Screen Shots: Relationship rescue

Adam Proteau
By: Adam Proteau
Jan 14, 2006
The Hockey News

Screen Shots: Relationship rescue

Adam Proteau
By: Adam Proteau
Jan 14, 2006

“One can dream of something more terrible than a hell where one suffers,” said the 19th-century-era French poet and novelist Victor Hugo. “It's a hell where one would get bored.”

That's why you've got to feel for Blackhawks and Bruins fans - they've suffered so consistently over the last three decades, they've become virtually immune to the pain and now bear the look of a rational person who's just endured a 24-hour Growing Pains marathon.

We know what you're thinking - another Screen Shots rant against Hawks and Bruins management? Well, sorta.

We don't come here to bury Bill Wirtz and Jeremy Jacobs, no matter how many e-mail requests we receive from Chicago and Boston-area readers. We come here today to help and to heal. Because we ultimately want the best for their franchises, to see their still-stunning uniforms associated with Stanley Cups, rather than Keystone Cops.

However, the fact that these two storied franchises have devolved into afterthoughts is a continuing blight on the league, thus making it worth pointing out (at least once a year) how consistently awful an experience they provide for their ever-dwindling fan bases.

Mere coincidence no longer enters into the conversation when you talk about the Hawks and Bruins' struggles. Indeed, anyone who thinks Gary Bettman's expansion into the sun-belt markets was his biggest strategic miscue isn't paying close enough attention. The NHL lockout may have been the cure for many of the league's on-and-off-ice problems, but the same old setbacks have again hampered two of its most important markets.

The Bruins made a scapegoat out of their franchise player this season, dealt him to California, and have since stunk like a Limburger cheese enema. The Hawks still don't air their home games on TV. The Bruins are 16-21-7, bad enough for 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are an even more odious 15-25-5, awful enough for 13th in the West.

And the free-agent signings of both teams (Alexei Zhamnov in Boston and Nikolai Khabibulin in Chicago) have given Pens GM Craig Patrick a run for his money in the race to see which manager has the most 'splainin' to do to his owner - a title soon to be renamed “The Milbury”, for obvious reasons.

But we all know by now how the next act plays out, don't we?

Nothing of any true importance will change. You'll get some kind of management “restructuring” - which, if the past is any indication, will consist of nameplates and personal effects shuttling between offices. You'll get a sternly-worded press release. You'll get solemn vows to raise the wreck, hammer the hull, and have the frigate floating lickety-split. (And trust us, if there's one thing you can be certain of, it's that, in recent months, the word “frigate” is heard often at Bruins and Hawks headquarters.)

But you're not likely to get anything in the form of good results, and it's therefore little wonder that Bostonians and Chicagoans alike can't be bothered to pay the NHL much attention these days. It's tough enough for fans to shell out the money they do to watch NHL games when their team actually contends every decade or so, but to pay to see these once-proud teams wilt into semi-oblivion - well, that's just torture, and not even the good, government-sanctioned kind.

Unfortunately - as the columns said to each other at the Parthenon - the best we can do is be here for support. But never let it be said Screen Shots doesn't go the extra mile for all you weary Bruins and Hawks fans. We're taking a few tips from that paragon of pomposity - that's right, Dr. Phil - to help Wirtz and Jacobs become better owners and, dare we say it, better people. And the best part for them: they get this advice without having to humiliate themselves on Phil's upcoming episode titled “My Team Sucks, But The Money's Too Good To Leave!”

So, here they are - direct from his website ( - a select few suggestions from Dr. Phil's “Ten Life Laws”, which we've specifically tailored to help the two men at the top in the Windy City and Beantown, (Beans and wind…hmmmnnn…there could be a connection here…)

Life Law #1: You either get it or you don't.

Sez The Doc: “Those who "get it" understand how things work and have a strategy to create the results they want. Those who don't are stumbling along looking puzzled, and can be found complaining that they never seem to get a break.

Sez Screen Shots: Jeremy Jacobs and Bill Wirtz complainers? It is to laugh, although it is to laugh in a knowing confirmation kind of way.

STD: “You must do what it takes to accumulate enough knowledge to "get it."…Be prepared, tune in, find out how the game is played and play by the rules.

“In designing a strategy…be careful from whom you accept input. Wrong thinking and misinformation can seal your fate before you even begin.”

SSS: Wonder where Wirtz and Jacobs get their misinformation? Few close observers of the NHL do. And that's a big part of the problem.

Life Law #3: People do what works.

STD: “Even the most destructive behaviors have a payoff…If you want to stop behaving in a certain way, you've got to stop "paying yourself off" for doing it…Payoffs can be as simple as money gained by going to work to psychological payoffs of acceptance, approval, praise, love or companionship. It is possible that you are feeding off unhealthy, addictive and imprisoning payoffs, such as self-punishment or distorted self-importance.”

SSS: “Distorted self importance”…it's like these two billionaires already have the good Doc on retainer.

STD: “Try something new or put yourself on the line. Also consider if your need for immediate gratification creates an appetite for a small payoff now rather than a large payoff later.”

SSS: In this case, “try something new” translates in the NHL world as “not constantly questioning the effort of your players or saying you like your office door better than the guys trying to win you a championship.” It sounds crazy, we know, but…

Life Law #8: We teach people how to treat us.

STD: “You are partly responsible for the mistreatment that you get at the hands of someone else… If the people in your life treat you in an undesirable way, figure out what you are doing to reinforce, elicit or allow that treatment.”

SSS: Meaning, if you haven't won a Stanley Cup since Jarome Iginla and mandatory helmets were but hypothetical concepts, and if the mention of your name elicits ridicule and disdain among most NHLers, there's probably a very good reason why.

And it doesn't have anything to do with “greedy” players or their union.

Adam Proteau's Screen Shots appears every Monday only on Want to take a shot at Adam Proteau? You can reach him

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Screen Shots: Relationship rescue