Cheering for a team in the position the Coyotes currently find themselves in is a strange thing. Today, after defeating the Flyers 4-2 last night, they have 32 points and find themselves sitting 11 points out of the final Playoff spot and also eleven points out of the basement.
When you watch a game like the one that was played last night – a game in which the team played well and won – it is impossible not to be caught up in the moment and to actually enjoy yourself, which is good.
You should enjoy yourself when you watch hockey, it’s essentially the only reason you’d watch it in the first place, I’d imagine. But what I mean is, the season to date has been so abjectly terrible that games you can actually enjoy have been few and far between, which leads anyone who’s even the slightest bit pragmatic to weigh the pros and cons and conclude that losing is the best thing that can happen for the team’s long-term future.
The problem with this line of thinking is that not only does it suck to lose, but it’s boring and in no way enjoyable. Normally, if I watch a hockey game, I want my team to win, but I still enjoy the game even if they don’t. When you know losing is the best option, it’s hard to get up for a game in which you are, at best, ambivalent about the result.
Now, I have a little work-around I use to counteract this problem – I just separate heart from head and use doublespeak: I want them to win; I want them to lose – but it doesn’t work very well and that is why anyone who’s ever cheered for a last place team can tell you that the season starts to drag way earlier than it should.
This brings me to last night’s game – two golf bound teams already looking forward to the draft and who have no real rivalry or history of animosity come to town on a Monday – it makes you wish you could simulate the game NHL15 style. But son-of-a-grapefruit, the game actually turns out to be highly entertaining and fully worth your time. It sucks you in and ends up getting you pretty damn excited.
Vermette gets a hat-trick (a goal was later re-awarded to Doan, but who cares since its only really exciting that someone got a hat-trick during the game anyways) and there was even a Flyers goal that was one of the nicer goals you’ll see this year.
And there was some tension, as the Flyers pressed during the last eight or so minutes, scoring twice and coming much too close to tying what had seemed like a route when OEL potted a very nice goal just minutes into the third.
Who should set that beauty up? Why none other than my boy Yandle who’s pass out of his zone was typical of what he does best – drive play up the ice and create offense. Say what you will about hiim – and plenty was said yesterday – but he is the best and I am going to miss the hell out of him when they trade him.
Yesterday Eklund had the Coyotes and Leafs talking about Yandle and today the word is that Vermette is being pursued heavily by a number of teams including the Canadiens. That a trade would occur soon would not be surprising since the team’s struggles are obvious to anyone and they were said by Lebrun and Dreger to be very active leading up to the recent Christmas deadline.
Waiting for trades is much like cheering for your team to finish low in the standings – you don’t care for it, but you’d rather just get it over with. You watch a couple of guys like Vermette and Yandle for a long time and you don’t want them to get traded; they’re like your favorite players. At the same time, you know the team as currently constructed can’t win and that extraneous factors make their departures a harsh necessity. Add in the excitement of a trade and of getting new players, and the whole thing is way too much of a paradoxical emotional equation for a silly game.
Ultimately, win or lose, players traded or re-signed, it’s still a blast to follow it and losing does eventually make winning all the more sweet, but…. I don’t know, without whining too much, there is just not a lot of positives to find when franchise players are being shopped around the league and the team has been eliminated from the Playoffs before the New Year.
But the New Year is a new start. Maybe the Coyotes will be the first professional sports franchise to win one of those state lotteries that gives away a hundred million and they’ll ring in the new year by trading for Sidney Crosby.
That’s the beauty of sports, you never know what could happen. I mean, the Coyotes could win ten games in a row and become the most unlikely Playoff team ever. Who knows?
It’s not impossible.