Notes of Interest – August 3rd

Notes of Interest – August 3rd

NHL

Perhaps NHL fans in the East bubble city should worry after watching the Maple Leafs lose Game 1 of their qualifying round against Columbus. Despite owning the second most Stanley Cup Championships with 13, the Leafs own the longest drought in the NHL without winning one. The last time Toronto won the Stanley Cup was 1967, the year BEFORE expansion.

Joonas Korpisalo joined John Gibson, Jonas Hiller, Andrew Raycroft, and Chris Osgood to post shutouts in their first postseason start (since 1994). John Tavares (known as pajama boy on Long Island) is a -9 with one goal and 17 shots in his last seven postseason games with Toronto. 

Joonas Korpisalo posted the first shutout in Blue Jackets postseason history in Game 1.

In the East’s seeding qualifying round, Philadelphia defeated Boston, 4-1. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (21/355) stopped 34 shots breaking Pete Peeters’ (22/235) team record as the youngest to win a postseason game. The Flyers won nine of their last ten games before COVID-19 stopped the NHL season on March 10.

Colorado, who finished the regular season 18-5-2 in their last 25 games, defeated St. Louis 2-1 in the West’s seeding qualifying round. Former Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri scored with .1 remaining after Gabriel Landeskog hit the post.

Arizona won their first postseason game since 2012, defeating Nashville 4-3 in Game 1. The Coyotes franchise (joined the NHL in 1979-80 as the original Winnipeg Jets) are looking to win their second opening round series after losing 12 straight from 1988-2011.

Wild goaltender Alex Stalock made his first postseason start since April 28, 2014 and second of his career, as Minnesota shutout Vancouver, 3-0. Jared Spurgeon recorded his second career multi-goal postseason game, becoming the first defenseman in franchise history to accomplish that. The Wild joined Montreal, Chicago, and Arizona as double-digit seeds to win Game 1.

Fewest Career Postseason Games, Defenseman
Recorded Two or more Multiple Goals
Andy DelmorePHI20
Mac ColvilleNYR40
Jared Spurgeon>>MIN>>45
>>4 Years, 3 Months & 9 Days between multi-goal games in postseason

MLB

NY Mess: The Mets lost 4-0 to Atlanta, losing their fifth straight. New York totaled ten hits but left 13 men on base. In six of their seven losses, the Mets are 14-78 with RISP, with only four hits driving in runs. The Mets loss on Sunday marked the first time since May 3, 1987, they failed to score collecting ten or more hits.

Cespedes opts out: While his teammates lost to the Braves, Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes failed to alert the team he wouldn’t make Sunday’s game. Mets officials released a statement that Cespedes won’t return to the team this season, opting out for COVID related issues. 

Tigers strike: Detroit reliever Tyler Anderson struck out nine straight Reds, tying an AL record while setting one for relievers.

Tyler Anderson tied an AL record with 9 consecutive strikeouts

All Rise: Aaron Judge is returning to his rookie form of 52 HR, becoming the ninth player in Yankees’ history to homer in five straight games. In the eighth inning, Judge’s second HR (league-leading sixth of the season) gave New York their sixth straight victory, completing a sweep over Boston.

Pence breaks snide: Hunter Pence singled in his first AB on Sunday, snapping an 0-23 streak to start the season. The previous two NL players to start the season hitless in his first 23 AB were Austin Hedges in 2017 and Brett Hayes in 2014.

Most AB Without a Hit to Start Season
MLB, Since 2014
2019Chris DavisBAL33
2019Daniel PalkaCHW32
2017Jacob MayCHW26
2015Coco CrispCLE26
2020Hunter PenceSF23
2017Austin HedgesSD23
2014Brett HayesFLA23

Orioles Sweep: Baltimore completed a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay on Sunday, their first against the Rays since 2012, and overall since 2018.

NBA/NHL Notes of Interest – August 2nd

NBA/NHL Notes of Interest – August 2nd

In this insane world of COVID-19, Esports is now non-fiction. Adjusting to the times, here are notes of interest surrounding professional sports in the United States.

While MLB adjusts to multiple teams administering quarantine guidelines, seven-inning doubleheaders, unequal amount of games, changes to extra-innings, and other rules, the NBA and NHL both resume this week minus seven and eight teams, respectively.

NBA


Five games on Saturday pushed the total to 13 since the restart on Thursday. COVID NBA produces dominant displays of offense, as point totals continue to soar.

NBA Per Game Totals
Before/Since COVID-19
BeforeSince
PPG223.4235.9
FGM81.781.9
FG Pct.0.460.466
3PTFGM24.224.9
3PT FG Pct.0.3570.358
FTM35.347
FT Pct.0.7710.793

While the rest of the league benefits, the Lakers 35.4 shooting percentage in their 109-92 loss to Toronto equaled their lowest since 2016.

T.J. Warren scored a career-high 53 for Indiana, matching an NBA season-high 20 field goals as the Pacers 127-121 victory moved them one-game ahead of Philadelphia for 5th in the East.

T.J. Warren set a career-high scoring 53 points in the Pacers 127-121 over the 76ers.

