Sunday, December 21, 2008

Setting Spezza up to fail

Hey, I have an idea: Let's take one of our most skilled guys, put him on a line with two of our least skilled guys, and tell him that if he doesn't produce he's getting benched.

Apparently that's what Craig Hartsburg is doing with Jason Spezza. According to the Sun:
"I know you all want to know about Jason Spezza and 'When do we sit him on the bench, when do we sit him on the bench?' Well, he's playing with two guys now that are honest, hard-working guys," said Hartsburg. "To me, if I'm on that line as Jason Spezza, I want to play my heart out because of those two guys who are with me.

"If he doesn't do it there, you know what? We probably have no other choice now (other than) to say, 'Sit down.' This has got to be a group decision to work. Not 19 or 18 guys. It has to start to kick in here or else it's not going to work. It's not working the way it's going."
Does that sounds like a remotely good idea to anyone else? Doesn't sound very rational to me. In Bruce Garrioch's Cheapseats column on Saturday, he said that Spezza's "lack of production" could get him riding the pine. SPEZZA's lack of production? What about an entire team's lack of production? Spezza is not alone in this, it's an entire team that's having problems this season. So why is it Spezza who is receiving the lion's share of the blame?

The Sens' top-ten scorers, an analysis of futility:
  1. Heatley: 14G, 15A, 29P
  2. Alfredsson: 9G, 18A, 27P
  3. Spezza: 13G, 10A, 23P
  4. Kuba: 1G, 21A, 22P
  5. Picard: 4G, 7A, 11P
  6. Fisher: 3G, 8A, 11P
  7. Foligno: 4G, 6A, 10P
  8. Ruutu: 3G, 6A, 9P
  9. Donovan: 4G, 3A, 7P
  10. Kelly: 3G, 4A, 7P
Is it news that Antoine Vermette isn't performing? No. But his six points (3G, 3A) in 31 games is farther below relative expectations than Spezza's 23P in 31GP. Antoine Vermette's goal last night against Dallas was his first point in eleven games. Mike Fisher, making more than half as much as Spezza, has four assists (and no goals) in his last ten games. Dany Heatley, making $1M more than Spezza, has one goal and one assist in his last seven games. Spezza has two goals and no assists in those seven games.

Spezza is not scoring as we'd all like him to, granted. In my opinion, though, he's playing as hard as he ever has. The bottom line, though, is that Spezza is certainly not the only problem the Sens have right now, and he's not even the biggest one.
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