Tank you, Tank you, Tank you

on April 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

I may hate losing, but I hate tanking even more. It appals me every time I hear a person say that the Toronto Maple Leafs should lose a game on purpose so that they get a higher draft pick. It raises those little hairs on the back of my neck and gives me the heebie-jeebies like fingernails sliding down a chalk board. For my young readers, a chalkboard is what teachers used to write on before… oh never mind. Remember that feeling you get when you hear Styrofoam squeaking or a fork scratching on a plate or that sniffling sound your friend with a cold makes as he sits too close to you and you can, literally feel yourself getting sicker and sicker with each passing second? Yup, tanking gives me THOSE types of heebie-jeebies.

It may be difficult for me to explain but normally in sports or in life, I’m the kind of guy that looks for every edge, every angle and every single advantage that I can use. That may seem hypocritical, it might even be hypocritical, but though I ‘look’ for every type of leverage, there are some that I feel cross the line and tanking is one of them. Not because of some high moral ground, but I really think it undermines the culture that winning franchises need.

Take a look at Leaf’s Coach Mike Babcock’s former team the Detroit Red Wings who have now made the playoffs for the 25th year in a row. They never intentionally tanked and have a string of successes to back it up. On the other hand, take a look at a team like the Buffalo Sabres or the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and how they were vehemently upset when they found out that their respective leagues changed the draft system, making it harder for the last place team to get the best draft pick possible.

Sure Mike Babcock and the Leafs may get the first overall pick or they might get the fourth but the 53 losses they had this year were not done intentionally. In fact, they had seven wins in the month of March, which is tied with November, for the most this season. They also didn’t have to bring up most of their rookies from the Toronto Marlies but they did because they wanted to see how they handle playing in the NHL. The last thing you want to do is start teaching the youth bad habits by asking them to not try hard.

A lot of credit does go to the coaching staff for ensuring that the team didn’t give up this year. Coach Babcock is aware that effort and hard work are not like faucets that you can turn on and off at will. Hard work is like a muscle that needs regular exercise and repetition to get better and grow stronger. Losing on purpose is quitting and as soon as you quit that first time not only are you hooked, but it becomes easier and easier to do it again. That’s why Babcock is so demanding of his players and pushes them to win. He is trying to help build the culture the right way. That is a complete 180 turn from how the Leafs played during the end of last season.

So even though the 2016 Maple Leafs finished last, ‘tank’ you so much for your genuine hard work and effort and hope to see it continue next year. Until then, mark down April 30th in your calendar as that is when we will find out which team has the number one pick in this year’s draft.

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