Thursday, January 26

Stimuli, Responses

Some readers, who happen to be old friends, have been kind enough to email me with a request that I revive the short-lived comments feature. I'm not sure if "kind" is the right term, because their intent seems to be to expose my flimsy arguments and reactionary grousing to rigorous analysis, to show me the error of my ways, and to lead me to the light. And much as I probably need such a corrective, I have to disappoint them. I simply don't have time to monitor comments, let alone respond to them. I will make an exception for some, however, and here they are.

[Your posts] all make me itch to respond, and it's killing me not to have the option . . . . it's a shame for you to be tossing out good, provocative material without allowing the opportunity for a response.

I feel your pain. Or at last your itching. It must be similar to my frustration watching BBC political talk shows, or Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on whatever show it is they burden with their latitudinarian inanities. (I can never keep the morning infotainment shows straight.) At least you have the option of emailing, though. Since Katie's restraining order, I don't even have that outlet.

Because really, aren't you dying to hear the argument FOR polygamy?

Not really. The point of an open mind, like an open mouth, is to close it on something solid. (I think Chesterton said this first.) Two person marriage is something solid.

Besides, I read Martha Bailey's original report, "Beyond Conjugality," from 2001. That document was the driving force behind legal push for gay marriage in Canada, and not primarily about polygamy, but the latter argument, which she expanded on in her most recent report, was there all along. Made me want to bring back scarlet letters.

[R]eally, someone's got to dissect your hockey posts - they're generally very good, but occasionally troubling. The suggestion that Staal could be taken over Nash, for example. Quickly, Nash spent the lockout winning the Swiss league championship with Davos (leading the league in goal-scoring), and leading all scorers at the World Championships (won by Canada). Most importantly, in both cases he played on a line with Thornton (and on the big ice). They'll surely play together again in Turin and will probably form Canada's top line.

Your point is well-taken, but I would like to make a few points in my defense.

First, I advocated replacing either Ryan Smyth or Rick Nash with Eric Staal. Of the two options, I would prefer the former, largely for the reason you mention—Nash's previous success as Thornton's linemate at the World Championships. But, as I said in my post, Eric Staal is playing at least as well as Smyth has ever played, and much better than Smyth is playing this year.

Second, at the time of my post, Nash had only been back for five or six games and, by his own admission, wasn’t playing well. ("I was relieved when I made it. I was worried having only played six games and not having good numbers either.") I had lingering doubts about his high-ankle sprain, which, frankly, aren’t fully alleviated despite Nash’s improved play (see the same link above). Serious sprains don’t improve while you are playing on them.

Third, I remember Nash’s (and Thornton’s) play in Davos—one of the few hockey-related advantages of living in London was that, during the lockout, I was able to get reasonable coverage of the European leagues. They didn't, however, play on the same line, though they played together on the power play. (For the record, I believe that the top two Davos lines were: (1) Rick Nash – Reto Von Arx – Michel Riesen, and (2) Joe Thornton – Jozef Mahra – Nicklas Hagman. Riesen was the first Swiss player selected in the first round of a draft, 14th overall by Edmonton in 1997. I remember him from the World Juniors, but don't recall him playing in the NHL.)

Finally, if by "leading all scorers," you mean that Nash led the World Championships in goals, then you are right (Thornton led in points), but he was second in goal-scoring in the Swiss League. (He had a slow start, and Davos didn't do so well in the first half of the regular season, but (I'm going from memory) ended up second in the league. Both he and Thornton absolutely dominated the playoffs, but, even so, Nash trailed team-mate Niklas Hagman in playoff goal scoring.) Not that first or second makes a difference, the point being that he has played well on the big ice.

Leading me to the conclusion that, with the benefit of a month's play under Nash's belt, you are absolutely correct: Thornton and Nash (and Gagne, was it?) should be Canada's top line in Turin. (By the way, what's up with all this "Torino" nonsense? Am I going to have to learn the nuanced phonetics and quadratonal system of native Mandarin speakers for Peking in 2008? Or constantly correct non-British Columbians who pronounce Vancouver 2012 "van-coover," instead of "vang-coover"? I don't recall Athena 2004.)

On an unrelated note, I remember seeing pictures of Team Canada at the Spengler Cup (held at Davos’s home rink, as you know) practicing on the outdoor rink at Davos. I wonder if the Davos team ever practiced on the outdoor rink as well. Or, better, played on it.