Problem is that hockey is an aqquired skill game. If you don't have it by
your mid teens you never will in most cases. We draft at 18 and sign every
free agent that is not tied down after that so there is just not much left
out there...And, in fact, is anything, you are seeing a lot of players
drafted more on potential than skill already.
Also, in hockey, there is the matter of roles. You just can't teach
scoring...which is a BIG part of being a 1st/2nd liner and not. A guy has it
or he doesn't. You could create better 4th liners, sure, and maybe even make
the odd 3rd liner but nor giher grade stuff! Then you come to the different
systems involved. A lot of the more interesting guys are Europeans, but they
can make more money playing back home to develop a few more years and don't
like to go to our minors. And it often makes sense, they don't blend well
sometimes with lesser skill guys.
The only rouogh equvalent in hockey is actually already done by a few teams
like New Jersey. Don't sign the minor league vet, stock the farm teams with
drafts and see what happens. But the operative here is to , like New Jersey,
be adept at the draft! Otherwise, you have a losing farm team that doesn't
draw, creates a lousy atmosphere and inhibits development in the long run by
the inherent lack of strability of these situations!
The thing about hockey is that how great an athetlete you are just can do so
much for you! In football, you can take a kid like Christian Okoye who never
saw a football until age 20 and have him lead the NFL in rushing 5 years
later! In hockey stories like that just can't happen! A player has to be
well on his way in terms of basic skills by the time he is a pro and once he
gets to his early 20's, radical improvement is limited. It becomes more a
case of fine tuning and the tactical game! But there HAS to be the basic
almost finished product there to start with...the great athelete theory just
doesn't work here.
From: Marc Foster [mailto:mfoster@...
Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2000 9:31 AM
Subject: [hockhist] Development (was: "Pro" status of leagues)
Bob McDonald wrote:
> Imagine if minor leagues were truly used for
> development, rather than a place to house draft
> "mistakes"? If the coaches teams employed were
> teachers rather than co-ordinators? If skill
> development was a primary consideration of a minor
> league stint and the coaches and players were "graded"
Deceased Kansas City Royals owner Ewing Kaufmann did something like this
in the early 1970's. Using his rookie league team in the Gulf Coast
League as his lab, we went out and drafted not ballplayers per se, but
solid athletes who were then taught the ballplaying skills they lacked.
The team representing the "Royals Academy" went out in their first
season and won at a .750 clip, blowing the short season league apart by
something like 10.5 games. Off the top of my head, Frank White was a
shortstop for that 1971 team (later converted to 2B), and in the next
couple of years some others came through that route as well (I want to
say Willie Wilson and U.L. Washington).
At the time, considering there was no free agency, it was an expensive
proposition, as I think Mr. K blew a few million dollars on it over the
term of the experiment. I often wonder how successful this would be
today (in all sports), considering the advancement of training and
teaching methods and evaluation.
I'm not sure exactly how well this would translate to hockey. My first
thought is that it would help develop the depth of your bench. If a
team can turn their 3rd/4th liners into the equivalent of 2nd/3rd liners
on other teams, that's worth maybe something on the order of 7-10 wins
a season. If those 3rd/4th liners develop as roleplayers, like we've
seen with the Red Wings during the last 5-6 years, then you've got the
kind of talent needed to get you to the Cup Finals.
The cost? I don't know... maybe $5-$6M a year to start. That probably
doubles the total salaries of your combined 3rd/4th liners, but if they
develop into the equivalent of 2nd/3rd liners, you've recouped a fair
chunk of your investment - especially in trade value for the players.
Just a thought.
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