Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Let's talk about Joel Rechlicz

Yesterday's post garnered this comment from Debb:
I love your blog..and I see where you are going with the caps coach. I totally agree..but whats with the Recker comments???I know there is really not a spot for the guy in the NHL but..I wanted to ask you a question. Do they tell him what to do when he is played? I you think that they just cut him loose on the ice..or is their a preset agenda?? Just wanted to know your take on it. I am such a Recker fan that I have trouble with the latest comments from everywhere about where he is and what he does..I think he is paid for a job that he does verrry well if they would just let him...Reck someone..Not that many toe to toe fights right now. I understand they need players that score because of the time of the year..But I think he really serves a purpose..Thanks

First of all, thanks for the comment Debb.  Hopefully I understand what you are asking here.  I am reading it as you are wondering why everyone is criticizing the organization, and in turn Joel, for his recent recalls to Washington. 

Originally I intended to just respond to the comment in the comment thread, but that response became pretty long so I decided to do a full post about it instead.

I like Joel.  While I have never met him, I am sure he is a great person.  He has made a career out of doing what he loves, playing hockey.  His role probably isn't exactly what he envisioned as a young player, but his size, skill level, and what was needed on his teams likely dictated a little bit of what he has become.  I am pretty certain that just about every 'enforcer' that has played hockey would rather have made it as a goal scorer, but they didn't have those skills.  For many of them they were big enough and tough enough to make it to pro hockey by fighting.  My guess is that very few of them would trade playing professionally for anything.

Joel is good at what he does.  He can really throw punches and he isn't afraid to go toe to toe with matter how many come at him.  He gets the team into it, the crowd into it, and he strikes fear into the opposing teams.  (Just ask the guys on the Phantoms bench!)
My problem of late isn't with Wrecker.  However, I understand how the criticism can seem like a knock on Joel, but it isn't meant that way.  At least not by me.  I accept Joel and his game for what they part of overall team.

My criticism is with the Caps coaching staff...namely Dale Hunter.  EVERYONE knows what Joel brings to the table.  And everyone knows that his game outside of that is limited.  Even in Hershey, where the talent level is obviously lower than the NHL, Joel rarely plays in the third period of tight games.  In complete games Joel sometimes gets only about a handful of shifts a night.

But Dale Hunter seems like he is stuck in the 90s.  He is trying to win in today's NHL with a physical, imposing mentality that most teams abandoned after the lockout.  Back then, Joel very well may have been an every night player. 

Unfortunately for Coach Hunters beliefs, those types of things don't win games on a consistent basis in today's NHL.  Enforcers are a rarity on NHL teams nowadays.  Gone are the Bob Probert's of the world and in their place are the Matt Hendricks style fighter...grinders who will drop the gloves to defend a teammate.

My questions about Joel's recalls were more centered on...why the hell would Dale Hunter recall a guy that rarely plays more than a handful of shifts in the AHL?  The Caps problems don't seem to be on the physical end of the least that's my opinion (which means absolutely anyone).

Hunter seems lost.  Apparently that's what this Caps team does to people....just ask Bruce Boudreau.

As for other part of your question "Do they tell him what to do when he is played?  I you think that they just cut him loose on the ice..or is their a preset agenda??"...

All teams have a certain scheme and all players/positions in those schemes have certain positional responsibilities.  Whether its to be at a certain place on a breakout or to cover a certain player after a faceoff.

While Joel has a very defined role to play on the team...enforcer...he is still expected to maintain his positional responsibilities...not just fight or hit people.  If he fails in his responsibilities as a left wing then the other team is likely to get a scoring chance.

So, no, Joel does not just get on the ice to fight someone.  He has a role and if he isn't following through on it, the coaches won't play him in other situations.

Hopefully that answers your questions...if not, ask another and I will try to answer that one.


Anonymous said...

It's funny because rechlicz was very effective with the islanders when they played him, he is high energy and hits but he needs 6-7 shifts a game to do that, and without that then yes you are right it's pointless, no his role is not entirely just about fighting he has to keep it simple and get big hits..

Debb said...

Thanks alot! Really helped with questions I had..Debb