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05-28-2010, 02:17 PM
The Czech Condor
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: North Carolina
Jay Harrison takes a lot of undue heat on this board. I highly suspect he was playing the majority of the year with injuries that prevented him from playing as well as he would have liked. It's encouraging that he didn't go back to Europe because I think he can be a solid bottom pairing guy. His skating isn't terrible, he plays a physical brand of hockey, and his offensive abilities are somewhat underrated.
For some reason, he didn't get the same amount of rope that guys that grew up in our system did like Brett Carson. Age is certainly a factor, but it's not like Harrison is ancient either. Hell, even Bryan Rodney is exempt from a certain amount of criticism and those guys are virtually the same age.
I will say this. He looked better or at least on par with Alberts for the majority of the time in the first 15-20 games he played, but admittedly there was a drop in quality of play after that which may be attributed to injuries. Either that or the speed of the game at the NHL level simply because he doesn't have the experience needed to bring it consistently.
I honestly don't think it's a lack of skill that is keeping him from being a good bottom pairing defender. I think it's a lack of polish that is really the problem.
I am convinced that 50% or more of being an effective defensive defender is the mental investment by that player to be receptive to coaching and learning how to react in certain situations. It's a muscle memory type thing when you see certain plays developing to treat them a certain way, which is why it is RARE to see young defenders with a great grasp of their own zone. That ability to react smartly can bridge the gap between more talented players.
I am obviously in the minority of one when I say that I really liked the progression that I saw in Harrison's game as the year wore on. In Albany, he really seemed to get it back on track and was playing in all situations there and that confidence really helped him. Harrison started out really well, faded into obscurity, and then finished it out strong in my opinion. I look forward to seeing what he can do with a full season under his belt in our system.
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