50-Point Games
Indiana Pacers HistoryOpponentPtsResult
11/28/1992Reggie MillerHornets57W, 134-122
1/4/2005Jermaine O’NealBucks55W, 116-99
8/1/2020T.J. Warren>>76ers53W, 127-121
11/11/1980Billy KnightSpurs52W, 119-117
>>Career-high (previous was 40)

Most FG Made, Single-Game
2019-20 NBA Season
OpponentFG MadePoints
8/1/2020T.J. Warren, IND>>PHI2053>>W, 127-121
12/11/2019James Harden, HOU@CLE2055W, 116-110
12/8/2019Anthony Davis, LALMIN2050W, 142-125
Seven Players with 19
>> Career-High (Previous was 40)

Zion and the Pelicans are 0-2 and four games back of Grizzlies.

I

n the West, New Orleans fell to 0-2 in the restart, falling 126-103 to the Clippers. Zion Williamson did not factor again, producing seven points in 14 minutes.

Zion Williamson
Totals, last two games
Minutes29
Points20
FG-FGA9-17
Rebounds5
Plus/Minus-33

NHL

A pair of 12 seeds won Game 1, as Chicago (11 points fewer than Edmonton) and Montreal (15 fewer than Pittsburgh) took 1-0 series leads. In his first playoff game, rookie Dominik Kubalik set an NHL postseason record, registering five points (2 goals, three assists) in Chicago’s 6-4 victory.

Most Points, NHL History
Rookies, First Career Playoff Game
OpponentPointsResult
8/1/2020Dominik Kubalik, CHIOilers5W, 6-4
4/7/1982Daryl Evans, LAKOilers4W, 10-8
24 Players with 3

Jeff Petry scored his first career playoff goal in his 19th game.

In the East, Jeff Petry scored his first career postseason goal (19th game) with 6:03 remaining in the first OT, as Montreal defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2. The game featured two penalty shots, as each team blew chances to put the game away. Game 2 is on Monday.

Overtime Postseason Penalty Shots
NHL History
OpponentResultTeam Result
8/1/2020Jonathan Drouin, MTLPenguinsMissW, 3-2 (0T)
4/22/2016Aleksander Barkov, FLAIslandersMissL, 2-1 (2 OT)
4/23/1998Aleksey Morozov, PITCanadiensMissL, 3-2 (OT)
4/24/1996Joe Juneau, WSHPenguinsMissL, 3-2 (4 OT)

The New York Islanders won two of their final 13 games (2-7-4) before COVID-19 but entered Toronto winners of four straight against first-round opponent Florida. The Panthers scoring troubles against the Islanders continued, scoring one goal for the third consecutive game. The Islanders, outscoring Florida 7-3 in their last three wins, can take a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday.

In the East’s 6-11 matchup, the Rangers fell 3-2 to Carolina. New York was 0-7 on the power play in the loss.

Its Time for Buffalo to Jack Off

Its Time for Buffalo to Jack Off

With yet another change in management in Buffalo – likely to lead to yet another coaching change in Buffalo- the rumors are swirling that Sabres star center Jack Eichel wants out of the organization. And who could blame him? He’s playing for auditioning coaches for about his entire career in an organization who just removed a GM who wasn’t as sharp a hockey mind as his sister is.

There is a team that could absolutely use an Eichel. In fact, every team can use an Eichel. But there is one team that may have need of Jack beyond the surface of the ice- the New York Islanders.

There is a history of these two teams trading with each other involving a disgruntled star player. You may recall Pat LaFontaine going to Buffalo in a package that obtained a package including Pierre Turgeon. And in this situation, a trade would require two packages.

He was a headache that wanted to get paid, too…

And no, that’s not a euphemism for having the balls to make a trade for a star player. Although testicular fortitude would definitely be needed.

Generally there is a precedence to what you need to acquire a top tier player like an Eichel. That precedence includes a usual haul involving a pick, a lesser NHL player, and a prospect. And we have very recent precedence with Buffalo trading Ryan O’Reilly, where Buffalo took back extra salary from St Louis to acquire an additional pick and prospect. This one needs to be a similar, because the concept to meet Buffalo’s needs may be a little more about chess than checkers while still working in a cap framework.

So, what do the pieces look like in motion?

To NYI:

Jack Eichel

Kyle Okposo

To Buffalo:

Josh Bailey and/or Nick Leddy

Casey Cizikas

2022 1st rd pick

Forward Prospect of Buffalo’s choosing

At first glance you may say “This is another armchair GM horseshit deal.” Well, that’s true, I am an armchair GM. But this trade works in really unique ways for both clubs. And again, its not like these two teams don’t have a history of making a trade of a disgruntled center between them.

So how does this work for the Islanders?

Do the Islanders need another center? Yes, yes they do. At $10 million dollars a year? That’s a huge nut, but that helps the Islanders because that salary slot actually hurts Buffalo’s ability to move him. And is there a playoff level team in need of offense more than the Islanders? I’ll wait to hear who.

Why do the Islanders need this center? Because which Islander center on this roster has scored 36 goals in a season? And ran at about a point per game for the last two seasons? Nobody.

Yes, Brock Nelson was rewarded with a long and lucrative contract that will carry him into the productive end of his career, which will be before his career ends. But don’t forget that Nelson also plays left wing. That assignment may serve him better as he ages as there is less defensive responsibility assigned to a wing, and he can still take faceoffs if needed. It also improves the Islanders depth at wing, which is an area of concern for the top 6 Islander forwards.

