Monday, January 14, 2008

Habs losing – Overreacting for the cause

Canadiens uber-captain Saku Koivu has gained quite a bit of wisdom over a long NHL career so far. He's been the regular season scoring leader at times, playoff scoring leader at times, Olympic scoring leader at times, played on lines with 40 goalscorers, played on lines with defensemen, missed seasons, missed playoffs.

Anyway, he's got a lot of experience, both winning and losing, success and disappointment. So, I put a lot of weight on what he says. On the last game, Koivu had this to say:

"You can look at it two different ways. You have time to regroup and regain the focus but, after a poor game like (the one in New York), you'd like to get an opportunity right away tomorrow to bounce back."

While he said you can look at it two ways, his quote only actually gives us one way to see matters – the positive position.

The negative position, left unsaid, is the backlash that the team received from everyone, including us here (guilty), about that loss on Saturday night. With a day to cool, I find myself on the same wavelength as our captain – sometimes a loss can be a good thing – the important thing is the way you respond.

In my opinion, a blowout is a better way to lose than a close battle. Why? Because after a blowout, players need to really question the way they do things, make real adjustments, listen to their coaches. There is no consoling yourself after a blowout, no palatable excuses. That doesn't mean everything should be changed. Far from it. Only that the game should be analysed, errors considered and ideas generated to take things forward.

Then, there's the media response.

We (Tobalev and I) have always maintained that the Habs will be losing a lot of games this year. There was never any inkling that this would be a record-breaking regular season. So, we try not to overdo the headlines after a loss (like some of the meltdown headers I've been seeing). I do, however, have a new theory as to why others do:

The writers (press, etc.), actually get bored of winning and the headlines that go with it.

As such, I think if the Habs lose after points in 10 games in a row, the people following the team are absolutely bursting to use terms like meltdown, disaster, no-show, etc. After all, there is much more to write about when the team loses. We can write about changes, about what we think is going wrong, about Brisebois.

My initial response is to call the response an overreaction, because that's what it is sometimes. But then I thought, it's not necessarily a bad thing at all. In fact, in many ways, I think it will compound the effect of what may have otherwise been a forgivable loss. The media can contribute to the loop and ensure that the self-analysis happens throughout the roster. Overreaction for the cause, so to speak.

I for one, am willing to accept the challenge of finding things to write about through the winning. I don't need the losing for material (you may all have a different opinion on that...). And, now I am anxious to see what the Habs will do next game and whether I will have to write a thank you to the media for creating an impetus for 2 points.

Based on what Koivu has said, I predict that the response from the players will be noticeable to us watching when they take to the ice vs. the Islanders.

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