Monday, October 06, 2008

Fronts: Bobbing in a sea of Maviocrity and fans dressed as empty seats

It's kind of fun, not to mention a good coping mechanism, to imagine Kingston Frontenacs GM-for-life Larry Mavety getting tag-teamed by the Bobs from Office Space.
"What is it that you'd say that you do here?"
To borrow another line from a cult classic, Frontenacs owner Doug Springer is having a case of the Mondays.

Five games into the season (four real losses, one charity-pointer, an overtime loss) and the Fronts Talk-ers are already calling for Mavety's firing. It will also probably not take too long before the right people start asking questions about the team's announced attendance figures, which seem divorced from all reality.

On the plus side, it was a fun game to watch in person in Oshawa on Sunday night, at least for a period and a half.

Getting back to the attendance, the apparently inactive Fire Larry Mavety noted in February that the City of Kingston, which has a $1.50 surcharge on each ticket, is budgeted for 3,500 fans per game. It has also, if memory serves, projected revenues based on the Frontenacs having at least four home playoff dates. That means having home-ice advantage for a first-round series that goes the full seven games, as per Springer's opening-night vow, or reaching the second round. Of course, that hasn't been heard of in Kingston since before Springer owned the team.
It's early yet, but people are already peeved. Good for them. Here's a sampling from the diehards, God love 'em:
"Collectively, they don't play as a team. And that's the coaching staff's fault. There are no systems, it's basically five guys skating around doing what they think they should do. Sure, they try hard, but at the end of the day there's no cohesion on the ice.

"People point at last season's 'turnaround' (and I use that term loosely, since the team was still way under .500 under Mavety) as a reason that Mav could do good things with this year's squad. But one thing people need to remember, is the fact that John Murray stole game after game, after game for us last year. And John Murray's not around this year. He made up for a lot of the shortcomings of the team last year, and exaggerated how good the team actually was."

"(Springer) outright lied when he said he would do whatever it takes to build a successful franchise, he did absolutely nothing apart from reprise his geriatric coach from the prior ten years."

"I also had the pleasure of speaking with a few of the player parents that made their way to the (Oshawa) game as well as a couple of billets that made the trip and they all said the same thing - MAVETY HAS TO GO AND GO NOW!

I know I have said this before, but there are players that, if things don't change, they will be asking for trades.
It's no surprise. Fans were right ticked when Springer, ever indifferent, waited until mid-August to announce Mavety was returning as coach. Granted, in this corner, it seemed sporting to heed the spirit of the late, great Kingston sportscaster Max Jackson's sign-off, "If you can't play a sport, be one!" and wait at least until the 15-, 20-game mark before calling for a change in ownership or management. (To say nothing of writing another passionate plea for favourite son Kirk Muller to make like his former MontrĂ©al Canadiens teammate Patrick Roy (well, not completely like Roy) and buy his hometown junior hockey club?

His Royal Mavesty is flesh and bone like all of us. Who among us would not wish for a twenty-second chance to get something right?

Anyway, spending the weekend in Southern Ontario afforded me the opportunity to see the Fronts' 5-3 loss to John Tavares and the Oshawa Generals on Sunday. There's far too much of a time lag to rehash the who-what-where-when-why (the Fronts should put together five Ws so fast!), but here were some general thoughts:
  • Five games is way too soon to use this line about the Frontenacs prize rookie defenceman: "Which Erik are we going to see — Gudbranson or Bad-branson?" There was a bit of both. Knocking Tavares off the puck on a 1-on-1 rush, and then knocking the future No. 1 overall pick on his duff was Gud. Getting two assists was Gud. 

