Monthly Archives: November 2011

Oh, what’s that you say? Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup? Thanks for the update!

BREAKING NEWS!!!

I’m getting this from the top, and, bear with me, but it appears that Sidney Crosby has been cleared to return to the lineup, and…yes, I’m hearing that he WILL play tonight against the Islanders. It looks like I’ll have to do a bit of digging to find this story out, and…yes, it’s confirmed. Great news for hockey! Thank god there’s someone out there willing to talk about the great Sidney Crosby, even if the media try their hardest to keep us guessing at his status.

*Several hours later*

Ah, much must have passed in the past few hours, as there were several games going on simultaneously. Surely there must be multiple interesting and unique stories. Now to see what people are talking about in the hockey world and (Warning: the following link may contain graphic images of some schmuck with a creepy sharpie-drawn stache and multiple orgasms from NHL.com) HOLY S**T!!!

If you weren’t brave enough to click the link — and I don’t blame you  (screenshot of NHL.com’s front page) — let me summarize it for you:

Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Sid Crosby Crosby Sidney Crosby Crosby Crosby some crap about the Bruins winning 9 in a row Crosby Crosby Crosby oh that prick Kaleta got fined? Who cares what he did, it’s all about Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Olli Jokinen.

I also have to note that I didn’t even get all of it in that screen cap; there’s actually a fifth headline (“Sid powers Pens with 2 goal, 4 point return”) on the top of the right sidebar, an entire sidebar entitled “Crosby’s return tweets” in which other players tweet their tweets about the guy, and a poll at the bottom that asks fans to predict how many goals Crosby will score this season. I mistakenly cut the top part of the page too short and accidently circled the story about the Bruins getting their ninth straight. I apologize for that; anything I may type about or point out that is NOT about Sidney Crosby is completely by accident and as irrelevant to the world as irrelevant as the human appendix is to gunshots. 

 

It’s great that he returned to the lineup. It’s good for hockey. I may hate him (and don’t get me wrong, I DO hate him), but it’s good publicity and it’s the one hockey-related subject that ESPN and those other media goons are willing to talk about. But stop it. We get it. He’s a great player. Have some mercy on us non-Penguin/Crosby fans. I haven’t heard someone use a name that much since I heard Devil’s color guy Chico Resch talk about Marty Broduer putting on his jockstrap.

Neglecting to showcase much else that’s happened in the past 24 hours in the hockey world than Crosby is demeaning to the fans, the players, and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins roster (except for Matt Cooke). There may not be a TON going on right now, but at least let us figure that out for ourselves. I don’t need you to tell me what Crosby is eating for breakfast or what other players think about him (did I mention that I hate him?).

And it’s impressive that he scored four points (two and two) in his return to hockey after 10 months, especially considering the nature of the injury (concussion). He already has more goals in one game than Scott Gomez has scored all season. He may have even made a couple of really nice plays (I refuse to link you to any of them, as you’ll probably see them on your milk carton tomorrow morning anyway. Have you seen this man-boy?). Let’s also not forget the fact that he played against the Islanders (still trying to make it to the NHL) and that the Penguins are a very talented team with or without him (11-6-3 this year without Crosby and pretty good last year without him AND Malkin).

It’s upsetting to see his face and name plastered all over any place that’s talking about hockey. I can understand that his four-point return is a top story, but it’s not the first-, second-, third-, fourth-, AND fifth-most interesting story. NHL.com used 3/5 of its moving headline slots for a single player as well as the top five of its 10 sidebar headlines. That’s just upsetting. I’m willing to admit he’s a great player and is very newsworthy (I still hate him though), but one story is enough (or two even, I’ll give you two! I don’t know how you can make the same story into a pair, but it’s such a big issue I’ll cut you some slack), especially after we’ve had to hear about him for the past 10 months when he wasn’t even playing.

But let’s not pretend like NHL.com and other media are the only culprits of this reporting atrocity; that simply wouldn’t be fair. I also blame Alex Ovechkin.

Seriously, where are you bud? You’re supposed to be interchangeably #1 or 2 with the player in discussion. I have you on my fantasy team, and I’m not going to lie, Alex: I’m doing terribly. And I blame you. I drafted you with the number one overall pick. I trusted you. I put my trust in you and you betrayed that trust. You aren’t playing well, and therefore are not an issue in the hockey world right now. You’re betraying the entire league by allowing your arch-nemesis (at least in hockey, I don’t know his evil Russian counterpart) to thrive off your failures. Get better.

But I digress. Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby (I’m not even copying and pasting as a way to let out my rage) Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby Crosby…

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under NHL

Nightmare scenarios

The NHL season is long and stressful for everyone involved, so let’s take a break from that and think about some crazy nightmare scenario that I hope never happens:

Imagine you’re the fan of an arbitrary hockey team…let’s say the New York Rangers — nay! You’re a player of the New York Rangers. After a long, grueling season where your team found itself under the microscope time after time, your team is down to its last two games. You’re neck and neck with a division rival (oh, let’s say the Philadelphia Flyers…just for argument’s sake, of course) for that final playoff spot. Both of your games are against that division rival. You’ve worked your ass off to get this close, made a dramatic run in the past few weeks, and you’re not about to let a bunch of scumbags take this opportunity away from you.

You need to win both to make it. You win the first of the home-and-home in your own arena in a close match. But there’s still game #82. And game #82 is a hard-fought one. It might as well be Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Everything is on the line: your pride, your fans’ pride, a chance to embarrass and eliminate a hated rival, and most importantly, a chance to make a run for Lord Stanley’s glory; the winner of the game advances to the playoffs, while the losers go home crying, or pursue an internship with a fashion magazine (again, it’s all hypothetical). There must be a victor, but the game is too epic to end in regulation; in fact, it’s too epic to end in overtime.

Wait, what? Anyway, someone must win. And what better way to decide whose season is over and who advances than a…SHOOTOUT!!!

It’s all the rage! One on one with the goalie! Six shooters! Two guys who try to stop the black circle! One puck! ZERO DISAPPOINTMENT!!! You don’t even have to understand the sport or any of the rules, because this event doesn’t factor any of that in! Yet this one event, that will presumably take just a few minutes, will surely determine our champions!

And what do we have here? It’s Olli Jokinen! Yes, this guy! The shootout and the game — nay, the entire SEASON — is on the line, and it comes down to this gentleman. If he scores, we move on to a bonus round! If not, his team’s season is over…after all they’ve fought for. Here he comes, skating in on some schmuck…Boo-shay? His name is Boo-shay? OK, whatever, and OH he’s stopped! Game over! Season over for one team! Wasn’t that fun, folks? Tune in next year for some Matt Cooke shenanigans!

Of course, that wasn’t a hypothetical nightmare I just made up, it actually happened. Even the Vogue magazine part.

The shootout has worn out its welcome. It was fun to watch for a year or two, and it may have drawn some positive attention to the sport, but the gimmick is done. Trash it. What’s wrong with ties? Or extended OT? A hockey game should not end in a skills competition. Teams’ seasons should not end short because they weren’t good enough on breakaways. It’s such a small portion of the game that determines such a large portion of the standings. It’s a silly way to determine winners, and losers, and it can happen in each of the 82 regular season games.

And that fact was made even more clear two nights ago by mega-troll Danny Briere (the same mega-troll that played an evil part in the previously-mentioned shootout).

Yes, that actually happened, and yes, it counted. And yes, the senior VP of hockey operations condoned it.

What’s that, you say? How could anyone in the league, especially that high up on the Bettman ladder, think it’s fine for a player to, on a shootout attempt, come to a complete stop in front of the net, snow shower the goalie while the masked man flops to make what appears to be an angle-removing play, and then simply skate around the frozen goalie and put the puck in the empty net…and be OK with that type of play having the potential to essentially determine who earns the extra point in the standings (fortunately, the Devils beat the Flyers in the shootout that night)?

Here’s what Mike Murphy, senior VP of hockey operations, had to say on CISCO NHL Live about the incident.

“Can the player come to a complete stop?”

“Absolutely…the puck cannot come to a complete stop. The player can stop as long as the puck is continuing to be dribbled or stickhandled or moved from side-to-side, and that’s the case with Briere last night.”

Let’s review:

-Player movement doesn’t matter (he can stop or even skate backwards).

-As long as the puck is moving, and not heading backwards, play continues. I guess moves where the puck actually does head in the opposite direction, like a toe-drag, still count.

-Oh, and there’s a specific rule that trashes everything the second rule stands for, allowing spin-o-rama type plays to be perfectly legal, even though the puck travels backwards about three feet.

So what do we have? According to the current rules, it is totally legal for a player to stop in front of the net as long as he continues to stickhandle from “side-to-side”. He can stand there as much as he likes…a quick second for a quick move like Briere used, or for 27 hours. There’s no limit, no rule disallowing it.

So, OK, that’s the current rule, so while what Briere did was technically legal (apparently), the rule needs to be amended, right?

Wrong, according to Murphy.

“Well, I think [if] you add too many words, you confuse the issue.”

Yeah, screw words! Screw reading! It’s too confusing. We can’t expect players to be able to skate on ice, hold a hockey stick, understand icing, AND learn a new amendment to the shootout, all at the same time! I mean, we just added the shootout a few years ago, I’m sure players are still adjusting to all the new updates. And don’t even get me started about the trapezoid! Can you touch the puck there, can you skate in that area, I mean what’s the deal???

Expect players to replicate Briere’s strategy and stop in front of the net until they have a sure goal. Expect seasons to be decided by a gimmick that gets more ridiculous every month, and by players as ridiculous as Olli Jokinen (bonus Photoshops; of course it’s from HFboards). And don’t expect the rule to change anytime soon, because you heard it from the top: the rule doesn’t need to be changed.