Suddenly having Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Anthony Beauviller as top six wings gives you a bunch of 20 goal guys surrounding Matthew Barzal and Jack Eichel. Eichel has never had that much talent around him.

There is the curse of the $10 million dollar players do not win cups, which is a legitimate concern. But this Islanders team as constructed? They’re not winning a cup.

And why take back Okposo? He’ll get paid a lot to sit in Bridgeport and retire as a beloved Islander. Maybe he’ll even become the next HC at the Bridge, as this annual disappointment of an issue was mentioned from me via Andrew Gross in his excellent Islanders podcast. Thanks Andrew!

The Islanders team improves offensively, which they absolutely need. It adds depth into the top 6 forward mix, which they absolutely need. It opens up slots in the bottom six for players to NOT make $3.35 million or more to be bottom 6, which they absolutely need. It makes them younger, which they absolutely need. It gives JP Pageau a fresh start with new linemates, and opens a job on that line for one of the highly touted forward prospects in the organization. And it improves their odds as a win now team.

And as the Islander inch closer for moving into Belmont in 16 months, they’ve added star power to their promotions and buzz for the fanbase, of which they will need to sell something that’s not just more of the same.

But how does Buffalo benefit?

You might say that this return is not enough to get Buffalo to make a move this rash. And here is where I will disagree with you. Because in the NHL, every trade involves an invisible player- the salary cap. Every team has cap issues. In the proposed deal Buffalo is unloading $16 million annually for the next 3 years, while taking back either $8.35 million or $14 million in year one of the deal, then either $5 or $11.5 million in year two, then just the $5 million remainder for the life of the Bailey contract. 3 proven, legit NHL players on a bad team can help turn a bad team around faster than hoping prospects work out.

In Bailey, Buffalo gets a pass first forward who would very likely improve the 14 goal output that Skinner produced for NINE MILLION DOLLARS that they’re paying him for the NEXT SEVEN YEARS. You know, because Bailey is elite and all. And frankly I’m shocked that #IslandersKoolAid wouldn’t complain that if Buffalo wanted Bailey, they’d have to add a sweetener on top of Eichel to acquire him. Eyes on Isles said so!

With the departure of Eichel, Buffalo gets rid of a very vocal critic in their locker room, who in his young career has seen a carnival of head coaches and GM’s and would likely again be a thorn in the side of the next head coach after this one as well and could poison upcoming and incoming players. He’ll be replaced with professionals who generally have suffered through the Garth Snow era of constantly losing pretty silently.

Casey Cizikas plays a physical game, which has led to very real concerns on his durability. He has never played a full season and only came close twice in 9 seasons. He has one year left on a deal, which isn’t hard to burn down. And does anyone want to pay CC $4 million at age 31 and beyond for his style of play? That’s a bad idea. A Buffalo idea.

If you need to proof as to where Cizikas’s career is headed, look no further than the other CC, Cal Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck has never played a full season, has never played an 80 game season, and at age 32 just lost a quarter season or more for the second time in the last 4 years. With two years left on that deal, keeping the best 4th line in hockey intact would mean needing a second 4th line to step in to cover the 20+ games that Martin will miss, the 20+ games that Cizikas will miss, and the 20+ games that Clutterbuck will miss.

But how do you break up the best 4th line in hockey? Well, you start by not resigning free agent Matt Martin, and then find a taker by trading out of the horrible Cal Clutterbuck contract.

But to keep them together? You’d have to sign Martin now, and then extend Cizikas soon. That seems like a flat out stupid idea, especially when Ross Johnston is already a 4th liner, Otto Koivula is ready to step in as a 4c, and you can slot Michael Dal Colle and his no goal scoring ass into that other wing. Suddenly the cost of the 4th line goes from $9.35 million (FOR A 4TH LINE) to $2.5 million.

There’s your “resign Mat Barzal” money right there.

So if I am shitting on Cizikas- a player I like but has been very overpaid except for that one season that he scored more than 9 goals- why would Buffalo want him? Because Cizikas brings experience and grit to a team that lacks identity and toughness in Buffalo. He would assume a similar role with the Sabres as he has on the Island- to be a thorn in the side of scorers, kill penalties, and chip in a goal every ten games or so.

Think a penalty killer has no value? Look at Leo Komorov. It explains his 4 year $10 million debacle of a deal.

You may have noticed a variant of this deal involving Nick Leddy in my proposal as an and or. If he is an “and?” I still make the deal. It clears out salary cap space for the Islanders to match what they took back from Buffalo and creates the cap space for Ryan Pulock and roster spot for Noah Dobson. And if Leddy is an “or?” Then it still gives Buffalo a cup winning defenseman to form a second pairing behind Rasmus Ristolainen for just two years and the Islanders give Pageau a guy that can pass to a guy that can pass to JP to help him get his 20 goals as a 3C, a watermark that Bailey has yet to hit in 12 years? 13?

