Sports, be it professional or amateur, tends to be a microcosm of life.
And that analogy was once again brought into the light, with a few recent, and very prominent, announcements.
The firing of the general manager by the Edmonton Oilers, the retirement from one team to being named a coach of a provincial rival and the upending of a Western Hockey League franchise to Manitoba just two years after getting new owners are all hallmarks of the way the world is filled with unexpected twists, devastating holes and taking the road that isn’t necessarily less travelled.
Hired to be fired
For anyone that has held a job, tried their best to make it all work and has watched everything crumble from underneath them should have some sympathy for the now former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli.
There is no denying the fact his performance warranted being shown the door — and no, I’m not an Oilers fan — from a few poor trades and more than a couple terrible contract signings.
However, how would you feel getting let go — during your work day — knowing full well that everyone you walk past after having ‘the chat’ knows you just got the heave-ho and why. I can bet there are several of you that have had that feeling or worse.
There are only a few differences in this situation.
First, we aren’t being talked about in the sports pages, opinion columns (irony eh?) and on the television as we are sitting at home wondering what will be your next gig.
Next, I doubt any of us were handed a tidy severance package as we were being led out the door and any of our stuff dumped into a cardboard box, if we were lucky.
And lastly, failing at this job likely won’t keep him from returning to a similar gig with another hockey club in the near future. Whereas for most of us, the chance we wouldn’t have to start again at the bottom in a new job — be it in the same business or not — is really close to slim and none.
Leaving a convocation that has been a part of life for possibly decades and passing on to a new path can be one of the most difficult to navigate for an individual.
From the vast array of emotions, missing that previous life and learning to accept a new routine to wondering if this new path will be as successful as the last, the uncertainty of maybe not getting things right and dealing with new stresses, these are just a few of the thoughts likely running through the person’s mind.
And that’s probably what’s going on with former Edmonton Eskimos star linebacker J.C. Sherritt, aside from having to put up with the online nuts going off about how his new coaching job with the Calgary Stampeders amounts to treason.
But in the real world, if someone were to retire from one career and a relative short time later that person winds up getting an offer to help a competitor in a different capacity — especially when the old job couldn’t provide the same opportunity — I know a lot of people that would jump at the chance.
So, what’s the difference in sport? That’s easy, it’s the fact fans feel a loyalty to these players and their team, so when things change then there is a belief the player wasn’t devoted to the club — which most often isn’t the case.
Goin’ to Winnipeg
Lastly, for the second time in franchise history, the soon-to-be former Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice will be heading east and giving Manitoba another team in the major junior circuit.
The Ice, which moved to Cranbrook in 1998 after a short stint in Edmonton, is leaving for a larger market just two seasons after getting new ownership.
Now Cranbrook was small among the WHL’s 22 clubs — with a regional population (within a one hour drive) draw of about 50,000 — and has struggled on the ice. From the start, hanging onto the team was tough and despite community support, if a team doesn’t win and the games are no longer fun to go to then attendance and sponsorship will wane. And the WHL even acknowledged it has been watching the club since 2008, due to these issues.
Even many hardcore fans have stated they knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
It’s kind of like watching something or someone you love drift away, and despite doing everything possible, nothing seems to change. The helplessness, despair and resignation may never leave, but business must go on.
Sounds a lot like life — we may not like it, but we need to properly deal with it and keep plugging along.
But that is…just an observation.