It’s all your fault…Or is it?

In this weeks article Paul Balm asks is it really all Blaze netminder Brian Stewart’s fault?

Someone once said that there are two things in life are inevitable – death and taxes. Like Gary Barlow’s accountant I think they were wrong. Unlike Gary’s account thought I think there’s one more rather than one less. It seems to me that this season, at least, there is something else that appears to be inevitable and before all the Braehead fans reading this get excited, I’m not talking about you winning the league (that’s next week). No, I’m talking about Coventry’s netminder Brian Stewart having some sort of meltdown on the Capital FM Arena ice.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months let me refresh your memory of his activities from games he’s played in Nottingham.

1st November. Brian gets involved in an altercation behind his net after, as far as I could tell, feeling aggrieved that his glove hand was getting too much attention from his opponent and ends up flat out on the ice following a soft punch from Greg Jacina. He then, along with the rest of the Blaze crumbles as they let three goals in inside two minutes, they lose 3-1 and the “It’s all you fault” chant is born.

31st December. Brian has a monumental meltdown after Jonathan Boxill scores the winner in a 3-2 game and has to be restrained from (at least verbally) assaulting the referee both after the goal was scored and after the game.

16th January. He has a minor meltdown when a goal is scored but also is majorly at fault (although he makes a good attempt to get back into his net) as he appears to be trying to play a defender’s role by trapping Jonathan Boxill and the puck (is there a theme here?) against the boards.

Now all three games led to the Panthersnation (should that always have a hash-mark at the beginning of it?) chanting “It’s all your fault” at him. But is it? In fact, can he really be blamed for any of it?

Well, obviously he can be blamed for some of it – he didn’t have to take a swan dive when Jacina tickled his chin but he can’t be blamed for everything. His team put him in situations where he felt he had to make the decisions that got him in these messes in the first place and it’s this decision making that whilst it might be his fault is probably a large part of why he ended up over here.

There’s usually a reason why players end up in our league and that’s because they have something missing from their game which if they did have it would mean that they’d be playing at a higher level than ours. A far too obvious example of this is David-Alexandre Beauregard. Had he not lost his eye then there would have been little chance, in my mind at least, that we would have seen him on these shores. The skills were undoubtedly still there but his injury meant that teams at the top end of his abilities were a lot less likely to offer him a chance. Sometimes though the reasons are a lot less obvious, maybe it’s a lack of speed, height or stick-handling (or all three, at which point you should probably become an accountant or something). Maybe, I’m looking at you Jade Galbraith, it’s a lack of application. They’ve got the skills, they’ve got the moves but they turn up overweight at the start of the season and never look like they’re that bothered about shedding it.

I appreciate I’m possibly doing players a disservice here and I’m almost certainly being over-simplistic but just apply this, for want of a better word, theory to Brian Stewart. Is he a decent netminder? Yes he is, he made a couple of really good quality saves on Friday night that Kowalski or Modig would have been proud of. Are there flaws to his game? Yes there are, he comes too far out of his net for me (two or three goals on Friday shouldn’t count against his average as he could hardly be classed as being in net) but everyone has flaws in his game. Is it something else then? Again, I have to say yes. You have to question his decision making, should he have gone in the corner after Boxill? Behind the net to argue with Jacina? Definitely not in the first instance and probably not in the second. Are those flaws and that decision making why he’s over here? I would say so yes.

But it gets even more complicated than that because, despite his attempts to get involved in the corners he’s a netminder and we all know that netminders have to be a bit daft don’t they. Would you let someone fire discs of vulcanized rubber at speeds of up to 100 mph at you? No me neither. And for that reason alone I think we have to say that it’s not all Brian Stewart’s fault.

Of course it could be worse, he could be Ryan O’Marra.

Finally, I want to add my condolences to those already extended to the Wilson & Fox families following the death of Brock & Jordan’s grandfather Wink at the weekend. I never met Wink but the love and regard that Brock had for him in was obvious in the interview he gave Jono on the Podcast a couple of weeks ago. It really doesn’t matter what you believe happens when someone you love dies you should just be glad that wherever they are they aren’t suffering anymore. R.I.P. Wink.

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