Pete Choquette's blog

How Does That Taste Hockey's Future/THN?

You know, I find it pretty funny "mainstream" media outlets like Hockey's Future and THN can find it fit to ridicule the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospect base, put us dead last in their organizational ranking and keep our players out of their top-50 prospects without even so much as an honorable mention and yet when the puck is dropped and the real games are played the Lightning have three of the better rookies in the league this season. TSN [url=http://tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=155720&hubname=nhl]released their top-40 rankings for rookie forwards today[/url] and Ryan Craig (#23) and Evgeny Artyukhin (#25) both made the grade. Here's a fun exercise: count the number of well hyped 1st round draft picks lunch pail 8th rounder Ryan Craig has outplayed so far this year. I count nine between the rest of the top-40 and the honorable mentions TSN lists, and I'm sure a certain very biased online editor at Hockey's Future must be thoroughly embarassed by the immortal Jim Slater being bested by [b]two[/b] prospects from the Lightning's allegedly bare cupboard. Earlier TSN [url=http://www.tsn.ca/fantasy_news/news_story/?ID=154226&hubname=fantasy_news]had released their list of the top-20 rookie defensemen prospects and 6th round pick Paul Ranger checked in at #15.[/url] What!? No Braydon Coburn!?!?! To the critics of this organization: [img]http://www.worldbook.com/features/birds/assets/crow.jpg[/img] Would you prefer yours grilled or baked?

THN Lightning Top-10: Who Wasn't Even Considered

I finally was told who the top-10 Lightning prospects were in The Hockey News' Future Watch issue. As I explained in my previous entry, whoever made the list several top prospects didn't. And, as a consequence, those players were not even considered by THN's mysterious panel which saw it fit to (erroneously) name the Lightning the worst prospect system in the league. Again, to reiterate, THN's evaluators only look at the top ten prospects in an organization thereby ignoring whatever depth an organization might have from being considered in the final grade. And [i]that[/i] faulty methodology is one reason I take so much issue with the decision to give the organization a D+.

I Have to Take Tom Jones to Task

The Hockey News has released their annual future watch issue and the underestimated Lightning were once again pigeon holed in last place with a D+ grade. Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times, who is a contributor to the publication, [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2006/02/06/Lightning/Prospect_rankings_nee.shtml]penned an article today portraying the Lightning prospect system as one on the precipice of disaster.[/url] The melodramatic key line of the piece states: [i]"Still, it cannot be ignored that the Lightning system is at a crossroads."[/i] Really?

You Think Maybe the Hacks Are Starting to Get It?

[url=http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=8155&mode=threaded&order=0]This[/url] may be the first competent piece of work that Hockey's Future has published about the Tampa Bay Lightning in over a year. Kudos to Tanya Lyon for having the skill to write it, and even more so to somehow get it approved by the biased individual who currently occupies the online editorial position on the site. Yes indeed, the much maligned Lightning prospect system IS churning out NHL caliber players at a clip that the lazy reporting that went into HF's organizational rankings would lead many to believe was impossible. Here's to hoping the powers that be have finally had an epiphany. Or, if not, that the Lightning's four prospects slated to play at the upcoming WJC's further embarass HF into having one.

Expect More Lightning WJC Player Announcements to Come

The Lightning officially have one prospect in the upcoming U-20 World Junior Championships with Karri Ramo announced for Team Finland. Meanwhile, Andy Rogers has a long shot chance of making Team Canada after being invited to their selection camp. Don't expect that to be the end of the announcements though. An unofficial list is being circulated around the internet showing Kingston (OHL) forward Radek Smolenak joining Team Czech Republic. Also returning to the WJC's will probably be Stanislav Lascek, who just slips under the age limit turning 20 just after the tournament, and perhaps Marek Bartanus who played last season for Team Slovakia in the U-18 tournament. Hulking defenseman Vladamir Mihalik, who also played for Slovakia in the U-18 tournament should join his countrymen as well.

Isn't It Amazing?

Lost in the last couple of weeks of hockey is the fact that as of right now the Tampa Bay Lightning have the best record of any team in the NHL over their last 10 games (8-1-1). Isn't it amazing? Especially when you think it seems like just yesterday we were lamenting a six game losing streak and the hockey media was just about getting ready to write the Tampa Bay Lightning's obituary. And the interesting thing is: I think we'd all have to agree this club is only playing up to about 85% of its capability right now. The offense has not been anywhere near as explosive as it could be and the defense, while workmanlike on many nights allowing a miniscule amount of shots, could be tighter. Heaven help the NHL if the Lightning finds fourth gear. It's good to be the champs.

