The truth about character

Jason Strudwick
June 27 2013 11:18AM

With the draft coming up on Sunday there has been a lot of talk about the type of players the Oilers should draft. Rookie general manager Craig MacTavish has said he is very interested in acquiring more skill through the draft. I wonder if that is the best approach to build a winning team.

I can't argue that the most important asset a hockey player can have is skill. Without it he will not be able to play at a high level even if he possesses all the other requirements of a NHL player.

In my opinion a very, very close second is character. Skill without character is useless. I would rather have a player with character and less skill then the other way around. I think there is misconception of what character means in a hockey player.

Too often I hear that a team can "just pick a character player up on waivers when they need one". I love it. It makes it sounds like they are going down to the mall to pick up a black pair of shoes that will make a whole outfit work! Makes zero sense to me.

Yes there are players who are referred to as "character players". It seems to me that these are players that do some of the dirtier tasks for a team. Blocking shots, finishing checks, killing penalties and fighting are examples of what people who are "character players" do for teams.

These are important elements to have on a winning club. However, if a team is hoping that these types of players are enough character for a whole team they are kidding themselves.

Players with character vs. character players

Photo: Resolute/Wikimedia Commons

Players with character are required throughout the line-up.

Unfortunately it is pretty hard to quantify character with stats. I guess you could look at blocked shots and hits but to me that just points at the types of players that are often referred to as "character players". How do you figure out if the rest of your players have character who aren't big on those two stats?

We just saw a perfect example in this Stanley Cup Final. Jonathan Toews put on a clinic on what character is all about. The Hawks were having trouble getting to the net with the Bruins line-up of bigger defensemen and centers.

They were having trouble with it because they didn't want to pay the price in the first few games of the series. Would you want to try and go to the net when a mountain of a nasty man is standing between you and the net? You could literally see the change in the Hawks mindset in the last few games of the series.

Toews led the charge by going right at the Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara. No longer was Toews going to let Chara dictate how he or his team was going to play. How many times did you see the smaller Toews battling with the much bigger Chara for loose pucks in the corners and front of the net in the last two games of the series? All the time!

He didn't do it because he was trying to get on the stat sheet with hits, he did it because he knew that in order to win he had to battle the biggest and best the Bruins had to offer. He couldn't avoid it. His character shined through.

He did what was needed to win even though he knew the effort and pain that were required.

That is character. He isn't a "character player.” He is a player with character.

Skilled players go through highs and lows of scoring goals. No NHL players score every night. If a skilled player is having an off night or is struggling scoring what are they contributing to the team's success?

Skilled players with character find ways of helping the team during the lows of a season. They are very solid defensively at those times. Skate and attack the net to create opportunities for others. They become a part of the team's overall success even when they are not having individual success.

At the Draft

Photo: Alexander Laney/Wikimedia Commons

It is clear to me that the Oilers need to add more players with character to their line-up this off season. The first chance they get is this weekend at the draft in New Jersey. Drafting players solely based on skill is not a recipe for success in my opinion.

It is not easy to identify character in draft eligible players. These guys are very young and their games are in full development mode but that is the challenge for scouting staffs across the NHL.

I know many teams look at players away from the rink. What is their lifestyle? How do they treat their billets (for junior-aged players) and teachers (for college players)? Do they put forth effort in off-ice training? Are they responsive to coaching? These are all questions that scouts try to get answered when they are pushing for their team to draft a specific player.

I think a great question to have answered would be this... what does the player do when no one is watching?

I want to know if he does extra after practice on the ice. Is he a guy that is working on his game without being asked? Is he a guy that watches video to improve? Is he a guy that goes to the gym without being asked or prodded?

These are the attributes I saw during my career in players that not only played in the NHL but contributed in a meaningful way to the success of a team on and off the ice.

Don't ever underestimate the value of character in a player. It is a hair under skill in my opinion.

