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Chirping the Bench: The "GIN!" Week That Was.

You might be asking what the "GIN!" is in reference to: stress or bad hockey? The answer, I guess, is both.

How bad has it been, you ask? Well, ask Dirty Harry himself:

Well, then....

Since we last spoke, the bottom has fallen out of the Crunch season. Coming off a 10-3 blowout loss in Charlotte, the boys followed up with a 5-2 loss at home to Adirondack. Adirondack, by the way, had won exactly three games all season coming into that evening's affair.

Hang on, wait a minute...having a flashback...




Sad as it is to say, the boos have been coming down as heavy as the snow around here. I want to take a minute to talk about that. I know that we're still in that whole "getting to know each other" phase as fanbases, so understand that the booing isn't aimed at the guys on the ice. Not entirely. It's more just a manifestation of what's been a very frustrating, confusing season thus far. I can't honestly say that anybody expected an 80-0 season, but I'm pretty sure nobody expected this. The players aren't happy with the losing. The coaching staff isn't happy with the losing. Ownership isn't happy with the losing. And, judging by the ever-increasing number of empty seats in the building, the fans are the unhappiest of all.

That last one is, for the moment, the most troubling development these days. Bad or underachieving teams aren't anything new around here. However, the house has historically been full, win or lose, every season. Lately, though, more and more people are finding something better to do with their time. Speaking for myself (and several other people I know) I can tell you that if I hadn't paid for season tickets, I wouldn't be going. In fact, the night of the Adirondack game saw me do something I've only done once in the fifteen years I've been going to games: I went home after the second period, because there was no sense in hanging around.

I think that's a great microcosm of what's doing in Crunchland this season. High enthusiasm has come crashing down, and frustration is rapidly giving way to a general sense of apathy. More often than not, the dwindling crowds seem like they can't find the enthusiasm to even cheer anymore, because it just seems to be a foregone conclusion that the wheels are always about to fall off, and when they do, it quickly turns into a "...and here come the pretzels!" moment, and there's really nobody pleading with the crowd for any kind of sanity:



I'd like to tell you I'm joking and that this really isn't how it is around here these days. Really, I would.

In the end, it's easy to say that these are some lean times. That's not really saying anything groundbreaking or insightful. There are a lot of reasons that we could kick around as to why this has all gone to hell in such a spectacular fashion, but the truth is, all of them and none of them are accurate: this is a talented roster, but they suck out loud. This team has an involved, hands-on coach who just isn't getting the job done. There are two decent goalies and a solid defense, but they're getting lit up every night. Where do you start to unravel this Gordian Knot of suck? I don't know, and more importantly, I can't tell if it's even worth it to try these days. We'll just keep doing what we do, I guess...bring on the whiskey or whatever, and we'll entertain ourselves.

That'll do it for now. As for me, I'd like to tell you that you'll have me for about another month or so. At that point, I'll be riding off into the sunset for the season, as my stint in Russia runs from the beginning of February until the middle of April. Don't get nervous -- I've got a wonderful New Mommy for all of you to cover for me while I'm gone. Trust me, you'll love her. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to raid the liquor cabinet for a nightcap. Even if Jen says that I'm a relic from the 1950s.

Er, that's it. See you next week!