The case for Marleau in the Hall of Fame

Very soon we will see something very rare, especially in an age where older NHL players spent their early years in the Dead Puck era- a player get 500 career goals, also with the same team. Patrick Marleau hit 1,000 points early last season, so this is the last big individual milestone of his career. It’s a testament to his durability and speed, even as he enters his late thirties.

Whenever anyone hits these kinds of milestones, the question emerges: will they one day enter the Hockey Hall of Fame? It’s tough to tell, because the standards for admission change over time. But we can do a rough pro/con for Marleau:

Con

  • No end year hardware. No Hart, Art Ross, Selke. He came extremely close to being a 2nd team all-star in 2010, with 151 votes to Daniel Sedin’s 153. In fact, he got kinda screwed: while 151 votes were for him as a left wing (his actual position that season), three votes for right wing. But hey, that doesn’t count as official.
  • Low points-per-game and goals-per-game: his 0.73 PPG and 0.34 GPG are pretty unimpressive. All time his PPG is 255th, though that includes some players with low career points, who also only played in their prime.
  • No Stanley Cup. His playoff performance is actually pretty good (that’ll be in the Pro section), but no Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe. This may change, and making the Cup Finals last season does give his playoff career some shine, even though he wasn’t that great last playoffs.
  • Never elite. Was never the best at his position.
  • Thornton effectMarleau had two above point-per-game seasons. In 2009-2010, when he scored 44 goals and 83 points, he was Thornton’s left wing. In 2005-2006, after Thornton was traded to the team in late November, Marleau played second-line center in easier minutes, ending up with 86 points.

Pro

  • Hits important career milestones for his position. 500 goals and 1,000 points are mandatory unless you were an Eric Lindros or Pavel Bure type. He will end up a fair bit higher, as he has shown the ability to score 20-25 goals and has not lost much of his speed. If he ends up with 550, say, which is believable given his durability, that would put him around 30th career wise. 1,150 to 1,200 points would put him in the top 50.
  • His adjusted stats are much better than his raw stats. Marleau played in the height of the trap, interference, no foot in the crease, and huge goalie equipment. By the end of the lockout he was already 26. This is regrettable because he has always been the speedy, skilled forward that was most hampered by Dead Puck Era rules and strategies. His career totals also have to deal with the fact that most other eras of hockey were higher scoring, especially the 1980s to mid-1990s. Marleau was drafted in 1997.

    But if we use adjusted points, an advanced stat that controls for era, he gains points and many above him lose. He is 26th in adjusted goals with 575, and 41st in adjusted points with 1,197. Marleau could probably crack the top 20 in goals and top 30 in points, which puts him above many Hall of Famers, and in company with other players with high totals but low per-game stats. He will probably end up above several players that are not in the Hall but are thought of being eventual inductees, like Dave Andreychuk and Jeremy Roenick.

  • High game-winning goals. Marleau has 97, 6th all time. Some may not find this stat important, but it looks good and gives Marleau a case for being a big game player, at least in the regular season.
  • Good playoff numbers. His playoff GPG is pretty good, similar to elite contemporary players. His 65 career playoff goals is 20th all-time. His stats are very similar to Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Recchi, the former in the Hall and the latter a sure-fire inductee at some point in the next five years. Both players have a bunch of hardware, but can we blame Marleau for not putting up 34 points on the stacked early 90s Penguins, as Recchi did? Frequently, before and after the lockout, Marleau was the best player on his team in the post-season.
  • Two Olympic gold medals. Marleau was a very good member of both rosters, making the 2014 roster especially because he is such a complete player- can kill penalties, take face-offs, play wing or center. As is, they are a key part of Marleau’s case. If a Stanley Cup was added, the narrative about his career would flip almost instantly. The jury is still out.
  • History of sportsmanship. Marleau is a two-time Lady Byng finalist, and almost constantly in the top five-top ten each year. His low PIM totals and humble personality are not insignificant, given the conservative mores of the voters. Jeremy Roenick, who does not have a Stanley Cup, and will end up with fewer goals, is a huge jerk. If he had Marleau’s personality, he might already be in.

Is Marleau in the Hall of Fame, or will he be Hall of Very Good material. I think his adjusted points, game-winning goals, and gold medals are all things that put him with or above current or future Hall of Famers. Eventually the Hall starts inducting the second tier of players in an era- excellent stats, consistency, milestones, but lack the awards or year-end all-star honors because the superstars always had it. They wait, but eventually in a slow year one gets the nod. I doubt Marleau will be inducted in his first five years of eligibility, but ten, fifteen years?

Who knows.

The centre cannot hold: Yeats and 2017 disintegration

William Butler Yeats wrote “The Second Coming” the year after World War I. It’s better known for the line “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” which definitely captures 20th century war and progress. I was re-reading it, and felt that parts of it, in particular the first stanza, hit way too close to home in 2017.

Here is the full poem:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

 

Resistance: if not now, when?

