2013: .901 (.912)
2012: .908 (.914)
2011: .903 (.913)
—Collision, who notes that the fire apparently stopped stopping more pucks than the league average three full seasons ago
2013: .901 (.912)
2012: .908 (.914)
2011: .903 (.913)
—Collision, who notes that the fire apparently stopped stopping more pucks than the league average three full seasons ago
here there is none that can guide me aright in the pathless wood.—
If I've had to howl 'neath the lashes of fate, trust me to find folks I can lash in my turn—
The corpses all laugh. But their laughter is forced;
Enough for the day is the evil thereof,—
and further: Discount not thy funeral.—
Not long ago, the NHL team from Colorado—dead last in the league—hosted the one from Calgary, second-to-last. The game itself was uninspired but inspiring, in that it led well-regarded veteran goaltender J-S Giguère to go ham on his squad after the game. All this has been more-than-adequately covered elsewhere, of course. Over to The Classical, however, I came at things from a slightly different angle: Losing Again: A Play in Verse. It hosts probably the piece of art I'm proudest of having had a hand in ever: Bogdan von Pylon's pitch-perfect reworking of Raymond Pettibon's cover for Black Flag's Jealous Again.
Aside from the best art you will see today, the piece trickles from a lot of different sources. One is our own semi-tradition of bets here at CtC: Bogdan von Pylon and I renewed our whimsical wager of Shopping of Photos by him or Crafting of Poems by me in the event of "our" team losing. "My" team lost, naturally, and so I began to guide my pen across page—carving and wheeling like the plodding skates of an Avalanche defenseman getting beaten wide—then other, darker roots of influence manifested and from the thick taproot of menace and despair began to bloom weird leaves. I thought of the faces of the goaltenders who worked that night, and thought of their losses and reversals: It instantly seemed that a few short stanzas were inadequate to the task of capturing the spirit of the thing, the meaning of this late-season trudge through the slough. The obvious solution to this perilous lack was a play in verse.
Probably this seemed very necessary because I have of late been reading Peer Gynt, in the aftermath, for all is aftermath, of an interesting staging thereof I attended with the Lady Noodles not long ago. It was, in the words of the program, "a hybrid Peer Gynt [combining] parts of ... three scores—Grieg, Schnittke, and Holloway—with a semi-staged multimedia production". The staging was somewhat light, playing much for laughs and eliding essentially everything from the third quarter of the book, which contains Peer Gynt's attempts to sell himself as a prophet, some still-disturbing scenes in a madhouse, and a sequence of actually horrifying cruelty on a ship. The book used for that performance did elide these sections, anyway. The rather superb Robin Holloway piece "Ocean Voyage" did seem to evoke/embody much of the tumult and sad human shittiness Ibsen built into those passages, though it was incorporated clumsily into the show, being very long and more than a little flow-breaking.
One of the primary themes of Peer Gynt is the frank evil causing/caused-by the philosophy demanded by the Motor City 5: "let me be who I am". This philosophy is of course ascendant now, and not merely in our politics! It has poisoned our writing, too. Essentially every writer within 10 years of my age sallies forth misunderstanding the lessons of confessional poetry/Lester Bangs/David Foster Wallace/Joan Didion/Herman Melville/whoever strikes you as what Ibsen called "Old fossil Highnesses who make it their pride to keep plebeian blots excluded from their line's escutcheon", and reduces every topic to "a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself". But these writers aren't Alice James, or Ibsen, or even Bangs, and the spring of self is stagnating badly.
It's here, sir, that one is oneself with a vengeance; oneself, and nothing whatever besides. We go, full sail, as our very selves. Each one shuts himself up in the barrel of self, in the self-fermentation he dives to the bottom,—with the self-bung he seals it hermetically, and seasons the staves in the well of self. No one has tears for the other's woes; no one has mind for the other's ideas. We're our very selves, both in thought and tone, ourselves to the spring-board's uttermost verge,—
And, well, fuck that. Since I wish to speak of the rough infinity of things more interesting than myself before I speak of myself, the formal play of a play in verse seemed Just The Thing. Plus the third and fourth influences plaguing, or maybe blessing, my every word; I speak, naturally, of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and of Thomas Pynchon—or at least I speak of the urge so potent in them to STOP
(Let's put on a show!)
everything and break into song. And so what was conceived as a pair of poems turned into a play in verse turned into a rock opera—or at least a musical. Which, again: you can read over at The Classical: Losing Again.
