Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Open Chat...

Yesterday was an Open Letter, today, is about an Open Chat. I went to the Season Ticket Holder Morning Skate and Q&A with Scott Howson.

The morning skate was just that...with free coffee and hot Chocolate (thank you Tim Hortons!). And after stalking #DD via my camera phone, it was time to move to the Q&A. Scott Howson started off by saying he welcomed any question and he knew he'd be facing the tought ones (which he "is asking himself every day")-and there were some snipes for sure-as many feel are justified right now. I wanted to share some salient points from the time we spent with Scott Howson...

  • GMSH started with a review of what was already trickling out - Carter will play, Dex is hurt (MRI this morning) and Kris Russell went to St. Louis
  • Scott spoke at length about the Russell trade. It actually was done before the game but he didn't want it announced prior, (and is still amazed it got out on Twitter). Kris was aware something was going on, and was obviously upset to be traded. Scott also spoke to Kris' character and dedication to this team and that he will be missed (Dannie sobbed quitely next to me...well not really but almost.)
  • In response to the need for more senior advisors, "we are moving down the path of hiring more senior people to advise this team"
  • In response to the Hitch question he flat out said "Hitch was not interested in coaching here....and his time here had passed".
  • In response to the Letestu trade: we can never have enough centers, and while not a precursor to any trade, GMSH hinted that we certainly don't have to worry about the position of center should we be making moves with others.
  • GMSH does still believe that Mason can be (note "Can") a good goalie but when pressed if he was thinking about another goalie perhaps a seasoned guy to mentor Mase for a bit (and yes the guy said "Nabokov") GMSH replied, with a smirk (the only of the day) "Every minute".
  • Realignment is still very much a topic. The GM meeting is upcoming, and while we still would petition to go to the east, it seems most are in favor of the "4 division" plan particularly as it eliminates at least two big west coast trips for us each year
  • GMSH said in hindsight, he felt he misjudged our D. He hoped to get at least 60 games from Martinek and felt that Savard and others would be more ready to step up
  • He also talked about Jan Hejda's non-signing (in response to an either very devastated or very nervous fan) and said the money just wasn't there as some was shifted to getting Wiz. He misses Jan and is glad he got what he got.
  • JOHAN: Scott said (as he did numerous times) that lineup decisions are the purview  of the coaching staff, and he would love to see RyJo playing every single night, but knows that he will have some games off where he will take the necessary time to adapt to the NHL game. (he also made a reference to the movie "Moneyball" and that if RyJo doesn't play for 10 straight games he might make trades to show Arniel his was a joke...but...)
  • Cam! (Yes, I asked this question!) Cam had issues of confidence after being sent down to Springfield the first time after making the team, but Scott has spoken with him and wants him to develop more in the AHL and to expect that he will be going back and forth between the clubs for a while. He also admitted that they do NOT want the young young guys around the crisis of confidence that is going on (OMG I hypothesized that a while back...I got something right!). But he spoke of Cam's undeniable skill and that two games ago in Springfield, when Howson was there that Cam was the best player on the ice - not on the team - on the ice.
  • The "Why Nash wears the C" question was asked. And the answer is that three years ago, Nash made a commitment to this team and the team made a commitment to him. And that includes wearing the "C". GMSH spoke to the fact that Nash feels the frustration more than anyone, and has the "weight of the world" on his shoulders. He believes Nash is an elite player and there is no question he is our captain.
  • Of course the "why is Arniel still coach?" question was raised. GMSH straight out said "we are not looking to make a coaching change".
  • In perhaps his most honest moments, Scott spoke to the attitude of the team. He spoke to the fact that Prospal's comments carried great weight in the organization and that this is a topic of strong conversation with the coaching staff. He knows this team has issues of confidence, fight and determination right now that must be fixed. His words were "mental weakness". 
  • He also, in response to the question "why should we have faith in YOU?" and "Can you give us any hope?" said he knows this feeling and understands. and that he is asking that of the players right now - what are we doing to give hope to this team's fans.
Now, I have tried to present the content as objectively as I can. If you'll allow me a bit of commentary.

In reflection, regardless of your opinion of Scott Howson, I would like to say that he deserves respect for sitting in that room taking the questions he did for over an hour. He knows we're in bad shape. And, I would NOT want to have to answer to a large group of people who don't do a job like mine about why all my work has resulted in suckitude thus far. Scott answered every single question and looked every single person in the eye as he addressed their issue. As a crowd, the fans asked the same things many of us have asked and debated, and sometimes not too nicely. To remain composed and own up to what is going on right now, well in that, Scott Howson deserved my applause and thanks for showing up. 

That aside, the session crystallized for me my conflicting emotions so far this season. For this team, we are facing an issue of performance and an issue of character. I just spoke to the issue of character. Again, regardless of performance, Scott Howson faced up to his critics today in a mature, fair and very open manner when he didn't always get that in return. Also, in his sharing the back story to the Russell trade, he shared how devastated Russell was and how much he loved this team. Character. 

That leaves us with performance. Scott admitted to the fact that trading now is better than trading later, because it costs less to get what we need, but that teams are less likely to be willing to bargain since everyone still has high hopes and plans...(well except us? :( )  We have now officially acknowledged the issue of "mental toughness" but, with the talent we believe we have on the ice, I do have to say, its turning to coaching more and more. I have stayed completely away from the judgment of Arniel thus far. I have not felt informed enough to truly evaluate that. But, given Howson's statements of what is and is not his responsibility and what is and is not Arniel's, I have to wonder if Howson does in fact share many of opinions that Arniel is not right for this team. And I cringe even writing that, because, again, these are real people facing real challenges and I want to be clear that Howson stated that they are not looking to make a coaching change (of course what else would he say?)

The point was made vividly clear: the job of a GM is not the job of a coach and the job of a coach is not the job of a GM. It would seem that Howson did his job fairly well this year...and now it falls to coaching. And character....can our players rise to the occasion even if their leadership isn't all it can be.

Some in that room supported Howson, some did not. Right now, you can put me in the catagory of the former.

Oh and dang it Matt! You beat me to the punch!!! I'm sure you'll find better analysis over at the Cannon! :)

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about better. :) Multiple points of view is a good thing!