Dudes on Hockey Critiques The Blog, Shark Circle Responds

If you don’t know, Dudes on Hockey is a blog where its two editors, Mike and Doug, record podcasts about the San Jose Sharks. I am actually familiar with their podcasts, and, in general, they do a great job. In their latest podcast, they discussed Part 1 of our series on The Best Signings of the Offseason, and they offered up nothing but criticism, even though it does not appear they even read the blog.

Under normal circumstances, I welcome feedback. I would never hold it against someone if they read an article we published, understood its ideas, and simply disagreed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. The problem with Mike and Doug’s criticisms is that you cannot start to form a legitimate opinion one way or another if your facts are faulty and you do not understand the subject you’re voicing opinions about. For instance, Mike and Doug disagree that Anthony Stewart would have made a good addition. No problem there, right? They have their opinion, they are entitled to it, no? Except one of the first things they said on the subject of Anthony Stewart was, “I couldn’t tell you much about Anthony Stewart.” That was right before the two of them went on to talk for minutes about why he was not a good signing.

If you don’t know much about Stewart, how can you know he’s not a good player? You can’t, and that’s the lesson. You can’t have a legitimate opinion on a subject if you don’t first understand the subject. If a geologist came to me stating one type of rock-hammer was better than another, well, we may all be entitled to our opinions, but in that case I would not be entitled to disagree with his, simply because I know nothing about rock-hammers, where he does. By the same token, if you admit to knowing nothing about Anthony Stewart, then you should not be questioning the opinion of someone who does.

So, Mike and Doug may still ultimately find they disagree with the ideas presented in our article, but they have to start by actually reading the article, understanding its premise, and getting their facts straight before they can agree or disagree with anything. They really should have done this before criticizing the blog, not after, but they didn’t. Now on to what was said. (Quotes from their podcast appear with grey background).

“Anthony Stewart’s a good player, but I’m not sure where he’d fit. Is he that third line forward we’re looking for?”

This argument was brought up as one of their reasons why Anthony Stewart would not have been a good addition to the Sharks, but it is off base for several reasons. For one, Anthony Stewart scored 14 goals last year, which would have made him the highest scoring third-line winger on the Sharks. Second, Anthony Stewart is making only 1.8M over two years. That is fourth liner money, so he does not have to fit on the third line to be a good signing. He just needs to bring enough to the table to be an above average fourth liner, because he’s only being paid like a fourth liner. And since his production last season would have made him the Sharks highest scoring third line winger, he more than qualifies there. So whether Mike and Doug believe he’s a full-time third line winger is not relevant here because of his salary.

I’ve never noticed that he was especially physical, or like a really outstanding clutch goalscorer, or outstanding defensively[…]His numbers are fairly average.

He’s making less than 1M a year! He doesn’t need to be Gretzky to be good value at that price. For instance, his numbers last year blow Torrey Mitchell’s out of the water, yet he is making less money now than Torrey Mitchell. That’s good value.

So he got a deal very early in free agency from Carolina, that doesn’t even pay him a million dollars a year? For a twenty-six year old young player?

That’s not a great sign.

Ben Eager got more than that guy! So if that’s the best offer on the table, Doug Wilson’s not the only one who didn’t really think this guy was that good (laughter).

That’s true.

It sounds like Anthony Stewart is just Chris Stewart’s brother.

Unfortunately.

Here Mike and Doug start on the argument that because, they allege, there wasn’t much interest in Stewart, that means he must not be a very good player. In the span of just a couple minutes of podcast we somehow go from, ‘We don’t really know much about the player,’ to, ‘Because he signed for less than a million a year on July 2nd, he must not have had very much interest, and because NHL General Managers are always right, low interest must mean he’s not a very good player. And we know this all with certainty based of the day he signed, and the contract he got.’

It doesn’t work like that Mike and Doug! You can’t go from “couldn’t tell you much about Anthony Stewart” to saying, “It sounds like he’s just Chris Stewart’s brother,” as in nothing more or of note himself. You can’t trash someone’s article, or Stewart himself for that matter, based on what day a player signed his contract. That’s crazy.

Really, the fact a player is available for cheap counts as a reason why he’s a good signing, not the other way around. The whole point of my article is value, which often means looking at players other teams have looked over, who are available for less than they are worth. 30 GMs looked over Kyle Wellwood last offseason. By your logic, that would mean he’s a poor player, but he was great for the Sharks. A lot of the signings we profile fall into that low-risk, high-reward group.

And since when does the earlier you sign mean the less interest there was in you? It’s the opposite! Scott Nichol, Jamal Mayers, and many other notable depth forwards all had to settle for one-year deals. The fact Stewart got a two-year deal means multiple teams were interested in him, so Carolina had to pony up the extra year to secure his services. And that contradicts the whole argument that no one wanted him or thought he was any good.

After criticizing Stewart and Shark Circle’s thoughts on him, Dudes on Hockey moved on to our thoughts on Chris Higgins.

“Chris Higgins really wasn’t available, which is another thing I kind of have an issue with on this list.”

Was he available?

He signed on the first day.

That doesn’t really count.

He wasn’t out there for a few days, he was out there for a few minutes.