So lets get to another part as to why this deal is good for Buffalo. The Sabres just appointed a new General Manager in Kevyn Adams, who will likely replace head coach Ralph Krueger in 12 months. Adams will be rebuilding a team in perpetual rebuild. He will want to deal off bad contracts. He will want to maximize value while navigating a cap sport. And he will likely want to make his own pick from the Islanders prospect pool. Plus he will want a 1st round draft pick in 2022 as the Islanders aging forward core is 2 years older and probably less productive at that point. Adams may be choosing in the top ten of the NHL draft with that pick.  

So if Adams decides that he wants Oliver Whalstrom? OK. What are the odds Whalstrom is a 30 goal scorer? What Islanders prospects recently have blossomed into 30 goal scorers? None? And even if he does? The Islanders just got a proven one from Buffalo. And while wing is an organizational weakness, the Islanders moving Nelson to wing puts a band aid on the matter for a couple of years.

Also, Adams will inherit an immediate multimillion initial salary cap boost, no matter how the deal is structured, and after the first season and second seasons of this will add multimillions more, creating almost $10 million dollars of cap space, which is what they were paying Eichel. Meaning…they can sign another Eichel. It’s a huge cap space win for Buffalo as they enter the rebuild within a rebuild.

So to summarize- the Islanders improve their top 6 talent and their offense and have another flashy name to use to market their new arena. The Sabres get a piece to complement their top winger and/or their top defenseman, a lot of cap flexibility, two future assets, a character player on an expiring contract, and they remove a perpetual headache from the organization. It’s not like Buffalo is going to win a title next year, so why not set up for an eventual run without an expensive headache that needs to be considered in any roster move?

Gotta fill those seats...
Is Greatness Relative?

Is Greatness Relative?

This is part one in a series of relative greatness in professional sports. What’s relative greatness, you ask? It’s a simple concept, actually. Greatness in a sport is often considered in “eras,” a period of time when the game was similar to itself, but not with how it changed over time.

For instance, people call Michael Jordan the greatest of all time, or the GOAT to use the hip lingo. But was he? 6 titles over a what, 8 year span is a pretty strong argument to his greatness. His rising to a new level in big games is also part of his legend.

So I have two questions- and again, I am not questioning that Jordan is great. But Magic Johnson won his first title in his rookie year. Larry Bird won his first title as a sophomore. It took Jordan seven seasons before he won a title, which was faster than the 9 needed by Lebron James. So, how do we tell which is better? Did Jordan just wait out the older guys?

And question two- what if you won your first championship as a rookie, then did it 10 more times over the next 12 years? And was the best defensive player in the league in that time? And led the first ever dowen 3 to 1 playoff series upset in NBA history? And was the first black head coach in NBA history, winning 2 titles as a player coach?

Oh, this guy also won two NCAA titles, and an Olympic Basketball gold medal with the highest point differential in Olympic history for a winning team. And also offered to compete in the high jump for the US, as he was a champion high jumper.

Ladies and gentlemen, the GOAT- Bill Russel.

But very few in the media saw Russell play. He retired in 1969 in a shocking way, and made enemies in the media and in Boston. But the guy has more titles than Tom Brady has Super Bowl appearances.

So we maybe have to change the focus on what GOAT means.

Let’s talk about hockey. Wayne Gretzky holds over 60 individual NHL records. My personal favorite? Faster player to 1000 points, and second fastest player to 1000 points, because he scored points 1001-2000 faster than anyone else scored 1000 points, except Wayne Gretzky.

But the GOAT? Henri Richard won 11 Stanley Cups in a 20 year career, and won Cups in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. So a question, is greatness an individual measure, or is it a team effort?

That’s a question I posed to former NHL player and current consultant- coach without realizing that he is, Rob Schremp. Rob played for 3 NHL teams in his NHL career in two different conferences, and had a pro career nearly spanning three decades, so I felt he would be qualified to answer a simple question:

Who were the players when you played that made you say “That man is great?”

Understand that this is a hard question for any athlete, especially a professional. A pro athlete made it to the highest level of the game based on a mixture of talent, confidence, attitude, and effort. You would be hard pressed to find a pro who says about themselves, “I suck. I just got lucky.”

So I asked Schremp who were some players that were not better per se, but who did you enjoy watching play, or respect their approach to the game, at forward, defense, and goal. One of the picks was surprising until he explained the math behind it.

Beast of a Forward: Pavel Datsyuk. Not the Arizona Coyote version.

On Datysuk – “I didn’t understand how his body got into position. Nobody pulls off a breakaway like Datsyuk. It’s crazy. His deception was nasty. The way his body is presenting and the way he’s selling, there’s no way a goalie doesn’t bite. Physically his weight transfer doesn’t make sense. You could blow your ankle trying to duplicate his body movements.”

“He mastered the art of weight transfer. It’s like water moving, it’s so fluid and graceful. A lot of what is about being a dangler is like dancing. You need to practice the steps with your footwork so that your hands and feet work in synergy, that way your moves create the space you will need to move the goalie. His fluidity and footwork made goalies bite so hard. He was born to be a hockey player.”

Monster Defenceman: Shea Weber

On Weber- “I’ve never seen anyone shoot like that. I played against him in the Memorial Cup at 18 and he was 19, and he ripped a slapshot and broke a guys’ shin pad. He has a hard shot that releases quick and its heavy. He has an accurate, quick, heavy shot. 6’3’, 230 lbs. I don’t know if I’d say he’s underrated, but I’d take him on my team every day of the week. His shots hurt goalies.”

