenacity, every truly great hockey player has it 100% all the time. Skill set will only take you so far. Take it from a kid who played with one of the most talented young players in the US. A kid they called the "American Gretzky" (Rob Schremp) who now plays in Europe because, as I noticed when we played together, he would let his frustration get the best of him. He'd give up on games. He'd give up on plays. He'd even give up on teammates. You cannot build championships with a person whose not willing to walk through fire to get the job done. Hockey is a grueling, ferocious and painful sport. Every player needs character to win. Some have to be taught it, others just have it. And the one's who have it, hopefully pass it along...
I'm sorry but I do not agree with your assessment of character as it pertains to a hockey team. Yes, ultimately a guys skills and abilities are probably going to be most important BUT tangible attributes such as hits, shot blocking, backchecking/defensive effort, one on one battles on the boards, forechecking, leadership, etc. are HUGE assets to any team. And you don't have to be all that skilled to excel in those attributes.
Everyone's favorite evidence: Look at how badly the Rangers, AND every one on this blog wanted to replace Brandon Prust - who is a true example of a pure character player (the team really struggled last year until gritty guys like Clowe/Dorsett were brought in). In fact, it is not unreasonable to suggest that there are many players in the AHL who are far more skilled than Brandon Prust - but due to how much he excels at all those "character" facets of the game he is a highly respected player - and I think most GM's would agree the kind of player that you win with.
In turning this towards Ryan Callahan - here you are looking at a player who (when healthy) is a 20 goal/50 point guy who excels at ALL of those character parts of the game (other than fighting). He inspires his teammates and makes them better players (just read up on his teammates comments about him). THAT I can assure you, is far more than 2% of what makes up a good hockey player.
...or go ask Nashville how that Alexander Radulov experiment worked in the playoffs a couple years ago.
To understand, I'm not going to say that Callahan or Dan Girardi should be paid like superstars. But I am simply saying you cannot discount the importance of their excellence at the more subtle parts of the game.
As far as the question of "how long can they keep it up?". I don't know, a long term deal brings em to their 35th birthday. 35 is NOT that old but everyone's body is different. Chances are the last year or two of a deal you have a somewhat compromised version of the player you have now - BUT, sometimes experience can replace exuberance - especially with top tier players.
PS Breaking Bad = Best show ever.
The article is purely about the fact that we as fans attribute these magical intangibles necessary for success AFTER the success has occurred - i.e - character, tough coach vs. player's coach, professional team vs. fun loving team, etc... It is all simply the flavor du jour and based simply on PERFORMANCE. You give me a team that has succeeded in one way and I'll give you a team that has succeeded in its polar opposite. We use words like "skill" and "character" too much. It all simply comes down to performance (impact on a game) and the cost of that performance vs. its likely longevity. Again, what use is Nash or Gaborik's, or Darryl Strawberry's "skill" if they don't perform....and to my point (and the most overvalued IMO)...what good is Cally's character if he can't play hard-nosed hockey?
This team with is chemistry from the first line to the fourth line is looking like a contender. Every time they finally find chemistry Sather destroys it by making a stupid trade. Keep things the way they are right now. The are showing a lot of heart and skill. Our third line is doing great. This team has dept with 9 players with ten goals or more. Why would u want to split up this team right now when they have finally been performing great night in and night out. Where has the stupid trades gotten us anywhere in the past. Look at the 2011 team. They had so much character. Then they traded dubi, prust, Anisimov and it's taken them this long to finally get some compatibility again. Leave the team the way it is. Guess you guys think that del zotto trade was a good one too.
what has anyone seen from G to make them think that this guy is going down the tubes. he had a rough start to the season while adjusting to a new system of play, which could be said of almost every ranger. he is a shut down guy worthy of a decent contract, which he will get.
