Every now and then I go back and watch the now famous Behind the B's episode wherein Boston management makes the argument for Tyler Seguin, a near 30 goal scorer at 20 years old, being expendable. Aside from being a violent slip and slide off the jump to conclusions mat, it's also a case study in old boy's club wisdom.
First there's Scott Bradley, Boston's Director of Player Personnel. His argument boils down to what Seguin should be doing. His salty quip about "half a Kane" implies that he's more bitter than rational. Keith Gretzky, one of Boston's scouts, is interested in whether or not Seguin is "paying the price". Cam Neely's argument is a Pollock in word form. He's making the vaguest of references to "slow moving" development in the "areas that are difficult to get into". Jim Benning is still in the corner reading his own obituary in response to the Nathan Horton news.
These are intelligent men, and certainly brighter than me. My point isn't to throw them under the IQ bus. Rather, it's to highlight the illusion of cause. For example, here's a worthless fact: more people drown on days when a lot of ice cream is consumed. Does that mean ice cream is some potential cause? Of course not. It just means you're more likely to eat ice cream on a day that's hot enough to warrant a swim, and less likely to eat ice cream on a cold day that doesn't warrant a swim.
But for Boston, two events happened together to make Boston's management crater underneath their own illusions: Boston losing the Stanley Cup, and Seguin scoring one goal in 22 playoff games. To Boston, Seguin was the ice cream drowning Neely, Benning, Chiarelli, Bradley, and Co.
Since then it's been a different environment here in Dallas. There's no spotlight on how unkempt his European room is. Or whether or not he knows the difference between a washer and dryer. Or if he needed bodyguards to protect him from having a few more shots at Pat O'Briens.
However, that isn't to call Dallas' media "unthinking" or "uncritical". Casual fans and observers are simply, unacquainted.
After all, fans and perhaps even some exuberant Boston critics who have been following Seguin's career, may be looking closely at his playoff goal totals. In Dallas' lone playoff appearance under Ruff, Seguin scored one goal in six games. Which is as many in 22 games with Boston during their 2012-2013 bid.
However, as many have been quick to point, his career shooting percentage is 11.8. In Dallas' playoff series, he was shooting 4 Percent, and just 1.4 Percent in his final playoff appearance with the Bruins.
Was this because he wasn't "paying the price", or didn't have heart? If measuring heart has any meaning whatsoever, a player possessing the puck better than his peers, and putting himself in a position to win is probably one among those hundreds of components. In six games for Dallas in the 2013-2014 playoffs, Seguin's Corsi For was 102 (as in, 102 total shots taken beyond simply the ones that required a goalie save), and 63 against. That's good for a 61 Percent Corsi For differential. Not only was that number one for Dallas among all skaters with at least 50 minutes of ice time, but it was number one in the NHL.
Seguin's expected goals for per 60 (xGF60) minutes of play was 3.45, good for 10th in the league per Corsica Hockey in the playoffs. Meaning, whether by getting shots from the rush, on good angles, from rebounds, or on the Power Play, Seguin was doing well in the 'areas that are difficult to get into'. He was 5th on the Boston team the year they lost the Cup in the same category.
In other words, Seguin only needs to get lucky to get better. However, let's not let something as mercurial as "luck" do all the explanatory work. Analytics writers like to use "luck" as some sort of shoo-ex-machina. San Jose never chokes. They're just unlucky. St. Louis never loses control of their emotions. They just get unlucky.
I'm not saying that psychological elements are more important than observed data. Just that said psychological concepts have a far greater basis in science, like choking under pressure, than does the get out of variance jail free card like 'luck'.
And so maybe there's truth to some of that scouting minutiae, about gripping the stick a little too tight, or the puck being heavier come playoff time. Seguin is an above average performer in the playoffs if his underlying stats are any indication. But if Dallas wants a 2nd franchise cup, he has to be something transcendent. He can't be a victim of statistical circumstance. Granted, Dallas will and should always love the hell out of Seguin, but still.
So Dear Tyler, clear the voodoo table with whatever animal sacrifices and ouji witchcraft you need in order to get those breaks. Borrow some icon's 30 year old jock strap if it helps. Eat a steady diet of sprinkled donuts to match your goal counter. Whatever it takes bruv. Winning that first Stanley Cup in Boston was a dream. Now winning one for Dallas is my goal. Oops. Your words, not mine.