Sometimes a thing gets said and then whether it’s true or
not that thing keeps being said. When we talk about players the easiest thing
to do is to just repeat what keeps being said but then when those players start
to develop or play differently everybody keeps saying the same thing anyway. If
somebody in any kind of authority says something then it’s magnified even more
so. Then a thing keeps getting said, not because it actually describes a player
but because that’s just what you say when you talk about that player.
Here’s an example I always found interesting when the local
media would talk to Washington media: Tom Poti took on the reputation in
Edmonton that he was soft and defensively irresponsible. The first things to
come to mind when you say “Poti” are all of his blunders and him missing
assignments. Fans in Washington remember him completely differently because
nobody was there to tell them he was soft and irresponsible. He was in fact
considered one of their better defensive players. The local Washington guys
would laugh when they had to talk about Poti with the Edmonton media because
the perception was so stark.
Here’s another one, “Jeff Petry is soft.” Jeff Petry
struggled with finding the right mix of physicality as he was learning on the
fly how to be an NHL defenseman, no doubt. He was big and mobile and entirely
capable of laying a big hit or standing people up at the blueline but it was a
guess as to when he would in his first season and a half. But despite finishing
in the top three on the team in hits and blocked shots in every full season he
played for Edmonton, his willingness to compete physically was always
Here was a player that put his body on the line to block
shots and made more hits than everybody on the team but the same tropes kept
being written or said about him.
“Soft”, “Not physical enough”, “Won’t use his body.”
Garbage, Lazy, Poppycock.
Right now, Martin Marincin is getting one thing said about
him no matter how well he performs. Martin Marincin has a problem with his “Compete”.
Compete is my least favourite word when it comes to
describing the deficiencies of a player. One of the problems stems from
treating this verb like it’s a noun. “Martin Marincin doesn’t show enough
compete,” is a lazy, unfounded, and nonsensical statement.
There’s no such thing as a compete. How do you count them?
One compete, two competes, three competes? If there are a group of competes (or
competi?) are they a flock, a herd, or a murder? Explain that one to me,
No, when somebody says “Martin Marincin didn’t show a lot of
compete,” what they really mean to say is something entirely different. They
mean to say something that the English language actually has words for but they
either don’t know them or they didn’t think about it all that hard.
Perhaps, for example, what someone critical of Martin
Marincin’s play means to say is “He’s a big guy but he doesn’t hit anybody hard
enough.” If we’re lucky they are a little more articulate than that and have
paid enough attention to say, “Martin Marincin uses good body and stick
position a lot more than he uses raw physicality but I think if this player
adds another dimension to his game he will become much more effective. He broke
up a play at the blueline with his stick but if he lays a guy out once in a
while he can change the way the attackers think about trying to gain the zone.”
I have all kinds of time for discussing the short comings of
these players, but can we speak in more than basic clichés that aren’t even
Where did this silliness even come from? Martin Marincin’s “compete” was the reasoning the GM and
former coach gave for sending this player back down to the minors at the
beginning of the year. This is the same GM who has proven without a shadow of a
doubt that he couldn’t spot a quality defenseman if one developed under his
nose for almost a decade, who thinks Nikitin is a top four guy, and who thinks Schultz
has Norris potential. Then there was the coach, who had to be fired a year and a
half into a four year contract because he was so inept, who played Brad Hunt for
11 games ahead of actual players, and who scratched Petry against the defending Cup Champions.
These are the people whose judgment of Martin Marincin we
keep parroting mindlessly when we talk about this player’s “compete”.
Let’s do ourselves a favour with Marincin and actually
talk about real issues in some kind of detail without using fake words that
originated from questionable sources. Let’s use real examples from games, talk
specifically about his actions or tendencies, and drop the insinuation that he
is in some way shape or form not battling out there.
He has a little more than 80 games of NHL experience and he’s
largely been used against tough opposition or with players who aren’t exactly known
for their offense. He has the second lowest percentage of Offensive
Zone starts among regular defensemen and yet the puck still finds its way to
the attacking zone with regularity. He has the third highest raw Corsi
numbers on the blueline. The only two higher than him are Schulz and Klefbom
who get big offensive pushes. There’s a problem if the focus is about whether or not this guy runs into the corners elbows first.
Chances are if you’re complaining about his lack of
“compete” you’re missing what he’s doing well and you’re just repeating