Rick Morrissey: Hockey is a sport

Before I get started, let me offer this warning.  The articles I will be referencing – and therefore linking to unless otherwise mentioned – are from the Chicago Sun-Times Rick Morrissey.  If you click on any of the links, be warned your brain may melt. 

Ok, now to the point at hand.  Monday’s offering from Rick Morrissey is most-assuredly in response to his inbox to being flooded from all sorts because of his take on the Blackhawks limo pictures from last week.  If you didn’t see it already, Matthew Dirt from Second City Hockey already picked that one apart

So after being told by the typical hockey yahoos “YOU DON’T KNOW HOCKEY!! STOP TALKING HOCKEY!!!”, Morrissey decided to fight ignorance with more ignorance.  Behold:

For a player, the difficulty of hockey is not in its strategy but in being talented enough to keep the puck away from the other team.

I’m not really sure what this means.  Is he saying there’s no point in having coaches?  Is he saying that players only plan of attack is to make sure the other team doesn’t have the puck?  Are players simply instructed not to worry about anything but playing keepaway?  If so, why do teams sit through film sessions?  So Ben Eager and Cam Barker can have a little alone time in the dark?   So many questions, so few answers.

It goes a bit deeper, though.  Imagine if I just discovered the game of baseball, would I be in the wrong for thinking this: “For a player, the difficulty of baseball is not in its strategy but in being talented enough to hit the ball.”

Probably not.

Not understanding a sport is quite alright but painting it with a broad stroke simply because you don’t want to know the intracacies is a different story.      

Here’s the thing about hockey: There aren’t a lot of intricacies. Players skate like madmen for 40-second shifts. The passing at the NHL level is crisp, a thing to behold, but it doesn’t take a genius to know where the puck is supposed to go. And a fan needn’t have a vintage Dennis Hull sweater to know it, either.

Now watch very closely for what I’m about to do here.  I’ll bold it for the slower in the audience.

Here’s the thing about football: There aren’t a lot of intricacies. Players run around like madmen for 5-second intervals. The passing at the NFL level is crisp, a thing to behold, but it doesn’t take a genius to know where the ball is supposed to go. And a fan needn’t have a vintage Vince Evans jersey to know it, either.

See, if you’re a novice to ANY sport, everything seems simple.  It’s only when you peel off the layers when the intracacies are revealed.  Don’t tell that to Morrissey though.  He’s too busy trying to offend other niche sports.

Soccer might have more strategy than hockey. If only it had checking.

I love how he says “might” as in, “I’ve watched soccer for about 15 minutes once, it seemed to have some strategy going, but I’m not sure.  There seemed to be some plan of attack rather than just 10 guys skating around with this piece of rubber.  Oh yeah, and soccer is stupid.  Haha.”

The underlying factor (and most likely the biggest reason we were subjected to Morrissey enlightening us with how simple hockey is) in all of this is how much I despise hockey fans who respond to people with misguided opinions about the sport by saying, “STOP TALKING HOCKEY!! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IT!!”  Whatever happened to the good old reply of “You’re an idiot.”  What do you think Bears, Cubs, or White Sox fans say to Morrissey when he tries to dissect their teams?

No one tells Don Cherry to stop talking hockey and he has plenty of brain-dead ideas.  Just watch CBC for about three minutes.  Chris Berman is a blowhole.  He isn’t instructed to stop talking football.  John Kruk has a string attached to his back; just give it a yank and you’ll get all sorts of cliches.  His inbox isn’t flooded on a nightly basis with strict orders to stop talking baseball.  No, viewers just call them idiots and move on with their lives. 

Of course, the main point of Morrissey’s column was instructing old fans how to treat new fans and somewhere in between explaining how there’s little strategy in hockey and how the game hasn’t really changed in 25 years (as if they used to use tennis rackets to hit baseballs 20 years ago), he sort of lost his way. 

