Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fronts: Mav-ematical Elimination Day comes earlier every season

You can't skate away from yourself ... so often it is the case with the whole durned human comedy which is the Kingston Frontenacs.

Being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, thanks to a 7-2 loss to the John Tavares-led London Knights, was a perfect capper to this hockey weekend. Friday, Kinger reported on CFRC 101.9 that "de facto general manager for life" Larry Mavety is returning next season, citing "multiple sources close to the team." Forty-eight hours later, Justin Taylor, who was once drafted by Kingston but refused to report, tallying five points in the blowout (yes, Kingston was within a goal in the third period, but let's not kid ourselves). Taylor's hat-trick goal came when he snapped the puck in after a between-the-legs pass from Tavares. Taylor even wears the No. 93 once popularized by Kingston coach Doug Gilmour, so someone has a sense of humour.

All in all, as hard as the Kingston kids have competed, today encapsulated the bleakness of the whole situation with Frontenacs owner Doug Springer, who along with Mavety, was never mentioned once on the Rogers Sportsnet telecast in between all the, "JohnTavaresJohnTavaresJohnTavares ... DougGilmourDougGilmourDougGilmour." Springer, as far as anyone knows since Gods do not answer letters or interview requests, remains blinkered to Mavety's unsurpassed incompetence. No amount of gilding the Gilly from the cheerleaders in the press box about the improvement the team has shown under Dougie! or how the players are giving it their all can alter that reality.

Anything said about a particular game must be tempered by the knowledge it was Kingston's third game of the weekend and they were tired.

There is just no getting past knowing a national TV audience saw the whole gamut of what has been the norm in Kingston for the past decade. Running around in their defensive zone (like on the second goal, when the Knights' John Carlson was able to snap one in between the hash marks)? Check. A soft team getting pushed around physically? Check. Undisciplined penalties? Check. A game that was closer than it should have been thanks to good goaltending and an opponent who was fully aware it does not have to play its best to beat the Frontenacs? Check. Out-of-town announcers talking about what a great coach Doug Gilmour is? Check.

The best piece of news, via MisterDB of a Fronts Talk, was that Kingston will go drop its white Count Frontenac jersey next season and wear the much more popular Circle K next season. When the biggest positive of the day involves jerseys, you know it's bad.

The Frontenacs are three points ahead of Sault Ste. Marie in the Daniel Catenacci Derby. They have two games in hand over the Greyhounds, meaning there's a chance they can play their way out of the No. 1 overall choice. Would that not beat all.

Yes, it was only 3-2 in the third period, but that just says there's no staying power. Knights coach Dale Hunter also poured it on a bit, including putting Tavares out on the power play with less than two minutes left in a long-decided game. As a final insult, Tavares high-sticked Mavric Parks in the mask when the Kingston goalie (whose favourite Tragically Hip song should be So Hard Done By) took offence at the goal-grubbing after the final buzzer. It was too late by then, just like it was too late by the time Gilmour took the coaching reins in November after Springer futzed around for a year while Mavety was the permanent interim coach.

It's been said before and it will be said again, if Larry Mavety survives in Kingston, junior hockey won't. C'est la vie.

Thanks to Kinger, Mister DB and Andrew Bucholtz for taking part in the liveblog. Oh, once again, it has been 495 days since Doug Springer said he would do "whatever it takes" to bring a winner to Kingston.

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