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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Fire in the Engine Room

Right now... this team just doesn't compel me to write. Tuesday night the effort was good for 2 periods but after falling behind the Tbirds showed little in the decisive 3rd period leading to a 2-0 loss in front of a sellout crowd at ShoWare.

Last night was obviously a lot worse with the Birds dropping an 8-2 decision to Chiefs in Spokane.

I want to be careful not to freak out too much about just two losses but the product that I'm seeing on the ice would suggest that this team might be in trouble.

Former "Bird Brain" blogger Mike Caccioppoli who now "blogs" for ESPN 710 believes that Russ Farwell "...needs to find a way to make the team better at both ends of the ice. A sniper, a solid defenseman, whatever it takes. If it means out bidding other teams, so be it. If it means giving future draft picks, then do it."

Really? This is the season? This is the team you want to sell the future for? Sorry... I'm voting against doing that. This would be a very poor year to try selling the farm to make a deep run in the playoffs when it appears likely that you are no better than 4th in the ultra-competitive U.S. Division.

This team lacks skill. While improved from last season this team is still not a team that I could envision making a run at a WHL Championship even WITH a top notch sniper and another defensemen.

Did anyone see the price that Portland just paid for Craig Cunningham?

Do you want to see the Thunderbirds trade Lockhart, Rouse, TWO 1st round bantam selections and a 2nd rounder AT LEAST for a guy like Jordan Weal? and pay a similar price for a top defensemen just to "take a shot" with a team that just got outscored 10-2 by Spokane in the last two games? Who knows if that would even be enough to land those players. With the price being paid by Tri-City and Portland in the last two big deals... it's a seller's market.

"Going for it" is always going to be a calculated risk and unfortunately for Seattle fans we haven't had too many seasons where it really truly felt like the Tbirds should go for it. This isn't the season to do it. The season to "go for it" has always been Pickard's 19 year old season.

Mortgaging your future for a playoff run has a time and place... but it's a gamble you better be pretty sure about or you're going to pretty quickly find yourself in a Portland type of situation where you are going to be bad for 2-3 straight seasons and you risk destroying your fan base.


Anonymous said...

This team needs d-men if they want to make a run in Pickard's 19 yr old season. They will lose Dillon, Bobbee and one of Ramsay or Bonsor most likely At least one 20 year old spot has to go to Gallimore, the other probably to Wells or a vet scorer they trade for. Who are the top returning d-men after that? Sutter? Fleming? Untested players like Frank or Baecker? Rookies like Wardley or Hauf? What a scary proposition that they could be worse in front of Pickard next season. Might as well start trading now and find 1 or 2 good 18 yr old d-men now because this team will go nowhere this season or next without them.

STH25+ said...

I agree this is not the season to "sell out and go for it". As a 25+ year season ticket holder I have been biting my tongue to express my comments on this year's team.
The problem the past few years has been the leadership combo of Russ Farwell and Rob Sumner. I was happy to see us finally draft some size (2010 Bantam Draft). With Farwell being part-owner, he is not going anywhere and will continue to be the GM. His "yes-man" Sumner was a long-time assistant and does not have what it takes to be a head coach at this level. He has lost the respect of his players in the locker room and on the bench. I have repeatedly watched from my season ticket seats behind the home bench, several instances where Coach does not stand up for his players. Most recent example? Alos taking an elbow to the jaw by #24 from Spokane right in front of our bench Tuesday night. Both referees (and linesmen)didn't see it (or care to call it). Kudos to Elliot for standing up for his teammate (and to Alos for getting up). Elliot gets 17 minutes in the box, the Chief gets the 5 for fighting and nothing else. That should have been called a 5-minute major for elbow and a game misconduct; ask anyone in Section 105 who saw it. Coach should have been in Referee Ingram's face, standing up for his player, even if it costs him a 2-minute minor or better yet a game misconduct. Show us some passion that you care. You don't think Turner can coach without you? I personally think Sumner is a nice guy...he preaches teaching "the right way"; but he does not have what it takes at this level. Our team needs to be more physical. We don't have enough "skill" players to be a finesse team. This team will not make the playoffs with its current coaching situation. I'd like to see Turner take over, and bring in Jamie Huscroft (if he is available) to coach the defense. Those two have years of NHL experience between them, not too mention they could teach some much-needed "toughness" this team is sorely lacking in. Both were outstanding Thunderbird players and have a personal interest in making this team successful. Portland gutted their team and made a coaching change. It took them a few years to get back on track and look at them now. I'm willing to do that and will be patient if I see that is our plan. I'm tired of the mediocre hockey I've seen the past few years...Trades? I'd like to see them move Wells, Fleming, and Bonsor...all are underachievers who could blossom elsewhere. Baecker and Frank need to play. We need to see what they've got. I like what I've seen of Hickman, Doty, and especially Elliot. Lund is snakebit (scoring) but the effort is there and he just needs to relax. Dillon has stepped up big time. Salmon needs to get a start now and then just to give Pickard a breather. Calvin carries this team most nights. Salmon only gets to play when Picks is gone trying out for World Juniors or Prospects games. All the pressure is put on his shoulders. Give Salmon a start here and there under less strenuous conditions and he'll develop some confidence.
The future of this team needs to be built around Colin Jacobs. He is a true power forward (maybe the best since Turner Stevenson...I don't count Patrick Marleau as a "power" forward).
There have been some questionable trades (you see what Jonathan Parker and Sena Acolatse are doing?). Would have been nice trying to get Sena back before settling for Bobbee as an overager. I like him on the point on the PP, but we have enough "finesse" defensemen.
I don't know if we can win with this particular group of players but I know we'd be better with a coaching change. It may not show up in the win/loss columns, but I'd settle for an honest workman-like effort each night, which I think Turner Stevenson could bring and demand from his guys. In the meantime, we can hope for an 8th place finish in the conference and 2 home playoff games before we are done.

