Thanks to DanGNR for this week's topic. I'm doped up on meds right now, so please, if this doesn't make any sense, find me something to kill this cold that won't turn me into a slobbering idiot.
It's an annual off-season occurrence. Some guys go, either through trade or being a UFA, and new guys arrive to take their place. All the moves are done (we assume) with the assurance that they're best for the team - even when the Blues average about 3 moves an off-season. Not everyone's thrilled with who we let walk, and not everyone's thrilled with who we re-sign (see: Winchester, Brad), but there's a special attention paid to the newcomers.
With the Blues introducing Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis community on September 9th, everyone knows who the celebrated free-agent acquisition is of the off-season. It's nice to know that we now have something close to a franchise goaltender for the first time in fifteen years or more. There's not too much gnashing of teeth going on in the Halak department, nor is there much going on with our other off-season pick-ups. None of them came from teams that we dislike. Yes, some might have an issue with the Habs thanks to a fear of little people, and others might dislike the Bruins thanks to that damn Bobby Orr, but there's not a sense of rivalry or contempt there. There's no irrational hatred of the players coming from those teams.
The players that Blues' fans focus the contempt on are the ones who arrive from Chicago and Detroit. We have a knack for getting the Red Wings' old goaltenders - some work out well like Ty Conklin has. Some, well, are Chris Osgood. Others fall over Sarah Palin's carpet and single handedly ruin the first half of a season like the super evil Red Wings secret agents we suspect them of being. The question here is, do we dislike them based on where they came from, or do we base our dislike on what they did (or didn't do) while wearing the note?
Imagine being a Leafs fan, and you get Halak. Do you laugh at stealing him away from Montreal? Or do you bitch about getting a player from a rival? How difficult is it to put aside that mindset of "they played for _____, so they suck"? The Thrashers have acquired several players from the Blackhawks this off-season that I have to train myself to tolerate. It might be do-able with Byfuglien, Ladd, and Sopel, but I absolutely can't stand Ben Eager and probably won't ever get to where I can be ok with him on the team. Is that based on him being a former Blackhawk, or is that because I just don't like him as a player? Probably the latter (I think he's useless), but the former comes in to play as well. Chris Chelios is probably one of the greatest defensemen the Mesozoic Era has ever seen, but he played for two teams that I hate, so by proxy I still hated him when he was in ATL.
It works two ways, though - we didn't start to hate Brett Hull or Brendan Shanahan when they went to the Wings, did we? We hated the team, but not the player. Why is that so hard to shake the other way around? And, finally, is there anyone that the Blues could acquire from the Wings or Hawks (or other team that you dislike) that you would be ok with? How do you justify that? No poll this week because I've asked too many obnoxious questions, but that's why God invented SB Nation's superior commenting system.