This time of year, I’m reminded of when Theo Fleury tried to make a comeback last year for the Calgary Flames, accepting a tryout deal when he was well into his 40s. He made a good showing, scoring a beauty of a shootout goal in his final preseason game.
He was subsequently cut from his professional tryout agreement, and the Flames showed no offensive punch, and ended up losing the playoffs. I’m not the only one that probably wanted Fleury to make the team, but such is the way it goes.
We’ve seen a few cuts this season, like Brendan Morrison cut from Vancouver, or Kyle Wellwood cut from Phoenix. It’s a cutthroat competition in preseason, but this isn’t exactly what this blog is about. Not entirely.
More than anything I see, everyone wants to make some sort of judgment from a team’s preseason outings. I happen to remember two preseasons ago when Devin Setoguchi of the San Jose Sharks absolutely tore it up. People touted him as the “next big thing”, and while he’s a good player, he turned out not to be the “next big thing”.
The Flames ended preseason undefeated in their 7 games, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to win all 82 games--far from it. This is a time for players to prove themselves, and the Flames had a fair amount of regulars on the roster every night, giving them an edge against teams like the Oilers, who they beat twice, with plenty of players trying to prove themselves (see Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Omark).
Also, a loss like the Philadelphia Flyers took last night, 9-3 against the Buffalo Sabres, caused way too many upset feelings and judgments by the fans of this elite Eastern Conference team. Crying foul, in a way, that the team couldn’t piece together defense, that they will always make horrible turnovers, and that Johan Backlund sucks.
I was on that last bandwagon, mostly because I think he’s overrated, but for the most part, look at the roster that the Flyers put out there last night.
Their first line looked something like Blair Betts, Bill Guerin and Daniel Carcillo. Only one of these players is a true offensive threat, that being Guerin. Betts is not an elite offensive player, so it’s no wonder the Flyers barely got any offense. We got a good look at Mike Testwuide and Ben Holmstrom, two players who should have a good chance to either be called up this year or make the team next year, but otherwise, we can’t be too angry. And on the defensive side of the puck, no Pronger, no Timonen, no Coburn, no Carle, just about nobody.
It’s no surprise the Flyers lost with barely any offensive power, and no defensive depth. But that won’t be the opening night roster. Not even close.
So if you’re looking for something to take out of preseason, only take injuries out and how it affects your team. Otherwise, just wait. You’ll be glad you did.