If you want a better idea of how to treat all the new fans discovering that hockey is actually played at the United Center, check out what these two guys said last year.  They might know what they’re talking about.

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14 Responses to Rick Morrissey: Hockey is a sport

  1. Goon Squad says:

    Morrissey got beat up alot as a kid, and his feelings got hurt when he found out Kaner likes girls…

  2. Jim says:

    If he started with his last section first, he might’ve had a more cohesive column. He doesn’t write in quick hits, so he really shouldn’t be trying to cover multiple topics in one column.

    One thing I’ve learned from you guys and SCH is how little I know about watching hockey deeply. Occasionally I can take my eyes off the puck and watch how plays take shape, but usually my non-event analysis consists of, “Brian Campbell can sure skate pretty.”

    Listening to the Hawks postgame show, though, makes me feel a little better about my own shortcomings. It’s hard to make points about the game with things like justification/proof/evidence when there are so few scoring events relative to other sports, so it’s nice to read people who are capable of doing so.

  3. Razzberry says:

    I don’t think I’m too far off in saying a good majority of the strategy in hockey occurs *away* from the puck. Since passing is so much quicker than carrying the puck, in many cases, plays are started by players moving into positions to set up receptions of passes. As a casual fan (especially watching on TV) it’s very easy to get lulled into the practice of just watching the black dot on the screen as it moves up the ice. If that’s all you’re doing, then yes, hockey can look simple because you can guess where a player is going to move the puck in many cases. True appreciation of the sport comes once you can start following the non-puck carriers and anticipating passes/plays ahead of time, and recognize when players think ahead and set themselves up to receive the puck. The Hawks are a great example with all of their quick transitions up the ice. Forwards are immediately setting themselves up for passes once the possession changes in their own end.

    It’s one of the biggest reasons watching the sport live is such a treat. You’re free to follow the entire play rather than just the area immediately surrounding where the puck is in play.

  4. swatski2 says:

    “You’re an idiot.”

    Quit quoting Chicago sports radio and develop an original opinion.

  5. John says:

    “You’re an idiot with obtuse ideas and I don’t agree with a word you’re saying”

    Better?

  6. Fork says:

    Don Cherry is a different case though – it doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong, simply because he’s so damn awesome.

    If he ever called me a “good boy”, I could die a happy man.

  7. Patrick says:

    What??? When the hell did Morrissey leave the Trib for the Sun Times? Not that that makes either paper any better…

  8. CT says:

    Nice try guys. I got the Tribune for the last 8 years, and the only thing that could make me read Morrissey’s column then was if the train broke down and I’d read everything else in the paper including the want ads.

    No way am I going over to the ST website to read him now.

  9. Andy says:

    Thanks for the link warning. Morrissey is an idiot (I know calling a sports columnist an idiot is a little redundant, but I did it anyways) who has bravely followed in the steps of Bayless and Moronotti to appeal to the lowest common denominator of sports fans: the uninformed, casual fans with the big mouth aka Sports Radio call-in guys. Looking to incite the masses is apparently the only part of a job description for a sports columnist at a major paper, not intelligence, sports knowledge or research skills.

    That being said, I have the utmost respect for the bloggers on this website because they are what sports journalists should be, keep up the good work. You won’t win Pulitzers or write for major dailies (newspapers are dead anyways), but you will win the respect of real fans, which is probably why you originally started doing this anyways.

  10. Dave Morris says:

    Has Mr Morrissey ever actually *played* hockey?

  11. John says:

    Well, that’s not really the point, but I find it highly unlikely.

  12. AJ says:

    *BOOM* My consciousness just imploded from reading Morrissey’s article.

  13. Dave Morris says:

    @John> so what you’re saying is that Mr Morrissey is a keyboard jockey?

    As opposed to a lawn jockey, that is.

  14. Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler says:

    The NHL game today is every bit the same as minor league hockey in 1984.

    I think this is what everyone should take away from the article.

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