Sunday, June 20, 2010

the best bit of hockey blogging I've read today

I don't really care much about the Rangers, beyond the obvious: as a fan of hockey, I want the New York and Los Angeles franchises to be high-quality, because that raises the profile of the sport, thus easing my access to same. (Also Richter/Leetch are American heroes who held off the Canucks and therefore drink for free on me if I ever meet them.)

But one thing I do really like about the Rangers is the Hockey Rodent. He breaks down damn near every game, and always keeps a weather eye on strength of schedule effects, which is refreshing. This recent bit, where he creates a metric for risk and reward with respect to cheating, is everything I want to read: thinky, just right enough to be attractive, just wrong enough to provoke further development and well-written enough to be a hell of a lot of fun to read.

Also he calls guys pussies all the time, which is a never-fail source of hilarity.

One of these days, I'm gonna want to use his military metaphor for hockey, using the notions of strategic, tactical and operational capacities to analyze teams. But today, it's a lovely day and I'm nearly two hours late to my friend's birthday festivities. (Oh, quick note: I love that the Devils are getting the band back together. I can only hope they sign Danyko and give Claude Lemieux his 45th opportunity to sully the sport further. By biographical rights, I should love this team--they started in KC and spent some time in Denver, as I did--but until Lou Lamorillo joins Bill Wirtz in the fires of hell, they will remain possibly my most loathed franchise. So I love love love the idea of them searching for 2010 success by stockpiling contributors from 2000.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

planet's lone superpower rallies for thrilling tie against third-world nation

Avs address T.J. pipeline glut and Habs gamble terrifyingly

Probably my favorite meme of the Olympics was summed up by Canadian genius Down Goes Brown as "It's official. Canadian hockey simply isn't developing enough Ryans." (Forgive me if that's a misquote: it's from memory.)

Similarly, the Avalanche have been heavy with T.J.s, frankly laden with them. At long, long last Greg Sherman has addressed this savage and unsustainable state of affairs with the kind of big-ticket move that completely gives the boot to the asinine claim that the Avs are going to sit out this season's seriously amazing crop of free agents. Yes, the Avs have added Julian Talbot, who apparently isn't a Bond villain, an antiques dealer specializing in pre-Raphaelite tapestries, or a bad scientist in a straight-to-SciFi movie whose name is just tough enough that you know he'll die heroically, buying some time for the main characters.

Apparently he's a forward who in addition to playing in Peoria for the last three years solid last year scored more than a third what T.J. Hensick did. In 18 more games.

Also he's a year older than Hensick. But hey, at 5-11, 181, at least he's got the size you want in a center! And he absolutely crushes Hensick in the all-important not-having-major-hairlines-issues department.

In news people actually care about, the Halak move kinda baffles me. Trading for an RFA is a terrifying prospect: any team that wants to handcuff the Blues can now make the guy a ridiculous offer and force the Blues to overpay the guy. All that said, I think he's a fabulous goalie, capable of handling a lot of shots, whether behind a ridiculously committed shot-blocking defense like Montreal's or behind a somewhat overmatched defense like Slovakia's this past Olympics. (This is my number-one desired trait in a goalie, and why I ride and die with Brodeur is a Fraud.) So IF they're sure they can sign him quickly and conveniently, I like adding a reasonably proven number-one goalie without giving up current contributors.

Plus, as the Blues note, if there's anything this year's free agents are good for, it's finding a washed-up veteran netminder to hold the clipboard wear your team's cap soak up losses in back-to-back games mentor a young-un' facing his first full season as the number-one starter.

Which I guess is what the Habs are thinking. Price is a little younger, has a little more NHL experience...I'm floundering here. He's definitely more Canadian. He's bigger, which some people are obsessed with. I dunno: I think Price won't ever be great in Montreal--I think he's tailor-made for a change of scenery--but I guess we'll see. But just as Halak's an RFA, Price is, which is why it's so odd that the suddenly penny-wise Habs are handing him the reins before getting him inked. Biggest take-home might be not to go into an offseason with two RFA goalies who both want to be the number-one. Which boils down to: go into the offseason not unlucky.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fed up with your Bad Goaltending Problem? Our pills can help sizmy g8

At this point in my life, I'm much more of a Trek guy than a Wars guy, at least when it comes to Stars. However, as a wee tiny little Collision, my pop, ol' Charlie Collision, ran movie theatres. I had no babysitters as a kid: I went to the movies. Summers, I'd just hang around the theatre all day long, watching the same thing over and over and over again. This is why I've seen Empire Strikes Back more times on the bigscreen than anybody you'll ever meet.

