by Mike Chen on 12/19/08 at 01:21 PM ET
If you were a child of the 80’s (or if you just have a strange fascination with cartoons from that period), you might recall an episode of GI Joe where Gung Ho, the rugged marine with a porn-star mustache, was being upstaged by a former protege of his. The tension built up to the inevitable fist fight between the two, where Gung Ho’s adversary touting how he was younger, faster, and stronger with each punch. Gung Ho, however, got the upper hand, throwing the cocky whippersnapper down and giving him a good dose of humble pie.
“You forgot one thing,” Gung Ho said. “I’m better.”
That little life lesson (and knowing is half the battle) reminded me of last night’s Detroit-San Jose game. It’s funny how one complete smackdown can make a Sharks fan forget the record-setting start (is it really a start 30 games in?) to the season. Still, the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the Red Wings showed that the Sharks aren’t invincible, that their system can’t come back and dominate everything, and that they can get run out of town just as easily as they’ve run over some opponents.
Still, this isn’t exactly a bad thing.
Teams need to overcome adversity in order to become champions. Everyone knew that San Jose would throw in the eventual stinker; the fact that it was done against the defending Stanley Cup champs probably gives it more impact and visibility than had it been against, say, New Jersey. After all, the Red Wings are still the measuring stick for the league, no matter what anyone says, and the fact that Mike Babcock’s team rose to the occasion while Todd McLellan’s got frustrated into stupid penalties and poor positioning shows that the student still has something to learn from the master.
Yeah, you could blame fatigue from a tough back-to-back serious or the fact that two of the top-six forwards were just returning from injury—or that the injury bug, which has ravaged the Sharks lineup all season long, finally caught up with them. But I won’t take any excuses. Last night was a lesson in humility, and the adversity that comes with it is hopefully a stepping stone on the way to better things.
McLellan constantly talks about process rather than record. When we see how the Sharks respond Saturday night against the New York Rangers, we’ll know a little more about where they are in the process. After all, a great man once said that to be the man, you gotta beat the man. The Red Wings are still the man—for now.
And just for the hell of it, I’m going to put in my favorite Ric Flair interview. Woooooooooooooooooo!
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