Amongst all the hype and craziness, I'm hoping that fans don't forget where this team came from.
This team's roots were grown in the ashes of the 2004 disaster. Remember the 2004-2005 team that so many predicted to finish dead last in the league? Thanks to excellent team chemistry and extremely hard work, that scrappy bunch led by the likes of Adam Pardy, Guillaume Demers, and Neil Smith overcame a 1-7-3 start to give us a great season, finishing 32-27-8-3; a solid above-.500 record despite being in the first year of rebuilding.
There was a very nice bond formed between the team and the regular fans that year, and never have I seen an Eagles team whose hard work was so appreciated by the fans as that year's team. I still remember the team doing a lap of the rink after the final regular season game, raising their sticks to the fans; that doesn't happen every year.
We had a few great rookies that we wisely gave a ton of ice time and used in all situations (PP, PK, final minute while down a goal or up a goal, etc) even though they were only 16 and 17, allowing their development to really accelerate, and allowing these guys to really become "clutch" type hockey players. We know these guys now as impact veterans named James Sheppard, Dean Ouellet, and Chris Culligan. It was clear that the next contending Eagles team would be built around these gems found in the 04 draft.
We now have a very deep and talented veteran roster, a big-name hired gun superstar in Bourdon, and there's a lot of excitement and buzz about the team. It kind of feels like 2004 all over again. There are going to be a lot of casual observers who are going to treat it like 2004 all over again. It shouldn't be, but that's how some people are going to treat it.
I just wanted to talk about the 2004-2005 team to remind everyone where this team really came from. Hard work on the ice, humble beginnings in the wake of a disastrous attempt at a run, team chemistry, and a great core that still remains with the team. Not big stars or bright lights or crazy expectations, which you're going to hear a lot of over the next couple of months.
It might be easy to forget what got the team in the position to make such a run this year in the first place, now that we have such a pile of riches on paper, that's all.
Just wanted to keep things in perspective for when you hear the wild predictions and expectations that are bound to be heard all over the CBRM over the next couple little while.