Don Cherry said something nonsensical with no basis in fact, guys. Let’s talk about this.
1) Leafs love those College guys. Signed Eric Knodel from University of New Hampshire. Going to get a tryout with the Marlies. That means
— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) March 26, 2014
2) he takes a spot from some guy slugging it out on the buses. If you want to make the Leafs or get a tryout just go to a US College.
— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) March 26, 2014
We’ve heard Don Cherry rail about this type of thing before. It is one of my favourite misinformed Cherry rants (no sarcasm, Don entertains me and makes me laugh regularly and I’d love to become his tweeting scribe if the woman who does it now ever tires or if Don outlives her).
It’s hilarious that Cherry believes Eric Knodel, signed yesterday, is some fancy pants college kid who thinks he is above riding buses like all the Canadian semi-professionals do up north, and in some way Knodel hasn’t earned his way into this low-commitment one-year contract. The guy was a long shot, essentially drafted out of high school because of his ‘measurables.’ It was essentially the same pick as the Barron Smith selection two rounds later in the same draft (a big defenceman, he was the son of Steve Smith who played for the Petes. Being from Peterborough and having seen him play, I could’ve confidently told you he had as much of a chance at an NHL contract as I did). Knodel was a raw project player who played one year in the USHL and four in the NCAA, steadily improving along the way and earning himself an NHL entry-level contract at the end of his college career. It’s a story we should all get behind.
First of all, even if Cherry’s claim was true, there is nothing inherently wrong with it unless we can prove it’s what is leading to poor drafting by the Leafs, or dumb free agent signings, or something. But let’s start with the draft, and run the numbers on this claim that the Leafs favour Americans out of the college system for those who might actually still believe there’s some modicum of truth to it. There are certainly Leafs fans out there who will be taking Cherry’s complaint at face value without knowing the facts.
Let’s start with a Canadians/Americans/Europeans breakdown. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll consider draft classes from 2009-2013 (Burke’s first draft to the most recent one, spanning 1053 picks).
|Canadians||485 (46%)||17 (50%)|
|Americans||279 (26.5%)||10 (29.4%)|
|Euros||288 (27.3%)||7 (21%)|
No surprise as this is well documented. The Leafs draft above the League average in terms of Canadians drafted. They also pick above the League average in terms of Americans drafted, and obviously are therefore below the mean in European draft selections. Really, Cherry should be pleased.
As for the whole Ontario players fiasco that took place between Brian Burke, Ron McLean and Cherry when Burke was still GM, by the way, that was debunked at the time, if you don’t recall. Here is the updated data:
|Ontarians Drafted (NHL)||Ontarians Drafted (Leafs)|
|Total||198 (1.33 per team per draft)||12 (2.4 per draft)|
Now, here are the numbers on draft selections out of college, Canadians and Americans included:
|Picks from NCAA||Leafs picks from NCAA|
|Total (% of Total Picks)||321 of 1053 (30.5%)||8 of 34 (24%)|
(includes both players already with college teams and incoming recruits, numbers per CollegeHockeyNews.com).
Seeing as how Cherry seems to think Knodel was an undrafted signing out of college, what this likely links back to in Cherry’s memory is the number of college free agent signings the Maple Leafs have experimented with over the years, Tyler Bozak and Ben Scrivens both being the most successful examples. These “free wallets” were landed after hotly-contested sweepstakes with nearly all 30 of the League’s teams interested, so of course we were and should’ve been ecstatic the Leafs signed both players (both of whom are Canadian, for whatever it is worth) and were successful as active buyers in the college FA market.
Saskatchewan’s Tyler Bozak has been, at a minimum, a serviceable center for Toronto, and is currently their de facto number one having had a good season in between Kessel and JvR. The Leafs flipped Alberta’s Ben Scrivens and another Canadian kid out of the college system, Matt Frattin, to land their number one goaltender of the future in Jonathan Bernier. These two have had a significant positive impact on the current state of the Leafs roster.
Spencer Abbott has been a moderately successful college signing as the Marlies leading scorer, an AHL All Star and call-up option for the Leafs. He is from nearby Hamilton, Ontario.
Among the duds, Brayden Irwin and Tyler Brenner were Ontario boys from Toronto and Linwood respectively. Christian Hanson was their only college signing who is actually from the United States. But he’s the son of the Hanson from Slapshot, and surely Cherry cannot hate on Brian Burke for tapping into that lineage?
Are these undrafted Canadian players, who made the smart decision to go the NCAA route, get an education and wound up making hockey careers for themselves to varying degrees, effectively dead to Cherry once they leave the Canadian hockey system? It doesn’t make any sense.
Take it away, SB Nation’s Travis Hughes:
All told, 30 percent of NHL players are former collegiate players, and as College Hockey, Inc. will proudly tell you, that number has skyrocketed in the last six-to-10 years. The NCAA is a viable alternative for many young hockey players who either don’t want to or are not ready to commit to Canadian Major Junior teams at age 15 or 16, especially when an NHL career is far from guaranteed. The NCAA offers both a college degree and a legitimate chance at the NHL, if you’re good enough.
That’s what this really comes down to: It’s not an NCAA vs. CHL thing, or a USA vs. Canada thing. It’s a skill thing. NCAA free agents are good enough to play in the AHL and “take spots from guys slumming it on buses,” and many are good enough to play in the NHL. (Not that midnight bus trips between Ithaca and Potsdam are glamorous or anything.)