JMac, once again, great article. I agree with you wholeheartedly that "character" and performance should not be separated. Indeed, I would argue that they are intimately intertwined and equally essential. But we do need a better definition of "character"; it's just too nebulous and can be misapplied. To say one person has it and another doesn't is far too simplistic. However, the reason that we apply it "after the fact" is because there is so much to it that we, as fans, don't see. Also, as you observed, "character" doesn't exist in a vacuum -- it exists within the context of a team and that team's circumstances. I also agree that this idea of a team's "identity" made up of "character guys" is a fan creation, but I feel that's due to necessary ignorance rather than a fallacy of concept. Indeed, having been a cog in teams and leaders of them many times in my life, it's very clear to me that "chemistry" and "character" are not abstractions of innate ability and skill, romanticized after the fact into a overarching fiction. But it's equally clear to me that things that they are very difficult to define -- and impossible to define outside of the context of the team, the time and project.
I do disagree with what I see as your too narrow definition of performance*(see below for non-on-ice examples) and the implication that the motivational part of the game is somehow subservient to the twitching of the muscles. To imply that individual greatness is only 2% "character" (read psychological) seems crazy to me -- just look at the example of Benoit Pouliot (or any number of Pouliots and Zherdevs and Bynums, etc.), or the extensive psychological research into visualization techniques and other psychological methods of processing experience that have a huge impact on physical performance. Certainly, any definition of "character" should include a person's ability to handle themselves psycho-emotionally to maximize their physical gifts in the service of their team.
And the team part adds the key element: the social component. Hockey is a game of passion and camaraderie. Physical play is an expression of that passion. Crosby is NOT anywhere near Crosby without passion and drive. He's more like Gaborik in the playoffs. So while we evaluate players on their performance on the ice -- and should evaluate their performance in the critical areas off the ice -- we should also evaluate them on their ability to master themselves as professionals, maximize their abilities, and most importantly their ability to function in whatever role being on a team puts them in. The bottom line might be a scalar value but the input of characterological and social elements is significant.
*performance on the bench, in the locker room, over the summer, helping new guys adjust, dealing with the city, contributing to and developing a shared work ethic standard, communication, maintaining the delicate balance of authority with the coaching staff, sharing workout regimens, dealing with external relationships.
This is a smart piece. "Character" is certainly a nebulous term thrown around way too much when discussing certain players. And lesser skilled players sometimes do get a hall pass because of that... However, there is the other C word- "Chemistry", which is the most mysterious and elusive part of all sports. Sometimes a lesser skilled player will mesh astonishingly well with someone, whereas a more skilled player may not, and there is no real answer to that... But you must consider that THAT could have something to do with someone's "Character" meshing with another's.
I also wanted to point out that character does not necessarily need to take up a lot of cap space. Character can be a third line player. Avery had character and was very effective plus did not take up cap space. You want more character at a cheap cost, Esa Tikkanen. And I would definitely take a Graves character guy. That's why you throw your third and forth lines out. To establish character the other team can see. To get guys motivated with a check or fire guys up by saying what needs to be said between periods or sticking up for team mates. Its nice to have average skill AND high character in one guy as in Cally but that's why there skilled lines and checking lines. So players with average skill AND high character are replaceable.
This is not a shot at Cally because I love him but he is not a 6+ million dollar player. He should be payed like an average skill player with high character. And when I say average skill, he is not in the upper echelon of skilled players. I'll take him back at 5-5.5 million a year.
Very nice write up. Although, when I think of high skill and no character, I immediately think of Zherdev. He is the epitome of high skill, no character. Some player do have more character than other but the ones that stick around the NHL have enough character to avoid being shipped out to the KHL. What is Zuccs character worth compared to Zherdev's? Both have skill, one has more charcter. How much $ is a guy with a bit more character worth, than a guy with a little less character and more skill?
I strongly agree with your argument about What is Callahan's character going to be worth when he can't bang someone on the boards? What will Girardi's character be worth when he can't keep up with a winger, or clear the crease?