“Shea isn’t a super fast guy, but when do you see him getting posterized on a dangle? He’s always in the right position and makes the right play. His play looks slow on the Canadiens because they skate like waterbugs, but he is calculated. Not everybody has to skate at 100 mph.”

Goalie that solved him: Dwayne Roloson

On Roloson: “Dwayne Roloson had my number. In practice or in games, Dwayne gave me nothing to shoot at. Experienced goalies will fool the players, by trying to make them shoot at a spot, and then take that spot away.”

“There are players like Brodeur that were masters at playing angles, they showed you a place to shoot and made you shoot there, and could throw out an arm or a leg to stop you.”  

Schremp described goalies as able to essentially create math in the net, where the positioning of a goalie can geometrically take away all shooting angels for an approaching forward, which led to a question I had that spoke to an NHL specialty of his:

Why are so many NHL players- especially talented scorers- bad at breakaways and shootouts?

“You play in a game that is structured around team and systems. Players are organized by a system and can learn success through it. In a shootout you are doing everything on your own. Goalies have an advantage- you have to make them move. Players have to get the goalie to move. They are the doorkeepers to the face of the net. If they don’t move, you’re shooting at a roadblock, and you need to find the angle that may not be there.”

“The net has faces to it and the more you move laterally, the harder it is for the goalie to keep the face of the net covered completely. If you’re a shooter you have to move yourself to find the faces because coming at a goalie straight on gives the goalie an advantage. They’re a roadblock that you want to make move.”

Schremp mentioned Patrick Kane as a guy that’s good at getting goalies to make the first move, which shifts the advantage to the shooter.

 

In the long run, Rob’s answer was a mix of both of my premises. There are great individual talents, but that doesn’t matter if there isn’t a system to create a team. Which may be why a guy like Datsyuk was never traded- he helped a team win- and a guy like Weber was- he was great but never got a cup in Nashville. And a guy like Roloson? A career journeyman, but maybe if he’s not injured in game one of the 2006 finals versus the Carolina Hurricanes? It could have changed that label.

Also, despite his insisting that he’s not a coach? Schremp still maintains contact with the game via video consulting. He does so to both stay involved in the game to help players and teams get better. Schremp feels that he has had excellent coaching and professional experiences in his career, and wants to pay forward what he’s learned.

For people interested in contacting Rob for lessons, you can reach out at 44VisionHockey.com (Link).

Schremp also works for a company called AG Health and supports their CBD product VedaECN.com (link).

You can follow the Rob on Twitter at @RobSchremp

Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament

Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament

I have to give my buddy @AmazingInsights credit for this concept, as anyone who follows his twitter knows his disdain for Josh Bailey. The question he often asks is “How many games does Bailey take off?” He even mentioned the title of the Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament…which with the postponement of the season, I saw it as a challenge to create. So thank you Corona, for making this idea a reality.

OF FUCKING NOTHING!

First off, we needed criteria. What is a night off? And we needed a point system to assess it. The point system came from this- when you screwed up, you were assessed points toward a score. And when you do something good? You get credits against those points. Allow me to present the following:

Points per game:

Zero shots on goal (2)

Zero hits (1)

GWG (-2)

Goals (-1)

The breakdown?

Zero shots on goal is the worst offense you can have if you’re trying to win games. If you don’t shoot at goal, you can not win games. Pretty simple so it’s worth two.

Zero hits in a game? You aren’t physically involved. I understand that there will be discrepancies for such in top 6 and bottom 6 players, so luckily I am only including the top 6.

Game winning goals? A misleading stat, as you may have scored 5 in the first and held on for a 5-4 win. Not a stat of clutch, but a stat saying we scored more than them and this one mattered….as much as the rest of them, just one more.

And goals. The ultimate measure of scoring. Without goals, there are no assists. Without assists? There are still goals.  

Basically, the hockey version of baseballs’ three true outcomes- a walk, a strike out or a home run. Things a defensive player just sort of watches.

Final formula? (Zero shots on goal X2 plus zero hits in an entire game – Game Winning goals X2 plus total goals). That’s the Uselessness Quotient. The higher the number, the more useless you are.

You may have noticed that I did not include assists. You may be wondering why. If you are a Bailey fanatic, you may say that this is biased and on purpose. And I would say yes and yes, except not for why you think.

The bias for including assists for players is that Bailey bias where you talk about total points. I get it. Gretzky had what, 11 seasons with 100 assists? Surely they matter, right? Except Gretzky made Marty McSorley- known for nearly killing a guy on the ice- an annual 11 goal scorer despite 250 minutes a season in penalty minutes. 11 goals per Gretzky season is just 2 why of what Bailey averages.

Untradable

And the “Bailey Boner” that is half a point a game? McSorley did that with Gretzky in 1992-93 on the way to a Stanley Cup finals that the Islanders should have won while racking up 399 regular season penalty minutes. I wish there were capitals for numbers. That’s almost 7 whole games worth of penalty minutes on a season. Also? McSorley was a plus that season, unlike Bailey in his swan song 71 point season. But, assists!

And I’m not counting the Jari Kurri’s and Paul Coffeys of the Gretzky universe, as you’re about to see.

