Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Inventing Strife

Winning is boring.

Not for the players who are always happier and having more fun when they win. And not for the fans...never the fans!...who go to bed smiling when their team plays a great game. For the hordes of media who follow a team like the Habs, though, winning gets pretty dull. After all, a person can only talk about great team defence or Price's solid play or Plekanec's steady production a finite number of times before the answers to those questions become predictable. It's even worse when everybody's reporting the same story day after day and nobody's got a scoop.

That's the pitfall of winning in Montreal. If there's no hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing of the type inevitable during a losing streak, the journalists get restless and start looking for something a little more juicy to report. That's why the scratching of a 21-year-old rookie who's been a little too enthusiastic in his shift lengths and a little too risky in his decision making is suddenly the biggest story of the season. It's why a press corps, which has little else in the way of potential controversy about which to write, is now trying to set up a divide between P.K.Subban and Yannick Weber.

Subban himself tried to deflect the so-called issue yesterday, telling the reporters who drilled him with questions about his benching that he's just trying to learn how to play in the NHL and improve his game. He, rightly, pointed out that nobody is asking Dustin Boyd how he feels about getting scratched every night. He tried to steer the conversation to the fact that the team is winning and, perhaps, that should be the focus of the barrage of questions.

No dice, P.K. Winning is boring. There's no controversy in winning. There's nothing to hash over on sports call-in shows. There's little in the way of second-guessing the coach or screaming for a trade to liven up the copy when a team is rolling along. So, until Weber stumbles or a veteran gets hurt to allow Subban back into the lineup, the reporters will keep poking at the kid. The hope, perhaps, is that Subban will flinch and say something about frustration or unhappiness that will explode into headlines about how the team is ruining its star rookie.

Still, considering some of the other much-publicized controversies within the Canadiens' fold, this one is pretty minor. Subban and Weber are friends and have been teammates on a close-knit Hamilton Bulldogs team. Both are level-headed young men who will sigh and continue to patiently divert attention from themselves, no matter how much reporters want to stir them into an injudicious remark. Eventually, something else will happen and they'll be left alone.

If winning keeps the controversy around the Habs to such innocuous levels, let's hope it continues all year. After all, the reporters are the only ones who think it's dull.

1 comment:

moeman said...

Which is why they are sometimes labelled the press corpse. This time lead by head zombie yapper don cherry.