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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: PDO, PK Deployment, and Unsung Heroes

Just enjoy it while it lasts. If the Canucks go on a circa-2014 Colorado Avalanche-style PDO bender en route to the playoffs and it convinces the front office the team is better than it actually is, then you can be upset. The Canucks winning games they shouldn’t only becomes a bad thing if it leads to bad decisions.

He probably should, given the roster crunch in Utica. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays up until Jay Beagle returns, rotating in and out of the lineup along with Brendan Leipsic and/or Tim Schaller. There’s no sense having him up with the big club if he’s just going to sit in the press box, so I’d imagine they’ll only keep him up if they think he can play.

Thus far, Travis Green has underutilized his best penalty killers from last season in terms of conceding unblocked shots. When looking at the numbers, you could definitely make a case that Loui Eriksson and Ben Hutton both ought to be seeing a lot more minutes while down a man. That being said, when looking at the admittedly small sample from the current season, the team’s shorthanded deployment would appear to be at least partially backed up by the numbers. One thing is for sure: Travis Green has been wise to keep Bo Horvat off the PK this year, and deserves credit for that.

I honestly have no idea. Goldobin’s looked great so far this season, but we’ve seen this movie before, and he’s never played more than 38 games in a season. That makes it hard to know what exactly he’s capable of at the NHL level. His prior history would indicate he’d be poised to finish with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30-35 points if he plays a full season, but that could be low-balling it if he plays in a top-six role and continues to look as good as he has.

I’m not big on fighting, but it’s tough to give a guy a hard time about dropping the gloves when he doesn’t have a lot of say in the matter. Horvat wasn’t looking to start a fight on Saturday night, he was just responding to some rough stuff from Noel Acciari following a big hit. Is that a good thing? Bo is one of the best players on the team, so I doubt it helps them much for him to spend five minutes in the box, but I’m not sure how avoidable it was in this scenario. I’m not going to recommend that he makes fisticuffs a regular part of his game, but if it happens occasionally in instances like this one it’s not the end of the world, either. I’m as concerned about concussions as anyone else, but he’s more likely to sustain one on a legal hit than he is in a fight, so as long as he’s not getting his head bashed in on a regular basis it’s not going to be the hill I die on.

I just don’t see the Canucks being willing to part with the necessary pieces to get a Nylander deal done. Even if they’re willing to eat some cap on the way back, there just aren’t many Nylander-calibre players on the roster or in the system, and the ones that are aren’t getting moved, period.

The 2014-15 Canucks were a middling team at evens in terms of shot shares with a good power play that took advantage of a weak division. This season, they look dangerous on the man advantage and once again find themselves in a wide-open division. The difference is they’ve been severely out-shot at five-on-five. In absolute terms, I think they’re a worse team, but if the goaltending holds up it’s possible they yield similar results.

He had so much success early on with Elias Pettersson that it’s hard to see Travis Green not getting the band back together once EP is good to go. Until then, I think he’s done enough to secure a spot on that line. With the exception of the injured Pettersson, he’s been the teams best forward and arguably it’s most consistent, too.

Burlap.

Many of the league’s best teams have three high-end centres that can produce offence. In the scenario you’re describing, I’d imagine the best course of action would be to play all three down the middle, with Pettersson taking shifts on the wing at times to load up on offense when needed. The leafs have three excellent centres in Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Nazem Kadri on their roster and it’s been working fine so far. If the Canucks ever found themselves in cap trouble then I’d probably look to move Horvat for some help on the back end, but only if it was absolutely necessary. Having too many good centres is one of the best problems a team can have.

The goaltenders. They’re the only reason the team’s been in half of these games and I haven’t heard so much as a peep about it.

 

  • Freud

    The management team thought they could turn this team around in a hurry, despite even the most casual fan knowing the next two drafts were going to offer generational talents and enormous amounts of depth.

    The management couldn’t see the 2014-15 season was largely smoke and mirrors. Somehow, anyone educated in good decision making did see the smoke and mirrors. The team doubled down and continued to “compete”, setting the team back years.

    Bad decisions were made then, not sure why we would believe they wouldn’t happen again if this team continues to ride the PDO train.

    Most of the message board has also been fooled by the PDO illusion thus far.

