Monday, 15 February 2016

A Titanic Season If There Ever Was One: 2016 Grizzlies

To say that this past weekend was a bit of a rough one for the Victoria Grizzlies would be a massive understatement.  Facing the #5 Interior Division, Merritt Centennials on Saturday night and the #1 Mainland Division, Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, the Grizzlies came away with nothing but two more losses on the weekend's action.  They now sit in a tie at 46 points for the final playoff spot in the Island Division with Alberni Valley after a Bulldogs win on Sunday.  Yes times are certainly tough at the moment.  The good news is that now the club only has to worry about preparing for its unquestionable toughest road trip of the entire season: Cowichan Valley, Wenatchee, Penticton and Langley.

#2 Chuck Bennis wasn't the only Grizzly who had his hands full on Sunday afternoon vs The Chiefs
I have been asked by many of you in the last several days about what my thoughts are about this now season high 7 game losing streak.  Every time I start to form a thought about it all I can see is that notoriously famous image of Joe Namath on the sidelines of that Monday Night Football Game with Suzy Kolber many years ago.  "Suzy, the Jets are struuugellllling."

Joe Namath's famous moment with Suzy Kolber on MNF
Poor Suzy.  I always felt so bad for her in that interview.  But she handled it like the true pro that she is and Namath soon got sober and it all worked out in the end, but I digress.

You know I had more than a few conversations over the weekend with some hockey people around the league about the Grizzlies.  Let's just call them "unnamed BCHL sources" and leave it at that.  As I was trying to map out the current situation as I see with the Grizzlies, I kept going back to the RMS Titanic.  Yeah, that's right, the Titanic, the Royal Mail Ship Titanic.

A long series of errors was all it took to send Titanic to the bottom in April of 1912
Don't worry my metaphor confused the hell out of everyone else, you're not alone.

Believe it or not, many years ago I used to be a card carrying member of get this:  The Titanic Historical Society.  I am sure that they still exits somewhere and I don't have either the time nor the inclination to Google them at the moment.  But back in 1981, I was very proud to have had this little card in the sleeve of my wallet with my name on it.  The card read "Titanic Historical Society, Chicago Illinois".  Truth be told, I am only about 90% sure that they were out of Chicago but I don't really think that its all that important to my story.

For the past week or so now I have been noticing all these little things that the Grizzlies are not doing quite so well.  Sometimes its a big thing, like a bad penalty or sometimes its something small and subtle like a shift which went on just a bit too long.  It might be an injury or a mental lapse. Sometimes its something which happens on the ice.  Sometimes its something off the ice.  Sometimes its something I sense on the road or maybe something I see around the Q Centre.  It doesn't really matter, but I can see it.  I have even seen a few things in the Broadcast Booth that Yours Truly would like to do over again, if I am being honest.

It will take more than just #12 PJ Conlon scoring in 6 of his last 10 games to secure the Grizzlies a playoff spot
Do you know why almost 1,500 people died one night in April of 1912 in the frigid waters off of Newfoundland in the worst maritime disaster in history?  It wasn't just because of an iceberg.  It wasn't just because Fredrick Fleet up in the Crows Nest that night arrived on watch to discover that there were no binoculars for the lookouts to see approaching ice.  It wasn't just because Captain Smith (under great but subtle pressure from his bosses who were onboard) ordered that ship travel at top speed in an area know to have ice just so that a speed record to New York could be set.  No it wasn't just that boastful desire to provide The White Star Line with newspaper headlines to please its shareholders which killed all those passengers and crew.

Those people on the Titanic didn't lose their lives just because her builders, Harland and Wolff had failed to place the vertical bulkheads high enough to stop water from spilling aft should the forward part of the hull be breached.  It wasn't just the rivets from Belfast which were made of a cheaper steel to increase the profit margin in the great ship's construction.  Those people didn't die that night just because she didn't have enough lifeboats either.  And perhaps most tragic of all, it wasn't because a nearby ship, the SS Californian, who was in visual sight of Titanic as she slowly sank, had turned off her Morse Code radios for the night because the regulations in those days permitted such lunacy.

Passing ships mistakenly thought Titanic's distress flares were mere company signals and paid no attention as disaster loomed in the still and frigid waters of the North Atlantic
No, sadly the tragic lesson of the Titanic was that it took all of those things and many more to conspire to sink that great ship and send all those poor souls to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  You see, it wasn't just the one thing that went wrong that night.  It was a little bit of all those things.

And that's where the Grizzlies are at the moment.  They are a club who are struggling through a very tough slump to be sure, the worst stretch in many years and one which could cost the team a spot in the BCHL Playoffs.  In my humble view, the Grizzlies are dealing with a whole bunch of little things quite frankly, none of which are going right at the moment.

Whatever the issues are, the answers are in that organization, not just the Dressing Room.  A 7 game winning streak in January is proof that the ability to win is still very much in place.  But everyone and I do mean everyone, over these final six games will need to pull a little harder and do his or her job just a little better than they did yesterday.  We are each going to have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and simply get on with it pure and simple.  And that includes me too by the way.

I like that line from that Stanley Kubrick 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket.  "Yep, this is one big sh#t sandwich and we're all gonna have to take a bite."
Actor R. Lee Ermey, a former USMC Drill Instructor, ad libbed most of his lines in Kubrick's classic tale of Vietnam   
So I hope that you will all follow along in this final chapter of the Regular Season as the Grizzlies fight for their very playoff lives.  I will certainly do my part to keep you appraised of how it goes.  My sense is that the Grizzlies will find a way to make sure that Fredrick Fleet has a good pair of binoculars before he goes on watch. I also think that the Captain will exercise good judgement as he negotiates his hockey club through a treacherous ice field on a moonless night, without even so much as a breath of air.

And when the whole tumultuous season is over, no matter what happens, I think I might just look up that group of geeky Titanic enthusiasts with whom I used to swap stories with way back in the day. I wonder if they will charge me very much for a membership card which I suspect is very much in arrears?  Until then I will talk to you tomorrow night from "The Stick" in Cowichan.  -CC

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