Monday, January 14, 2013

HOCKEYBEAR thought real friends would have stayed

1/11/2013 – Alaska 5, Michigan 4 – 7-8-4, 5-7-3-1 CCHA
1/12/2013 – Alaska 4, Michigan 1 – 8-8-4, 6-7-3-1 CCHA
1/13/2013 – Michigan 53, Ohio State 56 – 16-1, 3-1 Big Ten

Photo by Paul McCarthy via


Primeval forces of destruction like me do not usually have Twitter accounts. HOCKEYBEAR remembers many æons ago in Internet time, when there was something of a fad among commenter trolls that they weren't really "trolling," they were engaging in a "sociological experiment." Of course, I scoff at this notion — these so-called experimenters did not collect the required informed consent forms, did not follow the principles set forth in the Declaration of Helsinki, and did not publish their results in any peer-reviewed publications. However, the term came to mind as HOCKEYBEAR watched the Michigan fanbase melt down this weekend, and it wasn't the good kind of meltdown that destroys evil planets.

HOCKEYBEAR finds foot-ball and basket-hockey to be inferior to ice hockey, but I support Michigan in their endeavors in those sporting competitions because the human I force to write tweets for me supports Michigan in those sports. My human found it most strange that I required him to root for my Nanooks and against the Wolverines this past weekend. However, small humans of Michigan, he recommends you try it sometime. Pick a team that's not a huge rival that you're somewhat partial towards — for some of the posters on this most excellent blog, this team could be EMU, or Oklahoma, or Missouri — and don't just wish them well when they're not playing your Wolverines. Root for them to beat your team and see what it's like to be an outsider looking at how Michigan fans behave. HOCKEYBEAR was sometimes impressed, but sometimes I was also very, very ENRAGED.

Michigan fans expect a lot from their teams and are right to be disappointed by this weekend's hockey and basket-ball defeats. Michigan fans are lucky to have some of the most educated and well-reasoned blogs and forums of the Internet, and I am IMPRESSED at how well you self-police against the infinity of human stupidity. Even HOCKEYBEAR has problems policing that. It is good to have high expectations and demand that athletes that represent your school be the leaders and best. HOCKEYBEAR expects this of the Nanooks; HOCKEYBEAR expects it of every school, really.

I am going to quote what I wrote in my hockey series preview on Yost Built: "I am INFURIATED that the Michigan 'faithful' are so willing to abandon their team during a down season, by which they mean a season where the Wolverines might not make the tournament that my 'nooks have made ONCE."

It is one thing to be disappointed when your team doesn't meet expectations. It is another thing to abandon them and disrespect them and write things like "What a shame it would be to waste time on these [delete] [revise] [delete again] fellows when the basketball team is such a joy." This is especially true when your team is not a professional team. Support your team through thick and thin. You are lucky that most of your times are good times. You are disappointed because your foot-ball team went 8-5. You are frustrated that your hockey team might not make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990. You are upset because your basket-ball team lost for the first team all season. (How quickly you forget that it wasn't that long ago that you were very happy that your basket-ball team won the NIT.)

Here's the rub. Fans of my 'nooks are ecstatic that Alaska has done something it's never done before: sweep mighty Michigan in the legendary Yost Ice Arena. HOCKEYBEAR knows that my 'nooks practiced hard and trained hard for the series. But I have no doubt that Michigan also practiced hard and trained hard. It is all right to be frustrated that your team made mental mistakes and missed easy scoring chances.

But you humans are so silly! You believe that correcting a mental mistake is somehow easier than correcting a physical mistake, that training yourself to make the right decision when the opposing team has the puck in your zone is easier that training yourself to master stick-handling technique. YOUR BRAINS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. You cannot just flip a switch in your mind and say, "OK, now I'm going to make sure I'm never out of position" or "I'm never going to whiff at an open net again." Like all things humans do, both mental and physical, it takes work and practice and more work and more practice, and even then you may still never get as good at it as you'd like to be. Do you think HOCKEYBEAR just woke up one day and became the planet-destroying, ass-kicking, unstoppable force of destruction I am today? Maybe it appears that way to you, since I'm a fictional character and sprang into your plane of existence fully formed. But, from an in-universe POV, I sweated and studied and trained for YEARS. Like Batman, only awesomer.

Do you think your hockey team is not trying to play better on defense and do a better job taking advantage of goal-scoring opportunities? You humans have been corrupted by that idiot Yoda; I'm not sure why you listen to him when his failures at the end of the Old Republic have been well-documented. There is a try. You do and you fail, you do and you fail, and then you do and you start to succeed. Just because your hockey team is not succeeding enough to make you happy does not mean they are not trying and working hard. If you think that members of your hockey team are not trying, you need more evidence than the fact they are losing. At the highest levels of sports, the team that "wants it more" wins about 50% of the time.