Sure, they are in their prime NOW but decline is right around the corner. Long contacts are not worth it(Redden). I don't know why these guys cant play for a raise every year if they continue to improve, not what their potential could be or not be. Contracts should be a yearly assessment of your play. We hear "Oh, Lundqvist's contract is on his mind, its affecting his play." Bullshit....you get paid millions of dollars to play something you love. If you have to move, deal with it. You chose that profession and all that comes with it. I'll move every year for a multi-million dollar contract if I have to. So I have no sympathy in regards to that. Plus, guys would play with more character and skill if they had to WORK for a raise every year.
the biggest problem with this article is that you seem to think that every rangers player is on the chopping block. the fact is we are on a very hot roll. to say that we should judge a team based on an average performance is nonsense. these guys are paid very well. if they come out and put up an average performance every night then guess what....they don't have...wait for it...character.
if you think that mark messier didn't have that extra piece, that piece that goes just a bit beyond is natural skill and ability you are nuts. its takes character to use those skills under pressure. if you want to win you need guys like cally, and girardi. who are you going to replace g's mins with? do you really think trading a captain while you team if finally geling under a brand new coach with a new system is intelligent hockey. we went the route of buying up skilled players and it did not get us anything. wade redden had a lot of skill. he has the character of dried up playdoh. your evaluation of this team is way off. we have a lot of skilled guys who are finally getting into a groove with this new coach. if you think this team is not a contender, and not talented you have not been watching the hockey they've played the last two months.
One other thing, and This is more at Kevin's title than the article, but we're talking about this as if other teams are openly willing to give up talent for Callahan. Like its an easy this-for-that trade. So far the only name thats really been floated out there is Chris Stewart, who from what I've read, an up and down player who had one good season with the Avs, signed with a great Blues team, and is now being shopped for not living up to his contract. We can trade Cally for picks or prospects, but there's no guarantee those picks or prospects will ultimately have more talent than what we're giving up.
Thanks for taking the time to put your piece together. Well written and thought out. I agree that overpaying for "character" is not a good business model, but that doesn't mean character or the intangibles are of minuscule importance when compared to skill. Teams in any sport cannot win without some skill. But skill alone does not make a team gel. THAT's where the character comes in. If it were skill alone that dictated success, then Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Vancouver would win the Cup every year. Were the Kings the most skilled team in the league when they won? How about the Giants when they beat the undefeated Patriots? Or even the Red Sox last year...as a team they were near the league lead in many areas, but not so much as individuals. Talent gets you to the bigs and gives teams a shot...character is the glue that holds the talent together and makes it perform in unison. I also disagree about your assessment of GMs preferring to go with youth over "character". The Yankees are the most successful franchise in sports. Derek Jeter, while still a good player, is no longer a superstar when it comes to performance. Jose Reyes at the time of his walk-year was a better player than Jeter and likely one of the top players in the game. If Cashman was following your model, he would have traded Jeter (with many suitors I'm sure) and signed Reyes. He didn't. He signed Jeter because he knows how to win, has done it in NY, is still an effective player, and is an important cog in holding the team together.
I'm not trying to bash you or your ideas. The great thing about being fans is that we don't need to agree on methodologies, but we still want to get to the same goal. Thanks again for sharing your views and Let's Go Rangers AND U-S-A!!!
@TheNYRBlog YES , TRADE BOYLE
Say My Name.. doesn't seem you have played a team sport or understand a concept behind one. There are other elements to skill that is required on a team to win a championship my friend, and that is team play! I know this was a shot at us fans who love Cally's work ethic, determination, heart aka CHARACTER. We wouldn't of loved him if he was a bum. He is in the Olympics for F-sakes! First post I ever disliked on your BLOG , it just was not a fair one.
Good read and makes you think. As far as I'm concerned as this relates to Cally, NYR need to be prudent and smart how they spend their money. Spending between 6 to 7 million per on Cally doesn't help the team now and in the future.
I'm on board with this. But I do think character is vital to the chemistry of a team. however, when it comes to winning it it probably the least vital of all qualities.
pucks in the net win Stanley Cups. not full arenas. skill is what counts and likeablity from a fans prospective is icing on the cake.
