Icing the puck that was the trade DEAD-line

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Hockey

What has it all been for?  What is there to look forward to?  What again is the concept behind rebuilding?  According to the Western Hockey League’s trade deadline on Tuesday, none of us apparently really know.

The Everett Silvertips spent all of the 2011 summer prepping their fan base for an upcoming season of going green, so-to-speak.  Green with inexperience as the team found itself the closest to square-one that it has been since their inaugural season back in 2003-2004.  Youth.  Inexperience.  Growing pains.  Big payoff in the future.  All of these were elements of the blueprints being laid out: producing the balance of having just enough veterans in the line-up to shoulder the load with their experience and skills, and plenty of fresh faces to grow into successful talents for the finish of this season and the seasons to come.  Well, all of the loyalists are still waiting to see it.

The season began as everyone had hoped.  The team was very competitive despite filling up tallies in the losing columns as the new faces were too young to give a crap about “being out of it” and the vets used their abilities to give the newbies the chance to make things interesting.  However, as the season wore along, the rookies began to show signs of frustration and tiring; the guys who have been around showed signs of conceding any chances of success.  The results were and have been evident.  The “green” kids are showing us declines in glimpses of improvement and the “grey beards” are the ones making the biggest mistakes.  Is it a combined conundrum of wondering if they have what it takes and limping to the finish line in their careers, respectively?

Well, that’s where yesterday’s events (or in this case non-events) come in to play.  If you really are building for the future and the veterans aren’t performing or don’t care or a combination of both, then why not get rid of them?  As the worst team in the league, there are 21 other organizations out there that those guys would rather be playing for.  Well, a lot of them anyway.  Some of them are organization devotees who wear the silver and green with dignity and pride regardless of the scoreboard or standings.  But, the others want to win no matter who it’s with or where it’s at.  Those are the ones holding this team back and the ones who need to go.  Well, I guess I need to rephrase that: they’re the ones who needed to go.

The Tips missed good opportunities to get rid of the assets that are no longer beneficial to the team.  Their value would have been toward other teams who gladly would have given up youth and draft picks in exchange, thus contributing to the supposed glorious future that the Tips have in mind.  General Manager Doug Soetaert is on record talking about how disappointing majority of those veterans have been.  He spoke of their inconsistencies and the lack of positive attitudes that some (but certainly not all) have displayed.  He also, though, made it very clear that the team would not be looking to make moves, but would certainly answer the phone if it rang.  Wait, what?

Basically the team makes it public that they aren’t happy with the veterans’ underwhelming performance during a rebuilding year and yet they don’t look to rectify that?  Get rid of them.  Bus them off.  Get us some kids who want to play, who are happy to be in the WHL.  The new faces that have been called up throughout the season to make a couple of appearances have been extremely refreshing.  They all have the attitude that is needed for this team: I’m going to be a game changer.  When a team is in a normal mindset in terms of its personnel, the main goal of rookies and call-ups is to just be solid – don’t try to set the world on fire, just be smooth, consistent, play your role the right way.  In the state that the Silvertips find themselves the philosophy of those same new players has to be the opposite.

When the team is the worst in the league there is nowhere to go but up.  The only way to do that is by changing the way you’re playing.  Therefore, anyone on the ice needs to have the ability to make themselves believe on any given shift they will turn the game around.  That’s the only way to create the much needed spark to inspire the guys on the bench, the organization and almost more importantly the fans.  The fan base has to see something to get excited about, something to look forward to each time they head to the local barn.

That’s where the Tips went wrong.  As far as I’m concerned, they botched the rebuilding process.  At least for this season, anyway.  We’ll see what happens come Bantam Draft and Import Draft time.  We’ll see what happens come the off-season and potential moves.  We’ll see what happens come year two of this phase.  As for the right here and right now, however, the constant battle for us loyalists to not get too frustrated has now become agony.  Why must we continue to watch the underperformances of those who don’t want to be out there?  We want to see the supposed future.  We want to see the players we get excited over.

We want to be reassured that we know what this has all been for.

 

– JRD

 

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