Monday, December 22, 2008

Shrink Wrapped

'Tis the holiday season, and I'm playing sports psychologist. Pass the egg nog.

The question of whether or not the Wild is sufficiently-skilled as to be considered a playoff contender is frankly for another day. They are, barring a trade, what they are. But confidence really does end up being an issue with this team quite often. And it's getting ridiculous.

Look, I understand we're bringing the kids along and hoping the rising tide of mutually-gained experience lifts all ships equally, but Doug Risebrough's had several swats at the FA pinata and has yet to find, woo and bed players that end up working out in terms of filling the mensch role (I'd say Carney counted but it seems like he was specifically Burns' Crash Davis.)

And you've got Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket as your coach ("I'll teach you everything you need to know about how to be a lethal killing maching/winning hockey player, but I'm not going to be your friend and in fact you're going to think I hate your guts in the process...") which only exacerbates the situation. I know they try not to put players in situations where they'll fail, but it's really not the most nurturing environment. And at some point all these mind Fs just end up making him appear aloof.

This would be fine, if the players were assuming the mantle of responsibility and ownership on their own (you know, being professionals,) but they're not. Maybe because they're afraid to, maybe because they're confused by what their coach is telling them, maybe because they're modern, entitlement-driven athletes, who knows.

What I do know is that if they don't make the playoffs and win even just one round this season I'm going to be very disappointed. And the person at whom I will direct my disappointment is Risebrough.

That's not a threat - what does DR care what I think? - but it is a promise.

We've seen this team score, and against some good goalies too. So I don't think it's a talent issue so much as a confidence and balls issue right now. Therefore, to me, not getting it done is unacceptable. At some point this has to be professional sports and these guys have to be treated like professional athletes. Get it done - from the front office to the fourth line - or lets go get someone who will.


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