Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fletch's Plan

I don't know if this is coincidence or a concerted effort on Chuck Fletcher's part here, but I'd like to point out a few things. First off:

Matt Cullen - Stanley Cup 2006
Dany Heatley - Stanley Cup Finalist 2007
Darroll Powe - Stanley Cup Finalist 2010

Heck, you could even include the following:
Steven Kampfer - in the room for Boston's run in 2011
Nick Johnson - part of the Penguin's organization that went to three Stanley Cup Finals in three years
Zack Phillips - 2 President's Cups, 1 Memorial Cup
Charlie Coyle - President's Cup

Seven players that Fletcher has acquired that have experience in the playoffs, winning championships, and playing in the pressure games. You can argue that they may not have performed to your expectations in those big situations, but they've been there and know about it. At the very least, guys like Kampfer and Johnson have heard the impassioned speeches, and have been in the presence of the big time players who got there.

And the other thing:

Johan Larsson and Mathew Dumba have both captained their nation's junior team in an international competition. This is also key. Even a guy like Zack Phillips has captain material written all over him. When I saw him play in the Wild's development scrimmages in 2011, he was the first guy on the ice and the last one off. Always talking to his teammates, patting their backsides, and generally, being a leader on the ice.

Big game experience and leadership are things you can't teach. No team can have too much, unless the leader is of the asshole variety, in which case, you don't want him in your locker room. And although only one guy wears the 'C' on his jersey, real leaders don't need another trinket on their uniform. Leaders get that. They pass it on, and they become a role model for younger kids on their teams.

Now, I'm sure you could go down the list of any NHL team and find these traits on a good number of players. But compared to, say, Doug Risebrough, it appears that Fletcher has gone out of his way to acquire players who have this type of experience and leadership potential. Dougie's biggest trade brought in Pavol Demitra. Great player, BFF of Marian Groinerik. But he whined when he had to play Jacques Lemaire's system, groused about playing center instead of wing. In contrast, Fletcher dumped his mistake (Marty Havlat) an got a guy who, although he's asked out of two cities, is according to Mike Russo, a guy you want in your locker room (Dany Heatley)

It may be a coincidence or a concerted plan. Either way, I like it.

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