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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preston Harper's Concession Speech



February 12, 2013
The Austin Chronicler

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the full text of the impassioned speech of Austin Rangers General Manager and coach Preston Harper following today’s practice that took the web by storm today. We have done our best to capture the exact words spoken by the coach, going so far as to ask him for clarification. Here it is for you to follow:

I give up. There's just no redeeming this league anymore.

Perhaps, there was a time when I could just laugh off every bad call, every bad break and every other unfortunate incident that could befell my team. That was in the yesteryear, when I firmly believed that the East Cup truly did care about our interests because, back then, they were not conspiring against our interests or anyone else's interests.

Now...I just don't know what to believe.

To give you an example, I sit before you as the coach and General Manager of a team that sits in eighth place at 14-9. Normally, I'd be ecstatic- it's one of our best showings in years, and, who knows, it gives us reason to hope that things will actually start going our way once again. I doubt it, though, after seeing what I saw last night.

By now, most of you already know that Pittsburgh demolished us 7-2. Yes, the sorry Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the proud Austin Rangers. Don't cry for us...we don't deserve your pity. Rather, direct your anger at the East Cup and Robert Browning for letting it happen, because it is their “diktats” that caused us to lose a game that we should have won.

You see, despite being down 2-1 heading into the third, we really controlled the game. I knew it was a matter of time before we got one past Jocelyn Thibault...we were really outshooting them, and we had some good shots too.

Then...it happened. Why...'cause this league is a joke.

Never before in my life have I ever seen simultaneous boarding majors assessed on the same play. The one on Brad DeFauw...well, I might concede that one...he did hit him in the numbers, although it was at the last moment and he never left his feet. The one on Patrick Marleau? Seriously? Clean check along the boards, all the way. I don't care if there was a concussion on that play...Patty had no intent to hurt the player. He was just finishing his check...and for what? Now I'll have to make do without him for 10 games.

Does that sound fair to you? Sure, you're all probably thinking I'm just mad I lost my best player, but gee, why wouldn't I be? I mean, it's only Patrick Marleau. Besides, I would only be grumbling if this were an isolated incident but it's not- the way penalties have been handed out this season, it just proves that this league is nothing but a joke.

Look at it for yourselves. My guy doesn't commit a penalty and he gets a ten game ban, over half of all the games we have left. Jesper Mattson of Colorado clocks a guy with a clear elbow and escapes without a penalty. Toronto's Chad Kilger slewfoots a guy and gets three games for that, when just two games prior Montreal's Pierre Dagenais gets five for a similar incident. Then Providence's Mike Morris strikes Sarnia's Kyle Miller with his stick and gets nothing while Barrie's Paul Gilmour's two-handed whack at Chicago's Sergei Samsonov gets five games.

Oh, but that's not all...no. Earlier this week, the Brampton Ravens had a game they should have won in Quebec robbed from them because the referee called interference when no one was even there. If you're going to call a power play late in the game, at least make sure there's actually a penalty; but hey...no matter. The Ravens aren't supposed to be good and the Nordiques are, so let's even the scales and get the right team on the right side, all right?

I could go on- there was that strange bench minor against Colorado that turned the tide for the Leafs earlier this season, a blatant trip by the Islanders' Andy MacDonald that was “missed” to preserve an Islander victory and whatever was that second period in the Philadelphia-Dallas game- but why waste your time? I've proven my point.

Normally, I'd say we should all just laugh this off, but I won't. The first few times, it's amusing, but after a while, this stuff stops becoming a joke. The sad part is, no one in charge seems to notice- or care, and that's just not right. When are we going to stop merely pretending this is some good Seinfeld episode and grab the bull by the horns and do something about it? We're the most profitable league in the world, yet we continue to show that we're run by a bunch of bush league morons.

...but hey, what do I know? I'm just some idiot from Texas...no one needs to care about me. I just hope at some point everyone else sees the sea of greater stupidity that I have to deal with...and that maybe, just maybe, they'll learn that the villiage idiot really does have a point.

-Preston Harper

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