I agree with you all. How's that for a truly Canadian response. I have seen wonderfully expressive prints come from horrible negs and I have seen technically wonderful prints from technically wonderful negs that have no soul whatsoever. I have also seen wonderfully expressive prints from technically wonderful negs.
If the photographer has nothing to convey, it shows in the finished work. No matter what the raw materials are.
I think most of my negs are pretty good, but I don't turn myself inside out trying to get them that way. I suppose it comes with experience and way to many hours in the darkroom over the past 30+ years.