Dear Diary Picks Its Poison
I don't know and don't want to know why it turned up pounds of shirtless man meat on page 1, but add "OHL" to things you should never search for on Google Images. "Existentialism" on the other hand, is quite entertaining.
Stacked somewhere in between the Oshawa Generals and Bowling Green was a letter with a block M in the corner. It contained a brochure for the University, a questionnaire, and the contact information for the coaches. Turns out, I had not been emailing coach Berenson at all, but now I had his real address. I emailed him and got a response from an assistant coach. He told me to call him.
WHAT?! I can call these people?! How was this not explained to me before? I had never bothered to email any other school and since the player must initiate contact, they couldn't reach out to me.
You don't know if Michigan will even offer you because it's too early on NCAA's schedule for anything like certainty. You are surrounded by people who want to see you in the OHL. You are drafted, and given a contract:
I sat down with the GM, who knew that I was considering college. He basically explained to me the benefits of the CHL, the education packages, and the unique experience of being a young local celebrity. He was very polite about it, but told me that if I was signing, he wanted it done within 2 weeks.
The diaries were blessed again with the concluding Parts II and III of JimLahey's epic personal tale that illustrates just how difficult it really is for hockey talent to cross the border, even for those who desperately want to play NCAA. Well written and poignant, with everything from twists to cliffhangers to a surprise ending, its plot is worthy of an episode of Law & Order. Except it happened to this guy. This guy: Diarist of the Week (again).
There was only one other diary this week, but it's a good 'un: ebv returned to do another analysis of correlation between defensive talent and performance, and also defensive experience and performance. Ganking charts:
Experience / Talent:
He used the Rivals depth charts so that's guys on the two-deep, not the starters. The comments had a lot of suggestions, and this overlaps with them, but I think there are a couple of factors that really need analysis more than average age and star-rating of two-deep:
- Size of classes over 5-year period. A 3-star who made the two-deep out of 108 potential defensive players recruited is probably going to be more qualified than a 3-star who made the two-deep out of 40 defensive players recruited.
- Run it again with just starters. The two-deep still includes a lot of guys who might not be ready to play, because the scholly limit and dress limit and whatnot. If the great teams have a 5-star junior or senior starting and two hyped freshmen backing them up, it won't show with an average age.
- Gimme a "worst starter" breakdown too. Xcalibur once tried to test that when Michigan was rolling out Kovacs at free safety and every team we faced began running most of its plays directly at Kovacs. If there's a "weak link" effect for defenses, that will throw off your performance metrics for the team defense.
- Related to above: Distribution?
5th yr Sr Sr / RS Jr Jr / RS So So / RS Fr True Fr Avg. Team A 3 5 5 5 4 2.91 Team B 9 1 1 1 10 2.91
You are looking at teams with very big differences. Team B can field a much more experienced starting 11, but any injury or bust or low-rated older guy means a true freshman is likely starting. Team A's distribution is far more likely to be seeing players in their middle years handling significant time. You can do the same thing with star ratings:
5-star 4-star 3-star 2-star Walk-On Avg. Team A 3 5 5 5 4 2.91 Team B 9 1 1 1 10 2.91
Any busts from B and you are starting a 2-star or a Walk-On. Distribution among the starters would tell us if there's a weak link effect too.
After the break (in honor of jg2112's poor scrolling wheel) I realign the NHL and suggest a playoff system.
OT: Realigning the NHL - This Is My Thing
Last week the board got into a bit of an NHL realignment discussion on a thread wondering if the Red Wings might have any shot of ever getting back to the East. It's been a pet project of mine to put together a new NHL alignment and playoff system. I was going to mention it in the thread, but I realized I've never really put down my plan on a blog before. A few Red Wings blogs have offered the forum, but since I'm staff here I figured why let someone else have it, right? If the NHL to you is just a place for former Michigan hockey players to continue their careers, skip to the playoff part – the same concept might work for any post-season. Like in football too.
My concept: 0 conferences, 5 divisions of 6 teams, and a pick-your-poison playoff draft system that allows top seeds to choose their opponents.
Dixie: STL, NAS, TB, CAR, FLA, WAS
Norris (aka "Erie-Ontario"): OTT, TOR, PIT, DET, CMB, BUF
Patrick-Adams (aka "Atlantic"): NJ, NYR, NYI, MON, BOS, PHI
Heartland: MIN, CHI, DAL, COL, WPG, PHX
Gretzky (aka "Pacific"): VAN, CAL, EDM, ANA, SJ, LA
This supposes Atlanta moves to Winnipeg, which is an announced unannounced thing. If that doesn't happen, swap out Atlanta/Winnipeg for St. Louis. The divisions don't really matter as much as the concept (an Original Six Division is possible).
The reasoning for going to six-team divisions is two-fold: it makes scheduling easier, and it reduces the effect of divisional imbalance. It's still possible to have the six worst teams in one division, or the six best in another, but it's less likely to get a matching six than a matching five in one place.
- Home and home with every team in the league every year (58 games)
- 4 additional games versus division rivals (20 games)
- One extra home and home series with rotating pool of ex-conference rivals (4 games)
Equals 82 games. (Option: in Olympic years the extra two series can be dropped to make it 78 games).
The last is a little complicated but think of it as a vestige of the old conferences. It rotates against your old conference foes (because it sets up reunions from old playoffs), just 2 a year so it doesn't significantly change the schedule. Each team has 14 other ex-conference members so the rotation will re-set after every 7 years. This is the only time an East or West designation is counted for teams.
One year for Detroit: Six games each versus Ottawa, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Buffalo, four games versus Colorado and St. Louis, and two games versus every other team in the NHL.
