Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Finally! The Montreal Canadiens, the kings of openness and transparency in information distribution have decided to hire someone to study coaching trends and figure out what systems other teams are using. Now the coaches will know for sure that the Flyers depend on Carcillo and Richards to crash the net and torment the goalie, and they'll be certain that the leafs will try to hurt people when they're losing. This is a dream job. It's a professional fan with a title and a dental plan. And Ken Morin, late of the ECHL's Bakersville Condors, is the lucky winner of that position. Hockey Information Coordinator. Nice work, if you can get it!
Morin isn't the only guy joining the Habs staff. Gauthier has brought in five new scouts as well, to replace the guys he turfed a couple of months ago. That's great to see, if only because the more eyes looking at prospects, the better. I only wish we knew more about what makes these guys better than the old guys. Sure, Serge Boisvert was a happy inmate of "Alcatraz" back in 1986 and his name's on the Cup despite his mostly minor-league career. But I'd like to know what credentials he has to scout the Q...arguably the most important region to many Montreal fans...for the Habs.
And sure, Ryan Jankowski has been around for the acquisition of some of the Islanders good young talent, but how hard was that, when the Isles have had so many can't-miss draft positions in recent years? I like the idea of getting Christer Rockstrom, who had a sharp eye for the Wings, to scout Europe. The Canadiens had been seriously lax in that region.
Still, unless we take the time to really search out the backgrounds of these guys, we don't know a lot about them. I think the scouts are possibly the most important employees in the organization. If they don't find the talent, the GM's got nothing to barter and the coaches have nothing to develop into a team. A great scout can turn a low-round draft pick into a steal and a first-rounder into a home run. So when the Habs announce they've hired scouts, I want them to announce it like a movie studio announces its next big-budget picture.
I want to hear that Christer Rockstrom was instrumental in turning a Detroit Red Wings third-round pick into perennial all-star and Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom. I want a list of Islanders players Jankowski found that weren't top-five no-brainers. Sell it to us, Habs! Give us five new reasons to hope this bunch will find better talent than the other guys did, so the GM won't have to trade for prospects to top up a shallow organizational talent pool.
The Canadiens are where they are right now partially because of bad drafting. A failure to pick the right guys means the team has to go out and buy them instead. Just imagine, for example, if, in any one of the last seven or eight years, the Habs had picked a real NHL centreman. There've been lots of them available when Montreal has drafted. If the Canadiens had filled that long-standing organizational need for free with a draft pick, the Gomez trade wouldn't have happened and the team wouldn't now be saddled with that contract. (Disclaimer for those who'll jump to defend Gomez: He's a good player, but the contract hurts.) Just one successful first-round choice of a centre...let's say Carter in 2003...would mean the team would be bigger down the middle, not in a cap crunch and still in possession of Ryan McDonagh's rights. Higgins might have been traded anyway, but it would have been for another piece the team needed instead of Gomez. One draft good pick...and I'm not even talking about a superstar, just a good, solid player...would have drastically improved the team we see on the ice now.
So, if these guys can get the Habs drafting better, they're going to be really important hires and I want to know all about them. Hey! Maybe I should write to the new Hockey Information Coordinator. He'd have all the answers, right?
Posted by J.T. at 9:55 AM