Remember last year when the importance of faceoffs or how we should cheer at the F'N Center was the rage on Twitter? Ah, how those were the days. Those have been replaced by the never-ending topics on tanking. It is a topic that has just been hanging around for months and just when you think it is dead, it reoccurs and onward we go with this silly topic.
For the record, I do NOT believe in losing out to constantly get the #1 pick.
I give you…
Exhibit A: The Edmonton Oilers.
Exhibit B: The NY/Brooklyn Islanders.
Exhibit C: The Florida Panthers.
Exhibit D: The Pittsburgh Pirates.
Yeah, I already know what your defense is as you will mention Pittsburgh and Chicago, but I'm more inclined with building my hockey teams like the Kings and Bruins did for the most part. A mix of trades, FAs and decent picks that didn't have to be top 3 (Exception Seguin, but I pretty much think if Phil Kessel was still in Boston, they win the title).
However, this isn't about whether we should tank or not. I've beaten that drum like I'm Lars from Metallica over here. This is about the NHL hopefully doing what is right and stopping the charade of teams deciding to tank to get a high draft pick. It something the NBA took notice in the mid-80s when everyone knew the Knicks were tanking in order to draft Patrick Ewing. David Stern, who is about as ruthless as a dictator, put the kibosh on that and the draft lottery was born soon after.
And let me tell you, the NBA draft lottery is a hell of lot more exciting than the NHL's one. In that lotto, the playoff team that just missed out on the playoffs can still nab the #1, #2 or #3 pick (See: Orlando Magic/Chris Webber). It is exciting because you never knew where a team will end up. And yes, for those crying that teams still need a top pick, the farthest the crappiest NHL team could fall would be the 4th or even 6th selection. However, it still keeps teams on their toes for trying to tank.
Let's look at a few obvious reasons why tanking sucks giant ass:
1) The games fucken suck. This has been an awful season. The other night, the Sabres were playing the Islanders and it is one of the few games I can watch in Queens without finding an illegal feed. I decided to watch reruns of Wrestlemania on the WWE Network because I knew I'd be bored to tears with watching the Sabres/Islanders. The Sabres have scored as much as I did with the girls in high school (Not very much) and I don't think anyone has enjoyed it. There's nothing cool about going to games and I feel bad for anyone who decided to buy season tickets.
2) While I understand that sometimes it takes going to hell to get to heaven in wanting to achieve your dreams, there obviously has to be a be heaven and its not always the case with tanking. This is where I go through the Islanders/Panthers/Oilers list, which I already did. So, I'll just tell you that if we go down the tank route of trying to get Connor McDavid, we will be here again next year. And possibly the year after. And then the year after. Sooner or later, I'll just stop watching and caring and want to kill the assholes who decided to shove the draft down my throat in making it seem like there's a Sidney Crosby at the top of it yearly and we should lose out. Entertain me!
3) Buffalo fans will reject this plan. You know why? Because we already fucken did. Why do you think Darcy Regier -who for years talked about teenagers learning the games in the minors- decided to have four teenagers play in October? He did it because he wanted to tank and because he thought he'd have a job for life. His hockey life pretty much ended because the fans pretty much booed the Sabres and their GM out the door. I've always believed Buffalo hockey fans want to see a decent product on the ice more so than enjoying the ambiance of going downtown to watch a hockey game. This isn't the Bills where you can sell drunken escapades at RWS as a draw. Right now, I can go to the Sabres/Devils game for 16 bucks. That's a far cry from two seasons ago and you are telling me we have to do this again? And again? AND AGAIN (Pee-wee Herman voice) and it may just end with us staying in hockey hell.
4) There's a reason why players/coaches aren't allowed to gamble on sports. It is because the leagues are worried about the players/coaches taking it upon themselves to fix the outcome. It is about the integrity of the league. We don't want there to be any sort of outside affect when it comes to this. We want it pure where the outcome is decided on the field and not by some sort of outside source. So…let's just lose games for the sake of getting a top pick and compromise the integrity of the league. When you think about it, it is almost the same thing as why gambling isn't allowed. It is pretty much shaming the league.
Yeah…I know what you are thinking..Joe is jaded because he hates prospects and doesn't get a boner over Connor McDick or doesn't want to wait 4 years until I'm almost 40 for the Sabres to get good again…and you are completely correct.
However, I'm objective enough to take a step back away from my narrow minded narrative and look at the greater good. To come to the understanding that this is more about the morality and integrity of the league. Tanking is dirty and just an all-around pussy move if you ask me.
People pay good money to see teams put their best effort and team on the ice and I don't want it compromised for the sake of my team possibly getting better by putting a shitty product on the ice, especially when there are other ways to turn your franchise around.
Maybe I've watched one too many corny sports movies where effort and believing is what sets you apart from the winners and losers. Parents and coaches don't tell their kids to lose at the sake of playing in a lesser league. There's a reason why parents don't ease up on teaching their kids how to hit a baseball when they are pitching to their son. I'm not talking about being crazy hockey dad with wanting your son to be the next Patrick Kane.
I'm talking about not throwing a game at the sake of letting your kid feel good about themselves at the sake of accomplishing victory in a fixed outcome. It is about earning it. Making them work for it and handling adversity. But more importantly, you are eventually teaching your kid how to win.
That still holds true in professional sports and rebuilding.
Eventually teams have to learn how to win and tanking or throwing up the white flag without trying doesn't exactly instill an astute learning curve, does it?
Suffering is one thing, but to use a "tank" to fire a self-inflicted wound? The Hockey Gods [NHL] shouldn't be called in to perform a miracle in resuscitation. Instead, they should stop it before it even happens.