As another playoff-less season comes to a close, we have quite a bit to reflect on. More so than usual, perhaps. We've seen a team go from playing the best hockey that the franchise has ever played to being absolutely dismal in the second half. We've watched first place in the Southeast Division turn into 11th in the Eastern Conference. We've seen such players as Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien blossom into leaders and prove themselves to be better players than we expected. We also saw players such as Zach Bogosian regress so much down a gaping hole that he'll be playing golf in China next week. Trades with Boston sent Rich Peverley off for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, and the Thrashers are better for it. A trade with Florida sent scorer (and possible locker room distraction) Niclas Bergfors off in exchange for Radek Dvorak, and the Thrashers are just as bad off as before.
It's been a fun season, a frustrating season, and one that's marked with uncertainty in the off-season. Not just necessarily of the "who will we sign/will they re-sign" variety that we're so very used to, but of a larger uncertainty. Will Sunday night be the Thrashers' last in Blueland? Probably not, but there will be still an unpleasant undercurrent as the fan appreciation video goes on and the jerseys are given out.
Win or lose, these are still our guys, and this is our team. Whether we're relieved to see the season be put out of its misery, or sad to see another hockey year come and gone, one thing's for certain - we'll be back again in September, bright eyed and bushy-tailed, waiting to see what successes (and failures) lie around the corner for next year. Gluttons for punishment lined up at the trough of expectations.
We're Thrashers fans, after all.