    The Badbranson moments: Missing a clearing attempt and giving Oshawa a gift shot for its go-ahead goal. Gudbranson was trusted to kill a two-man disadvantage to start the third period, but made a weak clearing attempt that allowed Oshawa to keep the puck in the Kingston zone. Two passes later, Tavares had what stood up as the game-winning goal. (In fairness, Taylor Doherty would probably be out there, and he had taken the second penalty for roughing after the whistle.)
  • In the second period, the Generals got Tavares' line out against Kingston's fourth line, but the Fronts came out ahead. Peter Stevens bumped Tavares, a fight broke out and Oshawa got the extra minor penalty. On the power play, though, Corbin Crawford hit the goalpost, missing a chance to go up by two goals. It was also karmic, especially considering how Kingston competed once it lost the lead.
  • Overheard on Saturday at Queen's football win over York: "The Frontenacs will probably start 0-8 and Mavety will blame everybody but himself."

    Forty-eight hours later, Mavety tells the local paper that a couple of his players " obviously aren't as mentally tough as we thought they were" and have a "defeatist attitude." Hey, it's good to know that the coaching wasn't to blame.


Tyler King said...

The fact remains - who wants to come to Kingston if Mavety were fired? Springer's only real option would be to promote Cimellaro or Keilly, which probably wouldn't placate the blame-Mavety-firsters.

Duane Rollins said...

I'm pretty sure there would be plenty of resumes for an open OHL head coaching gig.

Belleville's record, by the way... 5-1-0.

I'm just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Watching Friday's game, I couldn't believe the number of times the Storm were able to get their top line out against Kingston's fourth line (which had two converted defencemen on the wings). Once maybe, but more than that and it just points to bad coaching, especially when you are at home and have last change.

Also, someone is definitely inflating the attendance because it was empty and dead in their Friday night. I welcomed the K-Rock Centre when it opened, but there is absolutely no atmosphere in there, unless you count the crappy score clock telling people to cheer.

Jordie Dwyer said...

Yeah, but the question that begs to be asked...Would you work for Springer??

Duane Rollins said...

If I were a young coach looking for my first break? I think that I'd approach it the same way every other coach in that situation does...That I'd be the one to make it work.

But, Mav isn't going anywhere, anyway.

sager said...

Good letter to the editor in The Whig today:"...Mavety needs to step aside and turn the head coaching reigns over to a new coach.

A coach with a proven track record and a proven hockey system and development program must be brought in from outside this organization. This new coach must be given 100% authority for the development of the team on the ice, with no interference from upper management. You cannot move one of the current assistants to the head coach position, as they are just not qualified to do the job.

This team has a good bunch of young men with a lot of talent, but they need proper coaching and leadership from behind the bench -something they are not getting now."

There were times on Sunday when it took them 2,3 tries to clear the puck out of their own zone. There were other times when you saw all 3 forwards not just on the same half of the ice, but the same quadrant.

Anyway, I was a blame-Mavety-firster until some people set me straight: Springer is the problem, and like I said exactly nine months ago:

"The public perception of Springer seems to have cemented. He can't win in Kingston. The only way out of this mess is a change in ownership." (Jan. 7, 2008)

Nine months is enough time to carry a set of twins to term, but not enough time to change one's opinion. I'll always be a Fronts fan despite Duane's Elaine Benes-esque efforts to pull off the conversion.

Someone else said it first, but it's nuts that Kingston could be a finalist for CBC's Hockeyville and have people avoiding its OHL team like the plague.

Duane Rollins said...

Hey...I understand loyalty to a team. I'm a diehard Canadian men's national soccer team guy. Oh, how I get it.

Plus the Bulls went through some dark years before they became one of the most consistently successful CHL teams - I think the change happened around 1990ish...I'm not sure if one can point to something that happened around that time that could explain it ;)

But, it might do you some good to adopt the nearly as close to your hometown as the Fronts are Bulls as a solid second favourite OHL team. You know, for your sanity.

sager said...

Hey, I try to keep up with how the Bellevegans are faring ... and once the Fronts are out, I cheer for them ... with that in mind, who would they meet in the first round of the playoffs?

Duane Rollins said...

For the (off the top of my head) sixth time (Belleville's record in said series = 5-0, by the way)?

I would love to see another Kingston/Bulls first round series. They are so fun (and I'm not just saying that because the Bulls always win...)

Duane Rollins said...

Even in the best hockey series ever played (1989) when Kingston was the clear favourite going in!