Wednesday, November 15, 2006


MUP: Most Useless Player

Thanks to the rapid expansion of the NHL to 30 teams over the past decade, the door has opened up for some very marginal talent to enter the NHL ranks and make a decent career for themselves. Unfortunately, not every player is all that good or all that useful, yet they are somehow afforded a job.

When constructing a roster, it's usually the norm to give every player some sort of role: Scorer, playmaker, penalty killer, grinder, goon, waterboy, etc. Now, what if you have a player that brings absolutely nothing to the table? He'd sound kind of useless, wouldn't he?

Thus, the inspiration for the Brian Savage Award for Most Useless NHL player.

This doesn't necessarily mean the worst, mind you. Wade Belak and Derek Boogaard are terrible players, but at least they can pound the snot out of people and have some use to their teams.

No, a truly useless player possesses absolutely no positive attributes or ability to play any sort of role.

What makes a player useless? A useless player possesses all of the following attributes.

1. Lack of offensive ability
2. Lack of defensive ability
3. Lack of physical presence beyond average
4. Lack of fighting skills
5. Lack of leadership skills beyond average
6. Lack of hustle, intangibles, etc... beyond average

Yes, there are NHL players who fit this mould. Let's look at some of the 'best' candidates.

1. Ryan Johnson, St. Louis Blues: Ryan Johnson, the younger bro of Greg Johnson, has somehow managed to piece together a career of 420 games despite being extremely useless. 73 points and a -75 in those 420 career games show you just how great he is.

His best offensive year was the 20-point effort he had as a Lightning in 2000-01. With the Blues last season, Johnson put up a stinky -21 and 9 points in 65 games.

For the Blues, he doesn't kill penalties, because he can't. He doesn't produce any offence, because he has little talent. He doesn't fight much (153 career PIM), play all that physical, or provide anything of value. Despite this, he gets a regular 10 minutes of ice time and a night and makes well over the minimum ($700k+).

SO, for playing so many games and earning such a nice salary while doing absoluting nothing but sucking, I'll have to award Ryan Johnson with the 1st Brian Savage Award.

The runners up.

2. Mark Rycroft, Colorado Avalanche: The former St. Louis Blue and linemate of Johnson's, Rycroft is pretty much a Ryan Johnson clone, only Rycroft was never drafted while Johnson was a 2nd round pick!

Somehow, Coach Q thought Rycroft was the answer to replace Brad May's utter suckiness, but Joel forgot that Rycroft can't fight and doesn't hit.

In 174 career games, Rycroft has just 36 points and 84 PIMs with a -13. He's an atrocious skater and can't be used on the penalty kill, and he'll never produce offensively.

3. Jeff Hoggan, Boston Bruins:

Another former St. Louis Blues forward, Hoggan has just 65 games under his belt, but 9 points and an impressive -20 with just 48 PIM. Hoggan does show more speed and hustle than either Johnson or Rycroft, but it's not like that helps Hoggan do anything of value for the Ruins. Hoggan's prime ability is to handle 5-6 puckbunnies at once, therefore saving the star players from wasting their energy on sinful pursuits.

Dishonourable Mention:

4. Steve Goertzen, Columbus Dinner Jackets: Only the BJs would find it in their hearts to dress a mediocre WHL player (yes, he was a 3rd liner in juniors!) 42 times over the past two seasons. In those 42 games, Goertzen has 0 points (what a shocker) and he's -17!

To his benefit, Steve has played only 5 games this year as the BJs probably realize that he shouldn't really be on the big club, plus Goertzen does have a good work ethic and can punch people up once in awhile. Still, this guy should simply not be on an NHL roster. You might as well just concede a goal for every game this guy plays.

Those are just 4 examples of NHL players who add nothing to an NHL roster, yet somehow seem to get dressed more often than a guy like Petr Tenkrat. Any other worthy candidates I may have been overlooking?

Does Martin Gerber qualify for an honorable mention?

It's really quite hard to lump goalies in this award since they have one purpose: Stop the puck!

Even the worst goalies can function by opening the bench door for their teammates.

