Monday, June 30, 2008

Getting ready for a resounding gong show; or, bollocks to wannabe Sam Pollocks

Re-reading Neal Pollack's essay The Cult of the General Manager is one way to feel fortified against the NHL's quote-unquote free agent frenzy.
"If you don't care about buying, selling, and trading, the sports world has much less to offer you these days.

"... My modest GM fantasies begin and end with baseball, where numbers rule and where such obsessions were born. Every other sport has to stay relatively pure in my mind; I've struggled for years to ignore the NBA's arcane salary cap rules, and I'm not about to change now ... I want to see the final product, not hear about how it was made in Santa's workshop.

"As deathly dull as a general manager's machinations may be, there's obviously an audience for it. I think that's warped ... Really, who would you rather be, Tom Brady or the guy who signed Tom Brady to a long-term deal? This may be the age of the general manager. But the quarterback still has more fun."

Who needs any of it? As far as this country boy's concerned, all the myriad hockey insiders in the newspapers, on the Canadian sports networks and among the blogeteriat combined who would have you believe it matters where Sean Avery signs combine to be a resounding gong or a clattering cymbal. (Not all of them, mind you; Mirtle should have outstanding coverage.) There's an element there of knowing everything about hockey except how to enjoy it.

They have not love. (It's in First Corinthians, people!)

(Devil's advocate: Who says hockey is meant to be enjoyed? After all, as any good hockey parent who just plunked down $425 to send little a week at Mike Fisher's hockey school knows, if you're not as serious as a heart attack about hockey from the time you're six years old, you'll have nothing but regret when you become one of the complete and utter failures otherwise known as the 99.5% of Canadian males who don't make the pros and have only themselves to blame.)

Hockey talk is most soothing during the time of year when the game is actually in season (which is a long enough timeframe already). It's OK to talk about the business dealings of certain NHL owners (cough) or possible rules changes during the off-season.

The only interest on this end is whether Mats Sundin will sign with a team that wears blue helmets, which won't be known for a while. Seeing him with a red or black bucket after all these years with the Nordiques, Leafs and Team Sweden would be too weird.

Seriously, though, anyone whose mind is on where Marian Hossa will sign should go a fly a kite on Canada Day. That's not just an expression.

The Cult of the General Manager; Can We Go Back To Worshipping Athletes Already (Neal Pollack, Slate, Aug. 29, 2005)


Duane Rollins said...

I'm going for a bike ride in the morning. Then, I'm going to the CHIN picnic. Finally, I'm going to watch the Mighty TFC before sticking around to watch some fireworks on the lakeshore.

What I won't be doing is giving one second thought to NHL free agency. I must be living under a rock, because I don't know of anyone that will be, yet the the Fan is still having a five hour special....

Duane Rollins said...


Lubomir Visnovsky is an Oiler!!

How can you *not* be excited by that?


eyebleaf said...

july 1st is as big a hockey day as there is. i love it. i look forward to it, actually.

i hope sundin stays in the blue and white, but won't be mad if he leaves the nest. i love him, and am willing to set him free from the chains of the toronto maple leafs.

krister said...

Sager - remember that the passage about love from 1 Corinthians used in ever wedding (and Princess Diana's funeral) was not written for people getting married but for a community of believers who had a major infighting on their hands. In that context they needed to hear that love was the way to treat each other, not hate or with fighting.

Anonymous said...

LUBO the OIlER! Perfect!

Andrew Bucholtz said...

See, I'm not so sure on this one. I think being a GM would be more fun than being an athlete, but maybe that's just the strategist in me coming out. Most athletes (those below the status of say, Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky, and sometimes even them) really have little to do with winning a championship: they can give their best, but as with Kevin Garnett up till this year, it doesn't matter if they don't have the right supporting cast. As a GM, you have control over the entire team you put on the court, or rink, or field, and thus you're ultimately due more credit for the win or more blame for the loss in my mind. Also, I think most of us fans can see ourselves being GMs easier than athletes: athletes need a pretty specific skill set, but the tools for being a GM are less clearly defined. I agree that it's tough to get too excited about all of the offseason stuff, but really, that's where championships are largely won or lost. The athletes still have to go out and perform, but putting the pieces in place is the most important part in my mind.