Surprise, Surprise

I really don’t know what’s worse, people that are surprised and criticize young highly touted players when they perceive them to be struggling, or praise them and say that they aren’t surprised when they start to perform or have success at the next level.

Either way their “flip flop” analysis is getting rather dated don’t you think?

Far too often the stat sheet or analytics become involved when young skilled players struggle.

Analytics or optics?

Actually superficial observations and analysis will tend to lean towards both.

Every player coming up through the ranks require something that only savvy coaches and hockey minds understand and that’s time.

Unfortunately, with so much added pressure from within and outside sources young talented players feel the weight of the world to contribute, which in many ways drastically effects their confidence.

I wonder if those critics or shall I say experts know anything about confidence?

Obviously, contributing means points right? That’s the only thing people are concerned about these days are points.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in almost five years in the scouting world, I have looked at the scoring races of Midget leagues perhaps once maybe twice. That’s just the numbers, projecting talent is a hell of a lot more than that.

I don’t give a rats ass about the score sheet or point totals. When players play to their identity they will ultimately have success and that takes time.

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Time is the one thing that some hockey crazed fans, critics and analytical types don’t care about.

“Slow start”, “below average percentages,” “subpar output.”

I don’t know all the buzz words, all I know is what I see and observe.

For example, everyone was critical of Alexis Lafrenière’s “slow start”, but were they really watching?

Were they watching his thought processing, decision making, compete level on lose pucks, how he handled the puck in traffic, his adaptive speed variants, routes to pucks, shot processing and visual acuity?

Oh wait they were probably all looking at the stat sheet saying, “oh well that’s surprising, Lafrenière’s struggling.”

He wasn’t struggling he was adapting, and let me tell you there’s a massive difference between those two aspects of the game.

The examples are endless really across every sport, but when it comes to hockey time, tested and true observations and assessments will always prevail.

Take for instance, there are some people that have been very critical of Noah Dobson’s developmental curve at the NHL level.

Obviously, the Isles have taken their time with Dobson which in some cases has been frustrating to say the least, because all signs pointed to him being ready to handle the increased work load a lot earlier in the process. Nevertheless, when should teams and coaches evaluate young defenders progression?

You see that takes time.

It takes time for young defencemen to grow and blossom at the NHL level.

You just can’t snap your fingers and be ready to jump in and contribute in all facets of the game.

Anyone that understands the game understands that, but yet when it comes to the Pee Wee, Bantam or Midget levels we don’t give players the time they need, now just let that sink in for a little while.

As for Dobson, he’s playing phenomenal hockey right now and is starting to “contribute” in all aspects of the game.

Are you surprised? Does that surprise you, cripes almighty, I really can’t handle “flip flop” analysis, it’s called development and progression and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Does your superficial analysis reveal work ethic, compete level, drive and desire?

You can’t rush the process. You can’t hit the fast forward button.

In the era of notifications and instant justification, sometimes we have to hit the pause button to readily assess the player and the person.

You can’t rush development, you can’t have a cookie cutter mentality, or approach, you can’t put a certain “games mark” where the light bulb will go off. It takes time, it takes patience and above all it shouldn’t be surprising that every player is different and will adapt at different rates.

“Oh I always knew that Player A would have success,” bull shit, that’s the same player you were criticizing last week.

Stop relying on the stat sheet to tell you what a young talented player should or shouldn’t do. Go deeper, drill down on a player, oh wait maybe you can’t, maybe you don’t know what to look for, maybe your analytics won’t tell you what you really need to know.

Surprise, surprise maybe your “flip flop” analysis’s, assessments and projections are starting to reveal your true depth of the game.

I guess it all takes time doesn’t it.

Surprise, surprise.

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