With Danny Briere, Claude Giroux has been the best of the Philadelphia Flyers this spring, playing the frantic, feisty game he plays in between the scoring and assisting and winning all those face-offs he does. But if the Flyers fall out of the playoffs tonight — they’re down three games to one in their eastern semi-final against New Jersey — they’ll do it without Giroux. He’s been suspended for a game for nudging, last game, the head of the Devils’ Dainius Zubrus.
I looked to Twitter today to see whether Giroux might have something succinct to say on the subject but no, it’s been all quiet over at @28CGiroux since the end of the first-round series against Pittsburgh in April. Which is maybe not so surprising. None of the hockey players seems to have much to say, Twitterwise. For the readers in the crowd, what we’d been hoping for, I think — if I can speak for the group — was a flash or two of insight, a shred of inside colour, a telling phrase, something wise or funny that Maxime Talbot might have observed in an unguarded moment.
It hasn’t happened. Hockey’s Twitterists have gone silent. Either they’ve been shut down by management (Rangers’ coach John Tortorella is supposed to have banned his players from social media for the duration of the playoffs) or else they’ve self-suspended. Too — busy? tired? Maybe so.
What seems more likely is that the hockey players have determined — and are, in their silence, tacitly admitting — a hard truth: you can’t write and play high-level hockey both at the same time. Eddie Shore used to say the same thing about sex with your wife. Not that you couldn’t write and have sex; it was the sex and the hockey that didn’t mix. But. Anyway. What we’re learning this year, I think, as the weeks go on is that as a player you have to decide where you’re going to channel your focus and your intensity: playoff hockey or meaningful comment on social media?
Can it really be that simple? Jaromir Jagr would seem to say no. Unless he’s the exception that proves the rule. Either way, the Flyers’ 40-year-old winger has been far and away the league’s most diligent playoff writer. The intensity of the hockey only seems to be energizing his prose. I’m not saying he’s Vàclav Havel, but still, here he is, the venerable Czech, playing 14-odd minutes a night and he’s tweeterizing (@68Jagr) and updating his Facebook page and posting to a newspaper’s blog — iSport.cz — back at home?
He hasn’t written, yet, about the New Jersey series on the blog, but there’s some good stuff there that might be of interest ahead of tonight’s do-or-die game. Here he ruminates about being on the verge of eliminating Pittsburgh’s favoured Penguins:
We were three games up in the series, but we ourselves felt nothing’s done yet. Sure, most people and fans think everything is nailed down with a score like this. But, really, it is not the case; I’ve been through so much I know that all too well.
And this is no cliché. You have to beat the opponent four times. And it is basically irrelevant whether you make a good start in the beginning, or whether you finish it in the end. It’s like a game — if you lead three to nil after the first or second period, nothing is decided yet. Anything can be turned the other way round. Which was something we players were very much aware of. The end comes only when it’s really over.
Wise words. You almost want the Flyers to hang on if only to get him to and his writing into the next round. If not, and they lose, does that mean he’ll be writing more, without the hockey to distract him. Or do you think that would be it for the year? Or maybe forever? Because we don’t know, do we, whether Jagr’s going to be back next year. I guess we can take heart from comments Jagr made to Frank Seravalli of The Philadelphia Daily News last week. He was talking about his faith which, I understand, is a powerful thing. “People might think I am crazy,” he said.
Everything in life is energy. Einstein said it best: energy will disappear if you transfer it to other things. If I go to church, my head is burning. It’s on fire. I feel like my head is hooked up to electric steam. I feel it in my head right away, as soon as I walk in.
It is a long process; you’ve got to do it 10 years, 20 years; it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to listen to your body. But you can harness that energy in your life. I don’t think I’m getting old that quickly. You’ve got all the energy coming in your life if you ask for it. Only because of this, it’s the reason I think I can still play until I’m 50.