So ask yourself this- who has Bailey made a scorer? It seems everyone prospers without Bailey once you account for removing Tavares from that same line. So I don’t account for assists because they’re Bailey biased, which gets to the on purpose part. Bailey never made Anders Lee as good a scorer as Ryan Strome did, so its unfair to use that against him. Why?

Dollar for dollar better?

Because an assist does not exist without a goal. So any player getting an assist has a minimum of two other factors involved- another guy shooting, and a goalie missing. And maybe a defenseman missing, so maybe three other factors. Oh, and also it could be a secondary assist, so four other factors. Oh oh, and then a forward may have not backchecked, so five other factors. Or a guy took your pass and shot it off a defenseman’s ass and it luckily angled into the net, so six other factors. You see where this is going, no? In short, there is almost nothing in your control when you get an assist.

Also scored against empty nets

Also, a player may make a great, needle threading pass to a guy on the goalie’s doorstep, just to watch him shoot in into the boards, so we won’t count assists because that’s not a passive players fault either.

So with that, lets set parameters. We aren’t going to count guys that aren’t regulars, because I don’t want to do math for everyone. Cya Keifer Bellows and Tom Khunackl, whose name I will never spell correctly. Also, if you are injured, we aren’t going to prorate you. Also also, forwards will be exclusive to this study….maybe. With that, let us analyze who has taken the most games off!

Here are the contenders at Bailey’s Hide and Seek Tournament:

Mathew Barzal                                                  Brock Nelson

Anders Lee                                                         Josh Bailey

Jordan Eberle                                                     Anthony Beauvilier

Derick Brassard

And for shits and giggles:

Ryan Pulock                                                        Devin Toews                                      Nick Leddy

Based on our scoring system, here are the totals, I have to admit, based on manpower stats- things you can do with your own hands productively- they’re surprising:

Player (In order of Best to Worst)                                              Uselessness Score

Anders Lee                                                                                         5

Brock Nelson                                                                                     12

Anthony Beauvilier                                                                          13

Ryan Pulock                                                                                        18

Jordan Eberle                                                                                     28

Derick Brassard                                                                                 37

Nick Leddy                                                                                          38

Mathew Barzal                                                                                  38. Uh oh.

Devin Toews                                                                                      42

JOSH BAILEY                                                                                       63

“I SUCKKKKKKKKKKK”

Just to remind everyone how we got these scores: (Games w no shots X2 plus games w no hits – game winnings goals X2 plus goals).

No shot and no hits are damning. That Nick Leddy- a player many Islander fans call useless, even Beth- has the same uselessness score as the elite Mathew Barzal shows why Barry Trotz sat his ass so much last season.

But it’s hard to ignore the Josh Bailey number. Brassard was almost twice more useful. Lee was more than 12 times more useful.

How did Bailey get there? Easy. 14 goals are a lot by Bailey standards, especially considering that the season was abbreviated. It’s less than half of his 31 goal pace from November 6 2019, or 21 goal pace from December 1 2019, but he was angling at maybe 17 with a hot hand, which would be just about a career year for Bailey goals…assuming he got 3 more. There’s also a good chance he ended the season with 15, in top 6 minutes and top line power play time. Want to know why?

Bailey led the team with 14 games without a shot on goal. In 68 games. That’s a game with no shots on goal percentage of 21%. One out of 5. So in the last 14 games? We can expect 3 without a shot on goal. So to hit 17 he’s need 3 in 11 games, when his average this season was a goal every 5 games. And take away empty net goals? Ouch. 15 was the limit.

No Kool Aid, it doesn’t count

Only two other forwards and one of the defensemen had double digit games with no shots on goal:  Derick Brassard (13) and Anthony Beauvilier (10). We all know how streaky Beau is, which is why he makes around $2 million. And Brassard less.  

The Barzal number was also surprising. Barzal shoots more than ever, but he does not make contact. He avoided contact in 51 of 68 games, compared with Baileys 53 in 68. Bailey takes 78% of games off from physical contact; Barzal a little less. No one is even close to those guys. Even softie Brock Nelson hits about half of his games. Best forward for initiating contact? Brassard, followed by Beau- 3rd liners that floated north on occasion.

And defensemen without grit? Toews. Just saying, when you think of that next contract, think a young Thomas Hickey without the goal scoring touch.

Also? Leddy is totally tradable. He’s a right handed defenseman which is a hot NHL commodity. Time to sell, yo!

Airing his mule

Understand that before I started this exercise, I did not cherry pick these stats with a predetermined end result in mind. I chose stats that someone can control with their own hands. You can choose to shoot or not. You can choose to hit or not. You can score goals or not- usually an indicator of shooting. And you can be clutch or not, which was the only one I was on the fence about weight on, until I saw how many times a player is credited a game winner versus how few we recall happening. But then end result?

Josh Bailey wins the first annual Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Championship! In a blowout! If you added in contract value via cap hit per production? Bailey’s production is worth $84m of the 2019-2020 salary cap. Basically, Bailey has the production of a person versus a carnival barker, or against the house in Vegas.

