There’s a certain undercurrent to how we talk about hockey that has had me on edge this season, and especially lately. While the Capitals have been very successful when measured in goals and wins and standings points, the team has pretty obvious flaws. When we talk about these flaws, we often name specific players, and that makes the discussions seem personal – as if to express disappointment in a player’s performance is the same as expressing disappointment in that player directly. But it’s rarely personal, and players often function in these discussions as proximities for a set of circumstances that the individual is in but not necessarily in control of.
I have to admit that I feel a sense of failure in myself as a communicator when my writing is read as a reflection of dislike for certain players. One of the allures of hockey for me is its complexity – the wild chaos on the surface belied by elegant patterns underneath, which in turn are themselves complicated by unseen layers still. I like looking deeper and learning more as much as I like the sound of skates on ice.
I both suspect and regret that this week’s snapshot will read as a condemnation of some individuals and a stout defense of a few others. I don’t have any problem with the latter, but the other part would sadden me.
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