Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Cammalleri

By now, you have all no doubt heard about Cammalleri's comments on his team playing a loser's brand of hockey.

It's caused quite a stir. And so it should have.

The stir as seen from the Antichambre (half-baked, generous assessment of baking duration) point of view is that players who call their teammates losers are losers. They are losers because one should never say anything bad about their t4eammates to anyone outside the group that makes up the team.

I adhere to this too. But only for so long. I would be upset with Mike if this was the first expression of these thoughts about losing hockey. I'd also be very surprised if it was.

My feeling is that he probably intentionally sat down with journalists he knew would make this an important and wide-reaching story because he intended to cause a stir. Why? Because saying it in the locker has failed yet to do so. Probably on multiple, maybe regular attempts.

What then to do to make the teammates take notice? Cause a storm that they can't help to hear outside the Bell Centre walls.


Losing

What Cammalleri said contained nothing novel in it at all. This every observer has seen and known for quite some time. This his teammates must deep down have known too.

I was once part of an underdog team that ended up losing in a final of a tournament by a closer than expected margin. The player who had refused to stick to our special strategy (because he thought it was stupid) and ultimately cost us the game absolved himself with a comment something like this: "We were always going to lose, no matter what we did".

It was especially flagrant during the sting of loss. but it made me realize an important difference between winners and losers. Winners win because they believe they can affect the outcome and follow through on what they believe will do that. Losers lose in part because they don't fully commit to the winning.

When a team loses despite committing to winning, one might see shrugs and hear all that about luck turning, etc. When it's losing for lack of winning commitment, it's good that at least some can see it.

We see it in constant early deficits, and frequent sagging comeback attempts. The Canadiens have plenty of excuse for losing to the Blues (they are a good team now), but they have no excuse at all for only putting two serious tests to the Blues net in their own arena.If I only take the example of missing the net on so many occasions. What will it take for a team that rarely comes back to make their challenges on goal serious and not just numerous but wide?


Was it Cammalleri's place?

No player would have got off the hook entirely with this act, but some might have had more leeway.

But I think it's cop-out to read this as Cammalleri's excuse to the city of Montreal for his goal total. Cammalleri likely doesn't think he owes the city of Montreal anything of the sort. And he certainly knows as a veteran of the sport and this city what the implications of this action would be (brouhaha-wise)

The Cammalleri goal production discussion probably does need to take place, but let's not ignore that it was the weight of losing and the perceived reasons for this that probably led him to put a much bigger media bulls-eye on his back. There's no smoke without fire. And because of media bullying there's no smoke outside the locker room without a blazing inferno.

We've seen it. Pundits have repealed it nightly. Coaches at times have mused it. Now a player has said it. I'm glad someone did. I'll call it his tenth goal.


What next?

The first thing is that I hope the players notice this. It was the clear intent, and it would be a real flag if the coaches feared so much for character of players that it could be broken by a call to try and win more.

Cammalleri will get backlash from "I played and I know" types, so it would be nice if his teammates backed him up. In words and with action.

Trades may need to be considered. But let's not assume I'm talking Cammalleri. If losing is endemic, the ones happy to continue should be questioned as future stalwarts.

Then, wait and see.

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