The Intangibles

Leadership, grit, hustle, heart, character. These words do not mean what you think they mean.

Evander Kane is no longer a Winnipeg Jet because he’s brash.

Phil Kessel does his best Tom Barrasso impression every time there’s a microphone or note pad shoved in his face so therefore he lacks character and is uncoachable.

John Tavares is a characater goal scorer who plays the right way.

Mike Richards plays gritty, heavy hockey, and is Canadian, so he’s the type of guy who can lead a team.

This is the tip of the bizarre Sportugese iceberg that is currently infuriating in hockey. If you can score a goal, you’re a leader. If you’re Canadian, you have heart and character. But if you are a bit doughy, American, and don’t give into the Sportugese Machine, you’re an uncoachable cancer in The Room. Who truly believes this? Integers do not correlate to psychological profiles. It’s the grown up dault version of, “There’s no way he/she could be bad because they’re so popular/pretty! Popular/pretty people are better than that!” Uh huh.

As Hope Smoke stated on his podcast, on ice production is the only thing observers should be using to evaluate and critique hockey players. I agree. In no way/shape/form/small/taste/umami can we decipher “leadership” and “character” from “ability to goal”, ever. Nor could I ever explain to you how a guy who skates REALLY fast down the wing, but makes it looks boring, can be deemed a jerk.

Evander Kane made dumb moves in public because he’s young. Not because he’s brash (which is covert for more sinister ideas) but because he’s a young kid who was handed all the money and didn’t seem to have someone around to explain maturity to him. It’s not an excuse, just a simple equation. Then again, Tracksuitgate/Tracksuitghazi was born through the same immaturity thrown about with nonchalance. Even being in the league a few years, he was the kid in the room, and the upperclassmen didn’t take too kindly to his nonsense. Again, it went back to a maturity that he needs to grow into, which is perfectly fair to criticize. But it’s not as underhanded as brash.

Kessel is even simpler. Doesn’t have the look for a pro athlete, makes some fundamentals look mundane, could care less about the media, and is American in Toronto. Somewhere along the line he became a coach-killer, uncoachable, and bad in the room. He’s not a stereotypical grinding Ontario boy. Boohoo to the media. The Maple Leafs cannot be 23 David Clarksons.

When John Tavares was drafted, Regis Pierre McGuire immediately praised JT for is goal scoring abilities and demonstratively screamed that the Islanders could immediately walk into Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington and score the goals. Now? He’s the captain. Again, the ability to goal the pucks means he’s a leader.

There’s severe doubt this type of insane hijacking of definitions and manufacturing of intangibles will end. When the misunderstanding of what makes a leader, what makes a slouch, or what constitutes the right way to do anything is proliferated to this degree, there’s little hope of change.

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