Tuesday, April 13, 2010

He Said, He Said

So, Tomas Plekanec is talking smack. He's disrespecting the Caps' goaltending and riling up the Caps. It's going to cost the Habs, because it'll motivate Theodore to shut them out four straight. He never should have said it.

What a crock! This is not trash talk. This is an honest, earnest guy answering a reporter's question in his second language. Somebody asked him if he was relieved to be facing the Caps' goalies rather than Miller or Brodeur. He said he was, because the other two guys are all-stars and the Caps' goalies gave up a lot of goals this year. Big deal. I have absolutely no doubt Plekanec meant no harm by his comments. He certainly didn't mean to be quoted in a way that painted him as an instigator.

The reason this is happening is because this series is boring for reporters. What can you say about a series between a completely dominating powerhouse like the Caps and a struggling, inconsistent eighth seed like the Habs? If Washington doesn't dominate Montreal in every way, it'll be a shock of immense proportions to most of the hockey world. We ever-hopeful Habs fans may have delusions of an upset, but every hockey expert everywhere else is choosing the Caps.

So, because there are still two days to go before any actual hockey starts for Montreal, and dozens of reporters are looking for a story on both sides of the series, Plekanec's doubtless innocent comment is out there as fuel for a non-existant fire between the two teams.

Of course there's no bitterness, though. How can there be? The two teams have never met in the playoffs. They don't really see each other much during the regular season and when they do, it's usually a mismatch. Either the Caps are wretched or they're dominating. The Habs just cruise along as their unassuming, middle-of-the-road selves. There's no history, no hate and no rivalry between these teams, so the media is attempting to manufacture those things.

Listening to Jose Theodore's lame response to Plekanec's comment today was just painful. "Tomas who? Jagr? Oh, Plekanec. I thought you meant Jagr," he said. That doesn't even make sense. It was a silly response to a silly, manufactured bit of "trash talk."

I hope this dies by tomorrow, but I'm not expecting it. The media will try to build on it and get the "fire" stoked. It won't make the tiniest bit of difference when it comes down to it, though. Theodore will not raise his game any higher because Plekanec said he's not Brodeur. If he wasn't already motivated to beat the team that cut him loose, he'll never be motivated. Ovechkin won't score more goals than he would have scored anyway. The only thing this little episode will do is inspire the Caps to rub it in a bit if they do dispatch the Habs, as everybody outside Montreal expects they will. It possibly will also draw some undeserved heat down on Plekanec's head if the Habs lose and he doesn't score a point a game.

If this is the level of pre-series analysis we have to look forward to for the next two days, Thursday can't come quickly enough. I'll bet Tomas Plekanec thinks so too.


Leila said...

Thank-you for that clarification, J.T. I was hoping someone would offer that explanation! Although some reports did allude to this fact they weren't exactly honest about it. TSN said something to the effect that it was said, 'after the cameras stopped rolling'. Oh, really!

It's not only Plekanec who's speaking in a second language, it was published by La Presse and a writer whose first language is not English either. Did they take his English words and change them to French? ...conveniently forgetting that their question was not supposed to be part of the direct Plekanac quote.

I wonder how Plekanac feels. Just another strike against signing in Montreal?

J.T. said...

@Leila: If he ends up with another infamous quote that's thrown back at him every time he deals with a media scrum, it won't help sign him, that's for sure. The best thing he can do is just go out and light up Theo. I hope he can pull it off.

moeman said...

JT knows this media fabricenhanced story = meh.

Drop the puck!

Leila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


You're full ogf you know what...

norcalvol said...

I'll take a different take. Second language notwithstanding, there is a time for honesty and there is a time for "no-bulletinboard-material-speak." The question should easily be seen as immediate bait by a player - other senior players are to coach younger players on such things.
Plekanec is old enough to know better.
I will say that it would be good to hear what was actually said and what the translation, if any, did.
And I will also say that is it refreshing to hear a player answer questions honestly and rationally.
Now was not a good time though.

Anonymous said...

This is bloody ridiculous. If we don't have a game for a few days, as we do, and manage to find blame and complaint with everything our players do we start bitching about anything and everything. Who gives a rat's ass what Pleky said? This is bull. You sound like a bunch of old women running your mouths. And then Leila says that maybe what was said got lost in translation? Oh, please. Pleky said what he said, no one was hurt. You're all getting way to sensitive with words. This is normal talk before you meet your opponent. It's caveman stuff, it's in our genes. Now go warm up your cup of milk and go to bed.

Leila said...

I loved the classy way Plekanec dealt with the media's questions today! What a great person.

If the Habs let him go, then I'll need more than a cup of warm milk and bed.

J.T. said...

@Leila: Pleky is one of the few players I have faith in because I believe he has integrity. I believe the team will re-sign him, if only because Gauthier has little choice. There's just nobody on the market this summer who can do all Pleky does. If he does happen to leave, however, my faith in the Habs will be severely tested. Severely.

Anonymous said...

I'm not understanding. I don't see any harm from all three angles(the reporter, Plekanec and Theo). The reporter asked a question (which, by the way, I'm assuming was asked in a language understood by Plekanec) and surely made a correct translation to his/her source (La Press). I'm more taken back by Leila's comment which reeks of racism. I live in California where many, many people speak more than one language (and are accepted for that rather than condemned, as seems to be the case with the English war against the French in Quebec). I've met many people and have friends who's oral English is not perfect BUT understand every English expression and slang spoken to them. Look, the question was fair: are you relieved to be facing Theo rather than Brodeur or Miller. Big deal. And Plekanec answered honestly and directly as well. I think the only people making a commotion out of this is you. Even if it were not an innocent question. Even if the question (and answer) were used to stimulate a challenge, confrontation, attack, I don't get how this is wrong. We are watching a hockey game where players size each up and taunt with words. This is hockey, not ballet. I agree with the previous annon's comment. Heat up the warm milk and get to bed.