Thanks to the flat salary cap for the past few years, and the existence of a hard cap at all for nearly two decades, a lot of NHL rosters look the same. You can’t build super teams, and if you weren’t lucky in the past few years to get a high draft pick to take a true star, you’re left with a lot of grafters. Every team has at least a couple plugs on the bottom two lines or may be the bottom pairings. Maybe they’re fast. Maybe they’re good penalty killers. Maybe they’re good forecheckers. Maybe they’re a bum-slaying d-man, the kind that can push the play against fellow punters but is overmatched when they get out on the ice against the top of an opponent’s roster.
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And then sometimes rosters are filled out by guys who look like they won a contest. The team had to throw a jersey on someone, and this giblet just happened to be in the area. The Edmonton Oilers’ Vincent Desharnais is clearly the worst player in these NHL playoffs (and Brendan Smith has made an appearance for the Devils!), and if he continues on this path and he keeps drugging coaches to get him into the lineup (surely the only way he keeps getting to dress), he may be in the running for worst player of all-time.
Dear reader, I can assure you that whenever you tune into an Edmonton Oilers game this spring, it will be no more than 18 seconds before you can see Desharnais getting walked around at his blue line, or taking a penalty, or committing an unconscionable turnover. His main skill seems to be that he’s 6-foot-6, and there are still far too many coaches who are enchanted by the idea of a crease-clearer, even after watching teams skate around and through their backhoe of a defenseman. But hey, you can store his sticks on the top shelf in the hallway without complaint.
Here’s a sampling of Desharnais’s contributions so far. Here he is taking the penalty in Game 1 against the Kings that would cost the Oilers the game, when he showed the same turning speed as a Virgin cruise ship:
Here he is in Game 4 of that series, with the Oilers already down 2-1 in the series and trailing the game 1-0, trying to cut off a cross-ice pass with the same urgency and speed of someone going to get their morning paper combined with the positional awareness of a Deadhead in the parking lot:
And last night, in Game 1 against the Knights, here he is giving away the lead the Oilers had just taken by attempting an outlet pass through Ivan Barbashev’s lower intestine:
I guess there’s a reason to have him around
I suppose there’s a benefit of having players like Desharnais around, in that they make us feel closer to the game and league because surely if he can get into the NHL, all of us were only a couple breaks from doing so ourselves. It is also relatable to watch someone else in their profession thrash around and drown in a setting where they’re clearly overmatched and perhaps even ignorant of the job description. We’ve all been there, probably at the same age as Desharnais. Maybe yours was as an office assistant and all the toner in the copier ended up on your hands and shirt. Maybe it was in the service industry when suddenly you have 14 tables out of nowhere at once and the cooks just went out to get high in the alley. For Desharnais, it’s whenever he’s faced with a forechecker. But we all know that feeling of not being able to find air anywhere at work. It’s relatable. And most of us aren’t Oilers fans.
I guess we should have known. He comes from Laval, which we know is where d-gens in Quebec hail from.
Well, we did say the Pittsburgh Pirates would be interesting…
It’s been a bit of a rude awakening the past two nights for the Pirates in Tampa, as they’ve gotten clocked in two losses to the tune of 12-2 combined. But that hasn’t stopped them from flashing what makes them fun, highlighted by this Ji Hwan Bae grab:
Of course, the very next batter Bae threw the ball away to cost the Bucs a run. But growing pains and such…
Joe Scally weighs in
Finally, as U.S. Soccer hones in on its next coach, it probably won’t put too much stock in what semi-regular squad member Joe Scally has to say. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong:
This is the crux of international management. A coach doesn’t get much time, he’s dealing with players who play all sorts of systems most of the time with their club teams, the tournaments come when the players are already exhausted. Berhalter has his strengths, which mostly have to do with the culture he creates, but you could see that on the field the team could get pretty stiff when faced with a challenge they didn’t expect. They were looking for patterns in attack far too often instead of going with what was in front of them. Scally’s thoughts come from somewhere, and it’s unlikely he’s going rogue.