Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All the Cool Bloggers Are Doing It...

....so I will too.

Thanks to (1) getting older and smarter (2) the internet as a means of fact-checking and (3) the genius that is FireJoeMorgan.com, I have discovered the joys of bad sports journalism. And boy do we have a whopper today, in the form of a Hockey News blog entry by Mike Brophy that argues the Capitals should trade Alexander Ovechkin (or at least look into trading him).

Read what Peerless (The Peerless Prognosticator) and CapsChick (A View From the Cheap Seats) had to say.

The argument goes something like: The Capitals aren't winning with Ovechkin and he's not going to be happy there and Washington doesn't deserve him, thus they should trade him in a deal reminiscent of the Lindros-for-the-world swap.

Now for the fun part: picking apart this argument bit-by-bit.

Point #1: Ovechkin is/will be unhappy in Washington: But what if Ovechkin doesn’t want to play in Washington any longer?

Why Point #1 is stupid: Despite the fantasies of some bigger/older hockey markets Ovechkin hasn't said anything to indicate he is unhappy in Washington. He say he likes the team, likes the fans, likes the city, likes his teammates and likes the direction the franchise is headed. He has said he wished he played in front of bigger crowds, but I'm sure he know that when the Caps starting winning, the fans will come. Maybe writers in other hockey markets are hoping that if they keep saying Ovechkin wants out of D.C., Ovechkin will decide that's the case.

Point #2: Washington doesn't deserve Ovechkin. What if the young superstar tells the Caps he’d prefer to play someplace a little more cosmopolitan than Washington?

Why Point #2 is stupid: With its highly educated and highly skilled workforce, abundance of restaurants/bars and myriad of cultural opportunities (including many of the world's best museums, which are free), Washington clearly doesn't stack up in terms of cosmopolitan-ness, right? Naturally Ovechkin will want to go to some other cultural hotbed like Detroit, Buffalo, Edmonton or Raleigh. This statement by Brophy is one of those ones that's so stupid it makes the whole article lose credibility. If anything, the fact that Washington is so cosmopolitan hurts the Capitals because there's so much else to do.

Really though this just comes down to another point writers have been trying to make - Washington doesn't deserve Ovechkin. Why is that? Because the Capitals haven't won a Cup? Philly hasn't won one since 1975; Toronto since 1967, but I'd bet no one would complain they don't deserve Ovechkin. Because of low attendance? Over the last ten years the Capitals have outdrawn the Bruins six times, even though Washington has been terrible for several years. Yet, would anyone claim Boston is not enough of a hockey town to deserve a player like Ovechkin?

Just for the record here's my cosmopolitan-ness rankings for NHL cities:
(1) New York
(2) Washington
(3) Toronto

Point #3: The Capitals aren't going to win any time soon. Let’s face it, with Ovechkin in their lineup, the Capitals have shown no signs of being a playoff team.

Why Point #3 is stupid: The Capitals are five points out of a playoff spot and seven points out of the division lead and fifth spot in the East. They're 7-4-2 since Boudreau took over. They have this year beaten Ottawa and Detroit, in Ottawa and Detroit, when each team was the best in the league.

Point #4: The Caps don't have enough young talent/enough depth. Let’s face it, with Ovechkin in their lineup, the Capitals have shown no signs of being a playoff team...There are no guarantees re-signing Ovechkin will make the Capitals a successful franchise. In fact, if history has taught us anything, moving a young star just might be the best medicine for a struggling team...[discussion of Lindros trade]

Why Point #4 is stupid: No young talent? No depth on the team or in the farm system? Alexander Semin, Shaone Morrison, Boyd Gordon, Matt Pettinger, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Karl Alzner, Josh Godfrey, Semen Varlamov, Michael Neuvirth, Chris Bourque, Francois Bouchard, Sasha Pokulok. Yeah, the Capitals need more young talent.

Point #5: The Capitals could get a haul similar to what the Nordiques got for Lindros. When the franchise was still located in Quebec, Eric Lindros put a gun to the team’s head, demanding a trade. The Nordiques considered a few options and ultimately traded Lindros for a package that included Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a first round draft pick and $15 million.

Why Point #5 is stupid: The Nordiques got six players for Lindros, $15 million and two first round picks. The six players were: a sure-fire Hall of Famer and probably the most dominant player in the league in his prime (Forsberg), a very good goalie (Hextall), a tough guy with some skill (Simon), a great defensive player with good offensive upside (Ricci), a solid defenseman (Huffman) and a great offensive defenseman (Duchesne).

Who even has that kind of talent in the NHL with the parity that exists? I'd say the best team in terms of young talent are Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. With that in mind I give you Mike Brophy's potential trade ideas:

Ovechkin to Los Angeles for Kopitar (Forsberg), Johnathon Bernier (Hextall), Jack Johnson and Brad Stuart (Huffman and Duchesne), Alexander Frolov (Ricci) and...someone else who's analogous to Simon. Oh yeah, and $15 million dollars, adjusted upwards for twenty years of inflation. And two first round draft picks.

Ovechkin to Pittsburgh for Malkin (Forsberg), Fleury (Hextall), Staal (Ricci), Orpik and Gonchar (Huffman and Duchesne), and again someone unknown who's analogous to Simon. Oh yeah, and $15 million dollars, adjusted upwards for twenty years of inflation. And two first round draft picks.

What do you think, guys? Would Pittsburgh or L.A. go for it? I bet they would! Because handing over money and cost-controlled skilled youngsters is a formula for success in the salary cap era of the NHL! Oh, wait....

Plus, I still don't think either of those trades would be as good as what Quebec got for Lindros.

Point #6: It would be a good idea for the Capitals. [whole article]

Why Point #6 is stupid: Washington's fans are already skeptical of management's commitment to win and whether the Capitals can achieve success and trading Ovechkin could deal a blow to the fan base that it may never recover from.

Conclusion: This article is stupid and Mike Brophy probably knows it. But it's getting people to talk about it, write about it, and visit The Hockey News website.


Focality said...

I agree on all points, dmg. While I feel Brophy is better than that, this blog entry of his places one of his feet in the same camp as that of Larry Brooks, Bruce Garrioch or, dare I say it, Eklund.

Much of it sounds like fantasy hockey speculation: a bunch of guys and gals sitting around talking about how cool it'd be if X happened.

You'll note this entry is in THN's top 3 editor's picks and has received lots of comments on it across the blogosphere. Slow news day, perhaps, but the Caps have received too little in-depth analysis from the hockey media, who tend to gloss over anything that's not in the top 5 in the league. If the Caps were sitting high in the standings, THN would devote more time to them besides wishes that Ovie would play elsewhere.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

dmg: Brophy's article is indeed assinine