NHL jersey rankings

With the 2013-14 NHL season slated to begin in less than two months, I thought I’d rank all the NHL jerseys from best to worst. Here we go…

1. Chicago Blackhawks

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The reds are often regarded as the best jersey in sports, and the indianhead logo is also considered one of the best in all of sports. These jerseys speak for themselves. I only wish that they’d bring back their alternates from 2010.

2. Boston Bruins

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Their logo has hardly changed over time, and their jerseys are one of the most classic in sports. Tough to not like these.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

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Again, this logo has rarely been changed, and the jerseys are simple, yet great. True classics.

4. New York Rangers

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The diagonal lettering on the front of their jerseys has been the Rangers’ signature look forever. I love the stripes going across the front and back sides of the shoulders on their away jerseys. Their third jerseys are one of the best in the NHL.

5. Edmonton Oilers

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I was quite happy when they finally dropped their navy blue look and went back to their classic colors from the Gretzky days.

6. Detroit Red Wings

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This has to be one of the more recognizable logos in sports. The winged wheel has not really changed at all over time, nor have the jerseys themselves. The arched lettering/font used on the nameplates is truly unique.

7. Vancouver Canucks

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Much like the Oilers, the Canucks made a good move in ditching their navy blue look. The green and blue on these jerseys go together really well.

8. Montreal Canadiens

NHL: New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens Brian+Gionta+Montreal+Canadiens+v+Detroit+puYNrWAiaa1x

The Canadiens’ logo has been pretty consistent throughout time, but their jerseys have changed a bit more frequently. Still, a real classic look.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

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Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of their logo, but the jersey as a whole looks good. I’d be in favor of bringing back their old yellow and black look form the Mario Lemieux era.

10. Buffalo Sabres

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A couple years ago Buffalo decided to use their original logo and colors again. That was the best decision they have made in a long time, because the jerseys they had before these were horrendous.

11. Los Angeles Kings

DustinBrownDirtyHits Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown

I might actually like their whites better than the blacks. The logo isn’t very creative, but the overall look of these jerseys isn’t bad by any means.

12. Minnesota Wild

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They wore their green alternates at home in the playoffs this past spring, which make up for their pretty weak away jerseys. The home red unis are pretty nice in my opinion. If they could figure out a way to make their whites more interesting, I’d have the Wild higher on my list.

13. Washington Capitals

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In yet another instance of a team bringing back their classic look, the Capitals’ current uniforms are the best they’ve had.

14. St. Louis Blues

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These jerseys haven’t changed much over the past decade. The two shades of blue, black, and yellow/gold all go well together. Their alternates are some of the best third jerseys in hockey. 

15. New Jersey Devils

TravisZajacNJ adam-henrique

The Devils’ jerseys are rather simple and unchanged in a long time. I see no reason for them to change their look anytime soon.

16. New York Islanders

john-tavares New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres

Again, just another example of a team bringing back its classic colors. Even though I have the Islanders in the bottom half of my rankings, these jerseys are much better than what they were wearing just a few years ago.

17. Colorado Avalanche

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I don’t like the white/blue trim that cuts down the jersey from the shoulders to the waist. I hate when the “C” or “A” patches are placed over trimming. The logo is a bit weak as well.

18. Winnipeg Jets

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I’m not saying that these jerseys are bad by putting them at number 18. The reason they are this low is because they could have been better. When the Jets came back to Winnipeg 2 years ago, they could have modernized their original look instead of creating a whole new logo.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets

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I’ve seen enough of this look since the Jackets came into existence just over a decade ago. I really don’t like the red pants/white sweater look.

20. Phoenix Coyotes

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The Coyotes have tried multiple times to make their uniforms/logo look better, and this is probably the best look they’ve had. Still, there’s not much to it.

21. Carolina Hurricanes

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The Hurricanes will be wearing a new uniform set this year, as you can see in the pictures. These new jerseys just look too bland for me. I liked their unis from the past few years better.

22. Tampa Bay Lightning

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Tampa Bay decided to switch up their jerseys heading into the 2011-12 season, and that slightly strengthened their appearance. They’re still nowhere near the best in the league.

23. Calgary Flames

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Here’s another case of me liking their road uniforms better than their home uniforms. I think the Flames should just make their alternates their permanent home uniform.

24. Ottawa Senators

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The logo isn’t bad, but the rest of the jersey is pretty weak. It’s time they switch up their look in Ottawa.

25. Florida Panthers

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A pretty typical Florida uniform set. Really bright colors that don’t look very well on a sports jersey.

