McKenzie Throws A Wrench In The Narrative

By JD Lagrange – They’re numerous. They’re loud. They are focussed on one thing and one thing only: being right. Or is it being Wright? They are the Shane Wright extremists. Let’s clarify something here… not everyone who wants the Montreal Canadiens to select Wright with the first overall pick fits that bill. But they are too many who do.

Long time guru Bob McKenzie, one of the most respected draft expert in the media, a guy who does the draft for both TSN and American networks, has thrown a monkey wrench in their gear. Up until now, those extremists, for whom there is no room for discussion, no grey area, who feel like their favourite is miles ahead of the competition, got their foundation shaken.

It happened when McKenzie published his final ranking for the 2022 NHL Draft, and guess who is NOT at the top anymore? That’s right, Shane Wright has been knocked of his throne for… Juraj Slavkovsky.

Not happy

Now those extremists are not happy. And I mean really not happy. Their recourse? Regurgitate the same narrative over and over again… but louder and more often, this time around. It’s like someone who believes that shouting will get the message through. I’ve got news for them: it doesn’t work that way.

Instead, now they’re finding ways to put down McKenzie. Have you ever wondered why they weren’t doing that when McKenzie had Wright going first in his previous rankings? Because it fit their beliefs, their narrative. Now that it doesn’t, he’s no good. Figure…

It’s sad, really sad. As the sensible thing to do would be to recognize that while they may not have changed their mind about whom the Canadiens should select first, at least they should recognize and acknowledge that Slafkovsky is also a very good pick. As mentioned earlier, many who want the Habs to pick Wright have been doing just that. And that’s respectable and commendable.

So why getting upset? You see, I’ve been wondering and curious about the prospect of Juraj Slafkovsky for a while now. Just recently, I even put him going number one in my own (unprofessional) ranking. I have been taking abuse on Twitter ever since. Weird behaviour if you ask me. One even accused me of being Grant McCagg’s (from Recrute.ca) burner account. No need to say, that clown was blocked immediately.

Others have been saying things like: “You will be disappointed when they pick Wright”, or “Your reasons to want Slafkovsky is only because of his size”. It all cases, it cannot be further from the truth. I have stated from day one that I will be thrilled no matter who the Canadiens pick as it should be a very good player. And I’ve explained that in addition to his size, Slafkovsky is a good skater who goes hard to the net, has natural scoring abilities, is very difficult to knock off the puck and one of his best attributes is puck possession.

Evidence building up

Just recently, a bunch of scouts mentioned that Slafkovsky could go number one. Alain Chainey, who spent more than 20 years as a scout and Director of Amateur Scouting for the Anaheim Ducks, said he would select Juraj Slafkovsky. We quoted three more NHL scouts, in an earlier article, who believe that the Canadiens could go with someone else than Wright. Well respected reporter Matthias Brunet has been quoting people for a while in favour of Slafkovsky.

This society is sick and social media makes it unbearable at times. The need to be right goes beyond the need for common sense. Every time I start feeling like this fan base is gaining momentum, a controversy is created and the true temperaments come out, fans show their true colours. We see the same about the bashing of Shea Weber and Carey Price, the two biggest world class and league-wide well respected athletes the Habs have had in years.

It just makes me want to say: Grow up already! Acting like this makes you look like spoiled brats whose parents said no to! You want your opinion to be respected? Respect the opinion of others. In spite of what you might believe, while it is YOUR truth, you do NOT hold the ultimate truth. An opinion is just that. And in this case, we won’t know who the better will be for at least 3-5 years, if we’re lucky.

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NHL Draft: Habs Fanbase Set-Up for Disappointment

By JD Lagrange – I cannot wait for the NHL Draft to be over. Not for the same reason as most. You see, I’m part of the group of fans who will be supporting the Canadiens’ decision no matter whom they will chose to select with the number one overall pick. Whether they go up to the podium and announce Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, Logan Cooley, Simon Nemec or David Jiricek, I will be thrilled, excited about the prospect of getting an excellent young hockey player for years to come.