I don't know what Bogdan Von Pylon's excuse is. But every upset that comes down the pike is greeted with "the Death Star just blew up". In this context, Robert Green's epic gaffe taking the pipe Buckner wholly explicable, happens-to-every-'tender-sometimes-this-does, pulling a Leighton unfortunate misplaying frankly and fairly called out for the following.

Why Von Pylon--motto: "Kinda like the Iron Sheik, only drunker and less stable"--felt he needed to keep going and savage Jose Theodore--correction: Masterton trophy winner Jose Theodore--is a question best left to posterity.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Team Could Be Your Life: YSCCCB


I was going to try to be somewhat cool about this; that was my initial intention. However, after the senseless and unfounded character assassination that I have had to endure, my helmet is off and my gloves are on the ice.

“...among the most insufferable of hockey fans”...what the hell is that shit? I am second to none in drunken obnoxiousness, unyielding smugness and general asshatery. These things are mere infractions – two minute minors that are killed off with little effort. No, the most pernicious aspect of my fandom, the thing that makes me the Krissy Pronger/Bob Probert/Stu Grimson goon/irritant and intolerable twat of sports viewing is the bifurcated, Daydream Nation-esque1 attack of: 19) there are a great number of people out there who know more about hockey than me and 88) my team wins and I won’t shut the fuck up about it. That about makes me the Adolph Hitler/Ronald Reagan of hockey fans. But you may say while that may be pretty bad, you need more compelling proof before you hand me the Bro-d crown of baggery.

How about this: I don’t fuck around with all that prancing and preening you mention. Nope. Instead, I cut right to the cruelest form of taunting, as you put it: the endlessly patronizing pseudo-consoling of the bested. Do I stop there? Not at all. In mid-sentence, e.g., “You know, you’ve a young team with a...” I will suddenly interrupt myself with the grace and volume of a tourette’s outburst by screaming the chorus to “Chelsea Dagger” at the top of my lungs, before returning to finish the sentence, “very bright future, and (heh) Pennywise is a pretty bitchin’ band, so...there’s that goin’ for ya!” Do I leave it off there? No chance in hell; not only will I use obnoxious nicknames that others have come up with (e.g. “Soupy”, “Yoda” "Coward/Kesler Bitch Maker" ) but I’ll even make up my own, e.g., “Buffy the Flyer Slayer”, "Double Minors on the Dime" and “YSCCCB”, which you’ll never hear the end of. Ever.

The best revenge is living well.

So let’s get to the meat: you claim that Pronger is funnier than myself; that may very well be the case. You may also complain of my timing in responding to this, seeing as I’m writing this after game 6; i.e., after YSCCCBs have hoisted the cup. My rebuttal takes both of these things into consideration.

The Socialist in me is very loathe to make the “the market will decide” claim, unless we are talking about the marketplace of ideas, and theorists from the esoteric to the popular have pointed out the seemingly infinite array of biases and filters which prevent a true marketplace, be it fiscal or intellectual, from ever truly being free. That said, we live in our times and must earn our living through whatever means we have at our disposal.

To cut to the chase, I’ve caught a pay check for “being funny” whereas Krissy Puckstealer gets his by being an that is admittedly good at hockey and cheating, but still an asshole; just some English pig with no brains, you know.

So Pronger can laugh at himself: big deal. This is news to a, exactly? Don’t forget, we’re the people that invented self-loathing, and very shortly thereafter, use of said to comic effect.

I’m not amazed that Pronger has a sense of humor. That’s just what a certain stripe of old vet becomes . They’ve had the microphone in front of their face for so long, most of the petulant rage of youthful loss has been sapped out & they have to try to be funny to make it interesting for themselves, for the most part. 35 years of age with a Stanley Cup, and a couple of Cup losses2 will make a person world-weary, and experience provides wit where ability would otherwise render the experience dry. Or as Juvenal might put it: where talent is lacking, anger will write poetry...or shtick, as the case may be.

You see it in vets of all sports: Kevin Millar, Mark Grace, Tony Siragusa, J.R., Barkley etc. What else do all these vets have in common? They are all announcers; that’s right – you heard it here first: when Pronger retires (as we say in Chicago, “in a coupla years, two, tree”), he’ll be involved in broadcasting in some capacity. Thing is, he won’t be as funny as he is now, because the situation is what allows him to be great. It’s the moments of great duress that allow most for humor, and grant belly laughs to what otherwise might garner a mere smirk. That headline of “Day to Day with Hurt Feelings” is a smile on “The Onion”, but a belly laugh out of Pronger’s mouth, considering the situation and what’s expected of him. How funny will he be when he is merely recounting the exploits of others? I’m guessing funnier than the Goose, but not as funny as Gracie, and neither bar is set very high; though Grace does get points for the funny/offensive slumpbuster.

