Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand: Hero to Zero?

Stanley Cup Hero and RFA, Brad Marchand, has not signed a new contract with the Boston Bruins with only 2 days left before start of training camp. I have to admit I am a Bruins fan, so I figure if I spend the time to write this article perhaps I will be pleasantly annoyed at my waste of time because Marchand will sign just as soon as I finish writing. I agree there is ‘some madness to my intentions’.

Marchand in 77 regular season games had 21 goals, 20 assists for 41 points; was a plus 25; took 149 shots; and, had a 14.1% scoring percentage. He played with enough skill, grit, and defensive acumen to be promoted from the fourth line to be a regular on the second unit. He proved to be an excellent penalty killer and although he did have a tendency to cross the line he filled an important role as agitator supreme.

Continuing this style of play Marchand had a breakout playoff. Marchand had 11 goals, 8 assists, 19 points. He was a plus 12; took 61 shots; and, had a scoring percent of 18.0%. Marchand was an integral part of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup Championship not only for his offence and defence but also for his aggressive style that seemed to completely throw the Vancouver Canucks off their games. I am sure Daniel Sedin wakes up from his post Stanley Cup nightmares with a sore neck from jerking his head repeatedly. All of this came in his rookie season at 23 years young.

Marchand’s playoff points project through a full season to 36 goals, 26 assists. Perhaps 36 goals is a stretch but a 30 goal season is not out of the question in the near future. However with his current non-contractual status and being represented by Wade Arnott (the same agent as Phil Kessel) Bruins fans cannot help but to think that Brad Marchand’s actual contributions to the Boston Bruins’ defence of the Stanley Cup for the 2011–2012 season may be Zero.

There is speculation Chiarelli is shopping Marchand. I am not surprised or upset by this. Chiarelli is doing his job. Don’t get me wrong, having Marchand back with the Bruins is my first choice. But we are dealing with Arnott here. No one can tell me that Phil Kessel has not once, since June 15 wished he had a different agent. When will Toronto win a Cup? When will Toronto make the playoffs? Marchand may soon have the same regret. Chiarelli cannot give in to unreasonable demands from Arnott. Chiarelli has to manage the big picture. Only by maintaining a reasonable internal equity of players’ salaries can he hope to maintain the majority of these players over the long run. There are other future UFAs and RFAs to consider within the salary cap future. Chiarelli did an excellent job parlaying Kessel into some excellent futures. I am sure he can do the same with a hot commodity like Marchand.

The question for Chiarelli (and fans) is where to get the best deal. The fans and reporters in Toronto are drooling but it would not make sense to do another deal with the Leafs. But before we get into the ‘who to trade with’, let’s think about what the Bruins should expect to get from a Marchand trade. All Bruins fans know the unique skill set of Brad Marchand and so does every General Manager in the NHL. No need to repeat his accomplishments and potential. I would want as a minimum a top five first round draft choice / plus a prospect for Marchand. I know Chiarelli is much better at this than I am and I trust he will maximize this asset.

With Marchand’s ability Boston would be foolish to strengthen any of the other Eastern Conference top ten teams. Also they would not have a top five first round pick. So Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, New York Rangers, Buffalo, Montreal, Carolina, Toronto and New Jersey do not call. Winnipeg, New York Islanders, Florida or Ottawa may have the desired first round pick and recent high level prospects. Each has a ‘but’: Ottawa is in the same division and Marchand will have a long career; Winnipeg is not far away from being very competitive but they will be transferring to the Western Conference next year; Florida and the Islanders management / ownership is too unstable (they may end up flipping Marchand to an Eastern competitor). Winnipeg is the only reasonable trade partner only because they are moving to the West. So it makes sense to trade Marchand to a western team.

In the Western Conference, obviously, Vancouver is not a viable trade partner. As well the other top teams (San Jose, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Nashville, Minnesota) may see Marchand as ‘Sedin kryptonite’ but the Bruins would not want to strengthen a potential Stanley Cup opponent. Of the other teams(Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Columbus) Vancouver’s North West Division rivals would have the most demand for ‘Sedin kryptonite’ since they have to play the Canucks 6 times during the regular season. As well Colorado, Edmonton, and Calgary will have the most potential to pick in the top 5 next year having finished 30th, 28th, and 23rd respectively last year. These 3 teams meet the Bruins criteria best for supply of high draft choices / prospects and demand for Marchand. As 3 divisional rivals this may also leverage competitive negotiating in favour of the Bruins. Whatever the trade it will probably be for future assets rather than an immediate top six forward.

So if the Bruins cannot sign Marchand and trade him who plays with Bergeron and potentially Seguin on the second line. We would have to see who Chiarelli gets back in the trade. Time for Bruins fans to scour the rosters of the aforementioned 3 teams to discuss some possibilities. Internally Pouliot, Peverley, or perhaps  one of the kids may fill the void.

So it remains to be seen, will Marchand again be a Bruin Hero or become a Bruin Zero in 2011-2012? Before Marchand regretfully lets Arnott lead him out of Boston to a non-contender he may want to think of Kessel. Either way Bruins fans should be confident in Chiarelli doing what is best for the team.  

Update: This article was posted late morning. By late afternoon the same day it was announced Marchand had signed a 2-year, $5 million contract. I am pleasantly annoyed with my 'intentional madness'. Bottom line: Hero to Hero.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

2011 Canucks Riot: Step Up to the Mirror

It is time for the citizens of Vancouver and the fans of the Vancouver Canucks to step up to a mirror. Raise your right hand (left hand if you are left handed) to your shoulder. Now give yourself a really good slap! Now that you are conscious let’s talk about the ridiculous response by your politicians and police force regarding the civil unrest known as the 2011 Canucks Riot. Take another look in the mirror and ask who is really to blame. BC is Canada’s left coast, pretty laid-back, easy going and now, known as the riot capital of Canada?

