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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Season on the Brink

I don't want to write. I just don't. Seattle wasn't able to seal the deal last night and the issues that have plagued them all season chose to show up again in the biggest game of the season. This loss wasn't for lack of effort but simply a lack of execution. Calvin Pickard arguably wasn't at his best and the defense wasn't able to clear pucks from the front of the net well enough to deserve the victory. Where does Seattle go from here?

  • The season isn't over. Seattle can still forge a tie with Everett by winning in Portland this evening. On paper this is a monumental (and potentially impossible) task... but the Winterhawks have nothing to play for and as much as they would love to send their I-5 rivals home for the summer, they are going to have much bigger fish to fry. So what does that mean? I imagine Portland will start 16 year old Brendan Burke in goal. Risking injury to Mac Carruth would be a huge risk. Especially given the chippy nature of the play between Seattle and Carruth. Expect to see Burke in net. I would have to think that some of Portland's top players will be given a day to rest with Portland's younger players being dressed for the game.  Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying... this doesn't mean the victory is assured. Portland will still have a superior roster of players even if they scratch some of their veterans but Seattle will definitely have a better chance at getting this done. In case you were wondering, Burke is 2-1 against Seattle and 2-0 at home in Portland.
  • Should they win tonight by hook or crook... They will host Everett on Tuesday night at Showare Center in a game that will be marketed as an additional 2 for Tuesday opportunity. Half price tickets and $2 concessions.
  • A few notes on players - I spent a good portion of the first half of the season defending Dave Sutter against fans who I thought weren't being very fair to him. By the end of January, he was only -5 on a team that was flush with minus players. Well... it has become pretty tough to defend him lately. Sutter was a remarkably -18 in February and has "added" another -7 in March and now sits at -33 for the season. He hasn't continued to improve, he has regressed and he now plays like he is afraid to make a mistake.
  • I will say it again... if Branden Troock ever learns to use his teammates and pass the puck he is going to be a special player. Sure, there are times when your team needs an individual effort, but Troock has to learn how to pick his spots. His goal last night was a thing of beauty... but making it happen 1 out of every 15 times isn't good hockey and until he learns to use his teammates and work without the puck he will be limited as a player.
  • Evan Wardley was well deserved as the Most Improved Tbirds player. An afterthought at the beginning of the year, Wardley has worked his tail off and done everything the coaching staff has asked him to do and his improved play has landed him in the regular rotation. Having a defender willing and able to deliver a big hit on almost every shift makes it impossible for the opposing team to operate comfortably. If he and Shea Theodore can learn a slap shot over the summer they are going to have a very good chance at taking the next step forward.
  • Connor Honey continues to impress. He skates hard, he forechecks his ass off and he has great hockey sense. He scores pretty goals and greasy goals. There is a lot to like about this kid and he has a very bright future ahead. I would not be surprised to see him over 45 points next year and possibly more.
  • The game was like Rocky III. Twitter doesn't allow for enough space for me to have explained that comment but the game was like two boxers who hold their hands at their sides swinging and landing wild bombs back and forth until someone finally falls down. It was two bad hockey teams just taking their best wild swings and ultimately Everett got a lucky bounce and buried Seattle with a roundhouse  cross.
  • Awards were passed out last night. I can't remember all of them... as I was a little too bummed out to be paying much attention. MVP was Calvin Pickard (shocker), Most Dedicated was Brad Deagle and Cason Machacek, Most Improved was Evan Wardley, Top Defensemen was Brad Deagle. Scholastic POY was Mitch Elliot for I believe the 3rd year in a row and the Booster Club's award for most popular player was Jacob Doty.  Leading scorer was Burke Gallimore.
5:05 Tonight in Portland. Final game of the season, final chance to stay alive for the playoffs. Do or die boys. Get it done or regret it forever.


Anonymous said...

Will be tuned in this evening and ready to buy tickets for Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

Season is now toast

Most disappointing player
Colin Jacobs, can't handle the puck in traffic.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere - Rob Sumner is smiling right now... 45 losses, tied for 2nd worst in the entire WHL - and this from a team that was expected to compete. I think the whole 'we almost made the playoffs' is a bit of a smoke screen, only in the WHL West does a team that is 20 games under .500 have a chance to make the playoffs..

Time for Russ Farwell to face reality and admit that he's a huge part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

seattle = one to the two worst franchises in the league at this point in time. need to do no more than look 30 miles north on I-5 to see how to rebuild on the fly. everett = 9 seasons, 9 trips to the playoffs.

it is a serious joke of a franschise and believe me they are nowhere close to making any kind of run in the near future.

Mr Tell13 said...

great post again Tyler, but i could not disagree with you more on Sutter. Considering his time on ice, the players he was matched up to, I think he did an decent job. I believe the problem is that he would of been better to be a second duo d-men for his development, but due to the regular absence of the 2 overager on defense, he was overplayed.

