Can I share?
I understand that corporations and various organizations nowadays seem to feel they simply must have some made-up creed to live by. I will acknowledge that sometimes those phrases or slogans do seem, however temporarily, to inspire the troops. And this applies to sports teams as well. (Some of us are old enough to remember, for example, the "We are Family" line utilized by the Pittsburgh Pirates on their way to a World Series championship back in 1979.)
Do you remember (of course, we all do) when the term “excellence” was used routinely by so many corporate organizations that it was eventually, well, just kid of funny. The whole business world was evidently made up of companies with useless slogans and righteous-sounding mission statements. All those companies were supposedly “number one” in their field and yes, promoted none other than a “culture of excellence”. (Now, I’d be hard-pressed to believe that all their employees were necessarily as pleased as the happy talk made it sound. And a true test of any of those companies when it came to customer service responsiveness and capabilities might have exploded the excellence theory, but you get my point. It all sounded good for public consumption, eh?)
I’m not suggesting that striving to “be your best”—as an individual or an organization—is not laudable. It is, of course. I’m just not sure that simply saying it a lot makes it so.
So how does this relate to our Maple Leafs? Well, when I heard Randy Carlyle, upon the promotion (well earned, by the way) of Ryan Hamilton, telling reporters this week that Hamilton had the right attitude, I was pleased. Hamilton is a guy I have talked about here in the past: the “good solider”, in hockey terms, who finally got two games in the NHL last season as a call-up from the Marlies. It was almost the same kind of late-season call-up that Tim Brent earned a few years ago, and helped parlay him into an NHL career with the Leafs and now the Hurricanes.
But unfortunately (maybe only for me) Carlyle punctuated his praise for and description of Hamilton by saying he was one of those, “no complaints, no excuses” guys.
There, he said it. Again. (He says it a lot.)
That mantra “no complaints, no excuses” was, of course, one of the many well-worn phrases of Dave Nonis’ predecessor in the Maple Leaf General Manager’s chair. While the intent of the statement is fine (we don’t mumble and groan here, we don’t blame anyone else, we just fight through, etc.) the line has eventually hit the wall for me. Now, every time I hear it from someone in the organization, it just feels so transparent that it is an old message they are clinging too, something they feel they need to repeat, rinse and trot out again for public consumption by we gullible Leaf fans.
Why does Carlyle keep saying it? Does anyone think we’ve somehow forgotten the line that's been said as often as it has been? What are they trying to convince us of?
In my mind, the more that kind of empty stuff gets said, over and over, it reveals that those are just words— and that, just maybe, the organization is thinking they are hard done by in some fashion. It just sounds to me like a cover up for their true feelings, which they can only suppress by saying “no complaints, no excuses” again and again.
Once you say it enough, it just sounds like, well, you are complaining and you are making excuses. Especially when you are an organization that has exactly zero playoff game victories in the past nine seasons—much less a series win.
I know others may feel very differently and think the slogan is great. To me, it’s old and needs to stop. Let’s move on to something else. Al Davis made "Just win baby" famous with his Oakland Raiders for decades. But he owned the team - and they won championships some years. Over the past many years, that phrase rang hollow, before Davis' passing, when the Raiders struggled to even put a competitive team on the field. When they were really good, it worked.
You know what this occasionally crotchety old Leaf fan really wants to hear? Less talk (which Nonis is indeed providing, thankfully). And what would I like to see? Success on the ice, on a consistent basis- full stop. Once the Leafs deliver that, then those little sayings might ring true.