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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Billy Tibbets Show

Okay, back to the Chicago Wolves, another team that has struggled after a terrific season last year. Coach Anderson wasn’t getting the message across, the players didn’t care, and the captain was on ice, having broken his ankle in the first minute of the first game. A roster of terrific AAA goalies was devoured by Atlanta as its goalies went down to injury. If it wasn’t for the San Antonio Rampage, the worst team in the AHL, the Wolves would be in last place in their division. Pschologically they were already there, DFL.

I think it came down to this, on December 3 the Wolves lost 4-6 against Omaha, having dropped four in a row. Not even a shoot-out loss, and three of the four games at home. Whatever was happening, had to stop. The Wolves made the amazing announcement on November 25th they had signed Bobbie Hull and that Atlanta had assigned Jani “the sieve” Hurme to Chicago. Okay, so Hull was coming aboard as a charity effort, so was Hurme. Hurme, it may be recalled, was a top goalie prospect for the Thrashers in the days before the CBA. If he came back then the Thrashers would be required to pay his contract, which would put them over the salary cap. Hurme, following a life threatening bout with a post operative infection, hadn’t played in two years.

At first, the Wolves fans on the boards were ecstatic. Then they saw him in the pipes. I have never left a game so disheartened as after watching Hurme in his first two starts. He couldn’t stop a pee-wee dribbler, let alone the Omaha Knights. And the Wolves were stuck with him for god only knows how long.

On December 8th the Rockford Ice Hogs announced they had loaned Billy Tibbets to the Wolves. Tibbets is to hockey, I suppose, as Dennis Rodman is to basketball. He is highly talented and very volatile. I cannot even begin to cover the problems, mainly criminal matters, that this guy has left behind on the teams he played with.

The low point came December 9th. For some reason, my wife was home that morning, and I was going into work late. She was on the telephone to the Wolves explaining how we are season ticket holders and who made the Tibbets decision? She said she worked with pregnant 12 year-olds and didn’t want to associate with a team that had a guy like Tibbets on it.

Being a bit of a smart ass, I asked her if Tibbets was joining the Wolves “Read to Succeed” program, where the players read to school age children in libraries. The “Look” was my reply, and if you’re married, you know the look.

The Wolves played Peoria that night at the Allstate. And the losing streak ended. How?

Peoria is undoubtedly hot, though I think that will be coming to an end soon. Tibbets was on the ice, scoring the first Wolves goal. Later, refusing to face Rivermen goon Rocky Thompson. In fact Tibbets has appeared in three games with the Wolves, and each time been challenged to fight, and each time has turned and skated away, leaving the goon with a penalty and the Wolves on the power play. He has scored, additionally, three points, including two goals in the three games he played in, being blanked by San Antonio last night.

In addition Hurme is finding his way to stop shots too. Enough for 25 saves and a win.

It could be a last chance for Tibbets in the sport. Is his presence turning the Wolves? He cares and is playing with heart, which is more than I could have said for many of the Wolves before he showed up. There appears to be a difference on the ice. There is hustle again. There is movement for a full 60 minutes.

For Tibbets, and the Wolves, it is time to show us what they’ve got. It is becoming exciting to be a fan again.



Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but Tibbetts is a punk who has been given far too many second chances already

Anonymous said...

Tibbets is an awesome player, and I would like to thank him for all he has done for the Icehogs playoff opportunity. Thanks Billy!

Get a life! Nothing better to do then bad mouth people you don't even know?