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A Golden Thought: Do We All Win With a US Victory?

 

This is just a thought, Canadians, so take a xanax, have a glass of wine, and give the logic a chance:

We love us some hockey north of the border.  Air, ball, bubble, floor, roller, dome, knee, tonsil, ice, field, whatever, the prefix isn’t important, as long as it ends in “hockey”, we’re down.

So when our sport gets disrespected, by say, ESPN, 300 days a year, we get testy.  Our franchises have been moving south, the ones we have left aren’t doing so hot, and in the sports community, we’re treated as fourth-class citizens.

So naturally, we all want the game to grow.  And just for a piece of breaking news, that means we want it to grow in the US, because as you may know, we’ve pretty much gotten through to everyone in our own sparsely populated land mass.

So maybe the best thing for the game is if the US wins the gold medal in Vancouver.

I said it before the Olympics – it would be the best thing for everyone who loves the game too, including a guy like myself, who could stand to prosper from an extra media outlet or two getting involved.  I can’t exactly start ESPN’s rival network if nobody gives a damn about one of the sports I plan on featuring, and success tends to breed damn-giving.

When Canada won Olympic gold in 2002, the nation went banonkers, which is a combination of bananas and bonkers.  It was just another stitch in the fabric of Canadian make up, which may as well be fashioned into some masterpiece of denim-on-denim crime covered by a red and black plaid lumberjack – with the hat to match.  Enrollment in hockey swelled, TV ratings went up, and coverage went from lots to tons.

But the US hasn’t had that piece of handiwork sewn into who they are since the Miracle on Ice in ’80.  And that helped get people into the game back then.  The Islanders were the toast of Long Island when they were winning cups early that decade – apparently, some American fans would even go so far as to admit they liked the game (calm down everyone from MN, WI and ND, we know you love the game like Canadians).

Now that we’ve slogged through a strke, followed by a decade of hook-and-hold hockey and made it out the other side, we’ve got HD TV to show people what this game really looks like.  We don’t even need fluorescent lights to leave a trail behind the puck when it moves anymore.

The game is perfect for taking on new American fans right now.  The hockey bandwagon is spacious, the game is fresh, and it’s the right time.  Hey football fans – it’s really fast and physical, only it’s a tad more reactionary than route-running, so sometimes things get weird.  You’ll see.

But the thing is, the only way they will see is by Team USA accomplishing what could only be forever dubbed as the Somewhat Suprising Result on Ice.

So whaddya say, Canada?  Maybe it’s the right time for an American gold again.  You on board for that?

….You’re not?  

Okay good, I’m not either.

GO CANADA!!!!!

 

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Thanks to Madeline for the picture:

 

Canadian Women, Olympic Questions

 

First, here’s the link to my article for The Hockey News, explaining why Canadians want the US hockey team to fall on their keys (that really hurts, BTW).

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I am officially a fan of the Canadian women’s hockey team.  Honestly, that gold medal celebration got them goalie bags full of street (rink?) cred, as far as I’m concerned.

Women’s sports are constantly beaten down by the crappy mantra “fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals”.  Glad somebody finally threw a curveball.

Way to represent. No seriously. ...I mean that seriously.

First, the game was ten times better than any other women’s games I had seen in the tournament (This is how you commentate a China/Slovakia women’s hockey game ”She shoots, she… no, no she doesn’t.  She fanned.  Passes it out to, wait, wait, she’s still trying to corral it… hang on a sec here”).  The most boggling thing is the massive divide between the quality of these two teams and the rest of the world.  Poulin’s first goal was f**king nasty.  Little one-tee high glove?  Count it, thanks.

But the celebration.  Oh the celebration.  It was like my own personal fantasy unfolding.  Winning gold, grabbing a Molson Canadian (yes, I would be loyal in that moment) a fat stogie, and riding the zamboni around. 

Let the IOC do what they will.  You can’t take fun away from girls who’ve already had it. 

Nobody's even shotgunning them. That's not very Canadian.

 

Great job ladies!  One for one…. it’s gonna be hard to top your celly though.  Maybe if the men win they’ll bring bongs out and just let ‘er rip.

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Nothing hotter than a granite jawline. Wait, what?

Two things from the Olympics I wanna get your take on:

One:  About people like Lindsay Vonn and Michael Phelps – If you’re the “best” (okay, no quotation marks needed for Phelps) at your sport – skiing or swimming – how many different ways is it fair to repackage what you do and give out another medal? 

I mean, no disrespect, what they do is phenomenal.  But does lengthening the distance at which Michael Phelps out-swims people really justify a whole new medal?  I feel like Vonn has been in 83 events so far, how many cracks at gold should one person get?

Apollo Anton Ohno – one of the best speed skaters in the world (and easily the most annoying), won medals in the 500, 750 1000, 1012, and the 1201, I think.  Not sure how it should work, just seems odd to qualify one olympian as more successful than the the next because they changed the distance at which someone gets to show they’re still better than other people.  I’m sure if you added 30 seconds to the figure skating long program and gave out a whole new medal that Korean girl (Kim Yu-Na) still would’ve wiped her face with the field.

And second:  Isn’t it kinda scuzzy when guys go over to play hockey in Europe, play there just long enough to get citizenship, then play in international competition for that team?  It happens all the time.  Oh, I represent the English national team in the Spengler Cup.  Why?  You’re not from there, you’re family’s not, you didn’t grow up there, you just spent an extended vacation there.  How is that fair? 

Ah... BC. Refreshing.

{Yes, I know I was born in the US and claim Canadian, but can you blame me?  I spent the years of my life that I was able to think there.  From six until my 20′s, I was growing up in Canada (and every summer of my 20′s) with parents that are 100% Canadian, as is all my extended family.  Hardly the same as spending five winters in Germany and then playing against the country you and you’re family are actually from in international play.}

Its the same as when you hear about some skiier or other athlete that didn’t make their national team, discovered one of their parents is half Whatever, so they got citizenship and “represented” that country.  That’s not representing a country, that’s representing the figurative name-on-your-back.  I don’t blame them for wanting in on the Games, it just seems disingenuous to put on team colours when they’ve grown up and been trained in a different country.  (Mmm, xenophobia – always goes down smooth.)

