By Rich Lindbloom
The gimmee in golf is often described as an uneasy agreement between hackers who have no clue what to do when grasping the magic wand. Many golfers take issue with this stroke shaving device, calling it a blatant bastardization of the rules of golf. They would claim you’re making a mockery of the game. I suppose it is hard to honestly say you shot an 89 if you’ve “picked up” 3 or 4, two footers in a round. Always with the caveat of course that you’re just trying to speed up play or you “know” you could make it.
Some golfers feel no compunction when given the opportunity to avoid stressing over a putt that is often times “outside the leather.” My friend Ken could drive the ball a country mile. Like many long ball hitters though, putting was not Ken’s forte. Although many golfers struggle with their conscious a bit when accepting a gimmee, I remember one of my friends once saying, “You never have to tell Herme twice to pick a putt up.” The truth is the ball would be in his pocket before you finished the phrase, “That’s good.” With a big smile on his face!
There are times golfers use the gimmee device to help keep the mental sanity of their friends, or in some cases, increase their mental anguish. For instance, if my friend Jerry would have conceded a 18″ putt to me on the first hole of the 8th Annual Irish/Italian Open, my Wilson Staff 7-iron would not have ended up in the middle of a lake that bordered the green. As I stepped up to the second tee, all I could say was, “That was pretty stupid.” (That was the last club I threw by the way! Although a few miscreant clubs have been thrust-ed forcefully at my bag.)
I was playing at Evergreen C.C. one glorious Saturday morning, with some old grade school friends. I had a very fortunate round going and was two over par after 14 holes. The 15th hole at Evergreen is a devilish par 4 of about 440 yards, with out of bounds Rail Road tracks running the entire length of the hole on the right side. The left side is lined with huge oak trees. This hole was the only thing separating me from posting my best score ever. I made the sagacious choice to play a five wood off the tee, in a desperate attempt to keep the ball in play on this narrow hole. I reasoned that if I got the ball close to the green in two, I might be able to save par with my stellar short game, or at worst bogey the punishing hole. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and hackers…
My first tee shot, which sailed over the tracks, was followed by a second tee shot that pursued a similar path. For a moment I debated whether or not to throw the traitorous five wood over the tracks. My friends were trying their best to conceal their obvious joy in my misfortune. (As usual, we had a Scotch Game and a few other side bets going to make things interesting.) Trembling at this point, I took out my trusty five iron, and dubbed my fifth shot on the hole about 30 yds to the left of the tee in some deep grass. I took very little consolation in the fact that at least that shot was not OB. Storming off the tee with smoke bellowing from my ears, I proceeded to hack my way to the green.
I was lying 10 when I finally chipped up within 3 feet of the hole. When it was my turn to putt, I stared intently at my friend Andy, trying to establish eye contact. (In Andy’s defense, we had a $5 bet on total score that day.) When it was apparent that Andy had developed a temporary case of lockjaw, I finally, angrily, asked him “Andy, is this good?” With his head down, and at this point actually expressing a modicum of compassion for my utter collapse, Andy stated, “Sorry Richie, I’ve got to make you putt it.”
While the debate over gimmee’s continues on the links, there are clearly no gimmee’s in hockey. The worst team in the league can give the best team in the league a run for their money on any given night. The parity in the NHL is clearly among the best in all of sports. Let’s see, I’d say Voracek/Giroux, Seguin/Benn, Eric Staal/Skinner and tonight Johansen/Atkinson can wreak havoc on any opponent they play. After the New York, New York series, a co-worker and I went over the next four games wondering how many points we could escape with, somewhat licking our chops because all four teams were basically out of the playoffs. Boy, were we wrong!
Surely we could get at least 6 points out of a possible 8 against the Stars, Hurricanes, Flyers and Blue Jackets. Of course, a lot depended on how hot their net minders got. (i.e. which way does the puck bounce after it hits the rush hour traffic banging away like bumper cars in front of the net. I still say that is one of the biggest determinants in the outcome of any hockey game.)
If we are fortunate enough to thrash the Blue Jackets tonight, we’ll have to settle for a meager 4 points out of a possible 8 we were hoping for. And those pesky Jackets have won four straight and eight out of their last 10. Any team that can pencil in a third line of Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno, can’t be all bad, eh? Jeremy Morin, (will someone please tell me how Carcillo or Desjardins are better options than Morin), is penciled in on their fourth line. Do you think he’d like to light the lamp tonight?
