In The Conquest of Happiness Bertrand Russell wrote, commonsensically , that the more things you cultivate an interest in, the richer and therefore happier your life will be.
Each Spring I cultivate an interest in the Ottawa Senators. I purposefully reacquaint myself with the names and attributes of the players; I listen to The Team 1200; start getting pumped for the playoffs, convincing myself that the team has a chance to go deep. In short, I get emotionally involved, filled with hopeful anticipation. This is the best way to watch hockey. This is the way to get some joy.
One year we almost went all the way together. Most years however, it ends abruptly in tears. Why? Because the team wont change. No matter how many times I come back with love and forgiveness she just doesn’t seem to understand that I don’t care about having a ‘nice’ team, with a nice injury prone Captain, and nice high skilled snipers who score lots of pretty goals during the regular season, get paid stratospheric dough, and turn timid in the post season, or decide to get injured right before it ( ever see Crosby, or Gretzky, Messier or Yzerman, or any great team leaders missing the playoffs due to injury? Very rarely).
No. What I want is a nucleus, a core, a critical mass of tough minded, committed forwards (don’t touch the defense, it’s great), who palpably love to play the game; hard enough to get into the playoffs…smart enough to save all they have for the Cup run.
What typically happens is that Chris Neil, Mike Fisher and many of the less talented, lower paid, harder working under sung yeomen put it out there when it counts, while those opposite this, don’t. Alfie – while a central, important component of the team – often seems to play hurt in the Playoffs; Spezza plays skittish, afraid it seems, to get hit, looking like he doesn’t want to be out there; Kovalev doesn’t play…he’s a bandit. We need to get rid of these last two, now. Think about how much ($8+ 5 million a year) this will free up for us to spend on the tenacious, committed type of post season performers we need.
It’s not about the regular season – save for getting into the playoffs – it’s about filling the team with durable, focused hard nosed skaters who can play it fancy and play it rough – who don’t think first about the money. Who insist on winning. Who return the love, and make us happy.