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That’s it that’s all for today.  Men’s Olympic semifinal hockey today.  Sure would be a lot more fun if Bri didn’t have to work tomorrow, ON A SATURDAY.  Maybe I’ll work too.  That’d make her feel better.  Yep, I’m gonna work tomorrow.  (Pssst.  I won’t be working tomorrow.)

{Justin’s note, via Justin:  Justin does tweet on weekends…. usually more, since he drinks then, too.  Follow him… er, me… here}

Canada-Russia, Rambling Theory on Journalism

 

…And the collective blood pressure of Canadians recedes to a normal level.

That felt good, didn’t it?

...until we meet again, friend.

How quickly Canadian outlook turned around.  All the sudden we’re in the final four with Slovakia, the USA and Finland, which is a draw we’d have sacrificed siblings to have before the tournament.  A final four with Russia, Sweden and the Czechs would certainly provide a little more stress, wouldn’t it?

You have to think, with so many great players and only so much ice time to go around, it would be real easy to have a guy go a game or two without points and say he’s slumping.  It’s been nice that Canada has thrown in 28 goals over their five games so far, cause it’s alleviated a lot of the inevitable finger-pointing at guys who may be playing well without the production (by the way, does that slug Toews even have a goal yet?  Do something, ya bum).

All coaches say a derivative of the same thing:  winning cures everything. 

When you lose, as the boys did to the US on Sunday, everything gets dissected.  That’s what people like me do – we write about the game and the team everyday, so it’s only natural to try to figure out the cause of the problem.  But when we win, there’s not much to talk about.  They did what they were supposed to do.

Which brings me to a point I’ve been waiting forever to make about writing/broadcasting:  I understand how you end up with controversial idiots in the most well known positions in sports coverage.

Because, without a polarized opinion, you don’t get the readers – there’s no uproar, no fervent agreers or passionate dissenters.  they’re not linking to your article to comment on it (good or bad), and most importantly, there’s no discussion.  People leave a well thought out, reasonable piece of writing and go “well, yeah…. sure”.  But they meet their buddy at the bar later and go “did you see what that dick Woody Paige said on Around The Horn yesterday”?  And Woody goes to the bank again.

The hardest part about being a writer and having deadlines, I’ve noticed, is that often, a game like last night happens.  Canada executes flawlessly, Luongo gets a B, the sound bites are reasonable and polite, and that was that.  What the Canadian team accomplished last night deserves far more than a “great game, that looked easy” analysis.  To play that well under the pressure that last nights game carried would’ve taken phenomenal mental focus and physical effort.

But it isn’t as easy for the post-game analysis to generate lasting discussion when a game is so cut-and-dried, so networks hire guys like Mike Milbury who are unafraid to say things like “Eurotrash”.

For a game to look that easy against names like Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin takes posititonal team play, responsible defensive awareness, and NO weak links.  Those guys are building hall-of-fame careers on snapping through weak links, and Canada managed to provide none.

To gain readership, it’s tempting to blast guys all the time – to shred Ovy for being a no-show or Nabokov for playing poorly.  Or I could write something incendiary about how the European style of play is fancy but ineffective for winning when it counts, but I wouldn’t believe it myself.

I thought it was just an exceptionally well played game by the deeper team.  Underdogs can win any game, because the better team may not play well.  But “any team can win any night” isn’t true – the better team always has the first opportunity to play well and win, which is why the media (me) lambasted Canada instead of praising the US for the game last Sunday.

And that, my friends, is a ramble.  Weeeeecanadaweeeeee!

(UPDATE: I throw a few guy-on-couch beer-in-hand style comments on players in the comments section.)

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Yes! Who do we play ne---noooo not the Canadians...

Big shout out to the Slovaks for taking out Sweden.  I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy win against them, but I am saying it should be a whole hell of a lot easier than it would’ve been playing the stacked, defending goal-medalist Svedish fella’s.  {Can we please get Sweden to stop wearing those saltwater taffy uniforms and do something reasonable?  I know those are your colors, just mix in some white somewhere or something, good god.}

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Today is the gold medal game of the Women’s final, and I’m sad to say, I haven’t watched nearly enough of our ladies kicking ass and taking names.  I intend to watch today – what should I be watching for, lady fans?

Canada/Germany, America Cares, Easton Z Shock Helmet

 

Canada vs. Russia, the widely predicted gold medal game, has shown up wayyyy too early. 

But still, aren’t you kind of glad it’s happening?  If the Olympics are only every fourth year, you’d hate to go through the whole thing and not play the American and Russian squads, and sure enough, we’re getting that wish.  What’s that saying?  Watch what you wish for??  Seriously.

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Last nights rout versus Germany was just what the boys needed.  No mental stress, let everybody feel good about where their offensive game is at (Joe Thornton and Rick Nash scored!), and have Luongo get back into the swing of things (tough couple goals against, really).

Weee, I did good, right guys?

I’m sensing from blog reader reactions we’re all having fun scrutinizing each and every guy, especially the bubble ones, but it really wouldn’t be fair to say something like ”Niedermeyer really turned it around last night” when his brother could have played D in last nights game and been fine (but I will say that his breakaway goal was suspect, to say the least.  A no-move, on-the-ice five-hole shot.  Really, Greiss?  Those stopped going in around the late 80′s).

I have to think when Babcock was making the lines, he had Russia in mind, not Germany, and was giving the guys a day to gel.  Well, (I always wanna write “welp”, because that’s kinda how I say it, but I’m afraid people will think it’s a typo.  Lets try it again, no typo)….  Welp, it all comes down to this:  Lose and you’re out, and we’re playing a top three country in the world at the sport.

The bad news for them? 

WE’RE A TOP ONE COUNTRY, RUSKI’S, HERE WE COOOMMMMEEEE!

(Legitimate question:  Is “Ruski” derogatory?  I hope I didn’t just write some horrible slur.  If I did, my bad, it was ignorance not hate.)

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You know what the US win over Canada has done for all of us?  Made the rivalry better, for one simple reason:  the reaction to the win showed that American fans actually do care about hockey (or at least Canada vs. US hockey).

Two Americans who DEFINITELY care.

The common reaction to Canada’s 2002 gold in the US was “well, whatever, we win everything else and don’t care about hockey anyways”.

“We’re a football country” (or baseball, depending on who you ask). 

