Sunday, October 27, 2019

Nicolas Petan Jersey Card

There is a tendency in sports reporting that I don't like and is being normalized these days, which is to attack someone (or a group of people) at the bottom of the food chain to send a message to the entity or entities up top, and the worst of the worst - as always - comes from the Toronto media.

Not only do they concentrate on their own team too much, they also over-emphasize the importance of the Toronto Maple Leafs (far from the most storied franchise in the league, in fact more like the team with the most and longest sequences of irrelevance), but they live in a bubble where they keep repeating the same message over and over where it actually becomes a narrative and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Too cryptic?

Think of last summer's narrative: The overpaid John Tavares and Auston Matthews inspired Mitch Marner to force the Leafs to hand him the same type of overpaid contract, but with the overpaid William Nylander in the mix, they won't have enough money to match the high-powered offense with a top-notch defense, and they will lack depth.


On the other hand, teams with great defence (the Nashville Predators come to mind) rarely can afford 50-goal scorers and 100-point forwards (except maybe the Calgary Flames). Case in point: the Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins.

But I digress. I was talking about the bubble: TSN (half-owners of the team) talks about the lack of depth, Sportsnet (half owners of the team and sole owners of the national TV rights) talks about a lack of depth; the Globe And Mail and sports radio talks about a lack of depth and hints at a general lack of talent; the National Post says it's the most disappointing Leafs team of the past 20 years; TSN gets more critical, Sportsnet gets more critical, Hockey Night In Canada points to why they're in a critical situation, sports radio wants GM Kyle Dubas' head while Sportsnet asks for head coach Mike Babcock's - the same Babcock they were so adamant was the exact person the team needed when they signed him - now that his patience and rebuild process and plan has come to fruition, and TSN Radio goes and says the team has "no talent".

They're not wrong on the initial, original premise: Tavares was overpaid to be convinced to leave the New York Islanders in the midst of his prime at age 28 because he was eventually going to represent a reasonable portion of the salary cap when the young guns also reach their prime; Matthews and Marner - at least a couple of years away from their prime - are already getting paid for what they'll be expected to provide when they're 25 and 26 years old; Nylander should never have been given that money, he'll likely never be worth it; there is less money left to hire 19 other players at a value that most pother teams will be spending on 19 players.

All true.

But some players accepted to play for their hometown team at a rebate - Jason Spezza, for instance, taking a 90% pay cut to join a contending club and provide leadership. Sure, he's far removed from his prime, but for what he can provide (he's coming off two straight 8-goal, 26-and 27-point seasons, so it'd be reasonable to expect 5-7 goals and 22-25 points on his part with favourable matchups), but you'd have to think the Montréal Canadiens or Ottawa Senators would have paid double for what he brings, to provide their young players with a lifetime's worth of experience from top-rated prospect to second-liner to first-liner to centre of the best line in the NHL to captain to depth piece to checking centre. Contracts like his enable so0me extravagance in other areas.

What I don't like is how it spirals into "no talent" territory.

1: Fuck You. 2: What?

Spezza is a 1000-game veteran with over 900 points; Jake Muzzin is an Olympic gold medal winner with Team Canada; Alex Kerfoot will make more mistakes than your usual third-line centre, but he'll chip in for 40-50 points, 20% more than is expected from his position; Dmytro Timashov is 23, in his first NHL season, and was a two-point-per-game player in the LHJMQ; that "no good" Cody Ceci is a +6; Frédérik Gauthier is a former first-rounder who was always groomed to be a fourth-liner for this team, so I don't know what else people were expecting; Michael Hutchinson is in his fourth organization and third NHL team (he never played for the Boston Bruins but had a short stint with the Florida Panthers and played with the Winnipeg Jets in parts of five seasons), meaning three teams so far have seen him as a better option than their own current #3 goalies; Rasmus Sandin, just 19 years old, former first-rounder; Nick Shore, veteran of nearly 250 NHL games.

These aren't your beer league retirees or ECHL-caliber youngsters, these are ten of 700 players who will play in the best league in the world this year, possibly among the 1000 best at what they do on the planet. I know for a fact that no one in the National Post is among the top 1000 at what they do.

Which brings me to Nicolas Petan, former second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets (43rd overall in 2013), acquired by the Leafs at last year's trade deadline and extended for two seasons near the league minimum who was quickly recalled early in the month. He has an assist in 4 games so far, which projects to 20 points over a full season while playing under 10 minutes per, but he was a point-per-game player in the AHL (52 points in 52 games) with the Manitoba Moose in 2017-18.

He has talent, he has guts, but Babcock won't play him because he's 5'9" despite his 180 pounds. But he's there waiting for his chance, like Martin St-Louis, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, David Desharnais and Paul Byron before him.

Journalists and pundits need to chill out and realize we're just 13 games in - time to reflect, time to prepare for the 20-game/quarter-season look back, but no time to panic or ask for heads to roll, especially those who have no stake in it.

Here is Petan wearingt the Jets' white (away) uniform, on the bronze insert version of card #150 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 SP Game-Used Edition collection and Authentic Rookies sub-set:
It features a dark blue event-worn jersey swatch and is numbered 241/399.

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