(You know I still can't ever hear that name without thinking it's like a country singer or something? Maybe your hair helps, but I think it's just one of those names like Darryl or Garth or Travis that make me think of country and not hockey. Wait...wait...wait, never mind. That's not what this is about. Sorry.)
Anyway, I'm writing because when you left at the turn of 2011, so many Islanders fans were appreciative of all you did for the Isles despite tough circumstances around the team. Many of them are rooting for you and your new team in the playoffs -- even the ones who used to crucify Nate Thompson on a nightly basis!
I mean, sure, you only chose the Isles in 2009 because they were the only team willing to commit two years to a goalie who remembers the first time Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunited, but the point is you never played a single game here that didn't look like you were busting your tail. (That, or you really wanted another team to find you attractive. But whatever, hockey careers are short, goalie jobs scarce.) When you signed, some of us
knew hoped that talent-wise, you were more than just The Old Man and the Crease. Thanks for not making us look stupid.
Regardless of how you got here, I think you'll be happy to hear that the team and all its young pups you left behind, they're doing alright. I mean, they had to go through another five goalies after you left, sure, but other than that, a bunch of those injured players you never got to play with at the same time are now back in the fold. (Mark Streit's still on the recovery path though.)
Those kids who used to ruin your nap with their Call of Duty ruckus, and who would cut you off at the elevator to get Red Bulls while you were trying to make the 4:30 buffet? They're doing fine now. To hear opposing announcers (and coaches) tell it, that's only because they're playing with "no pressure." I suppose that's all a matter of how you look at it, but a lot of them are also playing for contract extensions. You know quite well how that's not exactly pressure-free living, even for players who were in diapers when Nirvana was a touring band and not a hipster's t-shirt.
I guess I'm penning this because I'm drunk.
Wait...no...I guess I'm penning this because most people wanted two things when you signed: Almost two years of solid goaltending and your endearingly no-nonsense interviews, plus another little chip for the rebuild as compensation when you were moved for one last run on a Cup contender that didn't have Marc-Andre Bergeron to stand in your way.
Well, like your term on Long Island, one-and-a-half out of two ain't bad, right? Thanks for Ty Wishart, anyway. So far he's about what one would hope you'd fetch.
As Garth Snow mentioned recently, when he decided to move you and the Wiz and kick-start this season's pre-trade deadline action, the club was about 20 points out of a playoff spot. Now that margin is about 10 points, depending on the day, and while that's too little, too late, it still could be a sign that the team that packaged you with care is starting to figure some things out. They've had one of the best second halves in the league, and they're finally up to over NHL quasi-.500 under Jack Capuano.
If things break right, maybe they'll be in the playoff hunt next year -- fighting you for one of the spots, if your GM overlooks that whole Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young thing.
Meanwhile, you've stabilized the circus in the crease that existed in Tampa before you arrived. Looks that team doesn't need you to carry it -- just to be the ol' reliable, focused netminder Oilers fans remember. You took the long road to the NHL, and you've built an impressive record for an undrafted guy who didn't even get his first shot until age 27. So I guess I can wish you good luck tonight against your former team. You probably need this one more than we do.
More importantly: Save your best for April, May and June. You've got a lot of Isles fans pulling for you.