“It’s Not Pond Hockey Here”

(Photo Credit:  Scott Paulus)

After setting the league on fire in October, Linus Klasen’s production has settled down a bit.  On this roadtrip, he has only produced one goal and one assist.  And on Friday night, Klasen found himself as a healthy scratch against the Texas Stars.

This may come as a surprise to many, that a team would bench their leading scorer.  But there’s a lot more to the story.

In Lane Lambert’s pre-game interview with Aaron Sims, which will be broadcast before the game against the Houston Aeros tonight on Sportsradio1250 WSSP, Coach talks about a lot of things….Faceoffs, Steve Begin, Dan Gendur, penalty killing, Houston scouting report….oh, and what’s up with Klasen.

Here’s a clip from the interview.

“Well he’s got to raise his compete level.  He’s got to be a lot more detailed.  It’s not pond hockey here; we’re playing under a team system and a team structure.  He’s a terrific individual skilled player, and we need him.  We need him to be on our team and we need him to be playing well.  And he’s going to score for us yes, but at the end of the day, Linus has been more of a liability lately on the ice turning pucks over and in the defensive zone, than he has been putting up any numbers.  At some point in time when we’re asking our team to be detailed and be committed, the players or player that isn’t has to sit and watch and get on board.  And that’s what happened to him last night.

This sounds like it could be Peter Olvecky part two, here.  I hope not….because we all know how that ended….and it wasn’t well.

No word yet on whether or not he’ll be scratched again tonight in Houston.

I’ll go on record saying that I support Lane’s decision 100%.  There’s no room for players in such a structured system at this level to just do their own thing.  The question now is going to be how will Linus respond on the ice and at practice.

Again, catch the full interview in the pre-game show of tonight’s broadcast on Sportsradio 1250 WSSP.

8 thoughts on ““It’s Not Pond Hockey Here””

  1. Too much structure is the problem with the game today though. Hockey is boring because players aren’t allowed to try to create chances with their skills because they could turn the puck over. Problem is, I see SOO many chances wasted when teams just dump the puck in and chase. Playing a structured game is great to a certain extent. At some point though, you have to let the skilled players showcase thier skills. Do I agree with the benching? Sure. But in the offensive zone, let Klasen use the skills that have gotten him to this level and not worry about turning the puck over. The Red Wings are one of the best in the league at allowing thier players to try things with the puck and not worrying about what happens. Being a perrenial powerhouse seems to suggest that this could work.

  2. Hey Josh,

    Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing. That was a very well thought out response, and opens up another debate completely (which is awesome).

    From a fans perspective, yeah, structure may tend to limit highlight reel plays. And what does the NHL need? Highlight reel plays to market. But when has Nashville had a player like Pavel Datsyuk? Over 70 points the last five years, and Selke trophies to take home in the last three seasons? My thought is that the structure in the AHL level should prepare a creatively gifted player like Klasen to hopefully be in a place where he can be mentioned in the same sentence as the Datsyuk’s of the league.

    We certainly haven’t seen anyone in Milwaukee with Klasen’s skillset since maybe Radulov. And I think the coaches have given him room to be creative in his play. But if his creativity is leading to odd-man rushes for opponents because he’s getting too cute trying to enter the zone, maybe it’s time for him to focus more on the details side of the game than the improvisational side of the game.

  3. Creativity and freedom to do what a player wants in the offensive zone is great. However, structure in the defensive zone and neutral zone is key for success. It’s one thing to turn the puck over in the offensive zone when there still time to track back; it’s another to turn the puck over in the defensive zone, neutral zone, or at the blue line. A “team” can’t just say “oh well” if a player turns the puck over just because he’s skilled.

  4. I think it is more of where he is turning the puck over and not creativity in general being suppressed. If you turn it over anywhere in that area from 5′ inside their blue line out to the neutral zone bad things usually happen and the coach’s blood pressure spikes. I bet this is what Lane is on him about, at least I hope so.

    I think the real problem is that 20 games in teams have seen his tendencies and have countered. He really needs some support so he doesn’t think he has to do it all himself.

  5. I think I have to agree with all the comments made here. Turnovers are never a good thing.

    But I think players with skill need to be given a little freedom with the puck from the offensive blueline in. If they turnover the puck there are still defensemen back who should be able to contain a counter-attack.

    And I definitely agree that Nashville has never had a player of Datsyuk’s talent, and that includes Radulov, but it’s a team thing in Detroit. They allow everyone to try things, not just Datsyuk. Certain players don’t because they understand that they don’t have the skill level to pull it off but even third liners are given the freedom to be creative and I think it pays dividens.

    Obviously it helps to have a good defence which can stop the rush the other way but I think we can all agree that defence is one of Nashville’s strongest areas.

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