CNN reported a few hours ago the following:

Senate Democrats are weighing whether to avoid an all-out war to block President Donald Trump’s upcoming Supreme Court pick, instead considering delaying that battle for a future nomination that could shift the ideological balance of the court, sources say.

Democrats privately discussed their tactics during a closed-door retreat in West Virginia last week. And a number of Democrats are trying to persuade liberal firebrands to essentially let Republicans confirm Trump’s pick after a vigorous confirmation process — since Trump is likely to name a conservative to replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

After a full year of Republicans blocking any Supreme Court nominee, the Democratic minority is considering doing none of that, in order to preserve the filibuster for some fight down the line.

This is all deeply troubling whether you are moderate, liberal, or leftist. The idea that this is different because Scalia is a conservative justice is absurd, considering that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg are well over 75 at this point. Deciding to cement the 5-4 split for an indefinite amount of time (years? decades?) while mass protests are already far beyond small concessions certainly shows the side of the Democratic Party that explains their inability to defeat the most unelectable person in living memory last November.

It’s the underlying sentiment, though, that bothers me. Politician or protester, it is a dangerous assumption to think that there are further opportunities down the road. A few uncomfortable truths establishment liberals aren’t going to tell you, but are on the table:

  • Republicans control all of Congress, the Presidency, and a large majority of state legislatures and governorships.
State legislature party control, post-2016 elections (NCSL)
  • This includes almost all the key swing states that Clinton lost (Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida). These states also had competitive Senate elections, which are also state-wide and have the same voting infrastructure as presidential elections.
  • It is clear that voter suppression was a huge factor in races at all levels in 2016, and states that wish to increase such efforts are not going to face Justice Department scrutiny anymore.
  • Thus, 2018 and especially 2020 could very well be, in the absence of strong resistance, basically unwinnable for anyone not right-wing- independent, Democratic, or otherwise.

The idea that everyone should wait out Trump’s first term, which was a big idea on Jan. 20, is pretty much dead by now. It’s clear that nobody really knows what the US political structure will be in Nov. 2020.

So we reach the familiar Hillel quote:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

The resistance has already begun. Don’t assume the future will be what you want or need it to be. Fascism of any type and degree has never respected democracy, and used it as a weapon to silence opposition. If you don’t like what’s being implemented now, stopping its enactment is a far better idea than waiting for some point down the line when it can all be repealed.

Steve Bannon and the green card smokescreen

We know about two things Trump senior advisor Steve Bannon has done in the past few days:

  1. Overruled a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interpretation of the travel/refugee ban executive order that, saying that green card holders were also subject.

2. Get a seat on the National Security Council (NSC) while removing the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

#2 is unprecedented, a power grab by an advisor with no relevant experience. It’s a clear signal that Trump would rather displaced senior leadership than learn from it.

I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I think the two are linked. The travel ban has been such a media focus that the NSC issue has mostly been noticed by watchdogs tracking post-9/11 changes to homeland security. The insistence by Bannon that the ban apply to permanent residents has made this issue so explosive. If only refugees or temporary visa holders were targeted, these protests would not be nearly as large. But the EO seemed primed for maximum chaos- it was both broad and vague.

It remains to be seen how long the rest of the executive branch will stand by while a half dozen rookie advisors take their authority away.

The #MuslimBan, broken promises, and the Great Default

Tonight, a lawsuit by the ACLU stayed the executive order that aims to ban immigrants and refugees from an arbitrary collection of nations for varying amounts of time, from a few months to indefinitely.

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-9-26-57-pm
From Bloomberg here

The ban was expected. That it was extended to green card holders (permanent residents) was surprising. Thus in addition to new refugees and family members on travel visas, you have this case at LAX:

One detained traveler was an Iranian woman who’d held a green card in the U.S. for five years and whose citizenship swearing-in ceremony is in two weeks, Cunnings said.

The woman has an 11-month old child with her who is an American citizen.

A CNN feature on the chaos surrounding the creation and implementation of the order includes this passage:

Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.
The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. Their decision held that, on a case by case basis, DHS could allow green card holders to enter the US.
Fundamentally, this order is a series of increasingly large promises being broken. People who followed the rules, did everything conservatives have asked immigrants to do, get nothing for their sacrifice. Translators for the US military who risked their lives in exchange for residency, nothing. Religious and ethnic minorities fleeing the Syrian civil war and ISIS, nothing. And people who were promised permanent residency, nothing. America has always been a land of broken promises, but for 2017 this is particularly sharp sting.
This is the beginning of what I’m calling The Great Default, where any prior promises and commitments made before Jan 20, 2017 should be considered conditional and uncertain. Climate agreements, trade agreements, foreign alliances, ethics rules, civil liberties, religious freedom. It’s a fire sale. The immigration ban is telling every other country that the US is willing to do things without consulting its own government, let alone yours. For those that say the system will ameliorate Trump and make a trade war with China impossible, well, what about now? Bannon and Miller overruled the part of the government that actually has to implement policy. They don’t want to learn, they want to extend their will. Bannon has been given a major national security position, letting those who said “it’s just an advisory position!” know that yes, that too is conditional.
There is no honeymoon period. Get the sandbags, close the storm windows. Nothing is sacred.