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Smokey
June 27 2013, 02:11PM
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hatrock wrote:

I think Struds is onto something. Look at the team now:

FORWARDS:

Hall: high skill with high character
Nuge: high skill with high character
Eberle: high skill with high character
Hemsky: high skill with low character
Horcoff: low skill with high character
Gagner: high skill with high character
Yakupov: high skill with high character
Smyth: low/med skill with high character
Jones: low skill with high character
Paajarvi: high skill with medium character (yet growing)
Petrell: low skill and med. character
Smithson: low skill (except faceoffs) with mediocre character
Brown: low skill with high character
Belanger: low skill with medicore character
Eager: low skill (except speed) and low character

DEFENSE:

Petry: medium skill (improving) and high character
J.Schultz: high skill and medium character
N.Schultz: medium skill and high character
Smid: low/med. skill and high character
Fistric: low skill and medium character
Potter: med. skill and med. character
Whitney: med./high skill and low character

Character is subjective. Saying Hemsky has high skill low character is just that. I know all the reasons why people say this and its being used to ship the guy outta town.

My arguement is against you is this. Guy chose Edmonton and all the media spotlight for 12 years, and has never said a disconcerting word even though hes been scapegoated, called soft and selfish. Guy played here with whatever inadaquate teamates they put on his line, went into the corners against Rhegier ever shift. I remember not only did he take hits you or I could not take, he delivered shots to Rhegier. Wonder why his shoulder are made of "glass." He endured media and coaches questioning his work ethic saying he could be better, while he battled injuries. He sign not one but two contracts to live in Edmonton. One he was underpaid for 6 years. Took countless insults for getting what he was due on the last contract to make up for years of being underpaid. He chose to sign the second ocontract during a rebuild, cause he wanted to be part of the solution. Last season he was the one of the best players during the first half, scoring game winners. Played the second half on a broken foot no less while taking more criticism from the media and fans. Watched his team tank after he left, was no coincidence, the team struggles always in his absence. and predictably fell out of the hunt.

On my 2014 he stays. I'll take his quiet shy demeanour any day. He did not get that good because he is lazy. Maybe you could argue he could be a better leader, I argue let him be what he is a quiet deternined guy.

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#2 Eddie Shore
June 27 2013, 05:24PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Better? Feaster acquired two inferior players and added $500K to his payroll. Hopefully he keeps making "good" trades like this one.

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#3 OilersBrass
June 27 2013, 11:28AM
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I cannot wait for Sunday! The draft is easily one of my favourite parts of the season.

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#4 OilClog
June 27 2013, 02:53PM
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Anyone saying Hemsky has low character is IMO a complete fool. For 10 years we've been watching this man carry this team on his back, going into places 90% of wingers do no go.. especially at Ales speeds.

Injuries caught up to him and slowed his offense down, but not for a moment can anyone say Ales Hemsky doesn't have character.. if Ales Hemsky didn't have character do you not think he would of asked to be traded years ago.. would he not of made stupid comments like a "souray"

Ales has never had a bad damn thing to say about Edmonton or the Oilers.. He complained when our bogus coaching staff would use his skillset incorrectly.. He has a damn legitimate beef with that!! He's a playmaking winger that is trying to create offense.. asking him to be a 3rd line checker is like asking Smyth to be a 4th line center.. The Oilers deserve to lose both those damn bets..

Ales Hemsky is a skilled player.. and if more of the Edmonton Oilers we've had in the last 7 years had his character our pathetic record for the last 7 years would be much less pathetic!

Trading Ales Hemsky is a moved that MacT pretty much has to make now.. but the fact we're pretty much running him out of town is ridiculous. He's been one of the best Soldiers we've ever had.. and still for the most part.. We seem to have zero class about it.

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#5 Sanaa Montana
June 27 2013, 04:46PM
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LOIL99 wrote:

I would put down a few dollars betting that GVBlackHawk:

1) Drives a jacked up Ford truck. 2) Has a TAPOUT sticker on the back window of that truck. 3) ALWAYS backs that truck into the spot when parking. 4) Has a DUI....currently.

I don't often lol, but when I do, I do it to comments like this.

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#6 Quicksilver ballet
June 27 2013, 05:00PM
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@oliveoilers

Figure things would be different for him here now. He wouldn't have to carry the team/be their best player. Dustin has been better in a support role, not when hicks (Al Davis/Srcain) expect/demand he be the Oilers best player.

He could still play in your top 6, when needed. Hate to see MacTavish let personal feelings get in the way of him doing his job. Lowe set the organization back bigtime when he let things get personal with Mike Comrie. Penner should be an option for the Oilers, as sad as it is here, he'd be #2 on the Oilers depth chart as far as left wingers go.

