Early this morning, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an extremely troubling article about the Oilers' new left wing David Perron. Rutherford deftly paints a picture of a mouthy, arrogant and misunderstood kid who wasn't able to gain the respect of his teammates, coaches or management team due to a lack of professional behavior.
Perron's list of transgressions are many and terrible and terribly insulting too:
Asked during his first Blues’ development camp what he planned to work on upon returning to juniors, Perron indicated that he would make the NHL roster.
A first-round pick telling the media (and fans) that he intends on making the roster as a rookie is unheard of. It demonstrates an arrogance of enormous proportions and should have been a tell to Blues management - danger ahead.
Perron showed up to practice with white skates
White skates are an abhorrent affront to the thousands of hockey players who have perished while fighting for NHL freedoms in the battle of the skates. Perron obviously didn't learn the lessons of Charlie Finley, who watched the NHL purposefully and maliciously kill off his California Golden Seals because they wore white skates. According to Rutherford, shortly after this heinous act, Perron was placed on a line with veteran centre Doug Weight, who was mired in a slump at the time. When asked about it, Perron said:
"We need to get Dougie going."
To say out loud that a young player can help a veteran, or even that a veteran is slumping in the first place is unforgivable. Young players should do nothing but bow reverently towards the crown of veterans and gently kiss their rings when a veteran walks by. It's the only way for young players to be professionals and veterans in turn will always act like professionals towards them. This was never more evident in the grand successes experienced by the Ethan Moreau-led Edmonton Oilers.
Blues teammates didn’t like being on a line with the winger because he held on to the puck too long.
Professional teammates like Keith Tkachuk, hero of the 1998 Olympic Games, waited for him the locker room between periods to advise him in professionalism mid-game. When a young player first learns what being a professional means, the first example they're taught is that on-ice mistakes are always to be taken personally and counted as an insult to veterans and a mark against that player's professionalism.
"...the times when I was disappointed in him were the times when he stopped playing reckless and he started to play careful. When he played careful or tried to play and put the skill in ahead of the work..."
Young players haven't earned the right to be skillful. The entirety of being a professional comes from the fact that recklessness leads to professionalism, skill leads to eternal damnation in the eyes of those who know what's best for the game. Andy Murray, a pair of those eyes knows exactly what it takes:
"So he was a little bit more naïve to what it meant to be a pro right from the start, but he listened. There were moments where you kind of shook your head and that kind of thing, but he was a free spirit... people thought he should know all of these things about being a professional. Well, he didn’t know. He had a lot to learn about being a professional. So what’s misunderstood for me is the fact that everybody thought he should know all these things about being a professional right away..."
This is troubling on a number of levels: Perron is coming into a locker room full of young, influential players in Edmonton. These players are the core that must carry the Oilers to the Stanley Cup and now they are at risk of being brought down by a light-hearted and immature player who turned a fine organization like the St. Louis Blues upside-down and inside-out.
Individualism leads to creativity, levity and adulation. None of those things are necessary in hockey and by stamping out individualism in it's early stages, a keen club like the St. Louis Blues is able to win Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup and dominate the NHL with a pious reverence for veterans, recklessness and professionalism. The rest of the NHL, and especially the Edmonton Oilers, can learn lessons in winning ways from the St. Louis Blues.