Sure, he's a liability but to say he hasn't improved in that category is wrong. He may lose track of his man and cut in, but lately he has been doing better. I'm not saying he's perfect but there's a learning curve present, as slight as the trajectory may be. On the forecheck he has been getting pressured more lately, and has been handling it better. He attempts to "finish" his checks and be aggressive to force the play on defenders in their zone. He wasn't doing that when he first came here. So in my opinion, he isn't too old. He is improving and can continue to improve.
I didn't imply he hasn't improved, rather, I meant to say his improvements were shallow.
For a real good laugh go read pretty much anything posted in the general hockey discussion area. I've seen some of the stupidest comments in my entire hockey following life posted there.
And Brunner isn't a liability on defense. A liability is someone like Patrick Kane who sees the puck in his own end, the other team possessing it in good position, and decides to just skate away from Pavel Datsyuk for a hypothetical breakout pass. Or Ilya Kovalchuk when he would just do figure eights by the blue line/neutral zone looking for a pass for a breakaway or odd man rush. Brunner backchecks and actually tries. He's not making the best reads compared to the rest of our team (still by far the best group of defensive forwards in the game) but he's back there trying and I've seen a few good plays from him.
Brunner has done all this, especially in the first few games. It didn't really click with Datsyuk, and I think that's why Babcock put Franzen on Brunner's side.
good article about Brunner
Good article indeed.
But turnovers have been a problem, and so has defense. Brunner has made mistakes. Bad ones. Like most Europeans who come to North America, he is used to circling and has to learn to stop and start. He has to learn the strict structure and defensive coverages of the NHL game. But Babcock has stuck with him.
Why is it so hard to address these issues?
I like that last quote by Babs especially, maybe a few people on these boards need to read it. You know the ones, they think Brunner is a defenive liability and that he will never change and he blah blah blah. That quote by Babs is exactlt what I've been saying
Did Babcock say Brunner needs to become better defensively or not? Yes. And Babcocks thinks he will. And I think Brunner needs to become massively better defensively, and I doubt he will. But only time will tell.