    • Defenceman Factory

      There is a very good reason to believe, or at least hope, the type of bad decisions that happened after 14-15 won’t happen again; Linden in no longer the head of the management team. Freud I know you have deluded yourself into believing your hero was a lone voice of reason but it’s just as likely he was the biggest part of the problem.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Nylander wants 8 million per. No way he is worth anywhere near that. Pass. Dubas obviously agrees, and I’ll bet he’s trying to unload him for a decent defenseman as we speak. He and Babcock both know the Leaves are miles from winning a Stanley Cup without a significant upgrade on the back end and goaltending.

        • So? Plenty of teams win the cup with merely “very good” rather than “elite” goaltending – see Pittsburgh and Chicago, for example. If the Leafs don’t win a cup in the next few years, it won’t be because of Anderson, it’ll be because of their terrible right side on defense.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Check Andersens stats in last years playoffs. 3.76 GAA and a save % of less than .900. I’d say you’d have a tough time winning a Cup playing like that.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      Yet somehow they were able to lobby (successfully to a point) Toronto media to even vote Andersen for the Vezina last year (I believe he finished 5th in Vezina voting) which is laughable IMO.

      • He was tied for second in games played, fourth in wins, fourth in shutouts, and posted above average numbers across the board. He certainly wasn’t the best goalie in the NHL last year, but it’s not unreasonable to include him in the conversation.

    • Toronto’s defence is only going to get worse. There’s no way they can maintain their forward core and resign Gardiner or pay another good Top 4 defender. Add improved play by Kapanen to Nylander’s contract demands and suddenly TO’s salary structure is too top-heavy. Anderson has been statistically slightly above average but nothing that screams franchise goaltender.

      • TD

        This is the Marleau contract coming back to bite them. His 6 mil is the difference between having the money to sign Matthews, Marner and Nylander next year and forcing a trade. I get signing some leadership, but almost everyone recognized the third year of that contract would coincide with the second contracts of Matthews and Marner.

    • truthseeker

      I wouldn’t say they’re “miles” away. They are getting to that point where their offense is so good it could carry a mediocre D with average goaltending.

      As for Nylander, I agree completely he’s not an 8 million player. He’s only a touch more offensive than Bo Horvat and brings nowhere near the physical game. He hasn’t looked all that great in the playoffs so far (admittedly as small sample size).

      For 8 million he should have put up an 80 point season by now. 5 to 6 would be more than fair value for him at this point.

  • Saint Albert

    Too many wimps whining about ‘fighting’ in the league these days. I will tell you this, it has always been an integral part of hockey entertainment and frankly the game is mostly dull and boring without it. No wonder a lot of the rinks are so quiet.

    Have a look at old you tube clips of Detroit v Colorado in the 90s, or the ‘hawks with Probert, Kocur etc or Bieksa n Kesler droppin’ em for the Canucks wow! – superb.

    Yep, great times and better entertainment… shame it’s dumbed down now, just like the majority of millenial fans and media commentator wimps. Keep droppin em Bo… love it.

  • North Van Halen

    I would love it if Bo fought like Iggy.
    Jerome Iginla didn’t fight often but when he did, it usually meant something. He was the prototypical power forward, strong, fast, great scorer with a mean streak. I remember when the Flames made their last finals run, Iggy fought one fight in each series, at the beginning against an important player on the other team that was taking liberties. It sent a message to the other teams you weren’t going to mess with his team and to his own team that Jerome was taking the bull by the horns.
    It was awesome and and showed one of the few times in the modern era that fighting served it’s true purpose in the NHL.

    • Saint Albert

      Ya Iggy was awesome, a talented warrior and a true gent off the ice. Love to see Bo follow the same path.

      Kesler, Jamie Benn, Evander Kane and Corey Perry are all recent examples of great players who love to dance and it always raises the roof when these type of guys go. Those who whine about chucking the knuckles need to go grab a twinky, cup of hot choccy and go watch the Brier instead. Pathetic wimps.

    • Macksonious

      There’s a part of me that’s always going to like fighting in hockey, grew up watching it in an era where it was considered just part of the game. Very different now as opposed to where it was 30 years ago.

