“Jarome, can you please answer the question in such a way that it fits what I’ve already decided to write?”
The problem with the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in a way, is they focus greater attention on a smaller number of teams. This means writers who were previously writing things about the Avalanche or Flyers, for instance, are now writing about the Blackhawks or Rangers. National writers in particular, who have been paying attention to the various comings and goings of teams league-wide, descend on cities throughout North America like a plague of locusts and analyze everything with the most powerful microscopes known to man.
This, in and of itself, isn’t strictly a bad thing all of the time. National writers tend to be the very best in the business, well-connected and intelligent and insightful and knowledgable, much more so than, say, someone who just covers the Bruins all year long. But the problem is that in the ongoing pursuit of angles from which to view such-and-such a series necessarily leads to some rather silly observations, from national and local writers alike, to take hold and become part of the national hockey conversation to the point where it can dominate the zeitgeist.
Take the San Jose Sharks. They are good this year. Well, they’re good every year. But they’re good this year too. This in and of itself is no real surprise, especially because they’re not, like, exceptionally good. They finished sixth in the West, not great or anything, but up one spot from last year. That’s also down from winning-the-division-every-year. But the media’s narrative is that this year’s Sharks are different, likely because they swept the Canucks. The reason for this difference seemingly had very little to do with half of Vancouver’s roster being out injured, but everything to do with The Coming Of Age Of Logan Couture.
The number of times you’ve heard “The Sharks are Logan Couture’s team now” is near-astronomical and it must be said that he is indeed very, very good and probably, at age 23 and a multiple-year veteran, becoming a more vocal leader. But the way people talk about this team, you would think Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau — LOSERS WHO STINK AND CAN’T WIN — have been left by the curb with the bottles and cans to be picked up by the local sanitation department. This was only reinforced when Couture was the one who happened to score the overtime game-winner in Game 3 to help the Sharks avoid going down 3-0 in their series. This was one of 25 goals Couture has scored since the season began in late January, but this more or less random event, the result of a lengthy power play opportunity in overtime, lent credibility to the idea that he’s The Leader now. Thornton and Marleau, meanwhile, shuffle around in the background, mere point-a-game players in this postseason because, again, they are losers. And Couture is not, no matter how many games his team is down in this series with Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »