TWC Top-To-Bottom Review: Jochen Hecht

(This is the third post in a series which will evaluate the Sabres organization, one man at a time.  Larry’s Quinn’s internal review is the Official Worst Top-To-Bottom Review EVER.  I’m conducting my own review, to show Larry how it’s done.)

Name: Jochen Hecht, aka Yo-yo

Position: Forward

Number of years with the Sabres organization: Hecht joined the Sabres from the Oilers in 2002.  I’m not sure if Darcy traded for him, or if Yo-yo just stood outside the HSBC arena screen door yowling until Lindy let him in and gave him a bowl of milk.

Number of years remaining on contract: infinity

Cap hit: $3.525 million

Career high point: In 06/07 Jochen score 19 goals and 37 assists for a career high 56 points.

Career low point: In 08/09, Jochen scored 23 own-goals and was a -87.  *not totally true

Areas of strength: well-coiffed porcupine hair, somehow scoring while standing behind the net and bouncing the puck off no less than five obstacles, talking like a duck, overall handsomeness and appealing shyness, starring contests

Area of weakness: hockey

2008/09 grade: H-   Something went horribly, horribly wrong.

General comments: Yo-yo is a “Lindy Ruff” kind of player.  Lindy loves him (or at least he did).  Last year during the rotating captaincy, Yo-Yo was one of two players who wore the “C” twice (Soupy was the other), and this season, Jochen Hecht wore an “A” all year long.  Allow me to repeat that….JOCHEN HECHT WORE A LETTER ALL SEASON LONG.  (Sidenote: During the preseason, Heather and I joked that Lindy liked to attach the captain’s letters to the jerseys with velcro so that he could rip them off the chests of errant players in disgust.  The mental image of walking up to Jochen Hecht, and ripping off his “A” and then tossing it dramatically onto the ground is almost too tantalizing to bear.)

I don’t know what happened to Hecht this year, but it wasn’t pretty.  Until this year he was known as a hard working, no nonsense, defensive forward.  Never the flashiest, grittiest, or most skilled guy on the ice, but definitely a guy you could count on if you needed to protect a one goal lead with a minute left in the third.

But then this year, he became….wrong.  This season, Jochen looked lost, frantic, insecure, and cautious.  His previously tolerated lack-of-offensive-finesse became glaring in the face of his sloppy defensive play.   His level of play ranged from “Do you think Yo-yo is playing with an injury?” to “I’m going to break his legs myself.  Please…..just get that guy off the ice.”

I think it’s interesting to note that one of Lindy’s “favorites”, a player who has always seemed to have Lindy’s faith and trust, turned into a gigantic pile of flaming poo this season.  Many people around town are quick to blame Jochen’s rapid decline on his new contract, and there could definitely be some merit to that theory, but he signed that contract in October of ’07.  He played a full, productive season with that contract in place.  He just doesn’t seem like a “phone it in” kind of player to me.  He seems like a “trouble starts, and then if it’s not properly addressed, that trouble snowballs into an unstoppable-nightmare-of-a-season,” kind of guy to me.  To my eye, his trouble didn’t stem from lack of effort.  He just looked INCREDIBLY, and inexplicably, bad at hockey.

I suspect I’m going to take some heat for this in the comments, but I’m going to say it anyway: More than anyone else on the Sabres, to me, Jochen Hecht looked like he was poorly coached this season. There are plenty of Sabres who I am willing to hang the “lazy, soft, and coddled” tag on, but Yo-yo really isn’t one of them.  To me, he looked like a guy who desperately needed some help and guidance- help that never came.  His role on the team was never really adjusted, he was never really benched, he never lost his letter, and it wasn’t until the veeeery end of the season that he even looked remotely capable of getting out of his funk.

Obviously, I don’t know really know how Hecht went from to projected-future-captain-of-the-Sabres to the-guy-whose-contract-looks-the-scariest, but he did.  And it sucks.

REQUIRED SUMMER HOMEWORK: The good news about my odd faith in Yo-yo’s work ethic is that there IS hope of a recovery.  As long as this season wasn’t some indication of a general unwillingness to play with urgency, then he might not have to suck forever.  The bad news about my odd faith in Yo-yo’s work ethic is that it means that there is something really, reeeeally wrong with his game.  Hopefully it’s just an injury, and he’ll spend the summer rehabbing in secrecy.

In order to return to form, Jochen must complete the following tasks:

1. Purchase and complete “Feeling Good“.  When I was in college, my viola professor very famously assigned “Feeling Good” to wayward students.  It was both a badge of honor, and a terrible, damning shame to be assigned “Feeling Good”.  “Feeling Good” from my viola teacher represented both a declaration that “I still believe in you.  You can turn this around,” and “You are about to get your sorry ass kicked out of school.  Pull it together, kid.”

2. Watch Hoosiers, Rudy, Mighty Ducks, Bull Durham, and Rocky over and over again all summer long.

3. Go to Germany, and stay there.  DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH ANY OTHER SABRES FOR THE DURATION OF THE SUMMER.   (I’ll deal with his teammates later, but Yo-yo MUST be quarantined.)

