Monday, January 24, 2011

Diagnosing the Thrashers

Hang with me here...

When I was studying Psychology, there were many theories and concepts that I came across that intrigued me to great length. Normally, these were things that I could apply to my own life and my own way of thinking in an attempt to better myself on a daily basis. But the one theory that interested me the most was a concept deemed "The Jonah Complex" by psychologist Abraham Maslow. What exactly is the "Jonah Complex" you say?

"This is our reluctance to achieve greatness. This can be due to the fear to attract attention, fear of responsibility, fear of being outside the norm, fear of insecurity, or the fear of losing control. There is a greater fear than the fear of failure. It's the fear of success." (source=Internetz)

I still remember the day that I came across this concept, the very first thought that came to mind was "This sounds EXACTLY like the Thrashers." It's been about 3 years since I first discovered The Jonah Complex. As time has gone on, it's become abundantly clear to me that, if ever a sports franchise could be diagnosed with a personality disorder, the Thrashers have the Jonah Complex.

This is a franchise where the complacency of our ignorant ownership group has trickled down to the very players we give up our money to cheer for. The storyline for most of the Thrashers seasons has been almost exactly the same.
1) The team plays well enough at first (October-November) to get fans in the gate
2) Crash and burn when people DO come to games
3) Make a late push to finish the season strong...but usually 2-7 points outside of a playoff spot.

Not including car accidents and when we trade our best players to other crappier cities, this is the arch with which the Thrashers season almost always follows. It's not only become an utterly predictable and depressing cycle for this team, but it's also the exact reason why so many people who have come to games this year have been put off by this team. The players play so well when there's absolutely nobody in Blueland, clamor to the press and on Twitter for more people to come to games...and when the public shows up, you get destroyed by mediocre NHL clubs.

Is it possible for the Thrashers to break the mold and go on a playoff run? Sure it is. Anything's possible (if you believe your mother.) If the Thrashers are to get back on track, they should follow the advise that Maslow gave...

"We all are given our own special talents and skills. You are to use these talents and skills to improve your life and the lives of those who we come in contact with. Feel your fear of success and achieve your full potential."

Since I have absolutely zero optimism for a non-Zhitnikesque franchise-altering trade (or anything of the sort to swing the pendulum of my opinion of the team), I'm assuming that we're stuck with our current roster for the rest of the season. I guess the only advise I would give the Thrashers players is to take Maslow's words, look at yourselves in the mirror, remember that you earn a handsome living to play a game, and go give your all for 60 minutes. Realize that your quotes and Tweets about wanting to "put Atlanta on the hockey map" will ring as hollow as your predecessors' eerily similar words unless you can actually display semblances of the "character" that hockey players are supposed to have in their DNA.

Here's hoping that some of the 19 players who play in our games (well, let's say 18...Pavelec's been OUTSTANDING) can actually embrace this adversity and use it to will this team to the playoffs. If we have players (and people) that can actually accomplish this goal, the effects of their on-ice accomplishments will be felt beyond their locker room and the walls of Blueland. Maybe the franchise can start a new season routine that deviates from the norm we've all become accustomed to.

Alright, I'm done venting. Go Thrashers? Why not.



Jay said...

This slide started when they went into first place after beating NJ 7-1. They got full of themselves, thought they had accomplished something, and got complacent. I don't want to hear about injuries either. The Montreal Canadiens are doing just fine with what seems like half of their team out. That whole "play like shit when the building is full" angle I totally agree with and have been saying it for about two years now. The NJ game I just mentioned being about the only exception. And why do we give up so many Goddamn shots and can't seem to know how to clear a puck out of the defensive zone? Is it just me or does this franchise seemed cursed or at least an NHL version of the Detroit Lions? The Patrik Stefan pick, the Snyder tragedy, the Heatley trade, the failed playoff run that probably hurt the team more in the long run(Coburn traded, picks traded for Tkachuk), The Hossa trade disaster, The Kovalchuk fiasco(although it looks good a year later), all of the failed high draft picks(Stefan, Bourret, Lehtonen, Valabik, etc.), all of the moments of coming up short in crucial times, and the ownership mess. It's not all ownership, not all Waddell, but a collection of EVERYTHING. The last four seasons by mid January, I've felt like an abused spouse. I went in with good intentions, it ended up not being what I expected, I feel bruised, battered, embarrassed, and beaten down, I always think it's going to get better, put on a brave face in front of my friends, and can't come to grips with the realization that things aren't going to change and that it's always going to be like this. Jesus, I need to go drink something.

Big Shooter said...

It's so much fun not caring about this team anymore. Don't get me wrong, I want them to win. I just don't care if they do anymore.

I should have done this years ago.

Mortimer Peacock said...

God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son."
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on."
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”

Mortimer Peacock said...

Perhaps I should engage more thoroughly with this stuff...


Nice post, but I wonder if the Thrashers aren't more like some other psychologist's theory. For instance: surely the Thrashers dip into Jung's collective unconscious and give us visions of Archetypal Disappointment? They're archetypes of raising expectations and then destroying them, perhaps. Or something. They might also be the INFP personality type, which is no bad thing (your editor is one, etc.) but probably not ideal for hockey.

Or maybe they're the hockey equivalent of Freud's "return of the repressed." The "repressed" in this case being a hockey team that was bought by a group of douchehats who aren't willing to invest in anything, but before that some player killed a guy (another player).


YES INDEEED. Time to drink some more... said...

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