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Seinfieldian Bloggables

 

For those of you who like a good hockey debate, definitely check out the smart, feature-length comments on my last post “An Essay on Quickness” (the “smart” part coming from commentors, not me).

You have to love a topic that brings about respectful discussion like that, especially when by the end of it all, my opinion has changed.  Anyways, on with today.

*****

I love Jerry Seinfeld. 

You know why?  Because all that “nothing” on his show actually matters.  Those stupid, mundane little details in life that we all get stuck with unites us.  It’s all part of the human experience; it’s those shared moments that we can all relate too.  So, partly inspired by Seinfeld, partly by nothing, here’s a bunch more of my wandering, meaningless thoughts:

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First, an imported Seinfeldian Blogable, from my Dad: 

Really, extension cords?  I curl you up, wrap you tight, and leave you packed with loving care, but everytime I come back to re-use you, you’ve clusterf***ed yourself into a knot again?  I hate you.

(By the way, I love that my Dad had some moment so frustrating in the garage he decide to write me about it.  I can’t wait to see if he punched a hole in the wall or not.  Safe money’s on “yes”.)

*****

At what exact point east does ordering ”mustard” imply ”deli”, “spicy”, or “dijon” awfulness?  The standard - Yellow French’s  brand - is what you get in the west when you ask for mustard.  But I think it could be as close as middle America where it becomes a complete crapshoot, like they don’t even know their own mustard-associated identity yet.  Trying to get yellow mustard in a New York deli is pointless.  You’re the two-headed foreigner holding up the line.

*****

Bud Light Lime – pretty dec, right?

*****

I know I mentioned it in a tweet, but if you aren’t watching Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, you’re doing it wrong.  Don’t give me some old song and dance about “oh, I used to watch Rob and Big, but…” – stop.  Just start watching Fantasy Factory and all is forgiven.

*****

Isn’t watching Tim Wakefield just about the greatest thing ever?  The knuckleball is such an anomaly.  You have all these steroid juiced monsters trying huck heat an extra six miles per hour, then you have some 40+ year old essentially underhanding soft-toss to these guys (by comparison) and they’re missing the ball by an entire foot. 

It’s like making your buddy put his head on a bat and spin around ten times, shotgun a beer, then go into the batting cages with a Slinky® for a bat.  Only your buddy has an excuse for the results.

*****

I’m wondering if many pro sports trainers are ever taken seriously by players, aside from rehabilitation purposes.  I know a couple trainers  that are, but even when I was at NHL training camps, the second the trainer would turn away he’d get mocked like turtlenecks.  It must be really tough to tell a self-trained,  talented athelete when to work out.  The why and how are easy.

*****

There’s no. cold. water. in the state of Arizona during the summer months.  Not an exaggeration, that’s an observation.  The only cold water has been refrigerated.  The water in the resevoirs gets heated to like, a trillion degrees, then comes out ready to cook spaghetti in.  No cold water out of the taps.  Wrap your head around that.

****

On the same theme – Really, sporting events?  Three fifty for a bottle of water?  I mean, I’ve been gouged before.  I’ve been to movies.  I’ve even paid $1.75 for a Dasani in a gas station.  I know how much water costs.  I fill up a bottle everyday and put it in my Klean Kanteen.  Meet me in the middle on the gouge at least.  Raping me for two bucks is criminal, but at least by comparison, I could tolerate it.  Three fifty?  I’ll get a $7.25 beer, thanks.

*****

In the days before Twitter, someone who was recognized as “funny” might have a few good ideas a week, and every month, they’d find some forum to share it with the public.  Twitter is kinda letting us see who’s funny all day, all the time. 

Like, maybe Mark Twain had a boatload of brutal sayings, but because he lived before Twitter, he had time to filter them and only let the good ones rock.  Maybe… maybe Roseanne Barr was the funniest person of all time.  We just didn’t get to hear her thoughts 24/7 as I do Seth Meyers, my favourite Twitter person to follow.  That site is gonna help the right funny people prove themselves, I’m convinced (as well as let the unfunny ones show their true colours.  I’m looking at you, Shaq).

*****

Is there anything worse than accidentally watching DVR’ed commercials (…you know, aside from serious stuff like murder)?  You record a program, then start watching it.  In the process, you space out, forget it’s taped, and sit through five minutes of plot-separating commercials , only to remember with like, nine seconds of commercials left that it’s taped (then you start fast forwarding, go to far, and have to rewind.  Sometimes to the point of watching that same nine second of commercials anyways).  Kill myself.

*****

… that’s probably enough of those for today.  Send your own gripes to my email address on the right, or in the comment section.  Oh, and one more thing:  You know what really grinds my gears?

 

An Essay on Quickness

 

Physically demanding sports continue to evolve -  to quote Daft Punk (not Kanye) - “harder, better, faster, stronger”.

When it comes to quickness, they’re all evolving the exact same way. 

Quickly.

Hockey, football, badminton, jai alai - you name it – have all seen “quickness” rise to the top of their list of ”most important athletic qualities”.

Because of this, we’re seeing an increase in the amount of younger players having success at higher levels.  Not sure if you’ve noticed, but young punks tend to be quicker than withering geriatrics old punks. 

So, as is my job, let’s take a closer look at how quickness is changing hockey:

Not that long ago, hockey was a game dominated by men with man strength.  In the era I grew up in, that scintillating era of dump, chase, hook and hold,  you needed all the mobility of a bubble hockey player if you were a strong dude.

