Archive for May, 2011

Losing and sucking: much different.

Posted in Coaches and General Managers, Montreal Canadiens, NHL on May 5, 2011 by Scott Schmidt

One of my favourite Twitter pals commented on my latest blog and for nearly three days I didn’t take the time to respond; actually, I didn’t even stop at my laptop long enough to hit the approve button.

So as my most sincere apology, I am responding to her words in a blog, as what she wrote rehashed some thoughts I’ve had for a very long time.

Here is the portion of cokeaddict’s comment that I’d like to focus on (she’s a Toronto-based Habs fan… I know, weird right?):

“I think the phrase that confused me the most on Twitter was the concept of “fan complacency.” Uhm…what is that? We’re supposed to “demand” more from the management & coaching staff. What?!

I like to enjoy the game for what it is; cheer for the team no matter who’s on it, leading it, or paying it; and hope for the best. Those unrealistic things like “trade Gomez for Stamkos or Iggy” are just…I have no word for it.

If people wanna armchair coach, they’re more than welcome. But I get a bit annoyed at being accused of being a complacent fan because I’m happy to cheer for the team the way they are. I didn’t realize I wasn’t sufficiently passionate in fulfilling my “fan” duties.”

See, what bugs me about this is she’s been accused in a similar way to what I get accused of sometimes, which is being much too easy on the Montreal Canadiéns. But when I come on here and tell fans to settle down and quit overreacting to everything, I’m not going easy on the team at all but rather trying to get a sense of the *“actual”* reasoning behind certain decisions and transactions. (Over-highlighting that word stems from the necessity to drill this home with an overwhelming mass of Habs fans who WAY over-think every single aspect of a team they legitimately know nothing about.)

Cokeaddict is accused of complacency from some of these people because she chooses to not get bent out of shape every time something doesn’t go the club’s way, or a player isn’t playing as well as they maybe should be, or a guy who never plays is traded, or management does the right thing and allows a young coach to find a job with an NHL team, or a goalie with but one 9-9 playoff run who inaccurately convinces a bunch of know-it-alls he’s a god gets traded in lieu of a kid with every quality a team wants in a superstar goaltender but had a few growing pains before his 23rd birthday… Should I continue, or has my horribly long-winded 113-word sentence proved my point?

The fact is, cokeaddict is the real fan and these other dipshits are nothing more than people my buddies and I would throw out of the living room during pregame.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with over-passionate fans. I am ridiculous myself and before, during and for about 15 minutes after every game of any team I cheer for, I shouldn’t be around people unlike me.

It’s something I understand about myself — have for years — and therefore work diligently to ensure my game-time surroundings are in compliance. But when it’s over, it’s over, and I instantly turn back into someone who much prefers logical thinking to useless, irrational idea sessions.

The funny thing about pro sports is at the end of every season, no matter what league, 29 or more teams are left asking the question “What went wrong?” The answers will inevitably be highly detailed and thought out by its management — accurately or otherwise — and over-the-top and dream-riddled by many of its fans.

Of course, the real answer for a lot of teams is simply that a particular opponent had a higher total on the scoreboard at the end of a very specific game on a very specific day because they happened to have more offensive success for any number of about 37,000 reasons. Meaning, on any other day, in any other game, the scoreboard results could easily have been different.

But they weren’t. And that’s the point.

Sure, for a portion of teams, the answer is an even simpler “because they weren’t good enough,” but in a league like the NHL and its orchestrated parity through a salary cap, that number is actually a fair bit smaller than the teams who simply didn’t enjoy favourable circumstance for one variable or another.

Take last year for example. The Philadelphia Flyers were a shoot-out-gone-wrong away from missing the playoffs and played for the Stanley Cup two months later.

So isn’t it fair to say the New York Rangers, who actually wound up on the wrong end of the same circumstance that game, had a chance to win it all? And if the ninth-place team in the East had a chance, surely you’d agree the ninth-place team in the West had a chance.

So at minimum, 18 teams in 2009/10 had legitimate shots at the Stanley Cup, yet without any doubt I can say 17 of those teams had portions of their fan bases questioning the team from the top down. This might be the ageless right for any passionate fan but tolerance of that in no way proves its worth.

This year, the Habs were eliminated in the first round after reaching the conference final the year before. But if you think this year’s team wasn’t as good as last year’s team, you are colossally stupid.

And if you try to use either version’s level of success to argue your point, your stupidity is no longer colossal. It’s galactic.

I’m sorry, but as you’re reading this the league is totally proving my point. Boston needed every decent bounce they could wish for to squeak past the Habs and are completely handling Philadelphia. The fact Philly could still easily come back and make a series of it only supports what I’m saying even more.

And if the Montreal Canadiéns had a reasonable shot to win, which it clearly did, wouldn’t it be fair to say Carolina, Calgary and Dallas, who all missed the playoffs by less than two wins, had the same reasonable shot?

So that makes at least 19 teams this season that could have made decent runs at winning the entire thing. And yes, some teams have the on-paper advantage but so what? That useless category couldn’t possibly have more examples of meaning jack shit.

My closing statement, on behalf of the grooviest Coca-Cola advocate I know, is this:

All you can ever ask for as a fan, especially in the post-lockout era, is did your team’s management ice a roster capable of making the playoffs? And if they can get in, do they have enough talent to take advantage of the good bounces that may come their way?

Moreover, it’s up to you to understand that just because the answers to those two questions might be yes doesn’t mean it will all work out in the end anyway because about 18 other fan bases responded the same way you did.

As for the Montreal Canadiéns, considering they haven’t used the new-age strategy of being the worst team in the NHL for 5 years and haven’t been able to stockpile two or three 100-point 19-year-olds, they’ve done pretty good in recent years.

And you’re right, there are currently examples on the roster of both great and poor draft choices, great and poor transactions and great and poor personalities, which the fans can argue about all summer and beyond if they’d like. But before you become one of those to start or join a bitch fest, try to remember one little thing.

Hindsight is the idiot’s encyclopedia.