Thoughts on Ken Holland, John Carlson, and Reggie Dunlop




I made the mistake yesterday of letting it slip on twitter that I’ve never seen the movie Slap Shot. Now, this didn’t strike me as that BIG of an issue. There are a lot of films out there in the universe, and Hollywood has the annoying tendency of pumping out more and more before you’ve had a chance to catch up.


As one man, and being subject to the physical constraints of being one man, it seemed reasonable that I wouldn’t have seen every hockey or sports movie ever made. Apparently not everyone agreed – I actually lost followers yesterday! With some citing that they could no longer trust my advice.


Of course there are plenty of other classics that helped create plenty sports cinema nostalgia – Youngblood, Mighty Ducks, and more recently, Miracle. My parents literally had to ban my brothers and me from watching the Ducks’ VHS. For a number of years my favourite hockey player was Gordon Bombay.



In any event, I’m going to trudge out into the retail world and find myself a copy of Slap Shot. Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll check back with a review, and maybe some fantasy analysis on Reggie Dunlop and the fellas.


Let us ramble…




Ken Holland had his contract extended by the Red Wings, taking him through the 2017-18 season. The folks over at Winging it in Motown provided a balanced article on what Holland’s challenge will be.


Personally, I’ve always had mixed feelings on the adoration often heaped upon him and his staff over nearly two decades. There’s no denying the results – they’re spectacular. Their playoff streak and cup rings speak for themselves. But I can’t help but wonder how much the presence of Lidstrom – arguably the second best defencemen of all-time – impacted Holland’s trajectory as a manager. Being able to build your roster around 25 to 30 minutes a night from the future Hall-of-Famer afforded Holland a luxury that virtually no other team had.


I’ll concede that he still had to do his due diligence in putting together a supporting cast – no easy feat.


With Lidstrom now retired and the NHL marching towards the inevitably of advanced statistics and more complex scouting techniques, I wonder how much of an advantage Detroit will carry forward. Despite his resume, we may learn more about his managerial abilities over the next four years than we did in the previous twenty.  




I’ve been on a bit of a John Carlson kick these past few days. Finished fourth among blueliners in shots (208) and tied for 25th in the entire league for powerplay points (22). Don’t get over zealous and draft him in the top 10 or something, but there’s value to be had here.




There is a tonne of fantastic work being done on the impact of zone entries in hockey. Much of it is changing the fundamental way we view the value of dump-ins versus controlled possession when entering the attacking zone.


From a fantasy perspective, this could be an important tool when evaluating players in the future. Since, at least from what I’ve read, the best offensive players are quite often the ones with terrific zone entry numbers.


Broad Street Hockey delved deeper into the Flyers and looked at which players are best at gaining the zone. Here is a tidbit:


…it seems pretty evident that this season, Voracek seemed to take on the role of that top line's primary puck-carrier. This is maybe not surprising when you consider their styles of play -- Voracek's combination of size, speed, and puck-possession ability makes for a deadly combination in this area


Voracek’s numbers last year were hurt by the protracted slump he and Giroux endured to the start the season. I’d expect better things in 2014-15.




Flipping through some stats from 2013-14 it was surprising to notice that only three players (Ovechkin, Sharp, and Kessel) shot more than 300 times.

That seemed exceedingly low to me, so I took a look back at some previous seasons.


Here is the number of 300 plus shooters since 2008 (excluding the lockout):


2007-08: 8

2008-09: 7

2009-10: 4

2010-11: 6

2011-12: 6


In all likelihood this year was simply an anomaly, with a few guys coming in slightly below 300. OR MAYBE I’VE STUMBLED ONTO A NEW GAME CHANGING TREND IN FANTASY!!… yeah, it’s probably nothing. That is unless it continues downward this coming year.




Poor Marian Hossa. Not only is arguably the most underrated superstar of his generation (995 points in 1090 games), he also doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves in fantasy circles.


Granted, 36 isn’t young (he’ll be that old in January), but he did manage to finish with the 10th best goals per 60 minutes rate in the league last year. Ahead of names like Kessel, Sharp, Kane, and Crosby.


If he can stay healthy, there is no reason that 30 goals, 35 assists, and 240 shots isn’t attainable.




Sean McIndoe continues to deliver the goods over at Grantland, penning an article on The NHL’s Explosive 80s. It also revealed how little I know about hockey history. Apparently Kent Nilsson is ninth on the NHL’s all-time points per game list. If you’re asking who Kent Nilsson is, don’t worry, you’re not alone.




