15 Biggest Disappointments of the 2011-12 NHL Season
There have been some really nice stories during the first half of the 2011-12 NHL season, like the stellar play of rookies like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the remarkable renaissance of Brian Elliott. And the turnaround by the St. Louis Blues has been incredible.
But there has been a lot of disappointment as well.
Some teams haven't been as good as advertised, and some players have left fans scratching their heads as well.
Let's look at the 15 biggest disappointments of the season so far.
Where do we start?
Corey Perry, last year's Hart Trophy winner, is nowhere near a 50-goal pace.
Bobby Ryan has spent more time in trade rumors than he has on the team's top line.
Ryan Getzlaf's game appears to be eroding as fast as his hairline.
Jonas Hiller looks lost more nights than he's been good.
And they're already on their second coach this season.
A team that was supposed to contend for a division crown is trying to stay out of dead last.
Kane has been, for the last few years, the most explosive scorer drafted by the Blackhawks since Jeremy Roenick.
But the organization took a calculated risk at the beginning of this season when they moved him from Jonathan Toews' right side to the second-line center position, even after Kane had late-summer wrist surgery.
The move failed. Kane got off to a decent start but then struggled at the dot in November.
He has only 11 goals and 33 assists in 53 games after being nearly a point-per-game player in his first four years.
The Flyers traded away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards so they could afford a legitimate No.1 goalie for the first time in years—and now they're finding out that their best netminder was an inexpensive guy that was already on their roster.
Bryzgalov might have an incredible thermos, and he could solve the universe's energy issues if given enough time, but he hasn't been the savior in net the Flyers thought they were getting with a blockbuster contract.
Los Angeles Kings
Yes, if the season ended today, the Kings would be the seven seed in the Western Conference, and they are in the mix to win the pathetic Pacific Division.
But can someone please explain how trading Wayne Simmonds for Mike Richards, an All-Star who was captain of a Stanley Cup finalist two years ago, led to the Kings being the lowest-scoring team in the NHL?
Their team scoring has dropped .46 goals per game since last year, despite their team being better on paper than it was 12 months ago.
Most people thought the Sabres overpaid for Leino this summer, but nobody thought it would be this bad.
He has given Buffalo only 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and is minus-eight through 41 games played to date.
There's a lot that isn't working in Buffalo right now, and trade rumors are running wild around the organization.
While it's never fair to single out one player, Leino has grossly underperformed his contract.
Last year, Staal was the toasted hometown hero at the All-Star Game.
The Canes were flying high with a talented young roster, and he was right in the middle of it.
Here we are, 12 months later, and Staal is nowhere close to the cool, comfortable All-Star he was then.
He's been near the bottom of the league in plus-minus all year, and his current minus-24 is bordering on biblical disaster status. His offense has picked up lately, but he's going to need a serious late-season push to get over 30 goals (where he's finished every full season of his career).
As Vince Lombardi might have asked of the Habs, "What the hell is goin' on here?"
They've already had one coach get fired, they can't score, their defense is inconsistent and a general manager who needs to work on new deals with two of the faces of the franchise, Carey Price and PK Subban, doesn't know if he'll be around to see them play next year.
At least they could celebrate something this weekend—the anniversary of Scott Gomez's last goal.
In the first year of a five-year, $26M contract, "Big Buff" was coming off a 20-goal, 53-point season on the blue line in Winnipeg (well... Atlanta...).
But once the team relocated and Byfuglien got paid, things haven't been as pretty for Byfuglien.
He's missed 16 games already this year and has scored only six goals.
He got paid to be an offensive threat, but he hasn't been that this season.
Everyone from the Minnesota-San Jose Trades
Over the summer, the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks both made a couple dramatic trades to shake up their respective organizations.
Both deals happened to be with the same team, and neither has been a clear winner.
Brent Burns has been a 40-point guy in both of his full seasons in the NHL but has fallen off that pace this year. He's still the big, strong defenseman he was in Minnesota, but many in San Jose had higher expectations for his play when he was added to the Sharks.
Martin Havlat was late to the party because he wasn't healthy to start the season (shocking?), and then hurt himself trying to get on the ice to take a shift. He has scored only twice in 26 games this year.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota...
Dany Heatley was supposed to be a big-time scorer that was lacking on the Wild's roster. He's been a point-per-game player throughout his career, but he's only given the Wild 38 points in 51 games this year. Heatley hasn't been on pace to return to the 30-goal plateau all season, either.
And Devin Setoguchi, who signed an extension with the Sharks just days before being dealt, has been scratched for disciplinary reasons. He has only posted 18 points and is minus-10 in 39 games, and he's been every bit as disappointing as any player on Minnesota's roster.
One has to think both GMs might want a do-over from last summer.
Tampa Bay Lightning
A talented team that looked so close to taking the next step in the spring has been a nightmare all year.
Their goaltending hasn't even been average, and their depth has been questionable.
Indeed, only Steven Stamkos has shown up to the party this year.
Entering Monday, the Bolts are in fourth place in the Southeast Division and are nine points out of the final playoff spot.
Last year, they were desperate for just one more goal to go in—now they're desperate for a winning streak.
This disappointment has little to do with Gleason's production on the ice, but is a selfish disappointment for fans of the trade deadline everywhere.
Gleason was the top name in trade rumors once the Canes' season started to fall apart, and every indication was that there could be a bidding war between a handful of contending teams to get the free agent-to-be out of Carolina.
But then he signed a new contract with the Canes and was effectively removed from trade speculation.
Like with Gleason, the disappointment here isn't based on the performance of the player, but is a selfish want from fans everywhere that's being left empty.
Crosby is the best player on the planet.
He showed that when he briefly came back from what was then considered post-concussion symptoms to dominate for a couple weeks.
But then he took a step backward in his recovery, and left the ice again.
Fans everywhere want to see Crosby healthy and performing. The game is better when he's healthy. Whether you like him or not, most fans are passionately on one side of the fence with Crosby.
But everyone can agree that they hope he's healthy enough to play again soon.
Tim Thomas has always been considered a "team guy," and he never really made himself the center of attention.
That is, until he was the reigning Conn Smythe winner, and the Bruins were invited to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship at the White House. Thomas decided to be a no-show.
He might claim that personal politics and the current President had nothing to do with it, but the move was a slap in the face to the organization that's paying him well to do his job, the teammates that fought with him to win the greatest championship in pro sports and the fans that love(d) him so much.
Thomas needed to be at the White House. But he wasn't. And that's an enormous disappointment.
Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne
This is another selfish disappointment from fans everywhere.
When the 2012 All-Star Game took place in Ottawa, it was a magnificent celebration of the game.
But there were two players, based on their play this year, that needed to be part of the celebration and weren't.
If this is the final season for Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne, two of the best players in the history of the game, it would have been nice for the game to give back to them the respect they have given opponents and the game for so many years.
There is no better place to celebrate the achievements of great players than the All-Star Game, and these two deserved a standing ovation from the entire hockey world.
Where do we begin with The (Formerly) Great 8?
Maybe we look at a guy who had 65 goals four years ago—and might not have 65 points this year?
Maybe we look at him spending more games suspended than he has among the league leaders in any statistical category?
Or perhaps we look at him getting an (undeserved) invitation to the All-Star Game in Ottawa, only to decide he had better things to do than represent the game that's made him an international star?
The entire season has been a disappointing failure from Ovechkin. But on the bright side, at least he's finally ranked ahead of Crosby in something...