There’s a scene in the baseball movie The Natural where a psychologist is brought in to speak with the struggling Knights.
“Losing is a disease,” he says, “as contagious as polio. Losing is a disease, as contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease, as contagious as bubonic plague. Attacking one, but infecting all.”
In the movie, Roy Hobbs (a.k.a. The Natural, played by Robert Redford) is having none of it. He rolls his eyes and walks out. For Hobbs, losing isn’t a disease. It’s a lack of talent.
However, the theory that losing can be contagious is clearly one that the Vancouver Canucks endorse. In April, GM Jim Benning spoke about wanting the organization’s “young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”
And last night, captain Henrik Sedin said basically the same thing, plus a bit more.
“You don’t want to be happy with losing,” he told TSN 1040. “That’s a dangerous road to go down, especially with young guys coming in. We’ve seen other teams around us where it becomes okay to lose, and we can’t have that. You have to try and create a winning culture.”
Sedin didn’t name names, but you can deduce which team he was talking about. The Edmonton Oilers are “around” the Vancouver Canucks, right next door in Alberta. The Oilers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. And they’re currently last overall in the standings, despite all the top-end talent they’ve assembled through the draft.
For the record, Sedin is fully aware that the Canucks have been doing their own fair share of losing this season. He’s not just throwing stones at other organizations. He’s warning his own.
What he doesn’t want is for losing to become acceptable, even if the current talent level in Vancouver makes it hard to win on most nights.
“Moving on, you have to try and create a winning culture, even though we’ve been through some tough times,” he said. “If you’re down in a game, you can’t just go through the motions. You have to show some emotion.”
And you know who wouldn’t disagree with that?