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The Great Wall of China November 10, 2007

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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“Advice is cheap, you can take it from me; it’s yours to keep, ’cause opinions are free.”–Billy Joel

 I made a comment over on Mike Vogel’s blog regarding the Great Wall of China, and I thought some further elaboration might be in order.

For those who didn’t see my comment, I opined that the Caps can only take one game, one period, one shift at a time.  I invited detractors to consider the Great Wall: it was built one stone at a time, and yet it’s visible in space.

Lao-Tzu said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  At least, that’s the popular translation.  A more literal reading of the original Chinese would be “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”  (Hat tips throughout: The Quotations Page)  When you look at it that way, it adds another dimension to it: a long journey begins in stillness.

What then to say of stillness?  There have been a multitude of calls from all over Caps Nation for the ousters of Messers Hanlon and McPhee.  That is too radical a step, too soon in the season, and it is based on a record compiled from injuries.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you take Crosby, Malkin, and Gonchar off the Penguins all at once, they’re not the same team.  Without Semin, Clark, and Poti, we were not the same team as we should have been.

 While I’m on ancient Chinese philosophers, here’s another one, from Sun-Tzu: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”  In hockey terms, that’s like saying you win or lose the game before you even set a skate on the ice.  If you start the game and try to win from there, your goose is already cooked.  How is this possible?  There is a whole different mind-set between playing a game TO WIN and playing a game AS IF YOU’VE ALREADY WON.  The Caps, prior to beating Ottawa, had been playing to win, perhaps even playing to not-lose.  When they took to the ice, I wasn’t seeing a squad that thought the game was already decided in their favor.  I’m guessing Sun-Tzu would not have been surprised at the results of that type of play.  Another related quote:  “The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to w in or lose.”

“Keep things in perspective, this is my true objective.  Why tear this heart out if it’s only been broken?”–Billy Joel

I think some perspective was certainly missing in the past few weeks.  I maintain that it would be incorrect to precipitously give either Hanlon or McPhee their walking papers at this precise moment.  Poti is back, and we just housed the Senators by a field goal.  By all accounts, Tampa Bay is beatable at our place.  Clark should return soon, as should Semin.  Good news is coming, but it seems some can’t seem to wait for it.

In fact, raise your hand if you can honestly say you thought the Capitals could beat the Senators.  I am sitting on my hands right now, and you have no idea how hard that makes it to type.  Look, even *I* was pleasantly shocked when we beat Ottawa.  A journey of a thousand miles…well, you know the rest.  This may not have been a season-saving victory, but it should, I hope, quell some of the rampant negativity that’s been dogging this team for a couple of weeks.

I hope that we will be able to unite and galvanize as Capitals fans as our team continues to succeed.  I hope that by the time the playoffs open, that we will be one voice, one Belief, one spirit, in full support of this team’s playoff run.

I worry that if we make too precipitous a move, too soon in the season, we might instead hear a few other lines from that  very same Billy Joel tune:

“We could have gone all the way to the Great Wall of China, if you’d only had a little more faith in me.”





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