"Physical Freaks" in the Functional, Hockey Sense
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02-12-2013, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
I really don't understand why people have such a hard time understanding athleticism.
IMO: There's 3 main aspects that make up an athlete:
Skill: this refers to coordination and motor skills. In hockey terms, you'd never find a great stickhandler or puckhandler who didn't have outstanding skill. In football, you'd never find a great pass catcher without elite skill. In basketball, you'd never find an elite ball handler who lacked skill. And on and on. This refers to foot work, skilled skating (edge work, change of direction), etc as well.
Physical Talent: this refers to size, strength, speed, explosiveness, etc... In hockey, think of prime Ovechkin's best attributes.
Mental Game: this is IQ, understanding the game, vision, etc. Huge in hockey. Look no further than The Great One.
Obviously these 3 categories aren't equally weighted in every sport. Some aspects are more important in other sports. You can have the most amazing field vision on the planet, but if you're 5'5 130 with 4.9 speed you're not going to make it as a RB in the NFL. Likewise, you can having amazing physical talent to get open as a WR, but of you don't have the skill to catch a football, you're not going to be Randy Moss.
When it comes to the LeBron James' and Calvin Johnson's of the world, they are elite in all 3 categories. Their physical talent is highlighted when people refer them as freaks, but that's because people with their skill level and on court/field IQ typically don't possess their physical talent. They are the type of athletes that you would seemingly manufacture in a lab. When you're 6'5 with amazing hands and body control, you're not supposed to be able to run a 4.3 40 (Calvin). Likewise, you're not supposed to be able to run all day and jump through the roof at 6'8 250, let alone have elite skill and court vision(LeBron).
There's never been a hockey player comparable to these guys in terms of physical talent.
My biggest problem with the people who don't seem to get it is that they totally ignore/disrespect how much skill these guys have. Despite LeBron's obvious physical talent, his skill level and coordination is elite for any athlete. If he grew up with a hockey stick in hand he would be highly skilled. Coordination and skill with time and practice can be applied to most sports. That's why so many skilled athletes are so good in many sports. Haven't any of you guys been in gym class with a kid who was seemingly skilled at everything? He can stickhandle, dribble, catch, throw and handle a racquet at a high level? That's because the same aspect applies to all of these.
I feel like I'm rambling so I'll finish on one last point: assuming physical talent isn't useful in hockey. Or ever worse, saying that it's detrimental. With all due respect, that's one of the dumbest things I've heard today...
A player is going to be less effective because he's bigger, stronger, faster, and more explosive? That's crazy talk. Even if a player wasn't highly skilled, you could manufacture a hell of a role player/grinder with elite physical talent and the right mental game (willingness to play that type of game.) Darren Helm is a great role player because he has elite speed and the willingness to play in the tough areas. You're telling me it would hinder him is he were also bigger and stronger on top of this speed?
The NHL will not truly get one of these freaks of nature until a hockey mind and skill set like Crosby's is sitting on top of a guy with elite physical talent. And I'm not talking elite in NHL terms. I'm talking elite in athletic terms. I'm talking LeBron James, Calvin Johnson, Vernon Davis. Can it happen? Yes. Will it soon? Not likely. Not unless hockey suddenly became more popular and available to the United States' best athletes.
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