The 2013 offseason brought a lot of changes to the NHL. Players swapped jerseys, coaches found new homes, and teams rebuilt their rosters. Only 16 teams will make it to the post-season, and only one will hoist the cup at the end of the season. As with any year, the 2013-14 season is bound to have its share of disappointment.
So, what exactly is a disappointment? Not winning the Cup? Not making the playoffs? Finishing under .500? A disappointment is a team/player/coach that did not live up to the hype. Fans, management, and the media set expectations at the start of the season, and if they aren’t met, it could spell the end of an era within that particular club.
Without further ado, we present our top five potential disappointments in the 2013-14 NHL season.
5: Sophomore Slumps
The 2013 saw a heap of rookie talent enter the league and have success almost instantaneously. Fans took special note of five exceptional rookies: Brendan Gallagher, Jonas Brodin, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Vladmir Tarasenko. Huberdeau took home the Calder trophy as top rookie, beating out Saad and Gallagher. Tarasenko and Brodin were left out of nominations, but impressed nonetheless.
Going into their second season, these rookies will know what it takes to succeed at the NHL level. Saad experienced the highest level of success in his rookie year; his Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Tarasenko, Gallagher, and Brodin all got a taste of playoff action, while ironically, Huberdeau and the Florida Panthers did not make the post-season.
Last season’s shortened schedule was a sprint to the finish. NHL fans saw many young teams get an early jump, and carry that all throughout the rest of the season. With the 82-game schedule back in play, the long, tough road might favour the veterans of each team, and we may see rookies crumble under the 9-month stretch that is a season in the NHL.
As always, some will rise to the occasion, but this drastic change will create some discomfort among the league’s second-year players.