Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR –
SAINT PAUL (PART D) in July, 2016.]
The Selects came into this game against the talent loaded WHA Winnipeg Jets on a two game losing streak. That put the travelling squad’s record of two victories and three losses so far on this tour with a long way still to go. Anyway, it was still a better record than some hockey people, not associated with the Selects, expected. Most expected the barn-storming team to lose and lose badly all of their games up to this point. Plus, it is expected that Mekkar’s team would pile up more defeats for their remaining matches versus the North American professional clubs they still would face.
Mekkar also noticed that when his team first arrived in the
Manitoba province his
team was pretty beat up physically. It was from the mugging they received in a
couple of past matches so far. Mekkar suffered more during that last contest
than most of his teammates.
However, he had been looking forward to being a part of this matchup. Mekkar was not about to miss his expected shift responsibilities in this game. Even despite the Selects’ staff’s desire to keep him from the lineup because of prior head trauma. As a result of having his head driven into the boards and punched repeatedly before this game.
The young arctic man wanted to observe the blending, as he called it, firsthand with his own eyes. He was there to judge for himself if this was the wave of the future and his own place in it. That is, facing off against a truly international team with players from a host of different nations. Mekkar had heard about its success in winning with this strategy. Still he alone in his mind could really determine if this mixing did work well in the real world. [Wikipedia; billsportsmaps.com; Playing Hockey The World Over… - wha.htm; whahockey.com] He was about to receive a definite answer to his questions that resounded inside his head. Yet, it would not be anything like he anticipated.
Due to late collapse in the second match before this one and the intimidating thrashing put on the Selects in the last one, the whole squad got blistered and reamed out by the head coach. He was merciless too, even including the netminders recent lacking performances. Mekkar disagreed with part of it and was of the opinion that the goalies had played much better than the rest of the squad as a whole. He just thought that they were under siege throughout and kept the games from being embarrassing blowouts as forecasted.
Mekkar deems that it is a good thing every so often for players to get called out by the coaching staff. Especially if the individuals are not executing up to par. Despite the common practice of carrying out criticism behind closed doors; Mekkar feels that if it has to be done in a public forum, so be it. To him this tactic should be done judiciously and should give incentives to strive for improved performance. Not only that, be a motivating factor to drive him and others to produce better on the ice in whatever area is needed.
That doesn’t mean to say that he enjoys the method and does not guarantee he will not get ticked off about it. Usually to him, the normal procedure with the first step of handling the issue internally and at the team level has already been passed at that point. The public rebuke is the next level in the inducement progression because the previous strategy did not produce the tangible results desired.
He feels that the current coddling of these million dollar plus salaried athletes, excluding the money made from endorsements, wouldn’t fly back in his day. There were only a few making a million dollars then. That would be Bobby Hull. He doesn’t count the Derek Sanderson Philadelphia Blazers situation because it didn’t last long enough. Mekkar was now trying to prepare to face The Golden Jet (Bobby Hull) in the next matchup.
The youngster is of the opinion that many of today’s spoiled, wealthier, and increasing out of touch from the fans athletes have become softer mentally and psychologically. Don’t forget the way too sensitivity to any criticism aimed at them. He deems it is part of a reflection of a degradation of society in these areas. In Mekkar’s mind the media is so much more prevalent today and in everyone’s business especially with regard to public figures. He is including paparazzi in that assessment.
There are trade offs. Mekkar has thought the athletes of the current time couldn’t handle the all gloves treatment of star players from yesteryear. Most of them had to defend themselves also well maybe excluding Wayne Gretzky and very few others. Mekkar says, “The protected superstars of today could flee to the area that seems to have more months of winter than any other season to be safer but the pay would be a lot less.”
This brings about another quandary of Mekkar’s beliefs. He states bluntly, “Anyone who advocates taking fighting out of pro or junior ice hockey does not know the game all that well. It doesn’t matter where those people reside. Those players who had protectors on the ice to fight on your behalf for the majority of your battles know who they are. Their opinions and statements in the press on this issue do not count and should be ignored.” Mekkar goes on to say directly, “That they should shut their trap because they are too breakable!”
Furthermore he goes on to mention that most current fans and current athletes are unaware of the history of their sport. There is not a consideration and a lack of knowledge of various innovations and equipment advances made thus affecting main contributor’s production. Fans compare statistics of athletes from clashing eras with little, if any, examination of different rule changes to enhance scoring and reduce physicality. The historical environment influences and contrasting field conditions of those matches were important too. Various athletes were considered stars in their own time for reasons that cannot be described enough to others who only watch the games. One had to play during that time to really understand.
It ticks people off when Mekkar states unapologetically, “That athletes had to be much more resolute in the past. Frankly, because they were considered more easily replaceable. The majority of people currently are totally unable to relate to this concept. There was the absence for the most part of the big money too!” He continues on, “Dick Butkus would be considered too mean and intimidating to play in the NFL of 2016. His ferociousness would not even be allowed on the field now.” [youtube.com/watch?v=ywLftmEtOsY; bleacherreport.com/articles/188642-nfl-legends-dick-butkus]