I just can’t help myself.
These mailbags are amazing. As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of my time talking hockey with people on Twitter and in message boards and these guys still manage to blow my mind. It also gives me an opportunity to discuss a wider range of topics than I normally would.
I myself don’t have the reach or influence of a Kevin McGran, so nobody asks me anything – and why would they? But I have all the answers, so I might as well share. So kick back while I hijack the mailbag of the Toronto Star in totally unoriginal fashion. Don’t forget to check the original.
QUESTION: “As a long time supporter of the TML , I am fed up with the way they play. In the pre-season I watched this team play solid defence and explosive offence. Now I watch them with a not-care attitude. They are being paid to play a game that the majority of hockey-loving Canadians wish they had the talent to play and are paid well for it. In some regards I think too well. I know how the coaches must feel. They are in the pro’s. Therefore they can tell the players what they want. But, they can’t tie up skates and play the game. How do you motivate a guy to play well? I certainly don’t have the answer. We as Canadians will always watch hockey. And most of us will grumble, but, those same grumblers will be there cheering next year with hope and admiration of the same Leafs. Anyhow your welcome to correct my grammar if you choose to share my thoughts. Sincerely Robert Valcourt.
ANSWER: If I’m honest, then this is just an insane rant disguised as a question about motivation. Rob, my friend, you need to put on some Bob Marley and cool out on a bean-bag chair. Other than that, I think you should realize that it’s impossible for someone to accurately gauge the extent to which a player is trying or not trying from the comfort of their couch.
In some of the recent games, the team has looked demoralized and sluggish to me. But, and I can’t stress this enough, that is probably because that is what I expect to see and so my brain picks out and remembers every single instance that could be interpreted as a player not trying or looking depressed – did I subconsciously choose to ignore plays that would contradict this train of thought? It’s highly likely. You’re probably doing the same thing too, since (and I only assume here) you are also a human. I am very confident saying the Leafs current slide has nothing to do with motivation.