Monday Mailbag – Culture vs Skill?

Mailbag

If you’re reading this before 5pm local time there’s a good chance that you’ve chosen us to help you kill company time, and for that we thank you. This week we take swings at when the All-Star Game will roll into town, the best first pairing of all time, culture, and more in this week’s mailbag. If you have a question you can always email me or hit me up on Twitter and I will slot you in as quickly as I can. Until then, enjoy the free learning opportunity. 

1) @adam_bachez asks – With the roster as is, where in the standings do you see the Oilers finishing within the Pacific Division and the NHL as a whole?

Lowetide:

It is too soon to know, honestly. I believe they will be better, but doubt the Oilers catch Calgary, for instance. This is a question we could probably discuss a month from now, though.

Jeanshorts:

To steal Brownlee’s schtick, it’s obviously WAY too early to predict what will happen next year, considering we haven’t even gotten to training camp yet, so who knows who will even be on the opening day roster. HOWEVER as of right now I’ll say they’ll finish fifth in the Pacific and 23rd in the NHL overall.

Jason Gregor:

If I have to answer I will say today I see them as 4th/5th in Pacific battling with Calgary, but it is really pointless to say at this point considering a lot can happen before the puck drops in October.

Matt Henderson:

They’ll finish sixth in the Pacific. I think they crush the godless Canucks and after that it’s a dogfight to beat anyone else. Adam Larsson won’t fix this defense at all. Where is the offense coming from? Are we even sure Klefbom can skate without feet? Who is driving the second line now? Draisaitl? I hope so, but until they prove it on the ice this team is basically the same as it was a year ago except with less offensive firepower.

Jason Strudwick:

Last year I thought the team could get to 82 points. That was just a little high. I think they can make it to that this season even without the right shot D everyone can’t stop talking about.

Robin Brownlee:

Not making that guess. It’s July 18th and handicapping teams with so many moves to make and so many decisions yet to come makes no sense and is, essentially, meaningless.

Baggedmilk:

Slotting the teams in order is tough so I’m going to put it another way. 

Could be good: Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa (maybe)

Could be okay or bad or mediocre who really knows?: Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver (maybe)

Destined to be bad: Toronto or Vancouver

2) @1nkedOil asks – Just wondering what your thoughts are on when Edmonton could get an ASG with the new state of the art arena?

Lowetide:

I bet they get one around 2020 or so. Gives the locals a chance to see the new barn and allows the team to max out on exposure while the place has that new arena smell.

Jeanshorts:

You have to think it’ll be here within the next five years. Lately the trend seems to be putting the ASG into markets that are still working to grow a thriving hockey community (LA, Nashville, Raleigh), but the combination of a new arena, Connor McDavid and Edmonton’s hockey history should help put Edmonton near the top of the list for the 2020 All Star Game.

Jason Gregor:

They will get the ASG or the draft within a few years. They haven’t had the ASG since 1989 and the draft since 1996. I’m hearing they are looking at ASG first. All depends who else bids, but the NHL will want to showcase the new arena. I’d guess they’ll have it in 2018 or 2019.

Matt Henderson:

ASAP. It gets up and running, the surrounding area gets a year or two to develop, all the kinks are worked out from a service perspective then BOOM. All Star game.

Jason Strudwick:

I was thinking about this a while ago. I think they could. The NHL likes to show off its new toys. I do think it will require the new hotel being built before it happens.

Robin Brownlee:

I’d think it would be soon. Los Angeles has it for 2017. After that, Edmonton would be as good a place as any.

Baggedmilk:

An Edmonton All-Star Game will likely be the next time I care about a John Scott-less ASG. Bring it on!

3) @blades_nik asks – We’ve spent a lot of time talking about first pairing defenseman so I’m wondering who would be your all time ideal top pair if any player past or present was available?

Lowetide:

Bobby Orr with anybody. Seriously. The Bruins kept putting new guys next to him and their numbers were incredible. I should also mention Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, a tremendous duo.

Jeanshorts:

Chris Pronger and Rob Blake were my two favourite defensemen growing up, so my skin would probably turn inside out due to sheer excitement if that ever came to fruition.

Jason Gregor:

In last 20 years I’d take Pronger with Lidstrom. Other generations guys I’d take combinations of Orr, Potvin, Robinson, Stevens and Coffey.

Matt Henderson:

I want Scott Stevens on the left and Erik Karlsson on the right. The opposition won’t have the puck often and they’ll be afraid when they do. Stevens was my favourite player growing up and Karlsson is incredible. I could do Orr but I kind of figured we wanted something less obvious. 

