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Wednesday Morning Update

I started getting sick on Friday night at the game and was not feeling well all weekend and then was slammed with real work here at the office the past two days, keeping me from posting much of anything.

I was asked on Friday night why I was so "positive" about the Tbirds.

Couple of thoughts on that and some thoughts on the game I did see Friday night. I'm not really sure how "positive" I am.

Let me say this as clearly as I can. This team is not very good right now... this team was bad last year and something has got to change. There really isn't a whole lot to be positive about right now. We can look for a few rays of sunshine here and there but I wouldn't exactly call that being "positive".

Let's get something pretty clear here... I don't have any agenda with this blog. I write what I see and what I think about the current state of the Seattle Thunderbirds. I want to see them win as much as any of you do, but I didn't create this blog to try to have some kind of influence over the front office. Quite honestly I don't think the front office cares what I think and quite frankly I'm not sure they care what fans think either. I know that is a sobering thought... but I think the front office believes that what they are doing is the best job they can. Russ hasn't tried to hide from the fact that the team was awful last year and that this year would be part of a rebuilding process, not a "Phoenix" raising from the ashes to win the Western Conference.

I know that what some people want me to do is start running the coach and the GM out of town but I just don't believe in the notion that firing coach Rob Sumner will suddenly cure all of the problems that this team currently has.

Is Rob Sumner doing a good job? Well quite frankly no... This team doesn't appear to be getting better, they rarely play a full 60 minutes and whatever he is doing just isn't working.

I don't think this means that Sumner is a bad coach, it just means that the buttons he is currently pushing aren't working.

Changing coaches makes everyone temporarily happy but I truly do not believe that Rob Sumner is the biggest problem with this team.

What do I think IS the biggest problem??? T-A-L-E-N-T or lack thereof.

I feel like I have to repeat myself every single year when Seattle struggles. I believe very strongly that the lack of success in Seattle has been caused by poor drafting in combination with an inability to develop players.

Look at the leading point totals on the team.

Gallimore - Acquired via trade
Dillon - Undrafted, listed
Lockhart - Bantam Draft, 7th round
Noebels - Import Draft
Jacobs - Bantam Draft, 4th round
Toomey - Acquired via trade
Wells (traded) - Bantam Draft, 5th round
Button - Acquired via trade
Rouse - Acquired via trade
Alos - Bantam Draft, 6th round
Bobbee - Acquired via trade
Bonsor - Acquired via trade
Lund - Bantam Draft, 4th round

I could go on and on and on and on... but I think I have proven my point. Not a single 1st, 2nd or 3rd round bantam selection is anywhere near our point leaders. So let's look at what actually happened to those players once again.

2006 Bantam Draft

1st - Steve Chaffin - Retired due to concussions. Who knows whether Chaffin would have eventually turned into a solid player. Last season he had 5 assists in 17 games and was +1 before being forced to retire. Chaffin was a very well liked player but this has to be considered a miss for the Tbirds. Players Seattle did NOT select that came after Chaffin... Stefan Elliot, Kellan Tochkin, Nathan Lieuwen, Justin Maylan, Evander Kane, Tyson Barrie, Chase Schaber. Wow.

2nd - Zac Ashdown - Ashdown never played a game in the WHL. That is a huge fail on a 2nd round pick. Players they could have drafted... Curtis Hamilton, Brayden McNabb, Kevin Smith, Collin Bowman, Matt McKenzie and Linden Vey.

3rd - Steve Oursov - Oursov IS in the WHL this year with Chilliwack but including this year he has only played 50 WHL games and has 9 points. Not many 3rd round players that Seattle missed on badly.

4th - Jeff Beattie - I can't find any record of Jeff Beattie... so yeah that's a miss.

5th - Josh Lazowski - Lazowski has eventually turned into a decent player with 28 points in 32 games this season for Edmonton. He played 13 games with Seattle as a 16 year old before being sent home and eventually traded or released (I can't remember which and I'm not looking it up because this is turning into a novel).

5th - Charles Wells - Wells is the only real useful player that Seattle got from this draft. That isn't saying very much considering that Wells has only 106 points in 217 career WHL games and never seemed happy to be here in Seattle.

6th - 10th rounds - Trumbley, Ritchie, Johnson, Hamburg. I don't believe any of these 4 ever played in the WHL although that isn't uncommon for these late rounds.

2007 Bantam Draft

1st - Erik Fleming - Fleming has, at times, shown signs of possible breakout... however you would have to call him a complete bust after having 144 WHL games, 14 points and a career -37. Players we missed... Seattle picked 16th so not too many to pick from here but... Drew Czerwonka, Tyler Bunz, Kent Simpson, Spencer Main and Joe Morrow.

2nd - Calvin Pickard - Grand Slam Home Run. Nothing to say here. They need more solid singles and doubles to go with these homerun picks.

3rd - Brandon Carlson - Carlson came close to making the team as a 16 year old and a 17 year old but ultimately has never played a game in the WHL. Missed here... Jordan DePape, Joey Leach and Jordan Weal.

4th - Chance Lund and Jason Zucker - Lund has, until the last month, done absolutely nothing and Jason Zucker may still wind up in Seattle and was a gamble pick on a US born player that to this point has not worked out. Players they missed... Max Reinhart.

