I have a problem.

I am all too aware that what players and coaches tell the media may not be respresentative of how they actually feel or handle themselves in the locker room.

While it is too much to ask to expect unabated and honest specificity in words from a team, I do believe there is something to read in to themes of speech.

Here are some quotes after yesterday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Dustin Brown: “You have to be mentally ready for every game. I thought we played well in the first, but then we gave up a goal at the end of the period…  We can’t be letting in goals with a minute to go in the period.”

“We had a 1-0 lead in the first period on the road with guys not feeling as good as they should, and that’s a pretty good outcome.”

Terry Murray: “It’s a 1-0 game, last minute of play in the first period. We had the puck and we gave them the puck for a 2-on-1 to tie the game. Those kinds of decisions, those kinds of plays, cost you every time, and that’s why we’re losing three games in a row, because of plays like that.’’

“Those kinds of plays, I know they happen, but if you want to become a good team, a playoff team, those things cannot happen.”

“You want to get to the end of that period with a 1-0 lead, and then everything is in good shape.”

“That was a play he (Frolov) made at a critical part of the game, in the last minute of the period, and it took the emotion out of the team.”

These quotes are coming from the leaders of the team, both on the ice and behind the bench.

Every one of these quotes is lamenting a mistake.

One mistake.

A mistake that happened with 40 minutes of hockey left to play.  It is almost as if the Kings expected that 1-0 lead to carry them through the game.

Is that what loses a hockey game?  Does a mistake in the first period cost you in the second and third?

Well, sure, it can.  However it only can if that mistake is allowed to suck the life out of the team.

Here’s one more Murray quote:

“I went into the (locker) room at the 10-minute mark (of the intermission) and it was silent. You could hear a pin drop in there. Guys were down.’’

This is, of course, in response to Frolov’s ‘unacceptable’ pass to Jason Chimera at the end of the first period.

Was it a bad pass?  Absolutely.  Is it unacceptable?  Damn skippy.

Is it an excuse for sucking the life out of a team when there is 40 minutes of hockey left to play?

I won’t answer that.

Instead, here is what I would have liked to hear from Brown and Murray:

“That was a bad mistake in the first period there.  Sure, it’s tough, but we have to battle through that.”

“We need to believe that we can win a game up until the final buzzer.”

“If we had been more resilient, we could have come out in the second and retaken the lead.”

You know, I am not a religious person.  I’m not even particularly spiritual.  I am philosophic, and for my money, the most helpful philosophy comes from Buddhism.  Yes, it has become cliche lately.  Everyone thinks they are a Buddhist because they have a myopic and flawed perception of karma.  I am not talking about that self-help, news stand yuppie Buddhism.  I am speaking of core attitudes, a facet of Buddhism that Western life has all but ignored.  Now I’m not going to explain over a thousand years of teachings to everyone, but there is one key component from which the Kings could take a cue.

In Buddhism, reaction is everything.  Giving up control of your surroundings is the key to gaining control of yourself.  After all, we can not, with any guarantee, control or even subtly influence those around us.  The only thing we can always do, is control our reactions.

It is a fault of humanity to blame the cause of your reaction on anyone other than yourself.

In this case, Frolov’s bad pass is getting the blame for the reaction of silence in the locker room.

I submit that the only blame for that dejection in the locker room falls on those having that reaction.

Chimera’s goal, in no way, is justifiable reason for silence in the locker room.  Blaming Frolov is akin to saying one was making a sound decision to punch someone in the face for looking at you the wrong way.  I know much of the world fails to grasp this concept of personal reaction accountability.  We like to presume that we can’t control our reactions, that only if the trigger was removed we would be fine.  This is false, in life and in hockey.

Murray also said this after the game:

“That’s your focus that’s required as a player, individually. To step onto the ice, you’ve got to know the time and place and score of the game, and play the game accordingly.”

He said this in regards to Frolov, but the statement more aptly applies to the rest of the team.

At what point does the leadership get called in to question?  At what point does someone stand up and say “Who cares if they scored a late goal?  Who cares if it was off a bad turnover?  Let’s forget about it and take these suckers down!”

I realize it is early in the season and that much can and will be rectified in the comings days, weeks and months, hopefully for the better.  However I fear that there will be too much focus on X’s and O’s and not enough of attitude adjustment.

We often here this ‘forget about it and move on’ idea after games, as in “Oh well, we lost this one, but we need to take the positives and move on to the next one.”

There is a time for that kind of reaction.

That time is during games, not between them.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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1 reply

  1. Classic scapegoating and it comes from the top down. It’s so hard to know what exactly goes on in the locker room but you make an excellent argument for having leadership that understands at least some nuances of human behavior. Again, it’s hard to know which men know this or which don’t, but from my limited knowledge of these men, I seem to always go back to Brown’s leadership as captain. I don’t care that he’s youngish. I care how he leads. If he can’t bring this group of men together, someone must or this type of thing will continue to happen over and over again.

    My problem with the game last night was how soft we were. And I suspect it wasn’t Fro’s pass that led to an intermission filled with silence, it was how we got pushed around during that scrum. We were toyed with and Kopitar was accosted. Yet I haven’t seem much said about it. OD tried to set the tone in the pre-season and it simply hasn’t been followed up on by the rest of the guys as a unit.

    On another note, thanks for putting the image of Buddha on skates in my mind! (I think he’d be an excellent goalie.)


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