How did we get to the point of hoping, even praying, that the lads with the Indian on their chests can make a go of it against the Jackets? I think Michael Calvert, who wrote the game review for thethirdmanin.com after the Flyer debacle, expressed a lot of Hawk fan’s sentiment lately. He somberly noted, “I hate to say it, but this is the first time all year I thought, ‘this isn’t a very good team.'” (I had to chuckle when he said “Desjardins made a great pass to a Flyer in his own zone forcing Cor-dawg to rob Voracek.) How did the season devolve to this bothersome point? Perhaps Carnac the Magnificent can shed some light on the situation…
Answer: “Apparently heavy drinking was involved.”
Cue in the boisterous laughter of Ed McMahon
Of course the question was, “How on God’s green earth did Coach Q come up with his lineup against the Flyers?” When all new four lines made had taken their first shift on Wednesday, I headed to the vomitorium. It definitely wasn’t a good team, definitely not K-Mart. I actually saw a Blackhawk license plate this week that said “MIX.” It instantaneously reminded me of Coach Q’s propensity to form lines that are as constantly mixed up as Pedro’s breakfast. Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn if Teuvo Terevainen is a minus four – with Patrick Kane sidelined his presence in the Hawk lineup is a no brainer. I realize defensive responsibility is important, but the Hawks have clearly struggled to generate offense lately. As Ryan Hood from secondcityhockey noted, “The offense has been about as productive as a college student on spring break.”
Inserting Carcillo and Desjardins into the lineup together might add grit, but it’s rather apparent we need a bit of finesse at the moment. A co-worked summed up my feelings about the Flyer game in a nut shell when he said the Hawks bored him that night. To say they were discombobulated would be an understatement. Defensively responsible and dump and chase are not why I watch hockey; damn it Q, I need spin-o-rama’s! And for the Good Lord’s sake, Hit Someone! Saad/Toews/Shaw was what is known in chemistry as an inert line. I’m beginning to think Toews is starting to get frustrated with Coach Q’s constant line changes. I don’t have any figures to back this up, but the eye test tells me Toews and Sharp should be on the same line.
The Versteeg/Richards/Carcillo line actually made me empathize with Brad Richards. That line actually angered me. There is no other explanation for it than they were the three left over after Q spent hours penciling in the other three lines. Of course, continuing to pair Rozsival with Keith is bound to leave Keith exhausted by the time the playoffs roll around. I’m not in the camp that is screaming for Rozsival’s head on a platter, he does have his moments, but there is no way he should be paired with your #1 defenseman.
The speed of the game is beginning to catch up with # 32. I’m not sure of the offensive vs. defensive zone starts for Rozsival and David Rundblad, but one is +1 and the other is +16. There’s no doubt Rozsival is a more physical blue liner which is a definite plus, but it is clearly time to interject some youth into the lineup. It may be time for someone to Tonya Harding Rozsival’s knees.
Ryan Hood also noted, justifiably so, that the degree of difficulty in the Hawks schedule escalates the remainder of the season. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that assessment. There really are no easy games in the NHL anymore – none – especially when you have a target on your back night in and night out. As much as Hawk fans are complaining about the desultory effort and lethargy in losing efforts, how would you like to be a Boston or LA fan at the moment? Life is hard; so is winning games in the NHL. If it weren’t for our “average” goal tending, we’d most likely be fighting for our playoff life also. And I think it’s more than the trite, banal, hackneyed remedy, “We need to get more net presence. We need more greasy goals.” Do you want to know what I think it is…
The average age of the Hawks has been creeping up on us, almost imperceptibly. The grind of an 82 game schedule takes its toll on any team. Think about it; this is Keith and Seabrook’s tenth season. That’s a lot of water under the dam. Eventually, even Atlas Shrugged. Do our crusty, crotchety old veterans come to the rink each day with the unbridled enthusiasm of a crocus poking its way through the spring snow? Nothing against Danny Carcillo, but when the Hawks signed him this year, the development of the youth in the organization took a back seat to mediocrity. It’s looking more and more like we made a huge mistake not signing Kevin Hayes. I’m beginning to think with growing exasperation, “Screw Grit.”
