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01-05-2004, 08:04 PM
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No big changes - this comes as no surprise to me. I have been impressed by the patience and thoughtfulness demonstrated by Gainey and Julien over the past several months. Ever since the beginning of the season, a number of people here have been screaming about letting all the young players play, trying to tank the entire season for a chance at drafting an over-hyped kid most have never even seen enough of to gauge what kind of player he will be in the NHL, and speculating about huge trades that make little sense under the circumstances. One of the more ridiculous rumors/proposals was the Jagr/Koivu deal: get rid of our captain and most consistent offensive threat for an $11 million headcase who will complain about having no center to play with. Splendid! Frankly, the latest Arnott speculation makes little sense to me as well. I consider Arnott a second - not third - line center, so what would become of Ribeiro?

Anyway, I like how Gainey has been very calm and deliberate since coming aboard: ridding the team of Czerkawski and McKay, bringing in Langdon and Begin off waivers to help solidify the bottom 6 (Begin especially has impressed me), calling up young players from Hamilton and giving them an opportunity to learn the NHL game, buying out Audette, placing Kilger on waivers. The young players, I feel, have been brought along quite well for the most part by Gainey and Julien and have been given a chance to show what they can bring to the table. I think Hossa could have been been given a better shake before being sent down, but hey what can you do?

When people here were screaming for Julien's head after his seemingly bizarre merry-go-round of line juggling, I think a lot of us failed to appreciate how the new coach/GM were still evaluating the team and needed time to thoughtfully assess how different players could play in different situations. That constant line-juggling no longer seems to be a major issue, and this team is starting to look like a real team. Kudos to BG and CJ.

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