Oh, and unfortunately, that nightmare scenario, too, is real.

Leave a comment

Filed under NHL

The world needs a villain

The world needs villains as much as it needs heroes. There’s the paradigm that without evil, there is no good; there’s no love without hate. The same law applies to the smaller world of the NHL.

 

Sean Avery: one of the most hated players to ever play the game, and currently interchangeably #1 or #2 with Matt Cooke. Cries of joy were jubilantly sung when word was passed that he was waived and demoted to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale (can we talk about what a ridiculous name that is, and how awful their jerseys are?). Some got even more excited when they heard he was considering playing in Europe. “We never have to see this scumbag in an NHL arena again!” said 90% of the league’s fan base and Marty Broduer.

But is that really what we all want? Is it possible that supporters of the anti-Avery agenda were speaking purely out of raw emotion and not considering all the things that make the sport great?

 

Everyone loves to hate someone, or something. In every context, people are going to have a passion both for and against at least one idea. It’s true. Think of any topic and you’ll quickly be able to recognize one thing you hate and one you love about it. Think of your favorite team. Think of your favorite TV show or movie. Think of your group of friends (there’s always “that guy”) Hell, think of your family. Now, think of how all those things would be without the thing(s) that you hate. It’s going to suck not having a scapegoat to blame when your team blows a 3-goal lead. It’s going to suck without that one character that you just want to see their face get punched in every time they make an appearance (I’m looking at you, Shooter McGavin). It’s going to suck not having a “friend” to talk smack about behind his/her back. It’s going to suck not having the one “screw up” in your family to make you feel better about yourself (if you can’t point him/her out, it’s you. Get your life together!). Everything is better when you have something to hate as much as something to love.

Now think of your favorite sport (in this case, it’s hockey. It’s not hockey? Let me direct you to the giant red “X” in the top right of your computer screen…don’t click it; I need readers). Now think of the players that comprise the sport. Think about every time you watch a hockey game and how you feel about certain players. In every game you watch, whether it’s a team you care about against a team you hate, or the Florida Panthers vs.  the New York Islanders, there’s going to be one player, coach, referee, announcer, vendor, or annoying fan in the background that does something you hate. You wish that scum was gone from sport and maybe even the face of the earth, at least for the time being. But if you look deep inside, you’ll thank the hockey gods that these people are around; it’s your disdain for them and how angry they make you feel that makes watching the game so fantastic. That’s what being a sports fan is all about. It’s the thousands of varied emotions you feel on a second-to-second basis, and how each moment makes you feel alive. You want to see a-holes get rocked by a George Parros uppercut; you want to see them fail at the sport; you want to see them get crushed into the stanchions by a 6’9″ Zdeno Chara body check (too soon?). You live for those moments as much as you live for the moments when your team wins; and for fans of a team that doesn’t win, you have to rely on those hate-driven bursts of glee to keep sane (I’m looking at you, all of Ohio’s pro sports).

 

Deep inside, you’re glad that Sean Avery was placed on re-entry waivers and could make his season debut as early as this Thursday (unless you’re an Avery-hating Rangers fan). Sure, you might hate New York sports already, but isn’t it much better to hate them with that loudmouth clown running around stirring the pot? Don’t you want to play the Rangers and obliterate them and that fashion-designing, stick-waving, name-calling bum?

And you hate Sean Avery for all the right reasons; he’s the ideal player to hate in the league. Despite popular belief, he is NOT a dirty player: he’s never been suspended for an on-ice action (nor should he have been), he’s never injured another player, he’s never thrown a bad elbow to someone’s head, he doesn’t take runs at players from behind, or generally do anything that Matt Cooke might do (which, this year, unfortunately includes putting the puck in the net). And that’s a good thing. You don’t want to hate a player because he’s a safety risk out on the ice, you want to hate a player because he’s either too good and wrecks your team or he’s just that douche from high school that you hoped would get caught for smoking weed in the bathroom.

And let’s not forget about HBO’s upcoming 24/7 (I can’t WAIT!). Assuming Avery will still be on the team by the time filming starts, he’s going to make the series a lot more interesting. Who doesn’t want to hear some of the stuff he says to players on the ice that make them hate him so much (some examples). What’s he like off the ice? What antic is he going to come up with next?

Bottom line is that Sean Avery is a character that brings some attention to the sport outside of the hockey community (see what he’s done for gay rights, which took balls, by the way); whether that attention is good or bad is up for debate, but the sport needs characters. The sport needs a villain, and I think we can all agree that we’d rather the villain be a loudmouthed bum than an elbow-happy, gap-toothed, dog-rapist faced scumbag (the ambiguity is intentional yet unavoidable).

Leave a comment

Filed under NHL