Things certainly aren’t great, I am the first to admit that. Is this me, doing my cheerleader bit? No, but I felt the need to put a few things down, to share some bits and pieces, and to balance the books a little…
Am I surprised with how we started? Not entirely, I watched the vast majority of Blaze games last season, home and away, and probably had more ‘in sight’ than most as to what was going on inside. I expected these first 12 weeks of the season to be tough, just like when Chuck came in last December with his own style, charisma and ethics, they take time to work. Time to implement. Its not easy to change attitudes and perceptions. To instill change and to obtain buy-in takes time, not to mention gaining trust, and building rapport.
Am I disappointed or concerned? No, we are just few games in, and I know that the people who matter, will turn this around. 100%. On the ice, Chuck Weber’s methods and systems will begin to work. the cream will rise to the top. The hard work will go in, and the results will follow. The process will evolve and work. There is no doubt in my mind.
Will we finish top of the Elite League? No, I think Thommo will sew that up early, and good for him. But we will improve?
Yes we will, and considerably. The biggest disappointment no doubt (results wise) was getting beat up by Sheffield twice. This is Sheffield who are 6 weeks in front of most remember.
I don’t think there is doom and gloom at the Skydome. The word is frustration. And frustration in this instance is a good thing. We are frustrated, because we tasted success (again) and we like it. We want to go home happy. We want to go to work and bore people to death about Ned’s hat trick and Stewie’s shut out. Everyone is frustrated, but we need to be patient and have faith. Faith in the people that matter.
Let me give you 3 scenarios, and I apologise to the people I am using for them as examples, I guess at the time, the conversations were private, until now.
Mid December 2014 – 3 weeks into Weber’s tenure and staring into a Morgan Spiced Rum.
Player X “Fuck this, I can’t put up with his shit anymore. Did you see me last year, I played power play all season, I led the powerplay, look at my points, and fuck now I am lucky to even get on the powerplay, I didn’t come here for this shit. He (Weber) never played for anyone, he doesn’t know what its like to be out there. Fuck this, I’m out of this place.
Mid February 2015 – 12 weeks into Weber’s tenure and staring into a pint of Stella Artois.
Down, and very nearly broken.
Player Y “Look, I get it, I get what he is trying to do. Yeah its intense, but I don’t know what it is, perhaps its me. I don’t know”. Player looks down at his phone and searches his name on Twitter. Shakes his head. “Fuck, look what they are saying about me. Its not like I am not trying, somethings just not right”
May 2015 – 24 weeks into Weber’s tenure. Sipping from a bottle of water, being driven to an Airport.
Emotional, happy. A Champion.
Player Z “At first it was tough. And I mean real tough. We went from that, to this (Player Z’s hands form a sort of box shape and move from side to side) and some of the guys took time. I mean, hell, I took time. But then, click, bang. We got it. We made certain changes. We made sacrifices, and bang it happened. All of a sudden. Bang”
I ask about the Video, “Ha, His video is the best I ever saw, unreal. No question. The guy could easily sit comfortably in the NHL and do that job. Let me tell you something, we went into play off weekend, and the guy was still picking things up in my game that I could change and improve on. Fuck, I thought, I am retiring, and he is still picking things up. And you know what, he was right, a pro for 15 years, and the guy is picking me up and saying, Hey, do this, as opposed to doing that (player Z explains what it was to me) And in those 15 years, he was the first to tell me this little thing, and this going into potentially my last game (It wasn’t his last game as we all know) as a pro. That was unreal man and sums him (Weber) up”
The reason for me sharing this private thoughts with you, the reader? I mention “timeline” early in this piece. This is my timeline looking through Chuck’s tenure, from a players point of view as things progressed (processed if you prefer!) and improved.
When Chuck came in, it took until his 11th game to get his first win. Remember back. We eventually got home at about midnight, beating Nottingham in overtime after a mammoth shootout, and the Zamboni breaking down, then we went to Cardiff and won 5-4 the week after.
All of a sudden we had got ‘it’. ‘It’ had clicked. 11 days later we went to Braehead and turned a 3-1 loss into a second leg shoot out win with the Brit Pack scoring all three goals. The rest was history from there on in.
Many have pointed at Recruitment. I, for one know how hard we worked on this as a club. There are players I wanted us to keep of course. Craig Cescon a great example of this. Top, top guy, who loved Coventry and was loved by Coventry. Tough, unassuming, effective. But we wanted to improve on Craig. I look back at the Cardiff game I mention above and see Derek Lee was 0+3 that night. What a guy. Nicest fella you will ever meet. But the club want to improve and sought to improve. Knowing full well, I assume, it would take time bringing in so many new guys. Chuck has admitted as much in recent interviews. But he knows it will come. He may need to tweak, and we may well see a couple of guys come and go (Chris Lawrence just got released as I type this) but will we get there?
You bet we will.
As for my examples well….
Player X – Never wanted it and never got any of it.
Player Y – Wanted it badly in the end, and ended up getting most of it, albeit leaving it late.
Players Z – Always had it, always wanted it, and got every bit of it
Thanks for reading.