It's New Year's Eve, a time for us all to reflect on the year that was and make grandiose (but ultimately mutable) plans for the year to come.
Arthur, you recently pointed out that this has been a terrible calendar year for Ducks hockey. Terrible years are something we often hope to fix through a New Year's Resolution. So, in the New Year's spirit, give me two resolutions, one you hope the Ducks will adopt and one that you hope to adopt as a fan.
Well, for the Ducks, I hope they resolve to establish an identity. A dispassionate hockey team is probably the worst product to put out on the ice, and that's what the players and management have secured for the last calendar year. Is this a rebuilding hockey team? Is it a playoff hockey team missing a piece? Right now it feels like Bryan Murray's clunker, which Brian Burke restored to Car Show classic condition (at a time when parts were cheaper), only to have Bob Murray maintain it through Bondo, colored duct tape and an unhealthy defiance of gravity. I'm getting tired of following a team that looks good from far but is far from good.
And that leads into my resolution as a fan. Acceptance. If you've been a Ducks fan for more than a few years, then you remember the lean times. And I think, from riding high on the horse for a while there, I've come to expect too much from the Ducks. Certainly more than their performance over the last calendar year indicates I should. Bob Murray has reinforced the low expectations by saying that THIS is the product as long as he's in charge. He's standing by his coach and if changes are to be made, they'll be with the players, BUT he never moves substantive players before the deadline. Essentially, THIS is the product, year in and year out.
So, I resolve to accept the team as it is. No more lobbying for coach firing or player movement-- both will happen only according to Murray's schedule i.e. when neither are relevant to the season in which they occur. No more talk of free agents this team needs to sign. No more talk of teams this team is supposed to beat or nights this team is supposed to perform or second halves of seasons where this team is supposed to deliver. Back to basics. Back to "Daniel, do you think Kariya can pick up a hat trick in a 6-3 loss tonight?" basics.
You might get mad at me for jumping on your bandwagon, but I would ask the Ducks for, essentially, the same resolution. I want the entire organization to be decisive. I want Murray to commit to acquiring players for a specific purpose and not because they have a decent rating in NHL 11. I want Carlyle to quit juggling lines. I want the players to take pride in their game and be passionate night in and night out. To paraphrase Leo McGary, If we're going to hit some walls, I want us running into them at full speed. As a fan there's nothing worse than not knowing what your organization is doing. For the coming year, I want the Ducks to choose one of the identities you've already stated and just run with it.
As for me, I also choose to be an accepting fan, but in a different way. As a West Coast Hockey Fan, it's sometimes difficult for me to accept that my team is irrelevant to the rest of the country. I know Fowler isn't going to be a Calder finalist, because no one watches him play. Perry or Selanne will make the All Star game, but probably not both. The only time we were a team worth recognizing was when we had Scott Niedermayer; he of the already established East Coast fame. But even then, the hockey media at large wasn't watching the games, otherwise Pahlsson would have a Selke. Next year, I hope to not be bothered by the hockey media's tendencies to overlook the Ducks' organization. I hope to simply enjoy my team and the joys of watching of them play my favorite game.