I’ve criticize the main stream hockey media (particularly the Toronto one) here many times and I will continue to do so every once and a while. One of the reasons I started this website was to counter some of the pure nonsense that some in the media choose to write. Today’s target is Al Strachan.
He writes an article about big spending teams still winning (Colorado, Philadelphia, Detroit, NY Rangers) but cites two previously big spending teams who aren’t winning this year (St. Louis and Toronto) but justifies St. Louis no longer being a good team because they chose to dismantle their team (trading Pronger and more recently Weight, Sillinger and probably soon to be more). But the real crux of the article was to give him a reason to bash the Leafs.
I’ll get to his Leaf bashing later but let’s me mention two things so far. First, while the Rangers were one of the top spending teams in 2003-04 and sucked, they probably aren’t this year and are doing great. Probably not the best example of a big spending team *still* winning. Second, yes, the St. Lous traded Pronger but they are still a big spending team and if you bash the Leafs for spending big and not playing well then you have to bash the Blues as well. You can’t just let them off the hook because they let a big priced guy go because the reality is that they let wrong big price guy go.
He cites four players that the Leafs have over spent on.
1. Tie Domi – ” The two-year deal to Tie Domi had the rest of the league snickering.”
2. Jason Allison – ” Jason Allison has played well, but you simply cannot, under any circumstances, tie up $4.5 million of your cap room for a player of that calibre.”
3. Ken Klee – ” Ken Klee is another useful player. Under the old order, his $1.9 million would not be out of line. But it is in today’s game.”
4. Antropov – ” The same can be said of Nik Antropov, who earns a salary almost identical to that of Sillinger. Which one would you rather have? To help you make your decision, you should know that Sillinger has 24 goals, Antropov seven.”
I agree on Jason Allison. He’s been decent this year but not worth $4.5 million. Tie Domi making $1.5 million wouldn’t be bad if he was the Tie Domi of 2003-04 but he seems to have lost some of the edge he used to play with. It’s fine that he doesn’t fight as much as he used to but he doesn’t crash and bang as much either and that makes him not worth what he is being paid. But, I would not be surprised if someone traded for him so I wouldn’t classify him as hugely overpaid. Ken Klee is just rediculous though. $1.9 million is probably a bit high for a player of his age/skill level but not vastly over paid and since it was a carry over contract it was probably not worth buying him out. If he was an unrestricted free agent he’d have probably gotten $1.5+ million anyway.
But the one that really irks me is saying Antropov is over paid and comparing him to Sillinger because Sillinger has 24 goals this year. It is a rediculous statement to make because you are comparing Antropov to a very mediocre player having a career year and who benefitted greatly by playing a ton of minutes on the Blues top line because the blues lacked any depth. But the Blues sucked in a big way and Sillinger was a part of that. In St. Louis, Sillinger was a -17 3rd worst on the team. In 9 games with the Predators he has just 2 goals and is a -5. Over his careere Sillinger is -186 in 886 games and has only had a single + season when he has played more than 30 games (+2 in 1993-94 with Detroit). Had the Leafs given a $1 million contract to him last off season coming off an 8 goal 2003-04 season the Leafs would have been ridiculed by everyone in the Leafs media, including Mr. Strachan. One more Sillinger stat for you:
Blues record with Sillinger: 11-20-8
Blues record without Sillinger: 6-2-1
Predators record without Sillinger: 31-14-6
Predators record with Sillinger: 4-5-0
Read into that what you want.
Antropov on the other hand is a +4 (3rd on the Leafs), kills penalties pretty well and has never had a – season when he has played at least 12 games.
The sad thing is that there is a message that can be clearly be read into the records by the Rangers, Red Wings, Flyers, Avalanche, Leafs and Blues. Goaltending wins. This is most evident by looking at the Rangers. They had the talent in 2003-04, but they didn’t have the goaltending. This year they have the goaltending and they are winning. When Aebischer was struggling earlier in the year the Avalanche weren’t winning, now that Aebischer is playing well, they are winning. Detroit has had very good goaltening and Philadelphia has been mostly good. The Blues and Leafs haven’t. Extending it further, Los Angeles won a lot of games early because they were getting good goaltending.
All this is interesting because the most over paid Leaf (based on performance) is Ed Belfour, who Strachan for some odd reason chose not to put him on his list. He is far more overpaid than Klee or Antropov and is a far bigger reason why the Leafs aren’t higher in the standings. If the Leafs had good goaltending they would easily be in a playoff position and probably not far behind Philadelphia in the standings. But, for some reason Antropov and the Leafs defense as a whole (hence Klee) are the whipping boys of the Toronto media (and they have never really liked Domi either) so they get criticized over the more deserving.