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BruinsCupNow 10-26-2003 05:55 AM

The Bruins' best rookie
 
In my view, it's not Jillson, Zino, Bergeron or even Raycroft (which reminds me -- is Razor technically a rookie or not?). The best rookie so far is Mike Sullivan!

I was not so sure about this hiring, but I'm becoming more convinced by the day that he knows what he's doing.

The only downside from my vantage point: he has been pretty slow to recognize misfits on lines/pairings: witness Travis Green with Samsonov and the McGillis/Moran combination which keeps getting burned. But aside from that, some of the positives:

(1) His handling of the goaltending. He was smart to start with Potvin, and bring Raycroft in after a couple of games. He did the classy thing by giving Potvin the LA game. (Remember how PO'd Shields was last year when he didn't get to play against Anaheim -- or was it San Jose?). He made a point of giving Raycroft the second home game...and then coming back with him against NJ. I'm sure it was in part because the Devils had already seen Potvin once this season. Just comes across like he's thinking all the time.

(2) His handling of Bergeron. He found the right mix for him with Rolston and PJ. On this line, there's not much pressure on the kid to be an offensive wizard. But as he's displayed so much poise...Bergeron has earned bonuses from the coach, like PP time with Samsonov, and ice time in the last minutes of periods & games. And has anyone noticed that he's starting to use Bergeron on more face-offs the past couple of games? Not long, I suspect, before we all get our wish to see Rolston as a full-time winger.

(3) His line matching. He's usually managed to get the match-ups he wants -- even on the road. And I think he's used the 4th line players very effectively. Enough ice time to keep them from grumbling. Occasionally spotting McCarthy on a higher line. And using Donato to kill penalties.

(4) Understanding game situations. It's struck me several times in this early part of the season that Sullivan has a good understanding of who should be out in certain situations. The right guy in the face-off circle for key faceoffs (and that's not always Thornton)...the right line on the ice for the circumstance.

(5) Motivation I don't really know whether this is going to be a strong point in the long run. But just the way he handled the two California games was impressive.

(6) His system. I imagine the following scene from some unspecified point in training camp:

Sullivan writes a word on a blackboard. A group of Bruins forwards stare at it endlessly...scratching their heads. "What is that word?" mutter several players. "Seems like a lot of syllables," whispers Joe Thornton to Glenn Murray.

Frustrated, Sullivan resorts to charades. He holds up two fingers. "Two words!" shouts Lapointe..Sully smiles... "first word"...and Sullivan turns his back on the players, pointing at his spine. "BACK!" yells Grosek. Sullivan claps his hands to indicate that Grosek is right.

Then the coach holds up fingers to indicate he'll do the second word. He brings out MOC who proceeds to open up JJ's checkbook. Several of the players faint...they've never seen this book before.

Finally...PJ Axelsson figures it out, and shouts out "CHECK"....Sullivan encourages with his hands...and Brian Rolston says "CHECKING". Then Thornton elbows Sandy McCarthy out of the way to get to the front of the line: BACKCHECKING, Coach. I've put it together, and it's BACKCHECKING".

"Very good," says Sullivan. "Now that we are familiar with the word, let's try to DO it." And...just like that...the Bruins became an effective hockey team.

Bravo, Coach!

--BCN

BlacknGold Barbarino 10-26-2003 06:07 AM

Good post. Pretty impressive given that about a month ago, "Until proven otherwise, Sullivan is an AHL coach!!!!" was a thread starter.

Gary 10-26-2003 08:08 AM

he's done pretty good so far. he's made a couple rookie mistakes IMO...not playing the veterans enough in the preseason (we're lucky the goalies were great in the early going) is the big one. the other thing is not playing knuble-joe-murray from the start...and axe/rollie together from the start. these are KNOWN to work great and although some argue tinkering in the early going is okay because there's lots of hockey left-i dont. i think 2 points in the beginning is just as important to fight for as 2 at the end of the schedule. overall though he's been alright. i wouldnt say 'great' because our preparedness at the beginning of games should be a helluva lot better but...nah...i'd have to give the rookie of the year to rayzor so far. if not for him we'd have 4-6 points less and be harping about the coach for his errors and not praising him for his matchups IMO.

