NHL Network Rob Simpson on Parades and Panic

Auston Mathews

Making his NHL debut Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on October 12, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

No, not Panik. That’s another story. Richard, of the Black Hawks, who has 6 goals and nine points in the first calendar month of the season. But Shirley, I digress.

What I’m really referring to is the age-old tradition of fans and pundits alike getting overly excited with what takes place in the early going of the season. You’ve heard players with the cliche; don’t get too high, don’t get too low – that is particularly true at the start of each season. Maybe its simply just that — the fact that its the start of a new campaign, everyone is fired up for the return of hockey, so people tend to overreact during the first couple of weeks.

Auston Mathews scored four goals on opening night in Ottawa and Leafs fans had parade route planned four separate times. Unfortunately for Toronto supporters their team actually lost the game. And they’ve lost six more since, four of them in regulation. Oh well.

Detroit fans couldn’t rip their General Manager enough during the first week of the season, ready to hang Ken Holland in effigy after an oh-and-two start. They were unhappy with the make-up of the roster. But then the Wings won six in a row and the faithful were suddenly notching a 26th straight trip to the playoffs. Hold on Motor City, the Winged Wheel have lost two in a row again.

Montreal. I’m not even going to go there. They’re off to a similar start this year like they had last year. Then Carey Price was injured and the franchise suffered a collapse for all-time. We all pray for a healthy #31, but even so, let’s let this play out a little bit. Things will definitely even out somewhat. Euphoria in Habland in the meantime, where I presume there must be some parade-route planning going on in French.

Remember what the Ducks did last year? They were awful, not just in October, but pretty much all the way to Christmas. It was about that time that Ryan Kesler predicted “we’re gonna make the playoffs.”  He wasn’t kidding. Not only did they make the playoffs, they won their division. Worst to first, making a mockery of the 82-game schedule. They proved you only need to really play hard for fifty of them. Aside from that, it once again proved a poor start does not augur a lousy finish.

I even remember hearing, at the start of this season, that those who predicted the demise of the Chicago Blackhawks, too old, too slow, too tired, we’re absolutely correct after the Windy City boys got off to an oh-and-two start. That’s right – at oh-and-two!  Guess what?  5-1-and-1 since then, and well on their way. Not only does Cory Crawford have his 20th career shut-out as of Sunday night, this is a team to be reckoned with come the spring of 2017. Old in this case equals experience, slow means nothing because it ain’t true, and tired — the World Cup hangover is just that — over. Just as Jonathan Toews said after the win Sunday night – “Our success is coming back.”

Anybody else want to predict an early death for a hockey team in 2016-’17?  Hey, even the Columbus Blue Jackets are at .500.

It’s November now. Everyone settle down, settle in. Your team will be fine – maybe. But just don’t make any assumptions for a while. As we all like to say, there’s a lot of hockey left. A lot of great hockey. Enjoy for now. Panic in March.

Hear Rob Simpson weekday mornings on Stellick and Simmer in the Morning on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

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