Pushing Past the Burnout with Lack’s Success
Am I really going to talk about the goalies? Sigh, yep. Normally this is a topic I dance around or avoid entirely because for many Canes fans, myself included, talking about the seemingly never ending problems and story lines with our goalies has been a source of frustration, arguments, and straight up fatigue for years. A big reason why this season has caused patches of extreme burnout in this writer is partly that I’m worn out by retreaded same old, same old narratives and by the recurring fact that, if not for poor goaltending, this team would likely be in a wildcard spot.
I’m sick of even saying that last bit too. Sick of thinking about it. Sick of complaining about it.
So why am I here? Last night, watching the Canes win a fun one up in Montreal managed to shake some of the dust off of my hockey heart and I had a minor epiphany about our team and why I’m all for Eddie Lack carrying a lot of the workload going forward and into next year (if no other changes are made). It’s nothing groundbreaking. I’ve been rooting for Eddie to get more playing time since he came back in early February. It’s not that I’m a Cam hater, which is a ridiculous term that’s slightly condescending to fans who are only criticizing a player who has been below average for a while and is still here and is getting older. Generally I like players based on results or young guys who have a lot of promise.
Why are Hurricanes fans so enamored with Eddie Lack?
— Jon Stout (@JonStout89) March 21, 2017
Prior to my epiphany, which I’ll get to in a minute, my reasoning for wanting more Eddie starts was that we simply don’t know what we have in him while we do know what we have in Cam. It’s no secret that both goalies’ stats haven’t been fantastic, but I won’t get into that here because it’s well worn, horse-beaten-to-death territory.
Most Canes fans aren’t on Team Eddie because he’s cute or funny on Twitter and to think that is insulting to an intelligent and suffering fan base. It’s because Cam has played a ton, probably too much because of necessity, but we know what we have in him: a guy who can be capable and carry the team for patches but is generally below average over the entirety of the season. Eddie has not played a ton. He hasn’t been very good here either, but he has shown the ability to carry a team (Vancouver) when given the chance. Can he do that here? We don’t know because he hasn’t been given that kind of stretch of games. Ride him through a loss and see what happens.
Last night, however (and here comes the epiphany), I realized there was more to it. Something that’s not grounded in stats or the fact that Lack might still be an unknown quantity. It might not even be about Lack or Ward. Our team is full of young talent. Talent that is either arriving to the scene (Aho), finally emerging as a breakout player (Lindholm), or consistently providing an example of what it means to be a young scoring talent in the NHL (Skinner). More youth awaits in Charlotte and in their junior leagues. This is a young team, one that is hopefully moving towards a new, successful era for the Hurricanes. Simply put, the Hurricanes’ move toward youth and the future is far clearer to me when Lack is on the ice. My burnout fades and all the cliches about the bright future of this franchise come back into light. Change can be exciting and that’s exactly what it’s been with both the Hurricanes and Eddie playing well. In a season plagued by the same old narratives, yesterday felt crisp, fresh, and new. Although Eddie’s probably not a long-term answer, his recent success provides a glimpse of what it will be like when the Canes finally transition away from our ELEVEN year starter. I’m ready to see what this team looks like when the budget is less stingy, a new force is in net, and the rebuild is complete.
Moving on from Eric Staal last season gave fans a push in this new direction. Either way, whether your memories of Eric were bitter or happy, they’re in the past now and a massive chapter in this franchise’s history was coming to a close. This year’s retread of all the Cam Ward narratives, internet squabbles, and similarly poor performance was a step back into the past that I am so ready to close the book on so we can get to all the good things to come.
Is part of my response here irrational? Sure. Is any of this Cam’s fault? Nope, ‘cept for that high glove. I was excited and ready to happily eat crow during November (aka the month when no one had to complain about goalies). I’m also well aware that there weren’t a lot of options for change this past off-season. However, there are in the off-season coming up and who knows what will happen. Even though Lack’s potential might be an unknown, I don’t think either goalie is the long-term answer. It’s clear that fixing the problem is high on Ron Francis‘s to-do list.
No matter what the future brings, I am completely and utterly ready to move on from the past, fully embracing the new young talent, and seeing where it will take us.