Troy Terry. The 61st Duck (by jersey number obviously). Captain America.
This man was once, in the recent past, synonymous with American greatness. The leader of team USA in the most recent Olympics. One of the highest rated college players in memorable history. Not too long ago, the hopes and dreams of the future scoring were placed upon this great man's shoulders by the multitude of fans dreaming of the day he would drop out of college and sign his entry-level contract with the team that drafted him in the 5th round of the entry draft.
Nevermind that the Ducks current top 9 is filled to the brim with a collection of expensive veterans, high draft picks, along with a scattering of somewhat productive players and/or role players. Nevermind that Terry’s slight frame suggested that his wizardly might, may come under threat from the muscular belligerent hatchet men of the NHL. Nevermind too, that scoring projections based on his college production topped him out at ~35 points in his peak scoring years. Nevermind all of that.
For Ducks fans watched the boxscore points pile up in college. They observed the wizardry on display at the South Korean Winter Olympics. They even saw Terry’s fellow Olympian and former college alumni Ryan Donato sign with the Boston Bruins. And dominate! Then the fateful day happened - the news broke that Troy Terry would sign with Anaheim, and play in their very next game. That game was a week ago.
Terry burst onto the scene in that game. Sure he didn't pile up the points with the streaky luck that has been the hallmark of some of the Ducks current third line, but he displayed some hands that the Ducks have been missing since... I can't even remember that far back (I apologise to Mr Ryan Getzlaf here). Even with that, our results-driven coach didn't sound too enthused with Terry in the post-losing game press conference - you can see his comments from 0:53 in the below video. It is coach speak, and he does say some nice things.... but it's not a ringing endorsement either.
From that game... radio silence. From the coach. From the fans. From everyone. A small mention in a recent Eric Stephens article the only mention of the former prospect darling.
Even that, do we as the official Troy Terry fan club support that? Oh, if the 4th liner that played a total of 2 minutes and 9 seconds in his previous game doesn't play, I suppose we can fit in the new guy we just lured out of a college degree. I’m sorry, but that just doesn't cut it. It’s poor development of talent, and its a poor justification for cheating a guy of his hard-earned degree and career choices.
I know that it is a criticism that is not often heard of with Coach Carlyle. Outside of this snippet of a long forgotten article - perhaps a glimpse into the psyche of the great coach, given the similarities between this situation and the one then - he could be considered a great coach who has taken his teams to the playoffs in each full season he as coached.
As we look back on the 2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs, there will be people who like to point out the Leaf’s inability to draft and develop young, contributing players. Luke Schenn was famously rushed into the NHL and has now found success - well, he skates a regular shift in Philly.
Widely derided for his poor rookie season, Jake Gardiner was clearly in over his head with the Leafs. His failures last year were numerous and obvious: he didn’t receive a nomination for the Norris, Vezina, Conn Smythe or even the Calder (that annual trophy awarded to the best rookie, not from Edmonton). Gardine’s lack of success was another major contributing factor to the Leafs missing playoffs under Ron Wilson.
Coach Carlyle learned from that mistake and developed Jake Gardiner slowly, the right way.
Some people might say that sitting in the press box not playing hockey isn’t the best way to develop a player, but those people are wrong and have likely never played or coached in the NHL.
As Detroit fans can assure you, the most important way to develop players is by not letting them play in the NHL. When you don’t luck into the Swedish National Team in the 16th round of the draft and players don’t wait until they turn 30 before joining your team, you need to take matters into your own hands. That means parking players in the press box until they are a little older; just like opening a package of Peeps that are too chewy and waiting for them to get a little stale. Did we say stale? We meant that those Peeps needed to learn how to play Coach Carlyle hockey by not playing hockey.
Others might say Gardiner joining the Leafs line-up was a major reason why the Leafs pushed their series with Boston to OT in Game 7 (at which point we all blacked out from joy and no one was able to record the result of the game, which is a shame). But those people miss the bigger picture and that’s Coach Carlyle’ culture of true accountability. Coach Carlyle has turned this team into a meritocracy.
And everyone knows what a meritocracy is -- if you have talent and make a mistake, you get banished to the press box. If you don’t have talent, but try really hard, it’s all golden. That’s true accountability.
But nonetheless, this injustice needs to be addressed. Troy Terry is the Jet Li of the Ducks hockey-sphere. For like the great sage Bartholemew said “Like my sainted mum used to say, ‘Get ‘em young, and the possibilities are endless.’”
Troy Terry needs to be unleashed. His collar needs to be taken off. If America ever was the land of the free. If American teams ever wished to treat their best with respect and dignity. If the majestic Duck was ever a symbol of FREEDOM. If these mighty Ducks ever wished to turn their games into a figurative slaughter of their opposition. Troy Terry needs to be set free.