(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
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.