Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bryan McCabe: spring bud or dud?

Is it my birthday already?

(speaking of which, I didn't realize I knew so many Pisces: my uncle's birthday was yesterday, my buddy Jake's was last weekend, today is my Spanish friend Esther's, tomorrow is my lovely friend Astrid's, Saturday's is my old friend Andrew's, Sunday is my charming friend Gina's...oh, yeah, and then there's my sister's on the Ides of March (...Beware the Ides of March? Julius Caesar? Shakespeare? Read a book!!). And more I'm sure later in the month, but I don't have my calendar in front of me.)

In today's Toronto Star (sorry I keep referring to articles there as registration is required, but it's a simple process and worth it for the news convenience) there is an article that suggests Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe could be on the move if contract talks don't get resolved soon.

Look, I used to really like McCabe. I thought he was a pretty good pick up at the time, but his play has really started to tank this season.

What's that you say? I'm crazy? He's scoring more goals than ever and is a leading candidate for the Norris Trophy?

Anyone who thinks McCabe is having a great year has never played defence. Let's look at the stats, shall we?

With a couple dozen games to go in the season, McCabe has already recorded the highest number of points in his career. Way to go. Can I have your autograph?

But wait. What's this little stat over here in the corner? +/-? What's that?

I'll tell you what that is: that's the most important stat in hockey. Forget goals, forget assists, forget penalty minutes. +/- refers to the ratio of goals you're on the ice for versus goals you are on the ice against. This is the one hockey stat defencemen should take the greatest pride in. McCabe has been all over the map during his career in terms of +/-, going from an atrocious -24 in his rookie year to as high as a very respectable +22 last year.

What's he at this banner year? The year he's racking up all these points? The year he is being mentioned as a candidate for defenceman of the year?


Thats' right: he has been on for the exact same number of goals for as against. Which means, that as a defenceman, he's no better than a wash. A team is as likely to win with him as without him. It also means that while he's busy scoring at the other end, he's neglecting his defensive zone responsibilities (and taking a ton of penalties). Did you see the highlights (I use that term loosely) of the game against Washington the other night? In just about every clip where you saw a Capital celebrating a goal, you could see McCabe in the background.

Now I don't want to rip on McCabe too much. He's a good player, I just think he's overrated and if the Leafs even think of giving him a contract in the $5M range, it just proves GM John Ferguson is a moron. McCabe plays on a team where the leading +/- player is, get this, Kyle Wellwood (+6).

Who are the Leafs with the worst +/- ratings? No surprises here: Jeff O'Neill (-19), Jason Allison (-11) and Wade Belak (-11). Right now, Mats Sundin is at -2 and Darcy Tucker at -6.

No wonder the Leafs are falling.

If I had to pay McCabe $5M/year I'd not only trade him, I'd pack his bags and drive him to the airport.

Let the other teams be the suckers. We've sucked long enough.

When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, 'But what's my motivation?, ' I say, 'Your salary.'
-Alfred Hitchcock

1 comment:

Ken Breadner said...

Thanks for rollin' on in.
You know what's REALLY scary? McCabe's +/- is higher than that of any other defenseman on the team, with the exception of Jay Harrison...who has only played eight games. Great for Jay Harrison--the kid impressed me while he was up--but yeesh, that's one bad defense corps.