Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
(Our hopes, dreams and our future fortunes are only possible if we forget our past. )
Let me all welcome you to the crossroads. The crossroads of where there is two different paths. One path is some hype and hopes, but likely mediocrity. The other is a tougher road of youth, drafts, and an early rougher road that can lead far higher. Only one of these roads will lead to a possible cup down the line. This I assure you.
The Isles have made some talk of going on that younger path even before the trade deadline. And perhaps it was Snow's own experience as a player that did not let him pull the trigger when values were higher, where he could deal Satan, Fedotenko and Vasicek and get some more draft picks in a talent laden draft. Perhaps someone further removed from the ice would have made the cold, calm assessment that a playoff perch from a team with an injured goalie who was sucking denial yet not even fooling most fans, a mish-mosh of underachievers, and a power play that faded months earlier.
It was then that there was a split of notions. Maybe it is that fault line that Garth sits on one side and Nolan on the other. Nolan liked vets. He was not convinced on the youth being sprinkled in. And maybe that is where both hurt the team in a tug of war since.
Nolan might be right. That he's not adverse to playing some young kids. But that the young kids he is being forced to give time are not to the level that he expects. Of course this has frustrated fans, since the vets he held dear have not been able to show any numbers or indications of doing much better.
So when it came time at the deadline to walk the talk about changing fortunes, we saw something very strange. Almost a panic to offer deals to impending Free Agents despite the fact they were a part of the problem. What spurred that strange clash of ideals? Was both factions see-sawing Wang, a man who has feared free agency so much that he has locked the team into two long term contracts? One bought out. The other with a goalie who likes to play every game and had 3 surgeries in two seasons.
Are the coach and GM battling or pitching tents on both paths? For over the late spring in talking to Garth he has cited that he is excited by youth and committed to the future. That the draft is where things don't have to be a future of mediocrity. The draft and prospects is where a better future lies.
So, yet upon this very week where we should be talking about the draft, instead our sense are assaulted that Gandler and his client, Alexei Yashin has been talking to Garth. Not only currently but at the end of last season (see Logan's Newsday chat, as he responded to my question). And we have to wonder what goes on here? Because once again the talk of one path has a lot of retreading older misguided ones. Is Garth gunshy about committing to a rebuild that he has to entertain conversations with someone who polarizes the fanbase as much as Chris Simon did? And Simon was dealt. Why are we, upon this draft even breathing two words to Yashin's agent?
Once again, our past is rearing an ugly head and hurting our future. And gives me reason to to wonder if it is necessarily Garth Snow that is creating this confused triptych of past, present and future. That Wang or committee or something, maybe even Snow's himself due to his experience as a player, might be clogging the roads with muddled intent or mixed messages.
If you look at potentials lines next season, there is certainly cause for alarm. Have you looked at the depth chart lately? The Isles have nary a line that can put up points. They lack a first line center. They lack two wingers to a second line. There is only one set line for this team, as long as Jon Sim and Mike Sillinger are ready to join Trent Hunter. The defense still lacks a top talent to round out the merely adequate players. Sure Sutton, Witt, Martinek and Campoli are good players. Meyer and Gervais do round it out nicely. Davison actually provides depth. But where is the greatness? Where is the talent? Witt and Martinek do better defensively. Campoli is the sole offensive weapon, unless they retry Berard.
And it might be a panic at looking at these lines, and their failed experience of attracting the talent they need so badly last summer that has Marc Gandler on a speed dial. I of course jest about the speed dial. But despite the Isles not quoted in Logan's article, no response has been a large response enough. There has been NO DENIAL on the part of the Isles. That is, in itself, a big message.
Which brings me back to Garth Snow once saying to me: "We were only a couple of points from a playoff spot. How could I walk into that lockerroom dealing everyone away?"
Well, to be honest. He shouldn't be walking into that lockerroom at all. A more dispassionate and honest estimate was tread upon by the possible fact he is too closely removed from being in that lockerroom and on the ice himself. And that might also be gumming the pipeline here as well to the juxtaposed avenues that this team seems to be caterwauling down the middle of like a tractor trailer going sideways. That the on-ice product needs someone who cut the cords of being pals with those in the locker room and on ice. That the hockey club needs people who can do what it necessary, not just talk about it as a concept. And wash away the past. Erase it with a drill if necessary.
Because we are all for more wins, goals and success. But it's time to walk the walk and commit fully to that future.
I don't want to hear about McCabe or Blake unless its for a pick or Bates & Hilbert. I don't want to hear Marc Gandler talking on how Yashin deserves at least 5 Million. I don't want to hear fans hoping that somehow Marleau, Malkin or some other pipedream is going to suddenly fall in our lap. None of these things will happen.
What I want to hear about is the great talent in this draft. How Filatov, Doughty, Pietrangelo, Wilson, Bogosian, Hodgson is exactly what we need. If only we could draft all these players, and even then next season might still stutter and steep, but that future is so bright. Well, Garth and company have a trove of picks this draft, and if he moves backwards for a Wilson or Boychuk, gaining more picks or young players, and the scouts are at least partially accurate, we could still have that bright future. But fans and management, evidently, need to understand what that really means. It means that a young rebuild should not cause panic or backward stepping notions of players past who polarize the fanbase. It means that we are on that higher path lock, stock and barrel. It's the FUTURE or BUST, not entertaining phone calls from the rep of a contract and player bust.
It is time to bite bullets, ladies and gentlemen. It is time to commit and not fear. It is time to remove the heart and soul from locker rooms and ice surfaces. It is time to make sweeping and integral decisions and strapping ones self in to that rocky yet necessary path. It is time to not play the hand we are dealt, but to get a new hand. We control our future and need no speckled and doubting psyche to hold us back.
Look at the news. We are the joke of the league. We are the punchline. We are the disappointment. A storied franchise over 25 years ago, who threw misconceptions out the window. We turned that Canadian mystique on it's very head putting forth a dynasty for the ages. It was only the next dynasty in Edmonton that removed us from that perch. And how did they get there? Through youth and draft.
Remember it, because we get to laugh last if we do this right. But we need to make the hard decisions and not play games or misperceive exactly where we are. Who we are. What we want to be.
The future is ours, if we are willing. It's time to move forward, not backward.