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News Deck - The Howie Report

After extensive contract negotiations, the Mighty Pirates organization is extremely pleased to welcome back Howie for another season of insightful, amusing, and extremely addictive commentary! Yes, Howie tells it like it is!

You'll find links to each and every Howie Report right here after each game.

Okay, okay, Howie's back, but he's not happy either
2007-11-26: Mighty Pirates 1 at Condors 2

Game Sheet

News Deck - The Howie Report Okay, okay, Howie's back, but he's not happy either. El Capitano is in a funk — have you read The Captain's Log lately? Egads, man, get a grip! The team is sinking in the standings faster than a stone in a still pond, and everyone seems to be searching for answers.

Well, in Howie's view, the answer is pretty damn simple. A team that can one week come within one goal and within 4 minutes and 31 seconds of taking down the first place team in the division, and the next week come up one goal short and be unable to beat the last place team, is not a team with any kind of consistency at all. They are playing their opponents' game, not theirs. They have become too content to be a .500 team, happy to take what comes to them, without the commitment and grit to actually stick to the game plan that has, in seasons past, won them respect, quite a few games, a few division titles and even a couple of championships. This is a team that is supposed to be celebrating its 15th season, and a club that enjoys stability and little turnover from season to season that gelling should not be an issue.

But Howie just does not see a commitment to the simple, basic strategies that have worked in the past. We all know them by heart, and yet every game seems to be the same — a lot of lip service to Pirate Brand Hockey® in the locker room, and the moment the puck is dropped, it all goes out the window. The positional play is not there, the fore-checking and back-checking are half-hearted at best, the short shifts become way too long, the patience dissipates, the clear passing gives way to end-to-end rushes and the level of play rises or falls in response to how the opponents play.

It should not matter whether the Pirates are playing the first place team or the last place team, the Leafs or the Chiefs. Pirate Brand Hockey® demands maturity and responsibility from every skater on the bench. It accepts the fact that the glory is for the team, not the individual player, and that given the age and skill of the team, defense is the most important job out there — protect the goalie, cover your man, and clear the puck out of the zone. Everything else ought to be secondary — even trying to score!

But Howie knows that his appeals will continue to fall on deaf ears if no one wants to hear it, so let's look on the positive side. In the last five games, the Pirates are 1-2-2, and they have 17 goals for and 17 goals against. The boys in black and gold are not exactly being blown out of the water. Their one win was by two goals, and both losses have been one goal heart-breakers. We have enjoyed amazing, record-breaking turnouts to the post-game Howie's press conference and beer-and-wing-fest. And next Monday, we play at Ricoh Coliseum.

So why is everyone so glum? Because every Pirate knows they can do much, much better as a team. There is serious underperformance on the ice. Part of the problem is certainly inconsistent attendance, requiring the Captain to constantly rejig the lines. How can you get some magic going if you do not know who will be out there with you from one game to the next. Another part has been the penalty situation. How can you get some magic going if you do not know who will be out there with you from one shift to the next? And you certainly cannot score from the penalty box.

So what will it take to get the cobwebs out of the heads of the Mighty Pirates? The jury is out, but the general consensus among those who follow the team is that they need a breakout game — a masterful team effort that not only rewards in a Pavlovian way the consistent application of Pirate Brand Hockey®, but also shows what can be accomplished — and what fun can be had — by playing the simple game which both players and fans love to see — great communication on the ice, crisp passing, smooth and quick line changes, aggressive fore and back-checking, a commitment to each skater doing the simple job they have so that the team as a whole works like a well-oiled machine. One game like that, with a convincing win to boot, and Howie thinks you will see a changed attitude on and off the ice. It will get the press off Mola's back, put the griping among line-mates back in the shower where it belongs, and firmly affix smiles on Pirates' faces for the duration of the campaign.

Will this finally happen when the calendar turns to December and the Mighty Pirates make their debut at the big show at Ricoh Coliseum on Monday, December 3 at 9:30 p.m. against the Thrashers (4-5-0), whom the Pirates have never played before? It would be nice to see. Come and check it out. Tickets are going fast, but you should still be able to get your hands on some golds if you act now!



True North Hockey CanadaGood Guys, Great Game!