Whatever the response, it was usually some derivative of “meh”.  But the second the buzzer went that solidified the US win over their northern neighbors, the true colours came out.  Non-sports news shows, MTV, you name it, the Americans were right jazzed about that win.  It was great to see and hear, not only because Americans loving hockey is GREAT for the game, but you always want your opponent to care.

So now we know.  The next time a loss hurts the US, don’t turn to the other sports and not-caredom.  You clearly do.  So if your hearts get broken in the next week, just say so.  Say it hurt, and you’ll get ‘em next time.

You lost the tool of “meh”, and that’s fun for everyone.

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Easton has come out with their new “Z Shock” helmet that’s “lighter than a cup of coffee”, as the tag line goes.  They sent them out to a bunch of media people for reviews and a little publicity, and I happened to be included in that group.  I gave it a go at rec hockey last night (by the way, we’re one win away from league champ status, weeeee), so here’s a review:

First things first, it’s light.  Crazy light.  And I was thinking, well, I don’t get hit much in rec hockey, so I could definitely sacrifice a little protection for a lighter lid.  But as it turns out, the helmet has better protection statistics than every other current helmet out there.  So they got that goin’ for ‘em.

As for looks, it’s pretty sharp.  Nothing can compare to the low-pro look of the old Bauer 4000′s for my money, but style-wise, this one is as nice as the RBK’s most guys wear now.  I’m pretty sure Iginla is wearing it, actually.

The ear pieces snap out easy and quick, so you don’t have to look like Crosby for long, and like all new lids, is adjustable in size without needing a screwdriver.

Long story short, thanks to Easton for sending me the helmet.  I’m pretty sure it’s gonna take over the number one spot in my helmet rotation, based purely on being comfortable and really, really light.

They’re comparing it to being as revolutionary as when they came out with the Synergy sticks, which is hardly true, but they did make a good product here, as Easton always does.  If you happen to see one, at least pick it up and give it a look.  After all – it’s lighter than a cup of coffee.

Canadian Lines, Getzlaf, and Ovy on Jagr

 

I ran this song a while back, but I figured I’d run it again because I’m “Beggin’” Team Canada to figure it the f**k out.

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Goooood morning!  It’s a new day, and I’m feeling much better after spending yesterday dealing with Canada’s loss like a bad breakup.  Face it, accept it, and move on kids.

Today’s the public disembowling of Germany, (still with me on that right?  Guys?) so that’ll feel good.  Nothing like beating up some kid at school cause you failed a test.  Now let’s talk lines:

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of the concept of “chemistry”.  Sure, you might figure out the tendencies of your linemates after a few games, but the only people that I believe have true ”chemistry” are the Sedins.

I like the term “clicking” better, because that’s what it is.  Alex Burrows “clicks” with the Sedins, because his style suits what they need to be successful, that being, they need the puck to be effective, and he goes and gets it. 

So I’m not sure that keeping Heatley/Thornton/Marleau together is as necessary as we’ve all been acting.  The only guy really benefitting from that line is Marleau - the other two are on pace for the same years they always have.  The line is just so deadly because there’s three dangerous players on the ice, not cause they have any particular chemistry (in fact, Thornton got more points the year he played with the CHEECHOO train). 

With names like that, I'll drive this bandwagon, crashing or not.

Here’s what I’d like to see:

Nash – Crosby – Staal
Toews – Thornton – Heatley
Marleau – Richards – Getzlaf
Iggy – Morrow – Perry – Bergeron

…Or something to that effect.  The point being that Staal and Toews are playing too well and are too effective to be toiling with Brendan Morrow and Patrice Bergeron on the fourth line.

What would you like to see with who-where-when-why-how? (Or just answer the who part, maybe).

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I was explaining to a buddy how Getzlaf plays last night, and it’s tough to describe, so bear with me.  I’ve skated with him a bunch in summer hockey, and here’s the best I can do:

"So, you guys think you'll make the team?"

You know the move where a guy comes down on a defenseman, stick to the middle, and fakes a shot while pulling it between his own legs, then picks it up on the other side of the d-man?  You know the move I’m talking about?

Point is, kids from 13 and up do the move.  Or the move where, a guy is standing behind the net, a d-man comes to get him, so the player banks it off the back/bottom of the net and picks it up on the other side of the d-man?  You know those moves.

Anyways, most players reach a point where, they can do them all very easily, but they stop working, because professional d-men aren’t retarded and we’re not playing Junior B anymore. 

Well, apparently, if you’re 6’4″ 235, you can still do them.

Guys occasionally read his somewhat-obvious, junior-style moves, but he’s so big that he just out-reaches, or out-muscles guys to make the play work.  His reach makes such a difference, and he uses his body well.  So, it’s not that his moves are lame, that’s not my point - you can’t blame the guy for using moves that work, no matter where they came from.  It’s just that he’s not exactly… a revolutionary, he’s just one of those guys that are physically built from birth to have success at hockey.

The problem is, when the moves don’t involve muscle and size, ie. sneaky passes, he’ll sometimes look like a junior player again.  Whiiiich might by why last game, he had flashes of looking too young to buy booze in Alberta.

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oof.

I figured I’d weigh-in on an entry by my buddy Greg Wyshynski over at Puck Daddy, who chose to question the legality of the Oveckin/Jagr hit.  My thoughts: if we ever change a rule that makes that body check illegal, I’m switching favourite sports.

Jagr, in open ice with full possession, tries to cut back across the grain on a guy who’s coming from that direction (redundant, but REALLY, Jagr?).  Again, with the puck – not like he was trying to corral a pass. 

If you can’t hit a guy then and there, with no strides taken and your shoulder down, holy shit our game has no hope.  Sure, his head gets hit because it’s in the way of his body (read: down), but that’s not a “head shot”, as the dangerous infractions have been termed - surely we can discern the difference between that hit and Richards-on-Booth, no?  The point of contact is to separate the man from the puck, like Ovy did, not the head from the body, like Richards tried.

Our game won’t be served well if we implement a black-and-white interpretation of head shots - Jagr buries his head to fully commit to the direction change, and Ovy is sure as shit allowed to hit him there, otherwise everyone should skate around head-first for protection (the hit starts at the 50 second point of the video). 

So yeah.  I vote “legal”.

(I wish I had longer video to show how long Ovechkin goes without taking a stride before the hit, haters.)

