I just want my hockey.
We all just want our hockey.
It’s incredibly frustrating to see that, for the second time in eight years, we have to put up with this bullshit. The NHL is abusing the players and abusing the fans by exploiting every loophole to spend as much money as possible on contracts, only to cry poor and take that money away from the players, and hockey away from us. Fuck Gary Bettman. He’s the worst. If he spends eternity having his liver eaten daily by an eagle that constantly sings Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”, I will consider it a light punishment. At least Prometheus did something to benefit the Greek version of the 99%, while Bettman puts the manic, irrational whims of the gods above any benefit the hockey community might receive.
But, alas, wiser, better people than I have said “Fuck Gary Bettman, I’d like to put him in a giant paper shredder.” better than I. This isn’t really about that. This is about enduring. Patience. Concerning our prospect development, this lockout might end up being a blessing in disguise.
So, make the jump, fans, and endure.
Here’s how it is: Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin are a huge key to the now, as well as the future. They’re both from Europe, which means two things: A less physical brand of hockey (though in Finland, it’s not too much less), and smaller ice surfaces than in North America. These differences were/are the two biggest roadblocks to having these guys be the major cogs the Wild will need them to be do accomplish more than mere playoff contention this season. So, entering the season there appeared to be an upcoming conflict: How will the Wild balance the short and long term needs for these players? Stick Brodin in Houston for the beginning of the season? Give Granlund fewer minutes than his development might require?
Well, this decision has been made for them. The Wild have the perfect opportunity to let their top two prospects adjust to the North American pro game, without any opportunity costs being lost by the Wild. That’s really an incredible thing. Granlund and Brodin will be able to suffer their growing pains in North America, without unnecessary pressure on them to perform, or intense scrutiny when they make a rookie mistake in their initial adjustment. This should help make Granlund and Brodin’s transition to the NHL much more seamless.
This lockout doesn’t just benefit the prospects most likely to step up to the NHL this season. For the Coyles, Larssons, Bulmers, Zuckers, Phillips’, this gives them time to play with the best prospects the Wild have to offer, and the best young players other teams have to offer. Playing with Granlund, Brodin and Scandella should enable them to play at a higher level than they would without, as well as build chemistry with them, which wouldn’t happen if the season started today. They will also be able to stay together for the duration of the lockout, with no interruptions for injured players to be called up. They’ll get a stability and continuity they wouldn’t get otherwise.
As for playing against other players, in Houston’s division alone, Edmonton is putting their best young players on the ice. Who better for a gritty, defensive player like Johan Larsson to practice against than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Taylor Hall? The AHL is going to provide these guys with a much taste of the pros than usual, and this can only help their development.
These (hopefully) weeks of the lockout are frustrating, awful, and downright shitty for a fanbase finally on the doorstep of relevance and competence. However, this probably will end up as an unintended benefit for the Wild’s future, much as Buffalo, Vancouver, and Nashville flourished after the last lockout, where their young stars got the benefit of playing and developing together. We can reasonably expect that these prospects playing with each other (minds out of gutters, please) will aid their development and smooth their transitions when it comes time to call them up.
We can see this starting to take hold even now, in the AHL preseason, when Granlund scored 4 goals and Coyle added two more in a game.
But despite these silver linings, I can only think one thing.
I just want my hockey back.