Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Cautionary Tale...Do You Want to be Denver?

No no, silly. I'm not confused. I don't mean the Avalanche (what is the plural of avalanche anyway? Avalanchi? Avalanches? Seems awkward). But allow me to present a brief comparison of our beloved Blue Jackets to the Denver Broncos. Allow me to tell a story...

Last season was a disappointment so the Denver Bronco's have been a team that is looking to make an impact. They start a player, Kyle Orton, in a key position that the coaches and team leadership deem to be "the best". They've got some good minds involved in that decision-including the legendary John Elway. The hopes and dreams of the team are seemingly tied to this player. All eyes are on him. That doesn't go well. No wins. Hopes are dashed, fans are frustrated? Kyle Orton? Yeah. Booed when he steps on to the field of play. And then, the fans calls are seemingly answered. A much ballyhooed back-up, in the form of Tim Tebow, comes in to that key position, regardless that his skill may not be what it needs to be for a long term impact with the team, (Elway publicly says Tebow is not the solution for quarterback) and suddenly the team is winning! The players rally around his leadership! Eureka! Orton is waived. The problem is seemingly fixed! All is right in the world. Until next year...

If you can't guess, the players that I see as interchangeable in this story are our own Steve Mason as Kyle Orton and Curtis Sanford and Tim Tebow.

Let me be clear on two very important things
1. This is not about bashing Sanford. I - as much as anyone - am thrilled to have a goalie in net who can help build confidence within our team, play confident consistent hockey, and help bring home the wins. I like him. We need him. I want him around. As Dannie at Strait Jackets pointed out, Sanford is a quality addition to our roster. The team is clearly responding to him and that means something.
2. This is not about bashing Mason. While Mason is not having a great year, I still can't put every goal on him and he is still the youngest #1 goalie in the league clocking in at 23 and has bore the brunt of being really the only solution at goalie for a while.

What this IS about, is that regardless of how this goalie situation shakes out for the 2011-12 season (I am still quite anxious to see what Dekanich brings to the table) as people who care about our team and our franchise, we need to be cognizant of the fact that Sanford is not, cannot be, our long term, franchise goalie solution. This is a goalie that other NHL franchises were not fighting us for, and age is not on his side. He is good, no doubt, but we need to respect and applaud his accomplishments for us with context.

Scott Howson continues to have work to do on the goalie front. I, for one, still have many active questions: can/will Mase respond when he has a strong back-up with whom he can change off games (instead of going 8 games in a row)? Is Dexshow better than Mase? Would Mase ever be a good back up or is he too expensive? How much more gas does Sanford have in the tank?

You see, like the Denver Broncos, right now we have the good fortune to happen upon a guy who is making a difference. And I do love Curtis - I love how he's playing, I love the energy he brings to the team, and I most of all love the wins ;), but the opening for a franchise goalie remains just that right now, OPEN.

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