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Delayed Penalty

Two days ago I mentioned that I was lifting TVs during the first period of the Sharks @ Coyotes game.  My knees did not give out, my back did not pinch, I did not end up writhing under a giant TV.  I felt fine while watching the Sharks win that one.  Last night my legs started to complain.  Not “OMG I will never walk again!” pain, just a “hey, watch it!” kind of discomfort.

Scott Nichol has been suspended for four games. The hit in question did not interrupt play, did not result in a penalty.  Nonetheless, the Sharks will miss Nichol in subsequent games.

Often, our past actions come back to haunt us, just when we think we are in the clear.

Much was made of Doug Wilson’s comments to the team back in… when was that?  Oh yeah, around the start of the losing streak.  Less was made of the fact that the “inadequacy speech” preceded four more losses.

From the first period of the Oilers game on, the team showed signs of recovery.  The Blues game could be compared to the patient starting to breathe on his own.  In the Coyotes game, the team found their feet, their eyes were open– not ready to run, but on their feet.

Then Wilson acquired Eager and Wellwood.  For the time being, this only means that the young call ups go back to Worcester, where they might use their NHL experience to improve their game there, and build on it.  Wilson brought in veterans to fill spots held by rookies.  Okay.

Is it?  Is it okay I mean?  Telling the team that you were considering shaking things up, moving players who may have considered their position secure, did that help?  Was the benefit of that threat delayed by a few games while players flushed the panic out of their heads?  Did it have absolutely no effect whatsoever, just coincide with the team’s mental reorganization?

Will the presence of Eager and Wellwood put pressure on the likes of Seto, McGinn and Mitchell?  Never mind Pavs and Clowe, who have, appalling as it seems, also been mentioned in the rumor mill. Pressure?  Of course.  Everyone knows the team is looking for a defenseman, and there is no reason to assume they will trade D for D.

Should professional hockey players be able to handle such pressure?  Certainly.  But do you really want to test that theory right before a game against the 2010-11 Canucks?

It crossed my mind that Eager or Wellwood may not make it past the first practice before being traded again.  Why not?  As far as I have heard, they should be gearing up now and getting ready to hit the ice.  But Wellwood only yesterday was pulled out of his first practice with the Blues to be told he was going to San Jose. Anything is possible.  Likely, Eager and Wellwood will stay.  They have GM- friendly contracts.

So now that the team is showing some cohesion, some hope, now Wilson brings these guys in, to shake things up?  Of course the timing is a bad coincidence, of course Wilson was at work on the Eager deal at least a few days ago.  That is the most likely scenario.  And Wellwood?  Everyone is watching the KHL re-entry list.  That was always a possibility.

Probably Wilson was working on these when he made “the inadequacy speech.”  But what the heck do you expect when you tell a team that everyone needs to contribute more, better, harder, whatever?  Is it any surprise that players started improvising, running amok?

Isn’t that what the players were saying after winning the last two games?  That they had stopped trying to do things themselves and worked more as a team?  Isn’t that what McLellan did, sitting them all down (or standing them up) and drilling a group strategy into their brains?  All signs pointed away from “every man for himself.”  And it was good.

I worry that these acquisitions could cause a hiccup in the recovery.  Not because Eager or Wellwood can’t follow the program, but because the changes are tantamount to a threat that every man, or at least every 3rd or 4th liner, is once again on his own.

“It’s a change and we need a change… We put players in different situations and talked about how to handle those different situations.” -Todd McLellan, speaking of the whiteboard session before the Blues game.

Now they are in yet another different situation.  I hope it doesn’t cause a relapse.


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