Ryan's Rant - Most Overrated NHL Players

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By Terry Ryan

Here we go again, ready to start the 2011-2012 NHL hockey season.

Player’s barbecues have been seeing more chicken and steak than hamburgers and hot dogs over the last month, beer has been replaced by vitamin water, and bedtime comes earlier as members of the NHLPA get ready to take to the ice for another year.  Highly touted rookies like Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins look to impress and justify their newly acquired contracts, fresh-faced AHL veterans with a year of pro hockey under their belts like Buffalo’s Luke Adam use their minor league experience to their advantage, and longtime NHL regulars like Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham strive to keep their jobs for another year, before father time lets nature take its course. The superstars?  Well, we assume as "Poolers" that they are ready to roll and are in top shape (unlike Keith Tkachuk in 2005 as a member of the St. Louis Blues when he showed up 30 lbs overweight sporting gravy stains on his chemise and looking more like a beer-swilling slowpitch softball junkie than a lean, mean professional athlete).

Even though it is still the off-season there are plenty of things to talk about, but unfortunately the summer of ‘11 has seen more negative headlines than positive ones, including the sudden tragedies the hockey world has had to endure in the passing of Derek Boogard and Rick Rypien. Hockey’s best player, Sidney Crosby, seems to be downplaying his concussion symptoms (in my opinion if he is still having symptoms, he shouldn’t even think about starting training camp, but that’s an issue for another time), and the now famous, always controversial Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty continues to linger in the media world like the haunting refrain of a morbid melody. On the bright side, Boston claimed Lord Stanley’s coveted prize (I am not a Boston fan, but having an original 6 team win the Cup for the first time in nearly 40 years is great for the game, the city Boston, and the NHL) and the NHL returned to Winnipeg, making many Manitobans markedly merry and giving hockey fans in Canada another team to root for come playoff time (I think they already have more fans than the Ottawa Senators).

Today, however, I don’t want to elaborate on any of these topics, as they have been covered by experienced journalists worldwide for the past couple of months. As I settled in at my computer of choice here at the Memorial University of Newfoundland to write this article and think of a topic, I had nothing. I couldn’t think of a decent topic to write about, and the sounds of summer outside certainly didn’t generate many ice-hockey thoughts and ideas. After around 20 minutes, a young man swaggered by me sporting a New York Rangers jersey with “Avery” written on the back for all to see. I was initially surprised by the fact that any rational human being would proudly wear this jersey in public, and then it hit me.

For this week’s rant I would present my picks for the NHL’s most overrated players.

I am sure I will get some feedback about these picks - good and bad – and that is the way it should be. After all, we are all fans of the game. Commenting and giving opinions is what being a fan is all about, so bring it on. At first, I had 30 names written here, so I will narrow it down a little by choosing 6 current players (one goalie, two d-men, and three forwards) for my list – an All-Star team of egos and exaggerated talent. Without further delay, here are my picks:



Sean Avery

BetOnHockey_Avery_Overrated_200x227.jpgSean Avery’s NHL popularity amongst fans doesn’t really surprise me, but it upsets the hell out of me. What a nightmare this egomaniac must be to play with. Avery acts like a jackass on and off the ice, and has no respect for anyone other than himself, and people watch his antics for the story. Everything he does is for attention and fame, from his choice in women to his idiotic comments to the press, and some hockey fans eat it up. He has said so many stupid things and been involved in so many questionable incidents over the course of his career, I honestly can’t believe he still has a job in the NHL. Last month Mr. Avery was accused of assaulting a police officer (yes, I believe he did this for attention) in his latest off-ice public incident. In 2008, as a member of the Dallas Stars, he commented publicly about Dion Phaneuf’s girlfriend, and even his own teammates were embarrassed and basically voted him off the squad. On top of all this, he just isn’t a great player, or even a good player. I could see trying to put up with this dufus if he was a 50 goal scorer, or even tough, but he isn’t. He picks his spots on the ice and has never had even a 20 goal season in the bigs. In ’08-09, after being sent to Hartford of the AHL during suspension, he totalled 2 goals and 1 assist in 8 games, and was called up, never to see the AHL again. In 2010-11, the league’s biggest braggart potted just 3 goals in 76 games and continues to be a distraction. If he plays 1 more NHL game, its 1 too many.


Scott Gomez

BetOnHockey_Gomez_Overrated_200x200.jpgThe only thing sillier than the Rangers signing Gomez to a seven year, $51.5 million dollar contract in 2008 was the fact the Montreal Canadiens saw this as a good deal and traded for the proven underachiever. Don’t get me wrong, I think Gomez can be a decent asset to an NHL team who needs him and uses him in the right situations, but he can’t be counted on to be one of your ace scorers. Gomez has only had more than 20 goals once in his career (in 2005-06 when he amassed 33) while staying relatively healthy (he has never played less than 72 games). Last season he played in 80 games for the Habs and scored just 7 goals, less than one every ten games, and put up a goose egg in the playoffs when his team needed him the most. Montreal, remember, nearly beat the eventual Cup champs and could have used some high priced offence at the time.


