I have been composing this post for nigh on three months. I had hinted at this a while ago and I don’t think I am too far off. Heads have been rolling in the NHL after the playoffs and I have a theory. All these comebacks this year and the poor performances by certain players can be explained in the following way. Fatigue. In no other NHL season has a player had to endure 82 games. 10 or so preseason games. 8 or so Olympic hockey games and a possible 28 playoff games…ever!!! And a trip around the world to the other side of the earth…twice, there and back. It has been a ridiculous strain and it has shown on our friend Sid the Kid, who is already watched like a hawk out there. They say in the playoffs that time and space are in short supply and players are starting to catch up with Sid…I think it is true. Sidney Crosby has reached that part of his career where he has learned when to turn it on…and when to back off while he is being harassed. You can fight through it or you can wait for the moments that present themselves. Pittsburgh isn’t the same as they were. They lost Staal, who was arguably the best third line centre in the league before he left willing to play a role on a team…who could be a first or second line centre on many other teams but instead sublimates his ego for the team…gone. Pittsburgh lost their depth. As a result Sidney couldn’t go out there and push through weaker or weakened opposition as they spread their defence to cover the balanced Penguins. When you combine his fatigue and Pittsburgh’s lack of depth and his extra mileage for the Olympics, you get failure. And he isn’t the only one. Getzlaf, Perry,even JVR and Kessel, who had great Olympics I think looked flat…they had nothing left…that was their season. I have done many sports but I learned a lot from swimming. What I learned was a concept known as periodization. Periodization is a way of tricking the body into peaking at certain times of the year through increasing and decreasing loads in the training. the Russians always used to do it to win world championships when they would have a “bad” game against the Canadians in the round robin only to run over us in the medal round. They played right on an edge that allowed them to peak at just the right time. It took years for us to apply that in hockey but The Canadian Olympic hockey team finally did that at Sochi. It used to go against our code or ethic in Canada, that we would try and win every game…but we have learned from the rest of the world…and they have certainly learned from us. Hockey cannot be owned anymore. Look at Anze Kopitar, or the growth of the game in all parts of the world. It is a great game and people are starting to realize it. It might be better than the beautiful game, imperiacally but I digress.
Of the players who went to the Olympics most have failed upon returning and only because other players have stepped up have their respective teams played on. I have mentioned Getzlaf, has Jeff Carter played well? Dustin Brown? Even Jonathan Quick was less than average in the last quarter if the season. The exceptions to this rule are PK Subban and Carey Price. But you have to remember that Carey price sat for two weeks after the Olympics and Subban sat during the Olympics. I argued at the time that PK should have played in and I don’t take that back…but what was PK s loss is now the Montreal Canadiens gain…they are both peaking. Pacioretty could have used the rest and has only recently resurrected himself at the end of the last series yet I am sure he will drop off…because he is tired. Would I trade on the memories of winning the Olympics ? I don’t think I would but ask Adam Oates, or Dan Byslma, or maybe even Bruce Boudreau (if his head rolls) what they think of the Olympics and how they had to try to motivate players that had nothing left in the tank…like real nothing, associated with playing double the games as last year by a large margin. I know they get paid a lot,a common argument, but there are times that the body just won’t go…and Sid the kid who looked skinnier than ever in his post games interview go on safari, sit on beach and give yourself a rest…this Canadian salutes you and your teammates… Just not the people of Pittsburgh. And for the duration of this years playoffs I have done the unthinkable and become a Habs Fan…because of PK Subban, who is peaking and finally getting the praise he deserves #NHL #dearrobtrick from Facebook