The verdict is in and it's not good.
No folks, I'm not writing about the youth movement of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey or even UFA signing Jack Hillen & Andrew MacDonald, we have more than a few years left on that subject.
I'm talking about the youth movement starting with 2002 first rounder Sean Bergenehim, followed by Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini via trade and Bruno Gervais.
It's time to point fingers and ask tough questions.
These were the players expected to step up in 2009-2010, who have had many years of seasoning. This was their time to break through and become consistent fifteen to twenty goal, forty point players who can score an occasional big goal for this organization to balance the veterans and youth.
They may be great people in the room and nice kids, they seem to be doing their best and whatever is asked of them but what's really changed from when they were rookies, where is the tangible progress aside from Frans Nielsen's defensive game?
As an added bonus an unknown journeyman named Matt Moulson signed here and has twenty goals which should have made things even easier, but it's been worse than ever.
It's not working and more than fair to ask what's the point in keeping some of them or has Scott Gordon failed to put them in the best position to progress and has his coaching been the problem?
Bergenhiem came in off his fifteen goals a year ago where he reportedly got on the same page with the head coach. Comeau had apparently won over Scott Gordon while Frans Nielsen got through a very tough injury that lingered after his return a year ago to the point he was not ready to open this season. Jeff Tambellini was retained over other players who were not brought back. Gervais finished the second half playing very well.
So here we are in Feburary 2009, the Islander scoring has dried up again as they gave back all the ground (more) they gained during their winning streak against top clubs.
Bergenheim, Comeau all season win or lose have look just as inconsistent and even worse then they did as rookies with Bergenheim on a quasi-fourth line, Comeau benched for Trevor Gilles (when he's not miscast on right wing) to play three minutes while Nielsen despite his defensive ability has one goal in seventeen games. Jeff Tambellini cannot escape the press box.
Fair or not a lot of bad goals are the direct or indirect result of mistakes made by Bruno Gervais, who after being a top offensive player in juniors and the AHL has given this club virtually nothing on offense.
Nate Thompson played games or stayed here over all of them during the last two years when it came time for Scott Gordon to make a choice.
Sorry folks, I'm as patient a fan as they come when it comes to players. I understand the over thirty veteran supporting cast is terrible on offense and once again Trent Hunter's offense has failed this team. The true youth movement has struggled and have been inconsistent, but for Bergenheim, Comeau, Nielsen and Jeff Tambellini this was their time and outside of failure it has not worked at all this season to this point.
Some of this goes on Scott Gordon who to be fair has always kept the focus and pressure off these players scoring goals and was critical of Bergenheim a year ago for being worried about his numbers, but now a lot of this now has to go on the players themselves.
I see the same Bergenheim I saw when he was wearing orange playing for Steve Stirling in 2004 before the lockout. I wonder why he he has not improved or why he cannot produce on a consistent basis? I'm tired of using the lockout or the holdout as an reason because that is no longer acceptable. He got more than his share of games on the top two lines earlier at his natural position.
It's time to ask even though Jesse Joensuu, Matt Martin, Tomas Marcinko, Justin DiBenedetto and Robin Figren are struggling on a very poor Bridgeport offensive club haven't some of these players had enough of a chance or it's obvious in Tambellini's case he's not going to get any more chances under this coach?
Why should Dustin Kohn, Mark Katic or the prospects behind them on defense go anywhere much less back to Bridgeport, so Bruno Gervais after all these years can be this inconsistent and contribute virtually nothing on offense?
This may be tough but more than fair questions to ask. It's also a question general manager Garth Snow needs to be asking of his head coach.
Memo to Garth Snow:
Jan 6,1975 J.P. Parise from Minnesota in exchange for Ernie Hicke & Doug Rombough. Jan 7, 1975 Jude Drouin from Minnesota for Craig Cameron.
You can trade with a young team to get out of a losing streak, Mr Snow. It's been done before.
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