Look Who's Talking
| It was more trick than treat for the Canucks in October; just one win on home ice and only five W’s in 12 games overall.
Lose games in Vancouver and questions are raised quicker than Lower Mainland property taxes.
The one that has gotten the most mileage of late, “Is Alain Vigneault too critical of his players in public?”.
Most fans seem to see Vigneault’s style as honest yet blunt, but there are those that subscribe to the “keep it all in the dressing room” philosophy.
That sector of hockey aficionados doesn’t believe in airing anything negative to the masses. They argue the coach’s message will not only fail to motivate his players, but possibly alienate them as well. So you want a different approach? Maybe you’d like one of these better:
THE CEREBRAL (allegedly) APPROACH
Who better than television quack Dr Phil? He would bring the Canucks on stage, watch some tape of their first twelve games and respond with the following pearls of wisdom:
Dr Phil: “Y’all appear to be letting in a lot more goals than you’re scoring. Is that the case?”
K. Bieksa: “That’s been the problem so far.”
Dr. Phil: “Well, you can’t expect to win hockey games that way!” (studio audience applauds wildly)
B. Morrison: “Yeah, we know.”
Dr. Phil: “Well, I might not be a professional hockey player, but there seems to be a pretty simple solution. (dramatic pause and shots of audience anticipation) Y’all need to start scoring more goals, and allowing less of them.” (standing ovation from audience as the Canucks try to figure out if this guy’s for real)
Thank you, Dr. Phil. On the next episode, the doc tells a woman in debt to stop spending more than she earns. If only she had thought of that, but I guess that’s why he made $32 million last year.
THE MOTIVATIONAL APPROACH
Foley: “Well, look what we’ve got here; a professional hockey team. Well, la-dee-da, figure skaters with sticks.”
W. Mitchell: “It’s a little more complicated than that.”
Foley: “Oh, reeeeeeeeally, Willie. Is that right? From what I’ve seen, you guys like to glide around the ice and do your fancy moves for each other.” (he demonstrates and crashes through a table in the centre of the dressing room)
Naslund: “This guy is crazy!”
Foley: “No, I’ll tell you what’s crazy, El Capitan – not playing the system! See if this makes a little more sense. First, someone decides not to back-check, then another guy throws a cross-check, then you’re checking into the penalty box – next thing you know you’re out of a paycheque and you’re livin’ in a van down by the river!!!”
THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH
Surely, if anyone could help the Sedins find the form that made them point-a-game players last season, it’s the all-knowing sensei from the Karate Kid, Mr. Mayagi.
Miyagi: “Danielson. You and your brother paint locker room. (grabs brush to demonstrate) Up, down, up, down.”
Daniel (hours later): “Mr. Miyagi. We’re done painting the locker room.”
Miyagi: “Now you wax zamboni, Danielson. Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.”
Henrik (exhausted): “The zamboni is done, Mr. Miyagi. Can we play hockey now?”
Miyagi: “Not yet. You must sand bench. Sand the bench, sand the bench.”
Daniel (much later): “We’ve painted the locker room, waxed the zamboni and sanded the bench. What does any of this have to do with hockey?”
Miyagi: “You no want to work regular job, Danielson, you put puck in net!”
This method guarantees a spiffy-looking arena if nothing else. If a team is looking to cut down on labour costs, this might be the way to go.
What’s the point of all this? How the message is delivered isn’t the problem; not delivering on the ice is. The Canucks are virtually the same team as the one that had the best record in the NHL after Christmas last year, and Vigneault’s style in the media is exactly the same as when he won the Jack Adams last season. His blunt assessment of his team’s play wasn’t under attack when the Canucks were winning games. With heightened expectations, this season is about actual victories not moral ones. Don’t believe me? Ask Roberto Luongo, who had this to say after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Detroit.
“There are no excuses for losing games. We had a good effort but it's not good enough. The worst thing you can do is be happy with the effort after a loss.”
Both blunt and motivating. Sounds like the right message to me.