SHALLOW POOLS

This is Francis Beauvillier, a scorer in the QMJHL and draft eligible this summer. Chances are he (or another French Canadian playing in the Q) will be one of the names announced by the Habs on day two of the draft.

The Montreal Canadiens will announce Michel Therrien as their new head coach today, according to multiple reports. This falls in line with what we’ve been reading for some time about the storied Montreal franchise: their return to glory will go through Quebec province.

Which isn’t to say they’ll play fast and loose with their lottery pick, they were talking to Ryan Murray as recently as yesterday. I think we’ll see a return to the Serge Savard era, reflected in this quote from Savard himself:

  • “When the Canadiens lost in 82-83, they had just about the same looking team as they have now (2010-11), with only two or three local guys. When they lose in the playoffs, they all go home and they don’t see anything here. In my 14 years as a player with the Canadiens we won 8 Stanley Cups and the years we didn’t win we paid a heavy price in the summer. People asked ‘what happened, how come you didn’t win?’ I wanted my players to live the same thing I lived. So I did not pass on the local talent. So, Simon Gagne would never have played In Philadelphia in my day, not because I’m smarter but because I wouldn’t have allowed him to go (ahead of me) in the draft. Same with (David) Perron in St. Louis. Montreal drafted twice in the first round in 2007 (picking up 2 Amercians) before he was picked from St. Louis. THAT guy would never have passed two picks with me….There is enough local product, and I had a big enough edge because everyone downgraded the Quebec junior league–what an edge. How come I got Patrick Roy in the 3rd round? I got Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux in the second round. Why would those guys go in the 2nd round? That was an edge for us.” (quote courtesy Behind the Moves by John Farris)

I’m not suggesting that Montreal is the only team to do this, the draft tells us Edmonton prefers WHL kids to a fault and they shop almost exclusively in the CHL, Sweden and Finland (although quotes this year suggest MBS is looking at America more now).

I will suggest that this kind of bias is harmful to an organization’s health. Shopping in a shallow pool–made shallow by your own free will–is a loser’s bet. In spite of Serge Savard’s memory of his glory years.

Oh by the way, the players chosen in front of Gagne and Perron? Eric Chouinard (QMJHL) as chosen in front of Gagne and Ryan McDonagh (Minnesota high school) and Max Pacioretty (USHL) went before David Perron.

Shallow pools. Bad idea.

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18 Responses to "SHALLOW POOLS"

  1. dawgbone says:

    That story always killed me, especially given the fact that the Habs chose someone from Quebec in the Gagne draft.

    “I would have been smart enough to choose from Quebec!”

    “Serge, they chose someone from Quebec.”

    “I would have been smart enough to choose someone else from Quebec!”

  2. gd says:

    I think the sentiment that French Canadians will do better in Montreal is accurate, the problem is the Pool is a lot thinner than it was in the 80s. Bergeron is the only French Canadian even close to being on the 2012 Olympic team as it looks like young Quebecers are playing football now instead of hockey. I think this points to why a Quebec City team will be a disaster along with the 53% tax rate and I don’t think we’ll be seeing a Stanley Cup in Quebec for a long time. Though if this means we can get Josh Gorges for Belanger I will be happy.

    Therrien is not an inspiring hire from Bergivin. I believe Pollak would have been able to get Boucher out of TB.

  3. Jordan says:

    Considering the context, I really wish you had one of those waning signs on this post about diving into shallow pools. It would be perfect.

    W.R.T. the fabulous five brought forwards in the last thread, and Ashley’s contributions earlier about the media policy and messaging strategy of the org, I think Speeds is dead on in his assessment that Stu’s pronouncement was put out there to try to stir the pot W.R.T. moving draft picks in the 1st round – weather that means another pick or just a swap.

    The one team I haven’t heard very much about (read: no rumours from anyone) is NYI. Considering their personnel, I could see the appeal of having Yak and Tavares playing together – they need more depth on the wings, no? Could they be the dark horse in all of this?

  4. Doug McLachlan says:

    No question to limit oneself to a shallow pool is a foolish choice but the reverse is true as well and maybe moreso. Do we NOT look at taking Reinhart becasue we have seen him so much and up close that we discount his value?

    If memory serves, and I stand to be corrected, when the Habs passed on Gagne for Chouinard this was, in part, a “draft for need” pick to take the 6’3″ center over the less physical winger. Replace Chouinard with Kelly (though here the perceived need was speed as opposed to size) and Gagne with Doan and we are very, very familiar with the process.

    The problem for the Habs then, was that they decided to pass on the generally acknowledged top player in their shallow pool for someone else in the same pool. Not to put words in his mouth but you should know your neck of the woods better than anyone else and if you do and select those players they become invested in the commuinty in a way that “imported” talent is not.

    Don Cherry’s rant on Ontario players being missing on the Leafs is Don being a blowhard but the reason it has any resonance at all is that there is something to being on a team that you grew up cheering for and dreaming of playing for – see Smyth, Ryan as a good example and Whitney, Ray as a missed example.

    Do you do so blindly, no. But think global, shop local has some advantages that shouldn’t be dismissed.

