3 of the last 4 blogs on BVOF have been about hockey. I like it.
I don't think that the weekly blog will work for me, because I'm busy on different days, so basically I'll post whenever the mood strikes.
The first step to building a succesful NHL Club is: Great Ownership.
Teams with great ownership are teams that spend to the cap and hire great people in the front office and behind the bench. You want to avoid an owner who is too hands-on, because the vast majority of the owners know less than your average fan about hockey. If the owner is willing to supply all the necessary parts and then step back and watch it unfold, their team will be successful.
The second step to building a succesful NHL club is: Great Scouting.
Unlike the NFL, the NHL gets it's players from many leagues, so scouting is key. You have to have scouts who know what to look for and the larger the staff, the better. Most great NHL players who were picked late were found because a scout was watching another player. It is very important to have scouts in Europe and in Canada. NCAA is coming along, but the level of play isn't quite high enough yet to warrant the same amount of scouts as you have for the OHL, WHL, QMJHL and various Euro leagues. Many NHLers who came out of the NCAA went undrafted, so it is important to watch.
The third step to building a succesful NHL club is: A Smart GM.
Your GM doesn't have to be a MENSA, but he can't be a moron who trades Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha (Looking at you Milbury). The GM needs to know when to add another piece and when to blow it up and start from scratch.
The fourth step to building a succesful NHL club is: A Coach who the players respect.
Obviously it's important that the coach is a good one, but no matter how good the coach, he won't get you results if the players won't play for him. When all of the players buy into the coach's system, the team will win. Hiring former players as coaches is very risk/reward. On one hand, you know he knows the game inside and out, on the other hand, he could be too easy on the players and get heated quickly. Often the best coach is the one coaching your minor league team. He knows most of the players and helped develop them.
The fifth step to building a succesful NHL club is: 4 Very Good Defensemen.
Defense is the most important aspect of hockey. Teams that stink on offense but are great at defense often make the playoffs. (See New Jersey, Minnesota). Teams that are great on offense but putrid on defense rarely do. (See Tampa Bay, Atlanta of a few years ago). Teams with neither, but a great goalie almost never make the playoffs. (See Florida). A great top 4 is key. Then you have your penalty killers, your PP QBs and Point Men and the guys that you want on the ice in the last 2 minutes with a lead. Having 6 great defensemen is the ultimate goal, but that's dreaming. 4 is enough, use the other 2 spots for young, developping guys who will move into the top 4 with experience.
The sixth step to building a succesful NHL club is: Good Goaltending.
See how the word is "Good" and not "Great"? That's because your goalie won't need to stand on his head for you to win games if you follow these steps. If your goalie faces 25 shots and allows 2, that is good goaltending, nothing outstanding, but you should win most games.
The seventh step to building a succesful NHL club is: A Diverse Group of Forwards.
Every team needs playmakers, snipers, grinders, tough guys, FO specialists, PK specialists, speedsters, pests and character guys. As long as your players have good skill to go along with those categories, other teams won't be able to stop you. You also need secondary scoring. If your top line is scoring 75% of your goals, you're going nowhere, no matter how much skill is on your top line. (See Ottawa, Tampa Bay).
Follow these seven steps and the Stanley Cup will be your's to lose for years to come.
The team that follows these seven steps the best is the Detroit Red Wings. And surprise, surprise, they're the best team in the NHL and it's not very close.
Ownership: Mike Illitch is a great owner. He allows Detroit to spend to the cap and he has probably the best front office with Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Steve Yzerman and Jimmy Devellano among others. He steps back and lets the people do their jobs.
Scouting: The Wings have the best scouting staff in the NHL by far. European super-scout Hakan Andersson and others have found late-round gems that have been key parts to the Red Wings such as Niklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen and others.
GM: Ken Holland is the best in the business. 'Nuff said.
Coach: Mike Babcock has the respect of the Red Wings and is a great coach. Before going to Detroit he led Anaheim to the Finals in 2003. Babcock is the perfect guy for Detroit.
Defensemen: Niklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall are most likely the best top 4 in the NHL. You have 3 guys who contribute immensely on offense while playing shutdown defense. Having the best defenseman in the NHL doesn't hurt either.
Goaltending: Chris Osgood was solid for the Wings last year. He's no Brodeur, but he doesn't lose the game for them. He faces about 25 shots per night and allows about 2 goals. He's not spectacular, but on a team like Detroit he doesn't have to be.
Forwards: Detroit has skill (Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Hossa, Franzen, Filppula, Hudler), speed (Those 6, plus Kris Draper, Darren Helm, Dan Cleary), grit (Tomas Holmstrom, Draper, Cleary, Kirk Maltby,), FO specialists (Draper, Zetterberg, Datsyuk), an enforcer (Darren McCarty), defensive specialists (Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, Draper, Maltby, Cleary), a pest (Holmstrom) and most of their forwards have good character.
Hope you enjoyed this.