One of the common themes in the griping about the Minnesota Wild by its fans as well as league cognoscenti over the last few years is that, in addition to a sub-par product at the NHL level, the developmental cupboard was dangerously bare.
So, it's hard to reconcile that theory against the Houston Aeros' run to the AHL's Calder Cup Finals this season.
I mean, if the kids actually are alright, then what, exactly, are we worried about?
Then again, maybe not.
And that's really the thing. According to aeros.com, the average age of the players on the roster is roughly 25. So, young kids. That and the intangibles that go into operating as a team - the ability of the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts - in all sports but especially in hockey. Together those things mean that sometimes what's on paper, and even as a result of rational, informed analysis fails in the face of actual output.
And that's okay.
Analysts analyze. Operators operate. There aren't that many Jack Ryans who can do both.
So, to the extent that we need people analyzing and prognosticating whose function is a separate function from those who would actually carry out the tasks being analyzed (and we do, I'm not running an anti-media campaign here) I think the analysts can continue to ply their trade - even, maybe especially, when they're wrong.
Because this is just different shades of the same entertainment color, right? Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't provide some service to society. No, with hair like that he's there for entertainment. To further our society's need to live vicariously through sports. Nothing wrong with it. But nothing wrong - from an entertainment value - with being wrong either.
So maybe the Wild has a better crop of young players than we thought. Certainly, there's a chance that some of them will be better for this run alone. Does that make the casual Wild fan feel better about the future? Who knows. But if it gives the casual Wild fan some little extra nugget of entertainment, then it's all good.