Hockey is a tough sport to play. Players have to put on skates, with a blade around 1-1.5mm in length and then move around on ice. All the while, they are required to stick handle a puck, make passes to teammates that are moving and hit them in stride, shoot the puck either by a slap, wrist, snap or backhand shot and have to get it past another player who is heavily padded in goal in front of them… oh and by the way, it’s legal for the players on the other team to crash into them as hard as they can in the open ice or slam them against a very hard wall and glass surface.
There are rules put in place to try and deter players from doing other things with their stick or body that can and does hurt, but lets not pretend like the rules of slashing, cross checking, elbowing, spearing, tripping, kneeing, roughing are ever actually applied when a player like Andrew Courtney sets himself up in front of the opponents net on the power play (or any player from any team for that matter that gets the “honor” of being the man in front of the net on the power play.)
So after reading the first two paragraphs you may be thinking what a nice reminder as to the level of difficulty of the sport this has been, and why the hell am I telling you these things that you already know? Lets discuss.
For this first time in the franchise of the Missouri Mavericks, we are looking at the final 12 games of the season as just that – the final 12 games. While not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it will take essentially a perfect 12-for-12 from the Mavs and serious help from two other teams to get there. However, when you watch the effort and grittiness that the Maverick players continue to possess you must feel pride in this team and these players.
With all of those factors weighing down on players who in all likelihood won’t make the playoffs, what would be the point to continue to grind out shift after shift as we see a guy like Patch Alber do night in and night out? He is not the only guy. Take John Scott-Dickson, a guy who has an utter refusal to let an opponent’s blue liner ever get a shot off from the point, either blocking the shot or forcing the player to dish the puck off to the side boards. I’ve written about it before, hockey pucks hurt! So why would these players continue to put themselves in harm’s way, continue to bust their backside shift after shift if in 12 games their season will just come to an end?
It’s done for pride, and in doing it for pride it is being done for you, the fans. I’ve had an opportunity to talk with many of the new players- and talk with them before they ever play a game at the Independence Event Center, and without fail they will talk about how excited they are to get to play in front of the Mavericks fan base and all that they have heard about the Mav fans. Sure, the players are playing to get the coaches and front office staff’s attention for next year – but more than that they play for the pride of the Mavericks logo and the fans.
I hope you will all remember that the next time you see a puck blocked or a hard hit taken by a Mavericks player. Sure this year hasn’t gone as planned – and many are not pleased with how things went this year. You can be mad all you want and it’s your choice to want to “be done” but remember that these players are playing for you and no matter what happens, they will be back and ready to go next season – and will pride fully pull on the Mavericks sweater for you the fans.