Friday, October 26, 2007

Bloody Chiclets: Quotes, Shills, and Nasty Thrills

NHL logoA few quotes related to hockey that I've heard or read recently:

Rick Ball, a Vancouver radio host, on Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan Smyth: "He's done more crying than Tammy Faye Baker in the past six months."

Well, Baker's been dead for a while but it's still a good one.

Smyth certainly has been blubbering at will ever since he was traded out of Edmonton because of a difference of a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Great fodder for people who want to rip the guy but I reckon if you're not concerned about things like shedding tears in public on a monthly basis, you probably don't have much to prove in terms of your character, toughness, guts etc.

Or, it could also have something to do with lacking that acute sense of self-awareness that can make some people cringe at the sight of their own shadow.

At Fan House, Greg Wyshynski quoting Steve Farber from a Sports Illustrated article on Islander's player Chris Simon: "A man who has been suspended more times than disbelief."

And then this one that can't be confirmed so I'll leave it unattributed:

"Johnny kept me in labour forever! It was horrible! He was already half-way into the world five days before that. So technically..."

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Sometimes huge payouts from a sports equipment manufacturer can be a gamble for the player on the receiving end of the deal. Especially if it requires that player to change the equipment with which he's grown accustomed to using and most importantly, winning.

In his fantastic book The Majors, John Feinstein details the history of golf's four biggest tournaments and follows a number of players competing in them over a period of a few years.

In one section he discusses some examples of players who took fat endorsement deals from golf club manufacturers in exchange for using and promoting their products. The results have not always been worth the cash:
The golf world is littered with sad stories about players who changed equipment at a moment in their career when they appeared to be peaking and all of a sudden couldn't find a fairway, a green, or the hole. Corey Pavin, Payne Stewart, Davis Love, Lee Janzen and Nick Price are a few of the better-known names who took the money and eventually found themselves running from the equipment they were being paid to use.

It would be interesting to find out if there are any similar examples from the NHL.

The best case scenario for professional athletes is when a manufacturer comes knocking when they know that player already uses their equipment. But a huge contract can convince someone to change loyalties and in the process brush aside niggling concerns, superstition and years of preferred use.

Surely a custom pair of skates could be subsequently tweaked for a player who hadn't been used to that particular brand. But when comfort, reliability and years of routine have made something second nature, that out of place feeling could start to minutely affect real on-ice performance and get inside a player's head.

I would never suggest Sidney Crosby's relatively slow start (though he's crept up to 16th overall in points) has anything to do with equipment alterations (nor do I know if he has made any changes since last season.) I do believe he has at some point at least changed the stick he uses to suit the terms of his contract with Reebok.

Too bad the huge dollars involved and the likely terms regarding public comments means we would never get much insight if such a problem did exist.

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Speaking of RBK, the controversy over the new jerseys isn't going away anytime soon. I thought I was reading the technology section instead of the sports page when I read that they are offering a patch for the new jerseys.

Apparently they have decided to foot the bill to alter the new sweaters at the request of individual players.

My earlier prediction just may come to pass...

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There's an old saying that blood doesn't win boxing matches but the sight of crimson splashing on ice usually does signify a win in a hockey fight, even if it's only psychological and doesn't always correlate with who actually landed the most punches.

Of course, sometimes the blood is a clear sign that the poor sap leaking profusely as he leaves the ice did in fact receive an almighty bludgeoning.

Zdeno Chara thumps David Koci

2 comments:

  1. Hi Ken, interesting post. About the player and equipment manufacturers, Mats Sundin was snakebitten at the 2006 Olympics. Daniel Alfredsson let him try the sticks he was using (a different brand than Sundin's). Sundin immediately started producing, and used the stick back in the NHL. However, because he had a deal with someone else, he'd have the trainer spray paint over the logo.

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  2. Thanks Greener, that's exactly the type of anecdote I was looking for. I found an article about it:

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2006/03/21/leafs_hurricanes060321.html

    "According to one theory, Sundin is scoring again because he's switched hockey sticks, abandoning the blade he used earlier in the season for a stick he borrowed from Swedish Olympic teammate Daniel Alfredsson."

    Cheers.

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