I don't think the dreaded "black hole" was ever meant to be considered a single season obstacle. It was the repetition of constantly picking in the middle of the first round while simultaneously never being considered a contender. In a single season anything can happen and where your team finishes in the standings can have just as much to do with the other teams in the division as how your team plays.

In regards to effort... giving a full effort is great and clearly more admirable than giving no effort or a lesser effort... BUT.... three men pulling a rope in one direction at maximum effort and three men pulling the same rope in the opposite direction at maximum effort gives you six guys giving maximum effort and not accomplishing anything at all.

Work smarter, not harder. Effort has to be applied to useful tasks in coordination with the rest of the team. Applaud the effort but don't suggest it's enough to justify ice time or a specific role.