I think there needs to be some ground rules pertaining to the concept of time travel, along the lines of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. Because even though time travelers in movies are relatively responsible and well-behaved, there's just too much room for abuse that would result in mayhem. And while it would be great if we could all go back and circumvent horrific events leading up to world wars, far too many of us would waste time having inappropriate interactions with our own ancestors...and that's icky. That's why I am offering Clark's Three Laws of Time Travel.
- You can only go back to the past (I don't need you rubbing your flying car or robot dog or flying robot dog who can drive a car in my face).
- You can only go ONCE (that means if you go back far enough, you have to live through Milli Vanilli. Vanilla Ice and the OK Hockey eras all over again).
- You can only change ONE THING.
With that in mind, plus the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and the intent of making the Tampa Bay Lightning better than they are right now (without sacrificing efforts to build for the future), what ONE THING would you go back and undo prior to the start of the 2011-12 season? Answers from the Raw Charge staff are after the jump. Please share yours in the comments.
John Fontana - Managing Editor / Raw Charge
In hindsight, looking back at the 2011 off-season, if I had been Steve Yzerman, I wouldn't have let Cedrick Desjardins go.
There are two reasons that I feel like letting Desjardins go was a mistake. Before I get to that, I want to make it clear I don't think Cedrick was necessarily goiing to prove to be the answer in net for the Lightning.
But Desjardins was something that Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus aren't: NHL ready. Unlike either AHL netminder, you had to stop feeling like Desjardins wouldn't be able to serve if the team had to call him up. He's too seasoned to be branded as "rushed" to the NHL.
The other aspect that gets me on letting Desjardins walk is that, the logic usually put forth by people justifying the move is that he was injured. He was recovering. There's no telling how he would be when he gets back. And it's not like his injury (shoulder) was so total that it was a career ender.
Clare Austin - Staff Writer
The difficulty I have with what we in the History trade call "what-if" or counter-factual history, is that more than one thing has to be undone and then once you've gotten back to Point A you no longer know where Point B is. For instance, it's not enough for Yzerman to make a decision to keep or not keep a player. The player also has to make the decision to take what the Jedi Master's offering; other teams have to decide not to make or raise an offer; you have to assume that everything that has gone right for a player still goes right under different circumstances; and so on. If Simon Gagne hadn't been playing for Los Angeles he might not have gotten concussed. But then again, maybe he would have.
So, although the obvious answer is "Don't sign Roloson" (and don't think that statement doesn't make me sad), that's not enough. If you don't sign Roli, who do you sign? Bryzgalov signed in the offseason, but before July 1, so is he off the market or not? Does Philadelphia still offer him that contract, and does Yzerman have to beat it? If you sign him, does he still struggle or does he fit into Boucher's system? Does the big ol' pot of crazy hurt the team?
What about Vokoun? Not an exceptionally long-term solution, but good for a few years. Would he have signed with Tampa Bay? Would Brian Elliott have his fluke season with Tampa Bay, or does it rely heavily on Ken Hitchcock's brand of hockey? (I'm not convinced that he's a fundamentally better goalie in St. Louis than he was in Ottawa or Colorado.) What about Ray Emery? He's serviceable in Chicago, but not great. Would he be better in Tampa? Would what he could bring be enough to overcome the defensive woes of the team?
Semyon Varlamov, Jhonas Enroth, Marty Turco, Peter Budaj, Joey MacDonald, Alex Auld. Mark Dekanich. Josh Harding, maybe? What a risk. Cedrick Desjardins? Same thing (He's played a total of 14 games this season and is out with a LBI right now. See the Gagne question above.) Any one of these players could be a difference-maker, but any one of them could flop.
My answer, I guess, is you can't undo the past, and it'll make you crazy to try.
Cassie McClellan - Managing Editor / Raw Charge
I would've kept Mike Lundin. People talk about, point fingers at, the goaltending for much of the Lightning's problems, but the defense has been far worse this season than last season. Part of that is they're missing Mattias Ohlund's leadership, but Lundin was also a big part of the defense last season. He was always matched up with the top forwards on the other team, and he always played well against them. He's never been a physical presence, but he clearly understood what head coach Guy Boucher wanted from him and how he fit into the system - which some of the current players haven't always had the best grasp about. Losing Ohlund as well to injury/surgery just complicated things even more. Lundin is the guy that could've kept the defense steadier this season, even without Ohlund in the lineup.
Since I get the benefit of hindsight, the answer is obvious that I would have signed us a NHL ready goalie that is not 40 billion years old. Didn't have to be a great one and hell we might end up in the same scenario as we are in right now, but I would take my chances on rolling the dice on a different one.
Matt Amos - Staff Writer / Don't Trade Vinny
Let me preface this by saying that no singular move, even in hindsight would have this team in the playoffs. They were never actually as good as they played last year, and at first I thought they couldn't possibly be as bad as they have been this year. But, it's February, so maybe they are.
That being said, I would've liked to have seen Stevie take a flyer on Brian Elliot. Granted, Ken Hitchcock's system has made a LOT of decent goalies look great, but Elliot put up decent numbers behind some pretty awful Ottawa teams. He's young, obviously talented, even if he is playing above his head, and would've come for about the same price as Garon.
Clark Brooks - Staff Writer / Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness
(The best part of doing QOTW is when it's your turn, you get to go after you see what everyone else said) My one move would have involved logistics, not personnel: I would have not scheduled so much preseason activity on the road. I know there was construction taking place at the Forum, so some of it was necessary, but I would have tried to schedule exhibition games in Lakeland or even another one in Orlando, places that are more home-ish at least. As it was, they only played one at the Forum (plus a "home" game in Orlando), while playing four in locations scattered around North America, all before starting the season with five road games in eight days. Maybe the intent was to get them used to playing away from home since they knew what the schedule held in store. If so, that certainly didn't exactly work out as planned. And seeing how terrible they were on the road for most of this season, maybe a little more home cooking at the start would have helped. It definitely wouldn't have hurt.