But why goalies in particular, you probably aren't asking. There are several reasons. First, as I learned from Manufacturing Consent—not that one, the other one—the name of the game is to try to build up an analysis of the whole structure of capitalism by looking closely at the shop floor; so why not start my look at the shop floor with a look at the goalies? (Charles Fort is instructive here: all life is connected and "One measures a circle, starting anywhere.") Second, if hockey itself be of interest, then surely goalies are of interest, for as one brilliant observer querulously asked "Is [the goalie] not worth between 50 and 60 percent of his [sic] team?"
Okay, so that brilliant observer was legendary goalie Jacques Plante, who perhaps is not the disinterested historian one would wish most for. Nevertheless, goalies do seem important. Third: their helmets are colorful and interesting and draw the eye.
Perhaps, despite all good faith and honest craft, the project failed. Perhaps the result was still and all more an autobiography than an analysis, revealing only my needy vanity, my own failure(s) and rotten (mis-)appropriations of the work of others as an attempt to reclaim what the world stole from me. Perhaps my foolish project is too much like Peer Gynt's, self-serving always, ignorant and arrogant, doomed to an inherent and meaningless uniqueness that can never be special; nothing more than my identity in prose form, a portrait of no more than a shallow and sickly self.
It's true—my grounding's by no means thorough,
and history's wheels within wheels are deceptive;—
but pooh; the wilder the starting-point,
the result will oft be the more original.—
Thanks for reading, everybody!!
I am on record as liking and respecting the hell out of Adrian Dater. I think he's among the best beat writers in the business, and his opinions are usually interesting and well-argued. He's got skin thin enough to block me on Twitter, but that's no big deal: I'm a redhead myself, and I know from temper. Anyway, I'm glad he's my primary conduit for Avs information.
All that said, there are in this 240-word piece "David Quinn takes Boston University coaching Job three separate claims that I want to talk about for a second (all presented verbatim):
So what the hell is journalism?
It's all pretty gross. And, as I've said before, since there's so little at stake with professional sports—it's not like we're being fed a series of bad reasons to spend trillions of dollars invading Iraq, we're just trying to figure out if it's a goalie's groin or hip that's hurt, and how badly—there is absolutely no reason not to do it right. Go ahead, protect your sources. Seems reasonable. But could you at least act like it bugs you that you're being told who you can and who you can not talk to?
—Collision, who literally nobody wants to talk to anyway
We've had a lot of fun with Semin around here, to the point where some have even complained about seeing so much Semin in the 'Crease, but the Internet exploded today with the news that the Carolina Hurricanes have decided they need Alexander Semin in their jersey for five more seasons. While his production has been spotty for the past few campaigns, he's really come on for the 'Canes this time around, and his fast hands really fill a hole for a team that often struggles to punch it in.
Some observers may choke on his cost, but right now it certainly appears as though Carolina wants to put Semin on their ice for another five seasons. For now, we can all quit worrying about where Semin will end up. At least until next year's trade deadline, when, surely, scoring wingers will be a sizzling-hot commodity and Semin will be on everybody's lips once again.
To commemorate this new consummated deal, please enjoy the sloppy, slapped-together Photoshop that our own Bogdan von Pylon expelled before a quick cigarette and a nap.
—Collision, hoping von Pylon will call, later
Okay, okay. It isn't all dick jokes and making fun of Ryan Lambert's inability to figure out what he's trying to say around here. Other notable moments from the CtC Thread du Jour include finding our next book club book:
And, spurred on by the Onion, I prepared a list of the five awesomest things ever said on the clock.
# 5: Reported by Pierre Idiot Trudeau, eavesflirting at the Red & Black some years ago:
"Hey, why didn't Tracy put away this delivery?"
"Because she sucks?"
This Onion article is # 4.
# 3 is some dude I knew who once asked his boss
"how big a diagram do I have to draw you, using how many colors of crayon, to explain that what you're asking for can not be done?"
# 2 is of course Bogdan von Pylon:
"this is important, so I'm going to use profanity. Please don't take it personally".
