Be patient with me, this is not a hockey article. However, while channel surfing waiting for the Leaf game to start, I happened upon the final few minutes of a lopsided hockey game in which the Philadelphia Flyers were handily defeating the Buffalo Sabres. Losses arent unusual, every game includes one. This one however seemed particularly irksome to Buffalo Sabre colour commentator Rob Ray, who lamented the lack of effort put forth by the home team.

Finally, with the game well out of reach, a Buffalo player, perhaps sensing Mr. Rays lament, initiated an altercation with an opponent who dared show the temerity of effort. That his actions received a full throated endorsement from Mr. Ray should not come as a surprise. A veteran of 900 NHL games, he managed to accumulate 3207 penalty minutes, to go along with 41 goals – 4 less than Patrick Roy, (a goalie), had assists! To a hammer, everything is a nail.

“To a hammer, everything is a nail.”

Why he is in the position to dispense his knowledge of hockey is a mystery. Does the Metropolitan Museum of Art enlist a house painter to narrate the Rembrandt exhibit? Yet a closer look at the folk who serve as NHL colour commentators, reveals the position has, at least until this point, attracted a disproportionate number of house painters! They may be well suited to discuss the finer points of beating up another human, but inform the viewer with the insight of what might be going through the mind of the sports more gifted participants? Perhaps not. The wrong people it would seem, are doing the talking.

A hockey players place of employment is probably not unlike other workplaces, the classroom, or any other walk of life for that matter. Randomly select 30 people, place them in a room, and generate a discussion. Will the most thoughtful, intelligent, insightful, and experienced people have the most to say? Or do the laws of probability suggest that most groups of that size will contain one or two voices that demand disproportionate representation? I cannot be certain. But I have enough of an inkling that the next time I happen to find myself in a room with a random group with 30 strangers, I hope I remember to keep my mouth shut!

Whether you are an aspiring NHL colour commentator but lacking the pugilists resume, or harbour aspirations for another vocation in which you feel gifted, despair not. The pendulum of change may swing very slowly, but it does eventually swing in the direction of merit.

“The pendulum of change may swing very slowly, but it does eventually swing in the direction of merit.”

Thanks for reading, and a very Happy New Year to you and your family.

Jeff Neumann