I apologize in advance. I've spent the last week or so putting together a writing sample for what I hope will be admission into Yale's doctoral program. As a result, I've been drinking a lot, even by my standards, as a stress reliever (in fact, there are three fingers of Maker's Mark immediately to my right as I type this). For you, this means there are two potential outcomes here: either this is going to be a devastatingly left-brained analysis of your AHL affiliate, or it's going to be an unmitigated disaster. There really is no middle ground here.
Ready? Let's see how it turns out and be surprised together...During a conversation at my aunt's table during Thanksgiving, the topic of agnosticism came up. (Alien anal probing was also discussed between me and a few of my cousins, but that's an entirely different story for a site less classy than this one. One like my own, perhaps). I don't recall exactly how it came up; it was one of those odd scraps of incidental sound that hit my ear while my wife and I were discussing my upcoming Russian adventure with my father. Either way, the how and why aren't entirely relevant here.
Like many of you probably did, I wet my beak a little that day. While I didn't get entirely hammered, I took in enough to start thinking a little above my pay grade. I really don't know why, but that little scrap of sound kept rolling around in my head. As I sometimes do, I thought about the root of agnosticism -- gnosis. I vaguely recalled from an old Ethics course that it meant something along the lines of "assumed knowledge of truth." Or something to that effect. Using that as a base, we can then define agnosticism as the absence of that assumed knowledge. That seemed like a reasonable definition to me. At the very least, it was something I could identify with; a lack of any formal religious indoctrination, combined with a litany of experiences over the years that I try not to think too much about, made that a very familiar, almost comfortable sort of term. Kind of like during my year in France, when I realized that the French word for a cop -- gendarme -- translated to "man of arms."
The lesson here -- it's a miracle I ever found a beautiful woman to marry me.
(This is all going somewhere, I promise).
The following day saw us returning to the old barn for a game. Unsurprisingly, the Crunch came out with the short end of the stick in a 5-1 loss to Hershey. To be honest, that it was only 5-1 at the end was surprising: as the team was booed off the ice (again) for their effort, the only thing that stopped it from being a 7-1 or 8-1 final were a couple of goal posts. As I left the building, I thought about all the things I could have done with my night and looked ahead to all the things I could do with the following Sunday afternoon instead of returning to Section 21. Even though the list was impressive, I was right back there for more two days later, with a talented and dangerous Hamilton Bulldogs team in town.
Naturally, the Crunch pulled out a third period victory for an improbable win.
This brings us back to the star of this particular column. The only assumed knowledge or truth that any of us can possibly have about this team is that nobody should ever attempt to predict what they will do next. Yes, these guys have been almost universally young and inexperienced professionals. Yes, for many of them it is their first year at this level, and they are works-in-progress. And yes, there is some talent out there. However, the inability to centralize and harness it sixty minutes at a time for eighty consecutive games is just as apparent. Is there some kind of responsibility to be claimed for that? Maybe there is, maybe there isn't, I really can't tell you. It could be indicative of a young and green group of guys, or it could point to something more problematic. It could be both, it could be neither. I'm not going to waste my time thinking about it, and, quite honestly, neither should you.
So, having said all that, the question then becomes: is this a season of Crunch agnosticism, in the truest sense? Absolutely not. I can say that with certainty. All the questions and frustrations notwithstanding, the one truth that I've come to realize (and hopefully that we can all assume) is that regardless of the end product, these guys are busting their asses out there to get better and get things moving in the right direction. It might not always show on the big board at the end of the night, but in the end, your future Ducks are not only learning the effort it takes to get to The Show, but they are making it a reality to the best of their ability. I've lost sight of that at times this year, but as my colleague Ryan has noted over at The Chairman's, it seems like it's more a question of when and not if they will put it all together. And when that happens, baby, look out. It's going to be something to see.
So there's your gnosis for the week. If you'll excuse me, I'll get back to trying to sell Yale on the MJ brand.