That “something special” just isn’t there anymore, Ryan Miller said it himself. Over the past 71 games we’ve seen a team struggle and falter to a 32-28-11 record, light years away from last year’s Presidents Trophy finish. The two teams have relatively similar rosters, the same starting goaltender, head coach, front office, and owner. The building still sells out. So what is the difference between the two teams? What explains the complete collapse of this franchise over the span of the last year?
Jiri Novotny isn’t here anymore.
Stay with me here. Everyone remembers Marty Biron moving at the trade deadline last year, but the real story was that Jiri Novotny was dealt as well. The perennial two goal scorer was traded to Washington in exchange for Dainius Zubrus, destroying the chemistry and magic this team had created with Jiri’s aid and subsequently extinguishing the “something special” Miller talked about tonight. The team’s playoff failure was not only inevitable, it was deserved.
The defeat at the hands of Ottawa just a few months later was something that should have been expected and certainly could have been prevented. The age old advice of “you ain’t ‘aposta fix what ain’t broken” was ignored by our brain trust in an attempt to bring in a hired gun. That hired gun turned out a cold, heartless mercenary whose icy demeanor scared Danny Briere’s playoff beard into permanent hiding.
Jiri don’t scare no beards.
Losing in May was only the first of disastrous results stemming from Jiri’s departure. The floundering, leaderless team is a direct result of Novotny not being in the lineup. Just look at how he has improved his new team, the Colombus Blue Jackets. His 8 goals, 12 assists, and -9 rating has helped the Jackets achieve a 31-28-11 record, just two points worse than Buffalo with a game in hand. That, my friends, is “poetic justice” (No? Still wrong? Darn!)
Heck, just today they picked a captain, something this team still can’t do since Jiri left. Does anyone else think he was the heir to the throne? Hrm…
Look at that strength.
I know I’m not the only one that thinks we threw a former first round pick under the bus by trading Novotny away so soon. He was the heart and soul of this team, plain and simple. If Briere and Drury were the real “winners” on this team why didn’t they finish the job after he left?
July 1st was viewed as the day that Danny and Chris left, but to me it will always be the day that we failed to get Jiri back. Instead Columbus won his services and will reap the benefits for years to come. Rat bastards.
Now you know the truth. Over the next 11 games you are going to see things go wrong and say “I wish Jiri was here”. Don’t worry, you won’t be alone. The course of our franchise has forever been altered by the hubris of Darcy Regier. You can all thank him for the performance you saw tonight.