Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Grab My Feed!Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Subscribe to Comments

On Writing

 

New Puck Daddy: I’m a big fan of the work Brendan Shanahan is doing for the NHL

*****

In the wake of my Deadspin post, I haven’t really been sure what to think.

First and foremost, I’m happy about it.  Obviously it’s a great thing for my career, and the article was well received, if not in the comment section (if you know Deadspin, you know it really wasn’t all that bad in there), then as evidenced by the fact that it’s recieved some 23,000 views, 140 comments, and over 215 “likes” on facebook in the span of about 20 hours so far.  And the fact that it’s still in the site’s header with some of their bigger articles says something too.  I’ve always been a reader there, so it was great to have the chance to contribute.

On the other hand, I feel a little…”off” about something - not about my message in the piece, because I really do think Nabokov is being a clod (I’ve heard allll the arguments from people who disagree by now, points heard.  I still disagree, and that’s just the way this one is gonna go), but about two things:

One, the language, and two, for calling someone out with something I could probably never say to their face, whether I believe it to be true or not.  As one commentor noted, I’m usually more even-handed than that, but whatever, two doesn’t grind on me near as much.

The language thing is interesting though, because….I really do talk like that, unfortunately.

Blame it on the lifetime of growing up within the sport or whatever, but it’s a reality.  As much as I post cat pics, I really am a guy’s guy at the core.  I’m conscious of my mouth around people I don’t know well (also on TV and radio), and I can usually speak fairly intelligently and meet general public standards (still batting 100% in the “no cursing on tv/radio spots” thing).  But there are times when Bri and I will marvel at how quickly and casually I’ll use an eff-bomb with someone I just met.

Ripped from google image, but this is what the nice parts of the desert look like.

When we drove to Phoenix from Canada, we stopped outside a public bathroom that was in the middle of the desert and totally, totally desolate.  There was another car there though, and this guy probably ten years my senior was walking back to it.  I looked around and said to the guy “wow, we’re really in the middle of fucking nowhere, huh?”  The guy frowned, nodded, and carried on.

I was like Jim Carrey in the “I’ve had better” scene for the next ten minutes.  How the eff does that happen?  It’s totally unacceptable and I feel horrible, but I dunno…. I’m working on it.

Anyway, it was refreshing to get to write with that unquestioned green-light, to just let the words flow naturally as they occur in my head.  I’m clearly desensitized to the words, so for me, they’re just a part of the dialogue running around through my gray matter (again, unfortunately).

That said, after submitting that post, to some extent I felt like I let guys like Chris Jones and Bruce Arthur down.

I feel like the people I look up to when it comes to the written word would read my Deadspin post, tsk-tsk and shake their head and write me off for the lack of professionalism in my column.  They may have enjoyed it, but that’s beside the point.  I enjoy Family Guy, but I don’t consider it quality TV.

Jones - the man can make you cry when he writes about drywall.

And so, I’m in the midst of asking myself: who or what do I want to be when it comes to writing?  Drew Magary or Chris Jones, both of whom I enjoy and have found success?  Obviously I want to be “me,” but I’m still finding that.

And another part of me is asking: why the eff do you care so much what other people think?  But hey, truth is, I’m a sensitive guy when it comes to this crap.

I do aspire to write bigger, better things - I intend to write the type of pieces that make people feel something the way Jones’ so often do, but the reality is, that’s pretty hard to do when you write as often as I do, solely about hockey, and don’t leave the house to do so.

The response to the column was overwhelming positive – just check my twitter “@’s.”  I’d wager 90% of the people really liked it, I assume because it really is fun to occassionally read something that’s straight out of the dressing room or bar.

Still, I don’t want to lose any credibility in the process.

Deadspin, if anything, will actually gain me a measure of credibility; I’m aware of that.  And the next time they ask me to write something for them (which may not be for awhile, my agreement with Yahoo! advises I don’t spread myself too thin), I’ll write it the exact same way, partly because it is more “real,” if less beautiful.

But yeah, this is just me trying to hash out my feelings on it.  I do know that there’s one thing I don’t feel about the post, and that’s regret.

*****

Oh, and let me clear one more thing up so I can link to this piece everytime I get the same comment:

I KNOW I never played in the NHL.  I know I wasn’t good enough to even be considered an AHL player.  I spent the majority of my time in the ECHL, and I was pretty decent there.  That was all.  But I never went to journalism school, and hockey was my education.

I'm proud to be a part of the Yahoo! family, consider myself lucky to be a part of it.

When outlets hire me to write, they hire me because I can write about behind closed doors, and they like when I can relate my own experiences to current events, because I can talk not only about what’s happening outside the eight-pound human head, but also inside.

When I write about My Career in every goddamn post, it’s a conscious effort to relate the insights in a way other writers can’t.  You have to carve your niche out, and for now, mine is fairly unique.

I’m not so proud of those playing years that I feel the need to exploit their awesomeness in every post, it’s just how I make my living.

And further: I’m also not jealous of anyone in the NHL, and I say that with sincerity.  I want part of my niche to be that I speak my honest opinion, meaning that if I think the Isles suck, I’m pointing it out for that reason and that reason only, not because I secretely wish I was on the team.  I’m extremely happy with my life with, Bri, cats, beer, palm trees, sweatpants and a flexible schedule, I assure you.

Anyway, that’s a little “the more you know” on me for my readers, who by the way, deserve muchos thanks for all the support, but most importantly, for being able to conduct legitimate, informative conversations in the comments section.

Everyone says they have “the best readers,” but I dare you to find me a site where the commentors show each other more respect.