*****

Canada.  Germany.  Anyone wanna put something on Germany against Canada?  I’ll give you odds.

WHAT DO YOU THINK TODAY’S BLOG IS ABOUT???

 

Sorry, was that title a little testy?

Well, it looks like our Canadian boys feel like taking the road NOBODY TRAVELS BECAUSE IT’S COVERED IN POISON AND THORNS AND SHARKS WITH LEGS, but hey, who can blame ‘em? 

Oh, I can?  Sweet.  I love writing.

Right from the Rafalski nightmare 41 seconds in, the game shaped up the exact way an underdog upsets an, um, …overdog:

*Weather the early storm (or in this case, quell it entirely).
*Have your goalie come up big while you rope-a-dope the shot chart.
*Get a couple breaks (you all know Rafalski fanned on his second goal, right?  Badly?)
*Keep the crowd out by answering any momentum turning plays (the US responded masterfully to Canada’s goals)
*And lean, lean, lean on team defense and goaltending.
(*also, make a pact with Satan promising any and all future children to his service)

And just like that, the Americans got it done, and wowee are they positioned nicely.  Not only did they get a quarterfinal bye and the one-seed, but Russia’s round-robin loss to Slovakia ensured that the US side of the pool is clearly the shallow end.

After beating Germany (a foregone conclusion …isn’t it?  Guys?), Canada will once again have to play Russia in the quarterfinals, just like in Torino.  And we all know how well that went (“We’re number seven!  We’re number seven!”).  If they did get by Russia, they’d probably see Sweden.  And then hopefully the US again in the finals.  Baru – tal.

It’s like a video game, where you can see the health meter of your character, and each hit he takes brings it down a notch.  Think there’ll be enough notches to get us to a US – Canada rematch?

OF COURSE BOURNE’S BLOGGERS DO, WE’RE ALL PRO-CANADA, REMEMBER!?

In all seriousness, congrats to the American team.  You can only chalk up so much to luck and our failure.  The US boys played a great game.

A few thoughts from the game:

*Great one-handed empty-netter by Kesler, a guy who, if he had Twitter, would’ve lost like 6,000 Canadian followers in the past two days.

*I dogged the Niedermeyer pick, but I gotta say, I’m pretty comfortable with him out there over a few other guys.

*Rick Nash, Rick Nash, Rick Nash.  The guy just looks unstoppable, man.  I love pairing him with Sid.  How many people have made the joke about them being unable to find their “Stills”?

*I watched the game at a bar with 17 TV’s, all on hockey, with dollar beers and only one other Canadian fan amongst the swarm of Americans - and we all had a blast.  Good, fun ribbing from the victorious Americans who played “Born in the USA” at the final buzzer.  Good times.

*Bri and I drove over the hills and through the woods around Phoenix to find a USA t-shirt for her. It didn’t even have to be hockey, but still nothing.  Not in the whole mall, Just Sports, Dicks Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, the Nike store, nothing.  Our last ditch effort to TARGET provided one.  What’s going on, US merchandisers?  THE OLYMPICS ARE ON!

A coupla mixed breeds on opposite sides of the fence. Chalk one up for the "nurture" category.

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Player I’d like to see more of:

 

Shea Weber

Everyone bounces off this guy like a bouncy-ball hit with a tennis racquet.  He’s got a booming slapper, but when they put him out on the powerplay, he plays with Doughty, also a right shot, and they have Doughty on the one-timer side.  I don’t think he saw nearly enough minutes (or proper usage) for a guy who could well be in the top few in the NHL.

Honorable mention:

Duncan Keith

Even in one of the fastest games I’ve seen since the ’09 playoffs (okay, the fastest), he looks like he’s in fast forward.  And like Scott Niedermeyer, he made a lot of great first passes to help transition Canada from defense to offense.  Also: Rick Nash and Jonathan Toews.

Player I’d like to see less of:

 

Sigh…. Marty Brodeur

Everyone likes to say that Luongo has “never won anything”, but he certainly hasn’t been given a lot of chances to (bad Florida teams, bad Canuck teams, and just recently a couple good ones).  If we’re going on history, didn’t MA Fleury win the most recent Stanley Cup, while Brodeur single-handedly puked an entire series to Carolina over the span of one minute?  I’m a Brodeur fan, but I think it’s time we look to one of the other two guys.  He made some big saves, but we expect that from the best in our country.

Dishonorable mention:

Corey Perry, holy crap, Corey Perry.  I shouldn’t call it dishonorable mention for the following guys, really, but I’d like to see more from Brent Seabrook, Drew Doughty, and Patrice Bergeron (not that he’ll see many minutes).

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What a great tournament.  Hope you guys enjoyed last night too, and for those of you who enjoy my writing, you can be thankful I chose to stay alive and see the tournament through.

GO CANADA!

(Olympic Hockey) LIVE BLOG, Tiger Woods Press Conference

 

LIVE BLOG starts a few paragraphs below, skip on down if you don’t care about my thoughts on Olympic hockey.  I don’t blame you if you don’t.  I barely do.

*****

Resuming a debate from yesterday:  If you were a GM building a team, would you rather have Rick Nash or Ilya Kovalchuk?  Tough call right?  Nash is a handful out there man, I certainly don’t envy d-men trying to stop him.  I feel like he gets 10 chances to Kovalchuk’s one, but Kovalchuk buries his like he’s hiding a dead body.

*****

So, Canada struggles against the Swiss (who, you would assume, DOMINATE the neutral zone).  I DVR’ed the game and chucked it on again when Bri went to bed to see what I could see. 

I saw Canada looking just fine.  They created a ton of chances, and really, the Swiss didn’t have many of their own (though I would’ve liked to see their first goal, THANKS CNBC for rolling out your newest hockey coverage feature, COMPLETELY ARBITRARY COMMERCIAL BREAKS.  Now seems like a good time, sell the people some detergent.

What that game did do, was make the Canada/US game that much more exciting for me.  The way the tournament format works, those top four spots are crucial, and both teams could still easily grab one.  And while we were floundering against the Swiss (again), it wasn’t like the US was running through Norway (until the end). But then, I know, it’s kinda hard to when you know you can win in autopilot.  Plus, Norway has TORE VIKINGSTAD, so they’ve got that goin’ for them.