You look at players like Mark Schiefele, Johnny Hockey or Cam Atkinson and can sense their eagerness. When you’re trying to get into the playoffs for the first time in a while, (Calgary, Winnipeg) or get further than Round One or Two, (Minnesota, St. Louis, Nashville), there appears to be a little more alacrity, not to mention hunger when they hit the ice. Younger players are more enthusiastic by nature. Young, dumb and want to have fun – or something like that! They breathe a little life into the team. It’s part of the reason there are less and less gimmee’s in the schedule.
Will our veterans rise to the occasion come playoff time? Will they flip the switch? Will they pick it up that proverbial notch? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes, that is a gimmee. At the end of the day, and with a propitious bounce of the puck here and there, solid goal tending and a “it’s hammer time” attitude, I still like our chances.
In closing, I would like to offer a piece of advice to any young salesmen out there. I would suggest that anyone who wants to see gimmeee’s eliminated from golf, has never taken a client out on the links. I recall making a big mistake early on in my sales career. Actually, I was sort of in sales training and went with my friend Jim to Pittsburgh to play a round of golf with one of his biggest customers.
The terrain in the Pittsburgh is quite hilly. The course we played on had greens, tucked in to the hillside that had some pretty wicked slants to them. Jim’s customer had about a 20 foot downhill putt, that was about to pick up speed like the initial drop of The American Eagle at Great America. This is what Steve saw as he lined up the treacherous putt;
Steve barely tapped the putt, and it almost looked like it would die halfway to the hole. Then the after burners kicked in. As the ball continued to pick up momentum, I realized it was going to go flying by the hole. I noticed it was on a collision course with the flag stick which was laid about 10 feet below the hole. I ran over and grabbed it before the ball hit it, and gleefully watched as the ball rocketed off the green. (Steve’s plant manager, Pops, and I were partners in a match against the other two hacks.) Steve, with a very pained look on his face exclaimed, “Jimmy, what the !%$#&?*! is wrong with that guy!?”
What’s wrong with the Hawks at the moment – nothing that can’t be fixed.
Pick it up Hawks!
Other important stuff:
The two games prior to the Blue Jacket game saw Kris Versteeg doubling down on his refusal to give up the puck. Paradoxically, Coach Q bumped him up to the top line with Toews to start Friday’s game. A clear cut example of The Peter Principle – you rise to the level of your own incompetence.
I thought Versteeg had one of his better games against the Jackets. He set up the Hawks first goal with a crushing check in the defensive zone. The puck seemed to be finding Kris all night long, and he actually was making smart plays. It sure would be nice to see that Kris Versteeg continue to show up every night.
As much as I clamor for some young blood from Rockford, sometimes the coaches know more than me; not often, but sometimes. I recall seeing Gustav Nyquist about 4 seasons ago in a preseason game. All night long I thought to myself, who is that kid – the Hawks couldn’t touch him. It was two more years before he cracked the Wings line up. Maybe there is something to be said about player development.
Can you recall a Blackhawk team in recent history that has given up so many breakaways or odd man rushes?
I liked the way the Hawks battled against the BJ’s. It was not a boring game. I texted my friend Don midway through the second period and despite being down 4-2 said, “I still like the Hawks chances tonight.” Unfortunately, we couldn’t catch a break. At no point during the Flyer game did I have that comeback feeling. Ennui was ruling the day. All I could do is keep mumbling, “Adrian.”
When Minnesota recently started knocking off teams like the Blues and Preds I would say, “Yes!” I’m no longer saying that – The Wild Bunch is playing enthusiastic, I love coming to work each day, hockey.
I wore my Reebok Blackhawk jacket when making some sales calls in the Land of a Billion Lakes this past week. One customer stated, “You’ve got a lot of nerve wearing that jacket in here.” If the Wild players want to beat us as much as their fans do, well, “Katy bar the door.” I’m not saying Wild fans are Blues fans, but it is quite obvious they really don’t like us.
Sam Fels in the Committed Indian issue on Friday noted that Cam Atkinson bore a striking resemblance to Alvin the Chipmunk. Hard to argue with that observation. A, for annoying.
Lest you think my friend Andy was a no good scoundrel, he did save my life in a CYO football game in eight grade – more on that tale at a future piece. Suffice it to say, that all 95 pounds of me, playing center at the time, thought I was going to die when the double stripper on St. Michaels lined up directly in front of me whispered, “I’m going to kill you center.” There is no doubt that double stripper is either dead, or in prison by now.
And yes, I did make the three foot putt for the 11!