Monday, January 27, 2014
"Warriors" my white, freckly ass
When a team starts to go through the motions the way the Canadiens have mailed it in the past couple of weeks, the default analysis is to say that they quit on the coach, but there's something more unbecoming to it than that. They're quitting on each other, and that's a whole other level of unprofessionalism compared to throwing the coach under the bus. It's popular in hockey circles to refer to the players as "warriors". To a man, real soldiers will tell you that in a military combat setting, you don't fight for King and country - you fight for the guy next to you, and you do whatever it takes to support and protect each other, no matter the cost. When you stop doing that, it's called cowardice, and whether they care to admit it or not, that's where the Canadiens are at .
Aside from the guys who ended up peeing in garbage cans because there weren't enough facilities to accomodate the beer-infused crowd at the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I haven't heard a single complaint about the NHL expanding its outdoor game schedule. Saturday's Ducks-Kings game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and the Yankee Stadium spectacle featuring the Rangers and Devils in New York Sunday were unqualified marketing successes, with the remaining three outdoor games this season holding the same promise. As much as Gary Bettman's legacy as NHL Commissioner is tarnished by toxic labor relations and routine work stoppages, he's been instrumental in putting the league and the sport on the map and enriching the owners and players like never before.
Wrap your head around this: Nashville's Eric Nystrom scores four goals Friday night but coach Barry Trotz leaves Nystrom on the bench for overtime and the shootout in a 5-4 loss to Calgary. Stuff like that flies under the radar in Nashville, but in Montreal a lynch mob would form for Michel Therrien, were a lynch mob not already forming for Michel Therrien.
Here's a remarkable graphic that came up after Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points for the New York Knicks: Wilt Chamberlain holds the NBA record for the most games with 60 or more points; he did it 32 times. Michael Jordan is a distant second with six games of 60-plus and Lebron James has never scored 60, yet the rhetorical standard for greatness among basketball fans and media seems to boil down to a debate between Michael and Lebron, with Wilt seldom if ever even getting lip service. Of course, Chamberlain's legacy will forever be linked to lip service of another sort, based on his infamous claim of bedding 20 thousand women - not all at once, mind you, and definitely not all at once 32 times.