26. Philadelphia Flyers

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I’m going to assume I’m in the minority on this one, but I don’t like the Flyers’ uniforms. The different-colored nameplates just look bad, and the stripe going down the sleeves doesn’t look good.

27. Nashville Predators

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My first instinct when I saw their home jerseys for the first time was, “Are they serious?” I don’t know why anyone would ever consider making their jerseys yellow like Nashville did. Their whites aren’t bad, however.

28. San Jose Sharks

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These are the new jerseys that San Jose will be wearing this year. They’re awful. They look like practice jerseys. Why they decided to ditch their previous look confuses me. Even with those (and the new ones), I don’t understand why their primary logo needs to be present on the jerseys in 3 different spots: the chest and both shoulders. Couldn’t they develop a secondary logo by now?

29. Dallas Stars

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This is the third new set of uniforms that we’ll be seeing this season, and I have to ask, what was Dallas thinking? These look like they belong in the AHL or some junior league.

30. Anaheim Ducks

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Easily the worst jerseys in hockey. I’ve hated these since day one. Their third jersey should become their new home jersey, and they should design a white one based off of that look.

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Game 7

169140836_slideGame 7, arguably the two best words in professional sports. Tonight, the Blackhawks and Red Wings will conclude their final playoff series as conference opponents in what only seems like a fitting way, Game 7. Many people, myself included, didn’t think that this series would ever reach this point after Detroit took a commanding 3-1 series lead with their Game 4 victory, but here we are.

Let’s take a quick look back at the first 6 games of this series:

Game 1

The Blackhawks dominated Game 1 and won by a final score of 4-1. They forchecked as well as they have all year long and pretty much did whatever they wanted to against the Wings. Whether it was tired legs for Detroit after their series with Anaheim or simply a lack of energy, they looked awful and the Hawks looked phenomenal.

Game 2

It was as though there was a role reversal in this game. The Blackhawks looked like the Red Wings of Game 1, and the Wings looked like the Blackhawks. Detroit dominated much of the game and made the Blackhawks look like they were skating in mud the whole game. The Wings controlled the puck for much of the game and never let the Hawks get anything going. Detroit won 4-1.

Game 3

Back on their home ice, the Wings again were the much better team in Game 3. They controlled most of the first two periods and jumped out to a 2-0 lead heading into the third. After a Patrick Kane breakaway goal, Andrew Shaw scored what many thought was the tying goal, but the referees ruled goalie interference and the goal was taken away. Detroit would score one more time in the third and won the game 3-1.

Game 4

The Blackhawks actually played well in this game. They played with a major sense of urgency and desperation, but it just wasn’t enough. Corey Crawford held the Wings to just 1 goal (they would add an empty netter), but Jimmy Howard shut out the Hawks. This was the first time all season that the Blackhawks had been shutout. The final was 2-0.

Game 5

The Blackhawks knew they had to win or they were done, and that’s just how they played. Surprisingly, they scored 2 power play goals, and one of which was by Jonathan Toews (his first goal of the playoffs). Similar to Game 1, the Blackhawks controlled almost the entire game and won 4-1.

Game 6

The Hawks started off with a strong start in this game and scored another power play goal about 5 minutes into the game. Detroit would answer back with the next two goals, one of which was a very soft goal allowed by Crawford. Then the third period happened. Michal Handzus got an early goal to tie the game in the third, and this propelled the Hawks to a dominating period. Bryan Bickell would score the go-ahead goal just minutes later, and Michael Frolik would score on a penalty shot to give the Hawks a 4-2 lead. Detroit scored late in the period, but that was it. Hawks won 4-3.

And that brings us to tonight’s Game 7. Both teams now have their backs against the wall knowing that it’s win or go home. I would expect the Blackhawks to continue playing with the momentum, but Detroit isn’t going to just lay their sticks down either. It will be interesting to see if Mike Babcock switches up his lines at all tonight, for instance by putting Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the same line.

Here are my keys to a Blackhawks victory in tonight’s game:

  • The Blackhawks second line. Hossa, Handzus, and Bickell all scored a goal in Game 6, and this line has provided a major advantage for the Hawks over the last 2 games. Detroit has yet to find an answer for stopping this line, and if they can’t stop them again tonight, they could be in trouble.
  • Corey Crawford. While Crawford has played pretty well all postseason, he has still given up some soft goals from time to time. I thought for sure that the bad goal he allowed in Game 6 would cost them the series. He needs to eliminate any bad goals from being scored on him tonight and come up with some big saves.
  • Oduya/Hjalmarsson. When this pairing plays well, the Hawks generally win. Now that Quenneville reunited these two as well as Keith and Seabrook, the defense has played a lot better. I am confident that Keith and Seabrook will be big again tonight, but Oduya and Hjalmarsson will be key. If they can shut down the Wings forwards, I like the Blackhawks’ chances.
  • Home ice. I honestly believe that playing on their home ice will be a huge plus for the 169490335_slideHawks. They have played their best games this postseason at home, and in this series in particular. Detroit has looked like a completely different team on the road in this series (despite Game 2). The United Center will be deafening tonight, which the Blackhawks have stated they will feed off of.

