I really wanted to get my Hall of Fame post up for today, but Picnik is not cooperating. I was about to lose it so I had to step away. Hopefully I'll have it done and up on Thursday or Friday instead. For now, a brief post about Daniel Paille.
Daniel Paille confuses me. He always has. Daniel Paille and Lindy Ruff specifically have always confused me. I realize I've been beating the "Lindy Ruff screwed that guy" drum pretty hard the last couple of months with posts about Maxim Afinogenov and Henrik Tallinder, but I can see where Lindy was coming with his treatment of those two guys at least. I didn't always agree with it, but I understood it. But Paille not so much.
Back in 2007-2008, Paille had his best season. It also happened to come in a year when most of his teammates played terrible, uinspired hockey. There were many, many nights when he and Jochen Hecht were the only two people on the ice who appeared to care at all. I know it seems hard to remember now, but it's true. Every once in a while, after many, many games of garbage, Lindy would decide he was going to send a "play hard or else" message to the team and he would sit... Paille. I remember this very clearly ( and Tick remembers it too) because Mark and I would wonder about it until the next game when Paille would come back and score two goals. And then we'd kind of shrug and joke that Paille should be scratched every ten games or so.
But in seriousness, that does not make sense at all. I've seen a few comments on Twitter and Facebook and other places about Paille earning his trade by playing half-heartedly for the past year or so, and while I can't argue with that, I think the treatment he got in 07-08 might have played a part in that attitude. I have a classroom of five kids (who feel like 25 but that's another blog post). Let's say Bryan busts his ass on his spelling words all week while everyone else goofs off during class and refuses to do any homework. On Friday, Bryan gets an A and everyone else gets a D or F. I rant and rave about how no one is working hard enough and send a message by making Bryan stay inside while everyone else goes to play outside for free time. The next week, the same thing happens. Bryan gets an A, everyone else fails, and I respond by making him stay inside. Eventually Bryan is going to stop working hard on his spelling because not only is he not being rewarded, he's being punished. He's also probably going to start tuning me out. In 07-08, Paille was getting the same treatment.
I'm not particularly broken up by Paille's trade. I don't have any sentimental attachement to him. I think we got a decent return for a player who wasn't ever going to make an impact for the Sabres. He was extremely frustrating and ultimately a professional athlete should just play hard no matter what the circumstances. But these guys are human, and I do think it's interesting to occasionally stop and think about all the different factors that go into a player being in a successful situation. How talented the player is is only one part of a very large equation. Relationships with coaches and teammates play a huge part. I'm curious to see how successful Paille is somewhere else.