#1: Noodles reply-alling an entire work list—every on-site employee got this—with
"I'm sorry, but this 'no-vacation, everybody-needs-to-pull-together-and-work-harder' stuff is ridiculous, when you fired a third of us—our friends and co-workers—last week. Now you have too much work to honor time off requests? You not being able to manage the workflow is not a reason we need to work harder."
Smash the state, fuck your boss, all power to the people and ban the fucking bomb.
Haw haw haw, see, Curry—Bollywood—Indians love curry, which is a spicy food, probably the national dish of India, which is where Bollywood is, and also Curry is the name of the best player on the Warriors, so it writes itself!
Except it doesn't write itself. Somebody wrote it. (Presumably not "Ryan Leong", since that's the usual dodge used by reporters when some internet jerk gets upset about a headline.) Somebody wrote this cheap pun because they thought it was funny, and, sure, okay, it works on whatever level it works on, and I guess we should be happy the Warriors are doing some minimal kind of cultural outreach with a Bollywood night. But would they have run an essentializing and at least borderline offensive pun with any of their other cultural outreach nights?
"David Lee Fries Glen Rice on Asian-American 'Sorry for the Internment Camps Thing' Night"
"Jarrett Jack Racks Up Steals on African-American 'Free Basketball Tickets Might Stop this Crime Wave' Night"
"Andris Biedrins Makes a Lot of Cabbage on 'Eastern Europeans Like Borcht, Right?' Night"
"Jolly Swagman Andrew Bogut Slaps Shrimpy, Barbie-Like Team Around on 'Waltzing Matilda and Fried Wallaby Night'"
Sure, all these jokes are bad, real Borcht-belt level stuff, and most of them even require explanatory links; this is because the jokes I made rely on slightly more obscure cultural references and connections than Bollywood/Indians/Curry/curry. But the connections are there, and, in my fake examples, would obviously preclude their publication. So why are these precluded when "Curry Spices Up Bollywood Night" isn't?
—Collision, humorless dink
(Non-optional soundtrack to this post.)
Here is an edited version of three grafs from Ryan Lambert's latest column. (I include unedited originals below.) I've used strikethrough to eliminate the weasel words, pointless asides, or things irrelevant to my main point.
for all the talk about how hard he tried and how his firing was more about going in a "different direction" than his personal job performance,was simply not a good NHL general manager. That much was obvious to anyone who saw how pathetically bungled the Rick Nash saga was, orhis draft record, or most of his other trades, and the vast majority of his free agent signings.
you have to giveHowson this: Hejust set his successor up for an hilariously successful future.
Howson's drafting and trading over the last few years has accumulated a decent number of prospects that range from "good" to "very good," though
to be fair maybeonly one can be considered "great." They're mainly defensemen, like Ryan Murray (the benefit of picking second, one supposes), David Savard and Tim Erixon, as well as goaltender Oskar Dansk. No overwhelming prospects, but a good group nonetheless. Grabbing guys like Cam Atkinson hasn't hurt either.But overallthere's a reason Hockey Prospectus and Hockey's Future have the Blue Jackets in the bottom half of the league when it comes to prospects.
So, what we have here is an argument that runs:
The contradiction is clear: Lambert is simultaneously saying that Howson was bad at drafting (1., 2., 5.) and good at drafting (3., 4.). How could a patently self-contradictory claim get made and published? I mean, I'm not misrepresenting him or his arguments in any way: all I did was try to shave away the cruft and reveal the argument he was making.
My theory is this: it would be easier for Lambert to understand what he himself was saying—and for his editors, if he had any—if he'd cut down on the weasel words and pointless semi-conversational asides.
(Earlier this week, his lede was this, again with the weasel words eliminated:
On Monday night, the Flames went down
prettyquietly in a home game against the Minnesota Wild that pretty muchall observers agreed was in every way a dreadful, unwatchable hockey game.
fairly accuratelycovers mostFlames games this season,
That's 42 words, 6 of which are pointless qualifiers that only blunt whatever statement he's trying to make. Fairly accurately. Most. Pretty pretty much.
