Bill Desert Dawg1 Heintz
Well, I see that ESPN has come out with their pre-season predictions.
Vancouver Canuck fans are bemused to see their team ranked 12th in the Western Conference. Edmonton Oiler fans are overjoyed that their team is finally receiving some much deserved respect with ESPN’s rank of 5th in the conference. Now, leaving aside ESPN’s rather dubious commitment to hockey, and therefore their writer/columnist’s lack of hockey knowledge (say compared to their knowledge of NASCAR), lets just talk about predictions in general.
Now that I’m done slagging ESPN, I submit that Canada’s TSN, or any major newspaper across the continent who indulges themselves, and their readers with “early predictions” has just got it all so wrong headed, I’d like to move that we dispense with them all together. The gazing into the crystal ball that ESPN has foisted on the public is pretty much based on last year’s records and the moves that were made early in the free agent system. So last year the Canucks finished first in the North West. Roberto Luongo closed the door after Christmas and Alain Vigneault was the coach of the year. The pop gun offense that Dave Nonis promised to fix? Well, they got Byron Ritchie and Brad Isbister. OKay, no problemo. So the pundits decided that Big Roberto would once again stand on his head for 82 games and Alain Vigneault would make more coach-of-the-year type decisions. So first place in the NW Division and a good run at the cup, where, if they were lucky, they wouldn’t run into those powerful Anaheim Ducks too early and maybe even have shot at the big enchilada.
But the Canucks missed the playoffs.
Ouch. Didn’t that one coming.
Sure there were injuries to the defence. And Big Lou finished the year worried about his family. And Markus looked even less interested than usual. And Daniel Sedin couldn’t even take a pass on his backhand, let alone score a goal in the last dozen games.
But again, the point is, the predictions were made based on the previous year.
The best of these predictions are done just after the pre-season. At least the writers are basing it on info trickling across their desks from other major league cities. But these same writers often confuse pre-season records, where many teams give everyone except their Aunt Mathilda a chance to play, with regular season success.
So Edmonton finished strong last year and Detroit was suddenly unbeatable. Yes, I know, most people picked Detroit to win the Central Division. Quite the accomplishment that.
But success in the regular season is based on a host of complicated, and interelated factors. I suggest that if one could really program these factors into the right super computer, you’d might get a a better shot at figuring out any given team’s chance for success.
But these are sports writers.
Some of these guys watch NASCAR for God sakes. And please, if you are reading this don’t get upset about me making fun about NASCAR. I do it a lot. Got a lot of them pissed at me one time and they chased me in their cars. But I lost them.
I turned right.