Brendan Smith

If Steve Downie can make it in the NHL and be a valuable contributor to a team – then there is hope for any prospect who has been involved in what  has become known as an “off-ice incident.” Often, the term “off-ice incident” is a euphemism for a pretty serious offence. In many cases, though, the ominous sound of the term doesn’t fairly reflect what in many cases is a minor transgression.

 

When you’re evaluating a prospect, be careful to avoid the trap of devaluing a prospect just because they’ve been involved in an off-ice incident.

 

I almost had a chance to grab Detroit Red Wings prospect Brendan Smith in a trade recently when his owner was about to let him go unprotected. Smith is Detroit’s best defense prospect and with Nicklas Lidstrom (40) and Brian Rafalski pushing (37 in a few days) there is a golden opportunity for Smith to step into a productive lineup in a couple of seasons.

 

Smith was involved in an off-ice incident in 2008 that involved a driving under the influence charge. This past spring, he faced a  misdemeanour assault charge. The fact that Smith has had two incidents might make you think he’s a bad apple, but I don’t worry too much about the second incident. The first one was more serious, in my opinion, but it’s a good lesson for him. As long as he doesn’t do it again, you forget it and move on.

 

If you want to exclude a prospect from your fantasy team because he got involved in a dust-up at a frat house, then you’ll be excluding an awful lot of players from your team. NHL general managers know – often because they used to be young, testosterone-driven men themselves -- that boys will be boys and chalk it up to immaturity.

 

Another example of off-ice incidents getting more attention than they deserve is in the case of Kyle Palmieri, the Anaheim Ducks first-rounder. Palmieri was kicked off the US NTDP program in a tournament in Sweden. There were others, too and there was no information given about what the players did. The U.S. NTDP has strict rules, as do many U.S. college programs, so it doesn’t take much for a kid to break the rules.

 

If Palmieri, then underage, happened to have a girl in his room after curfew, and say had a couple of beers with him, this would get him booted off the team. Seriously, are you going to hold it against the kid if he does that? I think most of us would do the same as Palmieri if given the same opportunity. There was a report that the only transgression Palmieri was guilty of was that he refused to rat out some teammates who did break team rules.

 

Palmieri was involved in another off-ice incident this past spring in which he was caught underage drinking at Notre Dame university. That’s no big deal as most of us are guilty of doing the same. For the record, folks, yours truly got drunk for the first time at the tender age of 16.

 

The part that concerned me a little bit was the report that he tried to run when confronted by a police officer. Not the smartest thing to do, but he was drunk.

 

In the CHL, players rarely get kicked off teams for transgressions that would get them booted off the U.S. NTDP squad or a college team. Does that mean the CHL is a haven for miscreants? No, it just means that CHL teams have similar standards to NHL teams.

 

And since the NHL is where these players will end up – hopefully – fantasy GMs should use the same standards as NHL general managers.

 

If Bob Probert, may he rest in peace, can carve out a 16-year career in the NHL with all the off-ice issues he had, then that should prove to you that what a player does on the ice is the only thing that matters in the eyes of NHL GMs.

 

That’s why there is still hope for a player like Kirill Kabanov. You can be sure that the Islanders are ticked off at him, but unless they become convinced that what he’s doing off the ice is going to affect what he can do on the ice, they will give him chance after chance to prove himself.


Write comment
Comments (10)add comment

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
reptent tokyo I'm not asking you to pick between the choirboy and the bad apple. Given equal talent levels, give me the choirboy who won't give me headaches. Every time.

But, you should not completely write off a guy because of some off-ice incidents and you should find out exactly what the guy did if you can. Then, it they're isolated incidents and not part of a pattern, then there's a chance you've got a diamond in the rough. It's obvious based on the reactions of many that guys with a blemish from an off-ice incident will be devalued. You can get these guys cheaper and if you do your homework, it will pay off. Some leagues are deep enough that you can't exclude the talented players with maturity issues.
September 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
fzusher Yes, it is important to judge every incident in itself and they are definitely something to consider, but when you do, you have to base them on the facts of the situation and not the media coverage. In many cases, they are overblown. Sometimes, it's the incidents that you hear little about that can be the worst, or perhaps the most telling about an indvidual.
September 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
Hockey Hoser Bang on! A+ for reading comprehension.
September 26, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
flaupmes Sure, Kabanov's problems are not having a few beers, getting in a scrap, or picking up chicks, and he does seem like a nut job to me. But the point I was making is that the NHL is full of talented nut jobs who cleaned up their act enough after they were kids. Yes his character issues are a cause for concern, but they are not a reason to completely write him off -- that is, until he convinces you that there's no hope for him. When that point of no return occurs is a matter of subjective opinion, I guess.
September 26, 2010
Votes: +0

flaupmes said:

Zangief
... @Hockey Hoser
D. Flynn does a Hockey School in our home town run by one of my close friends. He was Kabbys coach if you want to know. A poker game and a few beers later, you can find out some pretty interesting stories. Really I could care less if you beleive me or not, just trying to help out those who may be looking at him in an upcoming draft. My suggestion is to stay clear, take what you want from it. No I am not a shrink but I have heard enough to know that he is like Zherdev with Alzheimers. IF he turns out to be a star, good on him. My money says he wont (not in the NHL anyways).
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

Repent Tokyo said:

repenttokyo
there are some major issues with the philosophy espoused in this article here's the problem with what you are saying:

yes, it is normal for youngsters to break the rules.

however, if you are asking me to pick between the guy who got arrested/kicked out of a program/caught doing something nasty versus his 20-or-so teammates who were disciplined enough to keep their pants on, not get drunk and do something stupid, etc, guess which ones I am going to pick? Probably the guys with discipline.

