More Than Enough Blame To Go Around

By Tom Hanson
Copyright © 2005 Naples Daily News

ESTERO, Fla. — Here come the theories for the Florida Everblades demise.

With the Everblades falling 2-1 Sunday night to the Trenton Titans in Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals, there were more excuses than fans at Germain Arena.

As the Blades squandered home-ice advantage and now trail 0-2 for the second straight year in the finals, the countless reasons and theories for this debacle may just result in a Pentagon investigation.

So for all of you conspiracy theorists, here’s who and what to blame for the Everblades’ unfortunate misfortunes:

Blame it on the eight days between winning the American Conference Finals and the start of the Kelly Cup. Obviously, the Blades would have been better off either losing Game 6 of the ACF to Charlotte or having to travel to Alaska for Game 1 of the Kelly Cup on only one day’s notice. Last year, Florida had a long layoff before playing Idaho and the results are awfully — emphasizing awfully — similar.

Blame it on the Gingher Trophy Jinx.

Remember Matt Pagnutti skated off the ice with it after Florida beat Charlotte to clinch the ACF title. Legend has it you’re not supposed to touch that trophy because that’s not the ultimate goal.

Blame it on the pressure. After earning their second straight berth in the Kelly Cup Finals, the Blades were everybody’s favorite to win it all. Pressure isn’t something you can prepare for, it’s something you have to overcome.

Blame it on the championship bunting put up around Germain Arena. The red, white and blue decorations were closer to the Titans’ colors. Trenton certainly felt at home the last two nights.

Blame it on the roster moves. Maybe, forward Matt Hendricks should have remained inactive. Sure, he was an all-star during the regular season. But the Blades were doing just fine without him. They certainly had a winning chemistry heading into the Finals.

Blame it on head coach Gerry Fleming. He’s done a great job of getting Florida to the championship for the second straight year. But Marv Levy took the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls and never hoisted a trophy. Some coaches know how to win championships. Trenton coach Mike Haviland happens to have an ECHL title to his credit.

Blame it on the new Star Wars pregame introduction. Obviously, the force hasn’t been with the Everblades.

Blame it on Trenton’s goalie, Andrew Allen. There should be a maximum height requirement to be a goalie. There should be a measuring stick like at the amusement park. Can’t be any taller than Craig Brush. At 6-foot-4, Allen has dominated like Shaquille O’Neal on the ice.

Blame it on all of the fair-weather fans who didn’t show up for Game 2. There were plenty of empty seats Sunday night. People must have stayed home to catch the season finale of Desperate Housewives, which proved to have more cliffhangers than this series.

Blame it on Brush, the team president, for giving an award to Brandon Coalter. First, there’s something creepy about giving someone an honor that is named after him and he’s still alive. Second, what’s up with giving out an individual award? Wasn’t the motto of the Everblades’ playoff run “We’re All In?” So why single someone out now?

Blame it on the fact that Coalter isn’t in the lineup. If he’s that much of a team player maybe it’s time to see if he can add a spark.

Blame it on the hot dogs at Germain. They certainly caused as much indigestion as the Everblades’ Game 1 performance.

Blame it on Trenton. Maybe it’s as simple as the Titans are the better team. And while we’re at it, maybe the National Conference was much more superior than the American Conference.

Blame it on bad karma. The hockey gods don’t want another Florida team to win a hockey championship. Look at what happened when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup last year. The NHL canceled its next season.

But before we really go off on a tangent and begin to blame it on Rio or the rain, there’s only one thing to blame for this disastrous start of the Kelly Cup Finals.

Blame it on the Everblades.

“If you’re going to point any fingers you have to point them at us,” Hendricks said. “The only one to blame right now is us.”

So much for the conspiracy theories.