I will admit I got a little cranky with the team tonight. Partly because I really don’t like the Hurricanes. I don’t mean the players, obviously I don’t know the players. I have nothing against the players, except for the one. But the organization management seems whacked and I don’t like seeing them win, nevermind against my team.
I also got cranky because the Sharks keep forgetting that that guy isn’t back there anymore. He’s not there to save their fannies and he’s not there to blame for not saving their fannies. It’s not their fault, they didn’t make the decision. This is not to say I don’t explicitly recall one conspicuous Shark saying that the team is intact, that all of their important players are still here after the off season changes. I will not forget that he said that. I think neither will he.
It is unfortunate for a Captain to be so inattentive. But he is just a player, not someone with any hand in hiring decisions. Nor is he a coach, responsible for understanding and making the best use of available assets. It is not the Captain’s job to evaluate or run the team.
The Sharks cannot be those guys who expect that guy to be there for them. Not anymore. Really that guy is two guys, but only one was sent packing. Or so we have been told. I’m not sure what to believe anymore.
I do believe that they lost a goalie of rare talent and a defenseman so wise to the game that he could read his team with one eye, the opposition with the other and predict the outcome better than most. Neither role has been filled. It is possible that these roles cannot be filled with the same number of bodies.
For me to not blame Niemi for these recent losses is perhaps a continuation of my “don’t blame the goalie” argument. It is no insult because I used it previously, I always use it. I like our new goalies, both of them. I enjoy watching them play. They are very good goalies. They may improve, they are diligent. They are pleasant. I am happy they are on our team.
But they are not that guy. The Sharks have to move on without that guy, and prove that they are those guys they need to be, not a team riding a hot goalie into the playoffs until his legs drop off and then not knowing how to pick up the slack.
They have done some good things in this nascent season. They even did some good things tonight against the dread Hurricanes. They rallied after falling down in the first period. I count that as growth. That seemed to be a problem previously, the “uh oh, we’re losing, I can’t feel my legs…” meltdown. They made progress there tonight. But then, as if the strain of doing that was too much for them, they forgot that that guy wasn’t there anymore. Again.
That the Sharks have brought along some fine young talent is evident. I saw a lot of try and a lot of courage from our young players, even tonight. But they are too young and too many. Pressure can be good for bringing someone along. Too much pressure causes problems. You lose because they are still learning, and they learn to lose which is a lesson well skipped. Losing is a lesson we all have to learn, but if you spend too much time on it early, it is hard to move past it. That is not hockey sense, that is common sense.
Someone promised that the team would remember what Blake taught them. Maybe he wasn’t the only one with a lesson plan worth reading.
It isn’t only the rookies slipping up. Amnesia is rampant. Maybe the team needs to think back, remember every complaint that guy ever voiced, and pretend like it was valid. Because the new guys aren’t going to be so quick to share. They’ve been told to compete with each other and not by whining. Maybe if the team can give these guys everything that guy ever asked for, then the team can grow into a force to be reckoned with.
Otherwise, the only class this team will pass is “how to get a longer summer break in one or two easy roster changes.”