Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stop Babying the Hockey Players

I've been a little under the weather the last few days, so even though my head was filled with things I wanted to say, my fingers were far from motivated. I managed to get this out of my head post game after the Vancouver beating. However, as fabulous as the night was, I couldn't help but think about all the weeks before it.

On Tuesday I actually had a back and forth conversation with another writer-friend about my thoughts on John Tavares. I told him I was afraid to write what I saw and felt because it would probably get my wrist slapped.

It has been said on more than one occasion that no one is harder on John Tavares than John Tavares. It's true and it was evident after every loss. This is a young man who has been exceptional at every level and was brought to Long Island with the press calling him the Islanders 'savior.' Quite a tall order for a 19 year-old boy.

I began to worry about him when he became more sullen in the locker room during post games. He would sit long after others had hit the showers, listening to his team mates being interviewed. I watched him. You could see the game's events playing out in his head over and over again. Was he thinking about what he could have done differently? Was he thinking about what others could have done differently? Was he remembering his glory days in Juniors where he could do no wrong? Was it "C" all of the above?

Now that Stan Fischler and Greg Logan are no longer in the locker room after every game, that leaves me to basically be the oldest one there. Unlike Stan and Greg I never look to ask them the tough questions after a tough loss. It's hard for me. I care too much. With an 82 game season I basically see these men more than I see my own brother. I've made the mistake of caring about them -- truly caring.

I've chased down halls to look on of them in the eye and make sure someone with fresh stitches or broken bones was truly "okay." When they realize I'm asking with no tape recorder or pen to be seen, I usually get an honest answer.

When i saw Rob Schremp on his crutches on Saturday, it took everything ounce of resistance I had to not offer to bring him home cooked meals after his pending knee surgery. That would be an easy thing to do.

Not easy was thinking of what to do to pull John Tavares out of the mental slump he was in. No amount of home baked cookies or lasagna would have been able to help him. The only thing that could soothe what ailed him was scoring or being a contributor to the team.

In Vancouver, he got it. Nothing would have soothed his soul more than that five point game. Well, maybe if it was THREE goals and two assists as that one Freddy Meyer was credited with basically was John's. Freddy just happened to be laying on the ice at the time.

Matt Moulson told MSG's Rob Carlin that JT should be smiling after that game. He was. It was the first time I had seen him smile in months. It was a far cry from the game prior where he sat on the bench holding his head in both hands after being knocked down on a play. I couldn't tell if the pain was more emotional than physical.

Now, if JT doesn't score another goal for the balance of the season (which is unlikely), at least he can look back to that Tuesday in Vancouver and remember that's how it gets done.

But if he'd like some cookies to go along with it, all he has to do is ask.

*Side note: Twitter is an amazing thing. Where else would the likes of Rob Thomas actually say something to me? During the game on Tuesday night, I was posting on Twitter along with the rest of my hockey Tweeps. I also follow Rob Thomas who is not only talented, but a wonderful, humors human being. I noticed a Tweet from him about watching a movie because he was relaxing and there was nothing on. I Tweeted out "@ThisIsRobThomas hmmmm How do we get you to watch hockey?"

Ten seconds later the following appeared "ThisIsRobThomas Maybe if Bruce Springsteen was playing?"

I almost fell off the couch. Call me crazy, call me jaded. I can stand in a locker room with a dozen sweating, half naked hockey players with a tape recorder in their face and not give it a second thought. Rob Thomas said something to me via the internet and I screamed like a 12-year-old. Sort of the same way I did when John Buccigross emailed me the first time -- only louder.

Islanders in Anaheim tomorrow night as their road trip continues. Someone please tell Jason Blake I said hello. They should get a good kick out of watching him turn whiter than he already is when they do.


Travelchic59 said...

Not to be mean, but you are losing credibility with me. You sound more like a fan than a journalist. I like to think of you as a journalist in a relatively new medium. This is cold, but STOP caring for/about these kids. You are NOT their mom. I am going to start questioning your journalistic integrity. I like to think you still have some, but it gets harder when you sound like someone's worried mother. Just report about them, don't obsess over them.

7th Woman said...

Journalistic integrity? Quesiton it all you want. I am not a jouranist. I'm a WRITER. I tell STORIES about what I see. I am here to say what I feel and what I see. THAT is what sets me apart. You want unbiased opinion? read newsday.

BTW did you know the new name for blogger is FAN ADVOCATE? Not journalist or beat writer. yeah.

TheMetalChick said...

I disagree with Travelchic59.
When someone does what you do not because its a job but purely out of loyalty and love for the team, there is nothing wrong with sounding "like a fan"- because thats what you are... you are a fan who shares your insights and ideas regarding the team and also reports facts as you find them.

Travelchic- if you want to read something devoid of caring, there are always boxscores.

Anonymous said...

This is good stuff, and you always provide a good read. If you were just BLAHging then I think I'd have a problem...
Always be entertaining and/or informative... and you do that!
Keep up the good work... oh yeah... and THANKS!