I’m making the not-so-difficult assumption that if you’re reading this (in the middle of summer) you’re probably a pretty avid fan, regularly watching a couple NHL games per week in season. But are you watching the right games?


One question that frequently comes up during the summer is how do I become better at fantasy hockey? Doing research and reading as much as you possibly can is the first step, of course. Although the second step, sometimes used as an insult towards those using advanced statistics, is to “watch the games, man.”


And not simply those of your favourite team or guys already on your fantasy roster. If it’s a random Tuesday in November maybe you should toss on the Carolina and Nashville game. It might end in a one to nothing shootout, which will be painful, but you’ll learn things. Sometimes when you don’t have a rooting interest it’s a lot easier to watch the entire game, objectively, and notice who is making an impact.


You don’t have to be a professional scout to pick up on which players are slotting in on scoring lines and who is getting opportunities. Even if you don’t come across the next Jamie Benn or Claude Giroux, you’ll at least gain a better understanding of what’s happening around the league.  




In honor of the ‘guys that poolies never watch too closely’ club, here is a pretty one-timer goal from Nashville’s Craig Smith (he of 52 points in 79 games).




Darren Kennedy (@fantasyhockeydk) is a contributor for Dobber Hockey and McKeen’s. He’ll talk about anything… except Kovalchuk. Never, ever, Kovalchuck. 


#17 austonja 2014-08-17 17:08
Quoting jsuites:
Enjoyed the read as always Darren - great stuff for mid-August.

Armchair critics should try it themselves...

If I did "try it", I certainly wouldn't talk smack about THE most successful GM in the NHL. If I were to write about questioning Holland, it would be from the angle of the salary cap era vs the cap-less era, and I certainly wouldn't imply the Holland only has his job because Lidstrom played in Detroit. It's 6th round picks playing better than round 1 picks that makes Detroit successful, not ONE player.
#16 jsuites 2014-08-15 15:53
Enjoyed the read as always Darren - great stuff for mid-August.

Armchair critics should try it themselves...
#15 number54 2014-08-15 15:47
If you wanted to watch Slap Shot, DK, then look no further:
#14 Darren Kennedy 2014-08-15 15:04

Hextall was one of a kind for sure. Can't imagine how long some of his suspensions would be in the modern game.
#13 Darren Kennedy 2014-08-15 15:01

I certainly feel that Holland is a quality general manager. My comments above were merely used to illustrate that he had an advantage (Lidstrom) over the majority of his tenure that other GMs didn't. Which is why I'm excited/interes ted to see how he does over the next half decade.
#12 mabus 2014-08-15 14:28
I don't remember many of his points, but my main memory of Nilsson that he's part of one of my main Hextall memories - the two handed slash across the back of the legs during the cup final in 87. I remember thinking - this dude is 100% insane.
#11 austonja 2014-08-15 14:16
Hands down the worst 'ramblings' I've ever read. I'm sorry Darren, but your rambings are "hockeybuzz"-li ke...amateurish at best. I disagree with so many opinions you've made. I almost feel like you're making outlandish statements to get people to post :) First is the ridiculous notion that the Red Wings 'won' due to one player. The Wings haven't gotten 600 #1 picks in a row like some other clubs 'up north'. If you want to say that Hollands not solely responsible for their success then I'd agree with that broad statement, but he did hire most everyone working there...and he's the guy making 20+ years of decisions. If you were given an NHL team tomorrow, and all GM's were UFA, are you telling me you're not going to Holland first? Pittsburgh has years of success, and then one "bad" season happens and they wipe out the whole management team? You Detroit haters will never understand how loyalty and perseverance work better than wholesale changes every 5 years.
#10 Rodgort 2014-08-15 12:12
I'm sorry but I really do not like the statement" "If you’re asking who Kent Nilsson is, don’t worry, you’re not alone." The guy was a great player in the 80's, I am not that old and never watched him play but I know who he was. Also I do not mean to sound as negative as I do here either, but maybe check out some hockey history one night as it is always great to go back and read/watch!

Quick links for Nilsson for anyone who wants to read up on him or check out his stats:
-2 #9 bullwinkle 2014-08-15 12:05
Don't waste your time watching Slapshot. It's a crappy movie that gives hockey a bad name.

When it came out my teammates thought it was funny. I thought it was disgusting.

If you love the sport, skip this garbage movie.
#8 Darren Kennedy 2014-08-15 09:53
@Shift Disturber

Genius. Netflix it is

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