TMac21 10-26-2003 11:39 AM

On the topic of rookies, I was on NHL.com a few minutes ago, and their poll for the day asks which rookie has been most impressive so far. Bergeron and Raycroft are both listed as choices. Great to see them getting noticed! :yo:

The Pucks 10-26-2003 12:50 PM

Raycroft is eligable for the Calder by a hair. Jillson is not.

To be eligable you can not have acheived your 26th birthday by Sept 15th of the season in question, can not have played more than 25 games in any one NHL season, and can not have played in 6 or more games in any 2 NHL seasons.

neelynugs 10-26-2003 01:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Pucks
Raycroft is eligable for the Calder by a hair. Jillson is not.

To be eligable you can not have acheived your 26th birthday by Sept 15th of the season in question, can not have played more than 25 games in any one NHL season, and can not have played in 6 or more games in any 2 NHL seasons.

we have conflicting reports on raycroft's eligibility. kirk has stated that raycroft ISN'T eligible. over the past three seasons, he's played in:
15 games, 1 game, 5 games...by the definition above, he WOULD be a rookie. anyone...anyone? bueller??

pei_bruins 10-26-2003 05:00 PM

Raycroft's eligibility
 
I could be wrong, but I think the requirements for a rookie are a bit different for a goalie. They need to play fewer games before they lose their eligibility. I'm not sure what the number is, but I believe Kirk is right when he says he isn't eligible.

neelynugs 10-26-2003 05:12 PM

---------------------------No, not eligible.

He had played 21 NHL games coming into the season, which is one more than he is allowed to retain rookie status.

Had he not been called up and made the two starts late last season, he would be a Calder candidate this year, but alas- it is not to be--------

that was kirk's reply to the question. i'm assuming that once a goalie plays 20 games in the NHL (regardless of when), they are no longer considered a rookie. i'm guessing that dipietro is in the same situation.

The Pucks 10-26-2003 05:31 PM

He is eligable. Who ever gave you the information is wrong. Here is a link to the criteria:

http://nhl.com/hockeyu/history/trophies/calder.html

"To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. The player must not be older than 26 years before September 15 of the season in which he is eligible."

Pretty hard to argue with NHL.COM. A goalie is treated no different than any position.

edit: If you read through the CBA, you may notice that when they refer to all positional players, they simply call them players, but when they get more specific they refer to dmen and forwards as Skaters and goalies as Goaltenders. In this rule, they use the term "a player" which implies all positions.




Quote:

Originally Posted by neelynugs
---------------------------No, not eligible.

He had played 21 NHL games coming into the season, which is one more than he is allowed to retain rookie status.

Had he not been called up and made the two starts late last season, he would be a Calder candidate this year, but alas- it is not to be--------

that was kirk's reply to the question. i'm assuming that once a goalie plays 20 games in the NHL (regardless of when), they are no longer considered a rookie. i'm guessing that dipietro is in the same situation.


BlacknGold Barbarino 10-26-2003 05:33 PM

Actually, I was also under the impression that goalies had different criteria. Hmm....

The Pucks 10-26-2003 05:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Return of the Vin
Actually, I was also under the impression that goalies had different criteria. Hmm....

as for further proof, check out Tmac21 above, he is listed on a poll at NHL.COM for rookies.

Trust me on this one guys, prospects and eligability is one of my specialties.

The Pucks 10-26-2003 05:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Return of the Vin
Actually, I was also under the impression that goalies had different criteria. Hmm....

You may be confused by the waiver draft eligability, which is different for Goalies and Skaters.

pei_bruins 10-26-2003 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Pucks
You may be confused by the waiver draft eligability, which is different for Goalies and Skaters.

Now that you mention it, I think that's where I probably got that idea. So it looks like I was wrong. Oh well, Raycroft for Calder I guess! :p


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