But hockey isn’t the big news story of the day.  Tiger is.  And what you don’t need, is some media outlets moralistic view of what Tiger needs to do to make amends for being a slimy scuzzbucket.  What you need is the view of Bourne’s Blog - all the guy is to me is an entertainer, and that’s what he’s going to do again.  So take the stage Tiger, and dance, playboy, dance!

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TIGER WOODS LIVE BLOG PRESS CONFERENCE

Alright, first note – if Tiger says he won’t play in the Masters, the live blog immediately ends so I can shatter the nearest glass and eat the shards.

Tiger’s therapy called for a week off, which is why he’s doing the press conference today.  So yeah, it has nothing to do with taking away eyes from the tournament being sponsored by the same people who just dropped him from their sponsorship list.  Seriously.

And the last note before we get underway, is yes, I realize this is lowest common denominator stuff.  But let me have this.  Sometimes it’s fun to live down to the title “blogger”.

"What's this one's name again? ...Think Tiger, think!"

*****

8:35: ESPN has the ghost of Rick Reilly chime in on his thoughts about Tiger.  The guy looks like all that rain in Vancouver actually did soak his skin to a wrinkly, pruny mess.  Sor-ee, Rick.

8:55:  Tiger has serious security detail with him.  There’s three dudes with guns, and Elin with a nine iron.

8:56:  As Justin_Stangel tweeted, the official press conference rules are as follows:  No multiple cameras, no questions and no fat chicks.

8:59:  Did you hear that Phil Mickelson called Elin Nordegren? He asked her for some tips on beating Tiger.  (Ahhh, what a gold mine of material.  Thanks Tiggs)

9:00:  Just had this one sent to me:  “The police asked Tiger’s wife how many times she hit him. “I can’t remember,” Elin said, “just put me down for a 5.”

9:03:  This feels 100% like an SNL skit.  LIVE FROM NEW YORK, ITS SATURDAY NIGHT!

9:05:  Oh wow, this is actually really sad.

9:06:  Wait, no it isn’t.  Did he just remind us of his charity work?  Holy crap Tiger, you really missed the mark with the “I’m actually still great” hint.

9:08:  Okay, it’s funny again.  Thanks for this one:” Tiger’s other women aren’t mistresses. They’re provisionals.”

9:10:  It wouldn’t have killed the guy to give this a run-through in the mirror once or twice, hey?  Did he get to see the script before they turned the cameras on for his monologue?

9:11:  Why do I feel like I’m being scolded?  Great point by Josh in comments – he should just put a ball down on a tee and swing.  I’d golf clap and forget this speech ever happened.

9:13:  I’m boggled that people can talk this long without making an actual point.

9:14:  Buddhism!  Yes!  What a twist!  Tiger’s a big fan of rubbing belly’s, apparently.

9:15:  HOW DID HE NOT WEAR RED FOR THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF HIS CAREER?

9:16:  Therrreee’s the orchaestrated tears.  I thought we’d see more of those. 

9:18:  Tiger hugs his old college teammate, who knows he’s crying because now he actually only gets one woman for the rest of his life.  Tiger sobs “I’m just too famous to get … sob… away now.”

9:20: No mention of the Masters, but a mention of Buddhism.  I did NOT see that coming.  Aight, I’m out people.  What’d you think?

Milbury and McGuire Try To Solve a Sudoku

 

Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire try to solve a sudoku, the transcript:

Pierre: You see what’s happening here, Mike, is they’ve given us the “medium” level Sudoku to solve right off the top.  MEDIUM.  That’s how advanced these guys know we are.  Our first ever attempt at solving a Sudoku, but they’ve seen the passion and drive in which we work, and know we could solve a medium right off the top.  At only 49 years of age.  FOURTY-NINE!

Mike:  One thing you have to like about the Sudoku book is the answers section in the back.  While most Europeans doddle around, looking for answers and thinking through strategy, the North American players know to cut to the back, find the answers, and do it the right way.

Pierre:  This kid Milbury was drafted to do Sudoku’s out of Boston at seven years old, but was so good at punching teachers they turned him into a hockey player first – never got a chance to fulfill his destiny as a Sudoker, but just look at him go – heading straight to the corners of that big square and immediately filling in answers from the back.

Mike:  Look, I disagree with you there –

Pierre: – You can see what Milbury’s thinking there—wait, what?

Mike:  Oh.  I dunno, I wasn’t really listening, just figured it was time to say that.

Pierre:  Lookit the heart on this Milbury kid – not even into his third line of the conversation and already gettin’ in guys faces.  This kid is no-holds barred.  He’s a star.  Should crack the under-60 team this year.

Mike:  I finished.  The answers were all right here. *shows back page*

Pierre:  YEARS OF AGE!  HEART!  CAAANAAADIAAAN!

Avatar, Figure Skating, Lockouts, Milbury, Tiger

 

I finally got around to seeing Avatar last night, on a Bri-sponsored date.

A must-see.

We did it the right way – IMAX, 3D, a sack of popcorn bigger than the screen, all that good stuff.  And I’ve gotta say….  WOW.  Just wow.  That movie was unbelievable.  I was 90% certain I would leave going “meh”, but I gave it a fair shot, and man, I thought it was just great.  It’s like Planet Earth on acid, splashed with a pretty cool story.  Check it out before you have to watch it on your 18″ RCA at home.

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I don’t get why male figure skating has to be so flamboyant.  I really don’t.  It’s the same as “why doesn’t Norway have a good hockey team?”

Okay, Weir's an exception, but good god man...

Why all the glitter and jazz hands to distract from one of the most unbelievably difficult events in individual sport?  Triple spins on skates?  And you need SEQUINS to make it impressive?

I understand not wearing something loose, as that would detract from your ability to perform.  But I find all the pomp and flash detract from my attention on what they’re actually able to accomplish.  There’s too much substance buried under all that style. 

But, I guess every sport has a culture.  The American snowboarders are rocking the jeans and plaid look (because the Cobain/grunge/Seattle look needed to be revived…. okay, I actually like the their gear), so I guess the figure skaters can rock bedazzled unitards and sparkles, if that’s what the culture is.  What they do is still ultra-impressive (just look at this pages bottom image for proof).

