Monday, April 21, 2008

Hey Marty! Congrats on Becoming a Proven Playoff Performer!

The last time the Leafs beat the Sens there was one player who was unstoppable, a guy who almost singlehandedly lifted his team to victory. Every time he was on the ice he was dangerous and no matter how hard they tried, his opponents could not intimidate him. His team failed but he was terrific.
Marian Hossa.
Yet there was Pierre Maguire before the playoffs started ranting about Hossa's failure to perform in the clutch. Hossa had a poor playoff last year. Of course he also was playing on a bad knee. Minor detail as the narrative demands that he prove himself as a Proven Payoff Performer! Duh Duh Duh!
Marty Turco is a guy who has struggled in the playoffs but last spring he put on a stellar performance as his team fell out in the first round in seven games. Bill Watters who has been a player agent, a member of the Leafs front office and is now a Toronto sports media talking head - that's right he owns the Jerk Triple Crown - opined before this year's playoffs that Turco was a loser. When confronted with the fact that Turco's numbers last spring were Georges Vezina like Watters huffed that until he wins something Turco will always be considered a weak link come playoff time.
I don't like Marty Turco as a matter of principle. He plays for the Dallas Stars. But the idea that because his team won one more game this year then last spring suddenly makes him a reliable postseason stopper is, of course, ridiculous. Just as Patty Marleau who had a nice playoff track record until last spring suddenly is a choker and Joe Thronton's tip in suddenly made him a made man in terms of playoff bones, this whole thing is getting a tad silly.
The sports media, like all media, needs a narrative. We had a nice snowy winter here in Toronto and by March it became a little tiresome. Now, I grew up in Sudbury and the easiest winter I had growing up made this past one here look like a summer walk on the beach. I know my winters. But weather is the new Red Menace, along with the threat of pandemics, and whether the idea is to keep people scared or just keep their eyes glued to the set (local news channel boasted over a million viewers at some point over one storm's duration so I think there's the answer) the fact is that we were told that we were experiencing something unbelievable. Come March one paper crowed that one day we would tell our kids about the winter of 07/08.
Uh huh. Snow in Toronto, right Andy.
Now what I am saying is nothing new. Matt Fenwick, Tyler Dellow and Tom Benjamin all refer to this all of the time and certainly in a far more articulate manner then I. It just seems that this past weekend has made sure that there will be storylines for next season's playoffs already. Already Spezza and Heatley have been noted as playoff busts. The Sharks are one game away from having the collective collar hung on them. The Habs are under an awful lot of pressure to make things right tonight. Turco has become you know what but if he falters next round ...
Its easier to say that Spezza and Heatley can't take the heat then to figure out why two guys who roared right through last spring until the final suddenly are no good when the chips are down. Why have the Sharks struggled? Is it youth and a suspect D perhaps? Naw, they are heartless. Are the Habs a young team who are being outworked (and outcoached) or are they a bunch of soft Europeans?
Its been a terrific first round and there are a lot of stories still being written before we move on. It would just be nice if someone took a look and gave some thought to the writing.
By the by, how about Avs versus Rangers come June? Still a ways away and its for a new post but that Avs team is something else.


Mr DeBakey said...

I was thinking about Oiler narratives this past spring

Lupul stiffed in the Big E because he couldn't handle the home-town pressure.
Or was it MacT's lousy coaching?
Well, at least, the coaching has
improved - lookit Row-bear for proof!
And, not only that, Row-Bear's succes shows KLowe's sagacity in dumping R Smyth.
Because, if Smyth's yer best player ya ain't good enough.

Yeah, narratives Blah, blah, blah

MikeP said...

For Lups, I'd go with "not yet mature enough to handle the pressure". We put an awful lot on these young men to succeed, and there's a lot more Looops than there are Gretzkys.

And just because the snow in Sudbury's way worse doesn't mean that it wasn't bad in TO - Toronto got a lot of snow, considering where it is. I'm sure people in Newfoundland envy the tiny amount of snow Sudbury gets on a regular basis. Poor example, although I take your point.

Black Dog said...

I don't know Mike, Sudbury gets a lot of snow, though nowhere near Nfld., granted.

The thing with Sudbury is that its damn cold too. So a pile of snow plus bitter cold every day for months.

We got a lot of snow here in Toronto but only a couple of days that I would consider cold.