So thanks for everything so far!

Both cats ADORE the smell of my gear. (Lost our rec league final btw, boo)

How Technology Is Pushing Celebrities Into An Era of Transition

 

Here’s a reminder and my column links, then I’m gonna launch into a theory I have.  Should be fun today:

Reminder:

If you see or hear any extreme quotes (great/awful/exciting/dull), feel free to fire them over in the comment section or to my email or via carrier pigeon or whatever.  I’ll try to keep our Best and Worst Quote-Giver Standings in the right sidebar relatively well updated.  BizNasty is starting the slow, inevitable pull-away (thanks to last nights quote about Chris Thorburn: “He can smoke a cigar in the shower his nose is so big.”  Now THAT’S good stuff.)

Columns:

Tuesday’s Puck Daddy: The vulgar world between whistles

Wednesday’s Hockey Primetime: Making the step from college to pro

*****

Today’s theory is an extension of Bruce Arthur’s lastest column on Brett Favre: Great American Entertainer.

Basically, Arthur’s column is a walk-through on the ‘ol gunslinger (or as columnist Jason Whitlock has started calling him, “the ‘ol dongslinger), and how he’s gone from being everything a hero quarterback should be, to some low-level narcissist who constantly provides a high-level of entertainment.

From Arthur:

In the process, he went from being the epitome of what we were told quarterbacks were supposed to be — square-jawed, durable, charming, a little reckless, heroic at times, a Marlboro man with a golden arm — to a selfish, drama-loving diva.

In the piece, Arthur mentions how this has become the age of implosion for famous sports figures.  He points to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Tiger Woods, maybe Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, and now it looks like you can add Brett Favre to that list.  And just for kicks, let’s all read this awesome parenthetical paragraph he tacked on before we continue:

(By the way, between Favre’s alleged dong shots and Tiger Woods’ marriage-dissolving text messages, Derek Jeter should offer a seminar. No, really. He should rent a nice hall, and print up flyers or send out a promotional email or something, and explain to fellow sports stars how you can live in a high-profile city, have sex with almost anybody in the world, never once be caught up in scandal or public disapproval of any kind, and stay a hero. He could charge $1-million a minute.)

LIterally, he could charge one million a minute.  Tiger would attend for hours. 

After that preamble, here’s my theory:

Only football jersey I have is his Packers one.

This is a transition period for professional athletes and other stars in general, because of technology.  As a group, they will be in more public scandals in a five-to-eight-year span (of which we’re in now) than they ever were before, and ever will be after.

When our stars of today grew up, their heroes could do nearly anything within the law (and some things outside of it) and get away with it.  There were no cellphones, let alone any that also functioned as picture-and-video cameras.  There was no twitter, no facebook, no voicemails to convert to mp3 files, no sex-tape making and sharing devices, no texting, no recording tools, just…. word-of-mouth and ink, really.

If someone saw or heard a celebrity do something shady they could be talked to, or paid off, or just generally written off as a nut.  What’s that rumour you heard?  Ridiculous.  Then said star would hit a homerun or throw a touchdown and it would all go away.  Hell, it almost all goes away today if the fallen star plays well on the field after we know they did something horrible (Vick!), let alone when all the evidence they had was a few people playing ”the telephone game.”

Since those rumours stayed unproved yammerings, there was no reason to believe anything but the best about those highest on our pedestals.  Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, Joe Montana and Joe Namath, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky, you name it – rumours may exist about many, but 90% of fans still believe in the purity of their idols.  And they should – innocent until proven guilty, and it’s healthy to believe in your fellow man.  Maybe a touch naive, but overall a positive thing I’d say.

A simpler time, when nobody ever ever did anything wrong ever.

Our stars of today seemed to learn from those stars of yesterday - nobody ever really got in trouble, regardless of what the whispers on the street may have been.  Caution must not have seemed important when fame reared its pretty little head.

Now it’s a whole new ball game. 

Any Olympian of years past was free to rip a bong hit three years from their next Olympic event and maintain a positive public image.  Thanks to everyone having cameras in their jeans these days, Michael Phelps is the butt of hippie pot-smoker jokes that make it seem like he’s both Cheech and Chong.  For him, I doubt that’ll change anytime soon.  It’s just to funny to pass up.

Soon, these stars won’t be so caught off guard by this new era of media and technology.  They must be seeing that things are different now.

And so, they’ll learn.

The next generation of heroes will have new handlers and a new education.  They will see how the shady dealings of today’s celebrities were not aided by technology, but rather undermined by it.  It will leads to a fork in the road, and stars will go one of two ways:

That's veteran, right there.

They’ll either:

(A) develop more clandestine methods, with a more airtight group than Tiger Woods (if possible), and learn from the likes of Derek Jeter  or 

(B) shape up.  You have to be Batman to be a successfully scuzzy celebrity today, and some might find it’s just not worth the effort.

It’s not Babe Ruth days anymore.

So here we are, in our chaotic little transition period.  A time where the “I can do anything I want” celebrities of today are learning that they can’t.  The ride has been fun to follow (while a little unsettling), and we’re not at the fork in the road yet.

But in the coming years, most stars will have to make the choice:  Do they want to be Batman, or respectable? 

I’ll let Arthur close us out:

(You know, not enough people are talking about how impressive it is that the oldest non-kicker in the NFL was able to master sending pictures of his junk, which is something the teenagers are reportedly doing these days. He really is like a kid out there!)

