I’m the kind of guy who needs the latest gadget and wants the latest model of everything.
And, that same techno-lust mirrors my desire to see young players brought up to the big NHL show, ASAP. I’ve always been a fan of letting the young talent come up and test their skills. But, what if I’ve been wrong.
I might be wrong, in some cases.
Now I’m starting to think that a player who has had a lot of success in his career before he hits the NHL, can’t help but assume that they’ll have the same success in the NHL. For some phenoms like Austin Matthews, Connor McDavid and Sydney Crosby they do carry that same success with them and, often with crapy teams. But, they’re not the average human. These are very special guys. The Elite of the Elite in a league of the best players in the world.
For the average “elite” player it can go exactly the opposite way. Great players can be put into the fire too soon and lose the most vital ingredient in any skill set, the confidence to use it. Think Yakapov or Vertinin here. All the skills in the world, but they didn’t think the game quick enough, and failed to launch. They were beat-down by players who have better hockey senses and quicker thought cycles.
But what If players like that had spent just a little more time in the minors. What if they were transitioned better and had time to learn the NHL system before they were dropped into it. What if they faced adversity in a less permeant league. What if they had coaches assigned to them specifically to get the ready, mentally and physically, for the big show.
We need young players to find their comfort zone and then get as far out of it as possible and fill in the games in their game. It might be mental, it might be muscle. But we need to expose their weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
The existing strengths that got them to the show aren’t going away. Those are engraved in the fabric of their being. But every player has weaknesses and teams will expose them sooner or late. The more we can improve the weakest links, the less likely a player is to “fail to launch” in the NHL.
So, would that be worth waiting a season to develop?
If giving young talent an extra year to develop adds quality, time and effectiveness to their NHL career, then hell yes it’s worth it.
Guys like me just need to get over it and invest in a long-term win instead of the excitement of a new shiny gadget/player.
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