Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the best part of the offseason! It’s when a foreign player slags another player in his native language, then retracts/adjusts/denies it right away! When Taylor Hall isn’t being thrown under a bus, we’ve got questions about the NHL’s best beat writers, intangibles and why anyone should choose to play their hockey in Buffalo. Mailbag!

1. Hall? Pass!

Oscar Klefbom took a shot at Taylor Hall (in a Swedish publication, and as is hockey tradition with these sorts of things, he immediately “clarified” his statement) by saying he essentially was useless against good teams and piled up points against weaker teams. It’s an odd statement for several reasons:

  • The final 17 games of 2013-14 — much like the final 17 games of every season — were meaningless for the Oilers.
  • Klefbom played 17 games in 2013-14, 60 games in 2014-15 and 30 last season. Of those 97 career games, Klefbom shared the ice with Hall 56 times.
  • That leaves us with 39 games in which Klefbom could have conducted an on-ice assessment of Hall’s play vs. elite and weaker talent, which doesn’t seem like enough to me. Apparently it does to Ben Scrivens, though.

  • This idea that the Oilers ever played weak competition during seasons that saw the Oilers finish 28th, 28th and 29th under the watchful analytical eye of Klefbom is pretty funny. So Hall really turned it on in those two games against the Maple Leafs every year, but coasted against literally the rest of the league? The entire Oilers team has been bad from top to bottom for nearly a decade and somehow it’s only Hall that is to blame? Man, it’s a wild coincidence that the only player that we have heard about killing the Oilers is the one they traded a month ago.

Hall had the slightest of dips in his scoring average against playoff teams last year, but that’s to be expected against better teams. If you believe that a European player was misquoted in his native language, then this is hardly an ex-teammate tossing Hall under the bus.

But if you believe Klefbom’s original statement — I do! — then you have to wonder how a 23-year-old who’s been up and down in three seasons came to this conclusion. My feeling is, like all young, impressionable people, he didn’t come up with this notion on his own. It was probably something that was said for years by veterans in Edmonton and Klefbom bought into the assessment.

Yada, yada, yada, that Klefbom statement probably speaks more to why the Oilers had to trade Hall as opposed to Hall’s actual production and ability.


2. Mount Beatmore

In the business of sports writing, the people who break news are held in the highest regard and tend to get the national jobs. It goes for beat writers too, but as a sports fan, I could not possibly care less who was the first to report a signing. I want to be flooded with information about my favorite sports team and wouldn’t mind you making me laugh here and there.

With that in mind, these are the beat writers you wouldn’t want off the beat, the ones you wouldn’t beat off, if you will.

Jeremy Rutherford, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (@jprutherford) — Whenever I’m researching something for a story and I need a question answered, Jeremy has almost always already answered it. I imagine that’s very satisfying if you’re a Blues fan. He also does chats that are filled with good info.

Michael Russo, Minneapolis Star Tribune (@russostrib) — He breaks news and usually has insider information that others do not. He also seems to empty the notebook quite often. Lots of hashtag content for Wild fans.

Mark Lazerus, Chicago Sun-Times (@marklazerus) — He writes good analytical stuff, takes on things like Patrick Kane rape allegations head-on and is a good follow on Twitter (as long as you can get past his tweeting every time he hears a Pearl Jam song).

Arthur Staple, Newsday (@stapenewsday) — He’s pretty much the only human being on the Islanders beat. Instead of being consumed by loneliness on the road and overwhelmed by dealing with a team that has seemingly been on the move for years, he still finds time to interact with fans in Twitter Q&As.

If I didn’t list you, take it as an insult and use this as motivation to get better at your job, damn it. I’m ashamed of you. God.


3. Stick It To Me

Here’s an impression of me watching a game in late-October.

[a stick snaps in half for the third time in a period]

Me: Damn it, I wanted to keep track of how many broken sticks I see during the season.

Then I go about ignoring the number of broken sticks I see and repeat this process the following season.

There are 1,230 games in a season. I’d say on average there are a little less than 1.5 sticks broken per game. So I will say the number of sticks broken in a season is 1,697. If the average cost of a stick is $300, that’s about $500,000 lost to broken sticks during a season.

In related news, I wish I ran a business that was so profitable that I could automatically assume a half-million dollars in losses every year as if it were no big deal.


4. Suicide Squad

This would require me to know the characters of this movie beyond The Joker and Harley Quinn, and I’m sorry, that’s just not going to happen in today’s mailbag.


5. Bad Ice

It was at the outdoor game in Calgary between the Flames and Canadiens. It was literally cracking in one of the corners, which is probably the last place you want bad ice. The wind chill pushed the temperature to −25 degrees Celsius (−13 Fahrenheit) and I honestly can’t believe the players went through with the game.


6. Best Game

Broncos-Giants, Oct. 24, 2005. Giants came back from down 13 points in the fourth quarter to win 24-23. It felt like Eli Manning’s coming-out party. The Giants got stomped in the playoffs that year, but that was the start of the run which led to two Super Bowls, both won by defeating the New England Patriots.

And last year’s Giants loss to Carolina was easily the most fun I’ve ever had watching the Giants lose. I’d go to that game again if I could.


7. Expansion Or-pick

I did an expansion draft a while back. Rosters will change between now and next summer, which means players available now may not be available then. But it seems as though there will be no shortage of useful defenseman.

Brooks Orpik is old, not good and has a cumbersome contract. There’s no reason to think Las Vegas would take it on, unless the management team is as inept as it is laden with former Capitals front-office people.


8. Advanced Intangibles

There are many possibilities. I’m no analytical maven but here’s where I would look.


With your leg in pieces, adrenaline can take over and get you through that penalty kill and onto autograph signings where you ink your name on that picture of you grimacing whilst killing a meaningless penalty in November.


Don’t underestimate on how not receiving enough love from a father as a child can lead to someone seeking it out in other father figures, like a coach.


Sometimes the simplest answer is the answer.


In the world of hockey, asking to come out of a game with a broken leg can be interpreted as weakness. Fear of being branded a coward by people that are only temporary parts of your life can push you through that pain.


Is it a contract year? Are you not financially secure? You’ll play through a broken leg, mangled genitals and a missing eye if that’s how you earn income.


9. Power of Persuasion

“It’s not Edmonton.”