Well, it's a long post thinking how we got here in the swamp. A group of decisions that should have worked,which were based on reason and logic simply did no go according to plan. The best laid plans of mice and men gone awry.
1. Aaron Ward: Who ever would have thought the excellent defender who left after the Stanley Cup, would come back inept. It is an amazingly stark decline. It looked like the perfect fit; but it has been a nightmare. It was a trade that made all the sense in the world at the time; but Aaron Ward has been everything one doesn't want in a defenseman.
2. Staal's pre-season/olympic tryout injuries: Staal is the team's superstar and when he doesn't perform at a superstar level, it's bad news. He has tremendous personal pride and tried to play through various ailments, but even he has his limits.
3. Pitkanen's pre-season injuries: Pitkanen is as gifted an athlete as the Hurricanes have. When he is out of the lineup, the defense has a hard time keeping continuity and even a harder time skating the puck out.
4. Cam Ward's bizarre injury: This team is built around the concept that Cam Ward can carry the team through thick and thin. When he got hurt, it took time for Legace to get on track. Legace is fine as a back-up goalie; but it was about the last thing the Hurricanes needed to have Cam Ward out of the lineup.
5. Corvo's scoring slump: With Babchuk in Russia, Corvo's monster shot became a critical weapon offensively. He really didn't have a good offensive season. On the other hand, with the minutes he was carrying, it was asking a huge amount to count on him to achieve great things offensively.
6. Corvo's bizarre injury: Two key players getting sliced open in one season is terrible luck.
7. A short pre-season. It looked to be a stroke of genius: have a short pre-season and avoid key injuries. Unfortunately, it didn't work out well. The veterans never got into a full season rhythm and then their confidence faltered. It's easier to lose confidence that get it back.
8. LaRose came off a banner year with a scoring slump, compounded by injuries: LaRose came off his best year in hockey, only to be mired in a horrible scoring slump. He then got hurt, but given his relentless attitude, tried to play on. Nobody can ever question his courage.
9. Brind'Amour didn't return to pre-injury form: Having a team captain earning $3,000,000 a year who hasn't scored in two months and who is a liability offensively and defensively is a huge burden -- particularly in light of the problems already being endured by the team.
10. Cole's injury: As if the Hurricanes needed more adversity, Cole was injured. Cole and Ruutu are the team's only two power forwards and when they are out, the Hurricanes are an entirely different team.
11. Walker's injuries: Walker is the ultimate team player, but his salary means that he really needs to be healthy and he needs to score goals.
12. Nagging injuries: the Hurricanes this year overall have all been fighting various injuries. It's been hard for the lines to get consistency with all the various injuries.
These problems strike me as the blueprint for a year that has been pretty much a disaster thus far. As many others have noted, if at the end of the season, the Hurricanes are able to draft a Hall, Seguin, or Kabanov and if they are able to add additional scoring through trades, this season will become a time of character building for the team, the organization and the fans. It will also be the start of the campaign for the next Stanley Cup; and I have no doubt we will see the Hurricanes win another Stanley Cup; and sooner rather than later.