Friday, December 12, 2008

Brian Burke is "Great"- But can he rebuild the Leafs?


We have a lot of managers in this world. We have fewer leaders than we need. We have even fewer great leaders that can thrive in many situations. In ultimate, there are several captains and coaches that are known as being great. But would they be able to lead a completely different team?

I had a great chat at the national sport organization's annual pub crawl Wednesday night about Brian Burke. Someone disagreed with my statement about his draft record. Being the stats nerd I am, I had to look up the stats again and put something together to prove/disprove my point.

It's still too early to judge his Anaheim draft work. However, we can look at his 1999-2003 tenure with the Canucks. What I found is attached, and the numbers are very sad for Leaf fans.

Total Stats
Players Drafted 42
NHL Players 11 26%
Players Over 50 Games 6 14%
Players still in the Show 6 14%
Actual Canucks 4 10%

If you take away the number 2 and number 3 overall picks of 1999
(Sedin) the numbers are even worse.

So, hiring Brian Burke to rebuild a team's on ice product through young players and the draft is a very risky business. His track record suggest that even with five years, he can promise you 10-14% of the players he drafts will make the NHL past 50 games. Consider the Sens
had 23 NHL players from the same period, with all but one top 5 picks and many years not getting to draft until after the 20th selection or later.

Sorry Leaf fans... your new leader's fatal flaw is exactly what you need him to be best at.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Practice: Some Rough Numbers


I've been trying to agitate some of my readers in previous posts regarding whether or not A and B teams in a city should practice together. Breaking conventional wisdom is hard.

Here's a quote that really caught my attention

"Practice Time is Limited"

Strong statement, let's try and look at the rough numbers.. Over the course of the year, you probably practice as follows:

6 months * two practices a week* 4.3 weeks per month* 2 full hours of practice minimum = 103.2 hours of practice for the average frisbee team.

Then add the offseason sessions: 4 months of one practice a week, 2 hours per practice= 34.4 hours of practice..

So, your average team spends 103.2 + 34.4 hours of practice time during one year.. about 137.6 hours of practice time.
137.6 hours is a lot of time. You have time for a lot of integration. In fact, with 137.6 hours of practice time, the issue might be complacency more than getting specific team plans rolled out and mastered.

With proper attendance (which should be a given) you really have no excuses about a lack of practice time. Oh... that's right.. practice attendance is always an issue for "elite" teams in ultimate.

So, how many hours of the practice time you spent with your team was efficiently used, in your opinion? See the poll on the right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Leadership Crisis- The UPA College Debacle


I think we might be the only sport that still lists executives/task forces and lists their years of playing experience. To roughly quote Mike Downey, CEO of Tennis Canada:

"When I bring in a candidate for an interview, and they tell me the reason they want to work for Tennis Canada is because they love playing tennis, I show them the door."

Now, Mr. Downey comes off sounding a little harsh. He's actually extremely jocular and very candid. However, he's been in sports long enough to know loving your sport doesn't make your leadership material in the sport. It doesn't prevent you, you just need something more.

There are many people more informed and more outspoken about the current crisis regarding the future of College Ultimate in the USA. To my knowledge, it seems like their was a power struggle between the UPA (which was the incumbent of providing college series service) and the UPA at one point felt the need to educate and discourage its membership to participate in the NCUA. It seems as thought the upstarts have relented and will be taking a backseat to the UPA in running college tourneys.

Scared $hitless, the UPA is now bringing forward a task force to make the championship series better for all involved. It's reactive management, but it might lead to a better product. Thank you cultimate.

I am sure there are many good people within the UPA brass. I hope they learn from this experience and try to make their relationship with colleges and other ultimate groups much tighter and resistant to competition. Much like the IOC lucked out when the owner of Helms Bread generously agreed to drop its rights to use the Olympic and USOC logos on its "Olympic Bread", The UPA has dodged a bullet. For more information on the bread incident, pick up a copy of Selling The Five Rings: The IOC and the Rise of Olympic Commercialism.

The fact that the college series incident got to the point that it did is a sign of poor organization and poor leadership. As the sport continues to become more exposed and more valuable, the UPA and other groups (including CUPA) will have to step up and clearly be the leaders of the sport.

How do you view the developments? Do you think groups like Cultimate should be able to easily come into the market and provide an alternative?