Playoffs (this is my favorite part):
Since there are no conferences, the playoff matchups are determined from a Pick Your Poison Draft.
Who Makes the Playoffs? The five conference winners plus 11 at-large bids as determined by:
- Most points
- Most wins
- Most goals for
- Toughest schedule (avg. pts of opponents)
How Seeds Are Determined: The President's Trophy Winner gets to select the team they want to play from among the 5th best division winner and the 11 at-large teams (based on most points, current tiebreakers from entire NHL).
Then the next best division champ picks the team they want to play in the 1st round. Then the next, and so on. After the 4th team makes their selection it goes to the teams with the highest point totals (so if you're the worst division winner you basically just got yourself an at-large spot).
Try it with this year's standings. Seeds:
I put stars next to the division champs. It didn't matter since they were the top point-getters anyway, but I gave priority to the Top Four division champs to preserve the meaning of winning a division championship. It's 4 not 5 because I want to penalize that one crappy division champion we get every year. Some years a team who won an easier division will get to pick ahead, but what I like about it is there's incentive for a team cruising to the top of an easy division to keep trying to wrack up points.
Also different between this and current: Dallas (95 pts) is in, the Rangers (93 pts) are out.
At the end of each round there's a re-draft. Teams retain their seeds through the entire playoffs. The selecting (higher-seeded) team gets the extra home game.
The Pick Your Poison approach has several advantages over the current conference system:
- Teams are likely to select rivals and nearby cities. Proximity and rivalry increase fan interest and ticket sales, and lower travel costs across the league.
- The regular season means more, because a playoff seed means more. Every team finishes the season jockeying for some type of position (best record overall, win division, be the better division winner, get to a "selection" seed, etc.
- Teams would no longer "lose" their way to a better playoff matchup, as teams have done in the past.
- Top seeds can avoid the "trap" series, like that 8-seed who's been unbeatable since February, or the 7-seed known for injuring your star players (COUGH Anaheim).
- More teams per division and fewer divisions means less variation between divisions, thus fewer seasons when entire divisions are playoff-bound, or division champs with fewer points than the lowest at-large team.
- Fuel for the fire in every series: kind of hard to say you respect your opponent when you specifically chose them as the team you thought easiest to defeat. The selectors come in arrogant, the selectees with a chip on their shoulders. Pissed off players = good hockey.
- It makes the race for the President's Trophy a bigger deal because you're not just ensuring home ice, but getting to manipulate the playoff picture.
What if a high seed picks another high seed? This is the biggest downside. Say in our 2010-'11 seeding above that Washington selects Pittsburgh, thus effectively making Pittsburgh's 3-seeded season less valuable than Buffalo's 15th. It would be a rare team that wants a hard matchup to start the playoffs but it's theoretically possible. The tradeoff is that would be an awesome series for the NHL, creating a first round matchup with high national interest.
More importantly, the pick-your-poison system is tough on teams that put up better records overall, but who come into the playoffs injured. Imagine a two-seed whose best player won't be available until the 2nd round, e.g. if Washington was missing Ovechkin. Vancouver might choose to knock them off right away, but the season Washington had should have earned them a relatively easy first round matchup. There's a simple fix: Guarantee Seeds 2-4 immunity from 1st round selection. The 5th best team is still able to be nicked but at least they had a chance to avoid it had they won their division.
What about teams who choose matchups for non-competitive reasons? So say Columbus has a dream season, gets a 4-seed, and selects 5th seed Detroit because a series against the Red Wings would guarantee more playoff revenue? This sucks for Detroit especially, as the NHL team most likely to be selected out of its earned seed by a small market team looking to cash in. Again, Detroit can avoid this with a higher seed. And Columbus is taking an awful gamble that they'll be knocked out of the playoffs, meaning Detroit effectively can move up a seed by winning.
Also I want this to be as feasible as possible, and that means all of the NHL's needs must be served. When you're pitching this to Bettman, it is very important to point out that the new system still accomplishes his goal of screwing the Red Wings.
Jokes and tinfoil hats aside the biggest knock on my system is that how likely a team is to win is not the same as how many games a team won. For the top seeds this is made up for and more, because winning more during the season will translate into more control over your playoff destiny. For the lower seeds, their seasons mean less. I think it's a fair tradeoff. The 5th seed is vulnerable, but still in a much better position than the 15th seed. Ultimately do you care more that a 7th seed gets a worse matchup than a 13th seed, or that the top seed gets a better matchup than the 4th seed?
This is About Pro Hockey, Why is it on a Michigan Blog?
Because NCAA could do this too. It wouldn't be nearly as accurate or work as well because the system for choosing seeds in NCAA is a hell of a lot harder than an organized league with a draft where all teams play each other. Since these are 1- and done games there's no incentive for the high seeds to select teams that are nearby. However it does remove some of the burden of figuring out seeding on the lower end, and puts it on the shoulders of the high seeds. I imagine they'd be more interested in selecting the devil you know, so this means more rivalry games early in the tournament. And by giving top seeds a bigger advantage you'll see more of them in the Frozen Four.
The concept also might be applied to a college football playoff. Take 12 teams by BCS rating with the best four Division Champs given a bye week. The next four pick their 1st round nemeses, and play at home. In Round 2 the following week the top four draft their opponents and play at home (again). Round 3 is another draft, and takes place at the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta, and then the champ game's at a rotating site. I kind of like it for college football because the difference between the BCS No. 6 and No. 8 team in season performance is probably so miniscule the best way to tell who's better is to simply let another team make that call.