Now, granted, this is far from the worst you will see from Burnside. His distaste for all things New Jersey Devils is muted, but present. Standard issue Burnside article, really. Hardly worth a second look, and only click through on the link if you are hungry for some half-baked analysis.
The important thing to take away from this article is that our boy, Scotty, has picked the Devils to miss the playoffs this year (unsurprisingly). This all but assures the Devils will return to postseason hockey this year. Why, you ask? Let's take a look.
Before last year, Burnside more or less perennially stated how it was finally going to be the Devils year to miss out on the post season. First round flop, post-lockout failures, Lou is out of touch; we all knew the song and dance. It was becoming an cherished autumn tradition, not unlike Thanksgiving or Rick DiPietro shattering all of his bones in a tragic pillow fight accident. Each year, the prediction of the Devils demise proved to be incorrect as the Devils would cruise back into the postseason for the umpteenth consecutive season. Then, last year, he pulled the rug out from under us.
Following the Summer of Kovy, he predicted the Devils would finish somewhat comfortably within the playoff picture. We were all naive to ignore this red flag. Foolishly, I fell into the trap like everyone else. "Wow. The Devils are so good, even Burnside thinks they will make the playoffs," I told myself. A miscalculation to say the least. This excitement was met with a start to the 2010-2011 season I know we'd all like to purge from our memories.
The Devils, by pretty much any measure, were the worst team in hockey through the first half of the season. An unmitigated disaster. They were blown out with regularity and were, to put it nicely, tough to watch. So bad, it prompted ILWT manager John Fischer to write an article basically outlining just how unbearable it was to watch the team play early last season. The mood was somber here in Devil-land. But soon, hope emerged from the ether.
Many would point to Jacques Lemaire's return as the turning point. Perhaps, but perhaps not. That move prompted the article we all can remember with a fair bit of clarity. You know the one. The one where our friend Scott explained how Lou simultaneously fired John MacLean too soon and not soon enough. The one where the Devils apparently completed their "Circle of Shame" by bringing in a steady and familiar hand (Lemaire) to right an obviously sinking ship. The nerve of the Devils, bringing in a coach with a winning track record and a history with the club. THEIR HUBRIS KNEW NO BOUNDS.
You could feel the hate drenching every word. This wasn't a national columnist for the largest sports outlet in the world; it was more like a fan kicking a fan of a rival team while they were down. You could sense how much he was enjoying the demise of Lou and the Devils. The article was so wretched, it prompted our fearless leader, John, to break character and write this dead-on FJM-style takedown of it. With Scotty clearly off the bandwagon and enjoying every minute of it, order was restored in the universe.The Devils took off shortly after and approached what would have been, by far, the most incredible comeback in league history. Alas, they fell short (likely due to the presence of some faint praise from Mr. Burnside), but it demonstrated an important pattern.
It appears that karmic forces in this universe demand that the Devils do precisely the opposite of whatever the Devils Army's favorite writer thinks they will do. Scotty thinks the Devils aren't postseason material this year, so call your bookie and bet the farm on the Devils making the playoffs. You'll thank me later.