I invite any fan to use my formula to go over Bailey’s history as an Islander and see if this is a one off…or a career trend. I have my inklings, and they’re that Bailey is a bigger hide and seek dynasty than the one he’s producing with his wife. Or as we often say, more of the same Bailey. Let us know.

Over-Rated!
After the Rink? A Life.

After the Rink? A Life.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with former New York Islander Rob Schremp. Most Islander fans are probably familiar with Schremp’s shoot out prowess or remember that insane baseball bat goal he pulled off against Colorado (did you know that he meant to do that?), but does the average fan realize that in his Islander career he averaged more than half a point a game- a better average than more touted teammates Doug Weight and Trent Hunter despite often playing with bottom 6 forwards?

Our conversation was inspired by Schremp’s decision to walk away from hockey on his own accord and start a new life and career. It struck me curious that he never re-emerged in the NHL, so I reached out to ask him how the New York native found his way to the NHL, about his path afterwards, and about life after professional sports. He was gracious enough to share his experiences and insights, which I found out was a consistent theme for his hockey career.

I’m not a big fan of directly quoting a person because people can read words the way they want despite the intent of the speaker, but Rob gave me the double challenge of having a colorful vocabulary, so whereas I’m not one to why away from saying fuck, I do try to limit my output. Thus a series of direct quotes may have alerted my bosses! However, there are studies that say people who curse are more honest than people who do not. So on that standard, Rob Schremp is one fucking honest and decent  guy.

Schremp’s path to the NHL started at a young age. His skill set progressed so rapidly that when he was 14 he made the goal of playing in the NHL. Imagine knowing what you want at 14? At 14 I was figuring out how to pump off, but Rob already had the first love of his life and was blazing a pro sports career. I suck,

By age 15 other people were taking notice of Schremp, which made him “Put all of his eggs in a basket.” His ability and his confidence made him stand out among his peers, which led to his impressive tenure in the OHL. Shremp played so well that he caught the attention of the Edmonton Oilers, who took him with the 25th pick of the 2004 NHL draft. That’s the first round, if you’re counting.

In his last year in the OHL, Schremp posted an unreal 57-88-145 in just 57 games, and another 47 points in 19 playoff games. There was another first round draft pick that played for both the London Knights and the New York Islanders, but he didn’t have stats like that in London.

Edmonton noticed, and sent Schremp to the AHL over the next few seasons, with a cup of coffee call up in three different NHL season from 2006 to 2009.

I wonder if he ever saw this?

Being in an NHL training camp was surreal for Schremp. He recalled playing against Team USA and Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano, and how Schremp initially felt it was respectful to lose a faceoff to the veteran, but then when he tried to win them? Same result. The takeaway? You have to buckle down and be better to survive in the NHL.

And when Schremp started to buckle down in the NHL- getting 3 points in 4 games with the Oilers in the 08-09 season, Edmonton unusually waived Schremp towards the end of training camp, only to be snapped up by a horrible Islanders team. And they were horrible. In the midst of drafting at 5, 1, 5, 5, and 4 over a 5 year span.

The Schremp Islander era was defined by the best offensive output of his professional career, but also a changing of the guard at coach and an interesting anecdote. Schremp shared that if a coach that has a philosophy guiding his decision making without accounting for the personnel on the team, he is pretty much bound to lose the locker room. In case you forgot some Islander history, Head Coach Scott Gordon wanted to employ an offensive philosophy of “Overspeed,” despite having players like Doug Weight and Trent Hunter as key forwards, whose qualities were more about possession and controlling the pace of the game instead of basically dumping and chasing.  

As Schremp pointed out, Gordon was fired after a 14 game losing streak. A locker room can collapse in the midst of such if they aren’t a tight bunch, but even with the tightest room, with 14 straight losses change seems inevitable. And with the Islanders keeping Gordon around after the firing? Schremp pointed out that he hadn’t experienced anything like that in his career. Islander fans take note- other organizations don’t run like the SnoWang era Islanders did. Which I guess means professionally.

This didn’t age well.

The Islanders waived Schremp to make room for some of the budding young players (umm, who?) in the organization, and he landed with the Atlanta Thrashers for their final season. Despite having a successful exit interview at seasons end, the Thrashers had an unsuccessful exit interview with the city of Atlanta and moved to Winnipeg, with Shremp finding out about a change of ownership and location via a text message from Captain Andrew Ladd. Which seems mildly unprofessional, but then again, a different team fired their coach and left him stranded outside of the bus recently, so it is not unprecedented.

One story Schremp shared that I felt was amazing that was during his time with the Islanders he personally answered his fan mail. Even if he suspected a person was posing as a child to have a picture or card autographed, he still took the time to comply with fan requests, or to interact with fans in the pre-game warm ups. While this seems to be a standard practice in the league now, it was seen as a sign of not being serious about the game on hand back then. The story reminded me of the Mets Lastings Milledge high fiving fans after hitting a game tying home run, only to be scolded by his teammates after. Sports are supported by fans- why be a dick to them?

This is fine,

In looking back at his time in the NHL, Schremp identified a problem that existed for himself and players like him versus someone coming into the league with different expectations. In his opinion, there is less pressure for a mid level offensive player coming into the NHL than there is for a guy that has historically produced points. “For a guy that can score, they except that from themselves and they’ve realized their potential that way and way to expand. I want to score and I’ve proven that I can, so that kind of mentality is predicted to translate to pro. But if you expect people to produce junior numbers you have to provide the same opportunity.”