Hatcher: played during the overpaid, hook n hold era

Hatcher: played during the overpaid, hook n hold era

In my younger days, bigger, more um, adultish men, could simply chuck a stick across my stomach, and I’d huff and puff and pout and pray for one of those big lugs to catch an edge and fall so I could get a scoring chance, which I damn well had to score on if I was gonna be worth anything to my team.

For weaker, more dangly types, the rules made it so scoring chances weren’t created as often as they were waited on.

Then, the NHL (and North American hockey all together), put their heads together and realized “hey, I bet if we phased out big, talentless d-men, hockey would be fun again…”

So, with that simple epiphany, the game started to change.

Suddenly, big d-men were hustling around trying to put a leash on guys like Maxim Afinagenov, Daniel Briere and Marty Havlat, failing, and going home to write FML’s.

Today, I tried to put a bell on Patrick Kane, but when I went to run him through the boards to impress my coach, he put the puck through my feet, and I tripped myself trying to squeeze my skates together.  As I fell, I managed to lose my top row of teeth on the dasher.  FML.

Those slick, skilled guys are the real talents of the NHL.  And, isn’t that what you want, as a league?  The guys that’re the best at playing the game to be the most successful? 

As a Canadian, I’ll always have some love for the big power forwards, but if the NHL (great idea coming) put together a 5’9″ and under game, and a 6’3″ and over game, I know which one would be more exciting to watch.  And that’s not too say the skilled guys are all small (see: Perry, Corey) – but just to point out that we were minimizing the talent the league displayed under the old rules.

{Also, as a bit of a related thought, how great would Pavel Bure have been a decade later?  Did this guy just miss the boat on becoming one of the NHL’s all-time most exciting players?}

{These are my new “complete tangent brackets”, btw.  Here’s another one – Every team in the NHL should be afraid of Chicago this year- I’ll take them (with the dicey goaltending situation) to win the Presidents Trophy, barring major injuiries. August 27th, 2009}

Under those old rules, players could stay effective as they got older, because quicker players could be slowed down using any number of techniques.  I remember, as a player at that time, when a guy would dump the puck, one of the opposing d-men would turn to get it.  The other one played you like an offensive linebacker, literally trying to stop you from getting by him in order to give his partner more time.

With the rule changes allowing for quickness to be at a premium, today’s game looks a lot more like “junior hockey” – and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  it’s exciting.

Yeah, I'm just gonna go ahead and be faster than everyone, thanks.

Yeah, I'm just gonna go ahead and be faster than everyone, thanks.

In junior hockey, guys over-pursue.  They’re petrified of looking lazy, and constantly wondering what they should be doing, and where they should be going.  So they just go anywhere.

The professionals of yesteryear tended to stand around, play smart and positional (see: Guerin, Bill), and jump when opportunity presented itself.  Half the time, junior hockey players (WHL, USHL, BCHL etc…) skate away from where they’re supposed to be, simply to so they can be skating somewhere.

That waste of energy isn’t a major crisis for a young pup who’s legs and stamina bounce back like a trampoline with a sip of water on the bench, so coaches have found a way to harness this never-ending go-go-go, and use it as an advantage in the new NHL.

They find the smart, coachable ones (a rare quality).  Then they spend some real time beating the simple defensive systems into the kids head.  Then, the second this Alaskan sled-dog of a player crosses his own blueline into the neutral zone, the coach unhooks the leash.

Running commentary of the d-man backing up: "Shit, crap, shit, shit..."

Running commentary of the d-man backing up: "Shit, crap, shit, shit..."

The NHL isn’t tailored for Chris Chelios’s anymore.  I’m not trying to rag on Chris, but sled-dogs really are the best analogy for how the youth movement looks in the NHL now.

“Lemme-go-lemme-go-lemme-go-I-can-run-wanna-run-wanna-run!”

Thankfully, Ovechkin happened to come into the league right when d-men weren’t allowed to jump on his back, grab him with a free hand and limit the fans entertainment.

His quickness (and the quickness of other young stars) has forced the NHL to re-arrange the priorities of what makes a D-man good, and it’s not just size anymore.

We’re finally being allowed to see, not only see which forwards are truly quick, but also how defenseman can break the mold and still be great.  We have a whole new generation of d-men on the rise: Alex Goligoski’s, Matt Carle’s, and Duncan Keith’s, who can fly around and keep up with dangly forwards.

Quickness has made it so as GM, I’d rather have a slightly more mistake-prone young buck on my team than a plotting, plodding veteran.

These changes are happening, and it the transition hasn’t been very gradual.  Fittingly, it’s been happening quickly.

An Ode to Clean Ice

 

It took one blog to prove that everyone everywhere ever loves goalies, and I feel dirty for cashing in on the obvious.  That damn blog had like, 20+ comments in it’s first 20+ hours. 

Imagine if I was a goalie?  This blog would be worldwide, bitches (©Ms. Conduct).

So let’s switch it up, before I starting feeling too “pop culture” for writing blogs like that (that’s what goalies are by the way – the pop culture part of hockey.  The same way that bands like Fallout Boy and Panic! at the Disco claim to be sort of emo, dark and brooding, yet their songs are consistently radio-friendly hits - goalies play the same role.  “Ohhh, we’re so mysterious… enjoy my bobblehead”!  Ahhh, forget it, I’m doing it again). 

Wait, I blacked out… what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, switching it up. 

I have to admit, I somewhat cater to my audience with all the hockey stuff.  I like hockey, but it’s probably not at the core of my being (while freezies, golf, NFL football and stuffed animals probably are.  *Authors note: Justin is still into chicks – albeit just one of them -, so ignore that last item on the list).

But, in breaking into this highly profitable world of writing (as I snack on “Thin Wheats”, because I can’t afford the extra 30 cents to buy non-dyslexic crackers), I’ve had to understand that it’s the topic I’ve got the most credibility on.

So, without further ado, I’m switching styles today, not subject matter.  I bring to you a poem that’s a roundabout attempt at scorning players who don’t let the ice freeze before skating on it.

An Ode to (those who sully) Clean Ice:

 

( With Shakesperian accent)

Why, eager players, must you skate unto fresh, just-bathed rink,

With no regard for your comrades – doth thou not think?

The smooth brilliance, earned by that patient crew,

Can be shattered, will be shattered – by a mindless few.

The puck, she can slide over slick and slippery smooths,

But your skates, too soon, cause those sloshy deep grooves.

The puck will bounce, and scoring, she suffers,

No wonder, it’s defensemen, those dumb motherf*****s

*****

…yeah, I wrote a poem.  Do something about it.

 

freeziesgolf 

 

 

 

 

hard hitstuffed animal

Goalies: Love Themselves, Hate Their Parents

 

What did Daddy do, goalies?  Come on, sit down.  Let’s talk about your issues.

Ms. Conduct, the other huge percentage of goalie-obsessed fans: I know I’m gonna hear from you on this one.

*****

A CONDESCENDING TALK WITH GOALTENDERS

 

Why.  Oh why.  Does everybody love goalies?

First, a disclaimer:  I don’t not love goalies (double negatives make sense, right?).

Goalies are, um… great.  There’s at least a couple I like.

But people frigging love goalies.

They love goalies, despite the fact that tenders frequently admit to being tormented souls - odd people who are openly content with being about as stable as Kathy Bates in “Misery”.

Is it the pretty gear, guys?  The fact that the position is utterly devoid of skating?  The glory of the glove save?

Haven’t you whack-jobs ever scored a goal?  Don’t you have any idea how good that feels??  What did your parents do to you?

It’s mind boggling that anyone plays this position.  What the allure?

Even the big boys, every chance they get to have an f-around practice (much more common in college, where players have practices after the season), the guys will take turns chuckin’ the gear on.

You're probably diving cause you were out of position, bub.

You're probably diving cause you were out of position, bub.

There’s no “Wingers Magazine”, but there should be, for one simple reason:

We’re the smart ones.

Are you non-goalies out there aware of how hard a frozen hockey puck is?  And I can shoot one 80 miles an hour.  Which end of that do you wanna be on?

As a kid, picking a position, we all made what should have been an easy decision.  By all logic, every team should have had 20 kids trying to be wingers and two coaches assigning the derelicts to center, defense, and goaltender. 

The decision was on par in difficulty with “would like a dead-leg, or a pack of fuzzy peaches?”

Really look at it.  Break it down at the higher levels (If you got stuck playing “D” because you got extra ice time playing it as a kid, I bet you openly use the word “stuck”):

 Goalie:  Spend half the game alone.  No chance to be the hero of the moment, only consistency brings accolades.  50% odds of being the goat.

Defenseman:  A tenth of the chance of being the game hero.  Fire the puck off the glass (the only true sports equivalent of “hitting the broad side of a barn”).  Occasionally get “postered” with a puck through your feet.  Do all things boring and safe.

Center: Work your GD bag off.  Faceoffs matter to coaches (more work).  Play below the hash marks in your own zone, acting as the third defenseman (more work).  Only player that skates on all 200 feet of the ice (annnd more work).

Winger: You’re a genius.  Opportunities for goals and glory.  Next to zero defensive responsibility.  Rest up in D zone for the next rush.  All things fun.

I love when centers or goalies bitch to me throughout the year about the ease of my defensive responsibilities as a winger, like I made them make the poor choice of position.

In the end, tenders, I’m halfway playin’ with ya.  No game is complete without at least two your cranially damaged counterparts.  But the whole thing really does boggle my thinking machine.

Because still, every way you slice it, fans frigging love the goalie.

In the autograph line:

“Are you the goalie?”

“Are you the goalie?”

“…No kid, I’m the guy who makes good decisions.  Next!”

Chelios, T. Fleury, and Mrs. Warner

 

Each year, the NHL welcomes a host of new names and faces to the fold, while offering those same, reliable names that you’ve come to know and love.  Or at least know (see: Avery, Sean).

Chelios: young in the big picture, old for one in the teams program

Chelios: young in the big picture, old for one in the teams program

For 114 years, you’ve become accustomed to seeing Chris Chelios in the league, either as a Montreal Canadien, Chicago Blackhawk, or Detroit Red Wing.

For those same 114 years (*figure may not be exact), Chelios has been the quintessential stay at home d-man.  I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way, but this year, it would be nice to see him do just that — stay at home.

I like Chris Chelios.  I like the fire he’s played with, his passion for the game, and the fact that he seems like a pretty sharp guy in interviews.

I don’t think it’s like the Brett Favre thing, where by playing (and playing worse every year) he’s destroying some statue-worthy legacy.  He’s Chris Chelios for flip’s sake.  Worthy of warrior-like respect, but probably not a guy that kids pretend to be in street hockey.

“I’m Chris Chelios!”

“No I’M Chris Chelios.”

“Mommmmmmm!”

My problem is that the whole thing is embarrassing, because you shouldn’t have to tell such a distinguished veteran like him that it’s time to head for the door.  Ushering someone with a career like his out the door probably didn’t just embarrass Chris, it probably embarrassed Detroit as well.

He put them in the awkward position where they had to admit, “look, maybe you can still play in this league somewhere, but we can only dress 6-7 defenseman a game, and we’re the Detroit Red Wings.  We can find 60-70 defenseman better than you by tomorrow and have them under contract by dinner”.

And I have to believe that most NHL teams could make the exact same statement.

Even if an NHL team had to pull up some young kid from the American League that would struggle the way Chelios seems to be these days (forwards are somehow sneaking behind him in the neutral zone for breakaway passes with all the stealth of golf shoes on bubble wrap), at least the kid would be on the improving side of the bell curve, and the team could justify some early struggles to pay for some later success.

So anyways.  You always hope that the great ones will quit before they’re fired, but I think we’re long past that point with Chelly. 

*****

The other familiar name that’s rumoured to want his face back in the NHL this year is Theo Fleury.

…Seriously.

In all reality, this has become a really sad story.  Theo had kinda been on the path to self-destruction with some drug use in his later NHL years, and probably took a few good seasons off the end of his hockey career.

For a lot of guys, when the NHL money runs out, it’s tough to find another job that pays an above average wage to have fun (for some stupid reason).  So, it’s easy to understand why he would want to make a comeback.

To think he’s capable of it, in his situation, is downright delusional.

At one point after his “retirement”, Theo was playing in a Canadian Native league, where the Chief of the tribe was paying him a ton of money to have him as a ringer (thousands per game – the same team Gino Odjick was playing on).  Regardless of how serious the level of hockey is, you can’t blame the guy for saying yes to that much money.

So um, at least he’s been on the ice.  But my “guess” is that Theo couldn’t even be effective in the AHL right now. 

The game has simply gotten too fast and strong to be effective at his size, and past his quickest days.  The guy is 5’6″ and 40 years old.  I can’t even believe I wasted text on this topic.

But, let’s hope he finds something that makes him happy, because I can promise you, Theo Fleury has less of a chance to play in the NHL this year than I do, and I’m at the point where using the stairs makes me sweat.

*****

"Mamma lemme upgraaaade you"

"Mamma lemme upgraaaade you"

Back in my blog’s early days, I made a little, one-line/ borderline inappropriate joke about the upgrade of Kurt Warner’s wife, Brenda.  Well, sure enough, at the Cardinals game Saturday night, there she was, sitting across the row from me.  I thought it’d be funny to get a picture with her for a follow-up joke, but it backfired a bit when the picture came out looking totally normal, with her looking great.

 Wish I didn’t look so creepy and happy about it.

*****

That’s all for today!  Stay tuned on the blog this week – I’m settled and back at work, and have a plethora of hockey related topics to bat around with you readers.  What do you think?  Will someone pick up Chelios?

Take Your Ball and Go Home, Jim

 

Still in my relative infancy as a writer, I’ve been encountering a frequent problem:

How can I write honestly and accurately about NHL news, when the players in question are not only playing like dogs and making poor decisions, but personal friends?

How can I sit down and write something about Dany Heatley conducting himself in a less-than-professional manner this summer, something that could show up in USA Today, when I know and like him?  What if he reads it?

Will I ever get another genuine comment?  Am I a leper next summer in Kelowna?  I don’t want to start alienating people.

The solution, thus far, has been to not touch those topics, but it’s getting increasingly hard to do that as writing has morphed into an actual job.

I’m still feeling out the boundries, but I’ve started getting more confident in my ability to give opinions without coming off too snide.

The good news? 

I’ve never met, let alone seen, Jim Balsillie.  And you know what I think he should do?  Take his ball and go home.  That link will take you to Hockey Primetime.com, where I explain his current situation a little better.

The Favre No-No and a Cyber Hobo

 

It’s been a looonnnnggg time since I’ve cleaned out the ‘ol thought locker.  Fortunately, I’ve been too busy to fill it with much.  Hold on tight while I unleash some unparalleled genius (aka unfiltered gobbledygook)

*****

Starting recently and moving backwards, I deserve one more rant at the Favre dog and pony show he’s running:

Doesn’t signing with the Vikes officially prove we need police tape around this guys crime scene of a brain?  It highlights the sad fact that he clearly never understood the importance (and general seriousness) of the Green Bay/Minnesota rivalry to the fans.

Doesn’t it sort of illustrate that he’s simply been some turbo gifted athlete that was totally spaced on what it all meant to people?  Like everytime those two teams played, he wasn’t sure why the fans were in such a frenzy, but instead of bothering to figure out why, he just enjoyed it?

It’s like he has no idea what he’s doing to his legacy.  He literally has to win a Superbowl this year to be remotely validated.  They would have built golden statues of this guy all over Wisconsin - he could have been the Governor! (Him and Al Franken could rule the north as an unstoppable duo).

He was absolutely my favourite player for years.  What. Is this. Guy. Doing?

*****

Why aren’t there any funny Republicans?

And I mean, “haha” funny, not “this milk smells funny”, like the way Glenn Beck is.  That guy’s so crazy Gary Busey watches his program and thinks “…Wow.  That guy’s crazy”.

I’m not trying to start any political warfare here, I’m just thinking – every political comedian I can think of leans heavily left.  Why is it impossible to be pro-life and pro-laughs?

*****

 After three days of living in Arizona and budgeting for reality, I’ve acquired a broken microwave and chipped tooth.  Thank you unforseen expenses for the kick in the reality button.

Now that I’m done with hockey, I’m getting the tooth permanently fixed (re-breaking it on a yearly basis would have been pricey, so I waited to get it done right).  What does a crown for a tooth cost, you ask?  $1,100.00, I answer.  I think it’d be cheaper to get one for my head.

I won't ask for so much money. Greedy ninja-hunter.

I won't ask for so much money. Greedy ninja-hunter.

Which leads me to my idea (copywritten August 2009).

I wanna become a cyber hobo.

I want a picture of me as a hobo, holding a blank sign, and I’ll change the message daily.  I’ve got a hundred good hobo sign ideas, and I figure I can beg for e-change somehow.  I’ll be like the Naked Cowboy of New York, only not naked.  Or a cowboy.  Or in New York.  But you get the drift.

Will blog for food.

*****

Oh, and for those of you who’re super interested in what the drive from Kelowna to Phoenix looks like, I’ve put a little picture blog at the end of “Over The Hills and Through The Woods”.  Enjoy.  I believe at one point I have two straws in my nose, a yard of margarita, and I’ve befriended a huge M&M.

We Signed Who??

 

Trade deadlines, roster freezes, free agent cutoffs – these are all things all diehard hockey fans love.  It was fun waiting to see if the Canucks signed Plodalong Sundin right?

Well, think of this: There was some center in the Canucks organization who knew if Sundin signed, he would be traded or released.  These fun decisions aren’t so fun for everyone.

I try to explain it better here:  http://tiny.cc/8g1w7 .  Don’t be shy to “recommend” my brilliant work.

PS, I just figured out that damn “tiny url” thing (apparently, it wasn’t that complicated), so beware, twitter followers.  I’ma be comin’ with the heat.

Chips Are Aptly Named

Sports injuries suck, but they heal.

Sadly, with age, they sort of un-heal.

Healing to healed is fun. Beware the un-healing process. Less fun.

Healing to healed is fun. Beware the un-healing process. Less fun.

You’ve seen the “un-healed” - that group of fun old guys that limp around with bad knees because they used to do squats with bison on their back during their football days. 

Is it too soon to look like one of those guys?

I rarely missed a game during my hockey playing days (supply your own “’cause you never went in a corner” joke).  I Ironman’d it (never missed a game due to injury) for all three years of junior, all four years of college, and my first year + of pro.

*(The one college game I missed was A HEALTHY SCRATCH my junior year.  But I’m not bitter.)

In order to accomplish this feat, I played on percaset, cortisone or adrenaline on multiple occasions.  Nothing says recovery like re-injuring stuff you can’t feel.

So, here I am.  The last professional game I played was on my 26th birthday, almost nine months ago.

I’m not gonna rattle off my list of ailments, cause I’m still a young buck, so “shut up and stop complaining” right – I can understand that.  The list shouldn’t be this long.  But, as a reminder of the beatings I took, my front tooth (already 3/4 fake) chipped on a chip tonight (…is that irony? Alanis Morissette messed up my ability to tell). 

Perfect timing to enter the American health/dental world.  Anyone know a good dentist in Phoenix?

Also, this is my first year as a hockey fan, and I won’t be living in Canada.  Obviously, this means I won’t be getting the CBC, TSN, SportsNet, or Headline Sports, all of which come with every basic cable package in Canada, and the last three run hockey highlights roughly 40 minutes out of every hour.  Seriously.

So how do I stay in touch?  The Center Ice package?  Pirated cable?  Move back to Canada?  Sign up to play for the Coyotes? (I assume that’s how it’s going to work there this year, isn’t it? On a volunteer basis?)

"Ugh, my knees hurt from squatting bison."

"Ugh, my knees hurt from squatting bison."

All I know is, I’m too excited for this years NFL season to be mad at ESPN’s coverage right now.  Show me all the clips of Brett Favre punting Packer nation in it’s cheeseballs that you can dig up, I’m fully entertained.

I’d say the Pack are up there in my top couple teams to root for, but this is just too fun to follow, because you know some die-hard Favre-tattooed cheese-doodle-eating Wisconsin-ite has contemplated killing either himself or Brett in the past few days.

Watching Favre right now is like excusing your crazy Grandmothers rantings at the Thanksgiving table because “she doesn’t know what she’s saying”.  He’s that far gone for doing this.  He needs to be medicated.

I’m almost loving the NFL drama enough to chose NFL Sunday Ticket over a whole tooth tomorrow.  But only almost.

Cheers To The Good Ones

 

Naturally, the type of person who follows hockey during the summer months is the type of person who loves hockey.

Naturally, the type of person who loves hockey doesn’t like bad things being said about it.

I’m allowed to because I love it too.

I did not. have. sexual relations...

I did not. have. sexual relations...

THE PATRICK KANE thing is pretty vague.  In all reality, what probably happened was a series of semi-jackass moves marinating in a sauce of people not acting appropriately, which unfortunately got topped with a small portion of physical violence.

We’ll never know exactly how it happened, and I don’t care.  It brings me to another point.

Hockey players of the highest level, like most athletes (actually, probably a little less than most athletes), have a sickening sense of entitlement.

All I can remember growing up as an average-to-above-average minor league hockey player was Mom saying “just don’t get cocky… Hockey players are just so cocky.”

Mom taught out of the “treat everyone equally” bible, and we did the best we could to oblige.

And, who would be better qualified to speak on the topic of “what hockey players are actually like” than a woman who has four pieces of Stanley Cup jewelry (back then at least, they got the wives something every year too), and was with my Dad from the Saskatoon Blades to the end, followed by my twenty-some years of hockey?

They have reason to be confident, these hockey players.  Fit and young, athletic and rich, it’s easy to feel like you rule the world.

Can we introduce some sensitivity training?

Can we hire my Mom to talk to NHL teams and tell them all how they’re just people, and no better than the next guy?  Or at least to slap guys like DiPietro, who when invited to Clark Gillies CHARITY  golf outing says things to his golf group (who pay to play with a celebrity) ”this sucks, are we done yet?”

This blanket doesn’t cover the whole of the sport, or all sports.  In fact, in any NHL, AHL, QPCHL (quarter-pounder w/ cheeseHL), you’ll find five plus guys who are smart, socially aware people.  But it’s the opposite five plus that make us skeptical of the rest.

For Them, By Them, Ed.

For Them, By Them, Ed.

Sports coverage of other sports tends to include more shootings, hit and runs, and general violence than NHL coverage (even less now that the FUBU-wearing Ed Belfour is done), and for that we can be thankful.

But we still need to exorcise the general nose-up, better-than-the-rest attitude sported by these guys.

As a kid, playing junior hockey, I tried to play in Kelowna’s elite NHLish summer shinny games, and got treated like an absolute leper by most guys.  A few went out of their way to be nice.

As I got better at hockey, and moved up leagues, guys got nicer at that game too.  But my list of people who made me feel like a dog has always been nicely tucked away in my back pocket.  I’m not out for revenge.  It’s just nice to know which guys are there for a ride in the limo, and who will stick with you when you’re riding the bus.

Here’s to the good guys of the NHL and other sports.  To those who appreciate the gifts they’re given and share with others.  As we’ve seen, they certainly aren’t obligated to.  These are the guys who deserve the real coverage.  They’re the ones that matter.

Over The Hills and Through The Woods

 

The multi-week period of bloglect has ended.  I’m settled.

After a week of running around at the Hockey Greats Camp, Bri and I said our farewells and embarked on our three day journey from Kelowna, BC to Phoenix, AZ.  And here I am.  Home.  (Read: my mom’s place.  We’re still house shopping).

We left Saturday morning and loaded up the car with the snacks of champions.  Behind the ziplock of fruit my mom forced upon us, we had Pringles, Doritos, seasoned Spitz, ranch Corn Nuts, vanilla wafers, peanut butter M&M’s, Smarties (the Canadian kind), Twizzlers, and a box of Nestea. 

We bought the audiobooks “Running With Scissors” and “Choke”, charged up our iPods and headed south.  I’m glad the novelty of road trips lasts for awhile, because the first day was about as thrilling as watching C-SPAN.

Over the hills and through the woods to Ontario, Oregon we went, finding a nice little Holiday Inn for $89.99.  Having treked about 11 hours, we evaluated our next days drive. 

“You know, if we drive that long again, we could make Vegas tomorrow night”, said a voice inside my head, then one outside.

So sure enough, with a little effort and that same $89.99, Bri and I paid the same amount we did in Oregon to stay in a king bed at the MGM Grand.  Thats one of the beauties of Vegas.  Hotels are a bargoon.

We hit the New York, New York roller coaster, front seat at night, high above Vegas.  We bought two “Yard O’ Marg’s”, only to find out they’re so paralyzingly sweet and devoid of alcohol that it wasn’t worth the fun of holding it.  We won a combined $38.00 on the nickel slot “Texas Tea”.  It was awesome.

The View From the Dam.  A cell phone picture.

The View From the Dam on a simple cell phone. Real ones to be loaded up shortly!

The next morning, we woke a mere 5.5 hours from Phoenix, which gave us ample time to be tourists at the Hoover Dam.  For those of you who haven’t been, it’s a dam.  And ho-ly shit is it one amazing feat of human accomplishment.

You know those moments when you’re like, “yeah, there’s definitely people smarter than me”?  You know, like when you watch a plane cruising overhead, or you look at the motherboard of a computer?  This is one of those.  Definite wow-factor.

The drive was a blast, but I’m happy to be settled.  I’m happy to blog.  I’m happy to write my next articles for other news outlets, and just generally organize my life.

Bri and I are just starting to figure out this “real world” thing, which involves, of course, heading out right now to buy this years NHL package.

I’ve sent texts to Higgins, Komisarek, Goligoski, Tambellini and others to let them know I’m gonna be all over ‘em for quotes and thoughts this upcoming season.

So here we go.  Life in Phoenix begins…

Now.

*****

Post blog addition:  Here’s the story of our three day drive, in pictures:

 

 

There ya go – A blog in pictures of a three day drive!

ConVick

 

As a blogger, it’s mandatory that I comment on Michael Vick (it’s in the fine print).  Most of what I’ve read on Vick is redundant drivel, full of hate, and devoid of information.  I’ll try to do better, minus the information part.