Hockey and Traumatic Brain Injuries

 

I was really tempted to make the title “Hockey and Traumatic Brian Injuries” to act like I’ve had a few myself, but figured it’d be a tough joke to get since you probably don’t check my spelling all that closely.  Anyways, let’s get on with it!

*****

My oft-mentioned brother is an ambassador for the Rick Hansen foundation (Rick Hansen is the Canadian dude with Spina Bifida that WHEELED AROUND THE WORLD), which provides funding for research on Spina Bifida and other spinal cord injuries. 

And, my oft-mentioned fiancee is an Occupational Therapist at St. Joseph’s Barrow Neurological Institute, a world renowned treatment facility that people from all over the country fly into when they need the best care (the one Bret Michaels was just at).  She works in the acute brain injury rehab unit, dealing with people who’ve had traumatic brain injuries (henceforth, TBI’s).

So, when I had someone reach out to me about raising awareness of brain injuries in hockey (Mark Savard, David Booth, whatever happened to Daniel Carcillo at some point in his life), I figured my site was a perfect fit.  Chelsea Travers of CareMeridian asked if she could run a piece she wrote on Bourne’s Blog, and we’re happy to have her contribution on the site.  The more we talk about it, the more we’ll do about it, I figure. 

Happy Humpday!

***** ***** *****

 

Author Bio:
Chelsea Travers is an outreach representative for CareMeridian, a subacute care facility located throughout the Western United States for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or medical complexities, such as neuromuscular or congenital anomalies.

Hockey and TBI

 

Hockey is arguably one of the most physical professional sports. Hockey players are constantly getting body checked, slammed into boards, falling to the ice, slapped by a stick, hit by a dense, speeding puck or getting punched during a fight. If that isn’t bad enough, hockey players take part in one of the longest regular seasons of any sport, effectively taking on harsher pain for a longer amount of time throughout the year. Risk of injury couldn’t be clearer as you all too commonly see hockey players missing their front two teeth. With all of the injuries that can occur, one of the most dangerous is a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

It was clean, though. Um, right?

TBI is a silent injury that can cause harm to the mind and body of an individual. An injury to the head or brain can alter someone’s life and can even require long-term rehabilitation and care from a skilled nursing facility. These injuries are often far too common in the sport of hockey and if not properly treated can permanently leave a hockey player’s life more challenging than the game they play.

TBI is an injury that Philadelphia Flyers player Ian Laperriere knows all too well. In game 5 of an NHL playoff game with the New Jersey Devils, Laperriere took a slap shot to the face that immediately caused him to bleed excessively from the wound above his eye and lose sight. Laperriere was diagnosed with a brain contusion after having a MRI a few days later. While Laperriere may have originally thought that losing sight in one of his eyes was the worst of the two injuries, in reality the bigger concern could wind up being the long-term effects of the brain injury.

Concussions have been dismissed as minor injuries as the physical nature of most sports cause them to occur regularly, but, frequently occurring or not, they are still head injuries where the brain is forced to move violently within the skull and the way it functions could change permanently. When the brain moves in such a manner, it can bruise, bleed, and even tear, which can cause irreversible damage to the victim. For a sport like hockey, this type of injury is very common and unfortunately at times ignored.

Meanwhile, this liney is knuckles deep... that can't help.

Many hockey players don’t take into account the possible effects of the injury and because it might not seem like a serious problem exists at first, they keep on skating as if nothing occurred. Being unaware of the injury makes it much more dangerous, as a mild brain injury can turn into a life threatening injury in a very short period of time without seeking immediate medical treatment.

Studies by the National Academy of Neuropsychology’s Sports Concussion Symposium in New York have shown that since 1997, 759 NHL players have been diagnosed with a concussion. Broken down, that averages out to 76 players per season and 31 concussions per 1,000 games of hockey. That is far too frequent of an occurrence for such a serious injury. It’s a frightening statistic that should send up a red flag to hockey officials that actions need to be taken to further prevent this type of injury from occurring.

The best, and sometimes only, treatment for TBI is prevention. For the National Hockey League new rules are being considered that preserve the game but also help protect the players. Rule changes concerning blindside hits, rink size (which effects players space from each other and their proximity to walls), and stronger helmet requirements all have been considered to help curb TBI and its effects. This demonstrates that the NHL is aware of the seriousness of the injury and is taking proactive steps to help prevent it from happening.

Hockey is one of the most popular sports in North America and has millions of people participating in it every year. Unfortunately, the sport comes with the risk of a TBI. With the right awareness of the injury and the necessary precautions in place, the game should be able to continue with players excited to lace up their skates and enjoy it.

***** ***** *****

Okay, hi, it’s Bourne again.  Ten cents here:

We have to mandate soft(er)-cap shoulder/elbow pads.

We have to enforce the blind-side rule.

We have to accept the fact that playing hockey (or any sport) comes with some dangers, and if you really don’t want to get hurt, don’t play (that’s not being hardcore, or me saying “toughen up”, I mean seriously, choose not to play).  We can’t turn hockey into Scrabble because sometimes people get Scrambled.

Charging and elbowing should be called when people charge or elbow (crazy concept).  Everyone is pretty mutant-big at this point, so I’m not sure the extra decapi-stride is necessary.

And otherwise, I think the game is fine.  It’s fast, and there’s contact, so it’s dangerous.  Let’s enforce the rules as they are, but most of all, guy’s need to have some freakin’ respect for each other, and hopefully, by realizing just how serious these injuries are (MuhammedAli, MuhammedAli), hopefully guys will start taking less liberties on the ice.  It stops being a game when guys like Patrice Cormier makes opponents convulse for no apparent reason.

