Isles shutout the Lightning, extending the win streak to 6. Simon returns to boos, and the Isles seem surprised? Let's give them a reality check . . .
There several stories to come out of last night's big win over Tampa. The obvious one is that our streak is now 6 wins. Another is that despite these last couple of wins, we are still on the outside looking in on a playoff spot due to the fact everyone else is winning too. There was another story on how great the defense is playing, once again with a stellar effort, along with DP attaining a shutout.
But to me the biggest story to come out of last night was the booing of Chris Simon, the fact that it actually surprised many announcers, when anyone listening and reading any blog, message board or even talking to fans would know . . . We are not happy with his return, despite the screaming need for an enforcer.
In fact, there was a clear attempt to absolutely ignore the fan sentiment. The NYI website with announcing his return from his suspension of 30 games from a horrendous act, which followed one previous which was also horrendous, ignored us and just spun away. They never even bothered to realize that most were outraged at his return. That if he was changed, it was unproven. Those 30 games might have been the league stipulation, but fans were not lining up to swallow the feel-good spin from the Isles, acting like Simon was coming back from injury rather than slapping down a skate on someone. No, there were no open arms, even if the team could use his fists.
The fact that anyone expected anything other than booing is simply naive, outrageous and just plain ignorant of a very clearly made fan disposition and unhappiness. How could they expect anything else? Furthermore, many are tired of Nolan's obvious lukewarm feelings on Jeff Tambellini. The kid line was producing, yet Nolan's love affair with his "guys" found Tambs sent back to Bridgeport instead.
Now, I am not quite convinced that Tambs is the real deal on the NHL level, but I think many fans are tired of the couple games and limited minutes young players get in his system. So add-whit that Tamb is sent down to make room for a guy many are still deeply displeased with, really exacerbated the situation. So as Simon returns to the ice, a cold hard reality even more substantial than the awful ice surface came very clear.
So, Simon gets 6:17 minutes of playtime. No matter fan sentiment, which can EVENTUALLY be won back, there seems to be a need and a committed desire to have him in tow for the final 20 games. Unfortunately, the kids also got paltry minutes: Comeau with just above 6, and Nielsen with just above 8. Freddy Meyer, by-the-way, led in minutes, with a robust 23:42. <i>Meyer the IV, ironman?</i> But we'll save that imagery for a future blog.
In the meantime, maybe the booing gave the Isles pause. That positioning Simon to be thrown down our gullet as we clap like seals, well, wasn't just going to happen. Maybe, instead, there should have been more listening and reading the tea leaves that some PR was needed. And not just that puff piece on the website. That Simon has a long way to go before being accepted back in the fold. That fans are not convinced that he can still be a positive, and if so, maybe not in the place of youth many want to see playing more now.
Even Nolan, in his interview, when asked about, didn't seem to happy about it. That would about match the same coming from fans who don't understand the myriad of chances and flexibility Simon is given, while other players make mistakes, get benched or sent down. Simon, perhaps, should have sat out more than 30 games, backing up Wang's comments that such behavior was unacceptable. Maybe Nolan himself should have said to himself, maybe we fans need some convincing.
Hey, maybe Simon had some additional personal issues that were dealt with. Maybe there was more to it. Maybe he honestly has gotten over it and managed his anger issues. Maybe a lot of things. But last night, the fans were displeased with him, the Isles, and they heard it. And that is big statement made by a intelligent, passionate fanbase with a deserved opinion. Loud and clear.
In my own humble opinion,