Jaromir Jagr

BetOnHockey_Jagr_Overrated_200x151.jpgJaromir Jagr is one of my least favorite players of all time. He was at his best 2 decades ago when Mario Lemieux led Jagr and the rest of the Pens to two consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 90’s. Yes, he is good for the odd highlight-reel goal and is one of the most talented offensive players ever, but Jaromir is all about Jaromir. His upside is obviously offence, but his courage, heart, and team play are dismal. He brings nothing to the table but scoring (mind you he is one of the best scorers ever), and if he doesn’t score he whines, complains and blames other people. He reminds me of a souped-up version of Alexei Yashin, and should never have worn the captain’s “C” at any point in his career. He scored big and scored often in the bigs, but I would be surprised if he gets 20 goals this year. Jagr is talented enough to get a point a game this year, but he is so bad at all other parts of the game I can’t stomach watching him play. If signing Jagr is Philly’s answer to losing Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, they are in for a long year. Philly fans will be disgusted with this prima donna long before Santa Clause arrives.



Sergei Gonchar

BetOnHockey_Gonchar_Overrated_200x129.jpgI like Gonchar as a player. He is one of the best d-men ever to grace the blueline on the power play, and his offensive ability is unquestionable. That being said, his best days are behind him and in the last few seasons he has had some tough injuries to deal with. Sergei had 7 goals and 27 points last season, both very respectable big-league numbers, but simply not worthy of 5 and a half million bucks a season, and for that reason, I think he is overrated, and therefore a bad signing by the Sens.


Zach Bogosian

BetOnHockey_Bogosian_Overrated_146x160.jpgBogosian is young and may just live up to his potential at some point. However, since he was drafted 3rd overall in 2008 by the Atlanta Thrashers, I have constantly heard hockey insiders speak of his enormous talent, but have yet to see much of it quite frankly. Last season his numbers were average – 5 goals and 17 points in 71 games – but not quite hall-of-fame-like. I was close to adding Dion Phaneuf in this category, but I think Phaneuf had an off year and at least he will hit an opposing player like a truck when the situation arises, whereas Bogosian will have to show more physicality if he wants respect on the ice. As a defenseman, 29 PIMS is just not enough. In the playoffs, opposing players will identify this lack of grit and expose it like nobody’s business.

* I would like to point out the fact that Wade Redden would have been my first pick as he is still under NHL contract, but he played the entire 2010-2011 season in the AHL so I omitted him. But technically this guy should lead the list. After the Rangers signed him to a huge contract in 2008 which pays him more than 6 million dollars a year, Redden scored 5 goals and 40 points in over 150 games played. Redden is a former teammate of mine and was exceptional in his prime, but with nearly 1000 games played in the NHL, his body has clearly slowed down and his best days are long gone. Sorry Wade, but its time to head to Europe and enjoy the last few years of your playing days bud.


Roberto Luongo

BetOnHockey_Luongo_Overrated_200x179.jpgI am sorry Bobby-Lou, but you top my list for more reasons than one. Initially I had Rick Dipietro in this position, but after last years NHL playoffs Ricky D comes a distant second to Luongo in my eyes. Is it just me or does this dude seem shaky in every big game he plays? He was chased out of the net in April during a great conference semi-final vs Chicago, and looked shaky and inconsistent for the entire playoff run. Luongo was brought in and paid big dough to win the big games, and he along with the Sedin twins were close to motley when it counted most. Yes, Luongo won gold at the Olympics in 2010 while netminding for Canada, but the team was one of the best hockey squads ever assembled and Luongo’s best efforts weren’t needed. Yes, he played solid, but Van city wants a Cup, and this list is compiled in terms of NHL play, not international competition. Luongo couldn’t make the big save when it counted and that’s what he is paid the big dough for. To make matters worse, in the 2011 finals vs Boston, Bobby-Lou did the unthinkable and called out Tim Thomas’s goaltending style after game 5, with Van City leading the series 3-2. Boston used the comments as fuel, won the next two games to capture the Stanley Cup, and Timmy “the Tank” Thomas took home the Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the NHL playoff’s MVP, as well as eventually landing the 2011 Vezina trophy (best goalie during the NHL regular season). Ouch.


Check Back Every Week For 'Ryan's Rant' By Terry Ryan

Also watch for Terry Ryan's book, 'Tales Of A First Round Nothing'



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