A Brief Wander, Followed By A Serious Rant On Agitators

 

ohmigodTigerscomingbackatthemasters

Ahem.  Sorry.  I finger-puked on the keyboard.

He shoots, he scores!

Tiger Woods has confirmed the speculation.  He’s making his return to professional golf at Augusta.

You may have noticed by now that I kinda sorta enjoy that golf tournament.  When he wrapped his Escalade around… well, pretty much everything (animated graphic here), I became immediately panicked about the undisputed best weekend in sports.

But today, proper order has been restored to the world.

What’s that you say?  The Masters, NHL playoffs, NBA playoffs, college hockey playoffs, March Madness finals and the start of the baseball season?  Hmm.  Thank youuu, April. 

I’ll be live blogging the weekend on one of those “Cover It Live” things, and anybody who wants to watch “with” me and entertain each other (that guy spends more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff), I welcome your company.

*****

I’ve become more fluent in the language of internettia since I started working on the damn thing for a living.  After watching a TIME video on tech trends, I decided it was time I add all the “share” buttons to the top of this blog.

Basically, they were explaining to simpletons like me how the reader is becoming the distributor.  Good writing, entertaining stories and all things viral are passed about by people like you recommending stuff through Digg, Twitter, and any of the million other options you have for sharing.

So, on those days I write something of significance (not that OMG TIGER WOODS IS COMING BACK isn’t), please share share share!  You can also grab my RSS thinger, follow me on Twitter, or just come to my site and read stuff the old fashioned way.  Whatever tickles your pickle.

{Also, thanks to Kyle and Fiona for their recent donations to the blog.}

*****

Alright, I’m on to hockey, calm down.

BREAKING DOWN AGITATORS

We’ve all accepted that agitators are a part of hockey.  They always have been.  But let’s call a spade a spade today, because frankly, it’s fun to do.

They’re phonies.

A legit NHLer that doesn't need to play so douchey.

Their style of play is a cop out for effective hockey.  When they aren’t performing well, they always have the fail-safe option of flapping their gums in the direction of their opponent, and suddenly everyone thinks they’re “in the game”. 

Even their coach might say “Look at that guy, he’s the only one who cares tonight.”

Really?

O-VER  RATE-ED clap-clap-clapclapclap. 

For some reason, the fans love them, yet they have zero positive effect on their teams chances of winning, unless they’re actually playing the quality hockey that so many of them are capable of.  Zero percent, because for every time their antics help a team win, it’s balanced by them costing their team a game.

In this sport, what does “rattling” your opponent do?  Fire him up?  — It’s hockey, not golf.  I understand head games when you’re playing a guy who has to stand over a four foot million dollar putt, but getting someone more involved and revved up in a physical game?  All these idiots do is wake sleeping beasts.

There are times when they draw penalties, sure.  But to do that, you need to sneak in a few spears and trips, which means they end up taking a few along the way themselves.  These guys hear “poser” and “clown” and “phony” on repeat, because their peers know what they are.  They’re doing whatever they need to do to draw a paycheck, but it’s not in a respectable way.  It’s indecent proposal on skates – would you intentionally injure people for a million dollars?  Apparently, yes.

Name me a completely clean agitator that’s get devoid of a “questionable” play in their career.  Cooke?  Burrows? Hartnell?  Downie?  Carcillo?  Avery?  Somewhere along the line they all take it too far. (Honest question: I rarely see the Wild play, but Clutterbuck is getting a bit of a reputation for being effective.  Is he both an “agitator” and still without incident?  Maybe he’s the rule’s exception.)

Thanks for the pixels, person I stole this from.

In playing that role, you know that’s the case.  You know at some point you “might” hurt someone.   Your coach knows that’s probably going to happen too, so he lives with his fingers crossed that it just doesn’t cost the team a penalty.

How many times can you watch a forward make a just-a-split-second-later-than-necessary attempted hit, miss the guy and make a ruckus on the glass, and still rise to your feet and applaud?

The difference between those worthy of our respect is just so unmistakable: If Jerome Iginla feels someone did something that needs answering, he drops the gloves from his Hall-of-Fame 50-goal scoring hands and fights.  If Vincent Lecavalier needs to get his team going, he’ll do the same.

But when Sean Avery goes to fill his role, he skates by the opposing bench, taunts someone, hacks someones laces, agrees to fight then leaves his gloves on to draw a penalty.  There’s no honor there.  But enjoy your celebrity, dude.

These guys have always been in the game, from my Dad’s day to mine.  They aren’t going anywhere, and I’m not proposing they do.  I’m just proposing we open our eyes and stop cheering for them.

I’ll Take Potpourri For A Thousand, Alex

 

Not that my blog is particularly focused in the first place, but I’m due to unload a whole crapload of half-baked thoughts.  Some may be on the same page as you, some may be a complete waste of seconds of your life, but hey – I’m pretty sure it was the variable interval schedule of rewards that got the rats coming back the most in the Skinner box, so it only makes sense.  Start hitting the lever, my pretties…. 

*****

My BlackBerry only allows me to send 160 characters in a text.  Hey phone, you’re not Twitter.  My archaic, older machines used to let me go long and send it in two parts, but my new one won’t?  ….At least I don’t have to use AT&T like iPhonies, I guess….

*****

The NHL Network did interviews with Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller post-Olympics, and largely focused on the final goal.  I realize Ryan Miller’s head is shaped like an ice cream cone, but did we really have to sit him down and give him those few extra licks?  The guy was all over him, like the last goal was a Miller meltdown.  Hockey plays kinda happen quickly there, Tom Brokaw.