Maybe he gets paid by the word, so 14% filler is working well to line his pockets thickly with hockey-blog-troll stacks of cash. Maybe he doesn't read his own results, and what we're reading are first drafts. Maybe he thinks he trolls effectively enough without removing all the equivocations—the etiology doesn't matter, though, because it's clear that his obfuscations are legitimately getting in the way of his ability to communicate, as they so, so brutally did in his little Howson riff.
It doesn't really matter. I don't read Lambert much: even when his point isn't buried under fearful hedges, that point is rarely more interesting than "X sucks and Teemu Selanne is great and I saw a lacrosse goal on YouTube" or, very occasionally, "Y should get more credit and Teemu Selanne is great and I saw a lacrosse goal on YouTube". Even if it has a Simpsons quote at the bottom, I can skip a column that doesn't do any more work than that. But if the dude is going to get big-boy real estate on the only hockey blog that matters, I'd like to see him do better work.
—Collision, who loves Titus Andronicus as much as Lambert does
Scott Howson, for all the talk about how hard he tried and how his firing was more about going in a "different direction" than his personal job performance, was simply not a good NHL general manager. That much was obvious to anyone who saw how pathetically bungled the Rick Nash saga was, or his draft record, or most of his other trades, and the vast majority of his free agent signings.
But you have to give Howson this: He just set his successor up for an hilariously successful future.
Howson's drafting and trading over the last few years has accumulated a decent number of prospects that range from "good" to "very good," though to be fair maybe only one can be considered "great." They're mainly defensemen, like Ryan Murray (the benefit of picking second, one supposes), David Savard and Tim Erixon, as well as goaltender Oskar Dansk. No overwhelming prospects, but a good group nonetheless. Grabbing guys like Cam Atkinson hasn't hurt either. But overall there's a reason Hockey Prospectus and Hockey's Future have the Blue Jackets in the bottom half of the league when it comes to prospects.
Alexander Semin made a splash this summer by following a couple mediocre years of decline with a risky one-year deal for $7 million. Clearly, he's banking on his ability to have a resurgence that would tantalize some GM into splurging on him. This takes real spunk. Not every player could convince his agent to swallow a deal like this, but Carolina Hurricanes head honcho Jim Rutherford didn't want to let such a potent opportunity slip through his fingers, and, unusually for the notoriously tight-fisted decision-maker, he didn't dicker, he didn't try to soften the deal or harden his terms, he just took it on the chin, and paid Semin a load of money.
However, to this point in the season, Semin has scored only a single goal. So far, some Hurricanes fans have felt that this $7 million they sprayed on Semin was shot, wasted. Some have even spat that he may be choking. It's probably best to ignore the anxious ejaculations of these fans—they're drips, and their protestations are certainly at this point premature. If you only look at numbers that are, so to speak, raw, "dog" is what you'll conclude—but this would be a mistake.
While it's true that he hasn't finished like most people had hoped, to call him a bust would be nuts: Semin's been on the ice more than half the time when the Hurricanes have scored 5-on-5. Cooler heads insist that while most of his production has come in spurts, it's reasonable to expect that he'll find his stroke as he gains familiarity and comfort with his new linemates.
He may not have been wielding the hot stick, but he's been all over the ice, including mounting a surprising defensive performance, and the production expected to come off of his stick has spilled over into his teammates' numbers. If the coaching staff can spread him over multiple lines, that should help keep opposing squads from swallowing him up defensively. Eventually, this should allow him to get off better shots, in the face of lesser competition. The 'Canes shouldn't be rigid and insist that the only place for Semin is in the top sextet: using him in a three-way arrangement, to fill whatever holes the lineup may spring, will best allow him to make his mark (though he does need linemates who can keep him from getting rubbed off the puck or splattered on the boards). The chemistry looks good for this to go down, too: nobody on the team or associated with it appears to be mouthing off or smearing Semin; no dirty laundry, no embarrassing leaks. It's clear that misusing Semin would stain a coach's reputation, especially in a media environment where, eventually, everything comes out.
If he comes on late in the season, this soft start will be forgotten. As long as the team doesn't droop all the way out of the playoff picture, the thrust of Semin's acquisition should stick with you: just by being around, Semin has made everyone around him better. (Staal's typically flaccid early-season productivity has been notably inflated.) So whether or not you immediately notice him on the ice, the presence of Semin simply can't be ignored.
—Collision, dick, joking