There are often other factors, but one thing I noticed is that we don't take into account the severity that certain injuries could cost a player, even after years.
The most obvious one is Mason Raymond. Not to beat a dead horse here, but his back injury (along with his multiple broken finger injuries) probably took a bigger toll on him than anyone ever gave him credit for.
Think about it. He fractured his spine. That's one of the most fragile and critical parts of the human body. Remember how Brent Sopel injured his back while bending over to pick up a cracker? If you injure your back once, and especially if you injure it like Raymond did, there is no way a person could play to his full potential in the next few years. I myself lightly injured my upper back a few years ago. Even today, if I do a little lifting only slightly out of perfect form, my back twinges and stings. What do you think Raymond is feeling every time he tries to pull off a hairpin turn or getting body checked? Don't you find it miraculous that he even recovered in a couple months?
I am almost convinced to the point where I might put money on the table that he played through a substantial amount of pain last year. His general weak balance showed that, but at he same time, the sporadic flashes of talent here and there shows that he is not a bust, but just too broken.
I don't think trading him will do any good because he won't fetch much in his state. He's not a liability, and he is fairly versatile and still puts up fringe top-6 points. If he hadn't almost become crippled I wouldn't give him any leash but, this isn't about slack or sympathy. This is him not being fully recovered and us having to accept the fact that if he is to stay, he won't ever be the 09-10 Raymond.
I find that Malhotra experienced a similar incident, where he suffered a very serious injury and was never the same.
"But he injured his eye, it has nothing to do with physical presence". The next time you do anything, do it with an eye patch on one of your eyes and see how much harder it is to do it.
Try playing hockey with an eye closed. It's surprising how narrow your vision becomes without your second eye. That fact that he is still playing and putting up points is very impressive. I have a lot of respect for Manny, and I know almost everyone on CDC does too.
It's just that when I see him getting ragged on for not playing as well as he did in his first year, just remember, eyesight = vision, and vision = passing plays and assists. Not to mention he fell out of shape and out of the flow of the game from being out so long.
Lastly, Luongo. He hasn't really suffered a huge injury, except the groin pull(?) that sidelined him for a number of weeks. However, I think there is a bit of a mindset problem with him. And I think we are part of the blame. I include this because I consider it as a kind of injury, a mental one at that.
1. The team unwittingly puts pressure on him.
It's more than proven that we don't score goals in the playoffs. We have more games where we go 0-2 goals than 2+. Everyone knows this, and nobody knows better than Luongo, who is playing for a city who will blame the goaltender for most losses. A competitor himself, Luongo knows that if he does not play the one of the best games of his career, there isn't much chance of winning.
Don't tell me the lack of scoring doesn't get to him in any way. He is literally the counterpart to our offense. The better the offense, the less important the goaltending (probably correlates with the supposed regular season success since we score just fine). And, the worse the offense, the more scrutiny on the goaltending. Wait, what? When the offense starts to suck, our goaltending gets more blame during losses? Ah, it's not unjust at all. Roberto probably loves the extra middle finger.
2. We ran him out of this city even if he is to stay. He has no reason to play his hardest consistently any more. Maybe that's why you see "inconsistencies". Don't you ever get that? Your job, school, something. You probably have gone, "what's the point of this" and wanted to just stop. Whatever the reason for that was, it was probably some form of the job feeling pointless or unrewarding. And I bet that's exactly how Luongo feels. Not many seem to like him, the media is looking to undermine him, and his backup is getting all the positive attention. Not to make him sound like a whiny child, but he is human. He has no obligation to be good to the fans if we aren't good to him.
This can't justify some of his performances, but we can't justify the hate we're giving him given Luongo's level of effort, passion and drive to win. He probably just doesn't want to play hard for us anymore, while Schneider feels he must do well to keep himself from going under. If you want an example, think of the booing when he got pulled. Even if it was not real, the media speculation and the fact that it probably was halfway true shows the city hates him while demanding the best out of him.
It's 2AM right now. I apologize in advance for the dumb mistakes I may have made while typing. Hope you had a good read.
Edit: Adding in Kesler's situation, since some people bring it up.
Well, when you look at Kesler's upsides, a lot of it has to do with either the quick release on his shot (would make for a valuable trait in today's tightly-defending NHL), and his ability to be physically stable while being effective with the puck.
Kesler had a pretty bad wrist injury and needed surgery. Most people can understand that a wrist shot requires a strong wrist. Well, if Kesler was bothered by a damaged wrist that had not yet fully recovered, there is no way he could net the amount of goals he did before the playoff run. Yes, he could have tried to change his game especially since Booth could have become the main shooter, but this is Kesler. He does whatever the ???? he wants and still isn't that bad of a player. In general, you can't say his 40 goal season was a fluke because he hasn't had a legitimate chance of showing his skill (kind of like how Raymond's shot was compromised after 2 broken hands).
His hip labrum surgery also probably hindered his ability to be more physical. Sure, he was physical anyway, but there is a little guy at the back of your head reminding of how you got injured being a checker and getting physical. Would it really help you to get back into the most physically demanding sport in the game and do what he does with intensity, especially during a slump partially as a result of another injury? Kesler is a proud man, we could see this when we lost game 7. He wouldn't want to back out from playing his game, but the more he plays, the worse his situation gets.
We can't expect much out of him until he's 100% fit. Once he is, I can say with confidence that he will return to form. He has the fitness, the determination and skillset to do so.
Edited by LordofBrussels, 12 January 2013 - 11:14 PM.