      I’m fine as to where its at now. “Staged fights” seem to have become extinct (thankfully), but you still see the occasional scrap in the heat of battle. The league may have struck good balance with that currently.

      It was fun to watch Horvat fight, but certainly don’t want to see him do that on a regular basis.

      • North Van Halen

        The old Detroit/Colorado, Edmonton/Calgary or even Montreal/Quebec playoff series were the funnest hockey I ever watched (aside from the ’87 Super Series’ that was the gratest hockey ever . The total hatred between the teams was awesome. That was before the staged fights, tough, mean skilled hockey.
        I miss those rivalries.
        I miss that

        • Macksonious

          From a spectators perspective, that was great hockey. Miss it also.

          Don’t know what the solution is as far as re-creating that type of entertainment value vs protecting the players. Difficult balancing act.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Fighting, though part of hockey culture and tradition, it’s the risk of permanent risk of long term brain injury to young men which should concern everyone. In any contact sport concussions are going to occur no matter what but fighting potentially further promotes this malady. Think of the tragic fate of Rick Rypien, Derek Boogart and many others. One line of thought bandied about is, “If you eliminate fighting then cheap stick work escalates.” I’m honestly not at liberty to say if that statement is true or not. The dinosaur element of the game Fought tooth and nail about introducing no-touch icing but is now part of the game and IMO facilitates player safety. And ever notice now there are virtually no fights in Stanley Cup finals? And is it superb hockey? Of course it is. Fighting may never be taken out of a game I’ve watched for over 50 years but I’m not so old as to not think they should consider it lest the graveyards fill up with young dudes before their time. This is tough issue for sure.

    • West Coast Hockey Fan

      I would add to your comment that Olympic Hockey is fighting free and a great to watch. If the Olympics can produce a fight free product why can’t the NHL?

      • liqueur des fenetres

        Because the Olympics is a very specialized and short tournament. Why is there fighting in the NHL? Probably because the season is too long so the score of individual games don’t mean much, and the league actually allows it.

  • Ronning4ever

    Teams 5v5 PDO is currently sitting at 1000, so there’s literally no bender to speak of. At 5v5 the team is basically doing as well as it should, even though it’s getting kicked in in attempts.

    The team is beating percentages in special teams handily though…and while that should regress, there’s also a chance it doesn’t. PP is currently at 14th. PK is 8th best in the league…something the team could conceivably continue.

  • RobG

    Hey Jackson, hold u a second and explain something here. You have said over and over again that you believe Bo Horvat should be/is going to be the next captain, yet two mailbags later you are throwing his name out there to trade if the Canucks draft Hughes and run into cap trouble. If you think trading Horvat in that situation is the right call, then how could he be the right player to be the next captain? Unless, being named captain is completely meaningless to you, I don’t understand the logic behind that.

    • truthseeker

      What’s so hard to understand? He’s a player. He can be traded. Does wearing the “C” automatically mean you can’t trade them? Might want to talk to 99 about that.

      It’s simple. It all depends on the return.

      I think Horvat should be the next captain too but, for the sake of argument, if a situation like that arose and we had two other centers who were clearly better combined with a cap situation, then yeah…why not trade him. It’s perfectly logical.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Honestly one can’t imagine who Willie Nylander thinks he is. Eight million per? Look how well Kasperi Kapenen has fitted in with playing with Mathews. But a rhesus monkey on skates would look good playing with Auston. How managerial “wunderkind” Dubas deals with the inevitable cap problems the Leafs will face shortly remains to be seen. They may end up like the Blackhawks except Chicago has had three recent Stanley Cups out of the deal. Don’t see three Stanley Cups coming out of Toronto soon…I hope.

    • truthseeker

      If those rumors are true then yeah it’s a bit ridiculous, but if you look at the wingers on cap friendly who make 8 million per year, his point totals aren’t far off from them. In fact, in recent seasons his 60 points is as good or better than many of them. The difference is a lot of them are guys who’ve been around awhile and put up 80+ point seasons here or there. He’s not totally out of line. Again though…we’re just speculating about all of this and it could be complete BS that he “asked for 8 million”. Or maybe that’s just his opening number. It is a negotiation after all. Nylander at 7 million a year starts to sound more realistic.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I wonder how much of this is a leftover grudge from Nylander against the Leafs for keeping him in the AHL when he was clearly beyond it just to delay his free agency.

