Submitted by pete on November 7, 2005 - 18:00
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.
And the sad thing is, this is actually the cleaned up version. A month ago Chad Schnarr and I were actually sent the draft version of this miserable failure of a list. And Holly, if you're wondering who the leaker was, I can't lie, it was [url=http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=109719]Scooter Libby[/url]. But in the original rankings by the top brain trust at Hockey's Future, which had done everything within their power to ignore the Tampa Bay Lightning system for months while at the same time claiming legitimacy in every bile filled dengration of the team they published, actually omitted Nick Tarnasky from their list [i]altogether[/i]. Moreover Paul Ranger, despite being highly touted by the Lightning organization in both THN and in a Jay Feaster interview on NHL.com, both of which would've been turned up by even the most basic of research, was only 17th in the organization. 17th! Lower than Zbynek Hrdel!?!?!?
And that, in a nutshell, is Hockey's Future these days: too lazy to do any real journalism about the Lightning and too pig headed and self righteous to go out and find someone actually capable of doing the job right.
It's a testament to the integrity of old school writers like Pekka Lampinen who lobbied hard to get Karri Ramo (also left off the initial draft) onto the list that it wasn't even more of an unmitigated disaster. Still, there's just not a lot of polishing that can be done to a turd. Somehow, Lightning fans are supposed to believe that Justin Keller, who has been in the top 10 in the WHL in scoring all year, is unworthy of being mentioned as one of the best prospects in the organization or that Blair Jones, who he's tied with in scoring, deserves to be billed below a dispassionate lump like Chris Lawrence. We're also, apparently, supposed to believe that Mike Egener's demotion to the ECHL doesn't lose him any ground to Andy Rogers who just so happened to be the last cut in Lightning camp (Egener didn't even make it past the first cut) and who earned himself a contract in the process.
And then there's the oft-repeated slam on the Lightning's goaltending prospects. In case Hockey's Future still hasn't gotten the memo, Karri Ramo has the best GAA and save percentage in Finland. Vasily Koshechkin has the best GAA and save percentage in Russia and has had 6 shutouts in his last 9 games played. Jonathan Boutin is just two nights removed from his AHL debut in which he stopped 50 of 52 shots faced and was named first star of the game (and had an assist!). Gerald Coleman has a winning record as a professional rookie since temporarily taking over Springfield's starting job while Brian Eklund, who also for years has been slammed as "unspectacular" is currently in the NHL backing up John Grahame.
Just because these goaltending prospects were all 3rd round picks or later doesn't give HF license to ignore their accomplishments or downplay their achievements. And yet that's what HF does time and time and time again. And not just to the goaltenders, but to 6th round picks like Ranger and 9th rounders like Tarnasky. I can't describe it as anything less than complete intellectual laziness and utterly lax reporting. Lightning fans DESERVE better coverage of their prospects from people who actually do give a damn. That's what Bolt Prospects is all about. And that's why many of you I'm sure have noticed that, in the interest of transparency, we posted our own rough draft of our preliminary rankings last week. Fair is fair and we're not afraid to show what we think, because we've actually done our homework, unlike HF.
It's because we [i]care[/i] about what we do here and we [i]care[/i] about the fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning and want to help, day to day, keep them informed about the prospects in their system. It's just a damned shame HF doesn't seem to feel they hold that same responsibility too. They used to, but not anymore. Hacks.