Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Injury to Malhotra Gives the Canucks Someone to "Do it For"

Yesterday, we learned that the Canucks will be without Manny Malhotra for the rest of the season due to eye injury. It was difficult to digest, and not just because Malhotra is a fantastic human being who doesn't deserve this terrible misfortune. Also, because Malhotra has been an invaluable member of the Canucks forward corps this season, and his contributions are irreplaceable. Since joining the team in the offseason, Manny has enlivened Vancouver's faceoff percentage, given their third line a cohesive identity, allowed the Canucks' offensive superstars to focus on scoring, and even reversed the Canucks' bad luck with bald players (after such winners as Eric Weinrich and Jan Bulis). Malhotra has done a lot, and his absence will be impossible not to feel.

But this doesn't mean the Canucks can't win without him, because they can. In fact, it's likely that they will win because of this unfortunate incident. I say this not to be insensitive or flippant, but because I've watched a lot of sports movies, and if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that no team can win the championship until a role player goes down with an injury, thereby giving the team somebody to do it for.

It's a staple of sports films:

When everything seems to be going perfectly for the protagonist(s), one of the team members or supporting characters gets injured, providing an emotional roadblock that eventually becomes even further motivation to win.

The examples are endless: Gerry Bertier in Remember the Titans. Chet "Rocket" Steadman in Rookie of the Year. Adam Banks in Mighty Ducks: 2. James "Boobie" Miles in Friday Night Lights. Kelvin Owens in Gridiron Gang. Walter Cochran in The Replacements. Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Carver in the woefully underrated Bring it On.

As far as I'm concerned, Malhotra's untimely injury basically guarantees us the title, by virtue of the precedent set in the movies I've watched. And ignore the so-called "critics" who would dismiss my optimism by calling this sports movie trope a "cliche," just because it's in a lot of movies. If you're unconvinced, your beef is with history; most of these movies are based on true stories (especially Mighty Ducks 2, which is very realistic--Iceland is a notorious hockey powerhouse).

Alain Vigneault said as much: "I think, to some extent, this could be a good rallying point for the guys." Good is an understatement. Crucial is more like it. No word on whether the entire team will shave their heads in solidarity. If they don't, from where I'm sitting, they're wasting a bonding opportunity. Imagine it: bald heads, playoff beards... it'd be a whole team of Shel Silversteins. Have you ever read The Giving Tree with a loved one? It's an emotional roller coaster. Shel Silverstein brings people together.

The evidence is incontrovertible. Manny Malhotra, consummate leader that he is, has gone down for the season to give the team that final piece of motivation and unity. He may not be on the starting roster, but Manny Malhotra is our angel in the outfield.

Disclaimer: I wish it went without saying, but this post is satire. In truth, Malhotra's injury is much bigger than hockey, he is in our prayers, and we wish him a speedy and complete recovery.


  1. How can you say that it is BETTER that Manny is out? That is the most ridiculous and prepostorous claim I've ever heard someone make. Malhotra was second in the league in scoring. What about the countless times that a team has lost an important cog and failed. Unfortunately Hollywood doesn't make movies about them (except for Cool Runnings....and Rocky I...and the afformentioned Bring it On - part 1 I believe)...okay, never mind that last sentence.

    Oh, and this response was also satirical. Manny - best of luck. Everyone wishes you well.

  2. edit: second in face-off percentage. Unless Manny is short for Henrik Sedin.

  3. Don't forget Patches O'Houlihan from Dodge Ball! A real inspiration!

  4. Mr. Mooney, Sir:

    How could you have missed, “Win one for the Gipper”?

    I quote from ask.yahoo.com

    “Ronald Reagan was the Gipper.

    But that was just in the movies. In real life, George Gipp was the Gipper. Born in 1895, George was a varsity athlete at the University of Notre Dame from 1917 to 1920. While planning to pursue a career in baseball, he was convinced by legendary college coach Knute Rockne to play football as well. He led the Fighting Irish to a 27-2-3 record, playing both offence and defence. Several of his records still stand today.

    So how did the saying come about? Well, there's the sad part of the story. It seems that Gipp caught a throat infection during one of his final football games at Notre Dame. He died a few weeks later at the age of 25. Just before his death, he told Coach Rockne, "Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys - tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."

    This deathbed request and the legendary pep talk it provided eight years later is chronicled in the motion picture, Knute Rockne: All American. That's where Ronald Reagan comes in. He played the Gipper in the 1940 film.

    The actually phrase, "That one was for the Gipper," was supposedly uttered by halfback Jack Chevigny immediately after he vaulted for a one-yard touchdown in the 1928 Notre Dame victory inspired by Rockne's recounting of Gipp's request.”

    And while winning it for Manny, I trust the Canuck players will win it for themselves and their fans as well. There's a certain well warranted excitement pervading Canuck Nation. As old and jaundiced as I am, I feel it and like it!


  5. (Sad you need to add such a disclaimer these days; once upon a time we'd all get that this post is satire...)

    I've barely been able to read much about this Manny situation, it fills me with such sadness. Due to a freak accident, twice!, my own vision was compromised in one eye, and it's caused a great deal of adjustment over the years, so one a much lesser scale I can empathize. The emotions run the gamut for all involved. The Canucks are blessed with a well-documented communicative team this season, which surely is going to help them all along the way.

    And I agree: Patches *is* a real inspiration!

  6. This sort of reminds me of Salo's injury in the playoffs last season. He received an absolutely horrible injury during the Chicago series yet still came back to play the next game (somewhat gingerly). I thought the team would rally around the fact that Salo was playing through such a difficult injury but I was disappointed with the outcome.

  7. @Ben Paine yeah I remember a lot of people thinking that.

    Everytime something bad happens to the Canucks people think the team will rally and be better than ever. Luc Bourdon's death, Carly Bragnalo's death, etc. People thought we'd DEFINITELY win FOR them, that the team would dig deep into their souls and win it all.

    But that only happens in movies.

  8. @Anonymous 6:18pm: "But that only happens in movies." Exactly. Hence the point of this post. :-)

  9. Couldn't one of Alex Bolduc's injuries have been the rallying point instead???

  10. Did you deliberately omit Chubbs from Happy Gilmore? Was it because of the whole "missing eye" thing?

  11. Madwag with a non-trolling comment? Nice! This blog does have the best followers!


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