***** 

 

In all of ESPN’s holy-crap-there’s-nothing-to-coverness, they’ve been chucking around the possibility of NFL and NBA strikes.  Do you think all those fans would immediately forgive “us” for the hockey lockout if that happened?  Would they come running back?  They would right?  Please pay attention to us.  Please!  I desperately want to make love to a schoolboy.

 

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NBC's star

 So Roenick and Milbury are the newest Pierre McGuire and Milbury.  As in, duo who argues because they’re both so opinionated they both have to be somewhat wrong.  I think the reason we’re seeing more Inflamatory Mike is that he’s starting to get comfortable on-air.  He probably started as a decent GM too *gag*, but now that he thinks he’s safe in his analyst job, he’s starting to say the stupid red flag things that make people go “…pardon?” (like that time when he started saying things like “Do you think we can turn Chara, Luongo, Jokinen and the future Spezza pick into some real Yashiny/Kvasha/Parrish-ish type guys?”).

My first taste of this was when Inflamatory Mike explained in a sentence or two to Clark Gillies that, since he had been with the Islanders for 13 years, and Clark played there for a mere 12, he was as much or more of an Islander.  This was spurred on by a bit of Grandpa’s cough syrup, it’s safe to say, but there were some mighty unhappy ex-Islanders in the room after that.  Since, y’know, Mike said it on the microphone while hosting an event to a bunch of them.

Let’s not launch a Milbury hate parade in the comments section.  We’ve covered he’s not the most popular guy, I just wanted to tell the “Mike’s a true Islander” story.

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Last for today: Tiger speaks tomorrow.  Holy crap.  This means a return to golf.  Before the Masters.  Holy crap.

I sure hope he apologizes to us for cheating on his wife.  Wait… why’s he holding a press conference again?

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Fact:  You can’t do this.

Olympic Hockey: Day One

 

Ahhh, that Canadian hockey rap kills me.  I used to love that Tupac song.  So much so that I just YouTubed the actual song and realized how much I miss the “Westsiiieeede!” sign.  I lived in Kelowna’s Westside growing up, so I didn’t actually play for “Kelowna”, I played for “Wesst-siiddde!” – I was straight hood throwing up that gang sign.

On to the puck.

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Sssssssssssssssss-cores.

USA: 3 – Switzerland: 1

There just wasn’t a whole lot to be gleaned about the quality of the American team from watching this game.  Nothing changed in what I think of their team – they’re talented, young and fast, but probably not quiiite as top-tier-dangerous as Russia, Sweden or Canada.  Granted, this tournament boils down to one game eliminations, and they have the best goalie, so don’t rule ‘em out.

Switzerland played a pretty defensive style for the first half of the game (which, frankly, was not exactly a thrilling spectacle of hockey), but when they did fall behind, the game opened up and made it infinitely more watchable.

The one the thing (aside from Ryan Miller) the US does have going for them, is that Patrick Kane is officially one of the ten best players in the National Hockey League.  For the first time in his career, you start getting that “oh… oh… oh crap” feeling when he gets the puck in the neutral zone and starts winding it up, the same way you get it when Ovechkin has the puck against your team.  (They also have Bobby Ryan going for them.  I’m fantasy hockey stalking him for next year.)

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We're all sick, hey?

Canada: 8 – Bosnia & Herzegovina: 0

Why doesn’t Norway have a better hockey team?  I mean that seriously.

They’re one of three Scandanavian countries that are at the same degree of latitude as Alaska, and the other two (Sweden and Finland) rip shit up on frozen ponds.  To top it off, it’s not like Norway doesn’t rock the party that rocks the party at winter sports.  They cross-country ski the crap out of the Olympics every year.  And are you kidding me with the biathalon?  Those MF’ers can snipe a squirrel out of a tree in Oregon after skiing the Iditarod, but we can’t strap a set of Bauer 60′s on some of these guys and make them NHL’ers?  Baffling.

Canada got what we needed – the blowout that alleviates the media vultures (hey look, it’s me!) who are dying to Stamkos/Spezza/Green poor Yzerman to death the second the team under produces.

Canadians score in a totally different way than Russia.  Russia does talented fancy stuff until the net is crazy open, or wait to shoot until it’s almost a guarantee (generalization, of course).  Canada creates by throwing the puck at the net, shooting through screens and tracking down rebounds.  We’re far less prone to puck possession.  Get it deep, go get it.  Shoot it, find the rebound.  One way isn’t better than the other (unless you’re a coach, in which case you love Canada’s style – far less risky), I’m just pointing out the difference.

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Bourne’s Bloggers from Phoenix.  Lets watch Canada/USA Together.

The “Hoser Hut”, as Cactus Jacks was affectionately dubed by a BB reader (Elliot and 48th, off the 101, near Walgreens and Safeway), will be host to a number of both Canadian and American hockey fans (okay, largely American) on Sunday, and the bar has accomodated us.

The game starts at 5:40, I’m told, and they’re doing this for us from 2:00 til 8:00:

$1 pints of Canadian (love the concept, the beer is vile)
$1 pints of Coors Light (as a result of my complaining about the Molson – and actually, they’re listing it as pints of Canadian VERSUS pints of Coors Light, so maybe I have to drink the Canadian. Should I mix the two since I’m a duelly?)
25 cent wings
$1 Chicago Dogs

So bring a ten dollar bill (a $20 if you’re crazy), your TEAM CANADA apparel and let’s have some fun!

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Random Q: New Yorkers, when I visit, do I say I’m ”in” Long Island or “on” Long Island?

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Last and least, a link to the Latvian hockey roster, because I’m obsessed with their names.  It’s like they went with plural forms of muppet names, right?  Oskars Snufalufagus.  Gonzos Cookiemonsters.

 

Canadian Hockey Rap. Sad. Funny. AWESOME.

 

I’ve decided it’s ridiculous that when I add stuff to my blog during the day, I add to the bottom of that current day’s entry.  Nobody ever checks back to see the same blog.  I always just liked how neat and orderly it kept things, one entry a day.  Fuggit.  I’ma start adding new stuff as it’s own entry, because apparently that Deadspin model is somewhat effective.

Here’s what I wanted to add to today’s blog.  It’s amazing that I fit the exact criteria of someone who would love this unhealthy amounts – a Canadian rap fan who follows hockey.  Down Goes Brown rules. He really, really does:

Canadian Lines, I Want To Punch Rick Reilly

 

It’s easy to be a hater when someone else is making the player decisions, and for Canadians, it’s been a lot of fun telling everyone the picks we would’ve made.  

I myself would like to see the roster be a little different (as I tweeted yesterday), but, at some point, the roster is set.  The team is what it’s going to be, so it’s time to love all our players like they’re our children.  Get the puck to Niedermeyer, right?!

Canada's underrated star

So here’s the lines our “children” will be attacking in (I’m not sure what the plan is on D yet, but apparently these are the forward lines):

Nash – Crosby – Bergeron

Heatley – Thornton – Marleau

Perry – Staal – Getzlaf

Toews – Iginla – Richards/Morrow

 

Keith – Seabrook

Boyle - Weber

Doughty - Pronger

   Niedermeyer

 

Fleury

Luongo

Brodeur

(Yes, those goalies are in order of my preference, not Babcock’s.)

We’re rolling into Vancouver with a number of our best players hot, and bringing no excuses.  Gold or bust baby.  Gold or bust.

How do you like the lines?

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So, I couldn’t be much more mad at Rick Reilly.

Reilly

As a kid-slash-sports-fan growing up, there was nothing better than the back page of Sports Illustrated.  I would’ve happily bought a subsciption to SI just to read the back page and throw the rest of the magazine out, had I not been penniless and ten years old.  Not that the rest of the magazine wasn’t good, it was just that “Life of Reilly” was all that mattered.  He was the best.

As many people would agree (anyone who’s followed the progression of his writing, really), his work of late has been…. um, lacking.  And don’t get me wrong - I hate when people claim to dislike the new work of people simply because it’s not exactly like the old stuff they’re familiar with.  (You know, people who only like the old Star Wars movies, or a bands first CD (they’re new stuff sucks, dude), or whatever, you get my point - it’s like they think it really highlights how they’ve been there all along, and know what works better than the artist/author/whatever.)

But the fact of the matter is, at this point, Reilly’s recent work really is dog meat.

So when a friend sent me his most recent column on being in Vancouver for the games, I wasn’t suprised when it sucked worse than Zdeno Chara would at limbo (my attempt at a Reilly joke).  The problem was, it wasn’t just bad this time, it was kind of patronizing, and with just that right amount of condescension that occasionally makes Canadians wanna plow Americans in the face for their tone.  Like somehow the people in Vancouver are idiots because they’ve been concerned about him enjoying his stay.  Don’t worry Rick, when you left, I’m sure someone said (as you would write it) ”boy eh, I’d really like to plow that chap in the face, eh?”  (I’m okay with the accent jokes – we have a way of speaking, like people from Mass., Texas, New York, Arkansas, or anywhere else.)

But the follow-up piece today – here - was like the guy was standing in front of Royal Guards in England and trying to get them to flinch, knowing they won’t.  Like because we’re polite, we’ll just stand there, drink our double-doubles (*homer-voice* mmm double-double…. damnit it’s a good coffee, whatever!) and take the abuse?

I’ve never called beer “brew” in my life.  Not one person in the 20 years I lived in Canada called the RCMP the “Armsee” or whatever-the-f**k-it-was you claimed we call them.  We usually go with “police” or “cops”.  “Pretend you plug in your engine block to keep it from freezing too, it makes them feel better” – didn’t you just saying it was raining, a few sentences earlier?  In FEBRUARY?  How cold could it possibly be there?

I get writing a light-hearted, funny article.  I’m not really that offended.  I’m just wondering – to whom did Rick Reilly go to dig up these nuggets of imaginary wisdom?  He’s sunk to pandering to the American stereotype of Canadians to entertain his readers, the same way everyone gets to feel in on the inside joke if I say the Irish like to drink (and how!).

Sure – there’s some stuff in there that was right - I’m not saying the whole thing was a wash, but a general rule, I’ve learned, is that the whole column is supposed to be somewhat accurate.  Maybe he’s right about the inferiority complex (see: everything I’ve just written), but it’s hard to blame us there.  We’re just doon’ our best, eh?

The first column started out trying to be nice and ended up offensive, the second column is just a slap in the face.  So beat it, Rick.  Jump in your Hummer, supersize your Big Mac meal and go hunt some endagered species.

What, don’t all Americans do that?

Toby Keith rules!

 *****

Note: I live in the States, love the US, and would stick up for this country the same way.  We are the world.  We are the children.

*****

UPDATE: As the first commenter MikeB mentions, I apparently wasn’t the first person to take a cut at Reilly.  Clearly, I didn’t get the best cut in, either.  In fact, I was pretty much swinging at an unconscious fighter by the time Kurtenblogger was done with Reilly.  Ah well.  Turns out a lot of us agree :)

Breaking For The Olympics Is The Right Move

 

Well hi!  Welcome to the best site for Olympic hockey coverage, assuming you like it covered once a day and with Canadian bias.  You do?  Cool.

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Don't worry Iggy, linemates are coming!

Olympic hockey is unparalleled. 

After each of my college seasons, the team would agree to meet once or twice a week for a shinny game, Canada vs. “Planet” USA.  Without fail, the game would end up at least semi-serious and way too intense, so it’s easy to understand why involving the pride of every person in the country really ramps things up.  It’s also really fun that we all get to pretend that the winner of one game (see: February 21st, Canada vs. USA) is better at hockey for the next four years.

I’ve heard sports pundits talk about how bad the Olympic break  is for the NHL, how no other league would do this, and a million other reasons why it shouldn’t happen again in four years.

F**k that.

No other sport has the opportunity to do something like this.  There’s no American Football in the Olympics because it’s simply that – American.  The Saints aren’t “World” champions.  They’re the best in a 30 team American league that was created by Americans and filled by Americans.  It’s no slight against football  (or the Saints) – I’m just saying, it’s a lot harder for a nation to dominate a sport (and get their players in the world’s best league) when like, 30 countries take the sport seriously, and in hockey’s case, the NHL is the holy grail for every kid who plays the game.

To then have the opportunity to weigh different countries contributions to that amazing league in a tournament, is unrivaled.  Baseball is doing it wrong – if their professional players went to the Summer Olympics, how much love would that event get?  Nothing is like the actual Olympics, despite baseballs effort with the… what’s it called, World Baseball Classic?  And baseball might need to send it’s pro’s soon - their sport is the one losing it’s grip on “interesting”, not hockey.