  5. Ribs says:

    Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting….

    “”He has more strength than you’d think. The first time I really noticed that was actually when I shook his hand,” Tinnish said. “His hands are very big and very strong and I think that’s a very good indicator for raw bat speed and power.”

    Imagine if Stu said something like that about a player. The internet would explode.

  6. Ducey says:

    I’m not suggesting that Montreal is the only team to do this, the draft tells us Edmonton prefers WHL kids to a fault and they shop almost exclusively in the CHL, Sweden and Finland (although quotes this year suggest MBS is looking at America more now).

    MBS has stolen two big Slovak D men the last two years, and picked a Latvian and a German (another steal). It appears the Oilers are shopping globally.

    I would think that one way the Oilers can handle the glut of guys on the 50 man is to go with more college boys.

  7. Wolfpack says:

    Ribs: Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting….“”He has more strength than you’d think. The first time I really noticed that was actually when I shook his hand,” Tinnish said. “His hands are very big and very strong and I think that’s a very good indicator for raw bat speed and power.”Imagine if Stu said something like that about a player. The internet would explode.

    That is hilarious and reminds me of the scene in Moneyball with all the old school scouts. “He has an ugly girlfriend, that shows a lack of confidence”. Yak has at least a couple of girlfriends… what does that say about his confidence? :)

  8. commonfan14 says:

    Wolfpack: reminds me of the scene in Moneyball with all the old school scouts. “He has an ugly girlfriend, that shows a lack of confidence”.

    Thought of this the other day hearing about a minor controversy over some US college football coach (can’t remember which one) saying in an interview that he only hired Assistants with good-looking wives – shows they know how to close the deal with the top recruits.

  9. nathan says:

    “Shopping in a shallow pool–made shallow by your own free will–is a loser’s bet.”

    Habs don’t need to sell tickets, but American players who can sell tickets are another market where some valuations may be too high. At least Montreal won’t have 20 competitors also over-valuing their pool of interest..

    You can’t ignore any pool, but you may be better off maximizing your expertise in some markets more than others.

  10. nathan says:

    Ducey,

    Ducey, US College developed D is especially attractive, but teams at the bottom of NHL preferred destinations also need to be concerned about the college trend towards older freshman years and the UFA implications.

  11. melancholyculkin says:

    The funny thing is that Montreal isn’t really as bad as we saw this season. They had a -7 goal differential, which is better than many teams that finished ahead of them, and were one of the better fenwick teams before Martin was replaced by Cunneyworth and everything went to hell.

    They’ve got a #1 D in Subban, a star winger in Pacioretty, a tough minutes eater in Plekanec and a very good goalie in Price. The new GM could probably do nothing and the Habs will improve by 20-25 points next season.

  12. Doug McLachlan says:

    While discussing US College developed D we return to Justin Schultz. Keeping this linked to the discussion raised by LT, isn’t part of the appeal Edmonton might have for him (besides all the PP time he can drink) is that we are close to his home in Kelowna? I’d be curious to know when he was a kid growing up, in the mid-nineties was he cheering for for the ‘Nucks, Flames or Oil?

  13. Doug McLachlan says:

    melancholyculkin,

    In many respects Therien may be a different messenger than Martin but the message may not change much. I find Martin-brand hockey to be boring as hell but if your best player is a goalie named Price then having a defense-focused team is not the dumbest thing you can do.

    I can easily see the Habs, with a healthier Makarov and a Griegorenko up the middle, threatening for an 8th spot well into March.

  14. spoiler says:

    Completely and Totally Off-Topic:


    All Men Can’t Jump
    Why nearly every sport except long-distance running is fundamentally absurd.

    Pretty interesting if you’re into evolution, food, the Achilles tendon and fast-twitch muscle fibres.

  15. Jordan says:

    spoiler,

    Great share. I agree – it is very interesting. Thank you!

  16. Ducey says:

    I have been watching the MLB draft. What a mess.

    Each team has a specified budget and cannot exceed it much or get fined/ lose draft picks. On its face it should help level the playing field between teams, but it is making a mockery of itself.

    Teams like the Jays have taken some high school tough signs in the first 4 rounds and are now taking college senior moops who have little upside and whose only benefit to the team picking them is that they will sign for less than slot. The teams will presumably take the money they save on these seniors and use it to try to sign the high schoolers. There are a ton of guys who are not top 500 in talent getting taken in the top 200 to 300. There are even rumours that teams tried to register their interns as players before the draft just so they could draft them and save the slot money (MLB apparently prevented that).

    It would be nice to watch your team pick they next best player on the board, rather than some stiff who will get a base contract and then be told to stay in the dugout.

    Whereas the NHL draft is like Christmas, this is like Halloween.

  17. Bar_Qu says:

    spoiler,

    Thanks for passing this on.

    I remember seeing a TED talk on this a couple of years ago, and I found it fascinating. The Slate article is much more in-depth and really confirms what these guys are speculating about. It makes me wonder if I need to start running to get smarter, not just fitter.

    Nah.

  18. Captain Obvious says:

    Ducey,

    The funny thing is that the system is designed precisely so that teams will take the best player on the board.

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