October 22, 2009

John Buccigross is making it harder to like him

I'm a fan of the guy. A lot of that stems from the fact that, as a person who isn't attached to non-sports TV programming, I end up watching a lot of sports, and that involves a lot of Sportscenter, and that involves some amount of John Buccigross on a weekly basis, and I like him almost by default because I know that he's more of a hockey guy than the person he's co-anchoring with. In a similar vein that's how I can tolerate the expert analysis of Barnaby and Melrose; since I don't have NHL network, I'm just happy to see hockey being talked about on my TV, even if it's making me 25% dumber. (That reminds me -- at the TTD Secret Santa exchange this Christmas, jot me down for the NHL network. Now I know that wouldn't be a real traditional present and it would be difficult to wrap, but just remember that whoever I draw is getting -- that's right -- two free tickets to the gun show. Sorry to blow the surprise but I got a little excited.)

So anyway, after drinking a bottle of bleach and crushing a bear can over his sack, Bucci was running out of extreme stuff to do and he wrote a little thing about Datsyuk and Zetterberg being past their prime. Oh yes this happened.


"First of all, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberrg are no longer in their NHL prime. Datsyuk is 31 and Zetterberg is 29. Those are not "prime" ages to play a nine-month NHL season (training camp to the Cup finals).

We've noted in this space for years -- hockey is a young man's game. Maurice Richard was 23 when he scored 59 goals in 50 games during the 1944-45 season. Bobby Orr was 22 when he scored 120 points and flew through the air to win his first Stanley Cup in 1970. Wayne Gretzky was 21 when he went 92-120-212 in the 1981-82 regular season. Sidney Crosby was 21 this past June when he became the youngest NHL captain to raise the holy grail.

Younger players are more energetic, more durable, heal quicker and, most important, have heightened mental clarity because younger people think only of the present, which is the key to creativity and productivity. I'm not saying Datsyuk and Zetterberg are Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden and will never win another Stanley Cup. Just realize that players get injured more in their 30s and begin a downward arc in their production."

Good lord is that bat shit.

What is a "prime" to you? To me, it would be the time in an athlete's career that his mental and physical peak are at their highest and closest points. They've "put it all together". They are never going to be as good as they are during that time span.

Pavel Datsyuk didn't have his best season until this year, at the age of 30. He was nominated for an MVP while being the best defensive forward in hockey. When he's healthy and operating at the height of his powers, there's hardly a hole to speak of in his game, and in the opinion of one incredibly biased Wings fan he has no equal. He's the games premier stick-handler and a top flight passer; he can play center or wing and dominate everywhere on the ice, whether he has the puck or not; he can be physical, he's a workhorse and if he can get a gust of wind he can out-skate anybody in the league. And Buccigross wants to forget all of this after five injury-plagued games in October, and because Pav's not 22 years old. Reading this made me want to my dick in a car door.

Z's not exactly an old man either. 16 months ago he won the Conn Smythe trophy and played so well that a few people whispered that he might be the best player in the world. He's suffered his share of injuries, but age has little if anything to do with that, as he's seemingly always had something nagging him. Datsyuk has better pure talent but Hank has been the steady go-to guy when we need it the most, year after year. And what has he shown through the first two weeks that makes anyone think he's declining permanently? He's a PPG player through 7 games, and this is with a groin injury and having missed preseason time, and not to mention the fact that he's skated with #44 for the past few nights. He's only 29 years old and he's got a contract that lasts until he's in his mid 50's so I certainly hope he's not already on the downswing.

Perhaps Bucci doesn't take the mental aspect into it. Maybe he's only talking physically ... I mean, Ovechkin is never going to be as physically dominant as he is right now. Oh wait I forgot:

"Younger players ... most important, have heightened mental clarity because younger people think only of the present, which is the key to creativity and productivity."

What in the living fuck does this mean? Pav can't see the ice as well because he's 31? How about Marc Savard, or Joe Thornton, or the Sedins, or Shane Doan? Those guys aren't in their primes because they're 30 or older? Shit, Heatley's nearly a corpse at 28 and he's going to score 70 goals this year. You can look up literally dozens of guys who didn't start having their best years until their late 20's or even their early 30's. Bucci has broke ground on an entirely new dimension of absurd.


Animal Drew said...

I think a simple "f**k you, Buccigross" would have sufficed.

James said...


A little nitpick as far as Bucci's facts: Maurice Richard NEVER scored 59 goals in his career. 50 was his most, and any person knowledgeable about hockey should know that right off the bat - started the whole "50 goals in 50 games" thing with exactly 50 goals in exactly 50 games that season. I know, no big deal really, but it makes you wonder how many other stats he has been spouting off without really checking.