4. Sky dive.

5. Do 400 hours of community service, preferably working with economically disadvantaged people.

6. Learn to play the didgeridoo.   Give a recital.

7. Stop talking like a duck.  Get speech therapy if necessary.

15 Responses to “TWC Top-To-Bottom Review: Jochen Hecht”

  1. 1 Erin April 24, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Sad, but true. You hit the nail on the head.

  2. 2 Heather B. April 24, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Wait, a second. You said talking like a duck was one of his strengths. So why you want him to stop?

    Yo-Yo was a sad, heart-breaking mess this season, that’s for sure. The fact that you can’t really blame a lack of effort makes me a liiiiiittle leery that he’s heading toward the downside. He’s not old by any means but he’s no spring duck either. Still, he wasn’t slower, just… not as smart. Which is nothing something I’m sure you lose with age. I’m totally thinking out loud in case you can’t tell.

    Whatever was going on with him, I agree that people who are accusing him of phoning it in post-contract are way off-base. He was one of the only Sabres who played hard all season last season which was, as you said, also post-contract signing.

    I’m hoping he just needs a long summer off and away. Please, Yo-Yo. I love you!

  3. 3 Katebits April 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Wait, a second. You said talking like a duck was one of his strengths. So why you want him to stop?

    Hehheh. Whoopsies. It’s my consistency that makes my message so important. *shifty eyes*

    Truthfully, I’ve always been conflicted about Jochen’s duck-like speech patterns. I think what happened here is that when I started this post I thought it was cute, but then I wrote all that stuff and changed my mind. Heh. Poor Jochen Hecht can’t do ANYTHING to please me.

  4. 4 Katebits April 24, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Oh, and about your comment about his playing….I don’t think it’s age that’s slowing him down. I think it’s mental. He looked frantic and confused all season. Maybe there was a slow carbon monoxide leak at the arena…..that would explain a lot actually.

  5. 5 Norm April 25, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    His season turned around when Lindy finally stopped rolling him out in a top 6 role with Pommer and TC.

    Hmmmm. Oddly enough, the same time Pommer turned it around a bit. But that’s another episode in the “Top-to-Bottom Review”, I suspect.

    Hecht played very well in a third line role – and it’s where he belongs. Just please, Lindy, take the damn “A” off him and give it to the Goose!

    In fact, I’m all for Goose going up to Hecht during camp and physically tearing the letter right off his chest if Lindy doesn’t do it.

  6. 6 Anne April 25, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    My mother is a speech pathologist, she would LOVE to offer Yo=yo counseling in exchange for primo Sabres tickets or tickets to the games of whichever team he might be traded to.

  7. 7 Katebits April 25, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Anne, your mother is hired. And those will be SABRES tickets (yay!) because lucky for you, Yo-Yo is untradeable. :D

  8. 8 Gambler April 25, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I never actually got around to publishing it (as usual) but there’s a draft of a letter kicking around in my blogger account literally begging Lindy to tear Yo-Yo’s letter off and sit him in the press box for a game or two. I’m totally baffled why that never happened, since it’s not something Lindy shies away from doing, and Yo-Yo clearly needed it. Who knows how he would have responded to a benching, but I think it was at least worth a try. Instead Lindy just let him turn into the next Dmitri Kalinin. I think you’re right that the relationship between Lindy and Yo-Yo is an unhealthy one, I’m just praying that doesn’t mean he’s going to be traded.

  9. 9 Katebits April 25, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Gambler, I really think Yo-Yo’s contract makes him untradeable, or at least very close to untradeable, so you’re safe. Hopefully Hecht will bounce back. Personally, I think he’s salvageable, but he’s definitely someone I would like to see under a different coach. We’ll cross out fingers!

  10. 10 mcguffers April 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) I always forget the bad once the season is over. In September, I’m all rainbows and puppies in anticipation for the season. So I’m loving these posts, cause everytime I read one, I’m all, “Ooohhhh riiiiight. Thaaaat’s why we’re not in the playoffs.”

    I think Hecht wants to be more of a Goose player, but the coaching staff needs him to be a scorer when Timmy gets hurt, Vanek stops being amazing, and/or something shiny floats by Roy-z. Maybe fighting Vinny was his way of asking Lindy to let him be a fighter not a lover.

    Of course, all of this could be bullhonky. It could just be the meth.

    And if Goose isn’t wearing some sort of letter this season, I’m slashing some tires.

  11. 11 Katebits April 25, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    mcguffers, it’s very important to me that no one forgets how hard the Sabres suck this summer. (I’m mostly kidding. I promise I’ll love them again by September. I will miss them so much by then that I’ll forget all about their inadequacies. :D)

  12. 12 MikeP April 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Hecht stood at the Edmonton airport and whined piteously until Lowe turned him loose for a pair of draft picks, which became Mr. Rachel Hunter and Jeff “Don’t Call me Drouin” Deslaurier.

  13. 13 MikeP April 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Deslauriers, pardon me.

  14. 14 MP April 28, 2009 at 5:32 am

    He signed this deal in 2008, not 2007. This was the first year.

  15. 15 Katebits April 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

    MP, this was the first season of his new contract, but he re-signed on Oct 16th, 2007. He played all of 2007/08 with this deal in place. He had no more motivation to play well last season than he did this season.

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