This is Bill Torrey. No no, the other guy! Bill Torrey was part of the management group for the Oakland Seals in the late 1960′s. Did you know that? One of the smartest men in the game’s history sat in an office that housed the absolute nadir of modern hockey. Huh.
- Brian Burke: “I say to him, Bill (Torrey) give me your philosophy. And that’s when he said ‘you’re going to play four rounds in the playoffs, and you need enough size to beat a big team and enough speed to beat a speed team. You’re going to play a team that relies on puck recovery and special teams, so you need good special teams, and then you’ll see another one of those types again. ‘ I crystallized that philosophy a little further with the top six/bottom six, but he’s the first one who philosophy that made perfect sense to me.”
That’s a great quote, because it both gives you an idea about Torrey’s intelligence and Burke’s self-importance. The key though is that innovators changed the game and made it better, using their ability to see things in a different way and change the world.
Message to the Flyers players on the blackboard before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals.
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
Fred Shero did many innovative things during his coaching career. He shortened shifts, hired the first assistant coach, brought real strategy to the game. I’ll give you an example: before Shero (and with few exceptions) all teams played the game in the same way. Wingers stay in their lanes, slap shot inside the blueline was an acceptable choice, blah blah blah. There wasn’t much strategy, and if you read books from the time it’s clear the coach didn’t spend much time preparing his team with specific strategies for their next opponent.
Shero was different. When the Flyers faced Boston for the Stanley, he instructed his team to shoot the puck into Orr’s side of the ice and to punish him physically during the transaction. I’m not certain the impact said plays had, but Philly did win the Stanley and it shows some innovation in his own time.
Tyler Dellow has been drilling down on Taylor Hall’s season, and it’s been a fascinating follow. Dellow’s work and Eric Tulsky’s look at possession have kind of merged around Hall and leave us with an “opportunity for innovation” that sits on Dallas Eakins’ desk.
- Tulsky: Carrying the puck in is way better than dumping it in, more than twice as good — and it’s not because of odd-man rushes or player skill or any other external factor; it’s just because having the puck in the opponent’s zone headed towards the goal is a lot better than trying to outrace the opponent to try to get the puck in the corner. Most people don’t recognize just how big the difference is, and the data suggests that teams should be trying harder than they are to carry the puck in.
Dellow takes those words and applies them to Hall and his season. Although #4′s offense is strong this season, his shot differential is way down. I’m not going to quote the entire piece (it’s actually four articles) but wanted to quote this:
- Dellow: I’ve come to view the game as a series of processes, repeating over and over and over and the winning team, over time, will be the team that wins more of those processes.
Which brings me back to Torrey. His words to Brian Burke talked about speed and size and those things are important. However, as Torrey showed on the island you need guys who can play and a system that won’t fall on its ass. The innovator of today is probably going to say “we found that the neutral zone is torpedo alley—if you can get some torque through the neutral zone and attack the blueline with a clear lane, speed and possession, you are going to score goals.”
You’re saying hell man, coaches do that today! I ask, what are their names? Who among the 30 NHL coaching staffs carries the puck in 70% of the time? We don’t have that answer, but I don’t think the answer is Edmonton. One thing I believe to be true? Dallas Eakins is easily smart enough to figure this out.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- Tyler Dellow from mc79hockey. We’ll talk Olympics and Hall.
- Andrew Bucholtz from 55-yard line. It’s been an insane 10 days in the CFL.
- Rob Vollman from Hockey Abstract, ESPN and Bleacher Report.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. Stay tuned!