Ville Leino also wasn’t out there for a few days. He signed on the first day, and I’m pretty sure there were teams bidding for him. All eligible players become unrestricted free agents at 12pm eastern time on July 1st. Chris Higgins was one of these players. No one is guaranteeing he would have come to the Sharks. This is where Mike and Doug have completely misunderstood the article. I do not know any of these players, or what they want. Same as Mike and Doug, I doubt Chris Higgins wanted to leave Vancouver, but the article isn’t called “The Players the Sharks Should Have Signed Who I Can Personally Guarantee Would Have Wanted to Come to the Sharks.” This is just an article on the best signings of the offseason, with a Sharks spin. It’s theoretical. The premise is, if the Sharks could have matched any deal signed this offseason, which deals should the Sharks have matched? Which were the best deals, and how could they have benefitted the Sharks? No one is blaming Doug Wilson for not signing Higgins. It goes without saying that not every player I suggest the Sharks should have signed would have actually wanted to come.

Finally, Mike and Doug take their insatiable ire (joke) to Matt D’Agostini, and Shark Circle’s thoughts about him.

Matt D’Agostini…this is another guy who really wasn’t available.

Yes, he was available. He became a UFA on July 1st, just like Chris Higgins and Ville Leino. As for how realistic the idea of him leaving St. Louis was, the Blues have a ton of top 9 forwards slated in above D’Agostini, more than even the Sharks do, so it is conceivable D’Agostini would have welcomed coming to San Jose and getting more of an opportunity. But that does not matter to my article. The question my blog asks is not, would he have come? It is, would he have been a good signing if he had come?

He wasn’t given a qualifying offer? That’s hard to believe.

Okay, well hold on dude (checks, then confirms that D’Agostini was not tendered)

Again Mike and Doug, you are trying to comment on a signing you clearly don’t know the details about. The reason their GM Doug Armstrong did not tender a qualifying offer is because he was more willing to lose D’Agostini than to go to arbitration with him. He said that the two camps would continue to negotiate in good faith, but that there were many good depth forwards available in free agency, so if D’Agostini did not re-sign (cheap), he could find a replacement easily. Here is an excerpt from a Jeremy Rutherford article saying as much.

We think that there’s a large group of players available on July 1 that represent what we’re looking for,” Armstrong said. “The core of our team is still going to dictate the success of our season, but there are good supplemental players (available in free agency). If we can’t find a common ground (with D’Agostini), there are options we can explore.

This, again, indicates D’Agostini certainly was available. Mike and Doug were incorrect in saying otherwise.

The Blues gave him two years, 4.6.

[…]This makes no sense to me[…]If they were going to give him two million dollars a year, you think he wouldn’t have accepted that as a restricted free agent?

I don’t know.

It doesn’t make sense to Mike and Doug because they have incorrect facts. D’Agostini was not given 4.6M over two years. That’s just factually wrong. This is more proof that they did not even read my article before trashing it. The number I had listed for D’Agostini was also incorrect (since corrected) either because I mistyped it, or because capgeek has changed the number since I published the article. But the bad number I used was not as far off as theirs, so I don’t know where they got their information, but it’s incorrect. And Matt D’Agostini at a 1.65M cap hit is a lot different value than Matt D’Agostini at a 2.3M cap hit. I probably would not have included him at 2.3M per season. So the numbers here make a big difference.

If we had signed Matt D’Agostini I’d be like what, really?

Especially for that kind of money.

Except it’s not the kind of money they think it is, because they have their facts wrong. You two are again criticizing my inclusion of Matt D’Agostini on the list based on false facts.

So gotta say, sorry Sharks Circle, not really on board with…

One for three, maybe.

Yeah.

[…]I would say Chris Higgins would be the player on that list I’d have the most interest in.

That’s because “one for three” actually applies to Mike and Doug, not our article. The only one player of the three they possessed sufficient knowledge about to comment on was Chris Higgins, which also explains why he’s the only player they’d have interest in. The other two, you can’t comment on a player (Stewart) if you don’t know much about him, because ultimately you just end up guessing based on arbitrary information, like what day he signed his contract, and so on. And when it comes to D’Agostini, first, Mike and Doug based their impression of him on how he was in Montreal, not how he is now, which is like evaluating Teddy Purcell on his play in L.A. And second, the bigger issue, you definitely can’t comment on a signing if you have the wrong salary information.

It would be like if I said, “I think that Logan Couture extension sucks! Yeah, two years, fourteen million, we shouldn’t be paying him Joe Thornton money yet! He’s still an RFA. When will Doug Wilson learn how to negotiate??”

In other words, having the wrong salary number changes everything. You could go from loving the Couture extension to wanting Doug Wilson fired, all based simply on having the wrong number. And that’s what’s happened here with Mike and Doug and our article. They think D’Agostini shouldn’t be on the list at 4.6M for two years because he isn’t. But D’Agostini at 3.3M over two years is a different story.

So Mike and Doug, I’ve enjoyed listening to your podcast here and there over the years, and I hold no hard feelings because I know you didn’t do it on purpose. But please, in the future, don’t trash someone’s blog without even reading it, when you don’t even know the players or have your facts straight. If you want to know why these players would have been good signings, then start with reading my article. I think if you knew more about these players, or had your salary numbers right, you would actually agree that they are good value, instead of trashing the blog. This is exactly why one shouldn’t comment on subjects without first having the facts and understanding the subject, or knowing the players in this case.

Written By Shark Circle

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