COLUMN: Gaudreau's Transcendent, Rule-Breaking Play On The Ice Brings The Laughs
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 09:10
No, Landon Peterson, they weren’t laughing at you. Not really, at least.
Sure, they said it was all your fault. They said that your general skills at life are sucky and that your goaltending isn’t so great either. They called you a sieve—and then they called you a sieve a few more times after that.
But I promise that if you stop and think about it, maybe when you’re watching the film today before you throw it away for good, that the Boston College student section wasn’t laughing at you six and a half minutes into Friday night’s 9-2 slaughter of your Wisconsin Badgers.
They were laughing because when Johnny Gaudreau does dirty things to a goalie like he did to you on that breakaway goal to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead, the only reasonable response is wide-eyed laughter.
There are two types of rules in sports. Ignore something like offsides, icing, or hooking and an official will step in to correct the mistake. For every wrong action like this, there’s a proper response.
Then there’s the other type of rule. It’s the rule that says a, supposedly, 5-foot-8, 159 pound forward shouldn’t be able to do what Gaudreau did on that breakaway—not so effortlessly or effectively.
When that type of rule is broken, the only “proper” response is laughter. It’s the type of rule breaking that makes sports fun.
Gaudreau received the puck from Adam Gilmour and then eased his way up the ice. Although he kept the defensemen chasing him from behind at bay, he never made his speed look like a struggle. Gaudreau threw two dekes at Peterson, which forced Peterson to slide his body to the left just enough.
As Gaudreau moved the puck back to the right, nothing was standing in his way. Peterson turned his head in the opposite direction, but he couldn’t move anything else in time to make the save on the back-handed attempt.
Gaudreau didn’t so much shoot and score as he transformed his attack on that play into a lay-up. It was like Derrick Rose had just pulled off a crossover leading to a wide-open rim.
Yes, that move has been done before. Gaudreau didn’t make up the way in which he used those dekes, but the unique thing about the play was how inevitable it felt.
Sprinting down the ice on a breakaway, the question usually isn’t whether or not Gaudreau will score, but rather how will he pull it off. And when he does pull it off, like he did on Friday and in the national championship game against Ferris State and a multitude of other times throughout his career, it elicits that unique laughter only absurd athletic creativity can provide.
It’s not funny, necessarily. There’s not really humor in what Gaudreau pulls off, but it defies the expected rules of the game so much that the laughter becomes instinctual.
Heading into last season, BC head coach Jerry York was asked about another one of Gaudreau’s famous dekes into a backhander.
“His entire life he’s always been able to do those kinds of things, but I never thought he’d do it at that level,” his father, Guy Gaudreau, said of the move.
It was his goal against Ferris State that essentially secured BC’s fifth title, and it was a play Gaudreau probably shouldn’t have made.
“Thankfully I went with my instincts,” Gaudreau said of decision to attack while holding onto a lead, “but, I mean, at that time of the game I really should’ve dumped it in like my coaches always say.”
“I’d hate to stifle offense because it’s hard to score goals,” York said a year ago about that play. “If you’ve got creative players you’ve got to let them play.
“Now, having said that, late in a game where we’re protecting a lead…” York began, but then conceded that Gaudreau has the freedom to take the openings available to him.
And that’s what players like Gaudreau can do. They can change the rules, the second type of rule, in extremely entertaining ways.
So, no, Landon Peterson, the student section wasn’t laughing at you. There wasn’t much you or anyone else could have done. Sometimes the only response is to laugh.