So the up-and-down 2011-2012 'Canes season is (thankfully) coming to a close. From the pain and suffering early to the glimmer of hope toward the end, it was a crazy ride. As a fan, I was suckered in from the get-go and totally engaged in the team's trials and tribulations, which made for some good theater. Thought it might be fun -- from a fan's perspective -- to point-out who were the targets of cheers and jeers all season long.
Jim Rutherford - a poor showing in the off-season, grabbing a burnt-out Kaberle, sub-par Stewart, and taking a long shot on Ponikorovsky made poor substitutes for what was really lacking on this team in terms of firepower and a shut-down defense. Boucher is still a mystery -- why did we pick him up again? And his decision to bring back...
...Paul Maurice - burying prospects on the fourth line with precious little minutes and lack of an offensive system doomed this team from the start. Nice guy, but not what this team needed.
Eric Staal Version 1 - not many playes on the 'Canes played worse than the Captain the first half of the season. Mental? Injury? Desire? No telling what was up with him, but his awful plus/minus dug the team quite a hole.
Zach Boychuk - you blew it, buddy. You had a spot for the taking, should've blown the doors down but you didn't. Nice knowing you and dreaming of your potentially huge offensive upside playing alongside Staal or Skinner. Speaking of which...
Jeff Skinner - whaaa? Crowd favorite a goat? As I guessed in an early season posting, Mr. Skinner's production tapered off this season and was compounded by a key injury. The disturbing trend of his lack of composure on the ice, 1-on-5 mentality, and constant chirping does not bode well for coming years.
Brandon Sutter - Mr. Consistent all season, this guy shuts his mouth and gets the job done -- and does it well. His shorthanded skills this season were outright ridiculous.
Cam Ward - even a sub-par (by his standards) season by our number 1 goalie is still something to be admired when you look at the defense in front of him.
Tim Gleason - really took it up a notch when he had to this season. A real bounce-back from last year's performance, very impressed by his effort.
Justin Faulk - WOOOHOOO!!! We got us a stud on defense!
Jay Harrison - wow, what a year. He deserves every accolade he gets.
Eric Staal Version 2 - his late season turnaround almost got us into the playoffs. When he's on, he's in the top 10 of the league.
Jim Rutherford - admitting your mistakes is hard. He PUBLICLY admitted a mistake on Kaberle, and grabbed Spacek for him, a pickup that gave us a much-needed boost. Most of all, he fired he-who-shall-not-be-named and picked up...
Kirk Muller - this guy is the bees knees. There is no doubt -- none whatsoever -- that this team responded to him in a way they have not responded to a coach in quite some time. If anybody can get us deep in the playoffs next year, it's this guy.