*****

Crosby turned down the chance to do the Top Ten on Letterman, as he has before.  My guess for “why?” is because there’s nothing more patronizing than reciting jokes about hockey written by people who have zero idea about the sport to begin with.  Okay, team, we need ten jokes involving sticks, ice and gold.  Let the hilarity begin.

*****

I used to chat with my mom after a close playoff game I was in, and she’d say that at times she was near a complete and utter emotional meltdown …yet I never was.  It occurred to me after the Canada/US final that Mom is right – when you care about the result of a game, it’s far easier (stress-wise) to be playing than watching.

*****

Let’s bring this picture into focus:  Nobody is ever allowed to say “eye-hand” in reference to “hand-eye” coordination again, okay?  Good talk.

*****

Commentators always give goalies shit for looking behind them like they’re shaky, which they might be.  But if it’s your goalie, aren’t you glad he’s doing it?  If he isn’t certain he has full possession, isn’t it kinda like crossing the street…. no harm in checking?  If you aren’t sure, damn straight have a glance, and sooner than later.  I don’t need a puck limping across my goal line, thanks.

*****

I have a petty grudge against American Olympian Ryan Suter for calling me a “bender” in college a half-dozen times, so I’d like to take this opportunity to extend a retro-active, Canadian “ha-ha” to him (said like Nelson from the Simpsons) on his crushing overtime defeat.  What’s that you say?  He’s rich, in the NHL, and an Olympic silver medalist?  Touché.

*****

Best backhand(s) in the NHL:  Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg.  Come accept your awards.

*****

I’m stoked about The Marriage Ref, even though it has nothing to do with marriage.  Really, it’s just a topic for three really funny people to BS about.  Consider my DVR set.

*****

For this years trendy, surprise Stanley Cup champion pick, I predict people predicting San Jose.  Everyone knows you’re not supposed to, based on their past playoff failures.  Thus, it’s a talented team that people shouldn’t pick – the perfect formula for all us talking heads to take as a “shocker that might come true”.  The goal isn’t to be right – hell, being right in the majority might actually be worse than being wrong.  So here comes everyones attempts at “right in the minority”.  See, look what a great hockey mind I am!

*****

As I’m fairly tall, and somehow I shrink all my shirts up over time, I think I see how old men end up wearing their pants under their nipples.  Shirts miraculously get shorter, so the pants gotta come up to compensate.  I’m like the Hardy Boys, knocking out one mystery at a time.

*****

In Tiger’s apology speech, everytime he started to tear up, he put it on lock and got it together.  Isn’t that the ultimate testament to the guy’s mental ability?  To just put the kibosh on tears and re-focus?  Impressive.

*****

And last, if you feel like reading a real column I wrote, you can check out my thoughts on why it’s harder to score towards the end of the season, for USA Today.  I think that’s enough mind-puke for one day.  Happy Tuesday.  Not the biggest day in the sports world.  You may have spend time with your family today.  ….Ugh.

Options For Avenging a Cheapshot Are Pretty Limited

 

Interesting timing – I was going through some columns that I had deemed unfit to release from a few months ago, and found this one about what David Booth can do to avenge getting his brain shaken by Mike Richards (short answer: nothing).  But after Matt Cooke played the role of Richards in a recent re-enactment with Mark Savard, it seems relevant again.



 

*****

What Now?

-by Justin Bourne

 

Mike Richards scrambled David Booth’s eggs so thoroughly that the guy was no longer free range. It happened on a hit you’d be polite to describe as “questionable”.

Confined to the couch and bed, he avoided exercise like all concussion-cases, letting things heal themselves using the best known medication – time – and has since made his return to the Florida Panthers.

He watched Mike Richards get punished in the form of… um… he got punished by… er… really, he didn’t even get a game suspension?  What the crap?

From David Booth’s perspective, you have to think the fella’s a little pissed.  He narrowly missed being named to the US Olympic team, and was denied the chance to prove his worth over the course of this season, while Richards snuck onto one Team Canada as one of the last forwards chosen (they like that he plays a physical game, you see).

Without their top goal scorer (Booth had 31 goals last year), the team is currently a few points out of a playoff spot, and just behind… the Philadelphia Flyers, who are now technically in the playoffs.

Needless to say, the aftershocks of a decision made by Richards that happened in a split second are still reverberating throughout the Eastern Conference standings.

Florida played Philly about a month back and lumped them up 4-1, even without their star Booth.  That was nice, but had they had him all season, who knows how many 2-1 games would have gone Florida’s way, or shootout losses would’ve gotten nullified with Booth in the lineup.  Game breakers are tough to come by, and to be so close to the playoffs without theirs, the Panthers have a right to gripe.

In these cases, when you or a teammate gets drilled, people always tell you to beat them on the scoreboard.  That doing that is the best revenge.  That the scoreboard is where it really hurts.

Is it though?  What’s Booth supposed to do when he comes back, try really really hard to win?  You don’t think he was doing that before, and every other night of his career?  He can’t control how the rest of his team plays.  Maybe he’ll show up with his “A” game to beat the Flyers the next time they play but Florida won’t win.  In hockey, you’re just one piece in a big team puzzle.

Tying to beat up your assailant isn’t the right answer either.  Though noble, by the “fight him” logic, the toughest guys on the ice have free rein to destroy people, because you can’t ever get real physical revenge on a fight-winning human like George Laraques (though I’m sure Nicklas Kronwall would like to try, stick in hand, of course).  You can always try, but if you get hit by a tougher dude, the only thing you get by going after him when you’re healthy is a chance to be made unhealthy again.

Also, there’s the whole moral thing, which can be a hassle.  You’re supposed to be above that, you know.

There’s the idea that the player who injures another player illegally should be out as long as the player he injured, but that theory’s got more holes than an OJ alibi.  I won’t even go into that theory.

So if you’re David Booth, how do you avenge the Richards hit? 

Maybe you don’t.  Maybe you just take your lumps, acknowledge you play in a contact league, and that hits like that – whoever’s to blame for them - are periodically gonna happen.

But that’s frustrating bullshit too.

The second you see Richards you’re going to want to hit him with a tire iron.

There’s just nothing you can do.  When you get seriously injured in the NHL, not only do you suffer temporary and long-term health concerns, you suffer the mental misery from not having a way to settle the score.

This is why the reaction towards dangerous hits from the league is so crucial.  Low-balling the seriousness of a hit is a crime nearly as bad as the hit itself.

I’m a Canadian hockey player who loves watching the rough stuff.  But in an era where players have to answer less and less for their actions on the ice, we need to hold them more and more responsible from the offices off the ice.  Especially in light of the recent data the NFL has been digging up about the seriously harmful long term effects of concussions.

The only way to get players to exercise more caution is to keep dropping suspensions that get players to snap awake like we dumped cold water on them.  They’ll bitch, they’ll complain ….and they’ll stop finishing “questionable” plays.

Too little, too late for David Booth, but don’t worry.  He’ll get ‘em on the scoreboard, where it hurts the most.

*****

Authors note:  As you probably know, David Booth did try to fight Mike Richards.  After seeing how it went down,  I was glad it happened.  Nobody got hurt, Richards gave Booth his fair shot, and it was over.  That said, other than gaining respect in the hockey world, nothing changed in the big picture.  Booth missed half a season while Richards didn’t miss a shift, the Panthers are still just out of playoffs, and Booth missed the Olympics while Richards has a gold medal.  And, Richards team will most likely make playoffs.  Some of you may not have thought that hit was bad, but I did, so I’m just using it as an example to illustrate a point.  This article isn’t just about those two.

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!!!!!

 

*****

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).

*****

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.

*****

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.)

*****

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.)

*****

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.}

*****

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?

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?

*****

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 :)

Simply Style

 

I still live out of a suitcase, which basically means I wear about five shirts on loop.  It’s been seven cities in three years, and I just wanna hang my shit up.

Anyways, I figured it was probably high time I add a sixth shirt to the rotation - throw a little curveball at society.  So, where does a 26 year old go to buy a t-shirt?  I didn’t know either, so logically, I hit the mall.

Skulls. 

Skulls everywhere.

Apparently, understated is out.  And apparently, overstated is not.  Flames, roses and daggers seem to be popular side dishes for this buffet of shirts that look like someone wore a glue-covered cotton “t” into an all-gothic car accident.

At least they had the decency to bedazzle it.

At least they had the decency to bedazzle it.

I wasn’t aware that Ed Hardy would be the leading influence in how The Bay chooses to use it’s buying power, but apparently they were quite taken with his LOOK AT MY SHIRT! line of tees, and tried to make them with lesser quality materials.  Very sharp.

There’s no secondary option.  No tasteful, minimally logoed, light summer t-shirt.  Your options are collared shirt, Hanes three-pack, or Ultimate Fighting enthusiast.  I can’t wait to look back at this era of men’s fashion the same way we now look at the 80′s. 

“How did we ever think that was okay?”

I bought nothing.

**Disclaimer:  I have a purple and light purple shirt with an embroidered rose and latin writing on it that I reserve the right to wear twice a year free from judgement.  No juding.  You’re judging me aren’t you.  I feel judged.

*****

The famous lighthouse at Turnberry

The famous lighthouse at Turnberry

Ahhhh, the British Open at Turnberry.

How badly I want to go to Ireland.  My Irish roots are in Tinaheely, apparently (and actually, our family name was O’Burne a mere four or five generations back, before someone moved here and chucked the “o” in the middle “to avoid persecution”, I’m told).

But lets talk Watson.

Every year some blast-from-the-past hangs around for a few days in a major and lets the commentators reminisce on the days of yore.  That player is usually someone pushing 50 - Watson is two months from being goddamn 60, and is doing it against the best players in the world, with Tiger in the field, and has hung around for three days now.  Plus, he just had his hip replaced in October! <—- (Not a joke)

One of golf's true gentlemen

One of golf's true gentlemen

This would have to be the greatest win in the history of golf if he could slap it around Turnberry in a couple under par tomorrow (by the way, anybody else get the feeling that this event would’ve been a freebie for Mickelson?  With Tiger out of the mix and the leaders not going super-low… gotta believe he’d have been at least a in the hunt). 

Tiger winning a US Open by 15 shots has to be the most impressive win of my lifetime, but if Watson could get hot for just one more day… wow. 

Yup, I’ll do it.  If Tom wins, I’ll vow to give up all forms of the ageist slander I enjoying chucking at my parents for lent next year.  Come annnnn Tom!

By the way, has Watson not been the best-dressed guy in the tournament by miles so far?  I’m loving his classic sweaters, even the slightly risqué one he’s rocking above.  Little purple collar under it?  The guys on point this week.