In today's column, Matt Slovin writes "the Wolverines did just get spanked by arguably two of the easiest teams in the CCHA in Bowling Green and Alaska." While Bowling Green is indeed in last place, my 'nooks are now fighting it out with Lake State, OSU, and Ferris for a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs. While we have had bad years in the past, we are doing quite well this year! (HOCKEYBEAR will concede our definition of "doing quite well" is not as high as yours.) My 'nooks are excellent at the penalty kill: you would find it a lot less upsetting that your team went 1/8 on the power play on Saturday if you knew that my 'nooks have killed 87.9% of penalties so far this year. One out of eight is what you should have expected to get!

Your basket-ball team also suffered an upsetting defeat this weekend as they were defeated in the arena of their archenemy Ohio State. You do not judge them for failing to try or for making needless mental errors, even though many mental errors are necessary for a basket-ball squadron as good as yours to fall behind 29-8. Your basket-ball team demonstrated itself to be resilient as they fought back to only lose by three points, so you are still proud of them, even in defeat. HOCKEYBEAR approves of your basket-ball team and is glad that they learned valuable lessons in January rather than in March.

But humans, resiliency is not simply something you are born with! You can train yourself (or be trained) to be more resilient by going through tough experiences and taking on difficult challenges. HOCKEYBEAR believes that not enough Michigan fans are resilient: you avoid the tough times for your teams, because most of the time things are good. You can jump off the bandwagon and nobody notices if you sneak back on three years later when you like the new coach better.

Much like you should realize that Alaska is not a terrible hockey team, you should realize that most Ohio State fans are not terrible people either. HOCKEYBEAR destroyed their campus, true, but that was in an alternate dimension where it had already been evacuated. I believe you should be proud that you do not have a "HATE WEEK" before your annual foot-ball match and redirect your rivalry towards useful ends like donating blood and canned goods to those in need and when it comes to this, HOCKEYBEAR declares that Michigan fans are better as a group than Ohio State fans. That does not mean that you individually are a better person than any Ohio State fan. There are plenty of good people at Ohio State too. While they may not understand HOCKEYBEAR as well as the Children of Yost, it was fun to trade barbs with the OSU Knucklebucks when my 'nooks visited Columbus in the fall. Everywhere HOCKEYBEAR has traveled in this dimension's Earth, HOCKEYBEAR has met good people. That is why I limit most of my wanton destruction to other planets and the International Space Station.

Small humans, anger is inevitable and sometimes necessary, but it is not good for you to be enraged because sporting teams you support do not do well, and it is not good for you to give up on them when they fail. Stick with your teams and grow stronger in the face of challenges, but let HOCKEYBEAR be ENRAGED for you.

Michigan, you remain ever valiant, you remain among the leaders and best, but this time my 'nooks are the victors and the champions of the (north)west. You will be the conquering heroes once again; HOCKEYBEAR would appreciate it if you could start by defeating LSSU and help my 'nooks pass them in the CCHA standings. But to be the leaders and best, you must be resilient, and to be resilient, you must NEVER abandon your team.

The legend of your foot-ball coach Bo Schembechler extends to even the galaxy's distant outposts. Millions of light-years away they know that those who stay will be champions. HOCKEYBEAR challenges you: stay, support your team. Be a champion.


olywa said...

HOCKEYBEAR rules. Few can chide as gently as that. Points well made.

Misopogon said...

NOW you offer this suggestion. I watched Michigan fail to check the trailing guy three times, and all led to that guy scoring goals in the Friday night game. Have you ever (..from your space jet/Mars vantage points) seen a Red Berenson team no backcheck?


Why do I offer this suggestion NOW? On the occasions when I choose to, I tend to offer responses to statements made in public fora soon after those statements are made. Following many statements made after Sunday's basketball game, the hypocrisy was so enormous that you didn't have to be HOCKEYBEAR to see it all the way from Pluto.

Is giving up five goals to Alaska on a Friday night proof of a lack of effort? Because Notre Dame just did that, and they're in first place at the moment. Are they a bunch of "[delete] [revise] [delete again] fellows" too?

If you have want to convince me the Michigan hockey team is full of lazy ne'er-do-wells, you have to give more proof than they missed some backchecks. Poor play is not a sign of a lack of effort (see Stauskas vs. The Ohio State University.) If you've got the proof, post it. HOCKEYBEAR wants to see it.


HOCKEYBEAR clarifies: Poor play is not necessarily a sign of a lack of effort.