Resistance v. Collaboration in the Trump Era

Since the election of Donald Trump this past November, the term “resistance” has been everywhere. His policies must be disrupted and a new, stronger opposition must coalesce. While Democratic political leadership pledge resistance, the facts state otherwise.

When an oppressive force takes over a country, the opposition gravitates towards two ends of a continuum. On one side stands resistance, the other, collaboration. Erik Loomis correctly points out that building trade unions want to collaborate with Trump, despite the existential threat to the environment and unions themselves. It’s as if the Reagan administration never existed.

But it’s not just the conservative unions with memberships that swung towards Trump in the Rust Belt. Progressive champions are also guilty. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, who liberals usually speak fondly of, both say they support the utterly unqualified Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary. All but one Democratic senator confirmed Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense. This despite Mattis having what can only be called bloodlust; a military man who can’t wait to kill foreigners. These same senators will in a year’s time decry what Mattis does in office, but they chose to approve him. This is not resistance, not even close.

When the Germans invaded France in 1940, every person had a choice to make. Many rejected the Nazi occupation. They banded together to undermine enemy control, through intelligence gathering, noncooperation, and sabotage. The French Resistance was integral to Allied victory and the end of the Nazi state.

Others decided to seek peace and coexist with the occupation. Philippe Pétain, perhaps France’s greatest living military hero, turned the destroyed republic into a puppet regime based in the city of Vichy. Some collaborators were authoritarians eager for the chance. But others thought they were doing noble work, shielding France from the world of the Nazis. They were willing to work with a power that history knows was irredeemable.

Because the middle ground is treacherous between resistance and collaboration, accommodation, whatever you want to call it. For the last half century, activists have been trying to change the Democratic Party from within. This strategy failed in the past, and some Bernie supporters and Black Lives Matter activists are trying again today. But today’s activist can easily be tomorrow’s apologist, as social movements are co-opted. Given how much progressive work and resources went into campaigns like Warren’s senate run, it is disturbing to see her choice to work with Trump. If there is widespread belief that Trump is an illegitimate, dangerous precedent, confirming his extremist nominees and having chummy meetings to talk about pipeline jobs is not the way to go.

Those in the streets, blocking streetcars and shutting down intersections, they see Trump for what he is. To have a “wait and see” approach is a privilege many do not have. Women, people of color, LGBTQ+, indigenous peoples, they are under attack now. Accepting Trump as legitimate is to sanction their oppression. Green card holders and dual nationals are being denied entry to the US, creating international chaos and showing that whatever promises were made prior to Jan 20, they should be considered null and void. The progressives in Congress have rolled over and confirmed the officials who will defend the refugee ban. They had no problem spotting the neo-fascists an administration, and then maybe trying to fight that once it was built.

Total resistance is the only way forward. But the front lines need dedicated people. And as much as the Women’s March was a show of opposition, it seems to be headed towards more symbolic resistance that colors within the lines and plays friendly with authority. The economic and political structures that hold Trump and his ideology up are never under threat.

Just after the election, the Daily Beast, a ‘progressive’ media outlet tied to Chelsea Clinton, wrote this:

But if he is our next president, we will not question his legitimacy or hope he fails.

Instead, we will count ourselves members of the loyal opposition—loyal to the United States of America and opposed to the policies proposed by the president-elect during his campaign. And we will reflect on what has led so many of our fellow Americans to embrace such a messenger.

How does that strategy look today?

 

#WomensMarch, and avoiding 2020 daydreams

Years down the line, we will remember the Women’s March as the first major. In Washington D.C. the Women’s March was triple the size of the inauguration, and that wasn’t even the largest march. Total turnout, which included large marches in Toronto and London, was at least three million.

So the Occupy argument has been disinterred from the crypt. Where does this momentum go? Where should it? I have Facebook friends on each end of the spectrum. One side focuses on turning the movement into a 2020 presidential election victory. The other is more concerned with grassroots organizing and resisting Trump’s policies on the ground.

I will be talking about the first group. I have two major issues with those that want to talk about upcoming elections.

Firstly, those that can make the election a priority are exercising their considerable privilege. Put simply, there are people in America with the identity and resources to weather the coming storm, and there are those that cannot. If you get you healthcare through the ACA, or have undocumented relatives, the point of focus can’t be 2018 or 2020. It has to be now.

The second is the idea that long-term planning for a presidential election is useful. One counterargument: the most meticulously-planned campaigns in history were that of Hillary Clinton. And she lost the party primary once and the general election once. Preparation is not the same thing as support.

Everyday resistance builds up morale and capability. Boycotts and sit-ins will do more in the long run than finding precinct captains and creating yet another PAC.

This is not like Occupy, in that there is a clear thing to oppose- a very unpopular president with specific policies to target. The Obama administration always split activists and creating the appearance of incoherence. Social movements are in a position to be more effective. And if the movements are useful, participants will see traditional political action as an extension of that.