Monday, August 24, 2015

Daring to Hope; Hoping to Dare

Sonny Milano visits Cannonfest!
The ramp up to the season has begun, albeit the most difficult part.  Cannonfest 2015 is in the books, and it was a dandy.  Hosted at Dick's Last Resort, right in the shadows of Nationwide Arena, the event filled another venue.  A festival of hockey in the dark days of the off season, Cannonfest allows for some hockey renewal as we start the countdown towards the Traverse City tournament for prospects.

With the compensation of the summer weather, these are some of the hardest times for a hockey fan.  Free Agency excitement is long past, and all you can do is count the days till training camp.  Cannonfest helps to fill that late summer craving for hockey, and as such has become an essential survival tool for the die hard fan.

I have been to every Cannonfest.  But this one seemed a bit different to me, mainly because I am pretty excited about our 2015-16 team's chances.  We haven't even begun the warm up for the marathon in front of us, but the team is already healthier than it was at this time last year, when several players were recovering from surgery or other injuries and the Nathan Horton saga with pain was just becoming known.  Yes, we'll find out about some training injuries when camp opens, but the team is healthier already.  And this team is deep.  Very deep.

Seeing Sonny Milano at Cannonfest was a reminder of how deep this team is.  Sonny is an excellent prospect, with a bright future, but to crack the CBJ's lineup he is really going to have to bring some mojo.  For a guy like Sonny, the proper development track is critical, and unlike past years in CBJ history, there is no pressure to rush him to the NHL.  Ideally, Sonny has a strong season in Cleveland with the Lake Erie Monsters (YES!!!  I'm still pumped about that), and helps to establish a tradition of excellence our new affiliate location.  That puts him on track to attempt to crack the line up in the next two years when he has a pro season or two under his belt.  But the bottom line is that the parent club is SO deep, that a top draft pick talent like Sonny is a long shot to make the big club.

Depth is hedge against the inevitable misfortunes of the hockey season.  A tangible defense against the many things we know can go wrong with a season.  This level of depth lets me dare to hope that we are going to have a really fun season.  As Jeff Little, over on the Cannon, has often said, 'hope is not a strategy'.  And while it must be admitted that there is a certain amount of hope related to our defensive makeup, there is little else on this team that seems to require that.  So I dare to hope that things will go well for us this year.

And deep down, hidden within that battle scarred, cynical shell of a Blue Jackets fan, I hope to dare.  To dare to come out of nowhere like the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils, so when the Cup Final comes, everyone is looking around saying 'how the hell did those guys get here?'  Likely depending upon the foibles of our defensive corps, this group could really cause some trouble for a lot of teams, and Todd Richards must be licking his chops when he thinks of what could be.  So I hope that the players dare to take us on a wild ride that will leave an indelible mark of success on our young franchise.


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