Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spin-o-rama into my heart

You've likely seen this:

It's pretty much the talk of the town today (and if it's the talk of T.O. it's likely being forced down the throat a conversation starter everywhere in our fair land).

Pretty cool move, eh?

If you were insane enough to listen to the post-game presser last night you would have heard two or three of the reporters ask Ron Wilson what he thought of the move. In particular the reporters wanted to know whether Blake would have had a one way ticket to Exhibition Place if he had missed (somehow it doesn't seem as menacing as sending them to Newfoundland did) and whether he would have been pissed if a Devils player had made that move on the Leafs.

Thankfully, Wilson gave the correct answers ("Don't care what they do as long as they score" and "no, it's up to us to stop what they do"). But, it's telling that the questions were even asked. Only in hockey would the display of creativity be questioned. Just ask Don Cherry. Hockey players, especially Canadian hockey players, don't "showboat." Just keep your stick on the ice and finish your checks.

Remember this:

Or more importantly do you remember Cherry's reaction to the "lacrosse goal?" Somehow that incredible display of skill was held up as evidence of all that was wrong with the game by the people's philosopher. "Let's see the little punk try that in the NHL" was essentially the message.

And, in one way, Cherry was right. Crosby would be taking his life in his own hands if he made a move like that in the NHL. One of the league's thugs would have "delivered a message" to Crosby for having the audacity to be creative. And, the hockey world would have taken the goon's side -- "serves the little punk right," would be the attitude. "How dare he stand above."

Think Blake is going to keep his head up the next time the Leafs play the Devils?

It's insane. As Canadians we should be proud that we have produced players like Crosby that can do the things that he can do and that even middling players like Blake have the skill to pull off a move like he did last night.

In Hamilton a senior hockey player is on his deathbed after whacking his head off the ice in a fight. Across the U.S. south several NHL franchises are on the brink of bankruptcy (and don't think there isn't a connection between those two ideas. Yes, the people in the rinks cheer when there are fights. That's easy to see. But, we don't know how many people watching at home are turning away). Yet hockey's deep thinkers continue to insist that there is nothing wrong.

It's a wonderful game. Or, at least it can be when the skill and speed of its players are allowed to shine through. But, too often that's lost in the ugliness that grabs the headlines.

If the NHL ever needed a showboat, it's now.

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