Your standard work-release program

Your standard work-release program

Vick is a guy who once signed a contract for $130,000,000.00 over 10 years, and chose to run a dog-fighting ring.  If we can agree on anything, it’s that he’s got some wires crossed in his kitchen, right?

It’s easy to tear a strip off Vick, and he more-than deserves it.  And of course, where is the humanity in some borderline soulless human signing another multi-million dollar contract and getting the second chance at life, which he denied countless dogs?

There isn’t any.

And further, it’s easy to point the finger at the Eagles and say they’ve got blood on their hands, too.  It seems more than any other sport that football is win-at-all-costs.  A sport that almost says “we don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, we just want to win.”  And in reality, that’s what makes football so much fun to watch.  It’s a 16 game season where every game matters, and men put everything they’ve got for effort on the line (hang your head in shame, baseball).

There is no sport that serves as a better metaphor for the rest of the working world than football.  Football has produced more life-mirroring cliche’s than I care to dredge up (see: Lombardi, Vince).  In the end, it’s a rat race of people trying to get ahead under the guise of a team sport, and sometimes, those who fight dirty are the last ones standing in the end.

Is Vick just a heat-deflector for McNabb?

Is Vick just a heat-deflector for McNabb?

But Vick’s not getting ahead.  I’ve always been a “things happen for a reason” guy (speaking of cliche’s), so I feel like Vick’s seeming re-acceptance by the NFL as just the next step in the real punishment he deserves.  Things are going to be miserable for this guy.  Philly?  He signed in Philly?

There’s no worse team in the league, probably in any sport, to go play for if you were worried about fan harrassment.  This guys life might be in danger (this is your chance to get in the headlines, PETA!).  He’s going to be a pinata for sitcks and stone’s that’ll break his bones and words that’ll seriously hurt him.

I’m so glad he didn’t go somewhere out of the headlines like Detroit.  With the ramped up media coverage in the City of Brotherly Abuse of Quarterbacks, we’ll all get to read the hilarious signs, see the funny costumes, and generally join in the torment of Philly’s for-now backup quarterback.

He was with people in jail who probably thought he didn’t commit much of a crime.  Now, he’s being chucked into a ginormous population of people who think he did, and fortunately, some of that same ginormous population occasionally lack the social grace to edit their verbal slander from the sidelines.  What a treat for viewers!

You know what else I take from all this? 

Our lack of belief in our ability to rehabilitate people.

I’m still sort of unclear whether jail is meant to be a miserable holding spot where we punish those who victimize our society, or whether we’re trying to help these people get better.

He did his time.  Is it possible he’s thought about what he’s done, understands it, and feels endless remorse?

Not one of my readers believes that.  Doesn’t that tell us something about our belief in prison’s ability to make people better?

But let’s stick to sports.

Vick is going to say and do all the right things for the first little while.  The second he scrambles for a 40 yard touchdown run, Philly fans will be on his side.  The second he throws a pick, however, Philly fans will come back with the bark and bite of 40 thousand pitbulls.

There’s only going to be one thing more fun to watch than Michael Vick fighting for survival in, and out of an Eagles uniform this year, and it’s approaching quickly:

Vick has been released.  The Eagles have signed him.  The NFL has re-instated him.  The fun part?

PETA?  Your move.

A Plea To Current NHLers

 

When I grew up, sports seemed so clear.

There didn’t seem to be so much legalise; this constant, in-depth coverage of the personal lives of the athletes I was watching and revering.  Our heroes of old were probably just as flawed as our heroes of present, only they didn’t catch guys like Babe Ruth doing something stupid and run it on every TV in the nation because there weren’t six cell phone camera’s around at the time.

In earlier decades, fans would have no clue that in pre-season Josh Hamilton stumbled in his attempt at a sober life, but thanks to a few college teens, we have a couple dozen pics of his bizarre meltdown. 

The mistakes our athletes make are constantly in our face, covered to the fullest, and intertwined with regular sports news. 

This steroids thing in baseball has gone from “no!” to “oh” to “so?“. 

I understand sports fans who don’t like baseball.  It’s a thrill-an-hour, and they play more games the video game world has Halo users.  But for me, there was always something kinda pure about it.  Because there’s no man-to-man contact in baseball (or very, very little), it just seems like the least relevant sport to be a steroid user.

And that may be why the steroid suspensions haven’t come crashing down too hard on the users.  There’s no risk of injury to other people, like in football, where if someone is scary strong, it’s scary for a reason.

What’s with the length of suspensions?  In baseball, getting busted for injecting your body with illegal performance enhancing juice costs you 50 games (that injection also costs the right people their jobs, and earns the wrong people more money).  And then you’re cleared to play and help your team down the playoff stretch, while most of the falsely earned new muscle is still there and about to burst through your jersey.  You’ll lose some of the muscle mass, fine, but hey, get in enough cycles before you get caught and you’ll see the benefits for a while.

Why does baseball think it’s any better now that it was before the Mitchell Report?

Of course, baseball’s not alone in it’s embarassments in recent years.

Somehow, the culture of the NFL is breeding poor decision-making too.  This hip-hop culture that has emphasized the need to be a gun-toting, take-no-guff cool guy is putting guys in prison so often it barely registers a blip on my care-dar anymore.  Thanks Plaxico.  Dante.  Pacman.  Vick. 

