I described in other fan posts why I’m convinced that coach Maurice cannot be right for this franchise no matter what happens in the short term. So the first part of my solution is to replace coach Maurice with someone who is willing to play and nurture our prospects, whoever that may be. And to use the prospects to generate the kind of youthful enthusiasm we sometimes see that can turn around a team that has clearly melted down.
I have been an advocate of platooning players for a long time, even though this doesn’t seem to be done in the NHL because it’s not “macho”. So I would ask Jeff Daniels what his best line would be (including Dalpe and Boychuk as possibilities). Not the best three players but the three who worked most effectively together. And I would bring that line to Raleigh and I would play them at least 15 minutes a game for the next 10 games, but I would tell them that in one of those games they would all sit or go back to Charlotte. I would tell them that barring injury they were going to play at least 15 minutes in at least nine games. This would give them the opportunity to relax and play their game instead of worrying that one mistake would put them on the bench.
Then for the 10 games following that I would bring up another full line and play them together at least eight of those games for at least 15 minutes. And I would tell everyone that was going to happen. Which of the first three stay up and play, which go down, depends on how well they played. And of course we can send them up and down platooning as we go.
The key to this scheme is that everybody knows where they’re coming from and doesn’t have to worry about one or a few incidents of screwing up on the ice. “You will play 15 minutes”. Period. And we’ll begin to find out how good these guys are.
We can only have 23 players up at a particular time but it’s easy to send people down to Charlotte for short periods. Let’s use it.
Furthermore the coach (whoever he is) tells the veteran players that every single one of them will sit at least once in each set of 10 games. Even Staal, even Skinner. The rest and the opportunity to watch the game will likely do them as much good as the disadvantage of not having them play. If the sitting is timed with the little niggling injuries that all hockey players get, all the better. We don’t need people playing hurt, that’s hockey macho not good sense. We have some depth let’s use it.
(10 games is and arbitrary number; it could be a dozen, it could be some other number depending on the schedule.)
We have 11 forwards who cannot be sent down without going through waivers, and six defensemen (I’m supposing Joslin can go down but I’m not sure). We also platoon the defensemen, and sit every one of them at least one game of each 10 game set the same way we sit the forwards. Assuming there are no injuries at least Faulk gets to play some and if there are injuries perhaps the next defensemen from Charlotte can play, Sans or whoever it is.
We tell Cam that he will play no more than seven of these 10 games, barring injury to the backup. We will tell the backup you’ll play at least three of these 10 game sets. If someone gets injured then Murphy or Peters becomes the backup and plays those three games. We tell everyone this ahead of time and stick to it.
We keep lines together as much is possible. Skins and Finns just works too well to be separated, and is our first line. The “minor league” line stays together. LaRose’s versatility lets him move all over the place. Stewart should play on the higher lines not be buried or on the bench. Dwyer and LaRose and Brent kill penalties, when they’re playing. And I’m inclined to say they are the fourth line.
Trades almost never improve a team significantly. Trading players for the sake of “shaking things up” has almost nothing to recommend it, I think. And it certainly goes against the “family” orientation that the canes like to maintain, and which in many cases works well for them. If a good trade to reduce the number of veterans presents itself then it might be worth making. Trading prospects is only going to kill enthusiasm. Trading draft choices is okay: we have lots of prospects right now and I always think that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, that is, a prospect who is a real prospect to play in the NHL is a much better person to keep than the possibility of getting such a person with a draft pick sometime in the future.
Yeah, I would get rid of Kaberle too, but that’s not going to happen. Who would want him?
Recognize we’re dead as it stands, be willing to try new things, inject youthful enthusiasm into the team, and see what happens. It won’t be as bad as it is now no matter what.