Stuff That Matters

 

I keep a written list of the stupid stuff I want to write on my blog, and occasionally (as you’ve probably noticed), I go through it and write a blog of raging unimportance.  I usually skip a few little thoughts for whatever reason, so today I’ve decided to go back and honor those neglected, so here goes:

Does anybody print anymore?  You know, not with computers, but with a pen, words, on paper?  I’m a guy, so I wasn’t blessed with naturally bubbly printing.  Plus, I’m impatient so I always tried to write a thousand words per second.  Because of this, when I do write, I use cursive, so my writing fully looks like I’m in seventh grade.  But I’ve done it so infrequently since college that I’m openly embarrassed by my writing now.  Even my all-capitalized-man-printing looks like a six-year-old chewed on a crayon and printed it with his teeth.  Thank god for computers.

 

That picture reminds me.  Does anybody not love crayons?  Something about new school supplies in general are satisfying.  So much hope for the future I guess (though if crayons are considered school supplies, I’m assuming they won’t be scrawling anything Pulitzer worthy).  My girlfriend is creepily obsessed with school supplies, which is fine, but I’ve gotta draw the line at using those tabbed chapter markers in binders.  I’ll find what I’m looking for, thanks.

 

The names of exits, cities and towns around Long Island are awesome.  If I ever get to name another blog, or book, or band, I’m just gonna start stealing them.  I gave serious thought to starting a second blog just so I could name something “Rockaway Boulevard”.

rockaway-boulevard

And while I’m on driving, is there anything worse than having to make stops on the way home (okay, probably, but it sucks, right?)?  You’ve been out all day, running stupid errands, you’re hungry and dreaming about sweatpants.  You hop in the passenger side of the car and your driver says “I just have to stop real quick to pick up a prescription”. Or developed pictures.  Or a sack of French baguettess.  Whatever it is, you know it’s going to suck.  Something won’t be right, you’ll have to wait ten minutes, or drive somewhere else, now we’re out of gas, I-hate-you-take-me-home.

I like a cup of tea in the morning.  Give it a go.  Those Euro’s with their warm breakfasts are really on to something.  For some reason starting the day with a stomach full of cold circles in milk with O.J. doesn’t leave me feeling as satisfied and ready as sausage, eggs and tea.  I will continue to run nannerpus at every opportunity.  His freaking eye coming off is priceless.

The Haney Project on the golf channel has Hank Haney trying to fix Charles Barkley’s swing, which is like trying to fix your dog’s jump shot.  Probably only gonna make so much progress.

In the first episode Charles snap-hooks one and his curse is: “God-bless-my-muhtha…”  I love it.

And lastly, I have a question.  Could those “are you a human” questions be any more difficult??  You know, the ones where you’re signing up for something, or submitting something online, and you have to type the letters you see?  It’s usually like a magic eye with a word-and-a-half that don’t actually exist in what appears to be the Russian alphabet.  Does it need to be that difficult?  I usually apply the three strike rule, which means that after my third attempt I start writing myself hate mail for being such a loser.

And that’s where my head is at.  See you Isles die-hards tonight at Gabrielles in Rockville Center!

The Islanders: Questions on Directions

 

Fans love to complain when their team trades for a draft pick, because it feels like you gave up a familiar, developed player for nothing.  And occasionally, that’s how it pans out.  Trading for draft picks is like playing five-card draw poker where you can turn in a couple of your cards that don’t fit and get new ones back.  You aren’t sure what cards you’re getting back, but you’re certain you no longer want the ones you hold.

Older sport guru’s who really follow the team can tell you how these deals turned out in the long run, and aren’t as quick to rail against these trades.  It was the way to build a powerhouse, from the ground up.

And sure, maybe it is the formula for building a dynasty, but who can afford a dynasty these days?  Salary caps and max-money-mentality from players killed hopes of those decades ago.

Trading for draft picks may be necessary to an older club who wants to prune off a few guys holding the team’s growth back, but does it make sense for the Islanders?

Developing draft picks are essential to a team’s long term success, but no team can afford to groom a whole group of young players at the same time.  There’s no financial way to keep them all at their peaks.  Teams that try this nowadays end up being a farm system for other teams, developing talent that they can’t afford to keep at its best.

And the Islanders have a team full of developing talent.  I sat at the game last night thinking, man, the Isles have a really good American League Team.  Maybe not good enough to win the Calder Cup this year, but they could contend.  At the same time, the Isles will have a good NHL team in about 5 years, assuming they could keep everyone in an Isles uniform for that length of time.  But with so much volatility in a sport where so few teams stay together, is that possible?

And what about the wait for the fans?  It’s fun to watch your team get better and better every year, but how long have they been listening to the song and dance called potential?  While the team is improving, it would be nice to have some stars to watch.  Maybe Comrie and Guerin weren’t setting the world on fire, but fans were excited when they were on the ice.

  Past Mark Streit, who’s the biggest name on the Islanders?  Doug Weight is a familiar name, and a nice player.  Then what?  Trent Hunter?  Richard Park?  What other team could you put those guys on where they’d be in the first few of the ”biggest names”?

There’s nothing wrong with trying to be good now.   Maybe the Isles are a ways off being good right away, but shouldn’t there at least be effort at winning during the season you’re in?  Aiming at the “future” is a cop out for failing teams in professional sports.

I’m going to be bummed if the Islanders send Bill Guerin to a conference opponent for more “potential”. 

Andrew Macdonald is going to be a legitimate NHL talent eventually, and so is Kyle Okposo.  Given the chance to play on deeper, more experienced teams, they would get better quicker.  Right now the Islanders have a few players that are interchangeable with any average players in the league.  Great guys and multi-year Islanders like Andy Hilbert and Sean Bergeheim are fine, but they’ not developing our studs of next year, they’re making sure they stay in the NHL.

