Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A culture of losing: Compare and Contrast

In the final minute of game 2 of the Eastern Semi-Finals, a rather blatant foul on LeBron James was ignored, the Cavs went on to lose the game 79-76 and went down 2-0 to the Pistons. When asked about the non-call, Coach Mike Brown said: "The officials get paid a lot of money, and that's their job. If they don't see anything, they don't see anything. We're a no-excuse team. We've got to get ready for Game 3."

When asked about that same non-call LeBron James stepped up and said: "We're a no-excuse team, you know, and we can't look at the last play as why we lost. We've just got to get better."

When asked by Canadian Press to provide a post-mortem on the Leaf's most-recent season, JFJ said "We were number one in the league to man games lost to injury in what turned out to be the toughest division in the East and probably in the league to qualify."

When asked about the impact Sean Hill's delayed suspension had on the Leafs and Islanders, JFJ said, "For sure I think we would have made the playoffs."


  1. Anonymous6:15 pm

    I think the difference in the quotes you chose to illustrate your point is the source. Two from a coach and player and two from a GM. I expect the coach and player of any team to avoid blaming a ref's missed call for their loss, and certainly we saw many examples this season where Maurice and Sundin took that same high road in their post-game assessments. The risks of a player being targeted by the refs in future games because of a comment made to the press are too great to take the chance.

    And, I think that most coaches and players realize that a game has so many opportunities for game-changing moments that in the grand scheme a missed call usually isn't the reason for a loss. The vast majority of teams lose because they deserve to lose, they simply didn't play well enough to win. Most sensible coaches and players realize that and also realize that it is important for the rest of the team to not be allowed the easy out of blaming the refs.

    It's too hard to instill a good work ethic if every loss is someone else's fault, rather than because of the team's own failings. One of Quinn's great failings as a coach was his propensity to blame officiating for too many of the Leafs' losses. He did it to shield his players in a misguided attempt to garner favour with them and build a tighter unit. The result was a team that lacked accountability and when character guys such as Roberts, guys that always made themselves and their teammates accountable for their actions, there was no similar direction coming from the coaching staff to fill the void.

    A GM is different, though, and especially JFJ. They're not as close to the action, and not so worried about retribution from the officials, so they have a tendency to spout off on subjects that the coach and players won't. They also don't want to admit that the players they selected, via draft, trade, or free agency, simply aren't good enough because it makes their own abilities highly suspect.

    JFJ's comments also have to be looked at in relation to his contract situation and general perception of his worth to the organization. He is attempting to cast blame on anything he can so as to hide his own incompetence. Injuries didn't hurt the Leafs that much thanks to decent play from the young players that filled in. What hurt more was the fact that he wasted $6 million in cap space on McCabe and did not find a winger for Sundin. Hill's suspension had nothing to do with the Leafs missing the playoffs because they should never have left their playoff aspirations to the last weekend of the regular season. The Leafs' inability to win key games when they needed to cost them a playoff spot.

    JFJ is not really speaking for the organization with his comments, more for himself. And, I think the team itself, the coaching staff and players, realize what he's doing and know it's a crock. At least, I hope they do.

  2. Anonymous8:28 am

    Great comparison Mike.