In a hangar at Dobbins ARB the Thrasherville masses are assembled. Gen. Rawhide takes to the stage, moves to center-front and addresses the troops
At ease, men…ahem…and ladies.
For decades now, Stanley Cup winners returning from the playoffs enjoyed the honor of a triumph – a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians, together with carts laden with awarded treasure and captured hockey equipment. The head coach rode in a triumphal convertible, the dazed members of the press who wrote it would never happen walked before him. The players, robed in white jerseys, rode behind him in their convertibles, or rode in backs of flatbed trucks. The general manager stood behind the coach, holding the silver Cup, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.
Well, fleeting or not…I want to experience that glory!
Today, as we have at this time since 1999, we stand at the precipice of another Thrashers campaign. And tonight we’ll gather once more in the theater of operations known as Philips Arena to begin the eleventh season of battle for our home, Thrasherville.
Unfortunately, all previous endeavors have seen the fight come up short of total victory…only once advancing far enough as to claim a playoff birth. In the past, we have seen our troops go into battle with a porous defense, questionable goaltending and certain forwards that thought only of self-first, not team.
Thrashers defending their zone were attacked by legions of enemy skaters. The Thrashers were proud and brave but they couldn’t hold. They were massacred. Opposing forwards stripped them of their pucks and sticks…as well as various other athletic protective and supportive gear. The goalies lay naked, alone to face the assault. This has happened for the past ten seasons. No glory…fleeting or otherwise.
I was there…as were many of you too.
But if there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that no poor, dumb team has ever won a championship by constantly defending their goal. You win by making the other poor, dumb players defend theirs. Tonight, the Capitals are the enemy. Wade into them, pour into their end of the ice. Attack their zone. Shoot at their goal.
Now there’s one other thing I want you to remember. I don’t want any messages posted here this season saying that we are doing fine despite losses…that we are, in essence, “holding our positions” until wins finally come.
We’re not holding anything! Let the other team do that!
We are taking the puck and advancing constantly…we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy. We are going to hold on to him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the butt. We’re going to kick the snot out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like a Varsity chilidog.
Remember, all real hockey players and fans love the sting of on-ice battle. When you were kids, you all admired the Stanley Cup Champion team, the fastest skater, the best NHL players, and the toughest enforcer. Hockey fans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. You must play to win all the time. Losses are not acceptable…not even overtime losses that come with the consolation “loser” point.
Why, I wouldn’t give a bag of used, chipped pucks for a player or fan that lost and laughed.
As for those pundits up north whose preseason predictions have the Thrashers finishing low, even last, in the standings…why, the blow-hards who wrote that stuff in the on-line hockey blogosphere don’t know anything more about that than they do about forechecking. This week everyone started out 0-0-0 again, and anything…yes, anything…can happen.
Anything, that is, if this Thrashers’ squad play as a team. It must live, eat, sleep, skate, play and fight as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of male bovine excretion!
Some of you who are stationed in the stands, rooting for our on-ice combatants, are concerned that when the time comes you won’t know what to do. Well, let me tell you something. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that just moments before was the clean, unsoiled crest of your brand new Thrashers jersey…and that goo is the remains of a hotdog smothered in ketchup, mustard and relish, spilled on you my some obnoxious, uncouth fan of the visiting team…well by God, you’ll know what to do.
Now, there’s one thing that you men…and ladies… will be able to say when this campaign is over, and you may thank the hockey gods for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great Thrashers hockey campaign of 2010-11”, you won’t have to say, “Well, son… I shoveled snow in Buffalo”.
Alright now, you know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful men and women into battle anytime, anywhere. Or at least at Philips Arena…and TJ’s tomorrow night.
That is all.