A rookie coach hitting some rough patches early on? Color me surprised! Or not. Seriously, not enough time. I'm tired of all of these snap judgments that keep coming up any time the Blues play a bad game or two.
And you want to know who has shown improvement under Payne? Not many will like this or agree, but Brewer and Jackman have played much better since the coaching change, in my opinion. They still make some of the same mistakes, but check the numbers. Brewer now has 6 goals. I believe he was a plus player last night on a team that gave up 5 goals. Give it some friggin' time, for crying out loud.
Yet, you don't consider firing a coach, who was a genius as late as mid October after sweeping the Red Wings in Europe and getting a bunch of injury depleted, overachieving kids into the playoffs last year, 2 1/2 months later a snap judgment? The fact that wunderkind hasn't done any better makes me think it wasn't Murray afterall.
The problem with Murray was the expectations. Nevermind that he was almost fired at this point a year ago, because once the team went on that run, the Blues marketing department took it upon themselves to step up the expectations with the, "You're the Last Piece!" campaign. The two games over Detroit stepped things up too, but everyone seems to make snap judgments these days and forget that it was simply that....just two games.
Murray had lost the room, from what it sounds like. But in all honesty, you can't trade an entire team. So the easiest thing to do was fire the coach, would be my assumption. And if you recall, Pleau had that very publicized tirade in the locker room where he told the players that no one wanted them. Whether that was true or not, or whether that was a motivational tool, I don't know. But clearly, there are players who are not responding.
Yet, we can't forget that some of these guys are just in their first few years. It kills me when people compare our young guys to others from the same draft class. I understand that's what you do, but in the case of someone like EJ or Petro, from the very BEGINNING, they were guys who were labeled as future Norris winner/elite players, but were very raw. Same for Perron and Berglund. Had all the skills but would take time to develop. But when people see the Doughty's and the Kane's and the Bogosian's, etc. they get impatient and feel our players should develop at that rate too. Granted, it would be nice to see some progress and consistency, but patience is hard to preach when the team made such an inspiring run. I was worried about a set back like this, but not of this epic scale.
It makes it even harder when teams like the Blackhawks and Coyotes shot from the cellar to the top of the Western Conference. You'll never please everyone, but this season has been epic when it comes to frustrations, even for Blues fans.
I am frustrated, but who wouldn't be when a team loses? Its even worse after we got spoiled with a spectacular, miraculous run to the playoffs last year that really SEEMED to usher in the new era. But the reality of rebuilding was that it was more likely a flash in the pan or a glimmer of the future and not a reliable assessment of the team. There is definitely something different (missing?) this season from last season (other than the PRESENCE of a $6 million forward and a First Overall Pick). Motivation, leadership, chemistry... whatever it is, they've lost that loving feeling. I favor trading away some veterans (Kariya, Colaiacovo) not because I am panicking over where the team is now, but because they just don't seem to be part of the long-term solution. I would be interested in fazing out Brewer and Jackman, one at a time, so long as they are being replaced by better players or players with potential for a bright future. Not just to get them out of there for the sake of getting them out of there, but to IMPROVE the team.
I firmly believe there is waaaaay too much knee-jerk reaction going on among the fans. The only place there doesn't seem to be knee-jerking is the front office, which garners criticism for every move it makes no matter what they decide to do. I don't think the Murray firing was knee-jerk, I think they waited as long as they could before trying a new thing. Is Payne a better coach than Murray? Maybe, maybe not, but he's definitely a different kind of coach than Murray. I like the concept of promoting from within. So for now I will stick with Payne until it becomes CLEAR he's not helping the organIzation along.
If the Blues don't make the playoffs, I will be as disappointed as anyone because the NHL playoffs are the shiznit. But if they don't make the playoffs, I can understand that this team just didn't have "it" this season but has drafted and accumulated talent that is emerging (read: has not entirely emerged yet) and has the potential to pay off huge dividends. Hind sight is 20/20, so we can all sit here and criticize some of the moves that have been made and look vindicated or justified, or we can acknowledge that this team (1) has a plan (2) that is prudent and (3) has the potential to pay off big. Whether or not it does is an entirely different story, one that nobody can possibly know.
I think I'm done, but probably not.
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