Photo Credit: Howard Eaton - Vancouver Observer

Cheers and Jeers

Cheers to the US National Women’s hockey team on their fight for fair pay. It is vital and important to receive living wages for representing your country in these types of international events. Female hockey players usually have full-time jobs in order to actually live, and then have to take leave or quit just to go play. In a day and age where pay equity is at the forefront of the corporate world, these women are setting a wonderful and necessary example to girls around the world playing hockey.

Jeers to USA Hockey for its hard-line stance in this dispute. It’s asinine, archaic, and indefensible. There is no argument that can justify the paltry wages it pays its female players and it’s long overdue to right this wrong. What’s worse is that there was apparently a tentative agreement in place, then it was reported Monday that USA Hockey pulled out of that agreement. The women’s team is using the best (and only) leverage it has in boycotting​ the upcoming World Championship being hosted in the US. It’s really the only action these team members can take to drive effective and meaningful change. USA Hockey needs to leap into the 21st century and pay the ladies what they deserve.

Cheers to Brock Boeser. The Canucks’ 2015 first-round pick signed his first professional contract Saturday morning after his UND team was eliminated in double overtime from college hockey playoffs. He then made his NHL debut mere hours later in his home state of Minnesota against the Wild, in front of his parents and a huge family contingent. There were so many great moments from his debut: His dad, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, was asked to introduce the starting lineup to the entire Canucks locker room and his boy Brock started at right wing with the Sedins. Then there was his traditional solo skate, where his took a puck with him and just fired shots into the empty net all by himself. Just awesome. Finally, there was his first NHL goal, in his home state, in front of a huge group of family and friends. It was a dream start to what Canucks fans hope is a very long career in that #6 sweater.

Jeers to Jim Benning and Canucks management on wasting yet another contract on a needless signing. No, not Boeser. Boeser is wonderful. Yesterday, Canucks reportedly signed college UFA Griffen Molino. Molino joins a growing list of players on the Canucks payroll who have virtually no chance of ever seeing NHL ice. Molino joins Makenze Stewart, Yan-Pavel Laplante, Tom Nilsson, Michael Carcone, and Ashton Sautner as roster seat fillers. It’s an unnerving trend from a GM who sports a reputation as a supreme scout. I’m having a tough time seeing what he sees.

And finally…

Cheers to the start of one of the two best times of the year on the sports calendar. Hockey and basketball playoffs are on the horizon, March Madness is wrapping up and baseball’s regular season kicks off on Sunday. The next couple of weeks are an amazing time to watch. And given that I don’t have a massive vested interest in any particular team right now (good effort, good job Canucks!), it’s great to just sit back and take it all in and enjoy the drama and pageantry. Praise be.

  • TD

    I find it hilarious that these experts look at stats and say Benning wasted a contract. Molino might not turn into an NHL player, but scouts look at more than stats when looking at a player. I have no doubt that Mr. Davie is having “a tough time seeing what he (Benning) sees.” This is undoubtedly true since I bet Mr. Davie has never seen Molino play hockey. It is definitely hard to see anything without actually watching the players play the game. Too funny!

    • I am Ted

      Remember, CA is just a blog so take this with a grain of salt. Do we know Molino’s contract situation? Did the Canucks sign him or did Utica give him an ATO? Anyway, Canucks have a large number of players they will lose over the summer so contract slots are not a huge deal at this point. It’s odd the CA bloggers keep going there. Ah well. They always need something to b!tch about.

      • Roy

        it looks like Benning is stacking Utica with young cheap players, what on earth is wrong with that? Do we want an eternity of Prusts, Megnas, Dorsetts, AHL lifers/plugs who do just enough to justify 4th line NHL spots when there are enough injuries on team Z…?

        • Dirty30

          Probably the best point yet — sign young(er) guys who cost little more than a contract spot to obtain, for a low salary and can be moved easily by waiver or trade, or just let their contract expire.

          It’s a quick, inexpensive and potentially effective way to ‘rebuild’ without signing some plodder to a big salary and term that lingers long after the best before date.

    • Killer Marmot

      Having drafted or signed Stecher, Boeser, Gaudette, and Lockwood, I suspect that Benning now views the NCAA as an under-exploited source of talent, particularly for those with a discerning eye.

      • Ronning4ever

        Benning is renowned for going all over: NCAA, EHCL, Europe, etc. The guy works it pretty hard and has the best draft class in probably 15 years to show for it.

  • Killer Marmot

    Jeers to Jim Benning and Canucks management on wasting yet another contract on a needless signing. … I’m having a tough time seeing what he sees.

