Intangibles

Jonathan Willis
May 08 2009 03:06PM

"I love the physical intangibles he brought to the game." – Pierre McGuire, explaining why Ed Jovanovski is A MONSTER!

That quote is lifted from this rather amazing Covered in Oil post from April 2008, which does a great breakdown of Pierre McGuire’s 2008 Monsters of the Year list. It’s a good read, and taken in conjunction with this rumour it just makes me smile.

Anyways, Covered in Oil responded with the dictionary definition of intangible: "not tangible; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch, as incorporeal or immaterial things; impalpable."

As a guy who likes statistics, I get knocked a lot as not caring about intangibles. That’s not true. Obviously, things like leadership, guts, heart and the like can be important things in team-building. The psychological side of the game exists and undoubtedly influences outcome, but it can’t be measured by us. A coach may have a good grasp of these qualities in his players, but of course that’s biased by his own experience and perception. We can guess at the character of players, but it’s only a guess.

Physicality is not an intangible. Aside from the fact that certain aspects can be measured (size, strength, total hits) physicality is obvious to anyone who watches the game.

Even defensive ability, which isn’t easy to measure, doesn’t qualify as an intangible. A competent observer can grade any player’s positioning after a sufficient period of time; and count battles won and lost. On the statistical end of things, NHL teams have been counting scoring chances for years (and over at mc79hockey.com, Dennis has been tracking scoring chances all year), and other statistics like QualComp, ZoneShift and Corsi are helping us craft a better picture all the time. But I digress.

The point of this article is that intangibles really don’t belong in the conversation. We don’t know them; if we knew them, they wouldn’t be intangible. When someone says, ‘yeah, but he has/doesn’t have intangibles’, they’re arguing from a position of ignorance – effectively saying: ‘well, I think there’s some other, unmeasurable quality that makes X a good or bad hockey player’, and that’s simply wrong. X is a good or bad hockey player based on what he does on the ice. Saying something to the effect of “X doesn’t win puck battles” or “X doesn’t go into traffic areas” may be accurate or not, but a competent observer can watch the game and confirm or deny the statement – and that makes all the difference.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 SumOil
May 08 2009, 11:36PM
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@ Andrew W:

As you and I both agree on his hockey assessment, I am not going to write about about it.

I now understand how Don Cherry can irritate you. However, I am able to filter out his 'euro hate' and do not really hate his ranting. May be as him being a professional, many expect him to be politically correct, unbiased and may be even a little subtle. However, I think these qualities set him apart. His outspoken nature makes him unique. On one of episode, he has commented positively about TSN. How many analysts can really do that? May be I am just tired of 'sitting on the fence' style of commentary and find it refreshing whether I agree with him or not.

I will finish by saying I respect your opinion and this is the first time I have heard an objective criticism about Don Cherry. I will think more in depth about what you said. Usually all I get to read is people calling him varying degree of idiot.

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#52 yo
May 09 2009, 12:30AM
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My wife buys me intangibles by the box every Christmas season, they are just like little oranges. They're yummy!! If Pierre McWire gets the coaching or better yet the GM job in Minnie then I think we all have cause to rejoice. They won't be 'monsters', they'll 'Munsters' in no time flat with that dope in charge.

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#53 Hemmertime
May 09 2009, 01:20AM
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I like the intangibles Big Sexy brings

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#54 Jason Gregor
May 09 2009, 08:42AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I’m sorry, I should have made it clear that I was referring to the fans. On the other hand, even as a beat writer, how much do you see outside of practices and games? I’m guessing Moreau and Souray don’t go drinking with you afterwards, though I’m just guessing.

There are many ways to understand what makes a guy tick. A round of golf is one of the best. You get a better understanding of players when you just sit down and have conversations, not interviews. They are drastically different.

The thing about intangibles is that you and I can watch the same game and leave with completely opposite views of a players ability in certain situations. It is just like stats in a sense that you can use one stat to back your point, while the person you debate with could use another stat to denounce yours.

Most stats aren't cut and dry, and neither are opinions when it comes to intangibles. But I wouldn't just toss them out as saying "Anyone with a clue" should see Horcoff is good defensively. Let's not forget you said you would take him over Getzlaf, because Getzlaf wasn't great defensively. If you have watched him in these playoffs, he is far from a defensive liability and arguably he has been the best forward in the playoffs to date.

Intangibles, like stats, will always be open to debate. That is what makes sports great. Some guys will have a better understanding how to use stats, just like some people are better suited to pick up on intangibles.

