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17912Development (was: "Pro" status of leagues)

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  • Marc Foster
    Nov 1, 2000
      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"
      > accordingly?

      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.

      Marc
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