The Contrarion argues that Florida Panthers' problems run deeper than money.
Meow, meow, meow
The Panthers fired their head coach Kevin Dineen on Friday. In fact the whole coaching staff has been replaced. Mark Spector from Sportsnet knows what the underlying problem is with Florida… money.
To be complete he identifies three other sub things that they need. “That you can’t win when your best players are all in their early 20s. That you need commensurate veteran leadership around those young players to carry them through their inevitable runs of inconsistency, and teach them how the NHL game is played. You also need stellar goaltending, because breakdowns occur more and the chances allowed tend to be of a higher quality.”
The money issue, however, trumps those other items. He writes, “The problem is, when you are Florida there is never enough money to attack the free agent market in search of those veterans.”
If they could only spend more money they would then be better. Tell that to the Philadelphia Flyers.
If you cannot win when your best players are in their early 20’s how does letting go of the coaching staff solve that issue? The young players do not get any older with a new set of coaches.
To his second point about needing veteran leaders, what are Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Brad Boyes, Scott Gomez, Scottie Upshall, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim and you might as well throw in Ed Jovanovski too even though he is on long term injury reserve. They might not be the best set of veteran players but they are veterans. Would the Panthers be better if they had gone out and signed Jaromir Jagr to play with them? I do not think so. Simply spending money does not solve this problem. If anything you still have to spend the money wisely.
If this set of veteran leaders is not doing their job of mentoring and providing leadership to their younger teammates then how about trading them away for guys that will. In his article Mark highlights the Colorado blue-collar defence core. By definition, you do not need a whole lot of money to sign blue collar players.
His third point about needing stellar goaltending could be applied to any team rebuilding or not. This summer they took a calculated chance on Tim Thomas and thus far he has not helped. Why not trade for Cory Schnieder like New Jersey did? Did they try to get Jonathan Bernier? If that is too much of a reach, because Bernier had the second best goals against average last year, what about trying to pry Semyon Varlemov from Colorado whose GAA was 44th best in the league last year. The feeling I was getting from fantasy hockey enthusiasts this summer was that Varlemov was not very good and that Colorado would be on the market for a replacement.
In the end, Mark Spector comes up with the notion that money solves every problem and because they are not a playoff contender that only makes matters worse in attracting free agents.
A few Years ago the Toronto Maple Leafs had a difficult time getting free agents and they had lots of money to spend. Good or bad, Toronto traded to get Phil Kessel and it was not until they showed some team chemistry before players wanted to sign with them instead of going to other teams for lesser money.
The reality is that the Florida Panthers are not very good. Kevin Dineen did his best but it was not enough.
At the end of the 2010-11 season, they were ranked 28th in the league. They scored 195 goals and they allowed 229. Their power play was last, penalty killing was sixth best and they took the least amount of penalties.
Then Dineen was hired and at the end of 2011-12 they were ranked 14th overall (third in the conference). Take a deeper look at the core numbers and you will see that a lot of this was with smoke and mirrors.
They scored 203 goals, eight more than the year before. They had 227 goals against which were two less than the previous year. The power play was ranked seventh best but their penalty killers were now 25th. They took the eighth most penalties but this was only one full minute more per game. How the heck did they get into the playoffs?
Washington ran into their own difficulties with injuries and a philosophy change. Tampa Bay was near with the same number of wins but they did not have as many overtime and shootout losses. Winnipeg was adjusting to not being Atlanta any longer and Carolina simply did not win enough.
In the 2012-13 short season things went back to normal. Florida was the last place team overall. The projected goals for over 82 games would have been 191 and goals against 292. The power play was ranked high at sixth, the penalty kill was last and they once again continued to take more penalties averaging an additional 1.6 minutes a game from the season before.
During those years, David Booth was traded in a multi-player deal to Vancouver for Mikael Sammuelsson and Marco Sturm. Sammuelsson left as a free agent and Sturm was out of the NHL. Wojtek Wolski didn’t work out. Mike Santorelli was placed on waivers where Vancouver scooped him up. Stephen Weiss was injured, could not be traded and then left to go to Detroit. Looks to me like Dale Tallon didn’t help his own team out so much.
George Richards of the Miami Herald quotes Dale Tallon as saying, “There’s the old saying, ‘It’s easier to fire the coach than 23 players.’… We need to be better.”
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov and Dieter Kurtenbach quote owner Vinnie Viola, “We must all be accountable for the results thus far – from ownership to coaches to players – and we felt strongly that a coaching change was necessary for this team to reach it’s potential.”
Some players might be moved but eventually it will be on Tallon. It was Tallon’s choice of coaches and his choice of players. There will be only one choice left for the owner and it is not to let his current GM spend more money.
Until that time comes you will have to plug your ears as the cats meow.
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