Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vinning a Fan Base Game

Was this the turn of the tide for the Redwings?
Word broke this week that Vinny Prospal has offically retired.  We have shown us some Vinny love over the years here on this space, and there is no reason for it not to continue.  Check out this post by Porty over on Puck Rakers about Prospal.  Especially read the last quote.  If you are having trouble with the Puck Rakers display, you have to scroll down past all the historical posts to find the actual text.  What up Dispatch?  It's been like that for a week!  But I digress.  This is about Vinny.

I can't imagine how difficult it must be for a player of Vinny's caliber to finally make the decision to retire.  I am pleased to know that he is at peace with the decision.  Many have written about the gentlemen's agreement that Scott Howson made with Vinny, a series of one year contracts, and finally a place in the organization.  I always liked that, but there are two real problems with that agreement.  The first is that it is only good as long as both gentlemen are with the organization.  Obviously, Scott Howson has moved on.  The second problem with it is that it ensures that Vinny plays until he is a completely non-competitive and that he plays well past when he should have really retired.  In that regard, Jarmo Kekalainen did a Vinny a favor by not offering him a contract, ensuring that he went out as our leading scorer in his last year.  While Vinny probably doesn't appreciate that now, it won't be long until he does.  When you are able to look back and know that you finished a long career on top, in time, Vinny will feel good about that.

I would like to see the organization honor the commitment to Vinny to find a place for him.  It doesn't have to be now.  He's down in Tampa, coaching up his son.  Sometime in the off season, make sure he knows he's wanted.  It may be that the Tampa organization will beat us to him.  It's his home town, they should have that opportunity.  But Vinny also needs time to decide what role to pursue going forward.  This type of thing can be done with deliberation, yet still honor our commitment.

So best of luck to you going forward Vinny Prospal.  You helped institute a sea change in our organization, and as a fan I will always be grateful for what you brought to the table.

A Fan Base Game
Tonight the CBJ play the Florida Panthers in an important Eastern Conference tilt.  The CBJ slid out of playoff position by a point today by virtue of their off day.  The two points are critical, as you want to be up in playoff contention before you head west to Death Valley, the 3 game road swing through the Ducks, the Kings, and the Sharks.  All three teams are playoff contenders in the Western Conference, and capable of putting a dent in any aspirations of glory.  So tonight's game takes on exaggerated importance.

One of the reasons I feel it has exaggerated importance, is that in front of a full barn last Saturday, the boys in Union Blue laid an egg.  It is going to be a pretty big house tonight I believe.  It is important for the team to understand how important it is for their fan base that they win this game.  And that means treating the opposition with respect, and bringing your 'A' game to the table tonight.  Pack your lunch pail boys, throw on your hard hat, and come prepared to exceed their work ethic.  And that means everyone on the team.  No 'passengers' tonight.  You cannot let Florida out work you, and you cannot let Tim Thomas be the best goal tender tonight.  And that will take focus and effort.

Last weekend, the home town fans were locked toe to toe in the corners of the arena with boisterous Buffalo fans.  The lifeless effort and loss laid bare old scars in the fan base.  Tonight it should be our barn.  If things go sideways for awhile, it is time for the fans to chime in to try to change the momentum.  Tonight we will likely have a fair number of 'casual fans' in the building, if you can call someone dropping good money on tickets 'casual'.  We want to get those folks engaged for the stretch run in March.

It will be a month until the next home game.  Let your hair down, get your game face on, and come out tonight to try to make a difference.  It should be a good time.


1 comment:

  1. Good comments about the Florida game tonight. How true! Coach needs to make an intervention should players opt to be passengers.