These are indeed trying times for the Guelph Storm and its fans.
This is technically the second year of a rebuild, one that was supposed to bring hope, promise and a playoff spot.
But the thought of making the playoffs is quickly waning. Heading into Friday's action they sit 11 points back of the Flint Firebirds for that final spot. That's a lot of ground to make up for a team playing as poorly as the Storm is right now, and as inconsistently as they have all season.
Only twice have they been able to win two or more consecutive games. There will be no playoffs.
There is hope for the future. There are several players on this team that have the potential to be the core of a future contender. True talent. Stars in the making. But are there enough of them?
But the fact is this team was supposed to be better than this.
Where did it all go wrong? What has caused what appears to be a step sideways to the point the three year rebuild after 2014 became a four year rebuild, if they're lucky.
It starts with that 2014 team, and an ability to translate players left over from that team into meaningful pieces of the rebuild.
From that 2014 team the return the next two years were Givani Smith, CJ Garcia and a handful of draft picks.
Robby Fabbri was held on too long (granted, that's hindsight), Justin Nichols should have been dealt when his value was highest and the not trading of Tyler Bertuzzi and Jason Dickinson for three players and five picks remains the biggest mistake this organization has ever made. Right up there with drafting Matt Puntureri in the first round and not trading Ryan Parent his final year.
Not all of the Storm's situation is their own doing.
Their future number one centre, Cam Hillis, said he would report and the Storm drafted him in the second round. The family changed its mind and the Storm got screwed.
Part of that is due to a very strong Western Conference. It is ridiculously strong this year.
Other players have not developed the way the team anticipated. Is that bad luck, bad fortune or bad drafting?
Guelph has already matched its point total for last season (32) with 27 games remaining. So to say there has been no improvement would be wrong.
But there was supposed to be more improvement.
As with all losing teams, there is squabbling, some finger pointing and blaming. That happens every time. I never met a happy losing team.
The question is how does the ship get righted to the point that it is a top four team next season, which is where it should be in 2017-18.
Because right now i'm not sure it will be.