Anyway until the Leafs learn that you have to play like the St.Louise's of the world they will never be a winner in this League . I'm fully open to making what ever changes are necessary to make this happen. You either conform and play the way you should or you get a plane ticket out of town . That includes every single player on the team . There are no untouchables as far as I'm concerned .
Playoff hockey approaching and here we are talking draft again... great to be a Leafs fan... but good article Alec
Flyers lost 2...gonna be hungry for the Leafs on Friday....last chance leafs..lose this one and turn the oven off...
Hitch made an interesting comment about Alex Steen when he is in the Toronto. He said he's by far the best stop and go player he's ever seen and its rubbed off on his team mates. When he's checking he'll stop on the puck every chance he gets. This doesn't alow the puck carrier much of chance to make a play and most times they cough up the puck. Just watch the Leafs . They never stop ,not a single one of them. Its always a fly by and just waive the stick at the puck carrier . The leafs opponents have far too much time to make a play and that's one of the big reasons we never have the puck.
@Burtonboy Yeah but if you cant figure that out logically and without repetitive beatings youre a bit mentally slow...and frankly the leafs organization is mentally slow. I suggest electric shock therapy for everyone involved with the Leafs at various voltages for certain people.
@Burtonboy This was the approach I started taking last year, but the trouble is, that means questioning so many key members of our roster. Kessel, Lupul and Kadri in particular. THis is also why I wanted a players coach when Wilson was fired. We know the tyrant angle doesn't work with these guys, or that it fades quickly if it does. Was curious to see if you'd get more commitment from a softy. For example, Eakins thought that Kadri actually needed a soft touch more than a kick in the ass. Kessel makes 8 million dollars a year, so I doubt he cares what yelling, angry coaches think. And so on...
@Burtonboy Exactly BB, enough is enough. Play or get out !
@Burtonboy The Leafs need to hire a few fresh faces over the summer to really watch the games and provide an honest assessment of who is contributing to the problem and who can be part of a solution. Not interested in Loiselle or Pouilin telling me that +40 shots is a strategy
@hometeem After they have mostly developed in Canadian development system.
@hometeem Great majority of Americans play in the college system, and a fair number of Canadians, so that seems about right.
Is it surprising the Canadian universities don't have a similar set up?
@CanuckUKinToronto Wilson wasn't looking for another gig. He said several times he was going to retire to spend time with his family.
@Burtonboy Watch the first goal Montreal scored, Kessel gives it away then does a big loop Elvis Stoiko would be proud of instead of stopping ,starting hard and giving chase.
@Burtonboy gonna need a few hundred drills on this during next training camp
@Burtonboy kessel does that a lot...although he is a scoring machine and hate to say it but carlyles always say we need more stop and starts then fly bys
@Burtonboy Interesting, I will look for that
@Greg Fenton @ingy56 @dlb eh Well you really have to put faith in the people in power to know these things. I mean Detroit was all ready to trade Yzerman after three years of disappointment and it turned out to be a good move they didn't. I sure hope the management has a good read on which players can be key components and contribute the right kind of energy a winning team needs. If they miss, and I think they will, something a little more drastic than changing the coach needs to be done in my opinion, and I don't mean buying out Colton Orr and bringing up Carter Ashton.
@Greg Fenton @dlb eh @ingy56 Big problem is the constant shuffling of deck chairs on the first class level. I am trying to think of the last time a GM had carte blanche to hire his own coach and run the program to suit his vision. Quinn had it to some extent but the front office was always in turmoil with power struggles everywhere. JFJ hired Maurice but Peddie was the puppet master. It may have been back as far as Fletcher in the early 90's, but he didn't draft well and support the franchise for the long term.
@Greg Fenton @ingy56 @dlb eh They also blame the coach too. I'm not a Carlyle fan at all but I am also not pleased that some players seem to be tuning out their second coach now. That's not a good indicator of mental toughness at all. I could be wrong, but on appearances only and given the results shown, it certainly makes a good case.
@dlb eh That may be true, but I am sick of excuses frankly. Detroit is a team that should have just folded their tents after losing the core of their team to injury yet they continue on and look like they will get in at the Leafs expense. The excuses just seem to become a self-fulfilling prophecy in Toronto.
@dlb eh Problem is though it happens at the beginning of the game and cost a fragile team the lead. Mental toughness would dictate you are ready to play at the puck drop. Huge problem all season and when you need the concentration the most it isn't there. Multiple breakdowns on that play though, I'm not just sticking it to Kessel here.
Phaneuf for leadership, that's comical. You expect that from a guy who wont even wear a team cap when he represents the Leafs with the media? Ducks a challenge from an opposing teams captain? Clark and Gilmore were leaders, both by example and with character. I don't see any inspiration for the team coming from Phaneuf. Sure he eats minutes, but look at the effort he puts into his game, one push glide, one stride glide. Leadership is defined by the manner in which you conduct yourself in desperate, stressful situations and how you inspire others to emulate that effort.
@Greg Fenton @Mind Bomb @hometeem @Burtonboy Morning Greg, I never said rebuild, I ment trade them for players that will, not prospects. So if JVR does not comit to Better Defense, or Dion then I trade them. I dont see that happening, But if it did then so be it; and we disagree on the Keepers I stand by my 3 keepers as its My Fantasy Leaf team :)
So there lol