Last week we talked about the "breakout season" and ten players who are ready to have one. This week we tackle another sports cliche: the "sophomore slump."
This over-hyped storyline is a product of player success combined with media hype. A player sets the bar high by having a spectacular first season and the media pumps that bar up a little higher. So naturally people are geared to think the only direction for him to go is down. Stat-lines and point totals become benchmarks.
Teemu Selanne scored 76 goals as a rookie, but just 25 in his second year. Must have slumped, right? Wrong. He only played 51 games and still averaged just over a point per contest. How about another Calder winner, Alex Ovechkin? He had a 14-point drop in his second season and finished with...92 points. If that's a slump, sign me up.
The fact is roles enhance, responsibilities increase, situations change, and opponents adjust. Oh, and hockey doesn't get any easier.
Are slumps a complete fallacy? No, it's true drop-offs can and will happen. And yes, sometimes they occur in a player's second season. Fans of certain Blue Jackets and Sabres have witnessed this, and the Andrew Raycroft Fan Club probably has lost quite a few members since its inception.
But my point is, you can't let a couple burnt french fries ruin the Happy Meal. Oftentimes, the second year is a season of marked improvement. Here's my take on some notable names in a loaded 2011-2012 sophomore class.