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A sports reflection at the end of 2020: To hell with ‘tanking’

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“Tanking sucks. Tanking is overrated. And if you’re an advocate of tanking, you probably suck, too.”

Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

I can’t take it anymore.

I’m tired of this notion taking over professional sports, that any team without a legitimate shot at a championship should do everything in its power to rack up losses, ensuring the best draft pick possible — better known as tanking.

Tanking sucks.
Tanking is overrated.
And if you’re an advocate of tanking, you probably suck, too.

It’s a soulless, vapid, cynical way to look at sports that takes every emotion out of something meant to be brimming with emotions. It turns a passion into an insipid, uninspired, bland business transaction, exchanging wins for prospects.

Prospects ... I’m so damn sick of hearing about prospects. Ya know what prospects don’t do? Prospects don’t win championships. Players win championships. Teams can keep hoarding prospects like they’re Scrooge McDuck while the teams with actual NHL players keep winning.

Here’s a ranking of team prospect pipelines from 2016, as compiled by Corey Pronman, now of The Athletic. Let’s see where those teams are now, shall we?

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs - haven’t won a playoff series since 2004.
  2. Arizona Coyotes - haven’t won a playoff series since 2012.
  3. Winnipeg Jets - haven’t won a playoff series since 2018.
  4. Columbus Blue Jackets - have won one playoff series since 2009.
  5. Carolina Hurricanes - have won two playoff series since 2009.
  6. Philadelphia Flyers - have won one playoff series since 2012 (two if you want to include last season’s qualifying round, you coward).
  7. New York Islanders - have won four playoff series since 2013.
  8. Edmonton Oilers - <insert laugh track>
  9. Calgary Flames - have won one playoff series since 2009.

So, no, I don’t care what Owen Power does for the University of Michigan this season. I’m not going to check in on Brandt Clarke’s OHL stats. I’m sure as hell not going to see which undrafted prospect has a breakout performance at the World Juniorsespecially after this year’s developments. There will be plenty of time to check in with them come draft day.

Instead, I’m going to watch the 2021 Blackhawks and hope to Hossa that some prospects take a massive step forward to provide a needed dose of optimism regarding this team’s future. I hope Pius Suter is the next Dominik Kubalik. I hope Dominik Kubalik is more than a one-year wonder. I hope Alex DeBrincat returns to the form of a 40-goal scorer. I hope for moments of offensive brilliance from Adam Boqvist. I hope for Ian Mitchell to live up to the hype. I hope for at least one of the Blackhawks unproven goalie trio to take the reins as the team’s clear No. 1 goalie. Because that’s the quickest route for the Blackhawks to get this thing back on the rails: progression from its current pool of players.

Here’s where I could make a lame reference to the last year of our lives and suggest that we all deserve better than tanking after everything that transpired in 2020. But that’d be a lie. As an organizational philosophy, tanking sucked before 2020, tanking sucked during 2020 and tanking will continue to suck well after 2020.

Fuck tanking. Tanking sucks. To hell with tanking now, to hell with tanking forever.

On a slightly more serious note: a sincere thanks to all of you who visited this website in 2020. I don’t have to remind you how weird this year was but we hope that we provided some distractions and perhaps even a dose of levity during this year’s roller-coaster ride. Here’s to better years ahead.