“Disappointment” is an odd choice of words. I’m sure Marty McSorley is disappointed that, essentially, everyone blames him for losing the 1993 finals. Of course, no one blames him really, or at least not 100%. We all know the laundry list of blame: the Kings could have killed the penalty, they could have scored in OT, they could have won any of the remaining games. Maybe you could even argue that Marty McSorley is a hero, because if the Kings had lost in the finals after having a 2-0 lead, that would have been a historic meltdown. Instead of a famous penalty.
Never mind. You can’t really argue that.
But here’s another fact: Marty McSorley doesn’t need to meet the press at all. The stick incident is a famous prop in Kings lore, and nothing is going to change that. Sports history is built on such stories.
It’s pathetic for McSorley to imply that the “media” created this story. Everyone who followed the Kings watched that story unfold in real time. It was — really — a nightmare. As narratives go, it’s a pretty excellent one (with potential skullduggery and deathbed confessions and all of that). But for the fans who lived it, it was a horrible moment.
Now, every kid who becomes a Kings fan is told the story of what happened in 1993. Because sports fans wear these various humiliations with a sort of backwards pride. The indignities are badges of honor, and the more you have, the greater the vindication when your hard-luck team wins it all.
Here are the choicest bits of McSorley’s apologia:
[...] For 19 years, McSorley has heard about the stick, from fans and media. Most of the mentions and inquiries are of a good nature, but somewhat understandably, McSorley tires of hearing questions and comments about the stick and its infamous place in franchise history. Today, with the Kings back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993, McSorley held an informal session with the media and addressed the incident at length. [...]
MCSORLEY: “[...]The thing that disappoints me most about this (is) I think there’s been a degree of sensationalism, a big degree of sensationalism, and I don’t think there’s been a lot of honesty. Did I have an illegal stick? Yes, I did. Did I stand up, after the fact, and say, `Listen, I had an illegal stick’? Yes, I did. The things that have transpired since then, I don’t think there has been a lot of honesty. For me, personally, it was very, very disappointing. I’ve always been honest with the fans and the media here in L.A. I’m being honest with you now. That was very disappointing. To kind of hear it come out, if it’s going to come out, let’s be honest about what happened. Let’s be honest about the situation. Let’s not sensationalize it. Let’s be factual, and then we move on.
You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. There is no moving on. You’re famous, Marty, and this is what you’re famous for. That, and the other thing.
[...]We all know they basically pulled the stick rack into their locker room. That’s honest and that’s frank. Am I sitting here complaining? No. But that is what happened. Is it disappointing for me? Yes.
The key word there is “basically.” It’s not honest or frank to assert that this happened when there’s no evidence it happened. That’s like saying there was “basically” a gunman on the grassy knoll.
[...] they knew there were numerous guys (with illegal sticks). I think we kind of treated it, at that time, as almost George Brett’s pine-tar (bat). That’s kind of how we treated it.
Everybody’s doing it. That’s just honest and frank. And did I mention I’m disappointed?
[...]To find out later that they knew, and how they knew, was really, really disappointing. This is not a shot at the Montreal Canadiens [...].
No, it’s a shot at the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.
As you guys know, I do some studio analyst work up in Canada, and I do some work here with Fox in Southern California [...]. I’m brutally honest on the air, as I am right now. That part really disappoints me.”
As an aside, I find it extremely difficult to trust people who tell me over and over and over again how honest they are.
[HAMMOND:] McSorley largely laid the blame for the continuing story at the feet of the media, and that’s simply not true. In 19 years, it was really only a media storyline in 2003, during the 10th anniversary, yet fans and hockey followers regularly bring up the stick when McSorley’s name is mentioned. When asked whether he thought he would be “absolved’’ if the Kings ever win the Stanley Cup, McSorely ultimately said no.
MCSORLEY: “You know what? No, because I don’t think there’s anything I need to be absolved from. [...] From the fan base, I certainly don’t look at the fan base as being a body of people that have hung onto that. I really don’t.”
Marty McSorley took a stupid penalty and it cost the Kings one game in the Cup Final, at least. At most, it cost them the Cup.