September 26, 2009, by Homme de Sept-Îles
Sports analysis is a fickle term. These days we are hearing criticisms that the Montreal Canadiens are “too small”. It’s easy to tag situations with a catchy phrase in order to appear wise or to dismiss a concept.
Tony Dungy was “too cerebral”. Mario Lemieux was “a floater”. The Detroit Red Wings were “too European”.
It was said. Believe it. So when Dungy couldn’t win the Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, he was written off as being too distant or aloof from the players. His intelligence and decency weren’t properly recognized til he won the trophy with the Indianapolis Colts. Til Lemieux started winning NHL scoring races, he was decried as lazy. Never mind that he had very few high-calibre, hall-of-fame type teammates nor that he played with one of the worst teams in NHL history. When he finally won the Stanley Cup, the floater tag wasn’t used quite as much.
The Detroit Red Wings won the 2007-08 Stanley Cup, the first to do so with a European captain, but they were roundly criticized in the months and years preceding by many for being “too soft” or “too Euro”. That myth has been challenged, as well.
But throughout these processes there are those who will defiantly retain their positions despite evidence to the contrary. Or worse, when their targets fail, as teams and individuals do in pro sport, the catchy tag is flashed and a knowing nod accompanies. We hear “I told you. They’re too soft.” And regardless of whether that tag was the reason for the failure, those defiant few remain smug in their positions.
How quickly we forget. There have been many small champions. There have been many short champions, too. Short can be bulky. Small can be tall. And just to remind some of you here is a short list of small champs: Theoren Fleury, Stanley Cup Champion, Calgary Flames, Martin St. Louis, Stanley Cup Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning, Doug Flutie, Grey Cup Champion, Toronto Argonauts, Wayne Gretzky, Stanley Cup Champion, Edmonton Oilers, Joe Montana, Super Bowl Champion, San Francisco 49ers, Henri Richard, Stanley Cup Champion, Montreal Canadiens.
And, oh yeah, Scott Gomez, Stanley Cup Champion, New Jersey Devils.
It’s a much longer list, oh ye of short memory. I challenge you to add to it. And to come up with a more accurate description of the 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens.
Catchy tag: “It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”