Thursday, December 3, 2009
Foligno Scratched For Kings Tilt
Coach Clouston made an interesting move today in scratching Nick Foligno for the Kings game tonight.
I like this move because Foligno is the exact type of player that a benching really works for. He's young enough and at a mid-level role on the team where he may be getting complacent. He's also the type of player you can scratch and expect him to take it positively and to genuinely use it as motivation. He's also the type of player you can scratch without setting off a media firestorm because of it.
Certainly there are players who are struggling much worse than Foligno is but realistically, a few of them can't be scratched. Everyone will be pointing the finger at Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo as more appropriate candidates but benching either of those players won't produce results.
Kovalev has had much worse happen to him than being made a healthy scratch. He was actually sent home for a week by Montreal GM Bob Gainey last year. What everyone around the league knows is that Kovalev is never going to change. Benching him is not going to help the team. He also creates 3 times as many chances as Foligno so sitting him would hurt rather than help your team.
As for Cheechoo, he's already hit rock bottom. He will be out of the lineup once the politically correct amount of time passes and before he exhausts everyone's good natured patience. Cheechoo is in the lineup because he was part of the Heatley trade. It's as simple as that. As soon as (if) the Senators get fully healthy, Cheechoo will be a Black Ace as he should be. Benching him for a game will not improve his play. He already knows he's on thin ice. His heart is in the right place, but the guy can't skate.
As for Foligno, he's played long enough and well enough where he might be getting a little "fat and comfortable" in a way. He's a player who has never faced any real media pressure and has sort of coasted his way to an effective career thus far despite having some bonafide power forward skills that he hasn't fully utilised yet.
This will be good for Foligno. He's a strong character guy who is simply being sent a message by a demanding coach who so far has shown the ability to press all the right buttons (although Heatley may disagree with that).
The recent benchings of Chris Campoli, Peter Regin and now Foligno will ensure that a certain level of competitiveness will exist within the club. As good coaches know, there are a select few players on every team that you have to "keep hungry" by starving them once in a while.
Fans generally want a black and white universe where every player is treated the exact same way. That's just not the case. Different personalities require different motivations. It's that way in the real world. Of course it's that way in hockey.