Andrew W wrote:

The passion and articulation of his statement was out of this world. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Patrik Stephan, you should be embarrassed for what you just did - that does not belong in the National Hockey League.” Fantastic play, fantastic call. Ferraro will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame someday, mark my words. McGuire, well, only if he buys a ticket (to paraphrase Brownlee).

I really appreciate Ferraro's insight and ability to break down plays, ( he is one of the best) but he was just as over the top as McGuire is with his comment about Stephan being an embarrassment. He skated close to the net to get in the safest position to score, and the puck inexplicably bounced over his stick. Was he supposed to predict that? I loved the energy Ferraro brought, but that was just as over-the-top as one of McGuire's love fests about individual players.

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#55 Jason Gregor
May 09 2009, 08:53AM
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JW,

One other thing...even the pros don't fully understand intangibles sometimes....

Look at Getzlaf. The Oilers, along with many other teams worried about his intangibles (only played when he wanted to, moody, took undisciplined penalties) and allowed that thinking to overshadow his stats, otherwise they would have drafted him.

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#56 Jonathan Willis
May 09 2009, 10:34AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Let’s not forget you said you would take him over Getzlaf, because Getzlaf wasn’t great defensively.

You know, I keep getting reminded of that but I'd really like to think I didn't actually say it and I can't seem to find the quote, and I don't think that my answer was quite that cut-and-dry.

In any case, it's clearly wrong at this point. Getzlaf had been playing against second-line opposition prior to the playoff run, but he's put up heavy points both 5-on-5 and on the powerplay and I don't think there's much doubt that he's the guy carrying that line. In the playoffs he's stepped up.

Prior to this season, Getzlaf was playing soft opposition and had only a single PPG season and a penchant for taking stupid penalties. He's moved past those first two points and while I still wish he'd knock down the stupid penalties he's obviously a better player at this point than he was one year ago, and he's obviously brings more to the table than Shawn Horcoff as well.

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#57 Jonathan Willis
May 09 2009, 10:35AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

But I wouldn’t just toss them out as saying “Anyone with a clue” should see Horcoff is good defensively.

Do you think there's an actual argument to be made that Horcoff isn't good defensively?

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#58 Chris
May 09 2009, 10:52AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Let’s not forget you said you would take him over Getzlaf, because Getzlaf wasn’t great defensively. If you have watched him in these playoffs, he is far from a defensive liability and arguably he has been the best forward in the playoffs to date.

This statement is at the heart of so many of my battles with Johnathan Willis. Johnathan, along with many others, like Archaeologuy, chronically overvalue Oiler players... (After all Willis preferrs Horcoff to Getzlaf, Archaeologuy preferrs Hemsky to LeCavlier... but with so many awesome players; why are the Oilers perennial bottomfeeders? These guys like the draft record: I mean picking Pouliot instead of the aforementioned Getzlaf was genius!)

If this sound like a drive-by smear... Fair enough. Consider this my response to this statement by Willis on the May5th QTNA thread:

You may not have the energy to argue with “all the guys who love every single Oiler player as if they were their own child” but I’m sick of arguing with a guy who figures that every Oiler is far worse than any objective measure would indicate.

Read more: http://www.oilersnation.com/2009/05/qtna-episode-viii/#ixzz0F1lP0BaY&B

I don't think any TRUE Oiler Fan is capable of completely setting aside emotion to accuratly gather and present "Objective measures". I readily admit my assessment of players are based on personal observation and may be tainted by emotion... It's time you stats hounds admit the same.

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#59 Archaeologuy
May 09 2009, 11:03AM
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@ Chris: Lecavalier isnt worth 3 million more than Hemsky, he just isnt. No matter how good he is in your mind, he has had 2 great seasons and they werent even consecutively. He has played with great players for a large portion of his career and has been underwhelming for a former 1st overall.

I'm not saying that Liam Reddox is better than Sidney Crosby, Look at Vinny's career. It hasnt been particularly impressive. I think Hemsky at 4 is significantly better for the team than Lecav at 7.7. Without St. Louis Vinny would be a nobody.

I never said I liked the Draft record either. I said it was better in the 2000's than it was in the 90's. That's it. I dont mind arguing with you, but if you're gonna take everything out of context then the kid gloves are off.

