Team White: A Lost Season

Sunday, January 29, 2012 | | 0 comments

Minutes into the game on Saturday, I knew our beloved Team White was in trouble. A series of defensive miscues led to Team Black attackers swarming our net before burying their first goal. They would score the next 17 before the game was half over. (No score is kept, this is an estimate).

It was a scene that has become all too familiar this season. I had expected a much better effort after last week’s humiliating 43-0 drubbing at the hands of Team Maroon, but it seems our boys have accepted their place as the worst team in the Hespeler “CHIP” House League for kids aged 5 and 6.

What happened to this team that held such promise in September? How did the season slip away? Why is CHIP spelled with all caps? Where had it all gone wrong?

A significant amount of blame must be placed on the players. The kid who wears the red pants has the skills to dominate this league, but spends most of his time lying on the ice, pretending to be hurt. The kid who wears the ridiculously oversized goalie shirt is a speed demon, but hasn’t created the consistent offence you would expect from a player with his skills and a giant shirt. The kid with the stickers all over his helmet is a game breaker, to be sure, but where has he been when we’ve needed him? No really, I haven’t seen him in a few weeks – is he away?

Good goaltending can take you a long way in CHIP House League, but none of our nine players who take turns playing the position have had any success stopping the puck. The kid who lies down, across the goal line has been our best, but how long before a rival team exploits his unorthodox style? Perhaps the very idea of alternating goalies every shift has been our downfall.

The coaches too must accept their share of the blame. We knew going into this season that we would have a young team and the decision to go with a system where all five players chase the puck wherever it may go must be questioned.

Coaches in CHIP House League are judged on wins and losses (and our record is atrocious), but more than that, they will be judged by the character of their team. Successful teams play for the name on the front of their jerseys (in our case Hespeler Minor Hockey Association) and not the name on the back (“Hockey Moms” as well as “Stop”), but such is not the case with Team White. The talent of red pants, huge jersey and sticker helmet cannot overcome this lack of focus, this lack of character.

And although this has nothing to do with how the kids have played, the coach emailed us 24 hours before our first practice and swears up and down that he emailed us before that and that we didn’t get his email. But you didn’t coach. You just didn’t.

After the game on Saturday, as I helped my son take off his skates, one of the coaches yelled out, “Good game boys! You worked really hard.” The really short kid who seems to wear only the top half of number 7 asked his dad if he could go to McDonald’s. Nearby, another boy wore a hat that looked a bit like an animal head. If ever there was a country club atmosphere, this was it.

I for one expect more from Team White. So too does the dad who stands in front of the door when the players are ready to come off and thinks it’s funny not to open it. And what of the grandmother who had so many questions about when the team pictures would be ready? Don’t you think she wants more from this team? And the dad who drives too fast in the parking lot or the mom who looks a lot like Michael Jackson? You’re damn right they do. They deserve better than this effort.

This has been a tough season for all of us and we all hope there’s some chance it can turn around.

The way they’re playing now, you’d swear they were only kids.