Damien Cox Pretty Much Knows Zilch About Developing Hockey Players

Damien Cox is stunned that anyone would not have shown patience with Nazem Kadri especially that jerk that wanted to give up on him in December of 2011...Damien Cox.

Regular readers of the site probably remember that in 2009 Chemmy, SkinnyFish, Archimedies, Eyebleaf, Furcifer, and others travelled to Montreal for the NHL Entry Draft. The weekend resulted in Skinny and I meeting Phil The Stanley Cup Guy (he boozed HARD) and a pretty good photo diary of the weekend (warning: serious fat face) and a run-in with a hilariously drunk guy on the street. We also got tickets to the entry draft and I was credentialed by the NHL as a mittenstringer so I went under cover to see just what went on at these things.

Turns out, that it's not much. The people in the crowd hooting and hollering had a lot more fun than I did probably although it was neat to watch small market team's picks be spoken to by one or two journos while the Leafs' picks were swamped. The abiding memory of the scrums is that Tony Ambrogio (nice guy) is really small and Mike Zeisberger (also seemed nice) is really tall. But what really stuck out happened after Kadri was picked and we were all waiting for him to be herded towards us: I found myself standing beside Damien Cox.

While I don't like Cox, I also didn't want to make a scene/hassle people at their real job so I asked "what do you think of the pick?" thinking I might see what Cox thought about Kadri. The response? "I don't know, I've never seen him play." Now, that probably seems a little strange considering that Kadri was in the ballpark of picks that the Leafs might make. But it was even worse when you consider that Kadri played the entire season period after the trade deadline including the playoffs and the build up to the draft with Burke's proclamations alongside the number one pick in the draft, John Tavares, and that Damien Cox is paid to write about hockey. In case you had forgotten, John Tavares was a pretty big deal in the 2008-09 season. Needless to say, I was stunned.

Anyway, I've always wanted to share that anecdote but it dovetails nicely into one of tonight's tweet from Cox:

Obviously, a careful reading of Damien Cox's back catalogue will show that he has often advocated for patience with Kadri. However, there was one really glaring example of him being ready to throw in the towel on the Leafs' 2009 draft pick:

If the Leafs do that and Kadri still can't cut it, well, then it may be decision time. He's got another season on his entry-level deal but it's hard to imagine that if he flunks this audition it's ever going to happen for him with the Leafs.

While Cox has on occasion advocated patience and a belief that Kadri would make the NHL, he's also continually set these kinds of deadlines for Kadri and other prospects to crack the Leafs' roster without ever really showing an understanding of development curves. I mean, it's not like there were any signposts showing that Kadri was on the right track:

Nazem Kadri's Rookie Season Comparables
How did Kadri's first year compare to his peers?

Nazem Kadri is a Bust... Or is He?
How does Nazem Kadri compare to other first rounders that were drafted by or started their careers under Brian Burke.

Bust Prospects: Waiting For Nazem
Comparing Nazem Kadri and Brayden Schenn

Nazem Kadri's "Struggles", Brayden Schenn "Excels"
Once more with gusto

That's a lot of research into draft comparables done by amateurs to show how Kadri's development has compared historically or to his peers. How's that comparison look so far this year?

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG Drafted SOG PCT
2012 - Nazem Kadri 22 8 13 21 11 11 4 0 0 7th - 2009 47 17%

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG Drafted SOG PCT
2012 - Brayden Schenn 21 6 12 18 4 9 2 0 0 5th - 2009 35 17%

Hey, that's not too bad! I guess you would say that anyone that didn't have patience with Kadri pretty much knows zilch about developing hockey players. Wouldn't you agree Damo?

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