When Edmonton Oilers blogger Tyler Dellow helped bring the infamous Colin Campbell email incident to light last season, one of the by-products of his research and effort was a discussion that scrutinized the evolving relationship between bloggers and the traditional media.
At the time, one of the most outspoken and critical of this relationship was the Toronto Star's Damien Cox. In a feature that ran on The Score, Cox had this to say (hat tip to Broad Street Hockey for the transcription):
"Part of what concerns me about what I see is that there's an irresponsibility and no consequences. "I can say whatever I want about anybody and I don't even have to put my name on it." I can't see how that's good."Odd. I'm sure many fans and bloggers will feel the same way when the PHWA ballots are cast and we're left puzzled; attempting to piece together who egregiously omitted someone from with his or her ballot. Since the PHWA does not publicize how each of its members has voted, we're at the whims of these individuals publicizing their ballots themselves.
With this anonymity, there is no responsibility for due diligence or wrath to be felt for some ill advised selections...
So without further ado, from the mind that brought you "Is Jose Bautista on steroids? Gotta at least ask the question..." and "Brian Burke should trade Phil Kessel" comes this genius:
Appreciate the talents of Erik Karlsson. But he comes after Dan Girardi on my Norris list. What a gritty, talented player the Ranger is. — Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) March 25, 2012
Never one to avoid rife controversy so long as it positively affects the number of pageviews that his column or blog gets, Cox revels in his pot-stirring role and the attention it creates.
By publicly acknowledging that he's going to place Girardi ahead of Karlsson on his ballot, Cox is certainly inviting some criticism. Hell, without actually stating that he has Girardi at the top of his ballot, who knows how the rest of his list unfolds. It's quite possible that he doesn't even have either player near the top of it.
Ironically, the joke of the matter is that Girardi's not even the best defenceman on his team; that distinction belongs to Ryan McDonagh.
While there is no question that Girardi is a first pairing defenceman -- his 26:24 in average ice-time per game leads the Rangers by almost a minute and a half -- his defensive partner, McDonagh, actually has a slightly higher Corsi Relative Quality of Competition. Despite a relatively large disparity in the average power play time per game -- McDonagh averages 39 seconds and Girardi averages 1 minute and 43 seconds -- McDonagh actually has more goals and points than Girardi. McDonagh also has the highest Relative Corsi amongst the Rangers' regular defencemen. Hell, even archaic dinosaurs like Cox should be ready to acknowledge that McDonagh's +/- is higher too.
Looking at Hockey Prospectus' goals versus threshold (GVT) rankings, Girardi's not even the second most valuable defenceman on the Rangers.
GVT is very similar to VORP in baseball: it is the value of a player, in goals, above what a replacement player would have contributed. The fact that GVT is measured in goals is crucial: statistics that divide up ‘Win Shares’, so that the ratings of a team’s players sum to that team’s number of wins, are very erratic and non-linear, since wins don’t increase or decrease linearly with team caliber. While hockey is ultimately about winning or losing, players’ contributions always come down to scoring goals and preventing them. A player cannot ‘win’ a game, even though he may be put in a situation where scoring a goal or making a key save would create or conserve a win. Each player's role, no matter his position, is to try and increase the goal differential in favor of his team. An offensive player who scores a hat trick only to see his teammates allow 4 goals against has nevertheless done his job; a goaltender who stops 39 of 40 shots only to lose 1-0 has likewise performed well. Using this standard, all players can be compared by the same yardstick: how much did they help (or harm) their team's goal differential?
In fact, looking at Prospectus' rankings, he's only the twenty-fourth most valuable defenceman in the NHL; trailing luminaries like Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Willie Mitchell, Ian White and Dennis Wideman. For what it's worth, Erik Karlsson's contributions have made him the highest ranked defenceman and the tenth most irreplaceable player in the league this season.
It's enough to make you wonder how closely Cox has been watching the Rags. I'm assuming what he has seen hasn't been recent.
|Pre All-Star Game||Post All-Star Game|
In fact, in many ways, Girardi's numbers are eerily reminiscent of his 2010/11 totals.
And guess how many Norris Trophy votes Girardi received last season?
Let's not forget to consider another strong candidate. October is part of the season too you guys.
"Personally, I think by a country mile he's the best defenceman in the league," Wilson said of Phaneuf. "It's not even close right now. His numbers show that - his plus-minus, we chart scoring chances and his numbers are off the chart there. I think he's comfortable in his own skin, he's comfortable being the captain and he's healthy."
@MelnyksHangovers Well played.
None of this Corsi/QUALCOMP or SLOPBOMP stuff matters to the media. If Karlsson wants to win he is going to have to sacrifice points for defensive play, help his team win some 2-1 or 3-2 hockey games and start grinding it out in the corners. No one in the MSM will support Karlsson until he becomes "Complete", in other words 30-50 points, SH time, PP time, blocked shots, a few hits etc etc
@SteveHL Maybe you're right. Visnovsky gained a lot of traction towards the end of the season for some of these metrics and I believe he finished 4th. Fortunately for Karlsson, he's almost gone wire-to-wire leading the scoring race for d-men.
I know arguing Cox's work is akin to arguing the troll writing obnoxious graffiti on the bathroom wall but:
I hate the word 'gritty' so much these days. It really seems to have become a short form for "Not a talented player, but I like him" or "not as talented as the player I am comparing him to, but I need a reason to put him over". Its an undefined, unquantifiable trait that, far too often, gets used to bash skill players who are skating around the grit players. What was once a legitimate descriptor of a style of play (physical, hard checking, willing to fight) is now no more than a lazy shorthand for crappy writers to say that they're going to ignore any factual basis for calling someone a good/bad player and just make up a reason.
"Never one to avoid rife controversy so long as it positively affects the number of pageviews that his column or blog gets, Cox revels in his pot-stirring role and the attention it creates"
You could have just stopped after that sentence. Cox is a complete joke. Acknowledging these ridiculous thoughts that even he doesn't believe is just pointless. You may as well start blogging about how Bob McCown is dating Cox's daughter, or how Kessel is the highest scoring winger to suffer from Down Syndrome in league history. It would be the equivalent of the horseshit that Cox puts out.
This article hearkens back to the ongoing discussion on twitter regarding Norris candidates. I am a Sens fan and I acknowledge the biases that come with that, but the only arguments that take facts and evidence into consideration are those that are made in favour of Karlsson. The arguments against Karlsson that are floating around the internet are based on only on unfounded presumptions and conjecture They are incredibly weak.
@fmblair Unfortunately, the hearsay and conjecture crowd are the often the ones who get a vote.
@slavitch @Nichols6thSens I agree with that point and add that sports journalists rarely challenge or otherwise question their own. First bloggers and now fans through social media have moved in to fill the void that journalists refused to occupy, and we're all better off for it. It has improved the quality of the debate (if only for those who are willing to be exposed to intelligent discussion) and revealed the Coxian style of journalism for what it is: braindead.