DOE’S DARE AMERICANS ARE TAKING ALL THE GOOD OL’ CANADIAN BOYS’ HACKEY JABS 

DOE’S DARE AMERICANS ARE TAKING ALL THE GOOD OL’ CANADIAN BOYS’ HACKEY JABS 

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Don Cherry said something nonsensical with no basis in fact, guys. Let’s talk about this.

 

 

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).

 
League
Leafs
Canadians485 (46%)17 (50%)
Americans279 (26.5%)10 (29.4%)
Euros288 (27.3%)7 (21%)
Total Picks105334

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)
2009493
2010352
2011363
2012443
2013341
Total198 (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
2013630
2012671
2011614
2010630
2009673
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.)

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
156 comments
dlb Mad
dlb Mad

Playing BOS makes us better.

Playing ANA, DET, CHI, SJ, LA has made STL better.

The Leafs have had success and failures playing in tough games.  "Playing the way STL plays" has already become a cliche here in a couple of days.

The team is still developing no matter what you say, and we're still determining who the pretenders are.

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

Am going to open a new winery, a micro one...need alcohol to get through the Leafs demise....have some cool brand names.


Frozen Rabbit...a stiff red 

Birds of Pray....a holy white

Christine .... a tasty delicious wine

Toronto Maybe Leafs....an alcohol laden wine


Order here please, $150 per bottle.  :)


Burtonboy
Burtonboy

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 .

hometeem
hometeem

thanks again alec for a good read,  surpised that 30% of NHLers are from the US college system.

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

Found this gem article quote when Wilson was fired-

"That Burke waited as long as he did to fire Wilson is a testament to his loyalty, which trumped good sense.

Weep not for Wilson, who leaves with another year on his contract, handed to him like a gift to a death row inmate. He'll eventually find another gig and there's a growing sentiment that he wasn't the problem here"

uh.. no Wilson will not eventually find another gig... it has been 2 yrs.  

Randy will though.. just not here

lukethenuke
lukethenuke

Playoff hockey approaching and here we are talking draft again... great to be a Leafs fan... but good article Alec

phaneufoundlander
phaneufoundlander

Flyers lost 2...gonna be hungry for the Leafs on Friday....last chance leafs..lose this one and turn the oven off...

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

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.

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

@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.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@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...

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@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

MaxwellHowe
MaxwellHowe

@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?

Cameron19
Cameron19

@CanuckUKinToronto  Wilson wasn't looking for another gig. He said several times he was going to retire to spend time with his family. 

ingy56
ingy56

@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.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Burtonboy

thanks BB.  if this is news to someone (about the Leafs) it's because they're too busy railing on Carlyle's system

Bozak is a stop player, though.  and Bolland.  McCLemment to a degree, and Bodie has earned himself more ice time by not doing fly-bys.  on defense, Ranger and Gleason finish "over the puck" and Rielly has appeared to be trying to do that more and more.

so there is some hope in this group.

PEIleafnation
PEIleafnation

@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
Burtonboy

@peterbleafs @Burtonboy  Or get a coach who knows how to get these players to buy in. Obviously Carlyle hasn't been able to do it . I'm beginning to wonder if anyone can 

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@Cameron19 @Burtonboy  Well if they don't we are destined to remain a mediocre team . I'm open to moving any player now Cameron . Kessel, Kadri ,whatever it takes . I've had enough of the fuckin bullshit 

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@ingy56 @Burtonboy  These problem should have been addressed yrs ago . During the Wilson era in fact . Lots of bad habits developed during that time 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@PEIleafnation

it's true.  Kessel does that most of the time.  but lately he's been putting his body in there caring more about the defensive battle than the offense chance.  he does change when he feels he needs to, like in playoffs or when the team needs more from him.  he's grown.

when a guy is "that good" offensively a coach can let him be himself to a certain degree (always require a level of team compliance, of course).  you take the good with the bad, and expect the rest of the roster to pick up the slack in that department.

Stamkos and Malkin are just two other examples of players who are no different that Kessel in this regard.

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@Mind Bomb @Burtonboy  Its simply a matter of working hard . Lot more work to stop and go then there is to simply gliding around on your edges all the time 

peterbleafs
peterbleafs

@Burtonboy @peterbleafsI think the Leafs execute his system but his system is retarded, and everyone can see it.  If a system is retarded the players can only buy i a certain amount, which makes it even worse.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Greg Fenton

your premise that this group has failed for 3-4 years over 2 coaches is incomplete analysys.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Greg Fenton

Burke didn't have the patience?  i don't think that's fair at all since he was let go before his work was able to be realized.

