Martin Havlat: Where is the Offense?

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

Confidence is the heart and soul to any professional athlete; i'ts what makes them believe they can be the best, or the worst.

Since his arrival in Minnesota, Martin Havlat has yet to show his true offensive fire-power we were hoping to see from his days in Chicago.

Throughout the first 20 games, we have seen Havlat hesitant, on edge and definitely lacking confidence in his own game and the numbers prove it.

With only two goals and six assists and a team worst -13 on the season, this is not the Martin Havlat the Wild signed nor the explosive forward the fans want to see.

Watching every game film from this season compared to last season's overall play, a few conclusions can be made.


1. Low Confidence

Havlat isn't confident not only in the team's changing game-play but also his own.

Last season when he entered the offensive zone with the puck on his stick, he attacked the ice using his speed, creativity and quick hands to muster scoring chances and goals.

This season is completely the opposite, just watch Havlat enter the zone this season. The first difference is that he will swing the puck wide and stop moving his feet instead of attacking the net or using his speed to get around the defense or push them deep into the zone.

Second thing you may notice is the shot totals. Last season Havlat would never turn down an opportunity to blast a shot on goal, but this season he definitely is looking to pass the puck first rather than use his quick hands and fool the goaltender.

In my book, all the above are confidence issues and its something where I believe if the team starts playing well, he will get better.

However, the Wild need him and others like Koivu, Burns and Brunette to lead the Wild out of this slow start and get the wheels turning again. That is how Minnesota is going to get out of this slump.


2. New System

It is never easy to take a team that for so long played almost a mirror image opposite to what your trying to get them to play like.

For Minnesota, thats going from defense first, to all out attack mode.

On top of that, you just made the move to a new team in Havlat's case, so you can't rely on other team members to show you where you should be or what the coaching staff wants you to do—your're learning right with everyone else.

It is surprising, though, to see that since Havlat is such an offensive player that this new system wouldn't benefit him.

However if you think about it, it makes sense.

Minnesota players who studied under the Jacques Lemaire regime are struggling to get the old material out and the new in.

Mistakes are forcing Havlat to cover for their mistakes and that means he cannot be as offensive as he could be right?

It's one way to look at it, but even for Havlat every offense runs different and he could be experiencing the same mental fatigue from Chicago as some old Wild players.


3. Stanley Cup

Yes the Stanley Cup comes into play here, you have to take it from Havlat's point of view to understand this argument.

After leading a talented and successful Chicago team all the way to the Western Conference Finals last season, once a player gets a taste of that, it becomes an addiction, an obsession.

Coming to Minnesota on a six-year $30 million deal, and knowing the challenges with a new General Manager, Coaches and players and a new system is a bit rough for someone coming off a deep playoff run assuming the next season or two could mean no return to the playoffs.

So why do it?

Two words, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Pittsburgh built through the draft and was patient, but after just a few short years and being near the bottom of the NHL, the Penguins are now the top dog in the league.

Chuck Fletcher was an intrical part of developing that team that took home the Stanley Cup last season.

Coach Todd Richards is a proven winner as a player and coach.

Owner Craig Leipold, who deserves more credit than he gets, has opened up his pocket book already to bring in Havlat and, as he did in Nashville bringing in players such as Kariya and Forsberg. He put hockey on the map in Tennessee with the Predators' playoff run in 2006.

Havlat will come around as he is surrounded by new young talent or brought in talent.

He is waiting as he did in Chicago, and it paid off. The same will happen here in the State of Hockey.

Once the Wild start winning, they will gain more confidence and the players game will jump up—Havlat is no different.

Just think of Havlat as a time-bomb waiting to explode; and when he does, he will be a force to reckon with in the NHL and the new face of the Minnesota Wild.




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