Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Talent Evaluation

I know it's been a full month since I posted on the "Everyday' blog. Maybe I should change that title to something much more correct, but that's neither here nor there.

As a sports fan, I'm always complaining about what and how my teams are doing. Why do the Leafs continue to start Bernier even though he's been crushed the past few games? Why can't the Dallas Cowboys finish games without collapsing on offense or defense? Why does our Canadian Junior Squad continue to falter in the bigger games? But I'm just a fan watching on television; I have no say on who's picked, what the lines are, what plays are being called, and all the other important functions of how the team is run.

The issue I have is that the people in charge aren't asking those questions. The Leafs continue to give up chance after chance this season. So far they've been hovering around the playoffs due to the goaltending of Johnathan Bernier and James Reimer. Their team save percentage is a combined 93.9%, top five in the NHL. But they are getting killed in Corsi and Fenwick, hitting around 42%. That number is only better than the worst team in the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres. Without their goaltending, the Leafs would almost definitely be out of the playoffs right now and all hell would be loose in Toronto. But since they're sitting in the eight spot, everything is on track to the eyes of Toronto General Manager Dave Nonis and Head Coach Randy Carlyle.

The Canadian Junior flamed out in the semifinal and lost the Bronze medal game for the second straight year, losing to the USA and Finland in 2012 and 2013 respectively and then Russia in the Bronze game twice. Both years, goaltending and depth were the issues at the forefront. Last year, Malcolm Subban looked average against the Americans and the depth, although having many prospects available due to the NHL lockout, did not show up to provide the boost to the top lines. This season, Jake Patterson and Zach Fucale were a mixture of good and bad, making huge saves and letting in soft goals. And other than Jonathan Drouin and Anthony Mantha, nobody else even showed up to play. Both years, there were better forwards and goaltenders left off the rosters, from Darnell Nurse to Eric Comrie to Max Domi and bringing underage players like Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid to a tournament full of nineteen year olds.

The Dallas Cowboys continued their mediocrity this season, finding a way to lose numerous winnable games to another 8-8 season and missed the playoffs again. Tony Romo made numerous mistakes in-between great plays and Jason Garrett made a mess of playcalling and timeouts. They continue to squander talent like DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee and with Jerry Jones as General Manager and Owner, there will continue to be talent and salary cap issues for years to come.

My problem with all this is the "brain trust" of the people involved. Questioning the ability of the men in charge is considered "blasphemy" by the analysts on pregame shows; most of them former players who bristle at any new ideas that do not fit their philosophies. They'll tell you that since you "never played the game", you have no idea what you're talking about. But the men running the Maple Leafs, the Cowboys, and the Canadian World Junior Team are not above questioning. Their ideas have not worked to perfection, so they should be questioned on how they are going to fix things. Better talent and ideas is what needed here. I can only hope that the Leafs, Cowboys, and the World Juniors decide to look at themselves in the mirror to figure out what went wrong and what they can fix for the future. Their jobs depends on it.