Please Advise! Quality Control Issues Could Sink My Team

Note to Leafs Coach Babcock: Does Phil Kessel have an Instagram account?

By Steve Burgess 25 May 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

In a development that shocked the nation, I was recently chosen for an important leadership position. The job I have been given is a difficult one. The situation will require a major turnaround. All eyes are upon me, and expectations are sky-high. Unfortunately there are questions about the quality of my new team. What advice can you offer?


Mike Babcock
Head Coach
Toronto Maple Leafs

Dear Mike,

My congratulations and/or sympathies. It's a tough gig. I wish you well but frankly, coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs could destroy the reputation of Captain Chesley ''Sully'' Sullenberger. You'll either need dumb luck or faith in Jesus, depending on your philosophy.

Interestingly, there's another person who roughly shares your situation: Rachel Notley. The newly elected Alberta premier was sworn in Sunday. She too has been handed the immense responsibility of accomplishing a turnaround under the unforgiving eyes of a nation. And like the fate of the Leafs, the impact of failure would be national.

But whereas the Toronto team you've inherited is a proven commodity -- proven losers and clowns -- Notley's NDP team is made up almost entirely of rookies. The Alberta NDP party whip ought to be Ben Stein, standing in front of caucus and droning, ''Bueller? Bueller?'' Premier Notley will be forced to take a hard line with any cabinet ministers who claim, ''The dog ate my portfolio.''

Before even taking office, Notley weathered her first crisis. New MLA Deborah Drever had some issues, most of them stemming from the invention of photography. There was a heavy metal album cover she posed for, playing the role of a woman being assaulted with a bottle by the fine young musicians in question. Then there was the Facebook photo of someone giving the finger to the Canadian flag. Drever said it wasn't her finger -- perhaps just an unfortunate finger-bomb. But as they say on the infomercials, ''Wait! There's more!'' A photo emerged from Drever's Instagram account -- a picture of former Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice and cabinet minister Ric McIver with ''Gay boyz'' written on it.

Notley boots Drever

A step forward for the Alberta PCs if true, but apparently Drever was just attempting to be insulting. It would seem Drever rejects homosexuality in favour of the sort of heterosexual activity that involves assaulting women with bottles. Notley stuck by Drever for the early installments of her ongoing photo essay, but that last one was too much and Drever was dismissed from caucus. She is now free to release pictures of herself drowning puppies in a Cruella De Vil hairdo.

So Premier Notley took swift action to deal with her problem. Take a lesson, Coach Babcock. Does Phil Kessel have an Instagram account? Look into that. Might help you out.

Like Alberta voters, Leaf fans know that change is necessary to make the team competitive again. But if your situation is anything like Rachel Notley's, you probably have TSN analysts warning of your plans to send all your players to collective farms. You did come to Toronto from the Red Wings. Will Leaf players have to undergo re-education so that they continue the class struggle even in the corners?

But more cool-headed observers understand that Rachel Notley and the NDP are not out to change the nature of the Alberta economy. They simply want to make it operate more responsibly. And you too must effect a cultural shift, Mike. Your task will be to convince both players and media that there's more to hockey than just cashing paycheques. Responsible team play will pay dividends for everybody, whether it's backchecking and defence on the ice, or a corporate tax increase and a higher royalty rate in the oil patch. The game is the same -- it's just how you choose to play it.

There are differences. Rachel Notley is not getting $50 million to do her job. But then, she doesn't have to try to trade Dion Phaneuf. I'm sure you and Premier Notley wish each other well. And you may even have to work together someday -- after all, if the Leafs win the Stanley Cup you'll surely be Prime Minister.  [Tyee]

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