That Must've Killed HF Management
Hockey's Future finally released their first organizational rankings for the year. Ordinarilly finishing 27th out of 30 teams would be a cause for concern, but given Hockey's Future's history of blindly ranking the Lightning dead last out of bias (their Online Editor is a Thrashers fan with an agenda) without doing a lick of research and then regurgitating the same organizational strengths and weaknesses Chad and I wrote when we were at HF some 3-4 years ago, finishing 27th might as well be 17th.
That's why it's hard, from my perspective, to see rankings like these and not crack a big smirk.
A year ago Hockey's Future refused to even assign a full time writer to cover the Lightning and had Nick Tarnasky rated 19th in their rankings and Karri Ramo and Vasily Koshechkin not in their top-20 at all. Even as recently as this offseason one of Hockey's Future's inner circle, veteran writer George Bachul, went onto their message boards to proclaim that there were garbage cans full of "trash" like Blair Jones and Justin Keller and that Lightning fans' insistence that their late round prospects be judged on merit and not merely draft position was foolish and that "there have been no impact 8th round picks in the last decade in the NHL." (As an aside, when Ryan Craig scored his 20th or so goal this season, I hope Bachul feels the appropriate level of shame and humiliation he ought to feel for making those kinds of comments, to say nothing of Blair Jones' point a game pace in the AHL thus far this season.)
So what changed between then and now? What compelled Hockey's Future to clean up their act and assign a quality writer like Phil Laugher (who was the one member of HF's staff who had the integrity to call out their old rankings for the misguided garbage that they were) to the Lightning full time? To finally spend the time and energy necessary to research a decent set of rankings? To finally let the Lightning out of the cellar of their organizational rankings after years of essentially spitting on the Lightning and in the Lightning's fans' faces?
I don't think we can take all the credit, but I do think a little website named BoltProspects.com might've had something to do with it, and that makes me smile.
See, a little not-so-friendly competition never hurts.