I don’t think that tonight will be like Games 1 and 5 in which the Hawks dominated on home ice, but I do believe they will be the better team tonight. Jonathan Toews has been a different player over the last 2 games, and if he steps up in a big way tonight like he did 2 years ago in Game 7 against Vancouver, the Wings will be in trouble.

If you are unsure how to handle a Game 7, you’re not alone. Here’s some tips:

-Watch the game where you feel most comfortable, whether that’s at home, in a bar, or even at the game. Watch it where you aren’t afraid to act like a 4 year old, make loud noises, or voice some profanity.

-If you’re like me, you’ll get so nervous to where you can’t eat for hours before or after the game. Don’t freak out, it’s normal.

-Have something to help you through the game. I like chewing sunflower seeds just to help my nerves. You may choose something else, but do something to help you along.

-DO NOT watch the game with anyone who isn’t a diehard fan. There is nothing worse than watching a big game with someone who wants to talk the whole time or focus on other things.

Puck drops in 5 hours. I hope we all make it through this night with out too much difficulty. Just remember, you’re not the only one who will be freaking out the whole game. All of Chicago and Detroit will be as well.

Go Hawks!

Red Wings put Blackhawks on the brink of elimination

169382078_slideWell, what seemed like a season from a dream has turned into a nightmare for the Blackhawks. The President’s Trophy winners are now just one more loss away from being eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals. Most people were expecting this team to at least make the Stanley Cup Finals, if not win the whole thing. Now, the Hawks could be on the wrong side of one of the biggest upsets in NHL postseason history.

After running over the Wings in Game 1 of this series, the Blackhawks have lost 3 straight for the first time all season. Also for the first time this season, the Blackhawks were shutout in Game 4 by a score of 2-0. This is not the best time for them to be running into a string of “firsts.” In these last 3 losses to the Red Wings, the Blackhawks have looked tired, frustrated, bad, and even really good at times. Most of all, they haven’t been able to score.

After ending the season as the highest scoring team in the West, the Blackhawks have scored just 2 goals in their last 3 games. Considering it is the playoffs, that is unacceptable. What’s also unacceptable is their power play, or lack there of. The Blackhawks have had 25 power plays this postseason, and they have only scored on 3 of them. In Game 4 against Detroit, the Blackhawks were given three power plays and only managed to get a combined one shot on goal. One of those power plays came with about 5 minutes left in regulation with the Wings leading 1-0, and the Hawks failed to register a shot. Those power play numbers are flat out embarrassing and a disgrace, which leads me to my next topic.

While the Hawks are not yet technically eliminated from the playoffs, they don’t stand a very good chance of advancing past this round. Stan Bowman said at the trade deadline that he felt confident in the “group” (meaning the Blackhawks) and that no big duncan-keithchanges/trades were needed to help their chances in the postseason. I, along with many other Hawks fans, felt that Bowman was entirely wrong and couldn’t be further from the truth. Watching this team during the regular season, it was clear that they needed a true number 2 center and possibly even a bigger, more physical winger or two. So what did Bowman do? He traded for Michal Handzus who was a regular healthy scratch for the San Jose Sharks. His reasoning? Handzus was good at faceoffs.

If you look at the Blackhawks’ biggest weaknesses in this series against Detroit, their inability to win faceoffs might be their most glaring one (aside from the power play). For the playoffs, the Blackhawks have won 48 percent of their draws, which is not good. Michal Handzus, Stan Bowman’s “big” acquisition at the deadline, has won 46 percent of his faceoffs. If he isn’t winning faceoffs, Handzus is a worthless player who can’t skate, has no offensive ability, and refuses to use his 6’5″ frame to his advantage. Basically, he should be benched. My point here is that for the past 3 seasons, Stan Bowman has stated at the trade deadline that he “likes the team the way it is” and that no upgrades via trades are needed. How has that philosophy worked out for you Stan? Take a good look at Pittsburgh, Boston, or even L.A. (all 3 of which are poised to advance to the next round). All three teams addressed their needs at the trade deadline by making bold moves to acquire players such as Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Jaromir Jagr, and Robyn Regehr, and each move has paid off. If the Blackhawks do not advance to the next round, or even the Stanley Cup, then someone needs to really evaluate Bowman and his position within the organization.

