Earlier today the Chicago Blackhawks placed goaltender Jeff Glass on waivers, meaning the netminder is likely to spend the twilight weeks of what should have been a fairytale season in Rockford – the place where his unlikely carousel of a season met its beginning.
While it’d take the most buoyant of optimists to find positivity in waivers, Glass’ demotion can viewed as an act of mercy by even the most pessimistic of hockey fans.
And an act of clemency it was. Because between the ungodly coalition of fan upheaval, terrible luck and downright god-awful play in front of him to go along with an utter lack of experience and, not to mention, limited ability to begin with, Jeff Glass never stood a chance with this iteration of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Glass is a minor league goaltender whose only place in the NHL this season should have been as a temporary backup but was, instead, carelessly tossed head-first into an unrelenting riptide of floodwaters with absolutely no means of aid or escape. In Glass defense, any goaltender, past or present, would have struggled to tread such unforgiving waters.
Blackhawks fans laying the blame solely on the shoulders of Jeff Glass is hilarious. Jeff Glass is like Jon Snow in this gif, but if Jon Snow had his sword taken away and was forced to wear a blindfold. pic.twitter.com/rRCd9uWc9V
— FORAN THE RASMUS DAHLIN WANTER (@BForanNHL) February 14, 2018
No doubt it made for a good story when the globetrotting journeyman, whose career has spanned literally everywhere in the world not named the NHL, was initially re-called. A career minor leaguer at the archaic age of 32 finally getting his shot at NHL glory is a Hollywood-worthy narrative that’d make even the coldest of hearts bask in warmth. But, like the rambling conclusion of a cocaine-fueled Stephen King novel, this storybook fairytale endured chapters longer than it should have. And at the helm of the typewriter was Blackhawks management for even allowing it to spiral out of control in the first place, because at the end of the day, Jeff Glass should never have possessed the opportunity of seeing steady work with the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks entered the 2017-2018 season drunk on ignorance in regard to its goaltending situation. Sure, Anton Forsberg was a fine off-season addition and, with his combination of size, youth and undeniable talent, very well, one day, could find himself solidified in the crease as the Blackhawks starting netminder. But obvious rawness and an utter lack of experience made him ripe for at least a season or two of tuning in Rockford before seeing time with the big club. Rather, the goaltender situation went unaddressed, with waves of prospective back up veterans signing elsewhere, and Forsberg was forced onto the Blackhawks opening night roster as primary back up to injury-time bomb Corey Crawford.
Well, needless to say, that ticking bomb, as expected, went boom and, still, management felt it was in the organization’s best interest to turn a blind eye to what would be the most glaring obstacle hindering its playoff chances. Even as weeks turned to months, management stood pat, tail between its legs, grasping firmly to the hope that its knight-in-shining-armor, Corey Crawford, would triumphantly gallop in on horseback and save the day — all while its helpless and unseasoned pair of goaltenders spent night-in and night-out being thrown to the wolves.
Look, it’d be hypocritical of me to succumb to ignorance myself by placing all the blame for the Blackhawks shortcomings this season on the shoulders of its goaltending because, quite frankly, 2017-2018 has been a collective disaster. When the tires do fall off, each seems to fall off concurrently — to the point where the whole team is forced to coast around the ice like the goddamn Flinstones. To solely condemn the goaltending would be like placing all the blame for World War I on the back of Gavrilo Princip. Sure, he played a pretty significant role unclogging what would become the largest shitstorm the world had ever seen up to that point, but in hindsight, he’s more of a footnote to what became a much more significant problem; much like this season’s goaltending issues will, in retrospect, be interpreted as a mere bullet point on a laundry list of colossal mishaps that attributed to what hopefully, 5 seasons from now, will be regarded as “the Rasmus Dahlin fix.”
Even more alarming is the trajectory of fan criticism. An alarming amount of fans seem to be content in their ignorance of overlooking the fact that Glass never should have been here in the first place and are instead jumping straight to the conclusion that every little thing that has gone awry this season is the fault of a 32-year old journeyman who, just as recently as December, possessed the same amount of NHL experience as the person currently typing this. Notice I said alarming and not surprising, because at this point the stupidity of the most vocal subgenre of Blackhawks fans is stuff of legend. To give you a brief rundown of these dummies, they’re people that don’t understand the fine-print details of what the hell they’re watching so the goalie, by default, becomes the butt of their criticisms. Why? Because goalies are the easiest-to-comprehend targets. It’s never lazy play or porous defense surrendering 48 shots and 20 quality scoring chances that is the root of the problem; it’s never the fault of an offense that’s mustered just 12 goals over its past 7 games. It’s always the fault of the goaltender.
Even though the particular goaltender in question has posted about as good of numbers a person who has never played a second in an NHL game prior to December 30 possibly could. And still, even after all his struggles which landed him in the crosshairs of angry fans and on waivers, Glass still possesses a better save percentage than Scott Darling.
Please read that last sentence before you’re tempted to venture into the comments section.
Jeff Glass has evolved from great story to punchline all in the matter of weeks in the eyes of many irate fans and it gives me secondhand embarrassment to even bring to light the exploits of this social keyboard lynchmob. Because of these idiots and utter neglect from the organization, what should have been a storybook season for Glass and fans alike is now shrouded in darkness due to the shortcomings of those who failed to protect him.
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