February 3, 2010
Don't take this the wrong way, but it's time you and I sat down and had a little talk. You see, there's no denying the amount of success you've had, both as a player and a coach. Especially this year, I'd like to believe you have had as much to do with our success as anyone else on this team. But now that the team has hit a little bit of a slump, so too has your coaching. Allow me to outline for you a few things someone with as much knowledge as you have should already have done.
I don't know how I can be any clearer about this, but let's try. THIS. PAIRING. DOES. NOT. WORK. There's a very good reason why people like myself give Mottau so much flack. His play deserves it, and I would say about 90% of the time, he's paired with White when these things happen. But, when you have split the two of them up, the play of each improves. The turnovers go down, the mistakes that lead to goals go down, and you follow that up with putting them back together?? No.
2. There are certain times when changing around the lines just because you feel like it is a really stupid idea.
Case in point, Parise-Zajac-Zubrus. In case you haven't noticed, we're not scoring right now. I know, crazy, right? So forgive me for thinking it just makes sense to keep together the only set of 3 players actually creating scoring chances right now. Because I don't know if you've watched the tapes, but the second you put Langenbrunner back there and move Zubrus down, the scoring chances stop. I thought for sure by the 5th or 6th time you saw this it might start to click...how foolish of me. So Rob Niedermayer is tired, you say? That's why you feel the need to split them up? That's funny, because he wouldn't be if he wasn't getting more ice time than any of our top scorers. Yes, let's double-shift Rob Niedermayer and Jay Pandolfo...that'll solve our scoring problems!
3. How do you honestly expect Niclas Bergfors to break out of his slump when you barely play him?
I expected something like this from a Sutter, but not from a smart guy like yourself. He's not improving because he's barely playing, and when he does play, he's playing with guys like Rod Pelley. I really hope you're not expecting him to produce with players like that for linemates. Call me crazy, but if you put him on the 2nd scoring line, where he had success and was playing with players who don't have cement blocks for hands, I'd be willing to bet he'll pull out of the slump. But you have to give him the chance to do it.
4. Is Mark Fraser only being paid to play two periods?
Okay, this goes a long with #1 a little bit. When it comes down to crunch time, you choose my "favorite" defense pairing to keep out there the whole time, and very often we get burned. And really, this happens every game. I'm starting to wonder if you're doing it just to make the end of the game a little more interesting and not so conclusive. Would Mark Fraser be any better in those situations? I don't know and you don't either, because you've never even tried it. I think you might be surprised at how well he can handle pressure. Hell, he's already a better player than Mottau in every possible way, AND 8 years younger!
5. Yann Danis needs to play more.
Rest helps everyone, even those who aren't "tired." There's no reason Marty had to start all those games. I'm sure he isn't tired, but playing Danis more helps both of them. Danis won't be rusty and give up stinkers, and Marty will be even less "tired" than he says he is now! Danis wasn't 3-0 for nothing, and wasn't even that bad against Toronto. And all that after not having started a game since before Thanksgiving? Something tells me both would seriously benefit from a LITTLE bit more of a balance. Marty is the greatest of all time among many other things, but he's not the coach. There's only one person who should decide whether or not he starts, and it seems sometimes like it isn't you. Or maybe it is...and if so, this is a problem.
Well, I hope you read all that, and if nothing else found it an entertaining read. I'm not claiming for a single second to know more than you do, but in these specific cases I truly feel that I'm right. Don't take all this the wrong way; the team will break out of this slump eventually, and hopefully around April we can both look back on this and laugh.
The Jersey Devil