Let People Think You’re a Fool…

After a short festive break Paul Balm returns to write about Outside Influences and helmet chucking idiots!

I’ve got a set answer for when anyone asks me why I stopped doing Cats Whiskers TV. I tell them that I didn’t feel that I’d got anything left to say so I stopped talking. The problem is that there are a fair few people in our sport (and outside it as well) who forget this from time to time.

Take Gerad Adams (please?) and his comments last week that there are outside influences at work trying to stop Steelers from winning. These comments were made after their defeat to Belfast on Friday night. I’m not going to argue about whether he’s right or not (I doubt he is) but you do have to wonder at why he said these things in an interview available freely over the internet. Did he think that fans from other teams wouldn’t listen? Or that is comments wouldn’t be getting ridiculed all over Twitter within minutes of them being published? If he did then all I can say is that he must be very naïve indeed. He could have made that sort of statement thirty years ago and no one would have batted an eyelid because nobody would have known. In this day and age though it’s a different story and his comments were always going to spread like wildfire and be meat and drink to those who want to poke fun at this type of thing (yes, I know that means me).

At best they’re an attempt at a simple diversionary tactic to offer up an excuse for why they had just lost their third straight game. If that’s the case he should give Gary Moran a ring as he’s come up with more than I care to remember. Hot netminders or a team that couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo? The wrong sort of ice paint? Diana Ross? Oh no, wait that wasn’t us that was because we won. It’s too easy to see through these things these days.

At worst it just makes him look paranoid or delusional. I listened to the interview and ended up picturing him rocking backwards and forwards muttering about Outside Influences like Arthur Fowler when he stole the Christmas Club money to pay for Michelle’s wedding. None of this is helped by the fact that I’ve ended up thinking of Outside Influences (and I think you have to have the capital letters) in the same way as I imagine the people behind the Department of Player Safety – a shadowy organisation, hidden from view, meddling with the affairs of the world. Sort of like an ice hockey version of the Mysterons or the Illuminati.

Somewhere between the two is probably where the real reason lies. It smacks, like Mike O’Connor’s rant in a similar situation last year about Mike Hicks favouring teams that bought his company’s shirts (i.e. us) and seems, to me, to be an attempt to use their (outside) influence on people within the game to try and get things going their way. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

I do have a bit of sympathy for him though. It can’t be easy controlling your emotions when you have a microphone thrust under your nose straight after a game. I have to wonder at times why the media do it. How many times have we seen a player getting asked how they feel after they’ve won a big game or a trophy? What do the media expect? I’d love it if, just once, someone said the complete opposite of that’s expected when they get asked these most inane of questions. It won’t happen though. The media ask these questions because they know that this is what we crave, we want that immediate reaction, we want the interviews and we want them straight away.

The thing is that those who are being asked the questions need to remember that sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool than to open it and prove them right.

Talking about people proving themselves to be fools I suppose I should talk about Joe Grimaldi but I knew he was a clown as soon as a I heard his name. But as we’re in possibly the most positive of time of the year let me try and finish on an upbeat note that came out of the possibly the most heinous of events I’ve ever seen on an ice rink (and trust me I’ve tried to think of some others – Trevor Doyle, Shannon Hope & Kelsey Wilson all spring to mind, maybe even Jeff Andison knocking Mark Howell’s teeth out ). We know that the rest of Grimaldi’s former team were pretty embarrassed by his actions both in the fact that Riley Emmerson was seen apologizing to Steve Lee and in the way that they applauded our fans as they left the ice. What was better was the way our fans & players applauded them as if to say “yeah, don’t worry, we know it wasn’t you”. As a result I sort of hope that, now that the Capitals have taken the steps to release Grimaldi that the league won’t be too harsh on them. I’m not saying they should get away scot-free as they signed him in the first place just that I hope some sort of compromise can be reached like in the aftermath of the Derek Campbell incident. I guess we’ll see.

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