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#60 Chris
May 09 2009, 11:31AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I've looked for the Getzlaf vs Horcoff thread before with no success. During some of our previous heated exchanges: I've wanted to throw this back in your face...(because I'm a douche)

I think it was last offseason; during the thread; not as part of the post. You made a clear, well thought out, statistically based argument that PROVED Horcoff was the better overall center than Getzlaf. It was so convincing that I might have bought in... Except that I have watched both of them play. *wink* Especially against each other. *wink wink* Jokes aside, You had all your duck in a row and all the ammo you needed to shoot me down for several hours. You won the day sir... But you were wrong, wrong, wrong. All I had was my gut, and my common sence which had not been influenced by scores of data. Getzlaf IS a better player than Horcoff. @ Archaeologuy: Stand down sir. Lecavlier IS a better player than Hemsky. To say that Hemsky has a better contract, and is therefore better value is fair comment... but we both know from previous discussions, that when you curl up in bed at night, you drift off with a smile beliveing that Hemsky is the better player. Wrong.

Cheers guys. If we all agreed about everything, there would be less comments made here than on Flamesnation. I LIKE the confrontation...(because, again, I'm a douche)

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#61 Chris
May 09 2009, 11:50AM
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@ Archaeologuy: Sorry if I unfairly lumped you in with the draft record apologists... but in fairness you have mistakenly called me a Flames fan.

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#62 Jonathan Willis
May 09 2009, 11:50AM
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Chris wrote:

I think it was last offseason

That I do believe, because I still think I'd take 2007-08 Horcoff over 2007-08 Getzlaf (i.e., in a game seven situation). They've seperated a fair bit since then.

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#63 Jonathan Willis
May 09 2009, 11:52AM
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@ Chris:

Hey, I think most of us like having you around... for my part, I know the discussions can get heated but if there wasn't some disagreement, and certainly if there wasn't passion, none of this would be worth talking about, would it?

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#64 Chris
May 09 2009, 12:06PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Would right shot, left shot count as an intangible? Brownlee and many others seem to think Gilbert is on the move but Souray, Grebs, Smid, Peckham, and Chorney are all left shooting D-men. If you move Gilbert, the organization is left with only rwo right shooting D-men capable of NHL service under contract. (Lubo, Staios... and many people think Peckham will replace Staios)

Is this the kind of "intangible" that gives a GM pause when constructing a team? Or am I out to lunch? I mean it's easy to say Beauchemein can replaces Gilbert... but wouldn't it make more sence to play Gilbert (right shot) with Beauchemin (left shot) and move Grebs?

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#65 Dan
May 09 2009, 12:34PM
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@ Chris:

Right shot, left shot counts for a bit, but its usually only considered for offensive reasons, like trying to setup scorers for one-timers. If we have all left handed shots on D, I don't think its that big of a deal since Hemsky, Gagner, and hopefully Kotalik are all right handed shots.

I hope they continue the umbrella setup on the PP next year, but the adjustment that needs to be made is Hemsky has to make himself a one-timer threat just like Souray and Visnovsky are. It would open the ice up a lot more and the other team wouldn't be able to choke off our D. Here's to hoping hemsky is working on his one-timer in the off-season.

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#66 Chris
May 09 2009, 12:38PM
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@ Dan: Like Gilbert feeding Beauchemin on PP unit #2... should the Oil go the UFA route while dangling Grebs for a top six... just sayin...

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#67 Dan
May 09 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Chris:

I definitely think we should get more rugged in the top 4 D. Souray can't go at it alone and I'm not sure Peckham and Smid will play enough to make enough of a difference.

I guess the debate will lie with losing either Gilbert or Grebs. I guess it will depend upon what other teams preference would be and are they willing to give us a bigger top 6 forward.

I say Gilbert should go, only because his play down the stretch was flaky and timid. Maybe it was the hard minutes catching up to him. I just think Grebs has the ability to be a top 2 Dman, I think the ceiling for Gilbert is a 3-4.

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#68 kingsblade
May 09 2009, 03:06PM
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@ Chris:

I don't recall anyone ever saying Hemsky was a better player straight up. Every discussion was based around the contracts of the two players and their dollar for dollar value.

You have an odd penchant for altering the arguments of others to suit you purposes.

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#69 kingsblade
May 09 2009, 03:12PM
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@ Chris:

as for Getzlaff:

It's laughable to try and claim you knew he would turn into the player he is today. I have watched that guy play since about 2000 when the Hitmen drafted him, and nobody who watched him in the dub or his early pro years ever would have suspected what happened since.

You can claim you thought he would be pretty good if you want, but if you are really going to pretend you knew he was a star then there is no point even listening to you about anything since you're just going to make stuff up.

