Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gonna Kill that Horse Dead. Again.

I am so very tired about the captaincy debate. It’s the argument that just won’t die. There’s no end to the people reanimating this horse just to beat it to death again.

But this argument isn’t like the other arguments that won’t die, like abortion, gay marriage, free speech, the Bible or gun control. In this argument, one side is completely oblivious to a fundamental truth that makes most of the discussion seem moot, short-sighted or intellectually dishonest.

Actually, in that vein, it’s EXACTLY like those other things.

So, let’s say tomorrow, August 30, 2010, Luongo is stripped of the captaincy. The C is then given to, for the sake of the argument, Henrik Sedin. Let’s discuss what happens after.

First of all, let’s look at the immediate inane questions asked by the media to Luongo:

“Did you want to keep the C?”
“So are you unsatisfied with the decision by management?”
“Do you think this will give you more time to focus on stopping the puck?”
”Will this affect your role as a leader on the team?”
“Do you believe Henrik will do a good job as a Captain?”
“Do you believe this represented a stance by management on your performance in the playoffs the last two seasons?”
And probably by someone, the dumbest question of all – “Are there any hard feelings between you and management or Henrik?”

Of course, then the season starts. For the first few weeks, it’ll be, “How is Henrik’s captaincy working out?” That will be bad enough. What about the first losing streak, though? General questions by the media and fans:

“Do you feel Henrik’s speaking out enough as Captain?”
“Has the loss of the C negatively affected Luongo’s performance?”
“Was Luongo a better Captain than Henrik?”
“Does Lungo worry that his captaincy is being compared to Henrik’s?”

But then, it was a well-documented fact for the first two seasons that Luongo was here that he was a voice in the dressing room on occasion. He’d speak up when he felt he had to. What happens when he does so after losing the captaincy to Henrik?

“Is Luongo still trying to be Captain?”
”Is Luongo undermining Henrik as Captain?”
“Does Luongo not think Henrik is speaking up enough?”
“Luongo resentful of new Captain?”

It’s just a matter of time before the media starts pretending there’s an internal struggle between new Captain and old.

But no, you say! No, the Vancouver sports media are well known for their responsibility and for their refusal to give in to scurrilous rumors, they’re steadfast guardians of truth who would never go for the sexy scandal yeah you feel stupid even finishing the sentence don’t you?

Don’t believe the Vancouver media would stir up such a ridiculous story? Look into the stories they ran when Naslund and Linden were still teammates from 2006-2008. As soon as Naslund’s scoring went down, the real serious criticism about his captaincy began, and with it, there was supposed friction between Naslund and Linden. Of course, these rumors never amounted to anything but a distraction.

This time, you’d have one player actually stripped of the C, where it’s given to another player. This story is more than just a team with two Captains, it’s got intrigue! It’s so sexy, how can you NOT make it up?

But wait, you say! This is only a one-to-two-month story! No way this would come out in the playoffs, where it counts!

Of course it will. As soon as the Canucks make it to the third round, it’ll be all about how Luongo couldn’t lead the Canucks this far, but Henrik did. Even if Luongo is lights out in the playoffs, it’ll only prove to some people that taking the C away was a good thing, and how easy can it be to concentrate when the better you do, the more justified people feel about talking smack?

But wait, you say! Why should the potential mumblings of some disingenuous news sources and idiot fans affect the decision, anyway?

Oh, I don’t know, maybe because that’s the whole basis of taking the C away from Luongo? No one with any real intelligence questions the man’s leadership, integrity, dedication or sheer will. The only reason people have suggested removing the C is because it “poses too much of a distraction” and makes him lose focus.

By that logic, discovering that removing the C would cause MORE of a ridiculous media storm and cause MORE of a distraction completely destroys the argument that we’re doing it for his mental acuity. And of course, the people who argue he doesn’t deserve the C by merit are just jerks.

But wait, you say! Luongo is a dedicated professional, and has the ability to shut all this out! Why are you acting like he won’t be able to handle the media himself, and we have to protect him from the mean things they might say about him?

There we have it. That, right there, is my point. When Luongo said he wasn’t talking to any of the media pregame anymore, the reaction by sportswriters was to throw a tantrum, because they would have less material. Of course, they lambasted him, and spun it like he was unable to handle the duties of Captain.

Really, what it meant, though, was that he’s more than capable of managing his own psyche. Right there, we were seeing an instance of him dealing with a situation, and he didn’t need any help from anyone else.

Can anyone see him do that, and seriously say, “Luongo wouldn’t admit if the captaincy was too much of a burden, and wouldn’t know how to handle the distractions?” Absolutely not.

Of course, if you disagree, and you think that the media ARE so much of a concern that their constant hounding him is negatively affecting his game, then what makes you think that losing the captaincy would mean he doesn’t have to talk to the media anymore? The media always found him before he was Captain, and they always will after. Removing the C will just make them ask more stupid questions, which, in your mind, will hurt his game.

When it comes down to it, no one can statistically or logically back up the claim that Luongo’s captaincy has negatively affected his game, and there certainly isn't any way to claim that losing the captaincy would improve his game. And when you understand that, it’s a short leap to say that the man works hard, is dedicated, and has earned the C. He certainly doesn’t deserve to lose it.

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