There's a point to what I'm about to say. Really.
When I was in high school, my girlfriend kissed someone who wasn't me. Yes, I know, shocking. But it was a big deal somehow. And I melted down into a fit of pathetic, weepy rage. We fought endlessly. After we stopped fighting, I brooded in silence -- for weeks -- obsessing on every detail of her betrayal, torturing myself with the little movie of it running in a loop in my head. Then after several weeks, I burned myself completely out. Done. Finished.
Then I found out she ****ed him.
I don't mean "subsequently." I mean, she said she did one thing but really she did the other thing. But I had already spent my entire budget of jealousy and outrage on the lesser offense. I had nothing left for the real thing. I couldn't up the ante in any way, short of ending up on TV.
And that's my thought about what's going on with Kings fans. By fans, I mean of course fans as represented by people who comment on blogs. This is probably not a fair representation of the population as a whole. But it's the loudest group.
There is a small minority of commenters that lives shift-to-shift on the edge of doom. They are easy to mock, since they are so clearly hyperbolic and unreasonable -- and fundamentally trigger-happy -- in their pronouncements. Over the years, they have inspired me to link to the text of the Monty Python skit, "Novel Writing with Thomas Hardy," in which sportscasters do a play-by-play of every syllable Thomas Hardy writes while sitting at his desk.
REPORTER #1: Hello, and welcome to Dorchester, where a very good crowd has turned out to watch local boy Thomas Hardy write his new novel, The Return of the Native, on this very pleasant July morning. This will be his eleventh novel and the fifth of the very popular Wessex novels. And here he comes, here comes Hardy walking out toward his desk, he looks confident, he looks relaxed, very much the man in form as he acknowledges this very good-natured Bank Holiday crowd. And the crowd goes quiet now as Hardy settles himself down at his desk, body straight, shoulders relaxed, pen held lightly but firmly in the right hand, he dips the pen in the ink and he's off! It's the first word -- but it's not a word -- oh no! It's a doodle way up on the left-hand margin! It's a piece of meaningless scribble and he's signed his name underneath! Oh dear, what a disappointing start! But he's off again and here he goes, the first word of Thomas Hardy's first novel at 10.35 on this very lovely morning, it's three letters, it's the definite article and it's "the". Dennis!
[over to Dennis]
DENNIS: Well, this is true to form, no surprises there. He's started five of his eleven novels to date with the definite article. We've had two of them with "it", there's been one "but", two "ats", one "and" and a "Dolores". That, of course, was never published.
REPORTER #1: I'm sorry to interrupt you there, Dennis, but he's crossed it out! Thomas Hardy, here on the first day of his new novel, has crossed out the only word he's written so far, and he's gazing off into space! [pause] Oh dear, he's signed his name again.
DENNIS: It looks like Tess of the D'Urbervilles all over again!
REPORTER #1: But he's -- no, he's down again and writing, Dennis! He's written "the " again and he's written "a" and there's a second word coming up and it's "sat". "A sat." It doesn't make sense! "A satur--", "a Saturday", it's "a Saturday", and the crowd are loving it!
There's more. You can listen to the whole thing here.
It's easy to make fun of people who demand Williams (or whoever) be traded because of a bad shift. But what is the proper unit of measure? The small minority of bad-shifters is soon joined by those who would cast the team into the abyss after an overly-boring period. And there are dozens who have "had it" after every loss. Now, that's goofy, but we're venturing into the realm of the imaginable. We've all had the feeling that we want to scream irrational nonsense at the oblivious TV, but those of us with a functioning decision gate, or who are sufficiently lazy, don't bother to type it up and hit send.
The faction of fans who believe they are rational and even-keeled still feels superior to these folks, though. They know that losses happen. Two in a row, sometimes. However, after two -- "a losing streak" -- there are now neighborhoods of the blogosphere that are unsafe, too harrowing to visit.
At three losses, the previously-dismissed-as-insane are now starting to draw a crowd. Maybe they're Nostrodamuses. Nostrodami? Anyway: maybe they're onto something. But are they? And if not then, when?
For me, I don't think you can actually draw any (at least any drastic) conclusions from less than thirteen or fourteen games. There are six clusters of those in a season (4 x 14, 2 x 13). Now, in the last thirteen games, the Kings have won 5 times.
But is it unusual? Is it reason to "shake things up?"
Last season, the Kings finished with the third highest point total in franchise history, and they went 5-for-13 twice. Coming out of the Olympic break, they did a 13 game run of 4-7-2. And before that, from December 14 to January 14, they went 5-13-0. HEY! JUST LIKE THIS YEAR, AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME!
What about other teams?
How about Chicago? How about Chicago last year? They put together a nice little 3-6-2 run at one point. And the Penguins the year before that (when they won the cup)...let's see...they had a run of 33 games in which they went 12-19-2, which included a deadly 1-7-0 run followed immediately by a limp 6-5-2. And then they got it together.
Did I not tell you back in September that the Kings were not likely to top their 3rd-best-in-franchise-history 101 points this year? Some people seem to think that the Kings strong start was in some sense a lie, and these pathetic frauds now skating around in Kings jerseys -- this is the real team. But it was actually never possible that the Kings would keep up that blistering pace, especially since, if they did, they would have ended up with 132 points, which would have tied them for the highest point total in the history of the National Hockey League.
And even if that did happen, we all know the Kings would be swept in the first round. So, you know, we're actually better off.
(That team, the 132 point 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, they had a "hideous" run of 1-1-2 in which they couldn't even beat the Atlanta Flames or the Colorado Rockies -- who were to finish the season more than 80 points back of the Habs -- and I'm sure people thought the wheels were falling off.)