I've said this on here time and time again, and I think now is as good of a time to emphasize the importance of this concept (which may be quite obvious but please humor me anyway). Hockey is a results-oriented business.
The goal of any team in sports is to succeed, the achieve, to win. A hockey team practices, reviews tape, rests players, pushes players, changes tactics, makes rosters, runs training camps, draft players, issue transactions, and does all this to win hockey games. Even a team in a rebuilding mode (e.g. the Islanders), they are in such a mode to become a winning hockey team in the future.
That's what it's all about. It's why greatness is measured with awards and Stanley Cups and not just points alone. It's why wins are so well regarded among goaltenders - what good is having a 2.20 GAA if you only win 20 games all season?
The role and expectations of a scoring forward, a defensive defenseman, and a goaltender are all different. The forward must be active enough on offense to make plays and take the shots that score goals or generate scoring opportunites where someone can score. The defenseman must be able to be well positioned to force the opposition to not shoot or take bad shots, as well as step up in the play to take possession away from the opposition. The goaltender must stop the shots they see and play the puck accordingly, be it with their stick or their body off a hard shot.
However, the goal for all three of them are the same: To get that all important result - to help their team win. Even if the performance was sloppy and the team was just fortunate, the standings do not care. A dominant win is worth as much as a lucky one. In a way, I think that's getting the win is always a good thing. We worry about those bad performances in wins because they could lead to future losses.
This success is always a team effort. Without the various players helping each other out, success cannot be achieved. The goaltender can't score goals; he can only prevent his team from losing. The defenseman and forward can't stop shots like the goaltender; they can only assist the goaltender and score goals to help them out. And even if a group or one of them has bad night, it truly falls on the team. Sometimes it's absolutely unreasonable to expect a team to cover for which ever part is failing. Yet, the standings and the expectations don't care about whose fault it was - the team lost the game; they didn't achieve the result. The goal was not met.
This thought extends to coaching and organizational decisions. There were two of them today. The first has to do with the Devils. According to Gulitti, Martin Brodeur says he's ready to play for Thursday. Yet, he correctly recognizes that it's not his decision - it's up to the team as to whether they feel "comfortable" with him starting. What that really means is whether Brent Sutter and Lou Lamoriello think Brodeur can help his team right away on Thursday night. His talent and past accolades will help, but that isn't the question right now. Can Brodeur help the Devils beat the Avalanche. If yes, he'll start. If not, they'll ask that question again for Florida on Saturday. Then Philadelphia on March 1. And so on. It's all about the wins here.
The same applies to Our Hated Rivals, the New York Rangers. Blez highlighted that head coach Tom Renney (among others) got fired from the Rangers today. The big story from TSN is that John Tortorella will replace him. Why did they make this move? Yes, it was to stop the team's sluggish pace. Yes, it was to change the philosophy of the team. But the biggest reason, I think, is to literally fire up the roster. Getting rid of Renney and replacing him with a firey coach like Tortorella should result in more accountability in the players. Play well or be benched! Why attempt fire up the roster? To get them to play better and win hockey games. If it works and they make the playoffs, Rangers fans will correctly see this as a good move.
With a trade deadline coming up, stats to be posted everywhere, free agency in the summer, and almost limitless commentary on what a team should do next; consider this basic rule if you're ever wondering if what you're reading is good for your team. Has it, does it, or will it help my favorite team win games? Will this trade make the team play better hockey? Does Dainius Zubrus' CORSI rating mean he has contributed to the team's success? Has Player X accomplished enough to truly warrant their number being retired by the team, and/or go to the Hockey Hall of Fame? I believe all of these questions and more are valid and necessary for a fan to ask.
Even if you don't ask, always remember: Hockey is a results-oriented business.