Teams will give chances - to a point. Repeat miscreant behavior is not going to be tolerated. Some of the players you mentioned were kicked off of teams - that doesn't sound like tolerance to me, that sounds like someone burning through his chances.

With so many players to pick from who aren't 'bad apples', there's really no reason to mess with those who are.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

lcbtd said:

germant
What?!? Fzusher, you know I'm usually right on par with your comments (and usually look forward to your ramblings as much as I look forward to Dobber's or Angus') but I think the way you stand opposed to bullying and on-ice recklessness yet dismiss drinking and driving as a sign of immaturity is simply ridiculous.

Driving while impaired is at least as serious as the other two examples if not moreso. It has the possibilty of killing somebody!

Man, were you off base there . . . in a big way. imo of course.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

fzusher
... I agree with Ryan up to a point, but also with flaupmes.

The thing Ryan is most right about - judge each situation separately. An off-ice incident isn't automatic cause to drop someone. But it is a potential red flag that you can't disregard, but need to look into, and think about. And then there's a variety of things to consider.

One thing i consider is 'is this kid an idiot'. Your standard underage drinking is no big deal. DUI shows lack of judgment, though that can be acquired with maturity. But it is entirely a different matter if the kid, while not drunk, tackles a police officer trying to detain a drunk friend (for example). That does tell me something about the player that is relevant to hockey. That's, for example, why I do see a red flag when a player is kicked off their college team for poor academic performance, because the breaks universities give their athletes means you really need to be dumb to flunk your program as an athlete, and that means you may not have the smarts to play the game at an NHL level either.

Another key for me is 'does the player get it'. Does he learn from his mistakes, or repeats them. That's why I wouldn't touch Kabanov, and I think that's exactly flaupmes' point.

Another question is 'which team is the player owned by'. It'd take a lot for me to get worried about Brendan Smith, because I trust DET to straighten him out. I'm on the fence on ANA (Palmieri). I wouldn't touch anyone with off ice issues (or attitude issues) owned by ATL, until I see marked improvement in how they develop players.

Also, for me - and that's a non-hockey, non-fantasy choice - there are certain things that you just don't do, and I won't touch a kid who does them. I will not own Jon Merrill in a keeper because his off ice incident (pre-draft) was physically bullying a female student in his dorm. I wouldn't own Corey Tropp because of the on-ice incident that got him booted from his college program because he could have killed the kid he retaliated on (I own Conboy, involved in the same incident, because that's not the case with what he did then).

Point is, judge every incident in itself, but do treat the off ice incident as somethign to look into.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

Hockey Hoser said:

Hockey Hoser
... @ flaupmes

I think you might be missing the point of this article. It's not the player's actions that are so bad (kids will be kids as pointed out by Ryan) but rather the reaction by the media and nay-sayers. Some hockey programs are stricter than others so the results of their policies might make create the perception a player is a "problem". Let's use the drinking beer example. Two players get caught drinking beer. One plays for the US NTDP and is kicked out of the program. The other player plays in the CHL and gets a slap on the wrist. The player in the NTDP gets media coverage because the punishment is bigger and more difficult to hide whereas for the player in the CHL, no one finds out outside the team. Does this mean the kid who was kicked out from the NTDP is a bad apple just because it gets leaked? I feel what Ryan is trying to do is advise poolies not to get too worked up about these players involved in "off ice incidents" because we do not know all the facts.

This leads me to my next point about Kabanov. You sound like you're a Kabanov expert, I'm just curious to know how much time have you personally spent with Kabanov? How many of these incidents have you witnessed firsthand? Or have you just read about them? Also, are you an expert in regards to mental illness? Calling Kabanov a "nut job" would tell me no. Also I'm pretty sure that being late or forgetting stuff isn't necessarily a definite symptom of a mental illness. You are making incredible leaps in judgment by tying in irrelevant facts together. Just because he came back pale from his trip means nothing! The irony of the comments you make just further solidifies the article's point. Information also gets blown out of proportion so before passing along gossip, get your facts straight.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0

flaupmes said:

Zangief
... From what I have heard, Kabanovs problems are not having a few beers, getting in a scrap, or picking up chicks, he is a true space cadet nutcase. Constantly late, forgetting directions (he forgot to bring his accreditatons to the Entry Draft and had to rush back to hotel)...things like that. He is a nutjob. Went on a vacation to rest his wrist injury and soak up some sun in the tropics with his GF, but came back pale as a ghost becasue he doesnt like the sun? I am not making this s*&t up. Snow will have to hire a shrink or a 24/7 personal assistant. I for one will stay far away from him at the draft.
September 25, 2010
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy