Friday, May 27, 2011

Avs' John-Michael Liles to Ryan O'Byrne: You're Caught with the Meat in Yr Mouth

We here at Clear the Crease are exquisitely explicitly pro-hot-man-on-man action. So far as I know, it is not the favored sexual expression of any of our contributors, but we all believe it's a larger, richer, fuller world when everybody gets to be who they want to be (with consenting adult partners, of course).

That said, it is hardly common for one pro hockey player to point out that another seeks sexual gratification by means of orally pleasing other men, as happened today between Avalanche D-men John-Michael Liles and Ryan O'Bryne.

I hope this kind of good-natured off-season banter helps form bonds that help these Avs stalwarts keep enemy skaters out of the goddamned zone with a little more cocksucking regularity next year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

on the media on Boogaard (slight return)

I'm loath to speak publicly about Derek Boogaard's death. My best guess is that it will prove to be self-inflicted, because in general 28-year-old professional athletes don't randomly drop dead. Is this wildly irresponsible speculation on my part? Of course it is. Is there a scenario you would like to suggest is actually more likely? Please feel free.

If we discover something like, in the worst case, a note in his own hand, reading "Ever since my last concussion I have been depressed and I do not wish to live any longer feeling this way", it will likely become very, very difficult for me to continue being a hockey consumer. An industry that depresses 28-year-old jocks to death is not an industry I can support in good conscience. However, this is a conclusion based on a whole chain of speculations, so let us not bum ourselves out prematurely.

It's been known for a couple days that Boogaard had been in the NHL/NHLPA's Behavioral Health/Substance Abuse Program at his time of death. (I found out about it from Larry Brooks. Decent review of what's currently known can be found here.) This program would seem to cover a lot of ground. Because I am who I am, I concluded--or maybe assumed--depression, and, naturally, imagined lots of connections between this and the brutally bad concussion that cost Boogaard 3/4 of the season.

But today, CBC's Elliotte Friedman drops this:
I'll take whatever criticism I get for not jumping to conclusions on the cause of Boogaard's death. Yes, he had concussion problems. Yes, he was battling some substance issues. But, we don't know if either was the reason. What's wrong with waiting to find out for sure?

What I want to know is whether Friedman is revealing something none of us knew yet--i.e., it was a specifically substance-related issue/program--or just assuming the way I did, but skewing the other direction. Friedman is about as inside as inside gets--short of Bob McKenzie, anyways--so it's at least likely he knows something others don't. So maybe it wasn't depression, and so maybe my ability to follow the NHL will live on.

(I'm leaving alone the muddy and manifold connections between depression and substance abuse. What can I tell you? I'm just trying to give my hockey fandom a puncher's chance of surviving these difficult times.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Trudeau's Conference Finals Predictions


(3) Boston vs. (5) Tampa Bay

The Lightning play a very annoying, yet effective game. The 1-3-1 trap clogs up the neutral zone, and bores the shit out of us. The thing the Lightning have going for them is goal production. It's a tough combo to beat. But Boston is a pretty good team in their own right. This may come down to a goalie battle and, if it does, Thomas is the one to pick. Though, I have been known to be wrong about Roloson and the Bolts before. Bruins in 5


(1) Vancouver vs. (2) San Jose

I *might* be a tad biased here but, here's the facts as I see them: 1) Luongo is better than Niemi (haters will say that Niemi has won a cup and bested Luongo the last time they faced off in the playoffs. To that I say, "MEH!"). 2) The Canucks defense is better than the Sharks D by a mile and a half (at least!) 3) San Jose has a better set of forwards, but not by much.
I desperately hope think the Sedins will have more room to ply their trade, and Kesler will continue to dominate. Canucks in 5

You'd think I was Kreskin!


(1) Washington vs. (5) Tampa Bay
My Pick: Caps in 6
Reality: Lightning in 4
So it's good night for Ovechkin and the Capitals, thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning. What can I say? I underestimated the power of the trap. But Sean Burgenheim? Wow. That guy is playing like he has to sign a contract after each period. 

(2) Philadelphia vs. (3) Boston
My Pick: Bruins in 5
Reality: Bruins in 4
"Philly will not get away with juggling 3 goalies this time. If they don't settle on one, I pick a short series," I said, and was not wrong. That wasn't the only thing that killed Philly:Thomas was great and took away their chances, Pronger slouched around out there (umm, for one game, Collision points out, I guess I was recalling his performance against Buffalo. Need to stop hitting 'publish' pre-coffee) and they just looked unprepared and wholly overwhelmed. Big props to James Van Riemsdyk. Ummm, James? Do you like Vancouver? It's a nice city. 


(1) Vancouver vs. (5) Nashville
My Pick: Canucks in 6
Reality: Canucks in 6

After I made this pick, I wanted to change it to 5, cuz game 6 put them on the road. Ah well, no matter, Canucks Kesler came up big, and here we are headed to the Conference finals (where, by the way, the Canucks have a perfect record... 2 and 0). Preds are a good team. Rinne is a monster of a goalie, and the defense on that team! Need to cultivate some forwards, but Fisher, Erat, Legwand and Ward are a pretty good start.

(2) San Jose vs. (3) Detroit
My Pick: Wings in 6
Reality: Sharks in 7
"This one is going a minimum of six." Right-o you are, Pierre of two weeks ago. Wrongo, though, you were about the winner. At the start of the series, I was all "Ohhhhh, the Sharks are gonna choke!" And then I was all, "Damn! The Sharks are gonna sweep!" And then it was back to the choke thing, and then I was like, "Ooooooooh! The Sharks narrowly avoided a total collapse!" On the Wings: Pavel Datsyuk is, for lack of a better word fuckingawesome. Von Pylon called him a Herald of Galactus, and I guess he does kind of look like Terrax the Tamer:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

not that numbers are everything

but I broke my rule and read me some ESPN today:
Tomas Holmstrom's work in front of the net. I heard a TV announcer call him maybe the best ever in that area in NHL history and I'm inclined to agree. Spend a shift watching him instead of the puck; it's like a "Family Circus" cartoon on ice: bump, slash, elbow, slide, dig the puck out of the corner, slashed by the goaltender, nudged between two defenders, delicate touch on a tipped shot, scrum, wrestling under a pile of bodies, glove in someone's face, chirping as he skates back to the bench ... and then, there it is, one more slash or bump for good measure. A thing of beauty.

Yeah, yeah, Holmstrom posts up okay, but the dude broke in in 1996 and has an entire 232 goals to his name. He cracked 30 once and has been under 20 4 of his last five seasons. Dave Andreychuk scored every goal he ever scored with two skates in the paint, and he scored 640 (!) of them, including hitting 20 4 of his last 5 seasons. Those last 5 seasons Andreychuk posted, by the way, started when he was a year younger than Holmstrom is now.

I understood that when you've pitched a 50-item list, you're going to have some stretches in there, but anybody who tells you with a straight face that Tomas Holmstrom is the best NHL player who ever plied his trade in front of the net is either working to secure Tomas Holmstrom a contract extension or an imbecile.

I'm not even going to touch the Family Circus on ice crack.

Okay, I am.

First off, nice, timely, relevant Page-2 reference, there, ESPN. Nothing speaks to your edgy cred like nods to a legacy strip in a dying format.

Second, this wasn't even some kind of ironic sniggering "huh he looks awkward and irrelevant just like the dumb cartoon" reference; this was a straight-up "X is like Y, sharing characteristics Alpha, Beta, Gamma" comparison. And it's a bad comparison. This is what the Family Circus looks like on ice.

(Family Circus on ice. At left, Tomas Holmstrom. Not shown: bump, slash, elbow, slide, dig, nudge, a tipped shot, scrum, wrestling.)
(Image Credit: Somebody flat fucking awesome, I can tell you that much.)

If, however, David Fleming has access to some kind of Family Circus archive that includes the promised bumping, slashings, elbowing, etc., Family Circus action? Email me, guy! I straight-up podcast about the Family Circus! I bother people about this shit all the time and I need that access!

Special bonus pointless bitching about a guy who genuinely loves hockey and was only trying to be funny and engaging for a few words, before being read by a dickhead who's in day like 5 of major intestinal discomfort:

I love that hockey has a lexicon all unto itself, doesn't it? Slew foot. Face wash. Chicken wing. Slap pass. Dangle. Barn. Biscuit. Grinder. Lumber. Twig. Top Shelf.

Yes, yes, no other sport is played in a barn, nor even a fieldhouse. Except for Allen Fieldhouse and Conseco Fieldhouse. But nobody calls those anything like grand old barns or anything.

I must confess that I feel like some sports do use lumber, however.

Guess David Fleming never got put in a chicken wing, either.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

shut up, friends

0. Introduction

Background reading: an agent mouthed off about gay marriage.

Background music:

1. On the Agent

Close to 100% sure this is a very deliberate branding-and-attention move. I think we've just moved out of the era of 'Republicans buy shoes too' and into the final triumph of us-vs.-them.

After all, given the choice, most people would prefer to spend money with like-minded people. This is Uptown saying--clear as a dog whistle--to the generally conservative hockey community 'here we are'. It's likely that there was and is a genuine disagreement with gay marriage underlying the guy's tweets: this, then, is the issuing of a message that's clear to the faithful, in the way that dog whistles are inaudible to anybody but the intended recipient.

So he's trying to drum up business, and I bet it'll work. In the Puck Daddy podcast, much time was given over to whether or not this would lose the agency business, and the opinion was several times voiced that a player looking for an agent is looking exclusively for the one who can get them the most money. I think this is false: the most common finding there is in social science shows us, again and again, that people often step over their self-interest in favor of going with their values; that's what I predict this is designed to do; that's what I predict will happen. This time next year, Uptown isn't going to have a meager 11 NHL players on its roster, and those of us who lean--or, in my case, rampage on a rocket sled--toward the left are likely going to face some substantial disillusionment.

The biggest bummer in all of this, to me, is that it's so vanishingly unlikely that anybody in sports media will call the guy on his claims. He said in his tweets that he's neither bigoted nor intolerant, and repeated the claim on the radio, apparently. And I bet not one sports journalist will ask him to explain how denying a civil right to a defined segment of the population is non-bigoted, non-intolerant. I mean, I asked him, but he's obviously not going to get into it with a nobody on twitter when he can instead go on the radio and play the victim, whine about being called a homophobe.

[Note: Greg Wyshynski, editor of the Puck Daddy blog, did reach out to the agent for comment on exactly this matter and didn't hear back from him. Wyshynski deserves commendation: he's never backed down from this issue.]

2. On Athletes Talking Politics

I've been struggling a lot lately with whether or not athletes should make their political views public. In general, I'd say yes: this apolitical age isn't doing any of us any favors, and I'm a firm believer that progress starts with talking. However, there are at least two problems with this.

First, we're in an age of profound incivility, and the most innocuous statements seem to earn public figures incredible vitriol. Until athletes can speak their mind fairly freely, without juvenile insults and hateful namecalling, I'm hesitant to call for them to lend their voices to public discourse.

The second problem is that free speech means you're going to have to hear stuff you don't want to. In the case of athletes, I suspect we're going to have 100 Luke Scott types for every Sean Avery. It's hard for me to see how that's a good thing, but it's a less bad thing than stifling speech.


The right to have an opinion and voice it is not close to the same thing as the right to have your voice disseminated across the airwaves. To be honest, I don't much care what your average jock has to say about anything but sports. They have opinions and that's great, but surely there are are smarter and more engaged people we could be hearing from out there. What do we as a society gain from giving media platforms to people whose educations have always taken a backseat to their athletic pursuits?

(Craven backpedaling segment: I am painting with a broad brush here. What I really mean is this: I do not wish to have political conversations with people who are not willing to consider the possibility that they are wrong about something; I do not wish to have political conversations with bigots; I do not wish to have political conversations with people who cannot engage in civil discourse; I do not wish for such people to have microphones placed in front of them. And, before you ask: no, I don't watch a lot of TV, why?)

any excuse to listen to the Wipers

Noted ethicist Drew Magary on our national decorum:

By the way, let me just say to any namby-pamby dipshit out there who's getting all worked up just because people were dancing around happy because bin Laden was dead: FUCK YOU. Okay? Give the country one goddamn day to act overly patriotic.

A riposte from a guy I buy records from kind of all the time:

Evening news viewers in the USA are meant to be sickened, horrified, etc. at footage of foreigners dancing in the streets when a terrorist act has been committed. Meanwhile, our military invades another country, shoots an unarmed man to death in his PJ’s and the Youth Of America start reenacting a Coors Silver Bullet commercial. There’s nothing radical or anti-American about holding human beings to a standard other than savagery & bloodlust.

The lesson here: Records 1; Dick Jokes 0.

And now let us listen to the Wipers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

presented without comment

Ed note: somehow I misplaced both sets of Jew Grimson's playoff picks. Clear the Crease regrets the error.
Dumbass stupid fuckin predictions or whatever

Rangers (8) / Capitals (1)—Rangers in 6
Sabres (7) / Flyers (2)—Flyers in 5
Habs (6) / Bruins (3)—Bruins in 4
Lightning (5) / Penguins (4)—Pens in 5

Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)—Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in 6
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)—Sharks in 4
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)- Always Maxis with Wings in 5
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)- Ducks in 7

Western Quarters:

#1 Canucklefucks vs #8 flamers: ‘Nucks

#2 Tampons vs #7 Northstars: Wings

#3 Hopscotch Fishies vs #6 Disney Shitbirds: Sharks

#4: Jets vs #5 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks: The Fuckin’ Champs (math that, bitches!)


#1 Nucklfucks vs. #5 The Fuckin’ Champs: Da Champs

#2 Always Maxis vs #3 Fuckfish


Champs over Kotex


Eastern Quarters:

# 1 Phuckheads vs # 8 Ryan Millers: Miller time!

# 3 Russian Machine Never Breaks vs #7 1994s = 1994s (The Russian Machine DOES Break)

# 2 Bobby’s Oars vs # 6 Les Crap = Beantown

# 4 Cindy-less Cindys vs #5 There’s no hockey in Florida: Cindy


Boston over Buffalo

Rangers o’er Pens


Boston over Rangers

Cup: Chicago in 5. Toews = Pharaoh for eternity. John Scott murders all the naysayers. Total and complete harmony for all of existence ensues.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

catastrophe's cusp

I am on the verge of going 0-4 in my second-round picks. So allow me this minor crowing: I won a bottle off of von Pylon (go Lightning, I guess...except for that whole trap thing) and at some point yesterday I was winning Jibblescribbits' playoff pool!

Some notes on the names are perhaps in order. I naturally named my team after a played-out Frisky Dingo reference the Avs' primary defensive tactic the past few seasons: wait for your man to beat you, then try to commit a penalty so your +/- doesn't suffer. Gold group #1!

Idiot Trudeau bartends, and I presume his team's name is a nod to what he will serve you, should you order food at his place of employ. Blue team = #2.

As for von Pylon...I assume he's referencing some kind of childhood trauma. Brown group makes everybody sad.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

gambling tips from an idiot

Bet the farm on Caps blowing out the Bolts tonight in game 4. Roloson's been putting up about an average GAA since he got to TB, with an abnormally high number of shutouts. Which means: when he's bad, he's *real* bad. And when is he bad? He's bad when he's tired.

Take my word for it: I picked against them in the series! Looking very much like I'm going 0-4 this round. Quelle fucking surprise.