| I just don't believe
Why I shouldn't write when I'm half
I'm sitting here in my front room, staring out my
back yard window watching the leaves blow off the trees. It's a particularly
grey day, with the temperature below zero this morning when I got out of bed to
walk our dog. Despite every fibre of my being wanting to stay inside where it
was warm, there I was shivering as we walked to the park to play a quick game
of fetch before breakfast. During one particularly brisk lull, as my dog was
hunting for his ball in amongst the leaves, the wind picked up, the leaves
rained down and I couldn't help but think that soon the snow would fall.
And that meant is was almost hockey season.
While that fact
could readily be confirmed by a quick glance at the calendar, what struck me
more than anything else was the apathy that gripped me in the midst of my
revelation. For as long as I could remember the start of the NHL season was
something that excited me, and I would prepare by reading The Hockey News
season previews, watching TSN's specials, and generally sinking into the buzz
of a new campaign.
Yet this year I just can't bring myself to do it.
You see, something broke last playoffs, and I don't think it can be
put back together. Some might call it the suspension of disbelief, that ability
to block out all the flaws and honestly believe that your team could win.
Others use the term 'Teal-Coloured Glasses' to describe that tunnel vision that
focuses on the strengths of our club and thinks they can compensate for the
weaknesses. Whatever term you use, I seem to have misplaced mine, and it's damn
You see, for years I've had this faith in the core of
our team. I've honestly believed that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were
winners that just ran into the cruel fickle fate of sports. After all someone
has to lose, and sometimes it's going to be the team you root for. I was okay
with that, because I didn't doubt the pedigree of our players.
easy to do that too! Dan Boyle had a Cup ring from Tampa Bay. Brad Stuart had a
couple from the Wings. Niemi's got one too. That's not even counting Olympic
medals of all colours, World Championship trophies, and even some personal
hardware. This HAD to be a team with a winning caliber.
That all went
away during one gut wrenching week last Spring though, when the heart and soul
of the Sharks was torn from their chests and laid bare for the entire hockey
world to see. The sad fact is that this is not a team with a championship core.
It's just not. Somehow these players, who in other situations can step up and
be winners, just can't find that level when they wear teal. That's not a knock
on them, it's a reality of life. No amount of Joe Pavelski magic, Logan Couture
drive, Patrick Marleau speed, or Joe Thornton vision is ever going to change
It's not even a slight against management, despite the cries that
they be held accountable. What would anyone of us have done differently? Would
you have not acquired Thornton from Boston? Would you have let Marleau walk?
Was trading for Heatley a bad move? Or flipping him for Martin Havlat? Should
they have passed on Dan Boyle? Could we take issue with drafting Couture or
Pavelski? Signing Anti Niemi? The fact is Doug Wilson somehow keeps fleecing
other teams and bringing in talented players, plus drafting players that
contribute in the top 6 (Couture, Pavs, Nieto, Hertl, etc.) or play top 4
paring minutes (Vlasic, Braun, Demers, soon to be Mueller) without having Top
Nor can this rest on coaching either! Darryl Sutter is
a winner through and through, plus he's taken every team he's coached to at
least a conference final. Ron Wilson went to the Cup finals himself with
Washington. Maybe it's Todd McLellan's fault, but he's the winningest coach in
franchise history with 2 conference finals appearances to his credit.
Throughout all of these men the Sharks have always played to their strengths,
led the league in Offense and Defense at different times, and been above
average on Special Teams. So coaching isn't letting them down either.
So I return to the fact that for some reason, this mix of players in this
moment in time just aren't winners, and that has just robbed me of any
excitement for this season. I just don't believe that things will be different,
because insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a
different result. Without that belief though the fun disappears, as the
expectations that will be levied on this squad just can't be realized.
Maybe they'll surprise me, maybe something will magically change, but I just
can't see it happening. At this point the Sharks are who we think they are.
It's one of the immutable realities of sports, and as a fan it's just part of
my life. Just like those leaves clinging to the trees in our park, when the
wind gusts and things get rough, the only possible conclusion is that this
current club will fall.
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