Hitting the Curveball

Years ago, when my son was a little guy, his favorite Oiler was Tom Poti. The boy spent a few nights at Rexall watching Poti get booed before finally asking me why this was happening.

I said something like “well he makes a lot of mistakes, son” but he pointed out other Oilers did too (astute child) and they didn’t get booed like Poti.

So I asked a smarter man about it. I had a conversation with legendary Edmonton sports figure John Short about my son’s favorite hockey player. I asked him why Poti didn’t seem to be progressing, why (after being in the league for more than 200 games) he was still making the same mistakes.

John Short told me he’d seen a few college defensemen over the years have the same difficulty making the leap from NCAA to NHL play, and that he had a theory. John said that in high school and later college Poti and guys with his skill level had the puck all the time, didn’t have to chase it and their method of defense usually involved not letting the other guy have the puck.

He said they’d never had to learn to play defense and didn’t have to until reaching the majors. The Edmonton Oilers recalled Taylor Chorney today.

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