To the honest and unrehearsed surprise of no one, Sean Monahan will be sticking with the Calgary Flames this season. The team made the obvious official today, and the responses from around the league have been mixed. It seems like folks (pundits) have been excited by the gutsy choice from Calgary, or have been quick to pile on the youngster for one particular stat. We’ll get to said stat in a moment.
Here’s one angle from Sportsnet…
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 23, 2013
They’re clearly excited and understand the logic behind keeping the electric teenager in the lineup. Everyone hasn’t been so stoked though.
New Puck Daddy: Flames announce Sean Monahan will remain with the club for the season http://t.co/CZkuVW4ZO6
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 23, 2013
If you don’t feel like reading through those two articles, they boil down to this. The SportsNet piece examines how Monahan gives a glimmer of hope to some of the most embattled fans in the NHL. Continuing to ice him is Calgary saying “this is the future, and there’s more where that came from!”
Then there’s the more cynical take, like that of Greg Wyshynski. And that particular take centers around the aforementioned single stat. The number in question isn’t Monahan’s goal total or whether or not he’s been “protected” by the coaches or even how he’s done in the faceoff circle.
No, the one stat in question is his shooting percentage. It’s too high! claim detractors such as Wyshynski.
And it is.
Monahan is scoring on 28.6% of his shots through nine games played. The buzz word here is “unsustainable” yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that if this were Sidney Crosby or someone playing for the Boston Bruins that the player would be hailed for his hot start.
Since it’s Monahan and the Flames, well, it’s just good ol’ fashioned luck.
That stance, sadly, misses out on one of the most magical parts of hockey as a whole. Hot streaks can last, and special players can be born in front of our very eyes. Monahan is on pace to shoot the puck close to 200 times. If he started shooting at a 15% clip as of Calgary’s next game, he’d still finish the season with more than 25 goals.
While that isn’t an Alex Ovechkin-like rookie season, it’s still an outstanding one. Monahan probably won’t finish with more than 80 points like he would if he continued to score like he has, but that’s not the point. The point for the Flames faithful should be that they have a kid worth building around and someone worth being excited over.
We’re always yammering on about how special players can make those around him better. Think it’s an accident that the likes of Jiri Hudler, Lee Stempniak and Sven Baertschi are suddenly producing? Get real.
So lay off the stat lines and watch a few games and you’ll understand why Monahan is special. Calgary won’t regret keeping him. No way, no how.