Back when Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins were fired and Jeff Gorton came on board, and then hired Kent Hughes as the team’s GM, there was a wind of fresh air on the Canadiens’ organization. And I was one of the few who liked Bergevin. But still, after over nine years, a change for which I had no say was made. And the new guys, I feel, deserve for fans and media give them the necessary rope to do their job to the best of their ability. They may take that rope and run with it, or they may hang themselves. The future will tell but in the meantime, they deserve to be trusted.

Wright extremism

Shane Wright

But what really bothers me in the weeks leading up to the Draft is the constant pounding we’re taking on social media from Wright extremists. What? What’s a Wright extremist? They are the people who make it sound like there’s only one good choice in this Draft: It’s Shane Wright and nothing else. They have this ability to present Wright as a sure bet, the only sure bet. They present him as so far ahead, like it’s a Connor McDavid type of Draft.

I’ve tried to explain this phenomenon on Twitter but I can’t convey the message across. I’m not comparing Wright to McDavid nor do I think that some people are comparing the players. Clear? The McDavid analogy is a figure of speech. When a McDavid is available, he’s so far ahead of the field that picking him is a no-brainer. Chances are that Connor Bedard will be one, next summer. You cannot pick anyone else but Bedard. Too many Habs’ fans make it sound like this is such a draft year, that Wright is far ahead of the field. Yet, every single reputable draft expert will tell us that the gap between the top-3 or top-5 prospects is very minimal, unlike a McDavid year.

Set-up for disappointment

Now hear me out and allow me to explain. Imagine a points attribution system. After attributing the points, Wright is ahead by one single point on 15 Draft experts’ list. That makes him the consensus number one overall pick. If all of them have him up by one point, it even makes him a unanimous number one pick. So far so good, right? But he’s the consensus… by one single point even if there are 15 experts agreeing. The way some Habs’ fans are reading this is they think that he’s the consensus number one by… 15 points! It’s false information.

This way of thinking, this overwhelming show of support for one player with no grey zone, is toxic and very dangerous in a draft year like this one. Particularly in Montreal, particularly with social media to drive people’s mind, particularly in today’s society of entitlement and being right (or “winning”) is taking away any room for other options or opinions. As disappointment is based on expectations, this situation creates the perfect storm for it to happen.

I’m telling you now… if the Canadiens select Shane Wright first overall and someone else picked after him turns out to be better than him next year, and God forbid later down the line, even those who today feel like they should pick Wright today will turn on the kid and on the organization faster than a politician on his promises! And rest assured that you will have people in the media feeding their anger, as they always do, making the situation even worse.

And there are two ways that fans could be disappointed. The first one is the disappointment coming at the Draft, if the Canadiens chose to select someone other than Shane Wright. Remember the lady from the 2018 NHL Draft when the Habs selected Jesperi Kotkaniemi? The second possible disappointment is if Wright doesn’t turn out to be the best choice… down the line.

The solution

There is a simple solution to avoid such backlash but unfortunately, too many don’t want to hear it… or admit it anyway. Avoid becoming a Wright extremist. Keep an open mind. Recognize that the gap between Wright and the other two, three or even four prospects is tight and any of them would be a good pick. Trust the new management in place and accept their decision with excitement, with a smile. Avoid at all cost the “I was right” attitude.

This does not come naturally folks, not in today’s entitled society where too many people are easily offended, where they think that everything is owed to them. This is something that comes with life experience, something that a person needs to work on. Taking a deep breath and thinking rationally, understanding that our personal opinion might be our truth, it is not THE truth… It’s a mindset.

In this case, it’s understanding and recognizing that Wright, while the “consensus number one”, is not far ahead, that it could just as well be someone else. It’s respecting that Slafkovsky, Cooley, Nemec or Jiricek could very well be a better pick, even though our personal favourite might be Wright. Keep an open mind folks. Take it from people with perhaps a little bit more life experience. Oh old folks are no better. They have just lived through more…

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