The Home Stretch
Excitement is going to turn into a lot of people turning their backs and throwing players under the (hypothetical) bus in the coming weeks as the NHL season gets underway.
We aren’t too far into the NHL preseason as teams look to select their final rosters, but on Oct. 1 when the points start to matter every player and team will be under a magnifying glass.
Guys like Bobby Ryan in Ottawa and David Clarkson with the Maple Leafs have fans excited right now, but I look forward to their reactions in mid to late October.
There will always be discussion about a player’s worth, especially now that we’re in a salary cap age. Team’s decisions are never perfect, but for a team that went out and picked a few old dudes in Owen Nolan and Joe Nieuwendyk in 2003, fans in Toronto will definitely be keeping an eye on Clarkson.
The Toronto native comes in with a price tag of $36.75 million US over the next seven seasons. That’s definitely not cheap, so regardless of whether he’s from there he better make his mark early or fans will be throwing him under the bus saying he’s not worth what he’s making.
Although Ottawa was doing some patchwork, after losing Daniel Alfredsson, when they traded for Ryan, he’ll be under the same watchful eye from fans and hockey operations staff alike. Joining the Sens at 26 years old he still has two years left on his five-year contract that’s worth $25 million US, so he has a lot to prove after a less than stellar lockout-shortened season last year.
He did have four straight seasons with more than 30 goals before last year, so Ottawa is hoping that will happen again this year. Fans are hoping for that too, but they likely won’t be as patient as Senators’ GM Brian Murray.
Throwing in the towel on a team or player doesn’t just happen at the professional level, it happens as low as bantam, possibly lower.
Although I haven’t read or heard anything about the local major bantam team this year, there are already people in the community saying the Weeks Major Midgets have no chance this season because of their two losses over the weekend. I wasn’t at the whole game at home on Sunday, but the boys showed some positives in their game even if it was a 6-3 loss.
If this was March and they were having the same issues I’d be right beside those people saying that being competitive in Atlantics is a long shot, but it’s not even the end of September. Come on people.
I understand there is a lot of pride in a team, whether it’s in a community or at a professional level, but trying to support this group is likely the best thing to do at this point.
Regardless of whether you were at the game and thought they looked terrible or had whatever other feelings towards their play, it was their second regular season game. Prior to that they had just over a handful of exhibition games (which were used to help select the roster), so give the kids a break. If they’re getting shut out in March then maybe the points made will be valid, but right now I think saying they won’t be able to compete in April is a little harsh.
Not that there are ever excuses for losing, but that team has a few players coming off injuries who will be vital to their success as the season progresses. I hope in March there isn’t a need for a discussion about the fact that they won’t be competitive at Atlantics, but the fact it’s a discussion right now is ridiculous. That’s my two cents.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NGNewsChris.