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Shap Shots Mailbag: Trade acquisitions, Miro's energy, and a journalism discussion
Thanks again for the questions.
Good Morning and Happy Friday.
It’s mail time.
With the trade deadline having passed, which position has the easiest time adjusting to a new team's system? Hardest for centers & easiest for defensemen? How long do you think it really takes for guys to settle in? 10 games? (From Chad Barber)
It depends on the role, but the easiest, and I use this term lightly, is a goalie adjusting to a new system.
Goaltending has some tweaks from system to system, but it is such an individualized role, where you can rely more on that.
From a skater perspective, it’s easier for a forward and particularly a winger to find a fit. Most NHL teams run one of a handful of forechecks, so as long as the player can understand the role of F1, F2, and F3 they can step into a winger role rather seamlessly.
Defensemen have a larger learning curve, because this is where teams vary the most, in my view, in how the job differs from team to team. A defenseman’s job varies more from team to team than a forward, including centers.
Some players are able to step in right away, Mats Zuccarello was the quickest fit I’ve ever seen in this, while others could take up to 20 games just to feel comfortable. I think this realization is one of the reasons we see teams being more aggressive before the deadline now, making moves to give players more time to get comfortable in one spot.
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What do players do when they're constantly sent down to the AHL for cap purposes and recalled on game days? How do they handle the lack of continuity, team building, etc? They're not physically going to Grand Rapids or Cedar Park but they can't practice with the NHL team, right? (From Tiffany)
It’s an interesting mix, I talked to Jason Dickinson about this the other day actually. During his time in Dallas he was yo-yoed back and forth a ton.
It can be grueling, and frustrating, and remember players typically make less money on the days they are yo-yoed down to the AHL.
Practice time can be difficult, you don’t get to build chemistry with the NHL club while on the AHL roster, but teams often make up for that by making sure the player papered to the AHL is in a spot where they are around teammates off the ice, there isn’t any rule against that.
Is anybody else super worried about Miro being exhausted by the time the playoffs start? I know PDB kind of addressed it a little bit after that soul-crushing loss against the Flames, but I'm genuinely concerned about his fatigue level going into the post season. (From Max)
I’m not overly worried about his usage.
Heiskanen is going to play a lot of hockey, and while that comes with wear and tear, it also sets a a norm for the postseason — like a marathon runner building up to the big race.
The player I’m more worried about fatigue wise is Jake Oettinger.
Oettinger played his 49th game last night against Buffalo, he’s been good all season, but we’ve started to see some cracks in his game.
It’s why I suggested this on Twitter last night.
I believe you get the best version of a goalie at max for 60 games. The question is how do you spread out those 60 games between the regular season and the playoffs?
With the Stars not having a truly viable 1B right now with Scott Wedgewood’s injuries, I’m worried about Oettinger hitting a wall at the wrong time.
Is Bally Sports current situation going to be resolved positively? Being an octogenarian living in Southwest Texas, my trips to the big city are few and far between. (From DY)
There was some news on the Bally Sports/Diamond Sinclair development this morning.
Diamond is paying out to most teams still, but has not paid to the Arizona Diamondbacks because of the deal is “too favorable” to the team.
It would hurt financially, but I think — and hope — that from a perspective of league’s potentially reacquiring their rights, maybe, just maybe, the process and things would get more streamlined when it comes to viewing games.
Unfortunately no great answers, just hoping for the best here.
The journalism landscape is definitely changing with multiple rounds of layoffs, the SB Nation debacle, The Sporting News, etc. Where do you see hockey coverage headed, specifically in the US? Additionally, why are large city markets like Dallas having issues keeping best writers not employed by the team? Finally, hot seat question - if you could pick to read only one writer who writes about the Stars, aside from yourself, who would it be? (From Jason)
You’ve asked me about a fascinating and very frustrating topic all at the same time here.
Hockey coverage is shrinking.
Outlets that still cover teams full time, have typically taken steps to pull back on travel budgets. There used to be visiting media contingents, now there may not be a media member at all traveling to cover the team.
The Dallas Morning News is still yet to replace Matt DeFranks and the Dallas Stars are a very good team. The DMN is also, I’ve heard, considering potentially making it a hybrid role where the Stars beat writer also covers the Texas Rangers — I hope this doesn’t happen, but it would align with what many other publications have done.
Travel is expensive, I get it, but it’s also a sobering reminder of where hockey stands in the media landscape as it consistently gets pushed further and further into the back.
I don’t know where it’s going, and honestly, I wish I had a better answer. One of the reasons I try various things out on this substack is so I stay relevant, whatever relevant may mean in the future.
And I think the independent, so-called “blogger,” is going to be more important in the future. Certain organizations will give more access than others, but coverage is going to rely on projects like the forced refresh at Defending Big D surviving (support them, by the way), because in general “traditional” media is ditching hockey more and more.
To answer your hot seat question… hmm… I like to read a lot, when I was on the Stars beat fully I would read what DeFranks wrote every morning, I needed to know my competition, I wanted to beat him. We pushed each other, we read each other, some of my favorite conversations he and I have had would be ones that started with the other acknowledging the other, “hey good piece today,” where we respected we got beat that day.
I’m not going to pick one person to read, because that is a disservice to too many others. I like reading things that test me and make me think about new views or perspectives, I go back to Defending Big D, and I probably should have admitted much earlier in my career how much I would read over there to get the pulse of the fan and see how others thought about the game in the Stars universe.
Anywho, on that… this is actually a great question to lead me into something I want to discuss with readers.
We are six months into this Shap Shots project. Some things have worked, some things haven’t.
I always told myself this publication would be a work-in-progress, and it is, but hopefully I’d have a better idea of a true direction/elevator pitch by the end of the season.
Do I focus only on features? How do you cover games? Do I cover sports media? How do I keep serving a large readership base of Dallas-based fans, who I love, when I don’t live in Dallas?
These are the types of things I wrestle with internally, and maybe externalizing it will lead to some ideas/feedback from readers here.
If you are a paid subscriber, thank you.
If you aren’t, I’d love to know what could sway you to give it a try. Even if the answer is “never,” that’s still feedback, and without feedback we never improve.
(Comments are open to everyone on this so we can have that discussion.)