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#7 Smokey
June 27 2013, 01:02PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Best article you have written so far........hit the nail right on the head. The NHL garbage pile is littered with skilled players with limited character.

I for one would not draft a player if that player has never demonstrated character.......the best people to judge character are fellow players, past and present. Most often the character players have the "C" or "A" on their jersey but not always.

Darnell Nurse seems to have this as does Monahan.......Nichuskin not as much, but asking fellow players on his team may shed some light?

Why does Nich have less character?

Heck people said that about Yakupov, and all the guy does is compete with passion.

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#8 hatrock
June 27 2013, 01:46PM
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I think Struds is onto something. Look at the team now:

FORWARDS:

Hall: high skill with high character
Nuge: high skill with high character
Eberle: high skill with high character
Hemsky: high skill with low character
Horcoff: low skill with high character
Gagner: high skill with high character
Yakupov: high skill with high character
Smyth: low/med skill with high character
Jones: low skill with high character
Paajarvi: high skill with medium character (yet growing)
Petrell: low skill and med. character
Smithson: low skill (except faceoffs) with mediocre character
Brown: low skill with high character
Belanger: low skill with medicore character
Eager: low skill (except speed) and low character

DEFENSE:

Petry: medium skill (improving) and high character
J.Schultz: high skill and medium character
N.Schultz: medium skill and high character
Smid: low/med. skill and high character
Fistric: low skill and medium character
Potter: med. skill and med. character
Whitney: med./high skill and low character

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#9 LOIL99
June 27 2013, 04:33PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

NHL players are not paid to analyze the game.

Non-NHL players who like to follow stat-based metrics likely understand more about hockey than you care to know. I love stats and love to play hockey, but I knew that it was not going to be a career for me.

Your statement is the epitome of ignorance.

I would put down a few dollars betting that GVBlackHawk:

1) Drives a jacked up Ford truck. 2) Has a TAPOUT sticker on the back window of that truck. 3) ALWAYS backs that truck into the spot when parking. 4) Has a DUI....currently.

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#10 Quicksilver ballet
June 27 2013, 10:00PM
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What business is it of ours (the fans), in regards to what these players do on their own personal time. All we should be concerned about is if they're capable of contributing on the ice, add to the entertainment value. If they're unable to contribute sufficiently on the ice. Who cares what kind of character they have off the ice.

Maybe this is part of the problem. I'm sure that Oiler dressing room is chock full of players with "Good Character", but we're sick and tired of being a lottery team. Put the priority back on what the player can contribute on the ice, who the frigg cares about off it. Maybe this "truth about character" is where this management group falls short. Focusing on ship that shouldn't matter.

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#11 NewAgeSys
June 28 2013, 04:59PM
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Crispy wrote:

Glad you've been watching your character count. You've definitely had a lot more characters in the past.

I guess the Oilers want character players, but ON needs posters with a bit less characters some times.

I dont feel the need to expand as much these days. Some things grow wings of their own.

I was at a southdise Tims the other day and i head the words NewAge Hockey System Guy.

End of transmission.

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#12 Smokey
June 27 2013, 11:47AM
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northof51 wrote:

Good article Struds. I know it sounds stupid, but even "beer league" teams suffer without character. I think a lot of that is confidence, as with the Toews situation. Character guys don't just try to do things on the ice, they do them!

All beer league teams have character. Both character and courage come in packages of 12 and 24 and are called Pil or Bud.

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#13 Mark-LW
June 27 2013, 12:01PM
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"Unfortunately it is pretty hard to quantify character with stats."

If character is a useful trait for players of hockey teams then they should show in underlying possession stats such as corsi or fenwick.

If a player just has something you subjectively call "character" but gets killed in chances for/against then of what use is said "character"

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#14 dent8n
June 27 2013, 12:07PM
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Great article, but I believe Craig will be all over this value question. Given his history I know he values the total package, character and skill.

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#15 Oilcan
June 27 2013, 12:24PM
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It is this reason I think Lazar gets picked in the 10-14 range.

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#16 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 27 2013, 01:06PM
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OilersBrass wrote:

I cannot wait for Sunday! The draft is easily one of my favourite parts of the season.

... said an Oilers fan.

