Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick


“Don’t write the obituary just yet,” tweeted David Pollak last night.  Put that big syringe with the scary blue stuff in it down.  Give the Sharks’ playoff hopes a few hours, they might be stabilizing. 

Just before the Sharks beat the Bruins, Minnesota won too, with Devin Setoguchi’s help:

Michael Russo ‏ @Russostrib: “Since Setoguchi fell March 1 in Montreal in the shootout, he’s gone 2 for 2 on shootouts, 1 for 1 on a penalty shot. Impressive #mnwild”

If that isn’t Shark behavior in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.  Good for you, Seto.  I would take a low-light reel embarrassing fall down in a shootout over the full season fall down the Sharks have demonstrated any day.


The story of the prodigal son cruelly illustrates how doing good and right all the time doesn’t necessarily make you a favorite.  People are so excited to see the drifters or the missing come back, they forget all about the diligent, hard-working, loyal ones who never left.  Oh well.  Life’s a bitch and then you die.

Before yesterday’s game, David Pollak was interviewed on NHL Live.  They of course asked him if he thought the Sharks could pull this one out of the fire—would they make the playoffs?  He said he hadn’t seen any sign of being ready to make a radical turnaround.  He didn’t see any tell-tale change in the team’s demeanor in the dressing room.  He did say that anything was possible, he couldn’t predict what they would do.

Tricky devils, those Sharks.  Still, it was just one outing, one good one after two bad ones.  Is that a radical turnaround?  They trick themselves just like they trick us.

I believe it was a glint of life.  It’s been a while since I saw Thornton look so intent, there was even a hint of anger in his expression last night.  The cameras caught him on the bench,  leaning forward, elbows on knees, surveying the ice.  Maybe he was sorting through memories.  I’m not much good at reading eye movements but he looked fierce as hell.

Thornton wasn’t the only one showing a shimmer of life in that game.  I don’t know if Havlat slowed down or the rest of the team caught up but Havlat didn’t stand out like a whirling dervish as he had in the two previous games:

“It’s easy. You play the same way. Play hockey, have fun out there,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “Guys yesterday, I’ve never seen our team skate that much lately. Forwards were coming back, the d were skating. It’s the same thing – play for fun, play free.” -Working the Corners

In today’s Globe and Mail, Eric Duhatschek asked what happened to the Sharks? I wanted to answer: “Which time?  Blink and you could miss a whole phase of Shark behavior.”  Are they twisting as they sink or are they diving deeper for a bigger jump?  Do they know?

“It was a good win tonight, but we’ve still got eight games to go and a lot of work to do,” Thornton said. “We know what’s at stake. We’ll enjoy this, but Saturday’s the next most important game of the year, and we’ll be ready.” -Mercury News

We’ll see how the patient is doing tomorrow.  For now, I’m glad of every day lived in hope.

I don’t think the Bruins were all they could be last night, but I think they were better than the Ducks.  That said, the Ducks know the Sharks better so maybe they don’t have to be as good to win.

Before the game, I heard and read a lot about how the Bruins bring elements of “old style” hockey to their game, how they can bully teams into submission.  I guess that means the Sharks didn’t look weak to them, because bullies only pick fights with smaller, weaker opponents. 

That reminds me: Tommy Wingels and the “You Can Play” campaign.  Good for him, good for the campaign.  Nominating him for the Masterton is an excellent idea.  The more noise, the better.  When I first saw the video, I had an involuntary impulse to vote Wingels into office.  I guess that’s because the video is preaching to the choir where I sit, but the style of it still made me want to do something, like vote.

What a world we live in that people have to start a campaign against bullying.  I mean, it’s bullying: the larger majority picking on a smaller minority, mocking, even physically harming people for being different in a way that has absolutely no impact on the majority’s daily life at all.  Who in the world thinks being a bully is good?  They’re the villains in movies, the losers who never get anywhere, the idiots and the thugs and the cowards of the community.  I don’t think there’s any legitimate backing for the Bully Party.

That’s why they don’t call themselves “bullies,” they know it’s bad.  How do you know you’re a bully?  What if you feel like you’re just in the majority of people who disapprove of someone’s bad behavior?  Are you a bully if you vote to have dog abusers locked up?  What if, instead of voting and passing a law, you physically attack someone who is kicking a dog, and a bunch of other people join you?

Can a bully be a bully without a bunch of craven followers?  Sure.  But real bullies don’t like to stand alone, that’s why they try to isolate others.

So I guess it isn’t so easy to know whether you’re bully or a justified majority.  I guess it comes down to “Does this person’s difference from me have any impact whatsoever on my life, is it any of my business, does it hurt me for them to be different?”  Or, if you think like an enforcer: “Does it hurt anyone at all?”

The way I see it, the only way someone’s sexual orientation would be a problem for another person is if it interferes with your desire to have sex with that person.  That is the only way it is a problem for anyone. Even then, get over it, he or she just isn’t into you.

Short of active bullying, there’s the cavalier mocking of people who are different.  There’s the use of a whole segment of society as shorthand for “bad, wrong, undeserving of equality and therefore invisible and safe to make fun of behind their backs but since they are invisible we don’t really know or care where their backs are anyway so we speak openly.”  That kind of shit.

It is really hard to absolutely never make fun of people who are different.  It is much safer to target an individual in the room, because then you are being specific and also you get a sense of the degree of harm you are causing.  It’s like some surgeries that need to be done with the patient conscious.

That’s the better option if you really feel a need to antagonize someone.  I don’t know why we do that.  I try not to but I still find myself mocking tea-baggers and religious fanatics and homophobes and bigots and chauvinists and all manner of imbeciles.  I do it without knowing who is “in the room,” so to speak.  Like right there, I did it again, putting a whole bunch of people down without even knowing their names.  I shouldn’t do that.  Those people may not be invisible, what they do and say might very well harm me but still, it isn’t right to mock people for being different.  It’s all the more unforgivable if the target is in an ostracized minority afraid to speak up.

So, yeah, I guess we need those videos even if, on the surface, it seems like everyone knows being a jerk and a pig and bully is wrong.  We all need to act a little more like enforcers, a lot less like bullies.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: bully, joe+thornton, tommy+wingels, you+can+play


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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net