But I still haven’t got to what’s taken so long to craft my response: the morning of game 6, I was actually working on a comedy script that I’m getting paid money for, instead of completing a timely rebuttal. Pronger makes a shitload more money a year than I ever will in my lifetime, but my point is: I don’t think anyone ever paid him to be funny.

"Uh, me name am uh Krissy Pronger. Me go uh Philly cause me wife am Orange! Looka me acts wacky!" This is what passes for wit?

There is no doubt that Collision and the ‘Nuk are both more inventive with their jokes and funnier than myself. At the very least, my LMJO (Laughter at My Jokes by Others) success rate is more like a great MLB hitter (.300+) who still sometimes swings stupidly

at some very bad pitches;theirs is more like an average NHL goalie (.900+) who doesn’t win a Vezina, but never has a truly horrendous night and shames the sport by shitting the bed like this guy does:

but occasionally has a truly magnificent performance:

Anyway, 90% is better than 30% any way you want to cut it. I also don’t deny that the aforementioned co-conspirators on this blog are considerably more knowledgeable hockey fans than me. They are probably generally smarter than, and are definitely better people than I am. Yet, I’m the one who has the team with the Cup this year. This is truly what makes me the most detestable fan on the planet: my dumb luck has trumped the greater talent.

So how do I live with myself? I go to the box. I spend two minutes, by myself, and I feel shame, you know. And then I get free. And drink from the Cup.

Robert MacaJew – 10 PIM, Fighting (2), -5

1 Toews/Kane line, due to the album’s 19 88 release date. I know how much Collision loves nicknames...and look at that damn space between the 19 and the fucking condescending is that? It’s just hanging out, saying “Yeah, you might not be hip to this particular nuance, but dig: 19 is the jersey number for Toews and Kane’s number is 88...put that shit together and you get the year 1988! I know, wild, isn’t it? Thing is, you might not get it if that space wasn’t there." It's like that space is a sippy cup to prevent a toddler's spill, or is the tried but artificially patient tone of voice of a teacher that is explaining for the HUNDREDTH time that we don’t stab Billy with a #2 pencil to make sure that he’s not a vampire. Damn, see how insufferably condescending that is? I mean, I want to beat me up now.

2 which incidentally disproves Collision’s point about Pronger not being a loser: if Championships are the measure of an athlete – and I’m not saying they are – then Hossa is already superior, for having done the same and at an earlier age. This flawed logic also makes John Madden vastly better than both.


One last thing: after seeing J.R. break down seeing the Blackhawks hoist the Cup, I lost my cool for the 2nd time that night, because when Towes hoisted the cup, and then handed it to Hossa, I lost it. J.R. didn’t just feel the way I felt, but a hundred times more so. He was a Flyer, but he IS and always will be a Blackhawk, and I didn’t understand it until that moment. Henceforward, I shall never utter an unkind word about Jeremy Roenick, even though he may deserve it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the Avs versus the world

I already know my team sucks, so save your breath, loser, because you and your team suck much, much worse

I'm an Avs fan. And I know that this places me among the second tier of most loathesome and despicable hockey fans. While I'm not as entitled and self-obsessed as the fans of any Canadian team, I'm used to a certain degree of divisional (at least) dominance, TV time, and national recognition. And sure, I don't have the recent-years bragging rights of rotten-from-the-top organizations like the Red Wings and the Devils, but my fandom is certainly spoiled by big-budget success stories, great-player poaching and maelstroms of scapegoating whenever things go south. And no, I wasn't rooting for them before 1996. So that's out of the way.

What I'm saying is that I know full well that the Avs, as an organization, are dicks. And that Avs fans are spoiled, whiny jerks.* But what I also know is that Red Wings fans are literally bugfuck insane. And that Devils fans are the most ignorant and classless bunch of sports fans on the planet.** (Note here: I live in Oakland and interact with Raiders fans every single day.)

I know that the fans of the Blackhawks were the shyest, most retiring bunch of milquetoasts you'd ever want to avoid until the old man was finally promoted to hell. Clammy, dead-fish handshakes and high-fives felt like handling week-old entrails out back behind a slaughterhouse. Now, of course, the posturing and preening is positively vomitous, and it's likely that they'll have a Cup to pose next to, thanks primarily to the Canucks sucking and the Pens, Caps and Sharks choking. Which means that 'Hawks fans will likely be mumbling their asinine platitudes about the Original Six*** and the best logo in sports**** until 2061, the next time they win something. Watching the fanbase inflate and put some bass in its voice has been hilarious. Certainly funnier than the nicknames.***** Basically they're like Red Sox fans, only without the going-to-the-zoo charm.