Sadly, I'm in the same boat. Told my gf that I can't be bothered on Sunday! It's my play-offs!

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#17 Quicksilver ballet
June 27 2013, 01:13PM
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Wonder if Dustin Penner falls into the desired "character" category.

Edmonton might want to bark up that tree if he would consider coming back here. With increased minutes, he could get back to that 50 pt plateau. The Oilers are looking for bigger guys who "can play" 15 mins+ a night aren't they? Edmonton could sure use a player with 2 Stanley Cups to his credit in that dressing room. He'd probably even come at a reasonable price.

Outside of Taylor Hall. There'd be absolutely nothing standing in his way to becoming the Oilers 2nd line left winger. Let Eakins have a go with him and see what happens.

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#18 GVBlackhawk
June 27 2013, 04:43PM
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LOIL99 wrote:

I would put down a few dollars betting that GVBlackHawk:

1) Drives a jacked up Ford truck. 2) Has a TAPOUT sticker on the back window of that truck. 3) ALWAYS backs that truck into the spot when parking. 4) Has a DUI....currently.

Save your few dollars....you're not that smart and probably cannot afford to lose it.

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#19 Dangilitis
June 27 2013, 05:14PM
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Jason, I respect your points, but I don't think they apply to the Oilers. If you look at last year's line-up at forward, for example, who lacks character?

Hall, Eberle, RNH? No f'in way I'd agree Paajarvi? Has been mishandled by team and fought his way back to the NHL, takes character. Hemsky? Debate has already raged on but I don't think he lacks character, he lacks purpose and confidence after years of fans and media ragging on him and his personality without evidence. If you take the Toews example you used, then he must have BOATLOADS of character (watch some Regehr and Hemmer highlights) Yak? Did you ever kiss the Oilers logo on your jersey after scoring, Jason? Smytty? Don't even go there. Jones? Tough spot to be in Horcs? Is there something I should know about the captain's character, which is essentially featured in the media as his biggest upside? Gagner? Also hard to believe him after picking fight with Beauchemin and standing up for his teammates time and time again

That's 10 regular forwards there, all of whom can be said to have character. Perhaps not if you are comparing to Toews, but that's not really fair because he's one of the best in the league.

Saying the Oilers didn't get it done last year because they lacked character makes no sense to me, personally. It's also offensive, and I am surprised a former Oiler would make that kind of presumption unless you are going to back it up with specifics. Who, Jason, was the problem? Who lacked character?

I think most agree that the Oilers didn't get it done last year because many were miscast to fill the roles assigned, and frustration crept into a young line up and to the veterans who were miscast in ridiculous roles (e.g. 37 y/o Smyth asked to play center between two 4th line grinders).

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#20 OilersBrass
June 27 2013, 05:38PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Weren't you just banned from this site not to long ago?

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#21 madjam
June 27 2013, 05:41PM
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Bring out the firehoses for Flames . Hosed they were , and Shanahan said no thanks to boot .They have MacDavid in their crosshairs.

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#22 PaperDesigner
June 27 2013, 05:53PM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

You are right there are no stats to back this up other then all the Stanley cup champions since the NHL started. Everyone one of those teams had players with character. Right now I can't remember their Corsi ratings though?

I'm sorry, but I missed the team that had no character players at all.

The problem with this argument is that it's a narrative predicated on success. When does a player have his character questioned? When he performs below expectations, reasonable or not. When does a player have his character praised? When he performs above expectations. There's also a bias towards gritty players, and players who succeed despite less size, because that seems to lower expectations.

Why does San Jose have its character questioned constantly? It's simply because the line-up seems to suggest they should have one cup in the past eight seasons. Detroit and Chicago? Consistent success, cup victories in the past decade, and those are teams that have better "character".

I guarantee, if San Jose had somehow won in 2010 and 2013 instead of Chicago, we'd all be questioning Chicago's character right now.

I'm not saying character has no value--what I am saying is that our assessment is so hopelessly subjective, that it ultimately doesn't help to chase after it. Steve Tambellini made character, however he assessed that, a priority, and that backfired badly. Probably because you have to, as a GM, look at end results, and not worry so much about how much is natural talent versus the result of having great character.

Granted, because you're dealing with such unproven kids at the draft, you have to do background work on the kids... But even the, I think you're just looking for major red flags. Like if a kid was abused by his father, or something, you might rank him a little lower than you would otherwise.

