“The Pittsburgh Penguins won.” “The San Jose Sharks lost.”
Do those statements have the same meaning? The answer depends entirely on what you mean by meaning.
Following the suggestion of my friend Arik Parnass, I’ve began re-reading the book Thinking Fast And Slow, which explores many ideas that can be applied to hockey.
One of the chapters in the book deals with the concept of framing – how people can be influenced to think about a certain situation depending on the words used to describe it. Going back to our initial example, did the Penguins win the Stanley Cup (because of their superior tactics, teamwork and talent level)? Or did the Sharks lose the Stanley Cup (because of their reliance on defensemen who are slow and can’t make a pass)?
There is no right or wrong answer, but we can see how a simple difference in phrasing can lead us down different avenues.