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Wednesday, 09 April 2014 16:30

No Hollywood ending in Broncos’ 2013-14 script

Written by  Brad Brown, A Bard’s Eye View
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If only the Swift Current Broncos had stuck to the script ...


Head coach and general manager Mark Lamb called his team’s first-round playoff loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers a big-time disappointment. And, as is often the case, he was absolutely right.
They were supposed to be young (they were) and exciting (they were) ... but the emphasis was on young.
They were supposed to embody the start of a multi-year building process. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, etc., etc.
At the start of the 2013-14 WHL season, Lamb probably would have said just making the playoffs would be good enough (despite having the good fortune to play in one of the weakest divisions in Canadian major junior hockey).
Then they went and won five of seven to start the year, followed by a nine-game winning streak from Oct. 26-Nov. 13.
By the 32-game mark, the Broncos were the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference.
It wasn’t exactly a small sample size either. The Broncos weren’t merely young and exciting. They were good too. Really good.
So they became buyers, spending a roster player, two prospects and up to four draft picks to acquire Stephen Shmoorkoff, Nathan Burns and Geordie Maguire.
And after a protracted period of uncertainty the Broncos sent expectations sky high by winning nine of their last 11 games heading into the playoffs.
There should have been no illusions of being among the league’s elite. They went 0-for-5 on their October trip to the States, and won 10 of 28 games from Dec. 10-Feb. 21. Even in the final weeks of the season many of the teams they beat finished outside the playoff picture.
But the promise — implied as it was — had changed: None of this “just make the playoffs” talk, the Broncos were committed to making a run.
That’s what made the six-game loss to the Tigers so hard to swallow.
Had they managed to pull out the win, they would have faced a very tough but still winnable series with the Kootenay Ice before likely falling to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the conference finals.
That would have justified everything.
Instead it all culminated in a big letdown. Not like in Calgary or Red Deer or Lethbridge or Seinfeld or Entourage or Dexter, but a letdown nonetheless.
And, with six NHL draft picks likely to be on the roster in the fall, avoiding a repeat performance in 2014-15 will be the only acceptable option.
The board didn’t approve Lamb’s rebuilding plan simply to see a repeat of his predecessor’s results, and Lamb himself will be coaching for a new contract — whether that’s in Swift Current or back in the pros.
Whether the Broncos can actually fulfill the promise Lamb hoped they would achieve is another question altogether.
But at least there won’t be any question about their intentions.
Cut. Take 2 ...
It’s been great to call Swift Current home for the past four years and we’re going to miss it a lot. You can still follow me on Twitter @saskawhat for my thoughts on the Riders, the WHL and other occasional inappropriateness, just don’t follow me anywhere else because that’s kind of creepy. Stay cool, like the snowman.

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