Wednesday, October 26, 2005


The "So-Called" Slump

Johnson wouldn't even acknowledge that ten consecutive losses constituted a slump. Trying to keep his poise as everybody around him lost theirs, Johnson commented: "You say to yourself, let's go back to the time when we were successful. What did we do differently? For the six weeks when we lost only two games, we were getting some breaks, we were getting some timely goals, and our goaltending was outstanding. Now, all of a sudden, we're not getting many goals, our defense is too tentative, and we're not getting good goaltending. We're in a slump because people keep telling us we're in a slump. People tell you you're playing badly and after a while, you start to believe it. People tell you you're playing great and you believe that, too. What do we need? We need to recapture the winning feeling. And the only way to do that is to win a game."

For those that don't recognize him by the relentless positivity, the Johnson referred to above is former Flames coach 'Badger' Bob Johnson, quoted in On Fire. How'd that go for him, you might be wondering? Short term:
The effects of Johnson's optimistic words lasted less than a day. The Hartford Whalers paid a visit to the Olympic Saddledome and buried the Flames 9-1.

Longer term (4-month range):
On the day Steve Smith turned 23, the Edmonton Oilers' rookie defenceman gave the city of Calgary a long-awaited, much-anticipated birthday present.

(That's actually the opening line of the book). Thus concludes this installment of Chicken Soup for the Oiler Fan's Soul. For those more in the mood for self-flagellation (or self-pity), I recommend today's Tom Benjamin: "I laughed even though it is mean to laugh when the hockey gods deliver a cruel blow to someone else's team. I laughed until my ribs hurt. I should be ashamed."


You're a good man, Mr. Fenwick.

I mean that.

Of course, Tom will likely get on your case again for showing too much mercy.

Supplementary information about the "so-called" slump:
- Flames dropped from 3rd overall in points to 19th
- Dropped from 3rd in PP% to 19th (and remember, this was in a 21-team NHL!)
- Finished the season 6th overall
- All of the 11 straight losses were in regulation time, not that it mattered much since there was no point for an OTL
- The one key roster move that was made in response to the slump (after the 11th loss): a young fellow named Mike Vernon was called up from the farm for good. (And Neil Sheehy, whose contributions have been mostly forgotten, but who did a hell of a job bugging 99).

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