"I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
I've kept the movie rolling
But the story's getting old now
I just looked in the mirror
Things aren't looking so good"
Here we are . . .
You can almost hear Chris Cornell's throaty growl as you stare at the TV screen or read your morning paper about last night's game. Once again, the game-play improved, but yet the Isles were only able to wring a point from Minnie. Unlike the NY Mets, who wrung-out Johan Santana for their pitching staff out of the city.
Speaking of Omar Minaya. The Mets, their last year boffo disappointment aside, have done some ballsy moves over the years. A fabulous mixture of those who were developed: David Wright and Jose Reyes. And then some stars via free agency, like Carlos Beltran and Pedro. And then some wheeling and dealing like Johan, Delgado and many others. A good team, even if they aren't quite over the hump yet, is a mixture of all these things. But of course, there is a huge difference. Players and stars like to come to NY. That the Mets, though not the Yankees in legendary stature, are still a desired place to play.
Garth Snow channeled Omar last season, but perhaps a few years too soon. As the making of the playoffs and grabbing Ryan Smyth really skewed our reality and expectations. Maybe it's a good thing that we've had a fall to earth as we tumbled into pits of the conference. After all, you got to build the team to have that mixture, not a ragtag group that has youth in flux, and unable to get playing time from the coach until the season is beginning to spin out of control. Our free agents, more depth and sleepers. Not barnburners who can make or break games.
In my opinion, the two best pickups for the Isles is Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin. Bill Guerin has been effective, and except for his mid-season slide, has been still making it happen. Comrie, in my opinion, is miscast as a 1st line center. His style and play really lends itself to a very good 2nd line center. Honorable mention goes to Andy Sutton, who is now doing the little things and evened-out his play. But even then, it is far behind the top two.
Truth is, as we the fans take a look at ourselves and our team in the mirror. Feeling Minnesota, as Cornell slyly meant in his Soundgarden classic...meant feeling tired and worn out, and my own apologies to Minny fans because I am not using it to insult the city. Just to impart what Soundgarden meant, the Isles are. They were pushed and pressed with urgency from up above to be a playoff team. Well, you know, last season's surprise aside . . . and trust me, with last years personnel we would never sniff a cup . . . we do not have the elements of a winner just yet.
We lack the youth blooming. There certainly seem to be some studs coming. And as we saw with Comeau and Bergie, some grabbed their own spot. And some need to get NHL time to make mistakes rather than being sent down as punishment. And some get game-time, despite not getting much positive points or production. Seems very inconsistent messages to me.
Maybe that urgency and expectation rushed things and overdid it. Maybe the philosophy, when making changes of the summer should have been more about development and crafting that future on the NHL club. Maybe aiming high was wrong. That we needed to aim for solid consistent play, and let things bloom and grow. Maybe this rush for the playoffs was a disservice to the bottomline. Maybe the Garth and Nolan show of grabbing "team guys" over the summer and telling us not to worry, was in fact, not the answer. It did not work. It did not reap rewards perhaps expected. Maybe the beginning of the seasons rollout misled that illusion.
As we stare, with now a 7 game bearded growth of no wins, and sunken eyes, maybe we need to wash up, clean up, and tear down those lofty and obviously mistaken expectations.
DP Hasn't Been DP
On a team that plays through injuries, one has to wonder . . . at least I am, that what exactly is going on with Rick DiPietro since the all star break. His play, though good at times, seems not the same level. And you have to wonder, when Campoli and Sillinger did the same, is DP perhaps still banged up from his stop on Marion Gaborik in the Skill Competition?
Playing through bumps and bruises is par for the course in the physical and demanding hockey life. But, in a season that is slipping down the drain, is DP playing hurt trying to vainly to stem the tide?
Is it necessary at this point, to put players in jeopardy? We all know Ricky will admit nothing, and wants to play every game. But to me, he hasn't seemed himself, and I worry about the longterm. The future. If he's hurt, he should be sitting. The Isles as a team, need to dig themselves out. Not just one player.
Okposo on a Tear
Speaking of the future. Those who worried about about Kyle Okposo playing without the other effective players at Bridgeport as Nielson, Tambellini and Comeau all continue to play on LI, should relax. Okposo had two goals and an assist this weekend, and is Okposo is 5-9-14 in 14 games. He and new linemates, Sean Bentivoglio and Ben Walter have clicked.
See what I mean about being patient on future?
Truth is, these kids really will play out on the fortunes of our future. With the Lighthouse Project on tap and things in play, while these things take time, the Isles are in flux. The only answer to build a longterm winner. And the requires a patient hand.
We all understand that it has been a long dry time for Islander fans over the many years. No hockey fanbase should have gone through what we have. We deserve to be excited about something. We deserve to have a winner. We deserve a lot of things. And it is a boon that our owner, Charles Wang, wants desperately to make those things happen.
But there comes a day when you got to temper that rush and see things through. This season seems to be one of them. In my opinion, it's time to re-evaluate, reassess, and look closely at creating that 3-prong creation that has a strong developmental system, time for players to bloom, and when those things come into play, the vets and pickups will have a far greater effect. No, we might not be able to land that star. But if we have the right mix, and if situation and timing is right...maybe it will then be worth to open the wallet and ante up to make sure that fellow looks real hard.
And if you aren't a Mets fan and don't see how that formula works...take a good hard look at the success of the Flyers. Youth, stars and vets, all come together in a winning mixture. They were willing to make the deals to get those prospects and young players. Are we? Are we willing to do what is necessary? A sometimes, yes, it does not work all like it planned, because the Rangers did this too. They reaped the rewards last year of that move and development. But hit a wall this season. But that's hockey. No guarantees.
Just my take, as I hum a tune this Sunday morning.
<< guitar solo >>
- BD, wearing his flannel shirt and grunge band t-shirt