Jason Strudwick:

So you are talking about who are my favourite/top D man in the history of the NHL? Thanks for narrowing it down a little. Why don’t you ask me which breath of oxygen has been the sweetest! If you must know I would pair Niedermayer and Strudwick together. A nice mix of skill and personality.

Robin Brownlee:

Bobby Orr with Paul Coffey. No need to defend when you have the puck.

Baggedmilk:

I’m going to go with guys that I’ve watched play and for me the pairing would be Pronger and Lidstrom. Good luck. 

4) @vintagekerry63 asks – How dead is the horse in the culture versus skill narrative? Is “culture” the newest hockey buzz word?

Lowetide:

Haha. The problem with talking about culture is how many really know the culture? It is an impossible argument to make. Want to improve culture? Want to win? Get good players, keep good players.

Jeanshorts:

I wouldn’t say it’s the newest buzzword, because it’s been around for as long as I can remember. But BOY has it had a resurgence lately! It’s interesting to see it in action too. Not long ago everyone was raving about Dean Lombardi and the “CULTURE” he instilled in the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings…until everyone started getting arrested for drugs and domestic violence crimes, players who were supposedly part of a “family” became expendable, and next thing you know the Kings have won only a single playoff game since their last cup win in 2014. It’s a chicken and egg scenario: does a good “culture” help a team win, or does a winning team cultivate a good “culture?” I have a team of thousands of scientists working around the clock to find out, so stay tuned!

Jason Gregor:

You need both to win. Skill is vital, of course, but you need players who have the ability to make the group closer, more comfortable and sometimes more uncomfortable to make them better. I think it is laughable when bad teams use “bad culture” as the reason they lose. They lose because they don’t have enough good players to be competitive. Once you are competitive I do believe a good environment/culture can make a difference.

Matt Henderson:

Nothing new about “culture”, we just notice it more because others are more willing to call it what it is – fake. Winning teams are happier teams? No kidding. This just in: it sucks to lose. That “culture” has a lot more to do with the fact that these great cultural clubs happen to have the best players in the NHL. Funny how that works.

Jason Strudwick:

There needs to be chemistry between teammates and a desire for players to play for each other. That can not be measured by skill. I never beat that horse. Actually no one should.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s not really a new term, just one that gets over-used. Not hearing culture versus skill narrative. Most people understand you need both.

Baggedmilk:

Gotta love those hockey buzzwords. How about saying it like it is? Culture… c’mon. Sometimes guys are just dicks and they don’t fit in with the group. Chemistry matters. 

5) @ungerkaren asks – I once came in 3rd place on a football pool where I picked players purely on how awesome their names sounded (ex. D’Brickashaw Ferguson). Who would be your starting line-up for a hockey team drafted using the same criteria? Or who has the best hockey name in the NHL?

Lowetide:

Goalie—Darren Puppa
Defense—Sheldon Kannegeisser
Defense—Dit Clapper
Center—Frank St. Marseille
Left Wing—Morris Titanic
Right Wing—Hakan Loob

Jeanshorts:

Rourke Chartier, Boone Jenner, Barclay Goodrow, Michal Jordan, Jyrki Jokipakka, Joonas Korpisalo. 

It’s a team made up of New World explorers, a European basketball phenom and guys named using random letters from those magnet alphabets you find on fridges.

Jason Gregor:

I would not do that. Had you WON the pool I might consider it, but finishing third just means this strategy allows you to be the second best loser. 

Some of my favourite names…

Fred Sasakamoose. Not only was he the first Canadian Aboriginal player in the NHL he had a great name. The 1945 Calder winner Frank McCool. Someone asks are you cool? No, I’m McCool. Sweet.

Dick Duff another beauty name. I’m sure the Simpsons named Duff beer after him.

Merlin Malinowski. His parents get bonus points for naming him after a Magician.

Matt Henderson:

I think Barclay Goodrow is a hilariously old fashioned sounding name. Like, part of me wonders if he’s maybe a vampire, highlander, or has a portrait he’s not allowed to look at. ALSO, when I hear Barclay I can’t help but think of Lt. Barclay from Star Trek TNG and that character was awesome.

Jason Strudwick:

Caught me on a bad day with this question. I will give you my favourite breakfast combo instead. Two slices of wheat bread. Toast to perfection. Squirrel peanut butter and honey. Nice little morning. Throw in a peppermint tea and you are rolling!

Robin Brownlee:

Partial to Jordin Tootoo, Sergei Samsonov and Ales Hemsky.

Baggedmilk:

Dikembe Mutombo

Bob Beers

Metta World Peace

Dick Trickle

Sid Vicious

It’s my weekly feature so I’m allowed to make my own rules. Deal with it.