    It’s fine to say that you don’t understand the signing. But the conclusion that it’s a wasted signing does not follow, as there is the possibility that Canuck scouts are more able assessors of potential than you are.

  • 5forBoarding

    What a wasted contract on this Alexandre Burrows guy. Not sure what the Canucks were thinking, a guy from the ECHL who is barely a point a game player. This will never translate to the NHL, complete waste of a contract spot.

  • Killer Marmot

    The trouble with criticizing the Molino signing is that we (the fans) have some basic statistics on him but nothing else. He’s an unknown. About the only thing I can find on his play is a short blurb stating that he has exceptional speed and passing, a decent shot, and no obvious weaknesses.

      • Killer Marmot

        Wanna know what the dumbest thing is about criticism over the Molino signing?
        There’s a chance Molino will be playing for the Canucks in the week, or at least so reports The Province. Canucks Army could have held off on their criticism until they had actually seen him play. That would have led to a far more informed opinion about the signing, one that I could respect.

        Instead they look far too eager to criticize management decisions.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    On the one hand, it might be a bit early to criticize the Molino signing. It’s worth seeing how he looks against AHL competition, for instance, before completely panning him, and Benning has had enough success in evaluating players that I would like to hope he sees something there that others can’t…


    This website has had a remarkably consistent editorial point of view on these moves, when it comes to both questioning or praising them, based on an objective set of criteria that the writers have been very open on sharing. It’s the same set of criteria that were used to question the Laplante signing, Stewart, Nilsson, not to mention the Virtanen pick, etc, and by and large, CA has actually been right in retrospect a lot of the time. Short of writing an article to gloat about it after the fact, there really isn’t a mechanism for these writers to point out to their critics that their reservations were justified, or for those people saying “just give him a chance, it’s early, Benning knows better, blah blah blah” to have to own up to the fact that CA actually did, in fact, know better. Hence why the same type of signings can be defended at the time over and over in the comments with the same type of criticisms even though CA has been quite reliably vindicated in the past for the same methodology.

    So I’m going to say that I don’t quite see the value in this signing, when it seems like other higher ceiling players would probably make more sense, and that I appreciate the author going out on a limb to make that point and open himself up to criticism that will never be rescinded even if he proves 100% correct.

    • Killer Marmot

      The odds are that Davie will be correct since most prospect signings don’t ultimately result in an NHL career.

      My attitude is you should question but not criticize a decision when you are working from sparse information. Have the strength to say “Don’t know. Not enough facts.”

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        I mean, it’s true, but let’s just go back to the Virtanen drafting. CA writers were monolithic in advance of that move, saying “DO NOT PICK VIRTANEN” because there were better players available and his ceiling was lower than a 6th overall pick’s should be. A lot of people criticized them with basically the same argument, “you don’t really know, there aren’t enough facts, trust the expert, etc”. Well, it’s not too soon to say that selecting Jake over Ehlers, say, was a huge, franchise altering mistake, and hindsight apologists might try to sell you on the argument “well, no one could have predicted that at the time” except that CA very consistently did predict it. At this point, this website has enough of a track record of successful prediction (not perfect, mind you), even using information whose value some people dispute, that their method of parsing and interpreting the data to make predictions deserves some acknowledgment.

        There may be not enough facts to be certain, but there are enough to speculate. I think the main point here is that this is a low percentage bet and it’s not made in a vacuum: better betting odds are available and are being sacrificed (ie: due to 50 contract limit) to place this one, so the opportunity costs of doing this aren’t zero. It’s a fair point.

        • Donald's Hat Trick

          What’s interesting about how the Virtanen pick is playing out is that it appears that his shortcomings have as much to do with character as they do with things that fancy numbers can measure.

        • Killer Marmot

          It’s true that CA writers criticized the Virtanen draft, and so far it looks like they made the right call. They also criticized:

          1. The Gaudette draft.
          2. The Lockwood draft.
          3. The Granlund-Shinkaruk trade.

          and so far they have egg on their face. In other words, CA’s record is decidedly mixed.

          I don’t mind when they criticize a move when it’s based on a reasonable amount of information, such as the Granlund-Shinkaruk trade. They were wrong, but no one is right all the time. When they criticize a move based on very little information, however, then they’re just being bloody minded.

          • Chris the Curmudgeon

            I’m not convinced they were wrong about the Lockwood pick, not sure why you point him out. And Gaudette still hasn’t done anything in the NHL, though I concede that that pick looks a lot better in hindsight and he’s become a legitimate prospect. I agree with you Granlund-Shinkaruk, I didn’t think much of it at the time and Granlund has been a pleasant surprise, though I also agree that their criticism at the time was based on sound information and Markus kinda beat the odds.

