Revisiting the “Adam Mair is garbage” argument
I’m sure many of you may remember my widely debated “What can Adam Mair do for you?” post.
It seemed to be a divisive issue, mainly because it was perceived that I was just taking a shot at Adam Mair for not being very good. On the contrary, it was meant to provide insight as to why it was an issue that he was even playing on a nightly basis.
The timing of the original post was impeccable. Mair responded that very night with his first goal of the season, and then added another a few nights later. He’s scored 5 goals and added 2 assists with 33 penalty minutes in the 24 games since I called out his uselessness.
But does that invalidate the argument? Of course not.
The whole concept was keyed around the idea that the team needed to bring more to the table if they would compete in the postseason. The idea is that Mair shouldn’t be playing, simply because the team should have 12 forwards in the lineup who are better than him.
After Tyler Ennis’ sparkling performance Saturday night, after a stellar season so far in Portland, do you really see any reason Ennis should be sent back if Mair is playing? At this point, it should be obvious that when healthy, Adam Mair and Matt Ellis are your 13th and 14th forwards… if you’re putting the best possible lineup on the ice. With Ennis’ performance all season, and his clear potential, I don’t see how you can say this team is better with off with Adam Mair over him.
Despite his offensive output in the last couple months, it’s still clear that Mair doesn’t produce much positive. Even with all his points, he’s still an even plus/minus on the season.
The mitigating factors of his presence really should outweigh his value. The thing Adam has been doing lately is taking stupid penalties. His lack of discipline is evident. Mair is currently tied with Patrick Kaleta, Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy with 21 minor penalties this season, which is second most on the team behind Craig Rivet.
So he’s not the only one who takes penalties. But the rate in which he does so is frightening. With 21 minors in 61 games played, Mair’s .34 minors/per game is worse than only Kaleta and Gaustad. But, you’ll say that’s because they all play the same style! They bring energy!
I shake my finger and say “Nuh-uh-uh!” I beg to differ.
Accounting for ice time, and how often they’re on the ice in relation to when they take penalties, I calculated how much ice time each Sabre had in relation to their number of minor penalties. (Best? Andrej Sekera with 395 mins of TOI per minor penalty. Solid work, ‘Rej!) Patrick Kaleta had the worst number, with 26.20 mins of play per minor penalty, followed closely by Adam Mair at 26.35. That difference is negligible in comparison to the rest of the team. The next closest is Gaustad at 42.5 mins/minor, and Kennedy sitting at 47.5 mins/minor the only other forwards below 60.
So, looking at pretty much the bottom three forwards on the roster:
What needs to be said is the thing that goes without saying. Pat Kaleta adds an element to the team that absolutely noone else does. He mixes it up, throws opponents off their game and draws penalties. Mair? Not so much.
Also, notice in those numbers what Matt Ellis brings to the table: discipline. For being a fourth liner, Ellis does little to hurt the team. He’s been a plus player for most of the season and does not put the team at a disadvantage. Is there something to be said for staying out of the box? I think so.
But forgetting about Ellis, let’s stick to the two “energy” guys. Since their penalty totals seem so similiar, let’s delve a bit deeper. Thanks to ESPN’s statistics on minor penalties, here is how Mair and Kaleta stack up:
Some of Kaleta’s penalties are unaccounted for, but the statistics do not include penalties such as unsportsmanlike conduct or instigating. I think this illustrates the difference between Kaleta and Mair. Mair’s penalties are overwhelmingly undisciplined stickwork penalties. Kaleta’s are mainly physical, as he clearly takes the body with reckless abandon. With Mair, his careless play makes you wonder if he actually has a case for being the 13th forward on the depth chart, ahead of Matt Ellis.
With Tyler Ennis on the verge of blowing out the door standing between him and a permanent roster spot, something will have to give. As junior seasons end, Portland’s roster will be restocked in the coming days (see: Adam, Luke), so keeping little Ty around isn’t going to throw our farm team under the bus.
I guess what it comes down to is that, when the team has a healthy roster, Mair shouldn’t be playing. For the time being it’s not an issue, with Kaleta, Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek, and Raffi Torres nursing injuries. Mair has been filling in admirably, in the eyes of Lindy Ruff, anyways.
But will Lindy be willing to send his boy to the press box when the postseason starts?
God, I hope so.