Some of you still blame Wisniewski for this exercise in failure and just-standing-there-acrobatics, but you need to get over it, Daniel! He's gone. Let the healing begin.
Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
We haven't always been the biggest fans of Wiz, here. For my part, anyone who used to play defense should have zero patience for someone who can't play the position and whose offensive skill and instincts don't exactly make up for it. For Daniel's part, well, he's just full of hate.
But let's be clear when it comes to a smallish offensive defenseman with heart like James Wisniewski. The positives were obvious: a quick and accurate wrist shot from the point, strong character player, and always willing to block a shot or throw a hit. Unfortunately, the negatives were equally obvious: zero hockey sense, ineffective one-on-one defender, injured (to some degree) on every single blocked shot (and some hits), and a telegraphed slapshot that seemed to never make it farther than three feet in front of him.
The greatest tragedy is that Wisniewski wasn't allowed to be the third pairing guy he was in Chicago, the energy guy who could move the puck, throw a big hit, get a key block, put a solid puck on net and then rest for a few shifts. He couldn't be the energetic off-the-bench point guard. The Ducks asked him to be a starter, and what's more, they asked a player who has suffered perennial major injuries (even in the offseason) to be a healthy starter in order to earn his contract. Suddenly, covering major minutes and vital game situations, Wisniewski was exposed on a nightly basis. And his game seemed to get worse under the pressure. He couldn't receive a D to D pass on the power play, he hit less, even blocked shots a little less and soon his value to the team (at 2.75M) went down the tubes.
Now, you could argue that Wiz did it to himself. After all, Randy Carlyle was clear this year that he wanted Wiz on the second pairing with Whitney, leaving Steve Eminger with Niedermayer. But Wisniewski couldn't click with Whitney OR Boynton, and he found himself on the top pairing again, covering minutes with the Ducks' captain, the team's biggest ice time gormandizer. Playing that kind of ice time, it became impossible to be the Wiz that fired up Chicago and only occasionally, as Sam Fels of Second City Hockey put it, became a fire drill in his own end.
Hopefully, Wiz finds an easier road in New York and, generally, the Eastern Conference. His comments to Eric Stephens after his trade seem to imply that he still thinks he's a bona fide Top 4 defenseman, but with two teams disagreeing, you can hear some doubt start to creep in:
"To be blatantly honest, they got me out of the situation I was in with Chicago," Wisniewski said. "Chicago treated me great but I felt they didn’t see the potential in me. I went to Anaheim and they played me a lot in the playoffs. We had a great playoff run and just fell a little short in Detroit. This year, if you look at it, it was all injuries that kept us out of the playoffs in my opinion. And they didn’t feel I was worth it but hopefully the Islanders can see the potential that I have and maybe it’ll be great for my career."
The Ducks, too, are moving on, as Murray puts it:
I have other plans, that’s the thing.
Hold on to your butts.