So, lets all take a moment to review the trials and tribulations of what 2007 has meant to us as Isle fans. Well, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. The Nolan era has put us in the playoff picture, but it is still fuzzy to see how that Polaroid will develop. It certainly got more in focus when the likes of Alexei Yashin hit the bricks. It also was more in focus when a deal happened which Isles fans still argue over: The Smyth Deal, where we reached for the sky, and came away with ashes to those dreams as he went to Colorado in Free Agency. There cannot be a fan who can sit comfortably in that schism and not feel that stomach roll in the what if. Argue all you want on O'Mara and Nilsson. I hear you, understand, and I had wondered the same on all those avenues of choices if it was best. But just keep this is mind . . .
There was a vision.
Yes, we did not retain Smyth. But there was a vision perhaps of him, Drury, and even Guerin. We even heard they Isles had been hot on Zubrus. They certainly were on Schneider. Yes, I know we don't have them all. In fact, the only guy in that last few sentences we do have is Bill Guerin . . . a man who was on the Isles radar before Smyth fell into their lap.
But . . . there was a vision. A plan. A glimpse of where they wanted to go.
Sure, we in this generation of Instant Gratification, want immediate solutions. Immediate dividends. Immediate wins. Immediate juice to stoke that fire that had been just smouldering remains after some horrendous years. I'm with you. I was there too. Just as frustrated. Just as irate.
Mike Milbury sits there from a chair at TSN pontificating on the NHL as his he had a sniff of a clue's rear end at his time on Long Island. But, as much as we like to put him in our lightning strikes, you have to blame the horrendous ownerships before Charles Wang came along. They sometimes put Mad Mike in that desperate avenue. I even was going to write a series on Mad Mike, offering a revisionist view on how situations dictated some of the insanity. That he, though was to blame as well, was not the sole of even top 3 reasons the Isles floundered. I got to one blog of that series: The Shoe Incident. Once I started researching and writing, I found myself just getting too pissed to write about it. For what came from Milbury was complacency and buying into the skewed and warped bends of reality. That Mike's main issue was simply hubris. He really thought he had an answer, and for that, I could not write any further. Hubris led to many errors along the way, and for some many lean and mean years for Isles fans. How a storied and fabled hockey club and land who slammed the scene on their head, capitulating a dynasty, could then turn into the butt of jokes and ire everywhere is a crime that has not be paid with any justice.
Now, yes, there is struggle. There are hard times, slides, confusion. This season is still a climb for this team of ragtag free agency pickups who are still trying to find their way. But there is a vision. There is a coach. There is a GM. There is some player development. There is youth coming around the bend. Look carefully at Jackman, Comeau, Walter, Bergie. These are the men who will one day, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, who will make up this team as they seek to climb higher. That this season is another step to a goal that is not just winning a cup. It is about bringing back a winning tradition. It is about getting back and getting new fans. IT is about Long Island, and the sports fabric of a sport that needs to find it's way to many hearts across this country. Maybe even trying to splay into others, as Isles games are now translated to Chinese.
There is a vision. Even if we all can't see it just yet. It's there. I assure you. I see it plain. And it will not be one player or trade that gets them to where we all want to go. It will be a series of steps, falls, slides, leaps, and such that will get them there. It will be quite a ride.
This year has seen some old shackles shed. Some more might also make room for the new.
Tonight Carolina, and perhaps with just a skeleton crew. But 2008 comes like a braying hound to remind us, it not just about tonight. It's about what comes next. And for me, as a fan, even knowing that they aren't quite there yet, is pretty exciting.
Tomorrow: Some links to some best-ofs for the year and a review of the Carolina game.
Happy New Year!
Your blogging pal,