Friday, 25 September 2015

Speculation on, criticism of Jarred Tinordi reaching fever pitch.

I see we're reaching DefCon 1 on Jarred Tinordi, approaching critical mass at which point we'll achieve fusion furore.  And it's not just a social media and chat forum deal, like Zenon Konopka a few summers ago, RDS for one is all in, picking apart his game every chance they get, every pre-game or post-game or between-periods talky-talk segment they run.

I appreciate that at least they're accurate on this subject, they're correct, contrary to Mike McCarron's case, where they keep saying that he got moved to centre last season after the trade to Oshawa.  In fact, we know well that Mike got put at centre two seasons ago by the London Knights' perfidious head coach, and played mostly fourth-line centre the rest of their Memorial Cup Host season.  Last season, he played first-line centre with Max Domi and piled up points, until getting traded to Oshawa, where he played second-line centre behind Cole Cassels, and obtained more muted results in the points column, but still played a critical role in their conquest of the Memorial Cup.

I've criticized RDS on this subject before, how fuzzy or plain uninterested they are in the prospect pool, in the farm teams, with Gaston Therrien being shaky, and Gilbert Delorme, Mario Tremblay and Jacques Demers basically ignorant of the situation.  But in the Jarred Tinordi case, they're on the ball, they know the issues.

1)  He's a leftie, behind Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, and Nathan Beaulieu on the depth chart.

2)  He's in a battle for a putative #7 spot with Greg Pateryn if there isn't a trade involving defencemen, since Greg is behind P.K., Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert on the right side.

3)  He's in a battle for a putative #8 spot and fourth on the left side with Mark Barberio, who's having a good camp and giving good competition for that spot.

4)  He's got to go through waivers to be sent down to the AHL, but it's a foregone conclusion that he wouldn't sneak through, that another team would claim him.  That means he has to be on the roster this season, or be traded to avoid losing him for nothing.

Gaston Therrien and Denis Gauthier had a good discussion yesterday about the practical realities.  Gaston tried to tamp down the controversy, saying that he hadn't had a bad game against the Leafs, that he's still a singular talent, with a big heart and size and strength and mobility.  He argued that other teams, not having familiarity breeding contempt, and not focusing on his warts, would see great value and great potential in Jarred, so we shouldn't get burned, unload him for nothing.  We should be patient.

Denis agreed with all that, but also talked about what being patient means.  Yes we can keep him on the roster, stash him that way, but that only works for a little while.  He explained that you can't keep a kid like that in the pressbox for 10 or 12 games straight, if there aren't any inuries, at some point you have to make a decision.  It's not fair to keep a kid like that if you're not going to play him.

It's been said that the aspects he needs to work on, decision-making and on-ice vision, are things you work on while playing, you can't improve those while sitting in the stands.  And I agree in a large degree, it's not ideal at all to sit out Jarred when he should playing.  It would be much better to have him in the AHL this season, getting minutes.

Being in the roster but sitting int he stands still would help though in one important way, which is to give the kid time, confidence, and to quell the indecision.  The kid is so confused right now, getting hounded by the press and social media that he's tight, overthinking, fearful of making mistakes.  If he's on the team in November, getting the occasional game in to spell Andrei Markov or sub in when someone's banged up, he'll settle down, settle in, and start to contribute.

It's often been said that Jarred needs to simplify things, speed up his decision-making.  I posted before how instead of trying to make Markov-quality zone breakouts and passes, what he should do is simply pass the puck to his partner whenever he's open.  Yesterday I was limited to viewing the "Canadiens Express" version of the game, so I didn't see the whole thing, but on one sequence, Jarred was on his side and had the puck, took a quick look up-ice and found nobody wide open.  He didn't insist, just slid the puck to Tom Gilbert, who drew a forechecker before sliding the puck back to Jarred, who then hit a forward with a clean pass.

Success!  I cheered at this simple play.  And hoped that the coaches would show him this video, and ask him to do more of that, and less of the behind-the-net quarterbacking.  Just pass it to your more puck-skilled partner.  Your job is to be big and tough and protect Carey and work the corners and front of the net.  Let the others be Phil Housley.  Keep it simple, big lug.

One final point about Jarred is that yes, his size is a big part of the fascination with him as a prospect, compared to a Darren Dietz or Christian Thomas.  Precisely.  That's the whole point.  His being 6'6" makes him a singular weapon, and not just in the intimidation sense.  We saw him correct his own mistake when he was backtracking and trying to corral a puck, a Washington forward bearing down on him.  Jarred bobbled the puck, but calmly stripped it off his opponent a couple seconds later, with a surgical poke check, his long reach serving him well.

The RDS boys echo this concept, stating often that the toolkit that Jarred brings to the table is different than the other prospects, and therefore more enticing.  They explain that with Andrei, P.K., Jeff Petry, Tom Gilbert and Nathan Beaulieu, there are enough puck movers and offensively-gifted d-men on the squad.  What we really need is another guy to help out Alexei Emelin in terms of toughness and physical play.

So yeah, it almost feels like a losing battle, I'm starting to re-think my advocacy sometimes, but then remember how Marc Bergevin loves defencemen, loves size and character, how he tells us all the time to be patient, and I continue believing that Jarred is secure in Montreal.

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