Another thing to look for if the Hawks don’t advance is changes to the coaching staff. The Blackhawks’ power play, as I already stated, is pathetic. There is WAY too much talent on this team for their PP to be so bad. While some of the blame obviously belongs to the players, I believe a lot of it should fall on the coaching. Not once have I seen the Blackhawks try using a different power play system to get things rolling. They constantly try skating the puck into the offensive zone where they then have it stripped at the blue line. Can’t Quenneville or Jamie Kompon (their power play coach) look at video of the Penguins, Sharks, or even the team they’re playing right now, the Wings, and see how these other teams are being successful? Maybe they are, but it sure as heck doesn’t appear so. The bottom line is this. Jamie Kompon has not done the job that he was hired by Quenneville to do: make the power play better. Kompon was highly criticized in L.A. the last few seasons for this same reason before he was eventually let go. Still, Quenneville chose to replace Mike Haviland with him, and therefore Quenneville should be questioned as well.

With the way things are going right now, all signs are indicating that the Blackhawks will not advance past this round. If that comes true, then the organization as whole needs to be reevaluated and the proper changes need to be made. Whether it is the players, management, and/or coaching staff, someone is not doing their job. This team is good, but could have been made better. This team also has a ton of talent, but it isn’t all being utilized by the coaching. While I still believe that it is entirely possible for the Hawks to win Game 5 on home ice, I am not too confident that they will win 3 in a row against a very good Detroit team.

If this team doesn’t advance, pay close attention in the following weeks to any changes that will be made.

Blackhawks beat Wings in a shootout

163018073_slideToday’s game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings was as close to a playoff game as you will find during the regular season. Quick-paced and physical play, incredible goaltending, and low scoring. That is the best way to describe the playoffs, and that is exactly how today’s game was played.

If the Detroit-Chicago rivalry wasn’t a good enough reason for the Red Wings to want to win this game, then the fact that the Hawks hadn’t lost in regulation yet this season should have done the trick. Based on the way the Wings played, you could tell they wanted this one badly.

The fist period was pretty much dominated by the Blackhawks. Much of the period was spent in the Detroit end as the Hawks peppered Jimmy Howard with 9 shots on goal. Howard stopped all 9 and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. Detroit was able to get off just 3 shots through the first 20 minutes of action, and like Howard, Corey Crawford had an answer for all 3.

163012908_slideThe second period was a much more intense period than its predecessor. Both teams were putting a ton of pressure on each other at both ends of the ice and generated multiple Grade-A scoring chances. Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford, however, played like brick walls and came up with huge save after huge save. It almost seemed as though they had a personal battle going between one another to see who could come up with the biggest, best saves. After two periods, the game remained scoreless, but the shot totals grew to 21-18 in favor of the Hawks.

The third period was filled with just as much intensity as the second. Just 2:43 into the third, Tomas Tatar beat Crawford with a one-timer that was setup beautifully by Joakim Andersson from behind the net. It was at this time that it appeared as though the Hawks’ streak may be coming to an end.

As the third period moved along, both sides continued to get decent scoring chances, but both goalies kept on making the big saves. There must have been more highlight-reel saves in this game than every game from Saturday night (9 games) combined.

Then with 2:25 remaining in the third, Jonathan Ericsson was given a 2-minute delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass from inside the Wings’ defensive zone. On the ensuing Blackhawks’ powerplay, after Patrick Sharp’s slap shot from the point was blocked in front of the net, the puck dropped to the ice and Viktor Stalberg was able to backhand a pass to Patrick Kane. Kane, all in one motion, caught the pass and let go of a wicked wrister that beat Jimmy Howard over his left shoulder to tie the game. Stalberg’s pass was a thing of beauty and couldn’t have been more perfectly placed. After Kane’s goal, there was just 2:02 remaining on the clock.

In the dying moments of the game, Johan Franzen backhanded a shot that beat Corey Crawford and hit off the post. That would have been an incredible turnaround in the game had that puck gone in. Then with 1:23 left in the game, Niklas Kronwall was hit with a delay of game penalty for also shooting the puck out of play from his own defensive zone.

The Wings would keep the Hawks from scoring in regulation and the game headed to overtime.

In overtime, Detroit killed off the rest of Kronwall’s penalty to put both teams at even strength. As was the case throughout all of regulation, each goalie (Crawford especially) came up with some big time saves to keep their teams alive. No goals would be scored and a shootout was on the way.