This is NOT a statement of Skill over Character. Kevin added the headline. It is a statement of performance comes first and character is then attributed retroactively. Do you think the Oakland A's of the 1970's titles had "Character"? The first team of twenty-five separate cabs? What of the purely business teams of the Dallas Cowboys under Landry, or the 49'ers of the eighties? The fact of the matter is performance is 99% of the game and all of the "intangibles" are purely fiction. Fans overestimate them by factors of ten. If you have players who can perform better than the other team...you win...that's it. Chemistry? Hmmm....how did the 1986 Mets do while at eachothers throats, or the 1977 Yankees? IF YOU ARE BETTER THAN THE OTHER TEAM YOU WIN...THAT'S IT. The Rangers are not better than the top third of the league so you make moves until they are.
According to your logic, every team with just youthful talent should dominate the league and the GMs should just trade away all of it's older players. From a hockey standpoint you couldn't be more wrong. It's unrealistic to think that a team will just trade away any guy who reaches 27 (besides I'm sure a lawyer would have a field day). What type of player would want to play there knowing they will be shoved out in 7 or 8 years. From a business point you forget the impact a solid well loved veteran can have. They selll jerseys, they sell seats, and endorsements (i.e. Dereck Jeter: they yankees didn't have to give him the contract they did. That contract was for 2 reasons: 1) to continue to sell a brand that Jeter has developed for the yankees 2) A thank you for all he has done to help build the Yankees into what they have become. ) brandon Prust was 27 when the Rangers let him go. Most would not tout him as a highly skilled youthful player but more a grinder with a physical toughness most teams would die for. Look the effect that had on the Rangers when they let him go. Sather admitted that had a bigger impact on the team then he anticipated.
I get what your saying and no 1 player is worth more than the team and sure some fans would blindley sign their fav player forever despite better options for him. Is Callahans offer too high? Absolutely. Does this mean the Rangers are better off without him? Depends on what is available for him but in Cally you lose the moral leader of the team and it will have an impact on them. Who would fill that role? Nash maybe....Richards doubtful.
Your assumption that GMs always want youthful talent is laughable when you see what Sather has done over the last decade: Shannahan, Jagre, just to name a few.
Ultimately, I think Cally is trying to draw out as much money as possible because it is probably going to be his last chance to get a big deal and considering what Sather has thrown out in the past (see Redding) I'm sure since he grew up through this team, he feels he is entitled to an overpaid contract. It is his right to go after the money and anyone who calls is greedy is a hypocrite because we all ask for raises at some point in our lives.
@TheNYRBlog 98% skill? Wrong.. Couldn't be more wrong, how did Nash Richards and gaborik do together?
@TheNYRBlog and this is a win now team, I do agree however cally is expendable due to his asking priceBut this was a poorly written article
@TheNYRBlog rangers I believe are 15-5 there last20 or something like that. My fear in loosing cally is chemistry for a good thing
@TheNYRBlog there are ways to write your opinions without speaking down to those who oppose your own,
@TheNYRBlog with. Mere opinion assuming it holds more weight then anyone else's. in which case this was written poorly
@TheNYRBlog I agree with cally wanting too much, but that article took a lot of shots at fans, while the writer of this shot tamer Is a fan
@TheNYRBlog disagree with the 2nd paragraph, prust was not a performer by any stretch. 4th line guy and penalty killer/enforcer
More than skill, character or toughness, the biggest factor for a successful team is chemistry. Sather has tried bringing in skill numerous times, all of which failed. I've never seen a Rangers team as close as the 2011-12 one. And not surprisingly it was one of the franchise's best seasons. Sure, skill is more important than character, but to be a winner you need guys who are willing to do the dirty work, the skill guys don't or won't.
