In his classic book, "See You at the Top," motivational speaker Zig Ziglar coined the term, "Loser's Limp." Ziglar explained the term in context of professional sports. He gave the example of an offensive player running for the end zone with a defensive player in hot pursuit. Twenty yards from the goal, it becomes obvious the defensive player won't catch the man with the ball. Suddenly, the defensive player pulls up lame. "Well, no wonder the poor guy couldn't catch him - he's hurt."
During the first week of the NHL season, numerous reports on the Ducks, from various sources, including some of the players, have provided not one, but several Loser's Limps to explain poor performance by the reigning champs. They are "tired." It's all that "travel." The team currently lacks some "key players."
TIRED? We are told the first week's schedule has put the Ducks at a disadvantage because they have had to play so many games. It seems more believable the Ducks would have been "tired" at the end of the last grueling 82 game season. Yet, somehow, they managed to press on and win a pretty full complement of playoff games and the Stanley Cup. Indeed, given that back sight, and with a professional training and conditioning staff at their disposal, the claimed monumental early season Ducks fatigue is truly remarkable.
TRAVEL? Every team, particularly those in the Western Conference, travels. A lot. After spending a week in London, England, and playing two games to earn a split with the Kings, the Ducks flapped their wings to Detroit. In Detroit, the Ducks gained one point in a 3-2 overtime loss. Perhaps they were a bit jet-lagged. Next, the Ducks had to travel an astounding 165 miles as the crow flies to Columbus, Ohio, for a game taking place TWO DAYS LATER. Detroit and Columbus are in the same time zone. Surely jet lag can't be the excuse for being shut-out against the Blue Jackets, who finished tied for 12th place in the Western Conference last year. After Columbus, the Ducks braced themselves for that long, tiring 162 miles to Pittsburgh, losing once again.
To keep the travel issue in perspective, with the London trip, the Ducks will log 15,004 travel miles in October. But all the Western Conference teams are seasoned travelers. For example, next month the Ducks cut back to 6,253 miles - playing ONLY Western Conference teams (and the outrageous travel disparity between Western and Eastern Conference teams is an issue for another day). By comparison, in October the Wings will log 7,761 miles (without leaving this continent) and a mere 6,867 miles in November. But lets not forget the Kings. They played in London, too. By the end of October their frequent flyer tally will be 16,093 miles. Granted, their monthly travel is not front-end loaded like the Ducks, but the total is greater. One wonders if the Kings will tell us how "tired" they are when November rolls around.
MISSING KEY PLAYERS? Hardly worth discussing. Every team, every season, has to deal with adversities such as player injuries, contract disputes, delayed visas, and player retirements. Those organizations that win realize the team they put on the ice, on the day, is the team they live or die with. Winning teams don't play the "if only" game.
Caught up in ownership turmoil, disputes with city officials, an angry fan base, and an exodus of key players, one might expect the Nashville Predators to dish out the ready-made excuses for poor performance. But what are they doing? They're winning. No excuses. No complaints. Just team character that gets the job done.
So, if the Ducks, their supporters, and the sports writers want to start the season with a plethora of Loser's Limps for the team, then it is clear their term of office as the reigning Stanley Cup Champions will be as Lame Ducks.