Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 12/05/11 at 07:00 PM ET
Shame isn’t helpful. It makes you stop when you should go. It makes you afraid to go out, horrified you ever did, fat and old and badly dressed as you are. What were you thinking? Just parading around in public with those wrinkles? That hair? Shame makes you old, your teeth yellow, your skin blotchy and horrible overnight, even if you were a reasonably unremarkable-looking person the day before. As shame starts to fade, you might develop a deep resentment for the person who made you feel shame, even if it’s yourself.
I don’t think the Sharks were feeling fat or ugly Sunday. I even doubt they felt shame. Successful people don’t waste their energy or time on shame. They may feel remorse, promise to do better next time, or to never do that again, but they don’t sit on the floor of the bathroom, chewing on a sleeve, afraid to go out and be seen, paralyzed by shame. Cat-o-nine-tails? Some fans might hope. No, not that either.
I don’t think any Shark was lacking in something to feel remorse over after Saturday’s game. I felt sort of clever guessing they would not get the day off before it was announced. (Hey, I’m wrong so often I have to give myself a gold star when I’m right.) So glad I was to be right that it didn’t occur to me how inconsiderate that day off revocation was or could be for the beat guys, the people who had to be there even though they didn’t do anything wrong on Saturday. Oh well. I was curious to see what the Sharks do to make amends to themselves and each other.
“These days aren’t good for anyone,” the coach began. “They’re not good for the players because of the type of schedule. We get no satisfaction out of it.
“But the goal was to remind them that the work ethic and the commitment level has to come first. It comes before anything else – systems, talent, power play, penalty kill.-Working the Corners
How do they do that? They could punish the body just by skating hard for an hour, like running a horse hard until he gets the goofs out. But the body isn’t what they were working on, not according to McLellan. It was the mind.
Mostly they did skating and shooting drills, with breaks no longer than 2 minutes to explain the next drill. They were not new drills, for this you would want familiar ones:
“I don’t think it’s ever bad to do that,” said Burns. “You go out there, get a good skate, battle and kind of get back to basics.” -Sharks Talk
Basic yes, but the pairs and lines were mixed up, as if part of the exercise was to find your stride with someone new. Even the jersey colors were disorienting. Couture and Pavelski in teal, Thornton, Marleau in white but also Winchester and Desjardins in white, with Mitchell and Handzus in teal. Not everyone was split or mixed up. Clowe and Couture were still together, Pavelski and Thornton. But Winchester was with the Joes, McLaren with Couture and Clowe. I doubt these are new lines. They looked more like non-lines.
Conspicuously absent was Douglas Murray. That was ominous yesterday and is now conclusively bad, as he did not skate today either. A hand, it seems, though nothing has been formally announced.
The skate lasted for 50 minutes with those short breaks, not very many of them either. It ended with a sort of English country dance of board battles, players paired up all around the glass, moving right when the whistle blew to battle with the next guy. They did that for a long time, until the battle were quite sluggish.
Then they spoke with the press. They faced that music, accounted for themselves etc, etc.
“We skated today, got a good skate in – well, who knows if it’s good for us or not,” Couture said. “We’ll see how we respond to it.”-Working the Corners
Probably nothing was learned per se from Sunday’s practice. It isn’t like the players need to know there are consequences for playing terribly. The skate might have felt a little punishing,it was not a jolly group out there. But they looked accepting, not resentful.
I always thought practice, real practice should be boring, repetitive, an exercise in refreshing muscle memory and tedium. That’s what this looked like. So yes, I think it was probably useful, even if that wasn’t immediately obvious to some. It was more than a bag skate or a punishment. It was like running an engine that’s new or just had a major overhaul: not too fast, not a lot of complicated new tricks, just enough work to blow the cobwebs and the kinks out.
I do hope they’ve purged the goofs and the crowhops out of their brains, are ready to go ahead in a smooth and steady stride, all together now.
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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 email@example.com