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#23 admiralmark
June 27 2013, 07:11PM
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This seems like one big Oilers should not draft Nichkushkin post.

And i tend to agree.

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#24 The Beaker
June 27 2013, 09:22PM
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@Walter Sobchak

Your wrong.*

*See what I did they're.

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#25 NewAgeSys
June 28 2013, 08:29AM
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Dangilitis wrote:

Jason, I respect your points, but I don't think they apply to the Oilers. If you look at last year's line-up at forward, for example, who lacks character?

Hall, Eberle, RNH? No f'in way I'd agree Paajarvi? Has been mishandled by team and fought his way back to the NHL, takes character. Hemsky? Debate has already raged on but I don't think he lacks character, he lacks purpose and confidence after years of fans and media ragging on him and his personality without evidence. If you take the Toews example you used, then he must have BOATLOADS of character (watch some Regehr and Hemmer highlights) Yak? Did you ever kiss the Oilers logo on your jersey after scoring, Jason? Smytty? Don't even go there. Jones? Tough spot to be in Horcs? Is there something I should know about the captain's character, which is essentially featured in the media as his biggest upside? Gagner? Also hard to believe him after picking fight with Beauchemin and standing up for his teammates time and time again

That's 10 regular forwards there, all of whom can be said to have character. Perhaps not if you are comparing to Toews, but that's not really fair because he's one of the best in the league.

Saying the Oilers didn't get it done last year because they lacked character makes no sense to me, personally. It's also offensive, and I am surprised a former Oiler would make that kind of presumption unless you are going to back it up with specifics. Who, Jason, was the problem? Who lacked character?

I think most agree that the Oilers didn't get it done last year because many were miscast to fill the roles assigned, and frustration crept into a young line up and to the veterans who were miscast in ridiculous roles (e.g. 37 y/o Smyth asked to play center between two 4th line grinders).

I got a Java re-fill reading the OPs article and then I get this well done post. Excellent job and well worth the read. Thanks for the well outlined and supported post.

I believe we have a superior roster to the last two Cup winners , we had and have a Playoff capable roster.

We were ready to make the playoffs two years ago even before LA adopted NHS tactics to their Hybrid system when the Oilers managed to execute the exact same NHS influenced Adjusted-Hybrid system presentation that Chicago won this year Cup with, loooong before the Hawks adopted "OUR" NHS influences into their own Adjusted-Hybrid base.

We had the correct data and adjustments before the Hawks did, our coaches couldnt maintain the adjustments because they didnt understand them, just couldnt or wouldnt listen to the NHS just a handfull of Oilers players were consistantly tuning in, while for example the Hawks bought all-in as a team and implemented everything EXACTLY as the NHS says. While other teams were investigating and implementing the New Age Hockey System the Oilers were battling its creator and trying to snuff out its budding influences with all of their might to spite the hand that fed them.

LAs coaches 25 or so games before their Cup run started to feel the players changing things system-wise as they began to experiment with the NHS and Sutter let it ride and felt his way through things as a coach he didnt snuff the creativity, as long as he was winning he didnt mess things up.

Oilers coaches who were getting the exact same data fed to their players, felt things being changed system-wise by the players they crushed nuts, they had a knee-jerk reaction and fumbled the ball. They blackballed anyone trying to do anything that didnt adhere to their exact mantra. Player or poster it mattered not they busted balls to stop any groth in its tracks.

I believe we made some critical managerial errors early last year and couldnt recover from them.

We didnt correctly valuate the causality of our above average games so we could reliable reproduce those dynamics, and we didnt accurately valuate the causality of our below avarage games.

Instead of finding the technical reasons we were both successfull and inconsistant we began to finger players as being the causality of the disconnect.

The problems we had in the room stemmed from players feeling powerless to control their own destinys. Such a low degree of input that they tuned out and decided to let themselves be judged based on their merits as valued by the Union/Contract/Status Quo level of performance that is the bottom of the curve.

Keep sending soldiers into a crossfire to die and after enough time the men watching and then walking into hell will not even be shooting back anymore, this is what happened to the Oilers room last year, they kept marching into the hail of fire but stopped shooting back because they felt hopeless as they watched other teams running with the NHS what they knew was their ball.

