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Fireside Chat

And here we go again.

It’s no secret that hockey culture is weird, bad and stupid. Amazingly, though, it’s actually improved by leaps and bounds since we took to the internet to air our grievances. (2008 if you’re keeping score at home) Have you realized we are living in a world where fighting all but seems to have disappeared and the rats aren’t taking over? So bizarre that Joel Quenneville is quoted in a story like that, right?

There haven’t been any #hottakes decrying the lack of tradition or fear mongering over all the dirty hits that “may” occur. Nope. The fact that we’ve nary heard a peep is what makes it all so refreshing.

So there’s that.

Then there’s this.

Sadly, we still haven’t gotten around to weeding this type of thinking out of hockey culture. While Pierre MacGuire is the most prominent voice of “I KNOWN DIS GUY WAS GOING TO BE GREAT SINCE HE WAS A MIGHTY MITE,” he’s hardly the only one.

From your local youth hockey organization to the professional ranks, there are people who can’t wait to passive-aggressively tell you how much superior their hockey knowledge is. How do they know? Because they know more about hockey than you do. Life tip: If you ever get cornered in a conversation with someone that starts off by saying “I played semi-pro hockey” or offers up their hockey resume without being asked, RUN. You’re about to lose 45 minutes of your life you will never get back. And 99% of the time, that person knows less about spotting talent than someone just learning the game.

Say this about the advanced stats movement, it has at least temporarily stopped the bleeding of this wound on the hockey world. You may already know this, but before front offices began using numbers and analytics to support their decision making process, there were a lot of preconceived notions, gut feelings and relying on what some guy did in a junior game three years ago that the general manager happened to be watching that night.

We still have Brian Burke saying things like this, too.

What? This can’t be something that was said unironically, or without comedic purpose. That’s not even remotely true nor should it ever be used as a determining factor in talent evaluation.

Yet somehow, these are the people who were in charge (and some still are) of hockey operations during the 80’s and 90’s. Pierre was (sort of) good at it; he just didn’t know how to manage personal relationships. Burke was one of the game’s better general managers throughout the 90’s and early 00’s.

But it was also because everyone else was sticking their fingers in the wind and trying to determine whether to sign a free agent based on whether the guy was a Scorpio or Libra. It’s how we ended up with the phrase “Patrik Stefan, 1st overall pick.” It’s how Andrew Ladd was drafted 10 spots ahead of Ryan Getzlaf even though they played on the same line in juniors and Getzlaf tore a hole into the universe while Ladd rode shotgun.

All of this is not to say bad decisions still aren’t being made. Of course they are. But at least these bad decisions aren’t being made based on guesses or guts or “because I just know better” (Anaheim excluded).

–Appointment television rankings this fall/winter:

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Ash vs. Evil Dead
  3. The Returned (the French version, you heathens)
  4. Fargo

If you have an Amazon Prime account, I also highly recommend “The Man in the High Castle.” I’m only three episodes in but it is very good thus far.

Hatewatching television rankings:

  1. The Walking Dead

One can only hope next week’s mid season finale is a tour de death featuring Carl, the kid who’s dad was an alcoholic abuser and now somehow possesses a gun with bullets, Carol, Sasha, that dumbass Spencer and whomever else we’re supposed to care about.

As always, feel free to call me a damn fool @FifthFeather.