After Datsyuk, Toews, and Brunner were all denied on their shootout attempts (three of the best players in the NHL at shootouts), Patrick Kane pulled out another incredible move from his bag of tricks to beat Howard and put the Hawks in front.

Henrik Zetterberg was Detroit’s last hope to extend the shootout, and Corey Crawford denied his attempt to win the game for the Blackhawks.

This was by far one of the best regular season games I have seen in recent years. A couple of the Hawks’ other top regular season games that I can remember off hand both involved the Red Wings and Joe Louis Arena (all three were ironically on NBC and day games).

If there was ever a game that the Hawks were going to lose to end their incredible points streak, this was it. Detroit gave them all they could handle. Corey Crawford played possibly his best game ever today and personally won them the game. Yes, Kane came up with the big 2 goals, but Crawford made a countless number of major saves on great scoring chances from Detroit.

The Blackhawks are playing with a never-die attitude this year. Regardless of any adversity that they have faced, the Hawks have overcome it and found a way to get at least one point. Today was a perfect example of this. They found themselves trailing late in the game in a hostile environment and could have easily crawled up into a ball and let the Wings walk all over them. But they didn’t. They shook off Tatar’s goal and never gave up.

I said in my last blog that if the Hawks were to lose any of their upcoming games, this one would have been it. Now that they have avoided doing just that, I give up on trying to predict when they’ll lose. If they take a night off and don’t give everything they’ve got, that is when they will lose. Every team they play is going to bring their best effort to try and end this streak, so the Hawks need to be on their toes night in and night out.

My three stars of today’s game for the Blackhawks would have to be 1) Corey Crawford 2) Patrick Kane 3) Brandon Saad. Saad had 5 shots on goal.

Side notes: This was Marian Hossa’s 1,000th career game……….The Blackhawks’ streak of not losing in regulation is now up to  28 games dating back to last season.

 

Ryan Suter to the Blackhawks?

I’ve been wondering about the possibility of this happening ever since the beginning of this season. Could Ryan Suter really sign with the Blackhawks this summer?

Believe it or not, there is a chance that the unrestricted free agent could be a Hawk next season. After reading up on this topic online multiple times, and watching NHL analysts on TV talk about where Suter might land, here is what I have learned about the Hawks’ possibility of signing him:

  • One of the big factors that will play into Suter’s decision as to where he will sign this summer is his family. He wants to play for an NHL team that is close to his hometown of Madison, WI, so that he can be near his family. Well, guess what? The closest NHL arena to Madison is located on West Madison Street in Chicago (irony?).
  • His uncle, Gary Suter, spent a number of seasons with the Blackhawks and still has a good relationship with the team. Ryan Suter grew up a Hawks fan because of this as well.
  • The Blackhawks have a solid, core group of young players (that have already won a Cup), which is appealing to any free agent. With the addition of Suter, they would have 3 defenseman who could be considered a number 1 defenseman on most teams. While this might seem like a turnoff to a star player like Suter who most likely wants to be “the guy” wherever he goes, it could also increase his desire to come to Chicago. His minutes would be slightly decreased, but that would help to prolong his career. The amount of pressure on Suter to perform at a Norris Trophy-type level would be reduced as well. Also, with 3 top defenseman of Keith, Seabrook, and Suter, the Hawks would instantly become a better team.
  • Suter will be demanding a large amount of money with his new contract. Most likely, he’ll end up getting anywhere from 6-8 million wherever he signs. A lot of teams have the money to sign him, but only a couple of them are on his “list.” If Nicklas Lidstrom decides to hang up the skates this summer, Detroit will be looking to fill his place with a top end defenseman. Were this to happen, the Wings would have that much more money to go out and spend since they would no longer have Lidstrom’s contract. They could spend it on Suter, or they can use it to resign key players such as Datsyuk, Franzen, and Zetterberg in the future. That’s a tough decision for them to have to make. As for the Hawks, if they do not resign Oduya and decide to trade away someone like Bolland or Hjalmarsson, they would have more than enough money to sign Suter.

It definitely seems possible that Ryan Suter could be calling Chicago his new home come training camp. While I still wouldn’t give it the best odds, this is something that Blackhawks fans should pay attention to. The Hawks have a lot of decisions to make this off-season. Will they trade some key players to free up cap space, which they would then use on free agents? Will they stay put and try to get better by developing their prospects? These are questions that only time will answer. Hopefully, time will provide us with an answer that pleases us all. But that’s a lot to ask for, right?