It wasnt a lack of character it was a lack of Intuitive Dynamic Managment of what we had.

We didnt follow a results based lead in our evolution whatsoever, every time we found the right results we consistantly abandoned them.

We had it dialed in right repeatedly and couldnt understand how the hell we were doing it, because someone refused to ask for help, pride was more important than the team and we have yet to see if thst has changed impactfully or not.

If you look closely you can identify all of the reasons last season went the ways it did, it is all there in rock solid documented proof all around us.

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#26 NewAgeSy
June 28 2013, 10:26AM
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PaperDesigner wrote:

I'm sorry, but I missed the team that had no character players at all.

The problem with this argument is that it's a narrative predicated on success. When does a player have his character questioned? When he performs below expectations, reasonable or not. When does a player have his character praised? When he performs above expectations. There's also a bias towards gritty players, and players who succeed despite less size, because that seems to lower expectations.

Why does San Jose have its character questioned constantly? It's simply because the line-up seems to suggest they should have one cup in the past eight seasons. Detroit and Chicago? Consistent success, cup victories in the past decade, and those are teams that have better "character".

I guarantee, if San Jose had somehow won in 2010 and 2013 instead of Chicago, we'd all be questioning Chicago's character right now.

I'm not saying character has no value--what I am saying is that our assessment is so hopelessly subjective, that it ultimately doesn't help to chase after it. Steve Tambellini made character, however he assessed that, a priority, and that backfired badly. Probably because you have to, as a GM, look at end results, and not worry so much about how much is natural talent versus the result of having great character.

Granted, because you're dealing with such unproven kids at the draft, you have to do background work on the kids... But even the, I think you're just looking for major red flags. Like if a kid was abused by his father, or something, you might rank him a little lower than you would otherwise.

"Granted, because you're dealing with such unproven kids at the draft, you have to do background work on the kids... But even the, I think you're just looking for major red flags. Like if a kid was abused by his father, or something, you might rank him a little lower than you would otherwise."

Come on you are better than this comment.

What an insensiive, politiclly incorrect things to say, as inaccurate as old hell, have you by chance heard of a Man named Fluery? A Pro Athlete who faced monumentel challenges and turned that painfull past into curative actions on the ice and became an NHL Superstar against all concievable odds?

A man who has managed to get to any Professional level sport while facing challenges of this magnitude would obviously be ranked higher than a man who hasnt shown his mettle.

I once heard a rumor that high level Columbian Cocain dealers in the 70s ran tight ships and if you hadnt already been hooked on coke and then re-habbed sucessfully to prove you were the Master of it they COULD NOT and would not hire you. You were to great a risk. I adhere to that philosophy, a man who has already been tempered by life earlier than his peers is made of a different metal entirely. You have no gaurantee that ANY other un-tempered blade sharp as it may be wont break under pressure, a tempered blade will outperfom everything else.

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#27 OilLeak
June 28 2013, 07:05PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Love the stats geeks....Corsi, Fenwick....crap! If they can't quantify it, they can't understand it. Here are the stats that matter in the NHL to a player, not a stats geek. Goals, Points, Wins, PIMS, Cups PERIOD!

Get off your laptop and get on the ice!

If character amounts to an increased output of a given player, it shows up in the stats. The Oilers have had a lot of "character" players over the years, but usually the players known for their high "character" are usually lacking in other areas.

Is Patrick Kane considered to be a "character" guy? Most would argue no, kind of a douche and makes bad real world decisions. Guess what though? He helps your team win hockey games.

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#28 Smokey
June 27 2013, 11:27AM
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A third line with Bolland, Clutterbuck, Peverley sounds lovely. Go with Arco, Rajala, Brown or the fourth. Keep Smithson as your 13th forward.

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#29 northof51
June 27 2013, 11:40AM
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Good article Struds. I know it sounds stupid, but even "beer league" teams suffer without character. I think a lot of that is confidence, as with the Toews situation. Character guys don't just try to do things on the ice, they do them!

