In the late 1960s and early ‘70s heavyweight champion Joe Frazier was a formidable fighting machine, laying waste to anyone who had the temerity to challenge him. His calling cards…relentless pressure and a sledgehammer left hook.
However, by the time “Smokin’ Joe” defended his title against strapping George Foreman in January 1973, he was in decline. The young challenger did the unthinkable, destroying the previously indestructible Frazier inside of two rounds.
A scribe who covered the fight described Frazier’s once-vaunted left hook as a “dying fish flopping on the shore.” Foreman concurred. “You mean that thing was his left hook?”
Watching the Penguins bow rather meekly to the Oilers last night at PPG Paints Arena, I felt like I was witnessing the last vestige of our once-proud champions being swept away. Kind of like watching Frazier go down six times under Foreman’s thundering punches. Or that dying fish writhing on the shore.
It was painful to watch.
I felt sad. Sad for Sidney Crosby, whose desire for another Cup still burns white-hot. Sad for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, whose long and glorious black-and-gold careers may be coming to a close sooner than anyone wants to think.