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Stansson and the Playoffs, S73 Edition


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               Wolf Stansson approaches the podium for the press conference. He is somewhat happy, but has a scowl on his face. His team, the Miami Marauders, has just swept their first-round opponents in the VHLM playoffs, and this is the first press conference he’s taken part in for quite a while—at least that’s the way it feels. “I’m just busy, you know?” he would say later.

               Stansson, as a player this season, is a bit of an enigma. In the regular season he’s done well on points, blocked shots, and hits. However, aside from shot blocking, he has zero points in the playoffs thus far. This is the first question he is asked. “I’m not sure why this is a question,” Stansson tersely replies. “I mean, we just swept Philly. We won,” he adds, emphasizing “won” as though he were adding new information to the equation. “I’m not sure why I’m being criticized.”

               He has a point. He blocked shots and logged serious ice time for a team that has won every playoff game thus far. It’s difficult to ask for much more. He’s maintained a +2 while averaging nearly 26 minutes of ice time per game. He’s landed in the box four times, but given his ice time and physicality, this is hardly a surprise. In fact, while Stansson often comes off as sensitive to criticism, here he may have a point (no pun intended). He is a two-way player. This is fair to think about his offensive production. But this is a different year than last.

               Last year, Stansson was asked to carry the load on the power-play and to team up with Kosmo Kramerev to inject a needed-boost into an expansion franchise filled with growing pains. This year he’s being asked to settle in as a leader on the ice, setting the tone through big hits and the occasional power-play goal. In other words: this team is much better, and Wolf has a different role to play. A question rings out about a hit he took from a Philly forward smaller than he was. “I’m not out there keeping score on hits. Again: we won.”

               There is a near-smugness to his tone, a smile creeping on his lips that borders on arrogant. He chuckles lightly, and claps. “That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Isn’t this America?!” He spreads his arms wide, feigning exasperation. This is the part where we note two things can be true about Wolf Stansson: he is right about the criticism from the media at this point—it’s ridiculous—and he’s still being a little too sensitive. What he needs when he moves to the VHL in Moscow next season is for an older veteran to take the young kid under his wing and show him the ropes when it comes to PR. Not simply to be liked—he doesn’t have to care about playing the game that way. But he should do it so that he can tell his story in the way he wants to frame it. The less he reacts, the less the media will keep bringing up barbs. He would do well to learn this lesson now. There’s no better time than the present960x0.jpg

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