Saturday, 23 January 2010

2010 Reload or Rebuild - The Revisits - #1

As mentioned just previous, and as alluded to in the title, I am now re-visiting the topic of what I would (if it mattered and if you cared and even if you cared that it mattered I guess) do: reload or rebuild?

First, however, a quick post on luck and why it matters, to me, in this case.

If any of you recall there was a time when I was doing a series of Franchise 101 posts. For the purpose of this post the relevant post to reference is this one:

Franchise 101 - Part 05 - Objectivity


For those of you who don't want to take the link elsewhere (Too late for some. I know. Sorry) I will quote the relevant portion below:

A quick lesson on Objectivity and Subjectivity:


Yes. Halle Berry is better looking than my wife.


My wife is every good thing for me. She rocks my world in every way. Absolutely gorgeous. Get lost Halle.

The Goal

There is the rub. As long as the topic, or goal, is simply that of 'who is most attractive' then my example stands, if however, the issue is that of lifemate and compatibility then my example is stood on its head (pointed as it may be).

Does luck play a role? Of course. Is some subjectivity a good thing? Of course. Too much of either however is, typically, a bad thing.

The lesson - as important as it is to objectively classify the competitive standing of a team it is even more important to understand the goal at hand. Ostensibly this is to win the Stanley Cup.


In the NHL there are, really, only four categories needed to classify the competitive standing of each team: Play-off Longshot, Play-off Bubble Team, Play-off Probable and Cup Contender.

Play-off Longshot

The team, as currently constituted, won't be in the play-off chase. Too young, too injured, too dysfunctional, too short on talent in key spots and/or too much of any combination of the items already mentioned - it just isn't a play-off team.

Everything would have to break right for this team to make a run.

Play-off Bubble Team

The team, as currently constituted, has some issues but is strong enough in other areas to compensate. If the team can avoid the injury bug and/or long-term slumps from key players then they should be competitive most nights and right in the thick of it.

Throw in a career year from a key player and/or a rookie that blows the doors off and this team is in and may be making a run.

Play-off Probable

The team, as currently constituted, has few issues and a lot of strengths. Barring impairment caused by long-term injuries to, or unexplicable drops in performance from, key players or a total break-down in team chemistry this team will be 'in' the play-offs, not 'trying' to get in.

If a few things break right this team will be competing for a top-4 conference finish and can be considered a Cup contender.

Cup Contender

The team, as currently constituted, is a powerhouse that only total catastrophe can derail from a play-off berth. A solid team without any real weaknesses the roster will have players whose talent is undeniable, players whose performance is dependable, and players who know how to compete night after night. The team probably has a few players who have all three of those qualities.

These are strong teams that can survive the odd set-back quite easily and if players play like they should they will be in it to the end.


A GM who has an accurate gauge of the competitive standing of their team should have an advantage over the GM's who do not. I said 'should' because other factors may be in play; the most common being, of course, interference from higher management.


You will find this kind of talk in other posts of mine, in the recent past the most notable would be this one:

A Plan

So. That gives you a sense of my starting frame of reference as far as these sorts of things go.

What About 'Luck' Then?


1. Luck exists;

2. Luck exists on a micro level;

3. Luck exists on a macro level; and

4. Regardless of any mitigations undertaken, see also #1

So I think there is such a thing as luck. 'kay.

In terms of 'micro-level' I am talking about certain individual things that can be done, on a person by person basis, to mitigate the chance that bad things happen or increase the chance that good things happen.

i.e. an NHL-level shooter should be able to, fairly reliably, hit the net with a certain level of accuracy at a certain level of speed. Practicing a type of shot (wrist shot, slap shot, one timer, point shot, etc) should improve a players ability to maintain, and maybe even improve, their level of proficiency with that shot to an extent the 'un'lucky effects are minimized or eliminated in some cases.

In terms of 'macro-level' I am talking about all, or at least a large combination of all, the individual things that can be done, on a person by person basis, to mitigate the chance that bad things happen or good things happen.

i.e. not just practicing a shot but practicing many types of shots, practicing stick-handling and pass reception, studying goalie tendencies and increasing ice awareness, maintaining physical fitness levels and optimizing the mental and emotional approach to the game, etc.

And lest I haven't made the point clear enough before - sometimes 'luck' just 'happens'.

What Direction The Wind?

I also look at things in a reference or direction mode. Which is to say, when I add everything up do I (or 'you', or 'whomever' for that matter) need:

-- luck to work with me for me to succeed or
-- luck to work against for me NOT to succeed

Think about that for a second. If I am a NHL level shooter and I have:

-- maximized, to the best of my ability, every talent and skill I have; and
-- allowed for the talent of the opposing team to alter or block my shot

Then I know that I should be scoring some goals. If I am scoring less than I should then odds are good I am not getting lucky or I should review my mitigation efforts and if I am scoring more than I should then luck is with me.


If I am a NHL level shooter and I'm not practicing and doing all sorts of other good things then there comes a point in time where - just to maintain status quo - luck HAS to be working in my favor. Over time my ability to successfully do things, at a certain level of predictability, will decrease.

The Oilers

I would propose to you that the problem with the Oilers the last few years is that team management has, serially, constructed rosters that required luck to be working in their favor in order for the team to succeed:

- certain players HAD to stay healthy
- certain players could NOT have off years
- certain players HAD to improve their productivity a great deal (not just a bit)

And all that, obviously, hasn't happened.

Start To Put It Together

So, put it all together and you should, now, have an idea of what I think about the question of reload vs. rebuild.

It's all about competitive level and requirements for luck. Until the next post in this series, take care.


Have a great evening everyone.

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