Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Umm, What?

"Dustin Brown and Patrick O'Sullivan progressed almost despite Crawford, not because of him. Anze Kopitar was brilliant as a rookie and seemed to plateau this season when opponents realized how good he is and tried to pound him into submission. The defense was a mess and Crawford's relentless rebukes of Johnson, among others, only made things worse."

-Helene Elliot, LA Times

That seems a little harsh. Say what you want about Crawford, but there's no denying that our young players (including Frolov) have gotten much better the last two seasons. I don't really think Crawford played a big part in that, but he did play a part. O'Sullivan especially seems to have completely changed his game and blossomed into a legitimate NHL player thanks to Crawford. Kopitar added 10 points to his point total and changed his game to counter the scouting reports of other teams. And what "relentless rebukes of Johnson?" Crawford never said anything in the press about him. If he was brutal to him in the locker room then a source needs to be acknowledged.

That's one thing that bothers me about reporters. They'll always say shit like this after a coach gets fired or a player gets traded. If you knew that Crawford had yelled at Johnson, you should tell your readers. That's your Goddamn job. Don't keep it quiet because you're worried about your access being restricted (which Elliot shouldn't have to worry about since she's been writing about other sports all year) and then kill the coach with innuendo after he's gone. It's unfair to Crawford and to the public. And just implying something like that without even giving it a source seems cowardly to me. It's something I could do and I have no access whatsoever. Since Rich Hammond has not made any mention of an abuse of Johnson, and since I ultimately think this season was a very important one in Johnson's development, I'm inclined to not believe it. Crawford wasn't a good coach for the Kings, but to criticize him for the one thing he did well kind of sucks.


Alexander Dubcek said...

Here's my take on the Crawford firing, and I think it jives with what Dean Lombardi told Rich Hammond.

I watched almost every Kings game on Center Ice in 2006-07, and actually got to attend one game in person during the week I was back in California. What impressed me from the first half of the season or so was the way the Kings seemed to play hard and be competitive every night, even if the results weren't there most nights, and it impressed because I knew at the outset of the season that the roster wasn't that great and there would be a lot of losing. I credited Crawford with motivating his players or somehow coaxing that effort out of them to be competitive with less.

I got to watch a lot of games I TiVo'd, but not nearly so many, this past season, a year where my expectations were higher going in, though not too lofty. But by about halfway through the season (and especially after I came back from a vacation during the stretch in November-December when the Kings fell hopelessly out of contention), I increasingly found it harder and harder to bring myself to sit through the game the TiVo had recorded the previous night, since I knew most of the time it'd be unwatchable since the Kings were playing so poorly. I started cheating by looking at the final score to determine whether it was worth two and a half hours of my time, or if I should just delete it without watching. And more often than not, I didn't watch.

Some of that, no doubt, can be attributed to the personnel, the thinning of the blue line corps at the deadline, and the gross underachieving of several individuals. But I think a lot of that falls on the coach, and that's what seemed to bother Lombardi a lot. Crawford was getting his players to play hard in 06-07, not so much in 07-08. (Or maybe it was because they ditched the "play hard" slogan before last season?)

The timing of the firing also tells me that Lombardi is not really keen on the seasoned coaches running through the rumor mills, guys like Tortorella, Quenneville, etc., because I think if Lombardi had one of those guys in mind, he would've moved sooner. And the fact that his comments to Rich Hammond suggested he's willing to let the search stretch to the development camp next month, well, that tells me he's probably not concerned about trying to snatch up one of those hot targets before Ottawa, Florida, etc. (Although the Ottawa Sun says the Sens are trying to get a deal done with junior coach Peter DeBoer to avoid a bidding war with L.A. and Florida, for what that's worth.)

I think, too, that Lombardi's comment that the team is going much younger next year, with a lot of the guys from Manchester getting a chance in L.A., makes me think he's more inclined to go with someone who's been coaching in the junior or minor-league ranks this year, since presumably that kind of coach would be more attuned currently to developing prospects.

I expect the search to be deliberate, taking several weeks, and wouldn't be at all surprised if Lombardi ends up hiring a coach not on anyone's radar at the moment, because I can see his anal-retentive side and history of defying pundits' conventional wisdom leading him to look far and wide to find the guy he really thinks fits the bill best.

RudyKelly said...

Good stuff, Alex. I'd only add that the Kings played harder in '06-07 because they were in the playoff picture for longer, while last season they were out of it by the middle of December. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Lombardi hired someone we've never heard of to be our next coach, seeing as he went with the big name last time and it didn't work out.

Earl Sleek said...

Good piece, Rudy. I can't comment much on the Johnson/Crow relationship, but I imagine once Crawford got officially labeled as "scapegoat", blaming Crow for most anything is probably now kosher.

I'm surprised nobody's picked on Crawford for scheduling that silly London trip yet.

Nut said...

For fucks sake, I just hope whoever we get next isn't somehow attached to the worst goalie in the league who would then use his influence to sign him to the kings.

tamiflu said...

Elliot's commentary has almost always been idiotic. It's rare when she says something I agree with.

k.m.stiles said...

Alex, good points. It was really frustrating watching the guys play this season.

I haven't agreed with a lot of Helene's articles this past year. Especially the one where she basically said Frolov wasn't improving. What!? The guy was injured for most of the season and still managed to make a viable run for the scoring title on the team.

I, too, was taken aback by her comments about Jack because it always seemed like everyone in the organization praised him for being such a great defenseman in only his rookie season.

Earl Sleek said...

Elliot's commentary has almost always been idiotic. It's rare when she says something I agree with.

Well, that's good. I thought I was the only one who was regularly uninspired by Helene's stuff.

The thing is, she gets so much recognition from hockey writers across the states and Canada, yet for all that praise I can hardly stand to read her articles. It's tough to put my finger on what exactly she does wrong, but generally what I read rubs me the wrong way, if that makes any sense at all.

CalBarNone said...

I'd love to see her source before I read anymore of her nonsense.