So after the lockout when we subtracted Dubinsky, Prust, and Anisimov, but added the All-Star Nash, then stumbled through the entire season and playoffs seemingly void of identity or passion or "character", that was because Dubinksy+Prust+Anisimov totalled more SKILL than Nash+any 2 other fill-in players? Respectfully disagree. Or when the US beat Russia in 1980? Did Herb Brooks' group of amateurs all take "Skill" supplements before that one game? Maybe they should run some urine tests and put an asterick next to that one.
You make some valid points, but I think your 98 to 2 ratio is a bit off (And I'm curious, which GM told you that?). This isn't NHL14. You don't just run games through a simulator that calculates the most likely scenario based on each players overall rating. True, you can't just put a team of "Character Guys" together and win a cup. Every team and every player requires some level of raw talent. But it's how you use that talent, how you motivate it and drive it, and how those players respond to the coach, to their teammates, to the energy in the building on any given night, and all those intangibles are labeled as "Character".
The Rangers have bought a lot "Skill" over the past 20 years, and those skilled guys played a lot golf from April to September every year. But for some reason when some coaches finally came in, held players accountable, and preached things like "work-ethic" with blue-collar players, we suddenly got back to qualifying for the playoffs. Weird....
@Say my Name YOU said hank was the most overvalued before his deal went down., i do agree with you partially but the performance doesn't necessarily mean its permanent. i mean a highly skilled hockey player who performs consistently is the perfect player no? and how many of them really are there league wide and per team? can't expect a team full of perfect players and perfect contracts. theres 3 kinds of contracts right, overvalued, undervalued and ones that are dead on. its nearly impossible to predict dead on deals, teams almost stumble on them by accident. i think we highly overate the details of the deal... i look at it like every cap hit is give or take a million, thats as close as you can come. if callahan is paid 6.2 maybe he's worth 5.2 or 7.2 , probably closer to 5.2 but in all reality with the cap @ 71 million next season the million dollar difference give or take amounts to less then 2% of our total salary and he's no doubt our most dedicated player.
Dude...you nailed it. I agree with quite a bit you write here and would've added a lot of it had I thought Kevin wouldn't simply tell me to pound sand when I submitted a 5 page narrative. My article just scratches the surface of some pretty heady and nuanced conversation better served in a pub (but which you managed to address quite well) It was actually just a draft I quickly wrote with a bottle of Scotch as my editor. I submitted it to Kevin as an idea, which I was going to change around a bit if he liked it. He just ran it as is..lol...throwing me to the dogs! QUAATTTRROO...I mean KEEEVVVIINNN!! Busted myself up skiing last Fri...never made it to Sidewalk - figured you were too sick to make it anyway. Where's the next place?
Do I have to pay a co-pay after reading this :)
Definitely agree with the Crosby, Gabby comparison.
I also think why the "Carcillo Effect" took place because the Rangers have too many guys with little character. They had a different attitude after his arrival. So character does not need a price tag.
@johnAMIRANTESrug "Likability" and "Character" are not the same time, but none the less, 30 teams start the season, and only 1 lifts the cup. At the end of the day, the other 29 need to worry about filling arenas so they can afford to field a better team the next year, employ scouts and personnel, and work towards improving. There's a reason why once teams in bad markets sink to the bottom and have a hard time climbing out despite good draft selections.
IMO, Baseball isn't a fair sport to compare the chemistry of hockey to. As was pointed out below, Richards centering Nash and Gaborik did squat for us, as did a lot of other line combinations over the years.. Baseball is essentially an individual sport. Batters aren't more successful based on "who" is in scoring position, other than to factor in that players speed and ability to run the bases. Infielders stats don't vary based the 1st baseman, other than that 1st baseman's ability to play first base. Outfielders need to get along to the point that they don't run in to each other. However many good pitchers will tell you they'd be nowhere without the chemistry they develop with their catcher. Baseball more exemplifies your arguement of skill over character.
All that said, the Red Sox rid themselves of skill in 2012 and loaded up on character guys (that also had skill, not just character alone), and that team vastly improved. The odds are is they caught lightning in a bottle. If you put that same line-up out on the field for 10 years, they may win one more title. But the alternative, like you're suggesting, to rid yourself of those "character" guys for picks and prospect may not yeild you better results due to the time and effort it takes to develop talent into tangible skill.
