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01-27-2011, 09:19 AM
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Melville selects Tom Laidlaw, D.

Laidlaw's downfall was that he was a poor skater. Other than that, he was a very useful and efficient defenseman for the entirety of the 1980s.

Scouting reports paint him as a nondescript player who happens to be very smart and solid defensively. He was not punishing, but was very strong and physically effective.

Laidlaw is actually the last defenseman remaining from the mini-training camp I held in the mock A draft, that led to Steve Konroyd snagging that last 7th D spot in the 100th pick. In terms of how much icetime he received in his career, how long he played, and how good the teams were that gave him this icetime, Laidlaw is the best modern defenseman available. (this is emphasized even more by the fact that he got NO PP time, just 5% in his career, meaning he wasn't piling up 2-3 more minutes on the PP to pad his average icetime, it was all defensive situations for him.) - this is also before you account that 705 games is a lot for a guy who reached age 30 as the 1990s began - his generation was one of very little longevity.

He averaged 20.42 minutes per game in his 705 games, and 20.57 per playoff game using my playoff weighting formula, showing that he was not just relied on by bad teams. His longest playoff runs were with the 1981 Rangers (4th in TOI, 3rd at ES), 1982 Rangers (4th in TOI, 4th at ES), and the 1989 Kings (2nd in TOI, 2nd at ES). he also missed most of the Rangers' 1986 playoff run but contributed to them being a very strong team in the regular season with 20.65minutes a game, 4th on the team, 3rd at ES.

Laidlaw was an excellent penalty killer. I didn't plan it this way, but by selecting Laidlaw I am taking the last post-expansion 400-game defenseman who killed more than 50% of his team's penalties. Laidlaw killed 52%, and his teams were 2% better than average at it during his career.

Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
"(Tom) Laidlaw plays defense the way it is supposed to be played," said New York Islanders legendary coach Al Arbour back in 1985.

Arbour then continued, " He almost never makes a mistake, he takes the man out in the slot, is mobile enough to get the puck out of his own end by skating it, or, more likely, hitting the open man with a precise, accurate, pass. If he gets a chance to rush he'll take it, but he understands that is not his job. And he plays it the way most defensemen did in the old six-team NHL."

Tom's playing style was a throwback to the old six-team era, an art form almost extinct in today's hockey He never tried to be fancy with the puck, he just concentrated to do his job and that was to keep his opponents and the puck away from his defensive zone.

...Tom quickly gained reputation for his toughness. Many years after he had left NMU people still talk about how he broke his stick over his head, purposefully, following his first goal at NMU...

NY Rangers selected Tom in the 1978 draft (78th overall). He immediately took a regular shift from opening night (October 9,1980 vs. Boston) and never looked back. During his first four NHL seasons Tom only missed 2 out of 320 games. Then in his 5th season he ruptured his spleen against Boston (January 5,1985) and missed 19 games.

Some people compared Tom to Ranger legend Harry Howell. It didn't take Tom many years before he was constantly paired up with rookies on defense to "break them in".

...Tom always accepted his defensive role and not being in the spotlight of things.

"You don't win the Stanley Cup without defense. All the wheeling and dealing up ice with the puck is great for the fans, but not for the coach if you get caught out of position. Defense still wins in the NHL," Tom said.

Laidlaw's philosophy was simple: Don't let 'em through. Maybe it could have been dubbed as Laidlaw's Law.
Watch him chuck fists with a young Marty McSorley:

Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1986
one of the better Rangers in the playoffs... stand-up defenseman, stand-up guy...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1987
a defensive defenseman, a team leader who rarely gives the puck away and is seldom caught out of position... Mr. dependable... did not suffer an injury in first four seasons... steady defensively, seldom involves himself offensively... cleans zone, headmans puck and lets forwards do it... bull-strong, bull-tough in the corners...
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1986-87
a poor skater, but knows that and doesn't try to play outside his limits... what he brings is knowledge of his position, and vision on the ice... an aggressive taker-outer, but is not a punishing hitter... uses his body well, blocking shots or clogging up the middle of the ice and will take on anyone in the slot... he'll get in front of you and force you wide, but he won't take you out and keep you out. Laidlaw is a muscular man but doesn't play a physical game that matches his size, so perhaps his size is under-utilized... while he will hit, laidlaw is not a fighter. He won't back down from a confrontation, but he is not very adept at tossing his fists... he is a sit-back type and he'll just get in the way and screw up your offensive plans... defense is all that matters to him... always a very hard worker on the ice, always trying and never gives up... the steadiest defenseman the Rangers have had in the last few years.

Last edited by seventieslord: 01-28-2011 at 11:14 AM.
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