Thunnex said...

STH25+... pretty sure I sit a couple rows behind you :)

I'm honestly not sure what the answer is. I think Rob is a pretty good coach who teaches the game the correct way but I would be blind not to admit that whatever he is doing just isn't quite working.

I also don't really see a load of talent out there on the ice so I don't think it's entirely his fault either.

One thing Russ has generally been pretty good with is making trades... so I think there are some potentially savvy trades that could be had at the deadline this year. I think you could get pretty good value for guys like Wells and maybe Ramsay if you weren't convinced you liked them as 20 year olds.

Sure the Parker trade doesn't look very good right now but Parker looked completely disinterested and frustrated here and needed a change of scenery. The Acolatse trade got you Gallimore who you will wind up having for 2.5 seasons instead of 1.5 so that one is pretty good in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Tyler I agree that this is not the year to trade the farm. I personally would like to see a few moves made. The point about who will be left on D when Dillon goes is a good one. If the plan is for next year any trades now should be looking that direction.
The next few weeks will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if we drafted better we wouldn't have to make trades. No way half you roster should be pick ups from other teams. I'd bet the majority of winning teams rely more on home grown talent rather than fishing for castoffs from other organizations.

Thunnex said...

I totally agree with that. Drafting has been a problem and I think that is primarily the reason they are in the current situation.

Jon said...

I guess I have always been of the nature that the Birds were building to make a run next year during Pickard's 19 year old season. He's not back as a 20 year old. That being said, Wells is expendable. Trade Bonsor or Ramsey to get a year younger on the D. Put the pieces in to have a great year. Trading picks isn't an issue since we can't seem to hit on a first rounder to save our life, obvious exceptions of course.

Mr Tell13 said...

It is impressive how, when a team is playing WAAAYY above its expectations on paper the coaching staff never get any credits. On the other hand, a few defeats later....Boom ist all the coaches fault...

Sumner is not the problem, the players not buying in to his system or not able to do what he ask for in a effecient way is.
That said, there is a point where the coach has to pay if that does not work. And as someone told me recently, Sumner is probably the safest coach in the league at this point. What would be the alternative anyway? Turner? What would be the difference from now ? I dont think his message or methods would be different from what he is doing right now. And would he even be interested? Others options would be what? An up and coming guy that aims at the big leagues when he gets a shot or a pro that hit the wall coaching wise? If you think that someone who does not respect Sumner now is going to have more respect for a guy that crashed and burned in the AHL or ECHL, I have a frozen pond to sell in Arizona.

Also this idea that it would be better to give ice time to Baeker or Frank. If they do not deserve ice time by their work and performance in practice, they do not play. I mean realistically they have to play better than Fleming to be able to dress. Seems like our talent depth at D (that a lot of people were confusing with size depth at the begining of the season)is catching up and I think it is taking a toll on Dillon who is playing way too much (on the last home game vs Spokane I could of swore I saw him on 3 different D pairing plus PK and PP.

Now where is the problem? In my opinion its a few things.
- Lack of talent depth,caused by trades and sour drafts (Do not get me started on the 1st round "bad 1st choice thing, as I don't believe in it) . Trades like Parkers's may make Russ look folish at first glance but sometimes the change in scenery is necessary.

- players buying (or not) into the system. Now I know what people are going to say that that is a coaching issue but I don't think it is. Sumner game plan propably did not change much since he became head coach. Its a pretty simple dump in type of game that can be fairly succefull when played right. What do you do when its not? Bench the guy? ok, What do you do when it is 4, 5 or 6 guys not doing it? Bench all of them?

-Technical coaching. Now this is the only coaching fault I can find with this organisation's current staff. Time in and time out I do find very small errors in the play of players that need to be corrected that might fall in the cracks of all the things the regular coaches have to deal with.

