TORONTO, CANADA- JANUARY 5: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in the warm-up prior to a game against the Winnipeg Jets on January 5, 2012 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
I have often wondered why Ottawa media members seem to have an axe to grind when it comes to the Maple Leafs. Is it because Eugene Melnyk promised the first batch of his new orgasm nasal spray to their wives? Could it be that the Leafs have beaten the Sens not once, not twice, not thrice, but all four times they've met in the playoffs? Were they all rejected by the bigger, better funded papers in Toronto? Does it really matter? No.
Does the 2012 NHL All-Star Game matter? Nowhere but Ottawa (I hear they're also crazy about NE Division titles). Just don't tell Tim Baines that, who wrote a laugher of an article in yesterday's Ottawa Sun about Toronto fans being unable to vote in Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul to the first six All-Stars.
I wanted to break down a few bits of this piece to show just how clueless Mr. Baines truly is.
And before Leafs fans cry blue into their Corn Flakes, the biggest joke is that Dion Phaneuf was included — 11,306 more votes and he was outta there in favour of a fifth Senator — the rejuvenated Sergei Gonchar.
Phaneuf isn’t among the Top 10 blueliners in the league. Really, is he better than any of Shea Weber, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Suter, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Nicklas Lidstrom, Erik Karlsson, Keith Yandle, or Kris Letang? And you could also make a case for Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell, Michael Del Zotto and Alex Edler.
Listen, I know math can be difficult for certain journalists, so Gabe Desjardin's wonderful Behind the Net site probably isn't for them. That said, do we see a pattern in the list above? Why, those are all defensemen who put up big offensive numbers! If you're trying to justify putting Erik Karlsson among the leagues top defensemen, or heaven help Mr. Baines, stick the word "rejuvenated" next to Sergei Ginchar, this list would be a great list. But are most of those names among the NHL's top defenders? Suter, Weber, Chara, Keith, Lidstrom for sure. They pass the eye test and their underlying possession and competition stats back up their placement here. Byfuglien? Maybe some day, but he's not even the best defender on his team. That would be Tobias Enstrom, who plays more difficult opposition and has held opponents to a measly 23 SA per 60 minutes.
Karlsson? He plays the least amount of shorthanded time per game amongst the Sens defenders. He also does not play regularly against the opposing team's best forwards, and he starts close to 60% of the time in the offensive zone. When it comes to defense, Karlsson isn't really asked to do much. He's a one trick pony. There isn't one defensive metric that suggests he's a top 10 defenseman. Ditto for Letang, Yandle, Edler, Del Zotto (Del Zotto isn't even one of the three best defenders on the Rangers), and Campbell. Dan Boyle is the only other one on this list that probably deserves mention.
Phaneuf, on the other hand, actually can play some D. Here's the skinny: Plays tough minutes? Check. Moves the puck in the positive direction? Check. Limits Shots Against? Check. Contributes offensively? I think 6th in the NHL is pretty good, so check there as well. Maybe Dion Phaneuf isn't a top 10 defenseman. But half the guys Baines listed above are certainly not top 10 players (unless we're just completely ignoring defense, which seems to be the Ottawa way to do things. Just ask Craig Anderson).
What else is there? Oh yeah...
A solid argument can be made for all four of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Karlsson to be in the all-star extravaganza....Kessel belongs, maybe Joffrey Lupul, too. And Toronto fans had a chance to get them in. But they blew it.
Right, Alfredsson who is 68th is scoring has a solid argument, but Joffrey Lupul is a maybe. HAHAHAHA. Does anybody on Earth think both Kessel and Lupul aren't going to the All-Star Game? The Leafs that deserve to be there will be there. No one really cares if they were voted in by the fans.
I feel bad having to explain this to you Mr. Baines (I know you'll read this), but the whole point of Project Mayhem was to get Sens fans and the Ottawa media into a tizzy. We were able to get not one, but two articles written in your paper about our silly idea. Thanks for taking the bait.