7th to 10th - Luke Lockhart, Justin Lachance, Dan Gibb, Connor Cleverley - Lockhart is a solid doubles pick for the front office as he has turned into a solid player. I don't believe Lachance and Cleverley have ever played in the WHL and Gibb has played 114 games in the WHL with Prince George and has 7 points and a -39.

This has become much longer than expected... so I will cut it off here and do part 2 with 2008 and 2009 tomorrow.

Here is my point. Before we go running around trying to run Rob Sumner out of town you should strongly consider the players that Seattle has drafted over the past 4 seasons.


Anonymous said...

Tyler, you hit the "grand slam" with this post. It is exactly what is wrong with this franchise. I have been on this band wagon for a couple of years now. In fact posted something similar yesterday on "the other board". The talent MUST come from within and for way too many years now has not. How this scouting staff (if that is who is ultimately responsible for this) stays intact in beyond me. You just can't build a Cadillac out or KIA parts. Next year was suppose to be "the year", it is very evident that is not going to happen. As long as the dfafting (and trading for that matter) remain status quo what you see is what you get. Unfortunately, what i see is a wreck of KIA.

stoykoj said...

I completely agree with you about the talent level of this team as well as the horrible drafting. However, I think you have to admit that Russ isn't going anywhere and this team will be made up of the same core group of players next year. So if that is the case maybe they do need a shake up in the coaching staff. Not that Sumner is a horrible coach, I just think a new coach with a different perspective may get more out of these kids.

At the beginning of the year most of the bloggers and columnists were picking Seattle to be at the bottom or near the bottom of the Western Conference. And surprise, that's where we are. Most of us are not too surprised that we are where we are. But we were told that last year was about getting the youngsters experience and this year was about developing the players and making strides forward. That hasn't happened, atleast in my opinion. It's also my opinion that the development of these players rests squarely on the coaches shoulders.

Tyler, I would like to know your opinion of the development of the players.

Also, do you have any idea of Sumner's contract, how many years are left on it?

Thunnex said...

First the easy one... Not a clue on Sumner's contract.

On development... I think the easy answer would be to say that they need to develop players better and more often... but of course that is true of nearly every organization.

Development is tough... because for every Fleming... you have a Lockhart.

For every Durand there is a Holloway and a Hickey.

So while I think they do need to do a better job... I don't think it's as easy to just say "Seattle doesn't develop players".

I think the players like Luke Lockhart that have the drive and desire to get better are the ones that thrive.

Anonymous said...

so their poorley coach (you can know hockey and teach but if you can't push right buttons then teach summer camps or asst coach, with a Gm that refuses to fire the Head Scout how has no idea on talent and you listen to him. Your right they don't care what their fans have to say they know more than us (you can tell that by their record the last couple of years)

Anonymous said...

I honestly have no idea what that last poster was trying to convey in his writing. Please, try a little clarity...or slow down when you type and proof read when you are done.

Anonymous said...

This team is poorly managed from the top on down. Let me start by saying I'm not a Sumner fan,and he is totally responsible for the developement of players. He is the one on the ice with them EVERY day. He is not at total fault for the players he is coaching but he does have a say in who he keeps. If he is as god aweful boring at practice as he is in his interviews it's no wonder the team doesn't develope players.There has to be some excitement in what he says and does for players to buy what he's selling.These are young kids and need to be talked to and coached one on one. They need to feel their best interest is #1. And if I was a player on that team last year who wanted and desired to play better hockey and improve my game I would have liked it if someone paid the price for that horrible season. The one commom denominator you find in sports when teams go through a season like that is people get fired!! Especially when the coach has no history of coaching a winner. What this tells the players is was their fault, and what that tells the fans is WE don't care what you think.

BothellBirdsFan said...

First off Tyler, I've been a silent reader since the beginning of your blog, and have never told you how refreshing it is to read an honest opinion from another fan. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I don't think firing Rob at this point would do any good unless there was an A+ choice for the next head coach. The talent simply hasn't been found in the draft for a number of years. One top-end talent will not get us deep in the playoffs. Talent, desire, and work-ethic needs to be found and developed. Mediocrity breeds mediocrity.

Thunnex said...

I always appreciate the kind words. Thanks.

Jim said...

Tyler, first I'd like to thank you for the superb post. Superb because my thinking about the team matches yours. My only positive thought is that this team is doing better in standings points than last year's team. That assumes we can scrape up 6 points in the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

I agree that lack of talent is the main problem. I worry about a lack of passion though, because I think that is an area where a coach needs to lead. I didnt see much passion from the team or the coaches since the break and there were games where I thought some fire might have made a difference. If nothing else, I'd rather watch a loss with some hard hits and a fight or two than a loss where the team goes meekly into the dark. Not sure what is going on in the players minds right now, but Rob does not seem to be able to inspire them.

Anonymous said...

Amen, excellent post. This franchise has muddled through for years and years with poor drafting. In the past it seemed they really tried to avoid the normal cycles that WHL teams usually go through. They may now be changing that a bit but playing in the Seattle area the fair weather fans aren't very tolerant of that approach either so they are darned if they do and darned if they don't to some extent.

What really concerns me is that even when they have drafted high (part of the cycle process) they have often blown the pick. If it weren't for Farwell's trades and renting older short term players on a regular basis this team would be a laughing stock. Then when they do apparently hit a home run w/ Troock the curse of Seattle sports teams hits and Troock ends up out of action for the season (hope he recovers fully).

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