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#70 Archaeologuy
May 09 2009, 04:14PM
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Chris wrote:

but we both know from previous discussions, that when you curl up in bed at night, you drift off with a smile beliveing that Hemsky is the better player. Wrong.

I see you've been spying on me. ;)

As good of a player as Lecavalier is, he isnt even the best player on his own team. I think a lot of people have this idea in their head that Lecavalier is a "Superstar" and he just isnt. That said, neither is Hemsky. If I had to pick one of the two, I would take Hemsky and his contract 10 times out of 10. If the Cap was erased, I would consider taking Lecavalier, but St Louis is the only Tampa Bay player I wouldnt think twice about taking.

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#71 Jason Gregor
May 09 2009, 06:09PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: But I wouldn’t just toss them out as saying “Anyone with a clue” should see Horcoff is good defensively. Do you think there’s an actual argument to be made that Horcoff isn’t good defensively?

Not at all...I meant that while that is an obvious one, many intangible could be hotly debated amongst writers/posters...I meant that not all intangibles are easily noticed.

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#72 Chris
May 09 2009, 06:42PM
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kingsblade wrote:

It’s laughable to try and claim you knew he would turn into the player he is today

Laugh away. There is a feature on this site that allows you to go to older posts... and I've been posting here for years and I stand by my opinions... I don't feel I should have to go digging back to satisfy YOU but knock yourself out. (And YES I've thought Getzlaf was going to be a VERY high end player for years and years...)

I also have fought with many oiler-goggle-wearing fans who thought Schremp was going to be the answer to the offensive woes of this once proud franchise... I always said Schremp lacked the size and speed to score consistantly at the NHL level (I was disappointed with the pick)... but even I was surprised that he can't get it done at the AHL level.

You want prophesy moving forward? I'm not that excited about Omark either. Sorry. He is fancy, and smart, and a nice late round pick; but the angles are different on small ice, and the little dude is kinda slow to beat NHL grade D-men to the inside and he sure lacks the size to take the puck up the boards. It's possible Omark could find chemistry with a good linemate and put up numbers in the NHL, but don't expect him to be a real impact player on his own... There are brighter minds than mine working for the Oilers who didn't see fit to guarantee Omark a roster spot; and they have their reasons. Historically, Oilers management hasn't undervalued thier prospects (quite the opposite)... if Omark was even close to the kind of player many here think he is; Omark would have been GIVEN a roster spot... Or maybe Tambellini is a tad more prudent than Lowe.

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#73 Chris
May 09 2009, 06:50PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

As good of a player as Lecavalier is, he isnt even the best player on his own team. I think a lot of people have this idea in their head that Lecavalier is a “Superstar” and he just isnt.

Replace the word LeCavlier for Hemsky... and we have a statement we can both agree on. *wink*

Lecavlier has all the tools to be great; but he seems to be suffering from big-contract-crappy-team disease. The city is warm, the girls are cute, and the Lightning will miss the playoffs whether LeCavlier scores 12 goals or 50... I'm disappointed by his lack of character, but not surprised. I wonder how Hemsky would do after his third season in a place like Tampa.

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#74 Chris
May 09 2009, 07:40PM
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kingsblade wrote:

You have an odd penchant for altering the arguments of others to suit you purposes.

Example?

kingsblade wrote:

I don’t recall anyone ever saying Hemsky was a better player straight up

Or was THIS your example? I accused Archaeologuy of preferring Hemsky to Lecavlier (and he does...in fact I suspect he secretly HATES LeCavlier)... I didn't say anything about YOU! I mentioned Archaeologuy (not you) because he might be the biggest Hemsky fan on earth; (God bless him) and makes statements like these:

And Lecavalier hasnt exactly lead his team to the promised land since Khabibulin left the team. In fact, one might argue that Hemsky has done a better job than him…

Read more: http://www.oilersnation.com/2009/04/patrick-o%e2%80%99sullivan-better-than-you-think-he-is/#ixzz0F3z93mPv&B

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#75 kingsblade
May 10 2009, 12:24AM
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Chris wrote:

I don’t feel I should have to go digging back to satisfy YOU but knock yourself out.

Don't need to, I'll just continue to believe you're full of it.

Chris wrote:

I’ve thought Getzlaf was going to be a VERY high end player for years and years

If this is true that you and Ryan Getzlaff's mom are the ONLY two who can say this.

Chris wrote:

You want prophesy moving forward? I’m not that excited about Omark either. Sorry.

