Diane's Playoff Diary, 4/28/00:
A Tale of Two Hockey Players
To paraphrase Dickens, one was the best of guys, one was the worst of guys
Seeing as the Stars are about to faceoff against the San Jose Sharks in Round 2, you can probably guess who Im going to compare in this journal entry. Carbonneau and Marchment, talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.
This little exercise in contrast isnt just for my own amusement; this is a serious matter, one with ramifications that go beyond the game of hockey.
Said Guy recently of his next opponent: "San Jose has a bunch of young kids trying to prove something. I have nothing against wanting to play tough. There is a difference between playing tough and playing to hurt people."
Bryan Marchment and those who look to him as a mentor know the difference as well as Carbo. They also know if you dont have enough talent, playing tough may not be enough to win, and if it takes hurting people to win, they will do it. Tell these types "Its not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game," and they will laugh at you. Marchment has admitted if he werent the kind of player he is, he wouldnt be in the NHL. So if he cared about "how you play the game," he wouldnt be playing it.
Carbonneau, of course, made the NHL by his talent. So, heres a question: If Guys skill level were comparable to Marchment, what sort of NHL player would he be today?
Answer: He wouldnt be an NHL player. This isnt to say he wouldnt be just as heroic a person, we just wouldnt have had the opportunity to find out. Because Guy Carbonneau would never sacrifice his principles in order to succeed.
What bothers me most about the Marchment Phenomenon is not that Bryan exists, but that there are teams willing to hire him and fans willing to cheer for him. Our society doesnt approve of dirty players in politics or business, we as individuals dont like them as friends or co-workers. Why then is it all right in hockey, which personally I would like to hold to a higher standard than business or politics? Has winning in sports become so important that we simply dont care how it gets done?
Says Guy, "The playoffs now is different. In the past if you lose, you lose. Teams played, played tough, did everything they had to do to win, but I dont think they went out and tried to injure people. Now, it happens in the game every day, every series."
If the Sharks advance by winning cleanly, more power to them. If it takes Marchment-style tactics, how much is that victory worth, and at what cost does it come? We all pay the price, we all suffer, not just Nieuwendyk or Modano or whoever is the next victim of Marchments knee. We suffer because the sport we love has been sold out for personal success. We suffer because our fellow fans have learned to cheer for acts which, if they occurred on the street, would appall us. We suffer because the Stanley Cup can be won not necessarily by talent and teamwork but by violence and working outside the rules.
Ill admit that when I first learned the Stars would face the Sharks next, I wished (aloud even) that in Game 1 some Star would inflict upon Marchment a nice season-ending injury, so my favorite player and favorite team could avoid the ills he will doubtless inflict. The fact that I wished this also makes me sad, and ashamed. I was not the kind of hockey fan I should be. The other tragedy of Marchments game is that it can bring everyone down to this dismal level.
Im sorry I made that wish, and I take it back. That, too, would be too high a price to pay for winning. If I were thinking more like Guy Carbonneau, I would recognize that two battles will be fought in Round 2 between the Stars and the Sharks. One battle is for the right to go on to the Conference Finals. The other is for the right to be proud of the way you fought.
If Carbonneauwho understands
both winning and honorhas his way, the Stars will win both.