Friday, October 31, 2008

60 Is Enough?

I'll say this for Scott Gordon: The organizational stubbornness to say anything revealing applies only to injuries.

Gordon gives good quotes.

After last night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers, the coach of the Islanders opened my eyes wide with his assessment of the result. I wondered if the reporters surrounding him were licking their chops upon hearing this juicy, cowboy cut quote:

'Whether you lose in a shootout or lose in overtime, it's a tie in my mind. The body of work is done in the 60 minutes. That's what's important."
Indeed, Greg Logan led off his Newsday game article with that quote and Chris Botta also highlighted it in his recap.

My initial reaction to the coach's statement was to question the wisdom of being dismissive of a key portion of the game—in this case the portion that determined its outcome—as well as the result. I also assumed he would get roasted for it.

Is it wise for a coach to tell his team it's fine that they just left a point on the table? Is that a good message to send to a team that sits last in the league?

After some ruminating, I still think the answer to that question is no. I don't want the team to be satisfied with 60 minutes and treat the next five as gravy. That approach suggests to the fans that at this early stage of the season, the coach is already looking only beyond this season.

But I get Gordon's point, and it underscores the fact that he understands and embraces the nature of his job. It is a long-term assignment. It is worth pointing out when progress is being made.

It's perfectly acceptable for Gordon to accentuate the positive. And by remaining supportive of Frans Nielsen, who is struggling to get going offensively and took the penalty that preceded Jeff Carter's OT game-winner, Gordon further demonstrated a commitment to stick with the program and not get caught up in a must-win-now frame of mind.

This team is not operating under the best of circumstances. As long as that's the case, progress remains the best chance for fans to have something to be excited about. But the team shouldn't forget that it's a lot easier to cheer for wins than for progress and overtime losses.

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