So when you spend time giving a mid level scorer top minutes and an offensive player 12 minutes a night? You end up losing 14 games in a row.

Another statistic that is pretty remarkable from his career was that when the postseason rolled around, Schremp found another gear. Aside from his eye popping 10-37-47 in 19 games back in 2005-06, the year before he was 13-16-29 in 18 games, finishing second in postseason scoring to Corey Perry. In his entire career, he averaged 1.3 points per game in the postseason. When it was time to show up to the dance, he always showed up.

Oftentimes athletes are forced to leave the game behind due to diminished skills. They get old. They get slow. They break. Nolan Bushnell taught me that as you age after 16, you lose microseconds of reaction time. Add that over a decade, and you’re a second or so slower than your opponent.  This wasn’t the case for Schremp. In his last professional season he led his team in scoring, but lacked the passion that brought him to the game as a child, so he walked away from hockey and into something you wouldn’t expect- predictability.

This is NOT a happy face

To a person that works a 9 to 5 job at the same place every day, comes home to the same place, sees the same people, doing something different can be exhilarating. But what if you spent 15 years not having a home? Travelling from city to city living out of a suitcase? Meeting new people in every city and with each team roster you make? Spending a limited time with your family? It can wear on a person, and in this case, it did. The politics in sports can be crippling. As Schremp said “The game showed some of its ugly side to me, so I said that’s enough. I spoke w my wife and closed my own door. If you came with on offer, I wouldn’t sign it.”

Except, Schremp left the sport without a concrete plan. He was shedding the skin of his former self and becoming something new. The only goal he has was that he wanted to be able to put energy and passion into whatever he wanted to do. And he ultimately landed with a company that led to the discovery of a new passion.

Towards the end and also after his career, Schremp was dealing with depression and anxiety, and was prescribed Xanax and other meds associated with the two diagnoses. The meds were powerful, and they were taking a toll on his quality of life. Add to that the expectation of becoming a parent, and Schremp was feeling an extra wave of anxiousness. The impact of the Xanax was just not going to work with the demands of being a dad.

This IS a happy face

Towards the end of his career, Schremp came across a company called AG Health which carries a CBD product Vedaecn.com  that pretty much became a substitute and replacement for Xanax. People around him noticed the positive effects that CBD was having on Schremp, and he felt better using something more natural.

With some new found time on his hands, Schremp became a product advocate, then an ambassador, to his now self described liaison position with AG Health.  He found another passion outside of the ice.

The thing about passions is that they change over time. What you liked when you were 5 may be a part of your life forever, but if that’s the only thing in your life? You screwed up.

Let it go…

And that’s the hybrid that Schremp has created. Schremp still maintains contact with the game via video consulting. He does so to both stay involved in the game to help players and teams get better. Schremp feels that he has had excellent coaching and professional experiences in his career, and wants to pay forward what he’s learned. “I think it’s a modern way of sharing knowledge and allows me to do things like stop video and write notes, and to show people how to use their vision. The everyday grind of hockey is hard, but consulting lets me help people.”

For people interested in contacting Rob for lessons, you can reach out at 44VisionHockey.com.

The transition from pro athlete to regular guy seems to suit Schremp just fine. For instance, we had to pause our interview because he had to feed his daughter some yogurt, which was clearly the priority. He’s taken to jamming on the guitar. He’s not packing a bag 67% of the year to go somewhere else. Retirement from a sport wasn’t gut wrenching or regretful. It was a renaissance. He has found a new passion, a way to stay connected to his sport on his terms, and he absolutely sounds happy with where he is in life.

Jamming on some DMB

So here’s the final part. I met Rob about a decade ago at an Islanders fan- player meet up at a restaurant in Hempstead. As the event ended, Rob asked me to hang around. When we talked, he asked me where it was fun to hang out on Long Island, so I made some recommendations (RVC, Huntington for the record). I think we did shots, but it was a while ago, and shots aren’t always memorable. But I liked that you could speak with him, and that he was confident enough to admit that he’s in an unusual environment and needed a little direction. Or as you may say in sports, he was coachable.

So when I reached out to him for an interview, he said yes. Because as a player, he wrote fans back. I’m not a fan of athletes just because they play a game, and specifically for Schremp, how could I be? His NHL  teams weren’t exactly overachievers. What could I root for but crazy shootout skills and perseverance? But I remembered how approachable he was, and the truth is, I DID enjoy watching his shootouts. I’m a little shocked that his shootout skills should be something an NHL team uses similar to a DH in order to gain playoff points- which is probably the future of the game as presently constructed.  So as Rob Schremp has left the game, I feel that he gave the sport an insight as to how to create a roster for the future. And there’s nothing more lasting than being the game changer that redesigned a sport. If only the sport is smart enough to get it. Think about how Larry Bird shot 3 pointers in the 1980’s versus how they’re shot now for a comparison.

Professional hockey allowed a person to have a very diverse career spanning two different hemispheres, but in the process it taught him about himself and to value what life presents you when you least expect it. But what its taught us is that for a professional athlete, life doesn’t end when you hang up your skates. It’s really just beginning.