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04-11-2013, 04:50 PM
Hawkey Town 18
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
This is sort of an interesting situation. I like the way you've set your lines generally because Day appears to have believed in playing tight defense up and down the lineup, and set his lines accordingly. Based on my research of Joe Klukay, I can say pretty definitively that the normal Leafs lines at that time were generally a mix of offensive and defensive players. I've recently read a lot of old game reports from Day's Leafs (in Thomson, Mortson and Klukay, Montreal owns the biggest part of Day's defensive core for that threepeat team), and I haven't found any evidence that he used line-matching as a regular tactic on his teams.

This question reflects a general distaste I've had for some time for the generic claims made about coaches in the ATD. Did Day match lines regularly? It's sort of an ATD tradition to assume that the better coach always gets the matchups he wants, and I think this is largely rubbish. Coaches have different strengths - different things that made them truly great - and Day's great strengths seem to have been as a motivator and a defensive system coach. If Day was really a line-matcher, I'd like to see some actual evidence of it.
Thanks for your response. I did some more research on Day's coaching, but it is really difficult to find specifics about strategy. You see references to his teams being very well prepared, playing mistake free, and playing a very defensive style. You also see Day getting A LOT of credit for his teams' performances. His teams upset some heavy favorites multiple times. And when things were flip-flopped and the Leafs were the favorite, they just destroyed their competition, at one point winning 12 playoff games in a row.

Here is the one example of line matching that I was able to find in my research...

The Windsor Daily Star - April 18, 1949
Smythe thought that one of the determining factors of the series was that Detroit's big line of Syd Abel, Gordie Howe, and Ted Lindsay tried to bump his "Three Feathers" line. But Bentley, Ray Timgren and Joe Klukay were too light to be bumped and just bounced away "while the Wings took themselves out of the play."
different article, same newspaper edition...
Banking largely, as usual, on its Big Line of Lindsay, Abel, and Howe, the Detroit club clung tenaciously to its slender lead until the halfway mark of the second period - but then the fresh and power-laden Leafs got rolling and the hand-writing was on the wall.
It appears that the Bentley line was matched up against Detroit's big line. On a side note: This should be a feather in Bentley's cap, who is generally thought of as an offense-only type guy (Or maybe a feather in Day's for getting him to be able to play that way! )

Regarding Day's teams, you really do seem to have reproduced the general feel of the forwards from that 1947-49 championship run quite well. But I'm not sure you've gotten it quite right with the defensemen. From your bio of Day:

Day's defense on those teams was built around the two-way play of the Thomson - Mortson top pairing, both of whom moved the puck very well, and his earlier teams always had a strong puckmover like Stanowski or Pratt. Your 2nd and 3rd pairings will move the puck well, but Johnson - Brewer on the top pairing is a glaring weakness. Carl Brewer was a good even-strength puckmover in his day, but this is the ATD. As the primary offensive defenseman on an ATD top pairing, he is clearly lacking, and Ching Johnson is no kind of puckmover, at all. You are providing Day with less puckmoving on his top pair than he had in real life, and compared to ATD competition, much less. This looks like one of the weakest top pairings in the league in terms of puckmoving, and they may end up getting pinned in their own zone a lot by teams that can forecheck effectively.

edit: for clarity's sake, here is Carl Brewer's ES Assists record vs. other NHL defensemen:

1958-59: 4th behind Johnson, Gadsby, Turner
1959-60: 7th behind Johnson, Pilote, Pronovost, Morrison, Vasko, Flaman
1960-61: 6th behind Harvey, Gadsby, Pilote, Vasko, Talbot
1961-62: 4th behind Gadsby, Pilote, Talbot
1962-63: 3rd behind Harvey, Boivin
1964-65: 2nd behind Pilote
1969-70: 3rd behind Orr, Stapleton

Brewer certainly has a strong record as a puckmover at even-strength, but it is not ATD 1st pairing strong. If he's among the 32 best even strength puckmoving defensemen of all time, he's certainly towards the bottom of that list.
I read the quote you gave from my Hap Day bio a little differently when looking at the context. To me, that sentence is just re-enforcing how important defensive play was to Day, and not really about some kind of quick transition game in which high-end puckmoving was necessary. Here is some of the text that came before what you referenced...
“We were meticulously trained,” Leafs captain Ted Kennedy said of the system the coach put in place. “It was drilled into us. Day was insistent on doing it his way, leaving as little as possible to chance.”

Reporters remarked that Day’s training camps more closely resembled prison camps, with the coach clamping down on anyone who made a mistake, most particularly in the defensive zone. They may have cursed him (behind his back, of course) but they learned what they were capable of doing at game time.

Day, having been a defenceman himself, believed in making sure one’s check never got away from him. Some opponents complained that the Leafs were nothing but clutch-and-grab artists during Day’s tenure, but that style of play proved remarkably effective. Day saw to it that his troops got the puck out of their own zone as quickly as possible. Then they could worry about finding creative new ways to score.
Maybe some of the other GM's can give us their feelings?

While I'm definitely not going to argue that Brewer and Johnson are great puckmovers, it should be noted that they were both the best puckmovers on their real-life pairings. Johnson usually being paired with Abel, and Brewer with Baun. Both were generally facing top lines, and both were on pretty successful teams...someone was moving the puck when they were on the ice. I think what TDMM said was fairly accurate, these guys are fine at ES, but fall in an overall ranking because of sub-par play on the PP.

Finally, one thing that should really help move the puck in the defensive end is having Plante in goal, who not only was a great puckhanlder that often left the net to help his defensemen, but also a great communicator, constantly yelling to his teammates and acting as a second set of eyes for them.

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