Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Balm For the Wound

I don't know about you, but I feel a little bit better after last night. It doesn't burn as much to have our terribly injured, terribly outmanned eighth-seed Habs go down to the powerful Bruins after the mighty Sharks choked in the first round again, does it? Imagine being a Sharks fan. You just spent the entire season smugly watching your first-place team look pretty much invincible against all comers. You heard the pundits praise them for getting off to one of the best starts in league history, and compliment Doug Wilson for going out and adding a smart veteran winner in Rob Blake. You were excited because shoring up an already-strong defence with all-star Dan Boyle was the answer to the missing piece question for your team. Then the playoffs start, your big guns Marleau and Thornton once again fail to show up and your team, after all the hope and glory of the season, chokes again. And to your hated cross-state rival into the bargain.

Or, imagine being a Flames fan? You were all excited when Pierre McGuire and the other talking heads were ranting and raving about how your team "won" the trade deadline frenzy by adding Jordan Leopold and Olli Jokinen. They expounded about your team being "the new power" in the west, and how it had added strength that would make it incredibly tough to beat. Yet, here are the Flames, with a fourth straight first-round exit. That's got to hurt. But, at least the Flames fans can lick their wounds by listening to those same talking heads explain the Flames lost because of their injuries. They couldn't be expected to win without Phaneuf in the lineup, after all. The Canadiens loss of Andrei Markov wasn't even close to being responsible for their playoff defeat according to the experts...but then again, he's no Phaneuf.

So, there are worse things than being a Habs fan today. I think it'd be way worse to have a powerhouse team that can't win, than have a team with obvious holes that can be filled with the right moves. I think it would be easier to solve the Canadiens problems than try to figure out how to make Joe Thornton step up in the playoffs.


Topham said...

Great minds think alike:

All joking aside, when Thornton is offered around the league, would you want Gainey to enquire?

JF said...

I agree it is better to be a good team with obvious holes than a very good team that flames out. What concerns me is not so much the filling of these holes as the almost chronic under-performance of our young players. When I watch the Hawks, for example, I feel really envious. We have no young players of the calibre of Toews, Kane and Byfuglien, and the good young players we do have rarely perform up to their potential. What happened to Plekanec and the Kostitsyns this year? What happened to D'Agostini and Pacioretty after their first half-dozen games? I think a priority for the Habs this summer should be to overhaul the coaching staff and put in place some kind of mentorship system for the young players. We need a coach and assistant coach who are capable of getting the best out of them (look at Ryder with Julien for example). I have no idea who the coach will be, but his ability to work with young players should be more important than his ability to speak French.

J.T. said...

@Topham: That's hilarious. I guess everyone's finding some solace in San Jose's choke!

And, no, I wouldn't go for Thornton. He's going to be almost as expensive as Lecavalier, but at least Vinny's got a Cup. As I wrote below, I'm all for Staal.

@JF: I agree with a lot of what you've said. I'm thinking about the coaching situation and what needs to be done this summer. As for the Hawks vs. Habs, we have to remember Kane and Toews were drafted first and third overall. On the other side, Plekanec was a third-rounder and Sergei Kostitsyn was picked 200th overall. D'Ags was a sixth rounder, and even Pacioretty, though a first-round pick, wasn't chosen until number 22 and we know there's a big drop-off in most drafts after the top ten. Basically, their young players are blue chippers while the Habs' are much more of a gamble. We should be glad they're doing well in the NHL at all...without the unreasonable expectation that they should be superstars.