Tuesday, February 06, 2007

ESPN's amazing hockey analysis

I'm not sure if the following conversation occurred verbatim or just 95% verbatim, but I'm positive it happened -

ESPN.com Boss: Three dudes in Winnipeg sent in complaints that our hockey coverage on the site was too barren. Let's toss in another columnist.

ESPN.com Employee: There's a multitude of highly respected, highly qualified hockey writers out there, I'm sure any of them would be glad to contribute to the #1 sports site on the web.

ESPN.com Boss: Nah, we're already pissing away $800 a year covering this sport that isn't on our network, and Buccigross' columns are already 300,000 words apiece, I can't expect him to write any more. A-ha! - Why don't we just have Linda Cohn write a column? I've heard her say the word 'hockey' before!

ESPN.com Employee: But she's a broadcaster, not a writer. What would people say if we had Trey Wingo or Mike Tirico writing NFL columns?

ESPN.com Boss: Just make it happen. If the three dudes in Winnipeg complain again, block their IP addresses.

ESPN.com Employee: [sigh] You're the boss.

Long story short, Linda Cohn is an ESPN NHL columnist. In her most recent column, she gives us five impact players who "lead by example" but "who won't make the headlines," or basically just five pretty good players and a bunch of random nonsense about why each one is special. There are a couple passages in this column that make me happy that ESPN is showering us with first-rate hockey insight:

Ray Whitney

What makes a good leader? A player who can make his teammates laugh. That's what Carolina's Ray Whitney did at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, which ended with the Hurricanes' improbable ride to the Stanley Cup.

OK - just prior to this paragraph, Cohn talks about Mike Grier's leadership qualities as reflected by his penalty killing, unselfishness to play multiple roles, and ability to play through injury. She then defines a good leader as "a player who can make his teammates laugh," going as far as to imply that Whitney's ability to do this was actually a major factor in the Hurricanes' Cup run last season. This means one of the following things:

1 - Teams that did not win the Cup last season lacked players who made teammates laugh.
2 - Other teams did have players who made teammates laugh, but Whitney did it better.
3 - Clinton Portis is the greatest leader in the history of sports.

Chris Drury

Sometimes a player is expected to be a leader because of where he's been and what he's accomplished, but not all who are given the "C" rise to those expectations. That is not the case for Chris Drury of the Buffalo Sabres. His leadership comes so naturally, you almost forget he's a co-captain.

I re-read this passage about six times and it makes less sense every time. I'm pretty sure it's a Babelfish translation.

One night last season, Drury was thinking about how there were no pictures of Lord Stanley in the Sabres' dressing room. How could the Sabres think about winning their first Stanley Cup if they didn't see it in front of them?

Remember last year when the Sabres made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, went to seven games against Carolina, then forgot what the Stanley Cup looked like??? Wow, that was embarrassing. Carolina was all like, "we know what the Cup looks like, Ray Whitney put a picture of it in our dressing room," then they scored four goals and Buffalo only scored two.

Edmonton stupidly had a picture of the Clarence Campbell Western Conference championship trophy in their locker room, so they didn't have a chance. Ottawa has had a picture of the Atlanta Braves hanging in their locker room for years now, though no one knows why.

Karlis Skrastins

When was the last time you knew a leader who went by the name of Skratch? With a "K"?!

You got me there, Linda, I can't name another one. Most leaders I can think of, there's at least one other leader out there with the same name as them. There's like four guys named "Stevie Y".

He is the Brett Favre and the Cal Ripken of the NHL. Barring injury, Skrastins on Tuesday will tie the record of 486 consecutive games played by a defenseman, set in the '60s by Tim Horton.

Brett Favre: 57,500 pass yards (2nd all-time), 414 pass TDs (2nd), 2 Superbowl appearances, 1 Superbowl victory, definite first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Cal Ripken: Most home runs as a shortstop (345), 2-time AL MVP (1983, 1991), World Series winner ('83), five-year peak VORP of 361, recently elected to the Hall of Fame.

Guy that Linda Cohn is talking about: 523 GP, 21 G, 65 A, -38, 1 PPG - One playoff appearance in seven NHL seasons, 11 playoff GP, 2 A. Granted, he's a defensive defenseman so stats aren't ideal for determining his worth (besides the fact that he's only had a positive +/- one time in his career), but I feel that it is not too ludicrous to suggest that comparing him to Brett Favre or Cal Ripken maybe isn't the most accurate comparison in the history of existence?

What's truly amazing about Skrastins' streak, the longest active streak in the NHL, is the fact he still has a streak!

...

...

...

I'm out of things to say.

What's truly amazing about Ryan Howard's 58 home runs last year, the most in the majors, is that fact that he kept hitting home runs!

And who uses exclamation points in their sports columns? She might as well just go the extra mile and start throwing in some Dr. Seuss words. I've had enough of this haldoozery!

Keep it coming, ESPN. You're already doing such a great job of perpetuating the NHL's growing public reputation as some kind of fake second-rate sports league by giving it the most half-assed Sportscenter coverage possible, so I'm very glad to see the same courtesy extended on the website. Better watch out for Versus.com!

1 comment:

Raj said...

NHL? What's that? Were you talking about the AFL, or PBL? I'm really confused by this article?