      • truthseeker

        Unfortunately for him the Leafs are still the ones in the power position with the contract rules. Not much pressure on the team to do anything especially with the offense they have. Maybe if he were on a team that struggled to score and with attendance issues he’d have better luck. Still, good for him. It’s his right to sit out and demand whatever he wants.

        He’ll crack at some point though. Not seeing those paychecks come in is a powerful motivator for guys who only average 5.5 year careers. (of course, his should be longer than that)

  • speering major

    Would the leafs even consider Tanev and Lind for Nylander? Would canucks army do that deal?

    I like Nylander and think he has the tools to be successful. The team wants to get younger, faster, and needs goal scorers. That fits Nylander. My only concern is that his numbers could be inflated playing with Mathews. The Canucks have two good offensive centerman now and only one goal scorer on wing. The team still needs a winger, center, and RHD to have all the pieces to move forward from rebuilding to developing and contending. With a lottery pick this year the team could be very close. Adding Nylander and a lottery pick would get the club 2/3 there by this time next season.

    All that said, I don’t see a GM that took JV over Nylander pursing him aggressively. It just paints a target on his own back

    • bobdaley44

      Who’d want Nylander? Eight mill for a one dimensional winger who doesn’t compete hard. I’d rather have JV. Canucks lack bite and power and say what you will about that draft but come playoff time guys like JV are way more valuable than Nylander. Where was Ehlers last playoff? When it gets tough out there and battles need to be won Nylander will wilt.

      • Puck Viking

        Agree. Spend the assets and money o defense. I dont even know why anyone would suggest this. Not to mention he wants more money tha he is worth which in turn screws up the internal team cal. You cant pay him 8 with Bo ar 5.5 the expect to get boeser and petterson to sign decent deals. Both of who are better than nylander.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        Nylander is asking for too much money, but he is a much better hockey player than Jake Virtanen. No matter how much you want to buy into the cliche, a team full of Virtanens who hit but don’t score much can’t win in the regular season or the playoffs.

    • Dirk22

      Just to put your first question in perspective- imagine if someone asked if would you trade Boeser for Hjalmarason and a B level prospect. What would your answer be?

      • truthseeker

        That’s a good point but I see a few flaws in your analogy.

        First off, the one that’s commonly made around here, is that you’re assuming NHL trades are “talent for talent” propositions and ignoring the fact that D has a higher inherent value than wing as proven by trade precedent over the past 3 to 4 years minimum. So yes, Boeser as a winger would have lower value simply because of his position.

        Next is the fact that Tanev is 3 years younger than Hjalmarason. Not an insignificant number. Tanev has more “good years” left in his tank than Hjalmarason does and that has value in itself.

        Next is debatable but I think a fair conclusion to make given history, and that is that Tanev is simply a better defensive D man than Hjalmarason. Yes, if we look at the past season where Tanev had a down year they look about the same but historically prior to that, Tanev has the clear edge.

        Also, you’re saying Nylander and Boeser are equal. I suppose I’ll give you that one, but I would add that I think it’s probably fair to say at this point anyway, that Nylander is nowhere near the goal scorer that Boeser is. Brock missed a lot of time last year and yet put up more goals than Nylander ever has, and was only slightly behind in points. That’s with Nylander playing pretty much full seasons. Granted both of their sample sizes are small at 2 complete seasons to 1 respectively…but right now it’s all we’ve got. I believe those arguments show at this point Brock is a better player than Nylander, and that’s before we even get to the “Nylander benefits from Matthews whereas Brock did everything on his own” debate.

        Finally we have team need in context with the other factors. Simply put, it doesn’t matter how good Nylander’s offense is, if what the Leafs think they are missing to put them “over the top” is a good shut down D man. So yeah…if the canucks were one of those away from being a cup contender and say Tanev was on another team and we wanted him, Boeser and a B prospect would probably be a fair proposal.

        Of course, the difference with the Leafs is that they have the scoring to absorb the loss of a Nylander. It’s their strength. The problem is, what they are looking for is far more rare and doesn’t come to market very often.

