Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Burned

Unless you are a Doors fan hopped up on acid car fires are nothing to laugh about most of the time. At best a usable piece of machinery goes up in flames, and at worst people get hurt or killed, and usually there is some kind of riot involved.

In a fit of rage after Adam Foote decided to leave the Avalanche for Columbus for marginally more millions, a friend of mine envisioned Foote dying in a car fire en route to Ohio as a way to mentally compensate for the loss of the great leader:

Me: "Did you hear about Footer going to Columbus?"

He: "Yes. It's unfortunate though, since he died in that car fire on the drive there. Tragic really."

Me (biting my lip): "Yeah. Car fire. So hot that heat."

After it was reported last week that the Minnesota Wild lost their pads in a van fire most of the media, like mosquitoes steaming towards a bug light, spoke about how unfortunate and inconvenient it was that an NHL team lost thousands of dollars of customized equipment.

It is bad for an entire team to lose their pads, especially for true "gentlemen" like Derrick Boogaard, who no doubt lost that pink teddy bear that I'm convinced he keeps in his breezers. But absolutely everyone missed the most obvious and biggest loss of all: Nick Backstrom lost his goalie pads.

To most people the loss of one's goalie pads doesn't seem like a big deal. It is an expensive deal, but not end of the world bad. But to a goalie the loss of one's pads goes beyond missing the wretched stink of success.

It means losing your luck.

Many hockey players are superstitious to a fault. Most have to tape their sticks the same way, or wear their socks on the same feet, and that is before they can leave their houses in the morning. But keepers, well let's just say most of us aren't considered right in the head even before you find out we never, ever wash our pads. Ever.

Patrick Roy had a litany of superstitions. The most obvious was his habit of never stepping on a line on the ice unless he absolutely had to. I've never had a chance to ask Patrick if he washed his pads, but I would bet you if he ever did he was either tricked or coerced. He didn't change his leg pads in an attempt to exploit the rules. Somebody probably washed his old ones.

The reason for never washing your pads is that your pads have been there through all of your successes and failures, and these events amount to "luck", even if you are the worst goalie in the world.

So in light of the Wild losing their equipment all I can think is that Nick Backstrom is in for a rough month. He has to build up the luck in his old pads.

You may be reading this and shaking your head thinking that the I've lost it, and you are probably right. But take a look at the shorthanded game winning goal scored by Matt Hendricks in Colorado's win over the Wild, which involved a dump-in caroming straight off the end boards, past Backstrom and onto the welcoming stick of the Avalanche forward and you'll see. No skill was involved in finding that sweet spot on those Minnesota end boards.

It was bad luck, boy. Bad luck.