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Updated: April 22nd, 2014 4:43pm
Mackey: Mikael Granlund showing us why patience is important

Mackey: Mikael Granlund showing us why patience is important

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

We certainly live in an instant gratification society these days, which I believe to be mostly a positive thing.

Think about our ability to answer questions now compared to 10, 15 years ago. Wondering what the best Chinese restaurant in the Twin Cities is? Just open up Yelp. Which NFL quarterback had the most fourth quarter comebacks in the 90's? Go to Pro-Football-Reference and check the Play Index. Need directions? Don't bother stopping at the gas station to ask. Just map it on your smartphone.

But instant gratification doesn't always translate to sports, even though outliers like Andrew Luck, Lebron James and Mike Trout would have the masses believing otherwise. High draft picks in all sports often still need time to marinate before they put it all together, but if they don't click right away we're likely - collectively - to label them busts.

Mikael Granlund felt the brunt of our instant gratification needs last year. At age 20, he sort of flopped in his NHL debut. Rather than chalking it up to a 20-year-old kid simply not being ready for prime time, a lot of people started asking if he was too soft to be a star in the NHL. Would he be able to grow accustomed to the more physical style of play in the NHL and the smaller ice sheet? Would he be... a bust?

(Queue "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the highlight clip from Granlund's goal in overtime on Monday night...)

Think about how ridiculous that notion was - Granlund being a potential bust after not performing well as a 20-year-old. And it wasn't so much that Granlund underperformed in his first NHL season. It was that we probably had too high of expectations for the kid as a rookie.

For every Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane - both of whom dominated right away at age 20 - there's a Phil Kessel, who didn't fully break out until his third season (age 21-22). 

Granlund has shown he is already perhaps the most skilled and gifted player on the Wild roster, and while he still receives criticism for not shooting often enough, or for not being able to score as well as he distributes, he gave us all a glimpse on Monday night of what might be in store for years to come - regardless of what happens in the rest of this series against Colorado.

And when it comes to patience, the same can be said, in some ways, for guys like Aaron Hicks and Carlos Gomez in baseball. Hicks looks overmatched in 400 career plate appearances, but maybe you didn't catch the key part of that sentence - 400 career plate appearances. That's not enough to label Hicks, 24, as anything other than "slow out of the gate." Likewise, Gomez needed six years of mostly failing before he finally found his swing. But the talent was there all along.

Sometimes young, highly-touted players who fail early on are busts. But sometimes we need to let things play out. 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Mikael Granlund
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