When I wrote about the Leafs social media strategy for the Maple Leafs Annual I focused almost exclusively on their use of twitter, facebook and their proprietary on-line site "LeafsSpace." I didn't look at their actual on-line content.
I think it's great that MLSE wants to provide unique on-line content. Let's face it, they are in direct competition for page views with the on-line sports pages, blogs and a handful of Leaf-centric on-line communities. If they're going to get their share of eyeballs, they need to give readers fresh and compelling content and an actual reason to frequent MLSE sites.
Strategically, MLSE is right on target, tactically it's nothing short of a gong show.
Ulmer's recent piece "10 responses to 'plan the parade jokes'" was like a drunken first draft scribbled on the back of a beer coaster, found the next morning crumpled in a front pocket and mistakenly posted to the web. It was about as funny, clever and hockey-centric as a Cathy comic strip.
His most recent entry, a so-called defense of Dion Phaneuf misses the mark worse than one of Dion's patented bombs from the blue line.
I think Phaneuf is what he is: an above average d-man who's throws a lot of hits, blocks shots, has a terrible shooting percentage and is vastly overpaid. If I had to defend him, Ulmer's piece is not the way I'd go about it.
1. Dion Phaneuf hasn’t been very good.Yeah...with an opening like that, let's hope Ulmer is saving his best stuff for last.
Is that so...
2. He can’t hit the net.A few problems here.
Hardly. Only one other defenceman, (Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien) has more shots.
1. Phaneuf is third in the league in shots behind Steve Montador and Duncan Keith;
2. Having a high shot total and actually hitting the net aren't the same thing; and
3. In point of fact, Phaneuf can't hit the net: he's taken 32 shots and hit the net just 22 times, an accuracy rating that puts him 135th among NHL d-men.
3. He can’t defend.Great points by Ulmer, one downside: Phaneuf's goals against/60 is 3.23, which is nearly one goal higher than the team's goals against average. That GA/60 puts Phaneuf in the lower third of the league - 167 th out of 199 D-men that have averaged 10 minutes or more of ice time in at least 4 games this season. Sure, he's facing some tough competition, but those aren't good defensive numbers.
Well, he’s the ice-time leader on a defence that has lowered its goals against by almost a goal a game, from 3.21 to 2.30. They’re sixth in the league in defence. If he is sabotaging things, he has been very sneaky.
4. He sometimes takes himself out of position when he tries for a big hit.If I was going to defend Dion here, I too would start out by saying that this is a fair assessment of his play, but I might also be tempted to point out that Dion was among the top 10 D-men in the NHL for hits last year and that he's 12th in the NHL to date. He's obviously landing way more hits than he's missing. But maybe that's just me. Can't go wrong with a Bobby Baun joke...
Fair comment. Imagine a defenceman wanting to hit someone at centre ice. What is Bob Baun doing these days?
5. He’s peaked.Truer words...
He’s 25. I don’t think so. I’ve peaked.
6. He will never score 20 goals as he did in Calgary.Phaneuf may never hit 20 goals again and that's ok. How many D-men in the league are capable of putting up those totals? If he can start hitting the net and get close to his career average shooting percentage he should be good for 15 goals a year. As for being the focus of every teams' PK, if that is the case (not sure I believe it), isn't that an opportunity for Phaneuf to put up great assist totals or for the Leafs to adapt to this tactic to revitalize their moribund PP.
Right again. I wonder if it’s because Phaneuf is the focus of every team’s penalty kill. They must be making shin pads of sterner stuff over the last few years because players rush at Phaneuf as if he were a free round of golf.
7. Why doesn’t he just pass on the powerplay?Oh snap. I hope Kaberle's dad doesn't read Ulmer's blog. Or maybe Phaneuf could pass to one of the forwards since the other team are supposedly keying on him and taking away his shooting lanes. Just a thought.
To Tomas Kaberle? Seriously, you have a team with a hole in the middle you could park a Hummer in. The first two pivots have one goal between them. Naturally enough, the power play has fallen to the bottom third of the league. The penalty kill is 11th. Let’s see, one special team requires scoring, the other defence. Phaneuf is a mainstay on both teams. It’s like I say about the Almighty. If you are going to blame the Man for the bad things, you have to credit Him for the good. It’s called the Theory of the Divine Defenceman.
8. He’s not a good captainMeh. I'm not in the room. I wouldn't have put the C on his chest but I doubt that letter has anything to do with Phaneuf's inability to hit the net with his shots, make better passes on the PP or with his propensity to chase other players behind his own net.
He didn’t look bad 10 days ago.
9. He hasn’t scored.
Also true. Here are some names: Nik Lidstrom, Duncan Keith, Bryan McCabe, Dan Boyle, Shea Webber, Mike Green, PK Subban, Ed Jovanovski and Drew Doughty. None of these players have scored more than one goal. I have always said if you’re going to fail, don’t fail alone.
I'm surprised Ulmer didn't go with the "Hey, Sheldon Souray is in Hershey" defence here. As for the other d-men Ulmer listed, they may only have one goal, but it's still one more than Phaneuf. Many of them are putting up points - Lidstrom has 10 assists, Keith has 11. Few of them are getting paid $6.5 million either. Phaneuf's has just 2 goals in 36 games as a Leaf, how does that compare with the company Ulmer's put him in?
10. He keeps shooting wide.
Well, there aren’t too many places to put the puck when a six-four defenceman is sprawling in your way. Compare Byfuglien again. He has a directed 7.7 shots at the net a night: that’s a combination of shots, misses and shots that are blocked. Phaneuf has directed 9.3 shots. It’s tough to criticize a player who is second in the league in shots by a defenceman for not hitting the net. You can fault him for an elevated shots attempted figure, I suppose, although I always thought the idea was to direct as many shots at the net as possible.
Anyone else think we've covered this already? That maybe Ulmer couldn't come up with a 10th complaint so he recycled a variation of his 2, 7 and 9 complaints? Why go with a criticism that immediately reminds me that Phaneuf has just 2 goals in 36 games as a Leaf, was 129th in shooting accuracy last year and is down to 136th this year?