There's a series of books (dear lord stick with me I PROMISE this gets to the Wild) by author Terry Goodkind called the "Sword of Truth" series. It follows a trio of characters through their magical world, saving it (or trying to) from this evil or that. In the first book we are introduced to (drumroll....) the Wizard's First Rule, which is also the title of the book.
On a side note, if you like fantasy novels and don't mind some R-rated material, I highly recommend this book. The series drags a bit, but each of them that I've read are great. Anyways, back to the point...
What is the rule? Simple:
People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true.
This is the statement of one of the three main characters: Zed. We, as Wild fans, are in danger of falling victim to this rule. Chris Stewart came to the team to
a great heralding a reaction of some kind. To classify it as "lukewarm" would be like calling the relations between East and West Germany "tense during the 1950s."
Since then, as we discussed on the most recent podcast, Stewart has played rather well. Granted, he sits second-to-last in Points/60 at 5v5 (ahead only of Erik Haula). In terms of driving possession however, I doubt anyone expected this (just a reminder that Stewart's numbers were not good in Buffalo, and by all measures he was not helping them, but rather was a sub-par player on their team). According to War on Ice, Stewart sits in second place in terms of Scoring-Chances-For (SCF) % (behind Jordan Schroeder), and leads the team in SCF%Relative. Stewart and Shredder retain those exact positions in both Corsi and Fenwick as well.
In other words, Stewart has gone from a pretty-bad possession players with ok point production to a first-line possession player with ok point production. Great trade from Fletch, right???
Not so fast. As exciting as it is to think that Fletch hosed Buffalo out of one of their diamonds in the oh-so-rough, this is not the case of a young player developing and suddenly finding their game. Narnia is 27 years old; nearing the end (if not past it) of forwards' primes, and starting to heads towards decline.
In other words, Stewart has played multiple season in this league, and none of them have been stellar form a puck-possession point of view. His production has been ok from time to time, but never his possession numbers. His not-very-short history in the league indicates that Stewart's recent play is most likely a flash in the pan (possibly exactly what Fletcher was hoping for).
Yet, despite Stewart's history, Wild fans are beginning to crown Stewart as a new prince of the game due to a number of strong performances since joining Minnesota. We are, as a fancies, falling victim to the Wizard's First Rule and are believing Stewart to be a great addition simply because we want to believe it.
I don't mean to say Stewart hasn't played well, but to think that this is a "new player" who has "reinvented himself" or "finally began trying hard" and is better? Silly. Fletcher looks like a genius so far, because Stewart has found a way to be on the positive side of randomness and variance; exactly as Fletcher (probably) hoped he would.
But we, as a fan-base, need to wait just one more tick before assuming this a shiny new Stewart who is a Corsi Ninja.