Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory. —Sun Tzu
I have always admired this quote and will probably be providing you with many more of Mr. Tzu’s in the future. His depiction of strategy in battle can be applied in any facet of life.
What’s hockey if not one big nightly battle? It goes beyond the camera, the sponsorships and the lucrative contracts. A game that has deep Native Canadian roots in which whole tribes would play shinny as preparation for war.
Modern hockey is anything but, still the warfare aspect remains. Goalies impress us on a daily basis with highlight reel desperation saves. Warriors like Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere show up to win and have no reservations about sacrificing their bodies to succeed.
Sun Tzu’s quote reminds me a little of Jaroslav Spacek’s situation. Even though the season began a month ago, the Czech is still struggling with a stalled engine at the starting grid. Sadly for him, the race is almost over and he hasn't even taken a hairpin yet.
Spacek’s current play is not worthy of his $3.833 million contract and a lot of it has to do with his decision-making capabilities. Night in night out, Spacek looks like he’s playing with blinders on as he exudes no signs of peripheral vision whatsoever. His struggle to make a very basic pass to exit his own zone causes an infinite amount of costly turnovers.
This is the National Hockey League, not some semi-professional beer championship. From the left to the right stride, everything looks difficult for Spacer right now. Often times it seems as though he is out of place and cannot keep up with the speed.
Personally, I have no gripes with Spacek's place on the team as he can provide great blue-line support when in good form. At the moment, his form looks nowhere near where it's supposed to be in order to perform at an elite level.
If we review what Sun Tzu is saying, maybe confronting Spacek with annihilation could possibly profit in the long run.
Annihilation meaning penciling him as a healthy scratch, obviously.
Getting a bird's-eye view of the system that is implemented will do wonders for his comprehension of the types of plays he will be involved in. It will also help him get back to the drawing board to assess the situation accordingly.
In the past we saw aging defensemen Patrice Brisebois and Mathieu Dandenault sit out due to poor performance or lack of space on the blue line. Veteran status cannot prevent you from getting the axe, especially considering that those two are Stanley Cup winners.
Like him or not, Alexandre Picard deserves to be in the lineup at the moment. He uses his size and above-average hockey sense to his advantage. Something Spacek is having a hard time doing.
The decision is ultimately not ours; hopefully Jacques Martin's cataracts don't act up again because I'll feel like an absolute crazy person if I'm the only one realizing this.
Here's to hoping he shapes up. If he doesn't, here's to also hoping he sits.