Monday, September 17, 2007

Jan Bulis We Hardly Knew Ye

This is my farewell post to Jan Bulis. It was actually one of the items in the "random thoughts" post before this one, but it ran a little long so I decided to make it its own post.

Well anyways, as was expected, Jan Bulis is now officialy gone. He signed with a Russian team for about the same ammount he was getting with the Canucks last year. You may not have heard about this because it was hardly mentioned even among the Canucks blogs, and the only official article relating to his deparutre was from a Russian website (and thus written in Russian...I don't exactly know what people were trying to accomplish by linking to it).

Count me among the people who are actually sad he's gone. I actually bought the story he told in that Province article, the one about him calling his dad for advice after making his trade demand and his dad basically telling him, "It's not them, it's you", with that being the reason he straightened up. Bulis's whole problem, as many have pointed out, was that he wanted to be more than he is. He had the ability to be a very solid defensive player, but he wanted to put up big numbers, so instead of playing like a very good 2-way forward he ended up playing like a very bad scorer for most of his career. During the second half of last season, after the whole trade demand episode and the call to his dad, though, he surprised pretty much everyone by turning things around. He didn't put up big points, but he played good, effective two-way hockey, earning the praise of the same people in the media who were his biggest detractors two months before.

I actually think we saw a fundamental change in Bulis'mindset in those last few months. It looked like he was done trying to be a scorer and had instead decided to accept the role given to him and contribute that way. One other quote that stuck out at me from that same article was Bulis saying that he used to actually want to play for a bad team, so that he'd get more ice time and have a better chance at putting up points, but by the end of the season he didn't really think that way anymore. Maybe I haven't yet grown jaded enough about the questionable pronouncements of hockey players, but that actually rang true for me. Besides, I don't think a player would actually admit to something like that if he hadn't made a serious commitment to change his ways.

I think it's pretty true that in life people almost never change. If someone was lazy 20 years ago, they're probably still lazy. If someone was an ass 20 years ago, they're probably still an ass. It's pretty rare to see someone actually make a fundamental change to how they approach any aspect of their life, and even more rare to see them actually stick with this change in the long term. That's why I would have really wanted to see Jan Bulis in a Canuck (or failing that any NHL) uniform this year, to see wether he'd be able to keep up the same kind of play for the entire year or if he'd go back to being the old Jan Bulis.

It may be worth mentioning at this point that, as far as I know, most European contracts do have an out clause if the player wants to go back to the NHL, and Nonis has said that if his other moves don't pan out before the season starts, bringing back Bulis is still an option. So maybe all is not lost. Here's hoping.

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