As I mentioned somewhere else, what it would take for the Rangers to become the Blackhawks or the Penguins, quite frankly, would be to suck for the next 5 years, get a few top round picks, and we can all get back together in 10-15 years and see how were doing. But if that's how teams operated they'd be battling for last place in the final month, not 8th place to make the playoffs.
@Say my Name My bad on the headline "Say my Name."
@Kevin DeLury nailed Kevin! Look at what happened with Gabby, Nash and Richards last year.....(granted Richards is not a young player) They never developed good chemistry and it resulted in Gabby being traded. The Islanders had a young team last year and put up a great fight against the Pens forcing their starting goalie to the bench. But how did it end up: The veterans of the Pens dominated and took the series back.
No worries about Sidewalk. I didn't make it, myself. Had a little family emergency. Missed the game, too. Or most of it.
I want to support AG, however. Perhaps we can all congregate sometime soon.
Your article is great; really gets the juices flowing. I'm sure there's a lot more to agree on.
I just spit out my earl grey onto my collected works of Jung. :)
character draws likeability. they're kinda symbiotic. I agree it all comes down to a form of economics and money keeps this train rolling. but, skill>character. there has to be a blend of both but skill has to be the more valued attribute if the team is going to work.
if you pay Cally 6/7 mil what's going to stop JT Miller from wanting that in 5 years, or McIllrath, or Brian Boyle? the over valuing of nice guys, and shot blockers has to stop somewhere or else we are never going to get anywhere. I don't know how they do it but the pens get supporting players to stay on for a home team discount. that's why they are able to lock up Crosby and Malkin for the rest of their lives. if we give Cally 6/7 mil for 50 points a year we are sunk as a franchise and we will have to either sign every character guy to huge contracts or let them walk from now until forever.
it has to stop somewhere. it's sad it has to be Cally because I like him a lot! but it has to stop.
and to be fair I'm not saying character has no value on a team. I would give Cally 5 mil and that is exactly what he deserves.
our teams stance on paying top dollar for players who are bought out or rumored to be bought out in a few years is what's hurting us. Cally can say you gave wade redden 6mil (or whatever it was) and he only showed one seasons worth of real promise. bad decisions are coming home to roost in this Cally negotiation. Sather needs to stop paying ok to good players big bucks now, or continue to bloat our 3rd lines with crap contracts forthe foreseeable future.
it's less about Cally and more about principle moving forward.
I'm with you 100%. The answer on your question about the Pens (and Bruins and Blackhawks for that matter) is simply success. If you're a 3rd or 4th line player, there's a calculation you can make in your head. Either a) you float around the league in hopes of eventually landing on the right team for small money (aka Dominic Moore) or b) you take less money to be a 3rd or 4th liner on the team that gives you the best chance to win a Cup, and once you do, you go sell yourself to the highest bidder that wants to bring you into their lockerroom.
Your point on Cally is spot on, but this is where this is starting to drive me nuts. We (all the fans, @Say my Name , etc) are making this generic blanket statement about character vs skill vs value vs worth etc, etc, trying to make it like every situation is the same. We're over analyzing the fact that Cally's demands are just simply too high, and there are a dozen completely unrelated factors that make it too high, such as cap space, Richards awful contract, Nash and Hanks big contracts, other UFAs we have to sign, other RFAs we have to sign, other UFAs and RFAs who could be available, weaknesses in other aspects of our line-up, strengths of other teams vs ours, contracts other players have signed of similar value or worth compared to him.
Let's be honest for a second, if Cally was the only free agent we had to deal with, and we had $8 Mil in cap space, were right up there is the standings with Pitt and Boston, and last week some other middle of the pack team had signed their 30-40 pt per year captain to a $8 mil/deal, we'd give Cally $7 without blinking an eye. I just think we're trying to make very broad arguements and conclusions in response to a very specific situation that we're watching play out.