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#30 Blue Bullet
June 27 2013, 11:48AM
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I have to agree with Jason. I have been making my own draft ranking since 2004 and I used to put too much value on skill over character. That draft was a great learning curve for my rankings as I had Schremp and Radulov rated higher than players with character like Ladd and Bolland. Check out my latest rankings for 2013. http://lowetide.ca/blog/2013/06/blue-bullets-top-100-2013.html

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#31 Al-36
June 27 2013, 11:49AM
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So Struds in your opinon do you think the oiler on the character issue should draft Nurse over Nicushkin forgive spelling if wrong,if they are the players left when they are at podium and the centers are gone?

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#32 Aitch
June 27 2013, 12:02PM
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Character without the necessary skills is a deathwish for a team. Tambo brought back all the character guys from a 30th place year and they rewarded him by hardly ever producing anything at the offensive end of the ice.

While you may not want jerks (off the ice) on your team, we've seen what the Oilers are capable of when they're filled with character guys with borderline NHL skills. It's not pretty.

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#34 Al-36
June 27 2013, 12:07PM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

I have never met either player and only seen sine highlights of their play on YouTube. That being said I would choose nurse. If he continues to develop as expected he could be a stud on the blue line for a long time

I agree but do the fans and more importantly does management have the patience to wait the proper amount of time for him to fill out and develop his game?

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#36 madjam
June 27 2013, 12:11PM
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ON nation understands the value of character very well , seeing as we have had so many over the years. Yes , we have been lagging in that department for quite some years now especially during regular season play . Similar to golf - you drive for show (regular season) and putt for dough (the playoff season) . Getting even the best to show that consistent level during regular season is very hard . Penner as an example being more a playoff performer , and Hemsky not seemingly getting to next level . We do need more consistency no doubt , but that also comes from coaching motivating players to play more consistently at a higher level . Pride is a strong motivator .

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#37 15w40
June 27 2013, 12:43PM
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Well then I'm guessing that @Struds1260 would be leaving Nichushkin in the rear view if he was available then??

He definitely isn't getting the character individual of the year votes right now that's for sure.

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#38 50 in 39
June 27 2013, 12:48PM
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Jonathan Toews is a perfect example of this coveted type of player. I felt like Bickell gave his best attempt to be physical with Chara early in the finals. A few games into the finals you could see in his face that he had grown wary of the big Bruin. Bickell was still playing Chara physical but he looked like he had backed off to me. That is the nastiest mood I have seen Chara play with in a couple years, must have been the injuries. But Toews stepped in there and set the tone for his team. He knew what was waiting for him and took it like a top quality leader and showed the Blackhawks the way.

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#39 Rama Lama
June 27 2013, 12:56PM
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Best article you have written so far........hit the nail right on the head. The NHL garbage pile is littered with skilled players with limited character.

I for one would not draft a player if that player has never demonstrated character.......the best people to judge character are fellow players, past and present. Most often the character players have the "C" or "A" on their jersey but not always.

Darnell Nurse seems to have this as does Monahan.......Nichuskin not as much, but asking fellow players on his team may shed some light?

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#40 Rama Lama
June 27 2013, 01:12PM
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Smokey wrote:

Why does Nich have less character?

Heck people said that about Yakupov, and all the guy does is compete with passion.

I think it's due to the fact a couple of professional scouts have mentioned this........coming into the combines with limited preparations.

Not sure how much of this is true......hard to read Russian hockey players except maybe Yakupov could help?

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#41 Augmarker
June 27 2013, 01:15PM
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Character and class Strudwick. Talent no class Kane.

At 18 who knows if a play can be mentored always pick talent.

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#42 madjam
June 27 2013, 01:20PM
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I sense some anti Canadian bias here . tikkanen and Kurri were no slouches neither Ovechkin and a bunch . I'd say Risto will also fit the bill and the skill to match it . Nicushkin none of you know enough about him to render a negative opinion . He looked fine in international play .

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#43 Cody anderson
June 27 2013, 01:23PM
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Aitch wrote:

Character without the necessary skills is a deathwish for a team. Tambo brought back all the character guys from a 30th place year and they rewarded him by hardly ever producing anything at the offensive end of the ice.

While you may not want jerks (off the ice) on your team, we've seen what the Oilers are capable of when they're filled with character guys with borderline NHL skills. It's not pretty.

What character guys did he bring back?

I would argue the only guys that have enough character or compete on the team are Hall, Smid, Eberle, and Gagner. Fistric and Smyth could be added to that group if id they stay.