Since I think he won't be back next year (logically does not make sense to me, with the progress of Hauf, Theodore and Wardley, to take 2 "special" spots on the team with one player)

I think the big challenge will be to retool (or rebuild) the offense of this team during the summer to complete the core that is already in place. (Honey, Trook, swenson, Hickman and Jacobs)

Anonymous said...

Oh, well. I had school Tuesday night anyway. I would say there is always next year but we all know how that will come out.

Anonymous said...

Everett rebuilt on the fly? What kind of fly is that? Tse Tse? They had fewer wins this season then Seattle. Just because they're in the playoffs doesn't mean there a very good team. Barely won 20 games. Could actually be worse next season considering the players they'll be losing. Like was posted earlier; only in the WHL West does a team 20+ games below .500 make the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

And Everett hit the eject button on their GM, unfortunately Russ is evaluated by Russ.

Anonymous said...

It's cliche, but the thing that really depresses me the most about this is that Calvin Pickard, by all accounts a good soldier for the team and the WHL's best goaltending prospect since Carey Price, never even got close enough to sniff a winning team. Unless, that is, you count all the ones raining pucks on him while the defense chased their own tails. He deserved so much better.

Now, the question becomes, what are we losing, and what's in the pipeline in terms of new talent. We might have some pieces in place (I love what Honey's done in his short time with us and Trook could be good if his hockey IQ improves) but can we build off of them? Cotton will never be another Pickard, but will he be servicable?

Anonymous said...

The playoff format for the league is terrible. Only in this league will a team with below .500 average make the playoffs...makes Univ. Washington complaints about not making the dance seem minor. This team had problems in the beginning; they only came on the last few games but couldn't get it done; even with a losing record. I'm tired excuses of rebuilding. My only problem is my kids are HUGE Thunderbird fans; I'd rather concentrate on the actual minor CHL playoffs and my former home team...but the my kids love the Thunderbirds. Something needs to change in this organization and it's not the kids on the Thunderbirds fault. It's the GM's's a idea; how about providing actual leadership and bring in a TRUE GM? You know, as the rest of know, that has the ability to SCOUT players. Just a thought and frustration from ANOTHER losing season where the team did not add up.

Tim W. said...

Would like to see a move made, either Farwell or Colin Alexander. A whole new mission needs to start, and a letter out to all the season ticket holders (partial & full) outlining the plan going forward.And as for the Sutter issue, hey it's the kid's second year in the league and his 19 yo season. He needs to be farther along at this point. Definitely not the kind of guy you want to use a overage AND import spot for, so we can get 2 imports in the draft for some immediate help. So draft for guys that can play now.Tyler, great job on the blog, very fair and yet from a loyal fan.

Anonymous said...

Well i'm at least thankful we got to see a meaningful game this year. They ran out of gas but you have to give it up to Everett they wanted it more in the end, the atmosphere at the game was what I miss about hockey in general. It gets depressing being a long time season ticket holder and going to game after game like it's a punishment. As for the above post about sending out a letter, after the B.S we have been fed every year in one do you really take it seriously anymore. I can already see this year's " we made a strong push but didn't quite get there, next year we are bringing back a strong core (insert names) working harder than ever to bring the tbirds back to the playoffs" ... I'll keep buying tickets because i'm a sucker, even though we will be just as bad next year. Probably going to be another long season for Russ hiding up in the corner booth at the ShoWare Center again.

Anonymous said...

Everett rebuild on the fly, let's see; a new general manager, a new coach and a bigger roster turn over than is the customary yearly change. All of that since last June.

Sure you can argue that they don't deserve the playoffs with the record but the bottom line is they are in. That assures them of two more home games. Which is something the Seattle franchise has not seen for years.

My guess is that was their (Everett's) goal at the beginning of the season. That goal was accomplished unlike the Tbirds.

One can only stick their head in the sand for so long and defend this franchise. It is NOT working with what is currently in place.

What was meant to be conveyed was that you don't have to look too far for a model that works. Nine seasons and nine time in the playoffs with banners from the rafters is what we all want.

Trust me, that is not happening any time soone in Kent.

Anonymous said...

Again, it's not working in Everett either. Losing record in what, 3 of the last 4 years? If it was working Soetart would still be there. No way would I look to Everett to see how it is done. I'd turn to Tri-City because they have the same owner/GM franchise model as the T-birds. To "rebuild on the fly" means you had a winning record and success on the ice and lost players but brought in new players and continued winning the very next year. That is what Tri has done, not Everett. Everett hasn't rebuilt anything. Let's see, Seattle has the 3rd overall pick and Everett the 4th overall pick in the upcoming draft. Lsst year Seattle picked 6th overall and Evt 7th. In 2009 Everett chose 9th and Seattle 12th. These two franchises are more alike then you think; both near the bottom of the WHL. And with a richer owner Everett should probably be better. At least they made the move to get a new GM. Nine straight trips to the playoffs has gotten Everett the same # of league titles as It's not the size or number of banners hanging in your rafters that counts, it's what they stand for and the only thing that really matters is a league championship.

