Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just a Little Patience

A work trip to Germany mercifully kept me insulated from hockey for much of the last week. And as much as I love watching hockey, I don't have what it takes to watch a loss on the DVR if I already know the unfortunate outcome. So last night's loss in Philly is the first game I've seen since we beat the Sens on home ice back on November 25.

The thing that struck me watching last night's game was the renaissance of Andy Hilbert. For the previous 2 seasons, Hilbert was the target of many a fan's ire. I may have been known to make a joke or two at the expense of the man who on many occasions appeared allergic to the back of the net. I questioned the validity of his claim to a roster spot, and even now I stand by my feelings at the time.

But the organization showed patience towards his development. His game evolved, and over the course of last year he greatly improved the defensive aspects of his game. He became an essential cog in the PK. The goals still weren't coming, but at least he was creating an identity, reinforcing his belonging in the NHL.

This year, he's developing into a more well-rounded forward. He continues to be one of our best penalty killers. He up to 7 goals through 28 games, one fewer than his Islanders season high. And his minus 3 is the best among all forwards playing at least 15 games. He's the poster child for an organization's patience paying off. And to the handful of fans at the Coliseum each game screaming for Hilbert to "go to the bench"...this ain't 2006, have you actually watched this guy lately?

On the flip-side, today brought the news of the Isles placing Jon Sim on waivers after just 29 1/2 games as an Islander. So much for the analysts who liked to say thing like "People don't realize how much the loss of Sim hurt the Islanders last season." Apparently, not so much. At least not in Scott Gordon's system. I can't say I disagree with the move, and if it opens a spot for Comeau or Jackman full-time then it's all good. But it's funny, just hours after mulling over the patience shown to Hilbert, the team exhibits the exact opposite with Sim.