I would be remiss if I didn’t start this by stating just how “over it” Tom Timmermann seems, I appreciate sportswriters who aren’t cheerleaders, and he’s never been.
Not that there’s much to cheer about after the Blues dropped yesterday’s game 6-1, once again giving up and choosing not to build on a win. Vladimir Tarasenko seems at a complete loss:
“I apologize to all our fans. We can’t play at home like this. It’s unacceptable. I don’t know how to like fix it. We work on it, but it doesn’t work for now. We have a really hard game and then the next day, we just blow up like this. Like, I don’t know.”
Not knowing how to fix a deeply entrenched problem isn’t new - hell, it’s what causes learned helplessness. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t work, the good play doesn’t stick, and so you quit trying the next game, and then the next. You don’t accept defeat and move on, you wallow in it.
One word both Mike Yeo and current coach Craig Berube have used to describe the Blues is “fragile.” It’s appropriate - look at how they crumbled after that fluke goal to start the team. Fragile is also a word that gets my red-flag detectors going. It signals defeat. You don’t fix fragile, you wrap it in bubble wrap and pray that nothing happens to it. When a team hits the point of fragility, be careful pointing it out because the players internalize that more and more, causing them to believe it and to play even more like an Italian major award.
Brayden Schenn trotted out the “fragile” word during Timmerman’s post-game interview, and it popped out to me. It’s one thing - not a super good one - for coaches to be tossing that word around. It’s another for players to be actively using that as a word to describe themselves.
The players shouldn’t believe that anti-hype. Sure, they’re playing terribly right now, but they’re also grown-ass professional hockey players who shouldn’t be scared about random flukes outside of their control, or having a clunker here and there. The leadership team on the Blues need to be more vocal - and I don’t mean that they need to speak constantly, because you can be a leader and be quiet, and only speak when needed. If there are differences of opinions on the team, solve them like adults. I don’t know if the leadership clique stuff is true or not, but if it is, knock it the fuck off. Someone compared the Blues’ leadership to the Plastics in Mean Girls on Twitter, and I thought that was apt. Right now they’re torn between Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith as to who to lead the team. They need a Regina George.
I don’t want to know what part of Alexander Steen’s anatomy can predict losses as they’re happening, but I really hope to God that it’s his nose.
This team isn’t going to fix themselves at this point, so staying status quo is useless. If the messaging is that they’re a fragile team, that isn’t going to change when they deal guys for peanuts because no one wants the contracts that need to be dealt. Somewhere someone needs to step in to convince them that they’re a professional hockey team, not a middle school cafeteria torn between cliques or whatever the hell is happening. Until that happens, Schenn is going to continue to be right.