When players play super well, in their rookie season their respective teams often sign them to monstrous contracts with big money attached. When young players gain these huge contracts from their teams, they often stop playing as well, as they did to get the contract. One explanation is- due to trying to live up to the hype of their contracts! Right now there are perfect examples of 2 young players not playing up to their "standards" in the NHL. Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres. These are two players whose teams are trying to build franchises around them, and they are pegged to be the future captains of their teams.
Let's start with Tyler Myers, Myers was drafted 12th overall by the Sabres in 2008, after 2 seasons in the NHL, the 21 year old Myers signed a contract that will keep "The Big Easy" in Buffalo for the next 7 years. Back in September Myers and the Sabres agreed to the 7 year deal worth $38.5 million. Myers is coming off 2 great seasons with the sabres, in which saw him win a Calder Trophy and surpass the 30 point plateau both seasons. But this season "The Big Easy" has become a major concern on defence, for the Sabres. Now last season Myers got off to quite a slow start but picked up his play down the stretch, "I felt the pressure last year and at times I was way too hard on myself," He said. "I got off to a tough start but was happy with my game after Christmas, especially after the All Star game." It appears lightning has struck twice, as Myers is playing very poorly to start off the season. Through this seasons' 8 games, Myers only has 2 points, which are assists. Myers is currently averaging a bit more than 21 minutes of ice time, and has gone 28 games without scoring a goal and 2 games without recording an assist. But it's not just his point totals that have fans worried, it's his play on defense, that's worrying everyone. He is making very poor choices on the ice; pinching at the wrong times, making bad passes, has to many turnovers and is losing his checks. Myers is now paired with veteran defence partner Robyn Regehr who will hopefuly help calm Myers down. One thing Myers needs to pick up is his aggressive play, through 8 games he only has 12 hits - less than 2 hits a game. Defenceman need to be aggressive and hit the opposition regularly, when defenceman are not hitting, often their point totals are effected, like in Myer's case. But here is a good thing for Sabres fans-, Tyler Myers will be fine! Based on last seasons' turn around from a slow start, this is nothing to panic over for Myers and Sabres fans everywhere. He is having a difficult time living up to his big contract, he just needs to get back to basics and become the reliable Tyler Myers that everyone loves! Myers is a player that the Sabres want to stick around for the foreseeable future and maybe even take over the captaincy one day, but first he needs to fix his slow starts to the regular season. Myers and Regehr should soon fine chemistry and Myers can stop worrying about the big contract looming over his head. But Myers slump will soon end, I'm positive about it.
Next up is Luke Schenn, despite Mike Komisarek being chirped hard by all the Leafs fans, it's Luke Schenn who needs to step up his game the most. Schenn's ice time has been reduced by 25% this season, making his new ice time average 15:43, which is the lowest amongst the Leafs D-men and to boot he is struggling majorly in his own defensive zone. Schenn was a big part of the major turnaround with the Leafs in last seasons' 2nd half. The Leafs rewarded him, with a huge contract extension; 5 years $18 million. Since he signed the contract, Luke has been uptight and has had trouble moving the puck. “He has had trouble starting games and I think Luke has put a lot of pressure on himself,” Wilson said. “He has to relax and he will be fine.” Coming off a strong season last year, in which he set a career record for assists. As soon as Schenn calms down, and just simplifies his game, his defence he will be just fine. For Schenn to succeed his game needs to be as simple as possible, 1 pass and out, nothing fancy, or he becomes flustered. Many bandwagon fans are calling for a trade, but HELLO after signing this contract, Scheen is not going anywhere! His future and the future of the Leafs is together and he's likely the future captain. Schenn should find a little extra motivation this season as he will be facing his younger brother several times with the Flyers. Plus if the Flyers make it to playoffs and the Leafs don't! i wont be a very fun time at the Schenn house this summer! No older brother wants to be chirped by their younger brother for playing better! Good news for fans, is Schenn has never really been, nor is he expected to be, a big contributer on offence, but he did lead the league in hits and blocked shots last season, and could very well do it again this season.
Unfortunately for these young defencemen fans jump on and off bandwagons faster than it took the two of them to sign their new multimillion dollar contracts. Right now they are trying to do to much and prove to bandwagon fans that they are worth the money they're being paid. They both need to simplify their game! For Myers he needs to be more physical for Schenn he needs to keep it simple. I have no doubt that these two defenceman will settle down and be just fine. It's part of the jinx of rookies signing their next major contracts, they always play like crap afterwards, someone needs to break that jinx, maybe one of them will win an award this season.
So my message to fans is to stop freaking out over their poor starts to the season, you are not helping them any by booing and chirping these young players. Give them time it is STILL early in the season, their teams are winning and the most important time for these two to play well is down the stretch!