Monday, 25 January 2016

Team toughness, or, how Derek Dorsett and Shawn Thornton infest the NHL.

(17 January 2016)

Willie Desjardins is often derided for his mannerisms and coaching decisions by the fans out here, the way his go-to adjective is “real good” (“He played real good, we prepared real good…”), and his coaching and lineup decisions, the way he relies on his veterans and hesitates to put his youngsters (Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen) in the lineup or give them icetime. He has his favourites and they get all the ice, and there are those players he’s not all that enamoured with. He talks about not rushing the youngsters, that the NHL is a level up from the AHL or CHL.

He’s also got a Medicine Hat Tigers connection, players he coached in junior that he trusts and that Jim Benning went out of his way to obtain. He gave the Kings a 2nd round pick in July 2014 for Linden Vey, a player who was waived this season. He gave the Rangers a third-round pick on the same day to the Rangers for undisciplined, dirty Derek Dorsett. He recently swapped Nicklas Jensen and a sixth-round pick for Emerson Etem, a big winger and speedster who hasn’t bloomed to expectations yet.

Last night against the Capitals, Willie Desjardins put Derek Dorsett on the right wing of the Sedin line, and people understood what he was doing. He was rewarding his boy for standing up for his team in post-game scrum after the game with the Panthers. It was a team-building thing, a message to the guys about toughness and sticking up for each other.

So he made this line for practice before the game, and then stuck with it for the duration of the game. Radim Vrbata, the big ticket UFA from Summer 2014, played a lot of the game on the fourth line. And of course, the coach is getting slammed now for being obstinate, for not adjusting during the game.

And about the Panthers game, Jason Botchford reports that the thing that shaved ape Shawn Thornton said to the Sedin brothers that set them off was “If you guys are sisters, does that mean your wives have (…)?”

This is who Denis Potvin was drawn into defending, the incident which made him call Daniel Sedin “a lowlife”, defend his position the next day, and the subsequent day issue a written statement through the team’s PR department as a mealy-mouthed apology.

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