On the Need for Power Rankings, Or Lack Thereof

Written by Mike Salerno on .

Earlier today, Adrian Dater at Sports Illustrated, released his version of the uber-ridiculous exercise in futility known as "power rankings." He conjured up quite a stir by ranking the Edmonton Oilers third, ahead of the 2012 Presidents Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Los Angeles Kings, who won something or other last season too.

If you're not familiar with the idea of this column, it gives writers an excuse to lazily list each team in a particular professional sports league in whatever order they see fit based essentially on any number of factors they deem relevant to their cause.

Oh you mean like standings? Well, yes. No. Kind of? Alright, not really at all. Power rankings are like standings with a poetic license. If you've got an agenda to establish, wins and losses need not apply.

One could argue that the best time (and, perhaps, only time) for such an article would be prior to any games being played. After all, how else would we ever determine who's best and who's worst without any tangible proof?

Now, this is not an indictment of Dater's character or work by any stretch. I'll leave that to the more experienced, professional trolls such as Puck Daddy's Ryan Lambert. People make outlandish predictions without any consequence all the time.

And I understand that there is an editorial movement that pushes this sort of thing on its' writers, no matter how hard they may fight it. Good journalism can't change the fact that people just want to read four non-descript sentences about the teams they love, the teams they love to hate and the teams they forgot existed.

But Dater's been around for a while. If he wanted to write a calculated, intelligent column for a change, he likely would have the freedom to do so. Why not profess your penchant for Edmonton's stable of young stars by putting together a piece claiming Edmonton may very well be the favorite in the Northwest division?

A "worst-to-first" column would surely draw it's fair share of snarky comments from the peanut gallery, but at least it would be original. You could spend as many words as you saw fit gushing about Eberle's ability to score early and often, and how Justin Schultz is going to take the league by storm.

Or you could spend five listless lines justifying your aggressive gesture, jettisoning the Oilers among the league's elite. I guess that works too.

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