Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Daniel Paille

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.


PKB said...

I think you need to give Lindy a little more credit. Do you really think he’s that ignorant to the psyche of his players? He benched Max, Hank, and Paille because there were other players that were either more deserving or more likely to take advantage of playing time. Bottom line is Lindy is going to dress the players that give the team the best chance to win. Paille didn’t do enough to justify a spot in the lineup most nights. I gave Paille a pass for awhile because I understand that it takes some time to learn how to play consistently in the NHL and he did show flashes of greatness. But it eventually became clear, to me at least, that he just wasn’t giving much of an effort anymore. Not all players work out.

Heather B. said...

Yes, I think sometimes Lindy is ignorant to players' psyches. I think he sometimes tries tactics that clearly aren't going to work with that player (publicly berating a very soft-spoken Kalinin, questioning the overall future of an already struggling and unhappy Tallinder just as two examples). Not everyone can be coached the same way and I think Lindy sometimes tries to apply the wrong method to the wrong player.

I think Lindy is a good coach and I'm mostly glad he's still here. Despite my complaints, I mostly understand the way he handled Max and Hank. There's definitely more me complaining about guys I like involved there. But I think it's untrue that when Paille sat it was because there were others more deserving at least in that 2007-2008 season. Last season, yes, definitely. But in the previous season - Paille's best as a Sabre - it seemed like he couldn't make Lindy happy. When you get to the point where even your best isn't good enough, I think that wears on a player. That's all I'm saying.

Absolutely Paille buried himself in the time since then. He did earn his trade and now there are players who will do more with the ice time. But if his best effort and production couldn't keep him off the bench when Lindy was upset then, I'm not sure it would have at any point since then either.

Mark B said...

Good point about the 07-08 Paille. I had completely forgotten about those benchings. I was focused on the inconsistent Danny that I had blanked out Lindy's head scratching actions a couple years ago with him.

That being said, Paille will probably never be better than a third line player and we have enough of those type of guys.

Kathleen said...

But Lindy also said this to Paul Hamilton (

"I think some players a kick in the butt works, but I don't know if that works with Dan. He operates a little bit differently, he has a little bit different personality and sometimes a arm around the shoulder is better for a guy like Danny."

Awww. I do think you're right about Kalinin and probably Tally, but maybe Lindy's learned from that?

Trading Danny makes sense for the team and is better for him. Putting him into the Sabres' lineup would require a lot of line shuffling and you still don't know if they'd find the right fit, whereas Adam Mair fits perfectly into the 4th line AND furthermore, into Lindy's overall vision of a way more badass team. (Um, I'm guessing that part. But it certainly seems that's the plan, no?) And Paille is too good to be benched 70% of the season, and probably too good to be sent down to the AHL. He deserves to be somewhere he can play.

I figured we'd lose either him of Patches... I think Paille is the better player, but Patches can go either way. So be it. And I love that this happened on NFL trade deadline day (on which the Bills did - wait for it - nothing.) Darcy is all "Hey, at least one Buffalo team is still in the game."

Shelby Rose said...

I had completely forgotten that Danny was one of the bright spots on this team in the 07-08 season. Then again, I keep trying to forget that season ever existed but yeah.

I understand that he never grew into his full potential, but I at least wish we would have gotten something back that we could use. We have to wait to use those draft picks (one which we don't even know we'll get since it's a conditional draft pick).

I wish him the best of luck in Boston. I hope they give him a chance to play and he does well.

Vanek's Hair said...

I was always disappointed with Paille. I guess because I always held him to a high standard. I felt he had a good degree of talent and skill that he was wasting. He is physical and has some touch around the net. Even when he was a bright spot in 2007-2008. When that season ended and I saw he had 19 goals, I thought to myself, "Why can I not even remember one?" (OK, that is a bit of hyperbole, I was present at a game when he scored two). He came with good pedigree (Captain of a Team Canada) and good skill and it never materialized in the NHL. Maybe a (cliche alert) change of scenery will be good for him.

As for Lindy Ruff, I don't think we can do better with a coach. I like him generally. I have two criticisms of his coaching, that have been persistent with me. He overuses his goaltenders, and he publicly berates players and it rarely works. The public berating of players is pretty typical of coaches in all sports. And as fans, we generally love it because someone is finally pushing these spoiled, pampered athletes and that's what they need and deserve. In reality, very few people would want to work under such circumstances, where a supervisor was so caustic. Pro athletes are no different. They are people (a sentiment presented often in this blog) and some react favorably to it, but most will react negatively.

Heather B. said...

I think most of you got this, but just to be clear, I have no problem with Paille being traded and I do like Lindy Ruff immensely. For some reason I've just been thinking a lot lately about his tendency to call out/publicly criticize certain players. I guess this post was kind of a result of that.

Kathleen, that's a very interesting quote. I missed that so thanks for bringing it up. I think most coaches are comfortable with one method or the other - screaming kicks in the pants OR gentle hold-holding - and I'm sure it's a tough balance sometimes. It's probably why a coach can be so terrible with one team and so right for another team. That's actually probably prevalent in many work situations - supervisors, teachers, managers all have a tendency to go one way or the other - but like Vanek's Hair mentioned, we don't usually think of pro sports as a work place like any other. I'm rambling, sorry.

I agree that Paille is a tough fit on the team. He's not quite skilled enough for the top six but hasn't consistently worked hard enough or played tough enough for the bottom six. And we have a billion forwards.

Shelby, I think part of the reason the Sabres didn't push to get a player back in the trade is because they were trying to free up a roster spot. Right now with the injuries I think we're okay, but when everyone's healthy someone would have to be demoted or moved. I think this is a sign that Kennedy and probably Myers are staying put.

PKB said...

I don’t really recall the circumstances of Paille's benching in 2007-2008 but I’ll take your word that it was undeserving. I think Lindy does that sometimes to younger players to remind them that they’re not entitled to anything in this business. I realize I’m just speculating here but Lindy may feel it keeps younger players hungry, especially players who haven’t been through an 82 game season before.

Who knows? But if benching Paille was the main cause of his regression then I think it reflects more poorly on Paille than on Lindy. I’m savvy to the human element that goes into sports like chemistry and confidence. The coach does have a significant hand in that. It’s the player’s responsibility to know though that part of being a professional athlete is being able to put some perspective on the peaks and recover/rebound from the inevitable valleys. In that way, I hold Lindy blameless here despite the possibility of being the root cause of one of Paille’s valleys.

Cornelius Hardenbergh said...

He's a point per game Bruin so far, I'll take him!

Heather B. said...

PKB, I'm not trying to blame Lindy really. I just think maybe there wasn't a productive relationship there and that is important. I totally agree with you that Paille is ultimately responsible for his own play and effort and as a professional, he should be working hard no matter what the circumstances.

He's a point per game Bruin so far, I'll take him!

They always are at first, aren't they? :P I do hope he works out for you. He seems like a good kid.