Can Prospal rebound?
Vinny Prospal has a point. He did play a lot better in the second half of the season than the first. He had just four goals and 22 points through the first 41 games. He ended with 14 and 55. He also had a pretty good playoff against the Devils with a goal and five points (and a plus-2) in six games . But his minus-24 rating in the regular season was tied for 11th worst in the league and considering he played almost the entire season with Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, his struggles were a bit mysterious.
And on a team that relied way too much on Lecavalier and St. Louis, Prospal's offensive problems exacerbated the situation.
Prospal, who is already skating at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, took some time to talk about how it was tough for him to get rid of the memories of last season, so much so that he began working out for the 2007-08 season almost after last season ended. There will be a lot more in Wednesday's paper, but here are a few highlights:
Prospal said he and wife Monika and son Vaclav, 7, vacationed on Marco Island after the Devils series. Instead of lying on the beach all day, he hit the workout room. As soon as he got back to his native Czech Republic, he got with workout partner Radek Dvorak of the Panthers.
While all the working out is great, Prospal may have hit on the key to his mini-turnaround last season, that he became more responsible defensively and, as a result, started getting a few bounces.
Prospal also is entering a contract season.
So the question is, will Prospal, in better shape, with a finely tuned focus, and with his next contract on the line, get back to being the player who had 60 points in 2005-06? I say he comes on strong. Money aside, there's a lot to be said for an athlete who feels a bit as if his reputation as a player took a hit, and it's not like his skills dropped from one year to the next.
And just think of the havoc Lecavalier's line will cause with Prospal making the contributions of which we know he is capable. In that case, perhaps coach John Tortorella's stated plan to simply outscore opponents this season (that is, rely on the offense to carry the team forward) has a chance after all.
"I changed the way I get ready for the year,'' Prospal said. "I usually take four to six weeks off. This year I took four days.''
(Times photo -- Dirk Shadd, click to enlarge)