July 6, 2005

Don't Fall Victim to the Snake

With football and hockey on the horizon, it seems that everybody is up for making predictions. Magazines, talk radio, message boards...EVERYBODY has an opinion where their favorite team is going to finish. It happens every summer, right around mid-July, when baseball becomes mundane, and the Royals have slipped to 40 games out of first. This is the time where everybody is excited...everybody is pumped for the future, and mostly everybody is gearing up for what they are certain is to be a championship season.

However, lurking in the weeds of this carefree time is a snake. A snake so deadly, it can kill in a matter of weeks. A snake so feared, yet so misunderstood, that almost nobody even likes to acknowledge his existence.

That snake is the ugly serpent known as outlandish and foolish expectations.

On paper, this year's UNO hockey team is set to make a HUGE run. The team returns 17 of their top 20 players, including the rookie of the year for the league, as well as some of the top scorers in the nation. Back is a grinding group of promising role players, who have made huge plays game after game in the previous season. Scero, Marshall, Giramaldi are some players who are right there in terms of being able to make the step from role player to major impact.

Chris Holt in goal, made some of the finest saves I've ever seen at a hockey game in the most clutch of situations last year. He has two years under his belt, and should use that experience to push his game further along and put himself in a position to carry the entire team. Obviously as a former Under-18 USA team member, he was groomed for a season like this.

Experts are going to expect huge things from this team. Mike Kemp and his staff are expecting huge things from this team...and most of all, fans who have waited for 8 years for a year like this are going to be expecting big things. Pre-season polls are going to come out with UNO splattered all over them. Horrible columnists for USCHO still won't mention UNO in her columns, but fans will actually notice her omissions. Fox Sports Detroit will schedule TWO UNO games (in Michigan) instead of the usual one. Everything is in place for a year unlike any other. The snake has us right where he wants us.

As a lifelong fan of many bad sports teams, both college and pro...I feel it is my duty to warn you about the snake. The snake can make a mediocre season seem bad. The snake can make fans turn against each other, and worse yet...against players and coaches on the team. The snake knows that inside the minds of the fans...the team most certainly should look, act and play like a championship contender. This is the most dangerous time of the year, because expectations can grow to unrealistic proportions. During this time of year, the long season ahead can cloud perception of a mediocre team. (See Husker fan)

Falling victim to the snake is the most painfull form of losing because of the realization that your team can do so much more. Last year, Missouri's football team was set to take the "next step". They had an all-American QB and all the potential in the world. The division was down and everybody was looking for the giant to awaken from a 30 year slumber. And then on a September night in Troy Alabama, the snake bit Missouri fan in the jugular, and things were never the same. Fans turned on coaches. Players turned on coaches. Coaches turned on fans. The next thing you know, the team was 5-6 in a horrible division, wondering where the season went.

I'm extremely excited as to what may lie ahead for UNO hockey this season. (Despite the AD's attempts to keep me away.) It's difficult to look at the stats and the numbers from last season, and see anything less than a special season at the Q this winter. But waiting in the wings is the snake, ready to hit at a moment's notice. He may strike at the stampede. He may strike in November. He may not strike until December. He may not strike at all. However, the point of this post is simple: BEWARE OF THE SNAKE. DO NOT let yourself fall into the trap of overly high expectations. Great things happen to great people, and there is every possibility that this year's UNO hockey team can meet those expectations. We very well may be witnessing the start of a special run, unlike anything we have ever seen here.

However, unless we avoid the snake, we are in for heartbreak, despair and months of "what if's". Keep an open mind. Don't get too high with a big win, and don't get too down when the team fall flat.

Avoid the snake at all costs.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AJ you always find a way to hit the nail on the head! GREAT Blog!

The honorary chairman of JC Fremont Days!

3:04 PM  
Blogger Whooter said...

What did Kenny Stabler ever do to you? ;)

Good rant, mi compadre...

3:26 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

LOOOOVVVEEEE JC Fremont Days!

I DO RULE THE FREMONT KINGDOM!!!

3:28 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Pleasently mild, with little to no aftertaste...

4:40 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

I'm in a happy place with bunnies and rainbows made of gumdrops. Catch me tomorrow.

4:42 PM  

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