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The Lesson of San Jose

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I have been neglecting my NHL playoff blogging duties, being reduced to Twitter predictions of the conference finals and finals. I don’t have a great deal to say about the finals, which strike me as even more of a coin flip than usual.

I will, however, direct you to my epic post on the Sharks from two years ago. The tl;dr version, applicable to any pro sport, is this: BLOWING UP THE CORE for the sake of BLOWING UP THE CORE because of frustrating losses is really, really dumb. When you trade a star player — not for the chance to add a piece you think fits your team better but to shake up the team or whatever — you very, very rarely receive full value. If you won’t be a contender while your stars are still stars then trading them at a loss might be the right strategy anyway. But if you’re still a good team, don’t trade your core players unless you can actually improve the team. Blaming a team’s best players for disappointing results has led to a large number of personnel blunders. Postseason losses aren’t evidence that great players lack character. I’m not rooting for San Jose, exactly — conference rival and all that — but I will be happy for Thornton and Marleau in particular if they win. Thornton is an underrated a player as a first-ballot Hall of Famer can be, the Bruins were utter idiots to trade him for a fraction of his value, and the Sharks were smart to hang on to him. He’s still a tremendous player at age 36.

The latest team to forget this lesson is the Ducks, who were utter idiots to fire Bruce Boudreau because of a string of game 7 playoff losses (one of which was in the conference finals, to the Blackhawks.) I agree with Anaheim that firing Boudreau will probably solve the team’s problem of Game 7 playoff losses, but not in the way they expect.

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