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Monday, March 16, 2009

Rewarding Mediocrity

Ethan Moreau is a great person, leader, hockey player, and father - without a doubt. The praises stop there, though.

According to many "advanced" statistics such as the ones being discussed by David Staples, Bruce McCurdy, and Jonathan Willis, it appears that Dustin Penner does more for this hockey team than Ethan Moreau.

Marty Reasoner loved it in Edmonton, did he get his just deserts? Ryan Smyth played his heart out and was a great leader too - look what he got in return for it. And yes, Ethan Moreau "leaves it all out on the ice," in colloquial terms, but what is "it" he leaves on the ice: what is this captain's legacy?

1. Injury-prone
2. Takes more penalties than he draws
3. Continues to fight even though management doesn't want him to
4. Leads by example (meaning, the Oilers don't have any intensity)

Ethan Moreau has always been one of my favorite players, but the time has come to ask the following quesiton: if the Oilers award medicocrity, what does that say about the organization in general? What does that say about Kevin Lowe, Kelly Buchberger ... Craig MacTavish?

And what does that say about Dustin Penner? If he really is playing better than his own captain, does he deserve the short end of the stick - or does Edmonton as a whole owe him big time for his mistreatment?

Sure, some may argue he is slow and he doesn't appear to be a very intense player. Nobody complained about Steve MacIntyre or Georges Laraque's speed as long as they did their jobs: winning fights. Slowness was just the reality, not something you could hold against them.

The advanced stats show that Dustin Penner has been doing his job and doing his job well - despite being the victim of line juggling night-in and night-out. If the Oilers media and Oilers fans were happy with Steve MacIntyre and Georges Laraque, why the double-standard when it comes to Dustin Penner?

Thinking on the many Oilers captains we've had - Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Shayne Corson, Doug Weight, Jason Smith - it leads me to think - how many unofficial captains have we had? Ryan Smyth, Steve Staios, Chris Pronger (yes, even him), Sheldon Souray - all come to mind. But those types of players will never be offered any incentive as captain, since the outcome in the new regime is a predictable one: Craig MacTavish and Kelly Buchberger will reward one of their own - a plugging, one-dimensional player like Ethan Moreau. Even if it means throwing Dustin Penner under the bus.

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Blogger thickoil said...

I think the hate from Penner stems from his contract, and circumstances of his arrival which may be more Klowes fault than anything. "Statistically" he may have good numbers, but when you watch him, you never see him give that 110% that most other players. He doesn't finish his checks often, and he usually subs off on a back check.
What Penner isn't-1st liner, yet he's almost paid like one.

I seriously wouldn't have a problem giving Penner 2-3 million to play on our 2nd line, because that's all he's worth.

March 17, 2009 at 12:51 PM


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