MITCHELL'S MUSINGS: Last man standing
To say that Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks is a loser would be a stretch of monumental proportions.
Let’s see he’s probably the NHL team’s best player so far this year, on a really good team ahead of household names like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (if you live in a hockey house that is), likely makes well over a couple million dollars a year, is young, talented and will one day make much more as he has a chance of being a bonafide superstar.
He also won a Honda Accord Crosstour Thursday night for being the last one picked during the NHL fantasy draft for today’s all-star game.
A pretty good consolation prize in anyone’s books.
Still, I felt a bit sorry for him, and uncomfortable about the whole process, as he was the last man standing (along with Dallas’ Jamie Benn who is now known as the second last and doesn’t get a car for his troubles so who’s worse off in the end, really?), as the NHL for the second year in a row did the old schoolyard, second-captain-first-pick format for choosing sides for today’s all-star game.
They did refine it a bit this year as the also-rans were backstage, until the final two, so that guys like Alex Ovechkin (who bailed this year) couldn’t take pictures of last-guy-standing Phil Kessel (not even close to last this year) looking like they didn’t have a friend in the world.
Apparently Couture good-naturedly tweeted “Is it me or is it getting hotter back here after every pick?” somewhere along the line.
And being young (and relatively unknown plus some of the veterans get picked on history alone) and from the West Coast (where the games are on after all the East Coast and most of the major media types have gone to bed), Couture likely knew he was in tough. That goes for Benn too.
Then there’s all the biases of the captains that were picking that made it more likely to get picked earlier if you were a Swede, a Slovak, a Bruin, a Senator, a Ranger, a Leaf and definitely not a Canuck.
However for all the cringe-worthy moments, including interviews about how it feels to be picked last, I have to admit my son and I watched it and here I am writing about it so if all publicity is good publicity the NHL got what it was aiming for.
And Couture and Kessel can put “last all-star standing” on their resumes which is a bit like Academy Award nominee and puts them in the top 38 in the world at their craft at this time and space, which ain’t too shabby folks.
Plus I’m certain Kessel used the snub as motivation to help up his game to the point that he is now one of the top 10 scorers in the league and he is leading his team, the Leafs that is, to new heights that may even include the playoffs (if this doesn’t jinx them).
Couture should take note, although I’m sure the pride factor that all these guys have to possess to succeed will also give him a lift that he will use to good effect as the season progresses.
Still, it’s a tough way to pick a team, especially on national television.
It conjures up memories from all of our youth when they would make up teams in P.E. in elementary school. No one wants to be last pick, and if you weren’t part of the in crowd, or reasonably athletic or secretly admired by the person picking or some other remote connection to the one who suddenly had the power to pump up or crush, you were in trouble. And they weren’t giving out cars back then, talk about a soul-sucking experience.
Hopefully they don’t pick teams like that anymore and I have a feeling the shelf-life of this exercise for the NHL all-star game is a couple more years at best.
And for today at least I’m a bit of a Sharks fan as I hope Couture rises to the challenge and is named MVP, which by the way would earn him another car.
Take that second captain, first pick.
---Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor for The Morning Star