I would love to know what this has to do with anything I said. What the hell are you bringing up Omark for? Furthermore what kind of "prophesy" is it to simply agree with conventional wisdom?

I guess I'm just confused because half your reply to my Getzlaff comment is about another player. You claim to have made an impossible prediction on one and then follow the world at large with the other, so excuse me if I fail to see the correlation.

Same goes for Schremp. Why do you think it took a brilliant mind to predict he wouldn't be good? Is it the fact that most people most places felt the same? I love how you pretend a few guys who defended Schremp are the consensus and use their misplaced belief as proof of your fabulous mind. Well done. Maybe next you'll tell me that Ovechkin is really going to make something of himself one of these days.

How am I supposed to believe your incredible Getzlaff prediction when all of the other predictions you have made are pretty much common opinion?

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#76 Chris
May 10 2009, 12:33AM
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@ kingsblade:

I don't think this is th right site for you. Try going to: http://forum.psychlinks.ca/anger-management/3315-eight-simple-anger-management-tips.html

Have a nice day.

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#77 Archaeologuy
May 10 2009, 09:05AM
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Chris wrote:

Replace the word LeCavlier for Hemsky… and we have a statement we can both agree on. *wink*

I did.

Archaeologuy wrote:

Lecavalier is a “Superstar” and he just isnt. That said, neither is Hemsky.
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#78 kingsblade
May 10 2009, 01:10PM
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Chris wrote:

@ kingsblade: I don’t think this is th right site for you. Try going to: http://forum.psychlinks.ca/anger-management/3315-eight-simple-anger-management-tips.html Have a nice day.

Far from angry. I'm not even sure what part of my response to you suggests anger. Perhaps you could explain. I simply find it a waste of time when your responses don't even apply, so I told you why I thought you didn't make particular sense. That hardly requires anger.

If I was angry I would just quit the conversation. You, on the other hand, apparently react with snide comments and insincere arguments.

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#79 Chris
May 10 2009, 05:34PM
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@ kingsblade:

Anger defined: An emotional state that can range from minor irritation to intense rage.

It's clear I irritate you. It WAS unintentional. I had you pegged for a Hitman fan who was having a bad night... Clearly I was mistaken. I don't know if you still live in Calagary; but you do still have the stink of Calagary arrogance for which that city is so famous. Take a shower and chill. Also, in the future, please refrain from interrupting conversations that involve myself and more civil posters.

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#80 kingsblade
May 10 2009, 07:19PM
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Chris wrote:

@ kingsblade: Anger defined: An emotional state that can range from minor irritation to intense rage. It’s clear I irritate you. It WAS unintentional. I had you pegged for a Hitman fan who was having a bad night… Clearly I was mistaken. I don’t know if you still live in Calagary; but you do still have the stink of Calagary arrogance for which that city is so famous. Take a shower and chill. Also, in the future, please refrain from interrupting conversations that involve myself and more civil posters.

Really? You are using the wikipedia definition? It isn't too hard to find a definition to suit. For example: From reference.com: Anger: a strong feeling of displeasure or belligerence aroused by a wrong, wrath, ire.

You found one to suit you, I found one to suit me. I wonder which definition suits the idea most people have of anger. Claiming I have strong feelings about you either way is giving yourself way to much credit :)

What made your responses more civil than mine? I've been reading over the thread to see where I treated you with incivility and I just don't see it unless you are a guy whose feelings get hurt by nothing more than a contradictory opinion or a direct response to your own statements. I did not have you pegged for that I will admit.

Look, all I said was that I think you're making things up with your supposed Getzlaff prediction, which is when you decided to spring a bunch of unrelated crap about Schremp and Omark. At no point did I insult you, ad at no point did I stray from responding directly to your posts, so before accusing me of incivility you might want to check your own tone.

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#81 Robin Brownlee
May 10 2009, 08:18PM
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@ kingsblade: How about if the both of you put an end to pulling your puds because, while that's the lifeblood of some fanboy sites, it's not the MO here. Besides, you're both coming up short.

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#82 kingsblade
May 10 2009, 11:10PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ kingsblade: How about if the both of you put an end to pulling your puds because, while that’s the lifeblood of some fanboy sites, it’s not the MO here. Besides, you’re both coming up short.

As though you haven't gone off on tangential arguments here because someone irritated you. Coming up short? What is that even supposed to mean?

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#83 RossCreek
May 10 2009, 11:11PM
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Which one sounds better - Internet Wars or Web Wars?

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