Of course, if you didn't sign him to such a silly deal, you wouldn't be in quite the mess you are.
Personally, this should be re-named the Andreas Salomonnson award. He came to NJ in about, what, 2001. HockeyDB tells me he scored 5 goals and 9 assists in 71 games. That surprised me, as I don't remember him doing anything resembling production or skill with NJ. At least Brian Savage has played over 600 games...

This year: Can someone tell me what defenseman Ric Jackman (Florida) brings to the table?
^ Jackman is a decent hitter. He seems to have stopped fighting, and obviously doesn't do much offensively anymore. He's mediocre in virtually every category except hitting.

Can I nominate Phil Sauve for this award? His job is to stop pucks and he doesn't do that particularly well. He's been on three teams in the past two seasons [four in the past three] and has sucked ass on all of them.

Jamie McLennan's another one, but I have a feeling that his contributions are more of a leadership role, great locker room guy, etc, rather than as a good goalie or anything. That's another category that Belak would be mentioned in. Sure, he's a terrible player and I, even as the biggest Belak fan probably ever, still have no clue why Maurice insists on playing him on the backend over Jay Harrison, but from everything I hear, he's an excellent guy to be around and makes everyone else loose, or intense, or whatever they need to be on game day. Plus he's a great interview.
I must say that I think your first choice as the winner of this award (good idea, btw) is a pretty poor one. Ryan Johnson actually DOES kill penalties for the Blues and hustles as much as anyone in the league. I could probably name 25 players more useless than RJ that have played for the Blues alone over the past three or four seasons.

Reed Low would have been my pick, btw. If not him, then some other useless fighter that can't skate.
ryan got a raise because he kills penalties. the blues made the mistake of equating getting penalty kill ice time on the crappiest team in the nhl last year with being a good penalty killer. the blues are 27th ranked in the kill this year. good thing we signed him!

at his raise signing pleau said of him "he does everything you ask of him" i so wish i had come up with the appropriate response which was "hey larry ask him to SCORE!!!"
Well, I can nominate someone for the captaincy of the all time useless squad.

Tie Domi last season.

Didn't score. Couldn't check his hat. Couldn't fight anymore. Oh wait, he was a standup guy, a team leader, right? Oh, I forgot how when he was sent to the PB finally he went public with his bitching.

Tie Domi - 2005/2006 - I'd say - rename your award.
I'd suggest David Tanabe fits your description to a "t".
The Oilers had five totally useless players last year: Rem Murray, Todd Harvey, Igor Ulanov, Cory Cross, and Ty Conklin.

Oddly enough, none of them are in the NHL anymore.

I can think of a few Canucks, Jes: Tommi Santala, Josh Green, and Rory Fitzpatrick.

Luckily, Nonis left Wade Flaherty on the farm. He may have took the cake. His career stats are a nightmare!

Big Dan
Geez Dan, you were so high on Tommi Gun this off-season. I wanted to give the boy some time to adapt and learn, but he certainly doesn't do much of anything. Josh Green has some size and hustle and can play physical, so he's a little more useful than Ryan Johnson (and his defense isn't nearly as bad), but he's pretty dime-a-dozen all the same.

As for Flaherty, he's been good at the AHL level for awhile. I'm surprised Sabourin was picked up, but it's no big dealio.
It is not often Rod Phillips picks on a player when commentating.

But I remember when Trevor Linden was made a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Phillips kept talking about how awful this "Santala kid" is. On the radio, it sounded like he avoided hits, coughed pucks up, and took stupid penalties.

(BTW, Sabourin played REALLY well against the Oilers in his one start.)

Watching Santala on HNIC, I was very disappointed. I thought Atlanta gave up on him too quickly as a decent 4th line center.

I was wrong!
Rory "The Pylon" Fitzpatrick takes it for the Canucks.
Boyd Devereux is a Hall of Fame contender for this award, though I'm not sure he's active anymore. Trevor Linden is the Lifetime Achievement recipient of the award. Kyle Calder is lining up for consideration, while Anton Volchenkov is showing early promise.
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