Canucks: Quinn Hughes and the frog in the boiling pot of water

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
5 months ago
There’s an metaphor that has been making the rounds in our disaster-and-change-laden modern existence that has to do with a frog in a boiling pot of water.
You’ve probably heard it by now. It apparently dates back to the Cold War.
The idea goes that if you were to throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, that hoppy little amphibian would leap out right away. Of course! No one wants to be turned into frog-legs.
But if one were to put a frog into a pot of room-temperature water, and then slowly but surely crank up the heat, the thinking goes that the frog would not realize they were on the way to being boiled, and would thus not leap out of the pot. They’d just think they were enjoying a nice little hot tub, until it was too late.
And that’s the metaphor. It’s a metaphor for not realizing something is happening while you’re in the middle of it. For missing the forest for the trees, as they say.
Now, we don’t know why anyone would want to boil a frog alive, and we’re sorry for starting your holiday reading out this way. But we promise that we’re working toward an important point.
Typically, you’ll hear the “frog-in-a-pot” metaphor broken out for inherently negative things. Climate change, the creep of fascism, or the decline in quality of superhero movies.
But as long as we can ignore the whole “cooking a living creature alive” bit, there’s no reason the metaphor has to be exclusive to bad stuff.
Which brings us to Quinn Hughes.
In case you missed it, Hughes earned the 250th assist of his career on Thursday against Philadelphia, and while 250 helpers is an achievement well worth celebrating in its own right, it’s the speed with which Hughes hit the milestone that really bears notice.
The speed, and the company.
Hughes’ 250th assist came in his 319th career game, which made him the third-fastest defender in NHL history to make the mark. The other two? Bobby Orr and Brian Leetch.
Ever heard of them?
It’s obvious rarefied air. It’s the most rarefied air. Orr took 309 games to hit 250, and Leetch took 311. That means that Hughes was just ten games off of equaling a record held by the person universally acknowledged as the greatest defenseman in hockey history.
Is it really exaggerating all that much to call this one of, if not the, greatest individual accomplishment in Vancouver Canucks franchise history?
We think not.
So why aren’t we talking about it more? Why aren’t we talking about it all the time?
Seriously, every time we publish something here on CanucksArmy, and it’s not some variation of “10 reasons why Quinn Hughes is a golden gift to the sport of hockey,” it feels a little bit wrong.
But it’s true. Hughes isn’t getting ignored. He’s still getting plenty of accolades. But we’re all that frog in the pot of water right now. We’re not being absolutely mind-blown by the unprecedented greatness of Hughes on a daily basis because we’ve all become conditioned by Hughes’ steady climb to said greatness.
He’s been doing things we’ve never seen before for so long and we’ve come to expected the unexpected. To the point that Hughes nearly equals an Orr-held record and the collective response seems to be a concerted “no duh!”
In just 68 games in his rookie season, Hughes came up just ten points short of the franchise record for D scoring. (And then put up 16 points in 17 postseason games.)
He stumbled slightly as a sophomore. But then, when he returned in his third full season to shatter that aforementioned record with 68 points, it was less a breakout and more a return to his rookie form.
The pot, it seems, was already pretty warm when we all got into it, and it’s been on the big burner since then.
Hughes cranked that production total up to 76 points in 2022/23, all the while firming up his defensive play and cleanly ascending to the status of a true number one defender.
And that leads us neatly to the present season, in which Hughes has been named captain, racked up 45 points in 36 games, and broken or approached a number of truly dazzling benchmarks.
We’re all frogs here, and the pot is boiling. That we ever shut up about Hughes, that we’re not demanding a pre-emptive statue of him be built outside of Rogers Arena, that any of us asked for anything this holiday aside from his continued health and good fortune: all evidence that we don’t realize just how boiling it is.
Which, it should be made clear, is not a critique of the Vancouver fanbase. This is only natural. The frog metaphor is a popular one for a reason (even if science shows that it doesn’t actually apply to real frogs).
It’s really hard to know how good you’ve got it while you’ve got it. It’s difficult to see the forest from the trees. It’s almost impossible to look at the performance of Hughes since arriving in Vancouver and not expect continued excellence on an unprecedented scale.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not a little room for more appreciation in the moment.
The holidays are a slow time, and they’re particularly slow for the Vancouver Canucks this year. The new year offers an opportunity to look ahead, but also to look back. To reflect.
So, this new year, we encourage you to take a good hard look at everything Hughes has accomplished as a Canuck thus far, and to seek out at least some realization of how truly amazing he has been.
Not for Hughes’ sake. He seems self-secure and driven enough.
But for your own sake.
In our metaphor, remember, the “boiling pot” isn’t a bad thing. It’s more like a hot tub. And after years of cold showers for this franchise, we’ve all earned the right to enjoy this soak.
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