        So that proposal, is not as unreasonable as you’re making it out to be. In fact I think it’s a pretty balanced offer. And you know how much I think Tanev is worth, and how little I think of the value of wing. It would be a good get for both teams. Leaf’s get five years minimum of one of the better defensive D men in the league (with the potential to get back to being the absolute best in the league), and the canucks add another good young piece in their top 6. The only reason I wouldn’t do the deal as a canuck fan is out of concern that Nylander is expecting too much and as I’ve said before, I don’t want anyone on the team over 7 million per season. I think he’s a 5 to 6 million player at this point. I’d want permission to get a deal done before the trade and if he held out for 7+ I’d walk away. Tanev for 5 more years at 5 to 6 million is better than a 60 point winger at 7+ per year in my opinion.

        • Dirk22

          The Athletic top 100 under 25 came out today and had Boeser at #17 and Nylander at #25 (side note – one of the reasons they saw his production being limited was because he’s in tough on the depth chart with so many good forwards in Toronto). Anyways, point is they’re in the same ballpark as players so it’s an apt comparison (another side note – Nylander is actually a center that is playing wing due again to TO’s depth). Quibble all you want with who is better at what but you’re stretching if you think they’re in different tiers.

          Nylander’s salary demands (whatever they are) are not a factor in this ‘trade scenario’ just as Boeser’s eventual demands are not. Most likely they’re going to be paid around the same amount.

          So that leaves Hjalmarason and Tanev – often compared because they’re similar low point producing, highly effective possession defencemen….although Tanev’s numbers in this regard have plummeted over the last 2 seasons. You say: “Yes, if we look at the past season where Tanev had a down year they look about the same but historically prior to that, Tanev has the clear edge.” Clear edge? Based on what exactly? Hjalmarason has better 5 v 5 possession numbers for his career (52%-50.2%). So again, the point isn’t to quibble who is better, but that they’re in the same ballpark – which was the point of the analogy in the first place. Age would give Tanev the advantage (2.5 years younger) but would the injury history mitigate that? Tanev has averaged 60 GP over the last 5 seasons…Hjalmarason has averaged 73 GP. Could you argue that Hjalmarason is likely to break down as he gets deeper into his 30’s? – absolutely….but not enough to say that Tanev has a definitively higher trade value that would get him a high end forward like William Nylander.

          For the record, a 30 year old Hjalmarason by himself was traded in 2017 for a younger 3rd pairing defencemen (Connor Murphy) and what looks like a career AHL’er (Dauphin). And yes, lots of factors to consider in trades like contract situations and free agent status but if you’re going to frequently reference Hall-Larsson as a legitimate sample, you have to include these deals as well..just look at the Karlsson deal this summer.

          • truthseeker

            Yep. They are very close at this point. I personally just put more value on goal scorers, especially on the wing.

            Of course the contract demands matter. Everything is a factor with trades. And yes, if Brock was demanding 10 million per year at the end of another 30 goal season the canucks would be wise to hold out as well.

            I don’t think teams care that much about injury history. Especially when they are like the Leafs looking at a playoff run. They simply want the best guy they can possibly find to help them win the cup. If you were the leafs and you could have either of them, who would you choose?

            You make some good points there. But I think they would prefer Tanev.

            As for Connor Murphy, he was a first round pick and is quite a bit younger. That’s value. Again, another D man in a trade for a D man because GM’s never want to give up D men for just a forward. I’m sure the Hawks didn’t see him as only a 3rd pairing D man when they made the trade. Do you? Plus, he’s still only 25. Give him a chance. If he remains a 3rd pairing then maybe you have a point but it’s a little early to come to the conclusion it’s a lop sided trade. If anything, again…I don’t see that as proving your point at all. It reinforces what I keep saying. GM’s want D back for D. For a good D like Hjalmarsson the Hawks wanted a young D man back.

            I’ll give you the fact they’re pretty even in ability but over all I don’t think you’ve proven your point that it’s a crazy trade proposal of Tanev for Nylander. It’s not at all. You’re totally over valuing a young winger and under valuing a veteran D man.

          • truthseeker

            So you’re saying that the Yotes viewed Connor Murphy as somewhat of a failed prospect?

            A few problems with that reasoning.

