Imagine there is an old building near your house that will be torn down and replaced by a Tim Hortons. Construction is starting soon, and you’re conveniently looking for work. You are in decent shape and enjoy manual labor, so your apply and are hired for the work crew.
After a few days you realize this construction job isn’t half bad. The fresh air is nice, you don’t mind the workout, and the others workers are all nice enough. Before you know it the old building is gone and you start building the Tim Hortons on the site. Walls go up, you make friends, and after a couple of weeks you are really starting to get the hang of what you do. In fact, you begin to take a level of pride in your work, knowing that some real progress is being made with your help.
And then someone bashes your head in with a sledgehammer.
I’ll admit that is not a good story. You probably cringed at the end, maybe you even felt for your own face after a few twangs of sympathy pain. If that character were anything like you or I, you probably finish the job and get let go, your purpose fulfilled after a job well done. Maybe times get tough and you get laid off, or maybe you get mildly hurt and go on disability for a bit. Still, it’s nothing like a broken, permanently-altered face. That’s just cruel, and no one deserves that.
The thing is, that story is how Tim Connolly lives every single day of his life.
We all get frustrated with Tim Connolly. Fans are the first to throw their hands up in disgust, as very rarely do we have as much invested in a player as other groups. The coaches, general managers, owners, and other staff have a lot more time, effort, and money in play when it comes to Tim Connolly’s career; and even the media has actually met the guy once or twice.
But think for a moment how it must feel to be Tim Connolly. Push aside all the stories you hear about his personal exploits, forget about what you think of him. Put yourself in his skates, or better yet, his work boots. Imagine the potential you would feel inside you and realize it may never come to fruition in the real world. Above everything else, how would that disappointment feel?
We all know what Tim Connolly has in him. Every so often he shows a flash or two of absolute brilliance, the speed and hands and creativity that made him a fifth overall pick in 1999. A three point night and a half dozen scoring chances, or maybe just one move you’ve never seen before that brings a crowd to its feet even if it doesn’t work. There is plenty of good stick work in the modern NHL, but Tim Connolly is at times the best set of hands in the entire league.
Yet as is the case with Timmy, each step forward results in two steps back. Concussions. Bone spurs. Stress Fractures. Sore backs and necks and knee injuries. Tim Connolly has had more injuries himself than the rest of Baldwinsville combined. With each trip to the IR comes more time off, more missed chances, and a window that seems to close quicker and quicker.
But just like that he picks himself up again. “Every song is a comeback, every moment a little bit later.” Tonight Tim Connolly took a good game in Boston and followed it with a great performance on home ice. He was everywhere, scoring goals and making plays at both ends. Suddenly the defense was backpeddling, and he was starting to look like the playmaker we are advertised. His playoff performance back in 2006 was brought up, and wait, where did he go? He’s not on the bench, and Max just got un-benched. Oh no.
Such is the life of Tim Connolly. Lindy Ruff called it a “bruised upper body” or some sort of vague, imaginary body part like that. (Someday I think Lindy is going to just start making up body parts. Like, “Teppo tweaked his Slobat, we’ll evaluate him in the morning” or “He’s got a bruised Moogelslep, he’s day to day”) For all we know he will take tomorrow off and play Friday. Maybe it’s another trip to the IR. Either way, it’s another hammer to the face of a player just starting to feel it once again.
There are a lot of people fed up with Timmy, his night life, and everything involved with his game. We giggle about his facial hair and choice of drinking establishment, and wonder what could have been if not for that cut across the middle. At this point I’ve moved past all that and just feel bad for Timmy now. All the talent in the world and he just can’t seem to use it. It’s a shame, it’s frustrating, and it’s mighty depressing.
Most of all, it’s just sad.