It also bothers me (REALLY bothers me) that everyone boils "hockey productivity" down to scoring points. Every one of his stats showed how player X and Y scored X many points, blah blah blah. This is 2009, we have a whole lot more methods to determine a player's productivity and USEFULNESS than simply points.

J.J. from Kansas said...

Crosby has missed more games in the last two seasons due to injury than Datsyuk and Zetterberg, Pavel's playoff injury just came at a much worse time.

I'll concede that being younger is more important to doing batshit crazy things to try to score goals, but when you can stick handle like Pavs or dig with speed like Hank, you don't have to do batshit things to be productive.

Actually, Bucci... just read this.


Natalie said...

Ugh, I get so sick of hearing this crap, too; the Red Wings are "old", blah, blah, blah. People said things of this ilk during the playoffs last year when Datsyuk didn't put up the highest numbers; however, when people actually watch the games, they see what Datsyuk and Zetterberg do on the ice that makes them invaluable to the team's productivity. I always chalk it up to the naysayer not actually watching hockey if they believe older players don't matter. Look at Nicklas Lidstrom, for crying out loud.

Maybe we need to get Gordie Howe to come out of retirement--again--just to kick this guy's ass.

Chris in Hockey Hell said...

"and if he can get a gust of wind he can out-skate anybody in the league."

This is the funniest damn thing I've read so far today.


Animal Drew said...

Just a head's up...I tried my hand at the Pointless Preview in "things we swear we didn't steal from the Triple Deke" over at NOHS. I think Chris from hockey hell will appreciate how I somehow managed to start talking about Nashville in a comparison of Detroit and Phoenix.

Oh and thank you for reminding me that Dany Heatley will YES score 70 goals this season.

Cameron Kittle said...

I almost thought about posting something similar after I read Bucci's mailbag this morning. He's always been one of my favorite hockey writers but these first few weeks, he's sounded more like Gary Bettman than the usual Bucci. Always glorifying those hapless Penguins and now speaking of the Wings' imminent demise. Anyone who thinks the Central still isn't Detroit's to lose is an idiot, Bucci included.

Chris in Hockey Hell said...

"I think Chris from hockey hell will appreciate how I somehow managed to start talking about Nashville in a comparison of Detroit and Phoenix."

Oh I will SO be there shortly.

Triple Deke Staff said...

It also bothers me (REALLY bothers me) that everyone boils "hockey productivity" down to scoring points.

Glad you brought this up. This is a sports debate that has always fascinated me-- trying to quantify player production beyond traditional statistics. There's nothing like first hand observation, but I'm also interested in anything that tries to go beyond that ... whether it's a good measurement is another story. The Puck Prospectus site that J.J. linked is a daily read for me, as are a half dozen others like it.

A compelling case to me would be Yzerman. Insane offensive numbers up until around 1993 (by the way, '93 was such a bizarre statistical year, it's worth it to just skim the Hockey-reference.com pages from that season team-by-team), but as we all know he turned into a "complete player" and all that stuff and then the Dynasty years began. But would you say his prime was around the time he scored 65 goals or later when he was one of the best defensive forwards in the league?

- Tyler

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right about Yzerman, Tyler. That is what frustrates me when people start quoting stats and such. The game is so much more than stats. That is why I would never win at Fantasy League Hockey. Marginal players with lots of heart never add up to a lot of wins in Fantasy hockey - they can and do win real hockey games.


Animal Drew said...

I wouldn't mind seeing a Fenwick and Corsi analysis of Gretzky and Yzerman pre 25+ years and post 25+ years. I'm sure, as always, that sabermetrics will show us the light...


I think such an analysis will prove that Buccigross is not an elite hockey mind.

Triple Deke Staff said...

I (sincerely) wouldn't mind either. But not to determine who the better player was.

So how did you get that Cup logo next to your url at NOHS? I'm too lazy to see for myself, and the temp here at the Blogger office is busy trying to dig me up HTT's old website.

- Tyler

J.J. from Kansas said...

Bucci is just mad because only the baseball guys over at ESPN get in on the ugly 22 year old production assistant action that's going on in Bristol.

Baroque said...

If the only thing required to have enhanced creativity was youth, then the best artists and musicians would always be young kids and their talent would deterioriate as they got older, instead of being richer for the experience gained - so that is total freaking bullshit.

And anyone who has ever attempted to grade freshman research papers and first had to figure out if it was actually writted in English or some dialect of Klingon until their head started to ache and the only possible course of action was to put a big red "X" across the entire page and scrawl "see me" in the margin will tell you that if youth is equivalent to enhanced mental ability, the entire species is f***ed beyond all hope of redemption.

I never liked Buccigross all that much anyway - he seemed so phony. Now I like him even less.

Anonymous said...

Aren't 29 and 31 prime numbers?