And what would basketball do if the Olympics were mid-season?  How much do the fans love the “dream team” talk?  It’s such a shock to Americans when their teams get shelled by Argentinian fundamentals, because there isn’t quite the partiy in basketball as their is in hockey (I know US basketball has found ways to lose before, but I still wouldn’t call chalk up their international struggles to “parity”) – we genuinely can’t guarantee Canada or anyone will be in the top three – just look at 2006, or as it’s known in Canada, “2002″ (since we refuse to acknowledge our 7th place finish four years ago ever happened). 

Ahhh, sweet glory.

So wouldn’t basketball break to have the world’s best players partake, given the fan support for their current US gold medalists?  Doesn’t it void the magnitude of the Olympics if its a competition of the world’s best athletes *asterisk exceptallthosebetterplayers?

They probably would send their players, for fear of losing patriotic players, the same way Ovechkin says he’ll play in Russia in 2014 if the NHL won’t let it’s players participate.  It means that much to guys, I think moreso in hockey than in any other sport because the dressing rooms are so diverse.  It’s a chance to prove what they’ve been “joking” about for years to each other.

Hockey has the unique opportunity to showcase the game at it’s best, at it’s most Carcillo-less level of pure.  It can showcase it’s international diversity, and most important, it can demonstrate the passion and emotion this game brings out of people.  Football is the only other sport that gets people this fired up for the entire length of a game.  Basketball and baseball often seems like they’re being performed by talented big people who only try hard when they need to and for themselves, not for a team.

Olympic hockey, to simplify, is everything that’s good about our game.  Any negatives that come from stopping the NHL season for a couple weeks can be dealt with.  This means too much to pass up.

This Is What Being At The Gillies Is Like

When I first met Cash, in July:
Yikes.

When I ran into him again yesterday:

Yikes.

Snow covered dogs thaw out indoors.  Cash is one of THREE Newfs.  Love ‘em.

The Back Nine (Sports Thoughts)

 

Alright!  A smokie, a G2 and a Snickers for the bag, and we’re ready to play the back nine (mmm, health food).  I’ve still got honors:

#10)

On every hockey team I’ve played on up until Bridgeport, there was a talented fat kid.  A kid that everyone thought “man, if he could just lose a few pounds he’d be deadly”, but the guy didn’t see the need to change, or simply couldn’t.   I bet a huge number of you can think of being on a team where some chubby kid just has mad dangles.  Or can knock down a three like whoa.  Or can throw a 90 mile an hour fastball.  I’m not sure why it’s so common, but even in hockey at higher levels, there’s plenty of crazy-talented portly bastards.  What’s the logic behind how many of these athletes exist?

#11)

Kicksave! Ohcrap, it went five-hole didn't it?

It’s nice that all goalies are going to pretty much the same style, for shooters.  This is why playing slightly different from everyone else (Brodeur) is such a benefit.  As a shooter these days, guys know where the holes will be, instead of having to look for them.  Butterfly, pads flat, trying to stay big up top, but collapsing to take away the six and seven holes…  So guys just fire it to the high corners (or wherever) almost by instinct, because all goalies are doing the same thing.  Half the time it’s what’s confusing about shooting on a rec league goalie.  Huh, he wasn’t supposed to be standing there…  – so for guys like Marty, being different is a huge advantage.  Hasek built a career on it.

#12)

Speaking of rec league, how about the amount of times a guy winds up to take a slapshot, then misses the net and the puck rims around and breaks the other team out?  It’s like a 90% chance when a guy winds up from a tough angle that the other team is about to have a rush going the other way.  Super fun.

#13)

Odds on an SAT?

From what I can tell, the color commentators job (as an ex-player), is to verbally complicate the game so as to impress listeners that yes, I once figured out this oh-so-confusing game.  The other day I heard Darren Pang (who I usually like) say something about Kiprusoff’s timing mechanism – d’ya think he’s full of coils, cogs and springs?  Goalie’s try to stop pucks.  The systems coaches use aren’t that complicated.  The game is impressive enough in it’s speed and physicality without acting like players are science majors.  I’ve lived with these idiots my whole life, and trust me, most of them are more likely to complete a triathalon than pass the SAT’s.

#14)

Dear Guy-In-The-Bathroom:  Just because you pass me a paper towel after I pee, doesn’t mean you get a dollar.  I would’ve got that paper towel myself.  It was right beside the tap already.  I literally don’t get the concept of your hiring.  What, you’re establishment is fancy after nine P.M.?  Please.

#15)

Tastes better than it looks. Stella-ey

I got the hockey bug for the first time in a year or so yesterday.  Like the “huh, maybe I should call my agent” bug.  It’s not gonna happen, but it was still an odd feeling that I thought I’d lost.  Wonder when that’ll go away?

#16)

Delirium Tremens is a brand of Belgian strong pale ale produced by Huyghe Brewery in Melle, and you should drink some if you can find it.  It’s delicious.

#17)

I’m off to the sunny east coast tomorrow, to get out of this crappy 70 degree weather here in Phoenix.  Long Island, specifically.  What’s in store for me out there?

I'm gonna knock you out, huhh, momma said knock you out

#18)

And last but not least, Tiger.  If Tiger doesn’t play in the Masters this year, I’m going to drive my Altima over a fire hydrant and into a tree.  The Masters is my favourite sporting event of the year.  I now have DirecTV hooked up to a 46″ HD TV in a room that can’t be 15 feet wide – it’s going to be like being in the Masters.  If Tiger’s tail-chasery means he can’t play, and I have to watch Mickelson miss the cut while Luke Donald and Boo Weekley battle it out for the green jacket (okay, it’d be cool if Boo was involved, but still), I’m gonna call Mrs. Nordegren-Woods and advise her to FIGURE IT OUT, IT’S OVER so she can’t ruin another PGA weekend for the rest of us by trying to patch up a sham marriage with a complete scuzz.

That is all.

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{Anyone from Kelowna able to tell me what course and hole we’re looking back on here?}

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I had to come back and add this video – this restaurant is a couple blocks from my place, and I was curious about it.  Check out what it’s alllll about:

 

USA!  USA!  USA!!  :)

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 Not sure why I’m so enamoured with Brees, New Orleans and chanting, but I am.


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