The NHL pre-season has just begun but some, it seems, are treating it like we’re already getting deep into the playoffs.
Fans in the east are booing the Maple Leafs and Canadiens (well, Carey Price). Fans in the west are fawning over the Oilers’ youngsters in Paajarvi, Hall, and Eberle.
As Price said after losing to the Boston Bruins last week: “Chill out.”
A great pre-season performance doesn’t mean anything when it comes to regular-season play. I should know. In past hockey pools, I drafted Guillaume Latendresse and Brandon Bochenski thinking they were going to be sleeper picks after an awesome exhibition schedule.
Not one word of a lie.
The National Post’s Bruce Arthur acknowledged that as media, we’re responsible, in part, for this phenomenon. For example, team beat reporters are sending out the tiniest bit of minutiae when covering their assigned squad, mainly through Twitter.
Some even were live blogging rookie camp intrasquad games on Twitter. As in, if there’s a real hotshot here, he may make the team some time in the next few seasons.
But we’re just going to let you know that future career minor-league forward’s wrist shot just missed the net tended by future career minor-league goalie by three feet!
Thankfully, some writers seem to understand that some of these updates aren’t quite as interesting as breaking news, and have created separate accounts for game play-by-play only.
All bets are that the undefeated Edmonton Oilers probably won’t run as high as second in the conference at any point during the season. And on the flip side, the currently sub-par San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks won’t be in the division basement when the real games start, either.
Even locally, the Fort Frances Lakers cruised to a sterling 5-0 pre-season record, but haven’t been able capture that complete-game magic since despite winning half of their first four regular-season contests.
As a fan, it’s always nice to see your team win, but to boo in the pre-season (especially when tickets were free like they were for the Leafs’ exhibition opener) just reeks of booing for the sake of booing.
With the Argos and Blue Jays surpassing expectations (with a low bar, admittedly), and with the Alouettes rarely heckle-worthy in La Belle Province, perhaps fans were taking the opportunity to get their pipes in mid-season form, too.
Wouldn’t want to pull a vocal chord.
• • •
I certainly intended to start a discussion with my column last week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the type of dialogue I had hoped to kick off.
When looking at some of the community’s reaction to the roller derby bout held here earlier this month, some readers took it to mean I was endorsing the views that I was trying to look at.
That couldn’t be further from the case.
I enjoyed the bout for everything that it was—and hoped it could continue exactly the way it was in its current, edgy form. However, given some of the negative feedback that trickled into the newsroom in the days following the event, I meant to do a situation analysis like I had done of other organizations before.
Off the top of my head, I looked at a couple of trades the Lakers had made at last year’s trade deadline, and at an open request from Muskie football coach Chad Canfield to encourage athletes in other Fort High sports to give the football team a try.
I meant to look at both tough situations even-handedly, trying to give fans a reason to hope while playing devil’s advocate and looking at the challenges in the way.
I tried to do something similar last week, and re-reading my column, I can see where I handled my reasoning a little more clumsily than I’d have liked.
We wouldn’t have run anything that we considered offensive or in bad taste. Some people found some of the content fit that description
They weren’t the first to take offence to something in our pages and they certainly won’t be the last. Agree with them or not, such attitudes exist and I merely was trying to acknowledge them, not embrace them.
I didn’t mean to contradict any of the enthusiasm or compliments that I’d bestowed upon the sport before and after the bout, nor did I mean to diminish any of the participants in any way.
There have been some reports that the local squad has found a place to keep practising and training, and I certainly hope to have the opportunity to rock some roller derby action again at some point.
• • •
Well, now that I have your attention, I’d just like to extend again the invitation to submit results, story ideas, and anything else that may be of interest to us.
With hockey season just getting underway, it’s hard to keep a finger on the key beats and all of the other activities going on around town.
If you notice something missing that you’d like to see, feel free to give me a buzz at 274-5373 ext. 236 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please leave contact information just in case there’s anything that I need to clarify.
I can’t guarantee absolutely that anything submitted will get in, but I’ll certainly try my darnedest.