During a standard, weekly online chat with readers yesterday Washington Post columnist/ESPN personality/general big media blowhard Michael Wilbon fielded questions on the minds of some Washington sports fans. As you might imagine, the news of the Sean Taylor shooting was of paramount interest and concern. But there were queries also on the Wizards, college football, and the NFL more generally.
One questioner, however, deigned to raise a discussion of the NHL and the Caps’ firing of Glen Hanlon. Rather topically appropriate in the calendar of the chat, wouldn’t you say? Take note first of the professionalism Wilbon exhibited in his initial reaction to the serious, sober, and newsworthy in its timeliness inquiry from the hockey fan, then note also Wilbon’s admission of excluding himself from the arena the home to one of the planet’s most gifted athletes, for fully a year:
Maryland: Mike, I know there’s not much hockey talk in these chat houses, but what are your thoughts on the Caps changing coaches? In today’s world of sports where “players win and coaches lose,” obviously it had to be done . . . but do in-season coaching changes stir up enough of a team’s juices to really make a difference? Thanks.
washingtonpost.com: Hanlon Out as Caps’ Coach (Post, Nov. 23)
Michael Wilbon: Do you actually pay attention to the NHL? Teams change coaches like they change underwear. They change them going into the playoffs after some other coach got the team into the playoffs. The Devils have done this and won the Stanley Cup … or at least gotten to the Finals. Are you kidding? Does it help? Hockey players seem to react to a change in coaches like no other team sport athletes. I’m not about to speculate on the Capitals switch because I haven’t seen the Capitals in person in over a year … I simply don’t follow the NHL the way I did as a kid, teenager, young adult or young sportswriter … there aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year to follow everything, even for guys like me who are paid to follow sports. The NHL is what I dropped, as I’ve increasingly gotten into soccer and (lately) NASCAR … and it seems, from looking at attendance figures, I’m not the only one who has dropped out lately.