Sometimes sports journalism, blogging and radio is all about king making and it seems to start earlier and earlier.
King making is another term for anointing a player, coach or team as a champion, award winner or in politics, a power player and election winner.
Four games into the season, a Tampa Tribune columnist all but gave Victor Hedman the Norris Trophy in a gush fest. Yeah, he’s had a great start but there are 78 more games to go. The following game in Vancouver, Hedman was injured. Herman went from breakout to broken finger. He’ll be back but if he can continue his start to the season remains to be seen. He’ll have valleys with those peaks during a long season.
On the opposite end, you have outlets from both the U.S. and Canada tear apart the Oilers after they were winless in their first five games. It got so bad that the Edmonton Journal ran a passionate fan plea or rant about how bad they are. Another fan threw a jersey on the ice. They won their next game, of course coming against the Lightning. Then they surprised the Capitals and handed them their first regulation loss in the following game. Come Friday, they started a three-game win streak beating up on a still winless Hurricanes squad 6-3.
In Sunrise, folks have already written the Panthers off and have the moving vans warmed up both before and after the empty stands photos went viral, despite a process that needs to play out in the Broward County Commission. On the ice, five out of six games this season were one-goal games with two ending in OT and one ending in a shootout. That’s not bad as they at least pick up points.
In Winnipeg, Paul Maurice just plain old said if he’d make you fucking cry to get his team’s ship in order. They won their next game against the Hurricanes but then faltered to the Lightning in a gritty game that was too close for my liking.
The point is to not feed into a frenzy of both what you see on ice for the first five or so games of the season. Take each game for what it’s worth. Scott Burnside nailed it on ESPN.com’s new daily talker “Pucks Central:”
An annual rite of fall is to anoint early dark horses or teams ready to surprise based on a relatively small sample of games. Given that, it’s always interesting to see what happens when those teams play more games and games against better teams.
Do you want to know how a team and its players are going to fare? Wait until Thanksgiving and you’ll get a pretty good idea. In Barry Trotz’s approach with the Capitals, he says he wants his squad to show how the Caps play 20 games into the season. For the Bolts, that mark would be Nov. 18.
To borrow a phrase from Lindy Ruff, the beginning of the season features some “garbage hockey” like what his Stars showed this week–high scoring games without semblance of discipline for a system. You’ll see swings of games with teams going from scoring five goals in one game and one on the next, four the next and maybe two or none the following game.
Once you get to mid-November, you’ll see a character of a team notwithstanding major changes or lack of reaction. You’ll have losing streaks fester by then prompting coaching changes.
Appreciate the game and live the ride, but don’t get overly excited or down.
Ed. Note: Yes, I haven’t posted since before the beginning of the season. Now that I’m finished writing tons of copy on a new mall in Sarasota and have a rhythm for hitting the gym in the evenings, you’ll see more posts here.