The vets that Tambs kept bringing back were once descent players who have lost the compete or character that once made them good.

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#44 GVBlackhawk
June 27 2013, 01:30PM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

You are right there are no stats to back this up other then all the Stanley cup champions since the NHL started. Everyone one of those teams had players with character. Right now I can't remember their Corsi ratings though?

Just to play Devil's Advocate here:

The teams who lost in the Cup finals also had players with 'character'. There are teams who don't make the playoffs who have players with a ton of character.

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#45 madjam
June 27 2013, 01:30PM
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Sorry for the slip up -make that anti eurpean bias .

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#46 Walter Sobchak
June 27 2013, 01:31PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I think it's due to the fact a couple of professional scouts have mentioned this........coming into the combines with limited preparations.

Not sure how much of this is true......hard to read Russian hockey players except maybe Yakupov could help?

Some of the scouts asked a certian question and didn't like the response.

Then labled him difficult, ignorant and arrogant

Only to find out on two occasions that the question was lost in-translation.

I think given the opportunity to play with a friend and a Russian without the lost translation you will see a different person.

Edit: I also find it funny that Barkov said almost the same things and had very short one word answers, nobody said boo about that?

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#47 G Money
June 27 2013, 01:40PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

What character guys did he bring back?

I would argue the only guys that have enough character or compete on the team are Hall, Smid, Eberle, and Gagner. Fistric and Smyth could be added to that group if id they stay.

The vets that Tambs kept bringing back were once descent players who have lost the compete or character that once made them good.

I think you have to add RNH (who played sturdy consistent two-way game all season despite a broken wing) and Yak (who played like he loves the game each and every night) to that list.

Every one of these guys has shown that desire to win and willingness to sacrifice through their entire careers, part of what made them #1 picks.

Which is a great problem to have, because I do believe that we have the luxury of having a team where our key elite skill guys (Hall, Ebs, RNH, Ganye, Yak) ARE character guys.

Now we need to build that character on the 3/4 lines.

Where I'm worried is the rest of our D lineup. We know Schultz Jr and Petry have all kinds of skill, but are they "character" guys?

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#48 2004Z06
June 27 2013, 02:01PM
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Love the stats geeks....Corsi, Fenwick....crap! If they can't quantify it, they can't understand it. Here are the stats that matter in the NHL to a player, not a stats geek. Goals, Points, Wins, PIMS, Cups PERIOD!

Get off your laptop and get on the ice!

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#49 SrCain
June 27 2013, 02:09PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Wonder if Dustin Penner falls into the desired "character" category.

Edmonton might want to bark up that tree if he would consider coming back here. With increased minutes, he could get back to that 50 pt plateau. The Oilers are looking for bigger guys who "can play" 15 mins+ a night aren't they? Edmonton could sure use a player with 2 Stanley Cups to his credit in that dressing room. He'd probably even come at a reasonable price.

Outside of Taylor Hall. There'd be absolutely nothing standing in his way to becoming the Oilers 2nd line left winger. Let Eakins have a go with him and see what happens.

Penner may be a character, but as a hockey player he doesn't have any. He doesn't do any if the things JS mentioned. All day long your advocating bringing Penner back. You were incorrect about his stats earlier, now your trying to imply he has character? Why do you want him back so bad? Did you discover a kick ass recipe for chocolate chip pancakes or something?

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#50 Nis002
June 27 2013, 02:12PM
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hatrock wrote:

I think Struds is onto something. Look at the team now:

FORWARDS:

Hall: high skill with high character
Nuge: high skill with high character
Eberle: high skill with high character
Hemsky: high skill with low character
Horcoff: low skill with high character
Gagner: high skill with high character
Yakupov: high skill with high character
Smyth: low/med skill with high character
Jones: low skill with high character
Paajarvi: high skill with medium character (yet growing)
Petrell: low skill and med. character
Smithson: low skill (except faceoffs) with mediocre character
Brown: low skill with high character
Belanger: low skill with medicore character
Eager: low skill (except speed) and low character

DEFENSE:

Petry: medium skill (improving) and high character
J.Schultz: high skill and medium character
N.Schultz: medium skill and high character
Smid: low/med. skill and high character
Fistric: low skill and medium character
Potter: med. skill and med. character
Whitney: med./high skill and low character

Good assessments

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