Team Cohesion = Championships, Not Amount Spent
July 2, 2009 by Big Tony
When free agency began there were a lot of teams with a lot of needs and as a result the early hours have seen plenty of shuffling around. It’s funny to see how quickly teams respond to players leaving, for instance there is the news that Dwayne Roloson is heading to Long Island and shortly thereafter Edmonton makes a deal to acquire Stanley Cup winning netminder Nikolai Khabibulin. Teams spend a lot of money trying to improve their rosters and to play a bit of cat and mouse with their rivals. There are even GMs who learn from other GMs how to circumvent the salary cap to get their man; last year Detroit signs the likes of Zetterberg to long term deals and low and behold the rival Blackhawks do the very same thing when they signed Marian Hossa to a 12 year deal. So does spending all of this money, playing mind games, etc. really result in better chances at winning the Stanley Cup? Ask the pre-salary cap Detroit Red Wings and the answer will be yes but that system has not lended itself to very much success otherwise. Consider the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers of the past few years; so much money spent on those considered to be big stars but yielded very little success compared to expectations.
A great example of what it takes the win is the current Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Sure they have the superstars in Malkin and Crosby but anyone who watched the playoffs knows their performances alone were not enough. Guys like Staal (a star perhaps in the making but not their yet), Kennedy, and Talbot played key roles in bringing the Penguins the title and clearly would not have won without them. Picking up a few pieces along the way (not to mention a timely coaching change) and the Penguins had the cohesion needed to take home the Cup. We will know more about the makeup of the teams come training camp but in the meantime if you’re keeping a close eye on your teams moves in free agency be looking at the whole picture. It’s not just about signing the big scorer or even a big time goalie; what you should look for is if your team is putting together a cohesive unit. Make sure there is a role for every superstar signed and look to see if every role that needs to be filled is done so and you don’t have a bunch of guys all signed to do the same thing. If there is a place for everyone the deals work, and if there isn’t Championships become a pipe dream.