Anonymous said...

The only voice we have as fans is do not renew your season tickets or 24 game voucher plans if you are unhappy with the direction now or in the future. Please note I am not suggesting that anyone does, but as a season ticket holder, I am not going to renew until things move in a postitive direction. I will let my sales rep know this when they call me to say where is my deposit and will let him know respectively that I am a unhappy customer. This team is in a hole, a deep hole in my opinion and I do not see light at the end of the tunnel. I will go to games but only a few until I see the commitment from the ownership in a new direction, that means new scouting staff of some sorts and a new GM.Look to the rafters folks, this team has no real history or success, it is sad to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Uh Everet won 6 games fewer this season then last. They earned 13 fewer pts. How is that rebuilding on the fly? They were worse this season, not better.

Anonymous said...

Everett is truely rebuilding and in a must win road game vs. an older team they won they go to the playoffs and Seattle doesn't. They were NOT happy with where their team is (just making the playoffs) and they fire people. It is very simple as I've said many years now on this blog.... Seattle ownership doesn't care about winning. Any team that doesn't make the playoffs in this league for 3 years and has only made 1 coaching change and 0 GM changes I defy anyone here to tell me otherwise. The Owners of this pathetic franchise are to blame for the product on the ice noone else!

Thunnex said...

Here... I will "defy" you.

If you owned a business and that business had been losing money for the past three years. Would you fire yourself?

or more likely... would you vow to work harder and do a better job and hope that things turned around?

Russ is an owner/GM. There is no doubt that they haven't succeeded in winning... but I will also say on this blog for the 100th time that saying they "don't care about winning" is probably the poorest argument going around.

If they weren't trying to win... wouldn't Russ have traded Calvin? Wouldn't they have played Cotton all season?

Anonymous said...

Yet another "fallacy". "Everett is truly rebuilding". Every team in the WHL is rebuilding. It is tne nature of the beast at this level. Every season teams replace on average 6-7 players on their roster. The average WHL playing career is 3 seasons. Everett is no more rebuilding then any other team in this league. Some teams (Tri, Port, Van, Kelowna, Calgary, Med Hat, Kootenay) just do it better then others.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a lot of fans have only seen the last few years. Believe me this type of performance goes back much further than that. Russ has a long established "track record"

Anonymous said...

The owners(s) must not care about winning they've been running the same horrible product out there for a decade. If you were running a buisness and the same people you had working for you were't performing to expectations wouldn't you fire them? If it was yourself that wasn't performing to expectations wouldn't you hire help? Or do you really care? After all you ARE the owner!

Anonymous said...

I'm a long suffering TBirds fan and I'm not a fan of Russ as a GM. However they did do a shakeup of their scouting staff recently. I believe this was done 2 or 3 years ago? This first payoff of this might have been Troock. I know he's been hurt, missed the first season and a good part of the second and isn't known for using his team mates that well. Still at number 12 I think he was a good pick. Hauf, not sure, he was a very high pick (4?), remains to be seen. Farwell has a definite bias towards big players and I'm not sold on that for the WHL. Next first rounder is Gropp, hasn't signed yet? Would be a real shame if we can't sign him, sounds like he is probably a very good player. Last first round stinker was Sanvido but that was 4 drafts ago. In the last draft they did get Theodore in the 4th round. This was an excellent pick. They need to learn as an organization. Whoever championed Theodore, listen to this guy in the future damnit! Whoever championed Honey, listen to this guy damnit! Get away from the obsession with size and stop accepting mediocrity or worse. It used to be thought that busts in the draft were OK and people didn't want to complain about such things. That approach can be taken and you wind up where the T Birds have been. Imagine if they hadn't put some decent youngsters in the pipeline? Thank heavans they at least made some changes in last couple years. Russ if you have to remain as the GM just get out of the way and let the best scouts make the picks.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone would doubt about the organization's attempt to win. However, there are plenty of doubts about Russ's ability to put a winning team together.

This year T-Birds attendance is down over 730 average from the previous season which only seen a average increase of 65 fans per game. The 2009-2010 average seen a decrease of over 325 fans from the 2008-2009 season.

The fans are taking notice and becoming smaller.

Anonymous said...

Russ has been an abject failure in the Bantam draft era,Period.Both of his Memorial cup teams came before the Bantam draft was instituted.Since he came back from Philly this team has slowly faded into obscurity.(Two division titles don't mean jack to me and Tory built the majority of the League finals team)I'm sure someone will defend him saying he drafted Hickey and one or two other names,but hey,even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.As a now 30 year fan,All I want from him now is to hire a new GM from OUTSIDE(Read as NO CRONIES) the organization.This is paramount to getting out of this hole.

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