Sean Fitz-Gerald wrote a good piece in the National Post today on the buzz-word “compete level” that has followed a number of teams around, but in particular the Leafs, through their episode of “we are who they thought we were” review the last couple of years.
I haven’t watched more than a couple of Leafs games this year so I can’t comment on their performance, particularly, but I do think that most coaches defer to hard work as a cause of losing in times when talent level, variance, or poor coaching are possibly more apt explanations. It’s possible, however, for a team to simply not work hard enough. I’ve certainly been on teams like that, and sometimes it reflects badly on the coach; sometimes it just reflects badly on the players themselves.
So how can one tell if the team is truly getting poor results because of work ethic? How can you know if you need to clean house on that front? Well a good place to start might be this old post from the awesome Phil Birnbaum discussing Bob McCown and his book, “The 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments”. McCown suggests an experiment in which objective viewers watch games in their aftermath with plays that involve goals taken out. Could those people figure out who won the games in such a setting? Doubtful. They might, however, gain a more unbiased idea of which team had a higher “compete level” without the benefit of goal-based hindsight. Not sure how this is really applicable to team environment, or how it could be acted upon, but it is at least representative of the bias that assessing performance under the captions of “W” or “L” can promote.
Just a thought.