Look, I get it. Dumb teams who don't get the cap are gonna spend a lot and suck. This gives us the Flames, with their peckerwood red-wearers, and the Rangers, with...well, their two good players. Smart teams will spend some money and have some success, but never quite get there, because they fall in love with players who aren't quite as good as they're made out to be: see here the Kings and Canucks.

The Penguins will always be given players of unimaginable skill and will. The Flyers will always be bullies with second-rate goaltending. The Red Wings will always be old and good and just generally hate criminals with fans who couldn't name two of the three members of the Production Line if you promised to spare their houses on Devil's Night. And, mostly, your team won't really matter, no matter what that team might be.

And the Avs and their fans will always have self-regard out of proportion to their accomplishments. Especially since next year, the team is almost certain to revert to the mean. What does that mean? 38 wins is what that means. You know how Cody McLeod went from 15 goals to 7 over the last 2 seasons? Well, it says here that: Anderson isn't playing 71 games next year; Duchene and Stewart are gonna score 15 apiece; Stasny will continue to be the world's greatest third-line center; our defense will continue to look horrifyingly inept against teams that are strong, fast or skilled; David Jones will be mediocre for a full, injury-free season, instead of a world-beater for a quarter of one; Peter Mueller will play like a Coyote instead of a number-eight draft choice. Odds are that David Koci will have two beatings-received-of-the-year candidates again this year, just like last year, however.

But at least we won't be the parade-planning second-round specialists of Vancouver, the one-good-line (well, except at center) Calgary brain surgeons, a bunch of people in Edmonton who couldn't outfight or outskate Pat Quinn even if he put his cigar down, or the forgettable scrubs in St. Paul. Or whereever they put their dozens of remaining fans to sleep 41 nights a year. (I do applaud their decision not to bore them in the playoffs anymore, however.)

The simple fact is this: it's gonna be a long, hard season for the Avs next year. If you don't think so, you're arguing not so much with me as with history and science. Damn' near every forward overachieved last year, and Andy was absolutely revelatory. Don't bet on it happening again.

And I'll be there for them every game, with a belly full of beer and a heart full of scorn for the other team, whoever it might be. So you can go to hell.

--Collision (minus one, 10:20 TOI, 7 PIM)

*Who don't even fill the building anymore, in a completely unacceptable recent development.
**Just ask J-S Giguere.
***Which doesn't exist.
****Not even the best logo in hockey. Might not even be the best logo in Chicago!
*****Although the best joke was when Macajew told me they were gonna solve their salary cap problems were gonna be fixed by "trading" Brian Campbell. Uhm: to whom, exactly? What does that market look like?

Chris Pronger is funnier than Bob Macajew

Bob Macajew, among the most insufferable of hockey fans, is losing no time in dancing on Pronger's grave. And, sure, as has been detailed elsewhere--in loving detail--the first minus-five of Pronger's career didn't exactly come at an opportune time.

But it's his response that makes me esteem Pronger even more highly than I had already.* "Day to day with hurt feelings"? What, Letterman's writing for Pronger now? In defeat, having spent 60 minutes getting his ass handed to him, he's displaying more class, wit and personality than the entire pork-stuffed, cholesterol-clotted city of Chicago has mustered in my sports lifetime.

I'm a terrible winner. In the wake of a win, I indulge in bragging, prancing, preening, endlessly patronizing pseudo-consoling of the bested, the works. I particularly like never, ever letting the memory of a Collision victory fade. I'm a pretty good loser. I can be gracious, I can stick around while the victors are celebrating, I can hold my head high and talk about the pain and the reasons for the loss with some dignity. This is because I have lost a lot. In sports terms, I am in fact a loser. Chris Pronger, however, is not a loser. So I'm impressed.

(Sure, he's probably just exhibiting a world-class case of the short memory you'd have to have to be a world-class athlete, but I don't care. I shall fetishize what I choose, sir. And look good doing it.)

--Collision (minus 2, one giveaway, 4 PIM)

*Well, in two respects. First, as Bourne argues from time to time, in a meme I think Wyshynski introduced, Chris Pronger makes a phenomenal heel. Come to think of it, he has a pretty potent Rowdy Roddy Piper vibe to him. Second, this is what I call a playoff crush. You watch a guy on a monster playoff run and kind of fall for him. You spend a lot of your time doodling "Avs acquire veteran Pronger"** on your notebook. You sketch a jersey with his name and number on your Chucks. And then you look and see that your organization has brought David Koci back to get his ass kicked another 15 times next year.

**But how? We don't have Lupul to trade for him!