            It takes some guts to put your reputation on the line ahead of time based only on a prediction model. They have done that in the past, and been right where other “experts” weren’t, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. And in this case, the move looks a lot more along the lines of the “failed long shot ELCs to overlooked overagers” than it does like a “buying low on a depreciated asset with redemption potential (from the Flames)” that has worked out for Baertschi and Granlund so far.

          • TD

            I have no issues with the predictive models, just lower the rhetoric and question why he was signed instead of slamming the pick based on nothing more than plugging stats in a program. I share the concerns about wasting contracts, but

          • Freud

            How is this different then you criticizing predictions of this team finishing near the bottom of the standings at the beginning of the year? How is this different then you predicting great success for this team through your “20 goal scorers model”? How is this different then you mentioning Lockwood when 4 of the following 5 players picks after him had better seasons? Egg on face indeed…

        • DJ_44

          Leaving the “franchise altering mistake” comment alone (although it is laughable)….. the problem I have is with the characterisation that this contract was wasted, while { fill in the name of practically every waiver wire player } was characterized more often then not worth the chance, with the only cost being a contract.

          If you look at Ryan’s piece on the topic, I have zero problem with it. I think he called it questionable because of the stats, but then openly stated there may be something. Jumping from that sort of “I would not have recommended it” to to “wasted” is a stretch. Same with the overage kid in Gatineau…..it is a gamble that costs you a contract spot.

          My problem is in one breath a contract spot is equated to a first round pick (keeping with the “franchise altering” hyperbole) and in the next breath worth next to nothing.

          The reality probably lies somewhere in between. It will be interesting to see Molino play on Friday.

    • TD

      Your points are valid, but I agree with Killer Marmot, question the decision, don’t criticize. The chances are minimal that anyone outside of the first round will have an NHL career. The CA writers were correct on Virtanen, but wrong on Boeser and Gaudette. Molino is obviously a late developer and Benning obviously went and watched him play. He saw something beyond the stays when he went and watched the games.

      It’s the constant negativity from a seemingly moral perch that causes many of the readers to take exception.

      How many players that didn’t produce big numbers went on to have productive careers? Conversely, how many high point producing junior players washed out and never made the show?

      I love reading this site, but wish the authors were more balanced and left open the possibility that the stats don’t tell the whole picture.

      I believe there is a place for analytics, but the two teams that went all out on analytics, Phoenix and Florida, have both vastly under performed this year. They may turn it around next year, I don’t know, but I think a balanced approach of the experienced eye combined with analytics will always win out. It would be nice to see a balanced position from the writers.

      • tyhee

        Regarding the first paragraph, I’m not sure that CA was so far out on Boeser. It is true that had some players ranked ahead of him at the stage he was drafted, but they wrote right after the draft that he was a very good prospect.

        They didn’t like his chances of scoring 30 goals in the NHL. It could turn out he does so and so would exceed expectations CA had for him at the draft-but one should consider that they considered him a very good prospect who could develop into a solid all-round forward at the NHL level with flashes of first-line scoring ability. While they would probably like his chances better now than then, I don’t see how they’ve yet been proven wrong.


    • Ronning4ever

      The only problem is that managing hockey prospects is a hell of a lot more complicated than we might think. I have no idea if the Virtanen pick is a bust or not. Ehlers and Nylander are better today in terms of points, but if Virtanen becomes a 30 goal power forward who’s a defensive stalwart, it’ll likely be a win. We won’t know until he hits 25. I agree CA has had a”remarkably consistent editorial point of view” but so has GMJB. He’s looking for team guys that work hard, gritty guys that can defend, big defenceman who can clear the net, and a goalie that doesn’t crack. He’s also trying to fill age brackets and holes in the org – centreman and D mostly and players who are 25 – 27.

      He’s also doing it throughout the roster: I assume some contracts are meant to be key guys playing in Utica and the ECHL that help the environment and development from the bottom up, not guys that you think are going to make it to the NHL. If you’re better than Griffen Molino in terms of skill, but he got the ELC because he works hardest at practice (hypothetical here, don’t know anything about the guy at all), you work harder at practice.

  • Bud Poile

    Cheers to Brock Boeser for being a top prospect but jeers to Benning for identifying a top ten prospect at #23, picking him, keeping him in the fold and then signing him when he could have gone elsewhere.
    Yet,the recalcitrants focus in on Virtanen in their undying charade to undermine Benning’s overwheming work ethic and success rate.