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Perspective: by Jerry Pyle
Woody's Hockey Promotion
It was a pretty good week for Cobber sports. Well, it wasn't that good. The Lady Cobbers took second in their Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament. The hockey team took seventh in their MIAC tournament. On the bright side, most of our athletes did get home for food and more money. And Woody called.
Woody is a former student writer here who has kept in touch with us despite our best efforts. Some say Woody's nickname describes the texture of his gray matter, what there is.
"Yo, Jer. How's it goin'?"
"What is it, Woody? I'm busy."
"Call back when you have a complete thought."
"Yo, Jer. Relax. I'm callin' to help you out."
"Ya, right, Woody. I'm not quite recovered from the last time you helped me out."
Back during the early-September crunch to get out our football media-guide, I foolishly let Woody write one of my columns. I then tried to forward him the hate mail that column generated, but it came back with a note that said "Woody died." That was encouraging. Until I realized the note was in Woody's handwriting.
"Yo, Jer. Listen. I can help you with your hockey stuff.
I know all about it now and I can help you promote it."
"Call the North Stars. I think you'd fit in."
"C'mon, Jer. This is serious. I want to promote a real hockey team. Like the Cobs. Hassman, Town, McGurran.
Highest scoring line in the nation. Speed, excitement, explosive games and marginal defense. People love it.
With my help, we could pack the Sports Center this weekend for this St. Olaf series. A Norski Shootout."
"I'm not sure we need your help for that, Woody.
Besides, Baumgartner says his defense is getting better and defense is a key this year."
"Ya, right. Then why does he have a picture of Paul Westhead hanging on his wall and why has he been showing his team tapes of Denver Nuggets and Loyola Marymount basketball games? I'll tell you why. He wants other teams to get into such a scoring frenzy that they forget about defense too, just like the Cobs. The fans love it.
Baumer knows it. This year, with my promotional skills, we could have the ultimate hockey game, a 20-19 win by the Cobs in front of three-thousand emotionally-spent fans.
"We can have posters that say `SICK OF DULL DEFENSIVE GAMES? COME SEE THE COBBERS.' We could have contests to guess when the Cobbers will score their 10th goal of the night. The winner sits on the Cobber bench. The person whose guess is the farthest off has to be the Cobber goalie for a period or until he stops 50 shots, whichever comes first. Stuff like that."
"I don't like it, Woody. Coaches are pretty fond of their `Defense Wins Championships' cliche. It's their favorite one. They don't like anybody tampering with their cliche's. It's like a religion. Besides, you spend two minutes talking to any players about the importance of scoring and they can completely forget six weeks of defensive drills. Coaches worry that if Baumer's team goes over, it might spread to players in other sports."
"Jer, you don't get it. It's already happened. Get on board and enjoy the ride. Look at Mike Hassman. He AVERAGED three points a game last year. What does that tell you?"
"Sounds like a point guard."
"No, you idiot. Scoring three points a game in hockey is like 35-a-game in basketball. And John Town and Shawn McGurran each averaged two a game last year. That's like 20 or 25 a game in buckets. You got anybody on your hot-shot Lady Cobber basketball team scoring like that?"
"We could, if Siverson would just get off this whole defensive kick of his. I argue with him all the time about it but he never listens. He just keeps talking about his record and all the titles he's won HIS way."
"Exactly, Jer. But when Siverson sees this whole hockey promotion and how great it is, maybe he'll come around and you'll get a little credit as the offensive guy for the Lady Cobs."
"Hmmmm.., like, just hypothetically, assuming we were maybe going to explore this a little more, Woody, what else did you have in mind?"
"OK. First we have to change our fans' attitude toward the opposing goalie. Those Cobber fans who are always yelling `SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE!' at the other goalie need to start yelling things like `NICE JOB SIEVE' when we score a goal. Give the goalies positive reinforcement.
Everyone needs that.
"Second, we get some local business, like a plumbing company, to give a Leakiest Goalie award to the goalie who gives up the most goals in a game. A free pizza or something. Let the goalies know that fans appreciate scoring. Help goalies get over their feelings of guilt and remorse when they let that tenth goal slip in.
"Third, we make sure the fans have a stake in the pace of scoring. Get some local fast food outfit to give fans a burger certificate at any game where more than 20 goals are scored by the two teams, regardless of who wins. That'll put an end to all the chants of `DEFENSE! DEFENSE!' The place will be rockin' with chants of `WE WANT 20! WE WANT 20!' Besides, any game that turns into a shootout is a game the Cobs have a good chance of winning. It's perfect. Everybody's gonna to love it."
"I don't know, Woody. What if this thing backfires on me?"
"No way, Jer. Trust me."
"Thanks for the call, Woody."
"No problem. Glad I can help."
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