            1) That’s not evidenced by the fact the Hawks were willing to trade Hjalmarsson for him. That would be like saying the Canucks would have given Tanev for Pouliot. lol. By what you’re implying, you’re basically saying the Hawks were morons for making that trade.

            2) It’s not evidenced by the fact that the Yotes were willing to resign him to a 6 year 23 million dollar contract.

            I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of the career of connor murphy but judging by those factors it seems he was somewhat highly regarded by both teams.

            Do you have evidence to support your implications that he was a failed or under achieving prospect that the Yotes were going to waive or actively trying to dump?

            Cause if not, all this stuff is just making my argument even stronger.

          • Dirk22

            Truthseeker: So you’re saying that the Yotes viewed Connor Murphy as somewhat of a failed prospect?

            Failed is a strong word but certainly he’s not a highly valued defencemen just because he’s a former 1st overall or has a big contract! Canuck fans of all people should know that draft slots and contracts do not always reflect player value (ie. Gudbranson). This guy is what they’d call a ‘reclamation project.’

            Truthseeker: “somewhat highly regarded by both teams…….”

            “Somewhat highly regarded”? That doesn’t fit with your original argument in relation to the amount you think defencemen like Tanev and Hjalmarason are worth (remember this trade was over a year ago so we’re looking at knocking his age down 1.5 years). Based on your original argument, these types of players should be in the conversation of bringing in established first line player (eg. William Nylander – a highly regarded player).

            Here’s a sampling for you on Connor Murphy:

            From the Hockey Writers:
            Connor Murphy
            Henri Jokiharju, 19, is one of the most promising young defensemen in the league and could take his place. If Jokiharju lives up to the hype, Murphy will likely have to fight to keep a spot on the team.

            From the Sportster:
            The Phoenix/Arizona NHL franchise has had a tough go around the past few years. In the 2011 draft, they took a big whiff with their number 20 overall selection in the first round. Connor Murphy is a 6’4, 212 pound defensemen that was seen to be a guy to help get the Coyotes out of the cellar of the NHL. Murphy has certainly done a horrible job of doing anything that can be even close to being positive to helping the Coyotes achieve that goal.

            From TSN:
            When the Blackhawks dealt to Arizona for , the move got Chicago younger, which made sense, but only if Murphy would fill a top-four role on defence. That didn’t happen, as he played more than 20 minutes just four times all season and finished with a career-low 16:22 per game. While he was moved down the depth chart (and to the left side), Murphy’s results were fine. However, if Coach Q isn’t going to trust him, Murphy might have more value as a trade chip for the Blackhawks.

          • truthseeker

            OK so you still seem to ignore the point I’ve made over and over and over and over again and I believe supported with the evidence of trade precedent.

            One more time.

            D has more value than wing. Period. So it does fit with my argument. 100 percent.

            A guy like Tanev or Hjalmarsson will bring back a much better young winger than they will bring back a young D. Tanev would never bring back a McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, or Zack Werenski for example. Guys who have proven NHL experience and are not prospects. Comparable talents to Nylander in terms of D men.

            The position of Defense has inherent extra value built into it, at this point in the NHL. Not sure why this causes you so much trouble.

            If this point, that D simply has more value to GM’s than wingers, is something you disagree with, then we can’t even have a discussion on the topic.

            As far as the rest of it….I can cherry pick articles too…

            Connor Murphy emerging as a summer steal for Blackhawks – secondcityhockey com
            goes on to talk about how he’s excelling using the fancy stats.

            From the same site at the end of the year.

            I have reached three conclusions on Murphy that seem, to me, supported by any objective measure available:

            Murphy had a better 2017-18 season in Chicago than Hjalmarsson in Arizona.
            Murphy is also better than Hjalmarsson was during No. 4’s final two seasons in Chicago.
            But Murphy is not as good as Hjalmarsson was during his prime seasons (roughly 2013-15) in Chicago.

            One specific part of Murphy’s future looks quite interesting in Chicago, and that is his late-season pairing with Gustaffson. Murphy and Gustafsson spent just under 137 minutes of even-strength ice time together, posting a 57.34 CF% according to Natural Stat Trick. All of their possession metrics were in the black and that pairing started in the offensive zone just 49.45 percent of the time.

            So yeah….at this point he’s still a question mark but not nearly as bad as you’re trying to make out.