Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fronts: The wisdom of Larry Mavety still hasn't revealed itself

It's always nice to do a mash-up of two unrelated items to point out the unflattering truth about the whole durned human comedy which is the Kingston Frontenacs.

The first item is that Pat Curcio, a good, young coach (and former Ottawa 67) left the London Knights, where he had been assistant coach the past couple years, to coach an ECHL team. The second is that a one-time Fronts draft choice, Stefan Thompson, was traded within in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

This isn't a testimonial to either Curcio as a coach or Thompson as a player. The point is, though, this all goes to show how Frontenacs owner Doug Springer and general mangler (not a typo) Larry Mavety have little to no idea how to identify value, or realize what has value.

No one is saying Curcio is the next Mike Babcock. London fans on the NOOF seemed generally happy to have Jacques Beaulieu back as assistant coach. However, he has put in the time honing his craft as a coach and as a personnel man. Curcio turned out solid teams with the Pickering Panthers. The Panthers, since Curcio left in 2007, have won just 26 games in two seasons. They had seasons of 26, 30 and 29 wins the previous three years, so evidently, he knew how to win with a less than perfect organization, which is a good prereq for a candidate to coach the Frontenacs.

He's someone who has put in the time to warrant a shot at running a major junior team, but the Frontenacs would rather put a local celebrity who's a coaching novice behind the bench. One can easily imagine that Doug Springer wouldn't even be able to answer if you asked him, "Who is Pat Curcio?"

It's a similar story with Thompson, who was taken in the third round (49th overall) in 2007 and appeared in one game over two seasons. Who knows what he could have done with more of a chance, although the Fronts keep saying they need goal scorers and he is a 6-foot-1, 190-lb. forward who was close to a point-per-game player in Junior A last season.

The point is Mavety and Springer undervalued a third-round selection. The Frontenacs got only two regulars out of the draft, Ethan Werek and Taylor Doherty, whom they got in the first two rounds. Those were gimmes (and two years later, each of them has the label of "project" heading into the NHL draft. The Hockey News draft preview calls Werek a "project forward," but is generally positive about him.)

The Belleville Bulls' third- through sixth-round picks from 2007 all played regularly last season (Andy Bathgate, Brett Mackie, Luke Judson and Robert Stellick). The Bulls bided their time while some of them played in Junior A or midget during the season after being drafted. It is a similar story with the Ottawa 67's. The Soixys also drafted four regulars after the Frontenacs took Thompson: Brian Birkhoff, Jon Carnevale, Riley Sonnenburg and Marc Zanetti. They also took a NCAA-track player, Ben Sexton, who might get taken in the NHL draft next month.

That's what can happens when a team takes the priority selection seriously and follows up with later-blooming players who aren't ready for the OHL at age 16, which very few are. TVCogeco's Mark Potter has pointed out that the notion of "draft and follow" is pretty much a foreign concept to Larry Mavety. It's a stretch to say any draft choice who isn't OHL-ready gets tossed away like something stuck under your windshield wiper.

Again, there is every hope (not the same as confidence) the magic of a Doug Gilmour makeover will reveal itself once he's had a full season. It's nice, thanks to rhetorical devices such as Pat Curcio and Stefan Thompson, to be reminded how the Frontenacs got in such a mess and why it's doubtful the people who created it are the ones to clean it up, even with Gilmour's reflected glory.

Couple of Werek notes:

  • Faceoff Factor believes the Pittsburgh Penguins, might take Werek with the 28th overall pick (which seems to be a consensus opinion):
    "Werek is a funny combination of board work, goal line work, and a pretty even keel of offensive abilities. He keeps getting bigger, and as he does so, he’s continuing to get better in traffic. He can play wing and should has a high potential to become a top-six guy someday. The 6-foot-2, 195-lb. center will be playing under the tutelage of Doug Gilmour next year and, along with Moon, will have a great opportunity to hone his offensive and defensive abilities. In his rookie year, Werek had 64 points (32 goals, 32 assists) in 66 games."
  • Werek is rehabbing after having a blood clot in his ankle which required a MRI

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