I wouldn’t call myself an activist. Nor do I proclaim to be the smartest card in the deck.  But you have to be as dumb as a hockey puck and emotionally distant as a vandalized store front mannequin to tolerate the ineptitude and blame washing coming out of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As citizens you should be infuriated. The civic politicians and police force are there to protect you from the anarchy of the streets you call home. But when it is demonstrated they cannot provide that protection nor are willing to step up to the responsibility for their own failures be afraid. Be Very Afraid.  I would be terrified to live in the powder keg of Vancouver, protected by such an incompetent civic leadership and police force. I am not talking about the rank and file officers here. I saw them on the line in riot gear. I respect this profession immensely. There was no leadership here. No commands to action, rather the commands were to inaction. If I am being assaulted I want action. If my city is being assaulted I want action. Failed action is better than complacent failure. I have never heard so much, “it wasn’t our fault”.

I don’t even blame the politicians as much as I do the police leadership. This was not about ill conception or inept planning. This is about decision making in the heat of a riot. And a decision of inaction is not a decision to action. The police were too slow to intervene. The police officials had plenty of time to act and react. There were many action and reaction points prior to the day of the game, but certainly after over 100,000 people showed up before the game police could have scraped the ‘meet and greet’ strategy. Go to Plan B (did they have a Plan B?) Every available officer in BC should have been called onto crowd control sooner. The game lasted 3 hours, time enough to redeploy.  At 14:37 of the First period the situation had worsened, still 2 ½ hours to react. The second goal at 12:13 of the Second period left 1 ½ hours to make decisions. The final critical time came at 17:35 of the Second period leaving well over 1 hour before total mayhem. If I call 911 I want better response time than 1 hour. Were these civic and police officials not watching the game? At this point it was Game over.

What really makes no sense to me is the prideful quote from police chief, Chief Jim Chu. Following the riot Chief Chu on more than one occasion has proudly stated that compared to the 1994 riot, although the damage was relatively the same, it took “half the time to quell the riot”. Proudly? Thanks to some data from the CBC and the Globe and Mail let’s compare before commenting on Chief Chu ridiculous and misplaced pride logic.
 Data                                                       2011                                       1994

Estimated cost
$1.3 million
$1.1 million
Crowd / Rioters
100,000 people
70,000 people
Police Presence
446 to 928 officers
540 officers
140 people
200 people
100 idiots
150 idiots
Most Severe Incident
4 stabbings
1 hit by rubber bullet
Length of Riot
3 hours
6 hours
thanks to CBC and the Globe and Mail

True, the estimated property damage cost was approximately the same and the 2011 riot was considered under control in 3 hours compared to the 1994 period of rioting of 6 hours. Chief Chu, do the math. How can you be proud of this? What you are saying is: we as a police force were so incompetent in our response to this situation that we allowed the same amount of damage to happen in 3 hours that took 6 hours to commit in the past. This to me says the 2011 riot was allowed to be twice as intense as the 1994 riot. How can you be Proud of this level of failure? If and only if you were able to say the damage was less than half, that is, less than $500,000 you would have an argument of which to be proud. Here is my premise: A riot in downtown Vancouver will cause approximately $1.2 million dollars in damage (my assumption is that in 1994 after 6 hours everything worth destroying or looting was). After 6 hours of looting and destroying, as an anarchist, I have had enough. I am tired. I have sobered up. I am going home. Anarchists don’t work 8 hour days. The pride factor here goes to the anarchists. They were able to accomplish the same level of destruction and looting in half the time with fewer arrests. They, as anarchists, were able to entice 30,000 more people to participate this time than in 1994. Further to their anarchistic pride it took almost twice the number of police officers to quell the riot. They were able to intensify the severity of injury (4 stabbings) while reducing the overall injuries to participants. Chief Chu Step Up to the Mirror! Open your eyes. Is that the face of Pride? If you do not think so, it is time to resign. If you think it is, it is time you were fired.

I don’t even want to get into the lack of justice so far because it is so frustrating.  The ‘better to do it right than do it in a hurry’ mantra coming from police. They still don’t get it. The people want action. Action on the night of the riot and action in the courts now. One individual, caught on tape, was seen by the world in real time lighting a police car on fire. He has turned himself in. What are you waiting for? What further evidence do you need? What other charges could be more damning. He torched a police car! Put him in prison! Make him pay for the damages! Make him Step Up to the Mirror!

Civic officials have blamed this incident on a small number (maybe 100 anarchists) intent on rioting from the beginning, win or lose. So don’t try now to blame the NHL and the Canucks’ organization. Is it a coincidence that 100 rioters were arrested? Does that mean you got all the anarchists? Mayor Greg Robertson was quoted as saying,” rioters came with a plan”. Obviously a better plan than the police and civic officials. I am sure these civic and police officials by nature of being civic organizations had more opportunities to meet and plan for all eventualities for this misconceived event. More planning meetings I am sure than the alleged anarchists. By definition anarchists don’t organize, meet or plan. Anarchy only succeeds when there is no structure and authority to oppose it. It wasn’t even the first time they had a riot after a hockey game gone bad. The previous time was the 1994 final loss to New York. A strange coincident that recently the civic officials of New York were criticized for over-planning for the worst from Hurricane Irene. Good for them. Better to take criticism for over protecting your citizens. Mr. Mayor Step Up to the Mirror!  Next election Vancouver you need to elect a new mayor if he refuses to do the right thing and resign now. Perhaps a public demonstration would be appropriate to express your displeasure, but remember you will have to police yourselves, so keep it peaceful.