Brock was the next big thing. A huge specimen of a man who was NCAA Wrestling champ and best in the country. He, right after college, signed a big money deal with none other than Vince McMahon's World Wresting Entertainment. He was developed, cultivated, and went up the ranks with a huge push right to the top. Brock was champ. He was physically imposing. He was a hilarious diabolical character. But once he got to the top of the sports entertainment mountain, he got bored and frustrated. He questioned his move there in the first place.
From the top of that mountain he walked away.
He decided to follow his dream, and then work out with the Minnesota Vikings. He didn't make the team, but he made one hell of an impression. He was fully committed to whatever he gave himself into. The problem was that he had needed to go to them out of college, not years and years later. He needed too much coaching and cultivation that a NFL team should not have to do for a player. They parted aways soon after.
Then Brock found Mixed Martial Arts. He saw the successes that wrestlers had. Randy Couture was decimating the competition. Brock started training. He had a fight with a tomato can internationally, and decimated him. The UFC came a calling, and he signed with the top organization in the field.
So, who would he fight first? The UFC wasn't scripted nor would they, like other organizations, give him tomato cans. They gave him instead: Frank Mir. A former champ who was strong in where Brock was weakest. Brazilian jujitsu. Submissions. Frank Mir, though not as good as he once was after a horrific motorcycle accident that had metal plates put in his leg to put him back together, was still a big competition for Brock.
In fact, my brother and I were convinced that Brock would, in fact, lose to Frank Mir.
Mir was training hard. He knew that he had a perfect storm of a situation of hype, hope and a big name that he could redeem himself and put his career right back on track. He came in trim, sharp, and focused.
Brock came in to the Octagon looking far thinner and flabbier now that perhaps his system was cleaned up of stuff that no man should be taking in the wrestling industry. He still looked physically imposing. and strong. A thick-armed giant of a man with a massive upper body. Brock looked a bit nervous. This was the culmination of a lot of work, training and a big money hype train that was selling the entire PPV they were on. Now it was time to be measured. To be tested.
Brock comes into the ring. He stares menacing at Frank Mir at the center of the ring, hearkening to perhaps his WWE days. Frank Mir stares back, completely unaffected. He has stared at men far bigger and with a far more imposing records than measly Brock 1-0. He has faced and beaten former champ, Tim Sylvia, actually breaking his arm. He has faced Tank Abbott, destroying him in similar fashion.
They begin. Brock comes in with his arms flexed, thick muscles bulging. It is now that there is no doubt to what he DOES represent, despite the hype. He is a wrestler. And wrestlers do very well in MMA and in the UFC. He shows this very quickly, taking Frank Mir down hard. He is all over Frank Mir, raining down his fat meaty fists. It looked bleak for Mir. The ref, however, came into to deduct a point from Brock because of hits to the back of the head. Brock was just a bit too excited and forgetting the rules.
So, they get stood up. They face one another once again. And once again, Brock has fist flying, and Mir is on his back once again, turtling up to Brock's onslaught. It looks like only a matter of time. Except Scott and I look at one another. Because we see Mir, despite the mismatch, looking for the mistake. And that mistake was coming.
Brock gets up, leaving a leg in Mir's grasp. He realizes his mistake, and tries to jump out of it. Instead, Mir has a lock on his ankle, turning over, putting all his weight onto Lesnar's ankle. Lesnar taps out. Mir wins.
Inexperience and not being tested led to this defeat. Despite all the good things we all saw during the match. Brock needs lots more training. But we also saw that with his wrestling and strength, had he had just a bit more experience and good coaching, he could have won that fight. He was well on his way, except that his flaws are there for those to exploit.
So, you say, BD, what the hell does this have to do with hockey.
That's pretty easy, my friends. Brock Lesnar is a lesson for us all. That despite hype and good things to his game, he has a lot to work on. This is no different to this year's NY Islanders. Flawed. Hyped once they started surprising. They came in swinging and hot. They, however, against some experienced teams, had those deficiencies laid bare. And with that, they have fluttered back and forth ever since. That much like Brock, this team needs to round it's game and has a lot more to learn.
Lesnar's fight with Mir is just like the Isles October start. Except the Isles, afterward, are still struggling to find themselves. They should some good sharp moxy and offensive strength, but then faltered. And sometimes we see glimmers of it again in spots, but they are not the same team we saw at the season's start.
Brock has a bright future, despite the loss...IF he can overcome those flaws and train, train, train. The Isles, however, have had ample opportunity to show more after their rise and fall, and yet still seem to flutter with issues. Unlike Brock, the Isles are tested far more times during a season. And for fans, it has been a very rocky road.
The Isles season was predicted by myself, the same way Mir was predicted to win. Because they are untested and in flux. They made a sweeping change over the summer, letting some selfish and self-absorbed players move elsewhere. But I knew this season would perhaps be a tough one for the Islanders. For despite those FA pickups, they are still trying to find an identity. And that identity even now, is still missing. They might fight their way to a playoff spot, afterall, but they are still on the fringes, with large weaknesses. Those weaknesses are still exploited by many teams.
Montreal, yesterday, know those flaws of ours well. They have had our number all season.
I look at the Isles defense and offensive output and see Brock Lesnar's leg. That leg, which is far thinner than Brock's arms and physique. And watch how many nights the Isles "tap out" due to their leg. Their Achilles Heel. Every team in the league knows our weakness.
Brock, despite losing, showed a lot last night. He just needs to train and round out his game. The Isles have had that opportunity since last November to do the same. Instead they are the same mercurial hockey club still struggling with the same issues. There is only one answer for the Isles. Improve the pieces, and strengthen those "legs" so that other teams cannot exploit the same things over and over again. Change the personnel. Admit that some pieces might not be working as well they had thought they would.
Garth Snow and Ted Nolan preached patience last summer, picking up their sleepers and lower tier players. They showed only some punching at the start. Now they flounder around only one working element...the goalie. Perhaps it is time to admit that the strategy did not work with immediate results. And that their effort to shed those non-Nolan type players last summer was still the smart play, but the winning results might take longer than just one summer. That they need to rebuild a bit more carefully. That it might need one more summer to complete and compete?
To me, the fight between Brock and Mir was a lot about the NY Islanders.