This picture has basically nothing to do with the post, outside being commentary on genetics. John Scott/Nathan Gerbe
Some humans are just built for athletic competition, which is sort of unfair for the rest of us. But the same way some people win the money lottery, some people happen to win the genetic one. Lebron James runs like a gazelle, jumps like an Olympian, and, y’know…
…he happens to be 6’8″ of chiseled muscle. If he was only allowed to touch the ball with the back of his hands he’d probably still be in the NBA.
The NHL is not without its share of Lebron-esque mutants – the people who were born with all the tools to succeed at the sport of their choice. They almost couldn’t mess it up. Similar to what I said about Lebron, they could use a wrong-handed stick and NHL teams would still consider taking them on board. This isn’t to minimize their accomplishments, but man, they were given some head start in the race to riches.
This isn’t a list of the 10 best players in the league, it’s a list of the 10 current players who started the race farthest ahead of everyone else. Eric Lindros is example 1A. Mario Lemieux might be 1B.
Is size an advantage? Here’s some of that. Skill helps? Here’s a big heaping helping. Speed’s good? Take all you like.
Yesterday my Twitter feed flared up after the release of a column about Phil Kessel and how he looked “sluggish” in his return to practice for the Toronto Maple Leafs post-Olympics. I’m not a huge fan of promoting stuff I think isn’t very good (for what should be obvious reasons), but I can’t deny the concept was pretty silly. The guy was probably right, by the way, but it was oh-come-on-able for other reasons.
The NHL’s hottest player in 2014 goes to the Olympics and looks electric while leading the tournament in scoring, then flies home from Russia for his first practice back (which he wasn’t yet obligated to attend), and gets a column written about how he didn’t look up to par.
So fine, silly.
But even if Phil hadn’t just done all those things I rattled off above, he would have to practice in a beer helmet filled with umbrella drinks to get singled out for his work ethic. Not only is he the team’s best player, he’s one of the league’s best, and he works his tail off in games. There’s a reason Allen Iverson was all shocked in his infamous PRACTICE? interview. He was a rare talent who consistently brought it in games.And you wanna ask him about PRACTICE?
Unfortunately for the rest of us mere mortals, we don’t all get the No no no, you take it easy, as long as YOU’RE happy treatment.Kessel is a rare case, one of maybe 20 guys in the league who basically have immunity from their coach’s occasional lack of diplomacy. On the other side of the coin, some guys have the privilege of becoming the coach’s whipping boy, and whooo doggy is it a long season when you earn that title by (I see you, Drill Wreckers).
So without further ado, introducing EPE, or Expected Practice Effort. Let’s look at what coaches generally expect for effort in practice out of each type of generalized player, and how one becomes a coach’s target. …Generally.
Today at 11 am, Daniel Alfredsson will finally hold a press conference in Ottawa after shocking Senators fans by signing with the Detroit Red Wings a little over a month ago. It’s likely that it will be a fairly unsurprising affair: Alfredsson will thank Senators fans for all their support over the years, express how much he loves the city of Ottawa, and explain that it was a tough decision but he felt he had to do what was best for his career.
Except for Senators fans seeking closure, it will likely be bland and boring. In other words, it will be a press conference with a hockey player.
But what if it wasn’t bland and boring? What if it was a surprising and unexpected, full of flights of fancy and bizarre occurrences? What if Alfredsson’s press conference was actually entertaining? I imagined such a press conference in my head and here are the 20 things I want to see:
Okay, the title may not be a reference to Credence Clearwater Revival (try Bubba Sparxxx), but it should be. I messed up.
Peter Budaj (pronounced “Boo-dye”) is the back-up goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, and today we found out he’s going to be the Montreal Canadiens starter for the remainder of the first round, and likely beyond in Montreal survives.
Carey Price will not return in the series against Ottawa due to a lower body injury.
Also, his name fits in the title of a lot of CCR songs, as Backhand Shelf Podcast host John Noon has occasionally pointed out throughout the season. Like, almost a greatest hits compilation worth. …Soooo he did a compilation.
This is not Jagr-face so much as the exact opposite.
Most athletes have a Try Face. Your Try Face is what naturally comes across your face when you’re at your most intense, your most concentrated, your most focused. We all have one. Michael Jordan was famous for rocking the tongue-out Try Face, for example.
Jaromir Jagr’s Try Face is not so cool.
I noticed this a little throughout the season when watching Jagr play, but when sifting through some of my images it became more apparent and harder to ignore. He goes full Grumpy Cat when he’s trying hard.
There are some times in sports when we simply know an athlete is on another level. Right now in the NBA, LeBron James is on another playing field. In the NHL, Sidney Crosby is pulling away from the pack. There have been times when names like Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, and Annika Sörenstam have been simply unbeatable.
That’s the Los Angeles Kings Twitter feed right now.
I follow both @theactivestick (Laura) and the @LAKings, and much to my delight, they engaged during a question/answer period last night. (Screen shot by @Vrbatim)
The best. Try as they might, other sports’ franchises can’t hang.
For those who want to re-live that excellent Wayne’s World reference…here you go.