Mustache Rides For Everyone!
By BlackDogPat6 months ago
I am excited! Why? Because last weekend the boy’s hockey team, in their last season of minor hockey, won a tournament for the first time. Awesome, right?
The first year the team was together, a year before my son joined, we got an email saying ‘hey we are putting this team together and if your son wants to be a part of it then he has a guaranteed spot.’ I looked at this, turned to Jenn and said holy christ this team is going to be bad. The thing is … the boy was not any good. It was like that old Groucho Marx line (look it up kids), to paraphrase, you don’t want to be a member of any club that I am a member of.
I have been coaching since 1984 and a fair number of competitive teams in that time and we never ever just gave spots away like that. I figured we would hold our powder so we passed and that season the team won a total of … zero games.
We joined the next season and won four games, the year after … seven.
Now the team was crap but the worst part of it was the goaltending, god love them they were terrible. You can win with average goaltending but if you have bad goaltending then you are doomed, there is nothing that you can do.
The fourth year I took the team over and we lucked into a very good goalie and just like that we became competitive. And if you are competitive then you can attract better players and so the next year (after the missed COVID year) we became contenders.
And this year … a dozen games played and we have won a tournament and are two points out of first.
Now the team itself is very good, our best two wingers from two seasons ago are now are third-best set of wingers. And our goalie, who once gave us legitimacy by stopping everything he faced, well he has a lot less work these days, with six shutouts, of which he barely broke a sweat in five of the games.
But in the tournament final, with the team gassed and our superstar centre out sick, well, in the first they had a breakaway and our guy stopped them and we went down and scored. And then in the second another breakaway past our exhausted D and another big save and we potted another and that was all she wrote. It was not the most difficult game he ever had but he made the big saves and yeah that’s goaltending…
I saw a lot of Jack Campbell the past bit in Toronto and he is the nicest, most open about his emotions, wears his heart on his sleeve guy in the world, an absolute gem. He can also be exceedingly tough on himself. When it became clear that the Oilers were going all in on him my emotions were mixed. He had some amazing heaters in Toronto. He also had some down times. In short, he was an average NHL starter basically. If he got hot in the right two months you could win a Cup with him. If he struggled well, you could be out first round.
Personally, I thought the heat he got for the Leafs’ first-round ouster last season was unfair, he played fine but when Andrei Vasilevskiy is the guy at the other end of the rink well then… you are going to look the lesser because you are the lesser. Tampa would have lost without AV… he was that good.
Anyhow, Kenny Holland is not the most imaginative guy out there and everyone knew that goaltending was a massive issue in the playoffs last year and so rather than getting creative and gambling on a guy who was less sexy, he went with the big name and so here we are. Do I blame him for that? Well … no. It is easy to say that they should have picked up this guy or that guy but we all know Holland was going with the known commodity. It’s what he does and with the team’s window open RIGHT NOW he wasn’t going to gamble on a backup Russian goalie with good underlying numbers. Do that and it does not work out and all of a sudden you’ve sewered the season.
… of course when the guy you bring in has a start to forget, well then you are really in the shit
Campbell will bounce back and he will have a couple of nice heaters this year and next season he might be amazing and the year after he might be terrible … basically he’s Cam Talbot! So yes it is early to freak out but it is also time to ride Stuart Skinner’s moustache for a while. Much like Campbell, Skinner’s numbers are unsustainable but he has been terrific and the team needs to stop spinning its’ wheels. Having a second goalie who can win you some games is a great thing, you may as well use him, let Campbell get his head together and then hopefully Jack gets on a heater and away you go!
So pony up for the Amazing Stuart Skinner Mustache Ride, come one, come all!
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