by Mike Chen on 11/08/08 at 04:38 PM ET
Oh, those wacky Tampa Bay Lightning. You just never know what they’re going to do next. But rather than being unpredictable in a “Saw” slasher-movie kind of way, I think they’re more in line with the old John Ritter film “Problem Child.”
When I saw that the Lightning had shaken up their roster yet again by moving Matt Carle for Steve Downie and Steve Eminger, I just shook my head. I’m sure lots of people probably did it too, and I wonder what Vincent “Lifetime With The Lightning” Lecavalier thought.
I doubt that Vinnie and Matt Carle became BFF during their two months of shared ice time, but the Lightning captain’s gotta be sick of the roster turnover now. Yet, Tampa’s management—a two-headed monster run by Oren Koules and Len Barrie with Brian Lawton as a GM figurehead—isn’t just acting like a kid in a candy store; it’s acting like a bratty kid in a candy store.
“Moooooooooom, I hate all our food at home! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! Make it go away!” (Trade Dan Boyle/Brad Lukowich)
“Look, mom, look at all the flavors! I want all of them! I’ll just diiiiiiiiiie if I don’t ge them! Please, please, please!” (Sign Ryan Malone, Radim Vrbata, Mark Recchi, etc.)
“This one sucks. I hate it! Why’d you ever buy it in the first place? That one over there looks awesome. I want that one!” (Trade Alexander Picard/Filip Kuba for Andrej Meszaros)
“This one is terrible! I hate it the most! I don’t care that you just bought it, I want a new one! A new one! (stomps feet) I hate you, mom!” (Trade Matt Carle/San Jose’s 1st rounder for Steve Downie/Steve Eminger)
If this was February and Carle was maybe five years older and the Lightning were in last place, I could maybe understand moving him for a pair of young underachievers. But Carle’s still on the better side of his 20s and was pretty much the centerpiece of the Dan Boyle fiasco. In fact, this is what Lawton said at the time:
“We are thrilled to add a player with Matt’s abilities to our roster as we continue our plan of retooling and refinishing the Lightning team. He quarterbacked the number one power play unit in the NHL two seasons ago as a rookie and he clearly will add speed and skill to our lineup. He fits with our plan of trying to getting younger and better.”
You’d think that a team looking at the big picture would have held off on spending so much money on overpaid forwards and brought in some veteran defensive help to steady the young defense. But this team acts on impulse, like a little brat that wants and wants for the sake of wanting rather than an adult that thinks through needs, wants, and the big picture.
So why blow it all up before Thanksgiving? The Lightning seem so reactive to every situation that you have to wonder whether or not they actually have a plan or if they’re stuck playing fantasy GM with their team. It’s not like Carle actually played that well (12 games, 1 goal, 2 assists) but the whole point of a rebuilding team is to, you know, rebuild. The guy obviously wasn’t going to turn his career around (as in, rebound from a sophomore slump and clashes with coach Ron Wilson) in just a few games under a new team but his raw talent was enough to make him coveted throughout the league.
Young defensemen take time to develop. I’m betting that Barry Melrose figured that with time and guidance, Carle would eventually figure it out. Now he’s gotta retool his revolving-door defense yet again.
Since Oren Koules is a Hollywood big-wig, I suggest he take in a little bit of philosophical filmmaking called The Empire Strikes Back. Here’s a passage he can learn from:
Luke Skywalker: Look, I’m sure it’s delicious. I just don’t understand why we can’t see Yoda now!
Yoda: [cheerfully] Patience! For the Jedi it is time to eat as well. Eat. [Laughs] eat. Hot. Good food, hmm? Good, hmm?
Luke Skywalker: How far away is Yoda? Will it take us long to get there?
Yoda: Not far. Yoda not far. Patience. Soon you will be with him. Root leaf, I cook. Why wish you become Jedi?
Luke Skywalker: Well, mostly because of my father, I guess.
Yoda: Oh, father! Powerful Jedi was he. Powerful Jedi.
Luke Skywalker: Oh, come on! How could you know my father? You don’t even know who I am. Oh, I don’t even know what I’m doing here! We’re wasting our time!
Yoda: [sighs, looks upward] I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: [voice emanates from nowhere] He will learn patience.
Yoda: Much anger in him, like his father.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Was I any different when you taught me?
Yoda: He is not ready!
Luke Skywalker: Yoda? I am ready! I— Ben, I can be a Jedi! Ben tell him I’m rea— [bangs his head on the low ceiling] Ow!
Yoda: Ready, are you? What know you of ready? For 800 years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained! A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one, a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, the horizon. Never his mind on where he was [pokes Luke]. Hmm? What he was doing. [paces around] Adventure. Heh! Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things. [turns to Luke and points with his walking stick] You are reckless!
And of course, as we all know, Luke ran off impulsively to try and rescue his pals only to find his best bud shipped off frozen in carbonite, his own hand cut off, bad news about his family lineage revealed, and awkwardly nursed back to health by his somewhat affectionate secret sister. Yeah, bad stuff happens when you act impulsively.
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