Last night the Phoenix Coyotes dispatched the Detroit Red Wings by a convincing score of 5-2 to sweep their ‘season series’. But last night was significant for Coyotes goalie Mike Smith for a different reason. Smith accomplished something rarely seen in the NHL and ever rarer among professional athletes. After being at times overhwhelmed by Red Wings shots… Mike Smith cried in the middle of play.
At first I wasn’t sure if I should write about this incident, as it may upset Coyotes fans. But after seeing the empty seats at last night’s game I was able to rest assured that there weren’t too many of those around. In the 2nd period, a period Detroit outshot 13-6, Mike Smith was getting frustrated. His emotions started to boil over. And then THIS happened:
It may seem like a strange conclusion to come to, but for those who are confused, and the video-impaired, I’ll walk you through it.
Datsyuk takes a shot that ends up going off the shaft of Smith’s stick. Shortly there after, Mike Smith crumbles onto the ice. Brian Lashoff takes a shot that goes into the net, but the goal is disallowed.
We know Datsyuk has an incredible shot, but there’s just no way he’s strong enough to make a a head injury occur from his shot making contact with a stick. You might ask how any injury could occur after a puck made contact with Mike Smith’s stick, but we’d be getting ahead of ourselves. Some speculated that Smith was having a conveniently-timed migraine headache, or was temporarily blinded by such a flash of brilliance from Datsyuk. But most disturbingly, some people last night accused Mike Smith… of diving!
I for one will not accuse Mike Smith of diving. Where would I even get the impression that Mike Smith is a diver? What, you think I would just google “Mike Smith Diver” and end up with a variety of different instances of diving? Or search YouTube for “Mike Smith Diving” and get a smiler number of circumstances? No sir, I will not judge a man by 6 different videos and numerous players and journalists’ accusations!
Although overwhelmed at the time of his melt down that caused him to weep openly without so much as a pause in gameplay, this move is rather genius. Smith sobs onto the ice, where his tears will freeze and make the ice in his crease thicker, something he could no doubt use to slow down and stop pucks a bit more. And sure, the goal went in without the referees blowing a whistle, which should have counted as Detroit’s 3rd goal. However, if you’re the official, and you see a goal go in while Mike Smith lays on the ice sobbing like the city Winnipeg did when they found out the Thrashers would be moving to town instead of the Coyotes, how can you not disallow a goal? I probably would have ended up doing the same thing. No one can stand to watch a grown man cry, athlete or otherwise.
And Mike Smith deserves a metric ton of credit for staying in the game after such a childish display. If it were an injury ,as some of the broadcasters speculated, people would have applauded Smith for not only recovering from his phantom injury as quickly as he as afflicted by it but staying in the game and braving the storm, inspiring his team to victory. But knowing that he was acutely transformed into a weeping willow, I think I’m even more impressed with Mike Smith. Not only for regaining control of his emotions as his team mates and medical staff coddled him as though he just lost his date at the high school prom, but also for not breaking back down into tears after discovering he can hit a puck really hard in a straight line and have it go to the other side of the rink, in what some so-called ‘analysts’ are calling a ‘goal’.
The term ‘series sweep’ was getting thrown around a bit tonight, so much so that the Coyotes must not have ever defeated a team twice in a row. Something else was coming to mind when the term ‘series sweep’ and ‘Phoenix Coyotes’ were in the same sentence but I can’t quite put my finger on it…
Peeling the sarcasm back a bit, had the game ended 3-2 you probably could have pointed to this being the reason Detroit lost. However, the third period proved to be a collapse for the Wings and the better team won (although if they have to resort to garbage like they clearly just ‘wanted it more’). If you can start with a two-goal lead and the other team scores
5 4 without any answer, your team probably doesn’t deserve to win. The better team won last night. Oh well, the Wings were due for a loss anyway.
Much thanks go to George Malik for originally posting the video and the stats, as well as to Jeff Hancock from Winging It In Motown for bringing it to my attention when I desperately searched for it on Twitter.