Thursday, 26 April 2007

The Rule of 5

I have to thank PunjabiOil. My reply to his comments in the previous post required me to think long and hard about the nature of successful team building in the NHL. I have since come to the conclusion that there are only 5 ways to build a true, play-off contending team (a team that should make the play-offs every year) in the NHL and if a GM does not currently have one of these 5 models in place then it may be time to blow it all up and start over.

Those models would be:

1. Any team that has a true top-10 goalie
------ usually defined as a goalie consistently in the top-10 in sv% with 55+ games played (Luongo).

2. Any team with a true generational talent
------ usually defined as a player who can carry a team (Pronger, Crosby) but one can also substitute several superstar level players to achieve the same effect (Tampa Bay)

3. Any team deep enough to survive having, only, a top-25 goalie
------ usually defined as a team that plays a) exceptionally well 5v5 or b) has great special teams and decent EV play

4. Any team that has a true, talent of the team irrelevant to success, genius of a coach
------ usually defined as a coach who coaches whatever team he has to work with at the time to a +.500 record and a shot at the play-offs (Lemaire, Hitchcock)

5. Any team lucky enough to play in the sad sack SE division of the NHL
------ usually defined as any of Carolina, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Florida

Granted, my approach is not scientific, but I think it holds up. If a team does NOT fit one of these five models, and does not have a GM working towards transforming the team into following one of those five models, then it is a team destined for mediocrity and an extended run out of the play-offs.

Two important things to note:

1. Models can overlap, i.e. a team can have a top-10 goaltender AND a generational player (Anaheim), etc.

2. The models listed only cover builds for teams that should make the play-offs every year; not to be confused with a team that should be contending for the Stanley Cup every year*

* A Cup-contending team will tend to have at least two of the models working strongly in its favor

So there you go. Pure conjecture, unsupported on the face of it by anything remotely resembling facts, but still basically correct. Why was this worthy of a post? Because, if I can define what successful strategies for team building are I also, by default, define what unsuccessful strategies of team building are.

Here is a trick I am sure some have already noted: the model only works for team building. Ottawa, for example, is already 'built' and so must be held to a higher standard than just that of building a team that should make the play-offs every year.

All that said - be interesting to see what Lowe tries to accomplish this off-season won't it?


Have a great evening everyone.

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