And the NBA is nowhere near exempt.  I’m not so sure we’ve gotten to the bottom of the officiating scandal.  One single referee gets caught betting on games he’s working, claims he’s part of a league-wide reffing circle of hustlers, and the story gets buried?

Guys are always going to get in trouble, I get that.  Like all jobs, men work them, and men are flawed (sometimes we hit cabbies).  We do expect our athletes, as role models, to hold themselves to a higher level of accountability (and not the opposite, as they may think), but mistakes are still going to happen.

But when you step back and see the frequency of the problems, and the consistency in the types of errors being made sport by sport, I’ve kinda gotta ask:

Still holding that lockout against the NHL, hey America?

I can’t stand hearing the “I used to watch before the lockout” comment.  It’s not that I don’t love the NFL (I love the NFL) or other sports, I’m just running on an equal sports-shunning platform. 

Baseball’s ratings are up in recent years.  And people claim they don’t watch the NHL because of greed?  Have you seen MLB contracts?  Occasionally, hockey ratings are below the PBA and poker, but it’s the only sport that’s gotten better this decade.

Maybe hockey will figure out that fans like a little mischief and chaos, and follow in Patty Kanes example (for the record, I’m skeptical he committed much of a crime there).  This is a call to hockey players!  Let’s start mixin’ it up!

Hell, I’m gonna be a writer guys.  I need material now!

Juicin’!  Guns!  Gambling!  Gimme something! 

We’ve got to win the lockout fans back!

We’ve got to win the lockout fans back!

Wrapping Up The Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp

Well, it’s over.  Even though my liver has filed it’s official transfer papers, it was well worth it.  Holy shit was that fun.
 
Our photographer took some 1800 pictures, which of course she’s still sifting through.  So, for now, I’ve added a few Gillies-related pics from the week gone by, courtesy Brianna.  Just too much fun.  I’ll have a whole bunch up within a week.
 
And as quickly as it came and went, my life is about to take me on another busy adventure.  This Saturday, I’m packing up my car, stuffing my fiance inside and making the Kelowna to Phoenix trek.  Who doesn’t like road-trip Twitter?
 
Speaking of, I apologize for my lack of existence this past week.  As one of the directors of the event, I was running around pretty good trying to make sure everything ran smooth.  And of course, it ran smoother than Trottiers upper lip after a midnight mustache auction (Thanks again to Bryan for graciously removing his facial hair, as shown in the pic below).
 
We had so many amazing guests this year (I’m looking at you Bob Johnston, Sue and Drew Sutherland).  Michael Burgess, who frequently sings the anthem for the Maple Leafs, sang ours at the big game.  For a bonus, he sang Danny Boy a capella at the wrap-up banquet.  Holy banana peels and onions was it freaking amazing.  I cried, and I hate all things opera-ish.  But enough about my ovaries.
 
This week will be devoted to preparing for the upcoming year, as well as squeezing every last bit of quality time I can out of my family.  In a matter of weeks the NHL is going to start brewing, the NFL is going to be underway and I’m going to be well settled into my writing career in Phoenix.  I’m just so excited.
 
I need to get new articles to www.hockeyprimetime.com, as well as USA Today, so if you have any suggestions on interesting topics (like say, cabbie beatings or whatever), let me know.  Go Jets!
 
Trots and Gillies. One can really play. I'm about to be related to the other.

Trots and Gillies. One can really play. I'm about to be related to the other.

 

Hockey Greats Houseboat. More people jumping off the top deck than the Titanic.

Hockey Greats Houseboat. More people jumping off the top deck than the Titanic.

 

$1,000.00 to charity, per mustache from a guest. Priceless entertainment for the rest of us.

$1,000.00 to charity, per mustache, from a guest. Priceless entertainment for the rest of us.

 

Islanders haven't expressed interest. Breeding rights are still on waivers for other NHL teams.

Islanders haven't expressed interest. Breeding rights are still on waivers for other NHL teams.

 

The Cup winning team let us slide in for one pic. My name is still not engraved on the VT Cup.

The Cup winning team let us slide in for one pic. My name is still not engraved on the VT Cup.

Plenty more pictures to come!  And plenty more writing.  Heeerrreee comes sports again, peeking over the horizon!

The Quest For The (VT) Cup

 

Okay, fine, so I’m the worst “guy who should be writing interesting quips for you to read” out there right now.  It’s been crazy around here.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

Cliff Ronning is a serious, interesting fellow when sober.  Not sober, he can work a room like some hilariously cheesy lounge singer, and it’s priceless.

Dave Semenko is actually Rodney Dangerfield.

Clark Gillies and Dave Semenko make better hosts than defensive partners.

Dale Hawerchuk and Cliff Ronning are better than you at hockey.

Check our website for the list of the rest of the NHL mutts we’ve imported to entertain our guests.  These guys could make a living at being funny.

I’m seriously so sorry I haven’t been keeping my readers involved in this.  But fear not – those who have subscribed have an extra little suprise coming to your inbox. 

‘Tis the morning before the battle for the second VT Cup, and I intend to get my name engraved on our cup for the first time (weird, I turned down a trade proposal that would move Dale Hawerchuk from my team).  I’ll letcha know how that turns out. 

Steve Shutt is my winger – he managed to pot four yesterday, so needless to say, he can still play.  Plus, he’s got some experience at winning Cups (five).  Tip for our opponents: he tends to keep on two-on-ones.

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