-Being big Vs playing big. After the third of the season, we saw the t-birds taking late starts in a game in a more noticeble way. They seemed like they were just expecting to win puck battle just because they were there and they were big. That was just obvious in a recent home game against Tri where every puck was challenged by a tri player and he ended up out hustling the Seattle player for it. The players have to stop taking their size as a automatic advantage and play with it as a advantage.

just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

Definitely agree there are some exendable players. I think you would get a decent return for Wells. Best +/- on the team. Even strength goals equal or surpass the players on the first line pp ahead of him in scoring. One of the best pk players on the team.
Dillons stock is high right now. Maybe trade him for a younger proven defencemen. As we know we can't draft correct, so maybe a trade would prove successful.
Doty should play more. Only player in my opinion using his size to an advantage. Sure he makes some rookie mistakes but he at least isn't scared to use his size.

Anonymous said...

No way should we trade the future for this year. Hopefully we can look forward to some good young talent developing. Troock looked very promising and hopefully he'll be back in good health before too long. We drafted very high last year so hopefully we'll reap some rewards from that. I would definitely trade looking towards next year and beyond. Too bad we don't have accountability for our GM and draft results.

Anonymous said...

You will never get rid of Farwell. As long as he is an owner, not a majority owner,just an owner,it is in his contract that he will be the GM. Don't know who negotiated the contract but it was sure in Farwells favor. This info is from a reliable source, a former owner, who couldn't take the bs anymore.
Never seen a team ruin so many young players. They come here with great expectations and the life is sucked out of them.I believe we do well at the start of the season because all the boys come in shape,mentally and physically. Doesn't take long for Sumner to drag them down and play into his dump and pray system.
Not sure what the solution is but I am betting anybody who is traded will not be sad to go.

Anonymous said...

Wells apparently wants out anyways so I dont see him being back. Which sounds like nobody really disagrees that he should be moved for the team and his own sake. Most of these trades we made were by guys who wanted out. The players do not like Sumner he may be an ok coach but he lost his locker room. No other team would have retained him as long as we have. If this team is going to continue to play bland uninspired games in front of sold out crowds then it's going to take a long time to get fans back. Just look at Portland they are still struggling to get fans back and that is a fun team to watch. This team for us is really where I thought we would be, we have shown improvement but we are still way behind the teams in our division and quite frankly I don't see that changing much next year either. Everyone is talking about building around Pickard's 19 year old year. But you look at the players around him and know that isn't happening. Look at Tri-Cities, with Price they were an average to poor team, then with Chet Pickard they were good but not great. Now with Owsley they are a top team. And I have seen enough to tell you Owsley is no where near as talented as Price or Chet Pickard. But he has a much better team in front of him. And that is something that I don't think we could put in front of Calvin.

We will all probably be here complaining about how poor this team is the rest of the year. And next year we will try and start optomistic and positive, until reality hits again. I hope something changes soon, because i'm not sure how much longer fans of this team can wait for signs of life from the organization. Season ticket holders go back and read the "pity" letter Farwell sent out last year and tell me how many of those promises by players, coaches and owners you feel were fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

Tyler why do you alwyas defend Rob and Russ? That's what I take away from your comment above and past comments also. I respect your opinion and love reading your bolg but always wondered why you defend them? Aren't you tired of mediocre play all of these years?

Thunnex said...

I'm not so sure that I'm defending them as much as I think people tend to want to polarize things when reality tends to fall somewhere between the ends.

I think it's easy to say "this" is the problem or "that" is the problem when the reality is that it's probably a combination of factors.

As I have said in the past... I actually think the biggest problem has been the drafting the past 5 seasons. It just hasn't been good. To many "misses" on players. Ultimately, Russ is accountable for that just like anything.

I try not to get too worked up about whether or not Russ is the "problem" because for the immediate future he isn't going anywhere so I just don't see the point in worrying about that.

As far as Rob in concerned... I feel pretty confident that I know the game of hockey pretty well and from what I've seen I think Rob teaches the game the right way. However... I haven't been shy about saying that regardless of whether I think Rob is a good coach or not... clearly it just isn't working right now.

If that's defending Russ and Rob, well then I guess I am... but I think the reality is that the mediocrity is probably a combination of a lot of things that makes it hard for me to point a direct finger at any one person.

Anonymous said...

Even with some good younger players developing their offensive ability we still have the third fewest goals in the league. Hardly a team to trade the future for and no surprise given Farwell's ability as a GM. The Farwell Department of Redundancy Department forecasts more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Another home game, another loss, that's 8 out of 9 we have lost at home.

Anonymous said...

Birds lose. Thunnex gets a free burger. Was it a fair trade?

Anonymous said...

why are guys untested?? if you expose them won't they learn? i keep seeing the pharse dump and chase. surely more plays in the coaches play book.

Thunnex said...

I think I would have taken the win instead!

Grayduck said...

Speaking of first round flops....
Why do they still keep Sanvido around?

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