Burke ultimately hired a coach who had the same brand of hockey in mind as he did.

Burke drafted the types of players he felt capable of playing that brand.  Namely, kids with solid character first and foremost.

The Marlies represent Burke's vision this year.

Burke was let go.  I'd say the owenership didn't have patience for Burke.  I think you always had a problem with Burke since it always comes back to Burke and the players he stuck his neck out for.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@ingy56 @Greg Fenton @dlb eh  I agree, I think this core and team has been flawed......thats not fair, I see no reason why these core players can't be part of a winning team and core. Lets say incomplete, since Burke started putting it together in 09-10. 


Unfortunately the way Burke choose to put them together doesn't lend itself to adding talent that easily. I think you're right, they need drastic change and/or addition to really get where they want to go, a Cup, but I dunno if the current management group is willing/able to make that kind of change. 

ingy56
ingy56

@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
Greg Fenton

@ingy56 @Greg Fenton @dlb eh  Yep, the coach gets blamed because its easier to go after the coach then somones favorite player, who's jersey they have etc.... 


I agree. I think when a team hasn't had much success (and by I mean just making the playoffs) in a decade, and the current group has been together, largely, for several seasons, through 2 coaches with drasticlly different styles, you have to look at the players and personal (ie - Nonis) who have been here through all that time of failure. 


I think it would also be great if some people got into the line of thinking that while some players (ie - the top players here) aren't "the problem" that doesn't automatically mean they are "part of the soluation and can't be moved". Ignoring individual play and performance (which can always be "excused away), this group as a whole hasn't proven very much. 

ingy56
ingy56

@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
Greg Fenton

@dlb eh @ingy56  THeir owner, GM and coach are also allo n the same page, that doesn't appear to be the case here. They draft and develop a lot of players, but they've also had the same team identity for years and draft players that fit that mould. When a player gets called up they already fit into the system, they know how to play "Red Wing hockey". 


We don't have that here. Burke didn't have the patience to build that kind of pipeline and culture. Most of the players here now were brought in to play in Wilson's system not Carlyle's, they don't hae the same kind of strong team identity running through the franchise. Carlyle wasn't Nonis's hire, and Nonis wasn't Lieweke's. 

ingy56
ingy56

@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 Mad
dlb Mad

@ingy56

one more thing to consider.

over this losing streak, we've gone to the intermission behind regularily.  each time that happens, it's an automatic assumption that we came out flat and weren't prepared or focused or something.

yes, there have been some mistakes.  but those happened for both teams and we didn't put one past their goalie.

not to pin it all on the goalies, but some of the goals that have put us behind were really weak.  and they didn't do justice to the effort and level of play we truely did get in (i'd say 4 of the last 6 games)

ingy56
ingy56

@dlb eh @ingy56  The difference with Detroit is definitely coaching. Babcock won't let them use excuses as a crutch and he is able to adapt their game to suit the players he has. Unlike Carlyle who just refuses to use players that could be useful. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@ingy56 @dlb eh  I completely agree. 


And beyond just becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, the excuses prevent improvement, which is why we often see the same issues and weaknesses exist for years with this team. Many fans, people in the media, andk I think managament fall in love with some players (normally the better ones), ignore and make excuses for their poor play, weaknesses and mistakes, blame supporting, less important and less impactful players, which is where change tends to happen, and ultimately nothing changes. 



ingy56
ingy56

@dlb eh @ingy56  I agree, just using that play as an example, Lupul does it once virtually every shift. I just wished that every last player had the proper mental focus to start the games all season long and they wouldn't be in this mess. 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@ingy56

don't forget, though.  DET's been in the playoffs and through it all for a decade now.  that's a lot of credibility the coaches and veterans have built up.  and they develop players in their farm system properly so they aren't coming up as 20 years olds trying to do things they're not comfortable doing.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@ingy56

i agree.  so i'm only debating the Phil as i go on now.

talk the talk and then walk the walk.

i can't shit on Phil, though.  i mean i can, but i won't based on just that one play.  i would if that's the type of hockey he's been playing, but frankly that was the exception and it reminds people of what he used to be".  that's not what he is now.

when he's scoring he tends to do more fly-bys than when he's not.  when pucks aren't going in he's playing harder all over the ice.  i can see it plainly.  he's using his body suddenly, blocking shots, getting to loose pucks first and rolling of the hits, etc.

he's trying to lead by example, and that's right in line with what we're both saying: "best players should do more than just score (what he's good at in this case)"

ingy56
ingy56

@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 Mad
dlb Mad

@ingy56

i think there's no shortage of concentration right now.  the problem is probably having too much on the mind.

ingy56
ingy56

@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. 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@ingy56

but watch the rest of the game.  it's a bad habit and after that Phil was hitting the breaks hard trying to make up for that.  he knew what he did.

ingy56
ingy56

@Burtonboy @ingy56  No accountability, like you said above. It's waived off as  "Well Phil does other things for the team instead".  Bullshit, your best players should strive to better at every facet of their game and not just concentrate on their strengths.

Horatio85th
Horatio85th

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.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Greg Fenton

Bozak and Kessel are buddies, and Kessel is the superior talent.  Bozak doesn't follow Kessel's lead in the bad ways.

the rest of the team can choose to play however they want.

Kane doesn't follow Toews lead, but the other winger on that line better compliment them or they'll be replaced with someone who will.

Kessel can be a leader in his own way and the supporting cast is quite capable of doing what the coach asks without creating a problem.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Mind Bomb

would you pay Kulemin 3 million a year for 5 years?

that's not an automatic for me, and i have a feeling he won't sign for that example anyway.  what's your feeling?

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Mind Bomb @Greg Fenton @hometeem @Burtonboy  I know, I wasn't trying to put words in your mouth. I just was saying/adding that, like most things, lists like that are very situation dependent. 


Though why move van Riemsdyk if he doesn't commit to better defense but not Kessel? Of your 3, Bernier has been about as good as you can asking a starting goalie, I think its unrealistic to ask a starting goalie to be a Venza level goalie. Rielly is only 20 with lots of potential, so of course you keep him, we don't know what player he will ultimately be yet. But why demand that other established, veteran players must improve and get better or be moved but not demand the same thing of Kessel? The top players are the most important to get on the same/right page. 


I don't think its a coincidence that many/most of the Leafs top players (espically forwards) are not very physical and/or good in their own zone, and interested in playing that fast, counter attack style and the rest of the team seems to have taking that attitude on. 

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@dlb eh @Mind Bomb   See DLB I dont, He has always been a leaf, His wife and Children,live here, go to school here, I bet he resigns for a minimal raise

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@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


dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Mind Bomb

oh yes, him too.  but i think he'll want too much money to fit the role he's best suited for.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Mind Bomb @hometeem @Burtonboy  The untouchable list does/should/needs to change based on direction. 


If they aren't "blowing the team" (which I would be shocked if they do), you probably also put van Riemsdyk on there to keep that duo together. Lupul and Phaneuf for leadership, depth and keeping your one big minute D-man. 

If you are going to blow it up, you move Kessel but hold onto players like Kadri, Gardiner, Holland, along with 1 or 2 veterans (I like Gleason and Lupul). 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Mind Bomb

i think it's the reason Holland and Ashton haven't had big roles this year.  when they do break out the coach will demand they play right.  and he'll have to crack the whip on the veterans then as well.  i think we'll see a few players changed out this sumer so we have more guys who will buy in to the stop and go hard mentality.

Bolland, Clarkson, Bozak, Bodie, McCLemment are all guys who will.

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@hometeem @Mind Bomb @Burtonboy  


Hahaha, TBH only 3 players IMHO are safe, all others can step up of get out so I will list the 3 its shorter


Kessel

Rielly

Bernier


I dont care if its Lups, Kadri, Gardiner etc. If you wont change your play, then I will trade you. I have had enough

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Mind Bomb

it's not a hard thing to learn, it's a hard thing to do.  it's commitment to putting energy into THAT instead of breaking down the ice in open space.

hometeem
hometeem

@Mind Bomb @Burtonboy  imo its harder coaching mix because its not really teaching someone something, they should already know this.  Its about changing someones work ethics

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@Mind Bomb @Burtonboy  You have to demand that type of play . Carlyle's reluctance to take away ice time is baffling to say the least. Either you play this way of you simply don't play  

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@Burtonboy @Mind Bomb  Aye but he learned, Its only hard at first, but thats why the coach makes big bucks, he makes them, Like Hitch did :) 

Burtonboy
Burtonboy

@Mind Bomb @Burtonboy  According to Hitch it isn't simple. One of the hardest things to do is get guys to commit to stop and go Hockey . He said Backes was terrible at it until he started playing with Steen .