Any team, at any time. Every team can be affected by the dreaded stinker.
Even the Moncton Wildcats who are on a recording setting pace right now are susceptible to a stinker.
I’ll never forget watching the “Replacements” starring Keanu Reeves for the first time.
His famous quote regarding fear is truly legendary in my mind.
When asked to talk about fear, Reeves character said,
“Quicksand, no matter how hard you try, you just keep sinking.”
Well that sinking feeling is ever present in sports when teams get in over their heads.
In the game of hockey we call those “stinkers.”
You never know when you are going to have one.
As a former coach I was always very cautious about the dreaded stinker, especially while riding a streak.
As a coach you know it’s lurking and ready to pounce at any moment.
Obviously, being prepared and always focused is a great way to avoid the aforementioned villain, but along the way it will present itself.
I’ll never forget playing Pee Wee AAA and going into Riverview one Sunday afternoon well the “villain” was ever present and inescapable.
Missed opportunities, poor passing and poor execution for two periods plagued us.
We only lost four games all season that year, we had a powerhouse.
Between the 2nd and 3rd not a lot was said.
We knew that Dale knew we were laying an egg.
In the 3rd period we responded and finally played our brand of hockey and came out with a 7 -2 win.
We left the rink that day knowing that our performance clearly wasn’t good enough and that if we had played a more competitive team we would have been walking out there with a loss.
By fate or the hockey Gods, we had a practice the next day.
The feel in the dressing room and by our coaches demeanour we all knew what we were in for a bag skate.
Every time he blew the whistle we knew that 7 -2 still wasn’t good enough, but his punishment skate wasn’t about throwing up on the ice, it was about sending a message.
I have witnessed a lot of “stinkers” in my day.
Every team is different and you have to treat every team differently.
One of my final years coaching I vividly remember skating our team during practice after a poor performance.
I made sure the players thought about the lack of preparation and execution.
I walked into the dressing room after practice and asked the following question.
How do we avoid this from ever happening again?
One player said “we move forward, but we don’t forget.”
Another player responded by saying “we don’t want to be here again.”
You see they finally understood what the “quicksand” can do to a team, the effort was there and no one questioned that, but it didn’t matter they were just getting deeper and deeper.
Whether it’s quicksand or a stinker either way you don’t want to be buried in it.
The Wildcats find themselves on a big roll right now.
When great teams get rolling they are hard to stop.
Nevertheless, the stinker can rear its ugly head at anytime.
Nothing seems to go right when you’re trapped in the quicksand.
Even the great teams seem to be lost.
Nothing seems to go right and the harder you work for things the worse it gets.
Individuality usually strikes during a stinker as well.
The Cats really have too many weapons and are too deep for a potential stinker, but if it can happen in the NHL it can happen anywhere.
The Cats are in Baie-Comeau tonight to take on the Drakkar, which just so happen to be the last team to defeat the Wildcats in regulation.
The Wildcats will look to keep their streak alive and will being looking to avoid the stinker tonight.
Oh by the way, stinkers usually happen after a big win.
Stinkers usually happen against inferior teams.
Stinkers usually take place during a long winning streak.
Stinkers usually happen when things start to unravel or something crazy happens that is out of your control, like bad weather or tough travel.
How can you avoid the stinker?
Well, you just have to realize it can happen to any team at any time, and as a coach when 80% of your team is playing like shit, you just hope the other 20% play the game of their lives and carry the load.