Silver Lining Three: Tell Me Something Not Depressing

Stan Lascek [url=http://www.lhjmq.qc.ca/lang_en/index.php?page=342374&id_partie=2333&PHPSESSID=079d33dfcd943d9da0b02bbf6aac3932]had 4 assists and was named the game's #1 star tonight for Chicoutimi.[/url] So don't throw yourselves off any bridges just yet.

Commentary: When Hacks Attack, The Sequel

In my last commentary I took on Hockey's Future's ludicrous organizational rankings. Deservedly, Hockey's Future showed the apropriate amount of shame for the pointed criticism they received for having the audacity to claim legitimacy in their rankings even though they had not updated their Lightning rankings in half a year, had not had an article up on their site about the Lightning in over two months and did not even have a full time writer dedicated to the Lightning. True, they STILL don't have a full time writer covering the team but they at least made an attempt to provide content on their site putting up a [url=http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=8052&mode=threaded&order=0]cookie cutter story regurgitating the Lightning CHL prospects' statistics. [/url] I say cookie cutter because this is the exact same assignment that was given to all 30 teams and it involves nearly zero in the way of cogent, thoughful analysis to cut and paste a players' statistics. Still, given two months of complete journalistic neglect (if we use the loosest definition of journalism to allow for what Hockey's Future has become over the past couple of years) it was at least something. And then today, much to the shock and surprise of the Lightning fan base, Hockey's Future [url=http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=8065&mode=threaded&order=0]finally released their top-20 rankings for the Tampa Bay Lightning[/url], albeit months later than most other teams. Unfortunately, this badly cobbled attempt at fulfilling the most bare minimum of their obligations as a hockey site claiming to cover the prospects of every team fell so far short that even the poor fellow who was told to post the article under his name [url=http://www.hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=188847]went onto HFboards to apologize to Lightning fans before his apology was pulled.[/url] I do not know whether he himself made the decision or if Hockey's Future management, ever more sensitive to the criticism that they're really and truly hacks with no qualifications or business critiquing the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospects, pulled the post. I do, however, know these rankings are awful. Riddle me this Hockey's Future, how the hell can you have a defenseman who was just demoted to the ECHL ranked as the best prospect in the Lightning organization while Paul Ranger, who is in the NHL averaging 15 minutes of ice time a night with a very respectable +1 rating sits at 9th? Better yet, maybe you can explain to your readers why Nick Tarnasky, who also is in the NHL today is only the 19th best prospect in the organization? It boggles the mind.

Silver Lining: Part Two

I'm still a little sore about this losing streak we're on. Not even Jonathan Boutin's nearly ridiculous 50 save performance or Vasily Koshechkin's 6 shuouts in his last 9 games is fully cheering me up. Last time I felt low, Radek Smolenak's Gordie Howe hat trick picked me up. Tonight I'm going to the QMJHL for winger Stanislav Lascek who tonight had 1G 4A and earned the game's first star in a 5-2 victory over the Brad Richards owned PEI Rocket (sorry Brad). Stan now has 16 goals and 43 points in 20 games. Get ready Springfield. He's a Falcon next season.

Commentary: Hockey's Future = Hacks

By now you might've seen the laughable hack job committed by Hockey's Future on the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospect system in their [url=http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=8041&mode=threaded&order=0]Fall Organizational Rankings.[/url] As if trying to outdo their previous display of shear ignorance, HF has moved the Lightning down from 29th to 30th despite the fact the Lightning organization's prospects, which they largely ignore, are performing better this year than at any time since the goldmine year of 1999-2000 when Brad Richards, Dimitry Afanasenkov and Sheldon Keefe were in their last year of junior. What I find extremely laughable is that an organization that hasn't published an article on the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospects in over [b]two months[/b], and which still hasn't updated their top-20 prospects for the Lightning because they lack anyone competent enough to do the job, actually has the chutzpah to claim any legitimacy in their critique. This is a group which [b]does not even have a writer[/b] for the Lightning at the moment. How can they be so irresponsible as to publish organizational rankings like this when they have so clearly [b]ignored[/b] the Tampa Bay Lightning for the past year?
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