The Islanders have enough up and comers that they won’t finish dead last next year, or the year after that, provided they keep enough experienced players around to help those young guys improve.  The idea is to develop these young guys to help your team win, and that’s supposed to be the focus; winning.  The Islanders seem caught up in making individuals better instead of the team.  A team that struggles to keep butts in the seats can’t afford to spend another decade betting on the future.

Mitch Albom Hates Me

 

Educated journalists seem to have a healthy distaste for bloggers, and I don’t blame them.  If I studied for seven years to be a surgeon, and saw some mook cutting into people because it looked fun, I’d be skeptical too.  Especially if said mook started to have some success.

The weird thing is, I don’t like blogs either.  They’re incessantly negative (if you can’t get attention with your talent, extremely polar views seem to get reactions from people), full of parentheses (damn), and without space constraints.  Real writers, like Mitch Albom and Rick Reilly have been outspoken in their opposition to blogs.  The problem is, with the general dumbing down of our society (shout outs to The Hills and celebrity magazines), bloggers occasionally write in a voice that more readers can relate too.  In short, you can’t write anything too smart or you have a smaller audience.

But people earn their qualifications in different ways.  Brett Hull and Garth Snow are managers of NHL franchises, not because of college degrees in management, but because they played the game at the professional level and gained their knowledge there.  Barry Melrose is hockey’s liason at ESPN, not because he’s a sports journalist, but because he knows what he’s talking about (or at least Amercians believe he does).

In all aspects, reporters write while other people do.  Politicians write legislation and make major decisions, while high and mighty reporters with 20-20 hindsight vision judge.  They have time, fact databases, researchers and editors to thoroughly destroy or applaude whatever the goings-on may be in the politcal forum, the sports world, the art community.

CNN, ESPN or any of the major networks push the events of the day through their own prisms and broadcast the biased views of their station to the public.  Fox News and CNN can make the same event feel like Darth Vader was on both sides of a topic.

This is why the best journalists to read are the ones who don’t hide their bias, but speak openly and honestly about why they hold that bias.  Jon Stewart is a great example of someone who labels himself a democrat, and will defend his views with logic and clarity.

A small set of people seems to have the potential to tarnish the appearance of a larger group.  Not everyone from the Middle East wants death to America, but there are people in the US incapable of making that distinction.  As my Uncle has explained to me, the best way to write is to show, not tell.  Bloggers who make comments that cross the line of extreme have tarnished the idea of blogs for other writers with a voice.  Brett Favre doesn’t “suck”, though you wouldn’t know it from reading blogs.  He threw a crap-load of interceptions, as the stats will back up, so tell me that.  Explain to me why the Jets are better off without him. 

I’m new to the blogosphere, and so far it kind of weirds me out.  It’s offered me a neat platform to tell some stories and prove I can write, but it’s hard to fault educated writers who knock people like me.  But the only way to get better, like in the sports world, is to practice, practice, practice, and for that, not only am I glad to have this forum, but I appreciate having readers who seem to like it.  So here’s the filter my writing will get pushed through:  The Jets, Mets and Islanders rule, I would label myself a democrat because of the liberal views I hold, I frickin’ love sports (the baseball season is too long), animals (anything with “oodle” in it doesn’t count) and having some laughs.  I hope you like it.

On why Mitch Albom hates me (bloggers):     http://deadspin.com/5153058/mitch-albom-has-a-few-things-to-get-off-his-chest

On why Rick Reilly isn’t a fan of blogs either:    http://deadspin.com/5157404/rick-reilly-still-unimpressed-with-blogs–but-wants-everyone-to-know-he-actually-likes-the-sports-fella

Recommended Ad(justin)ments

 

 

I believe I’m qualified to speak on travel.  My dad coached hockey in a number of states when I was younger, and during the season my brother and I would fly to see him every other month for a good 6-7 years.  Then I played college hockey in Alaska where we would fly ten times a year to the lower 48 states (accruing a scant 150,000 airmiles, enough for a spring break in Mazatlan, one in Panama City Beach, a few New York runs and a couple shipments of girlfriend).  The fine print that they don’t magnify until after you’ve signed the commitment papers is that the flight up there is an hour longer than the one down because of the winds.  Enjoy that after two games, ten beers and a 4 a.m. wake-up call.  In a suit.  And now, playing on the west coast, we fly everywhere we play.

So here’s my question.  What breed of human is it that thinks it’s acceptable to travel in hospital pants and a wife-beater?  Sir, you aren’t setting a good example for your son by wearing matching vegetable embroidered PJ pants for a travel day.  Who made the nation-wide decree that travelling on an airplane is equivalent to being strung out on a torture rack? 

People drive in cars all day.  They sit at their desks.  They go to the mall.  And in none of these instances is the socially lowest form of dress required below blue jeans.  And how long is a travel day?  A two hour flight might equal four hours of airport time, and we’re letting humans get away with entire wardrobes that don’t contain a solitary button.  Men used to wear suits to fly.  Men used to wear three-piece double-breasted suits to play golf in the summer.  I’m not declaring Armageddon because standards are a little more lax, I’m merely pointing out that you can suffer through one to five hours on a plane in jeans and a t-shirt.  Clean it up.

And while I’m offering more sage advice, we need to post some international gym rules.  I don’t mean to re-rack the weights when you’re done with them; I mean that men need to re-rack their fat heads.  The mirror is for checking your form while lifting, not to further the belief that the Gotti haircut was created by God just so the gorgeous Italian male could carry on wooing underage females.  Check your form, give yourself a quick eval, but please don’t flex.  There are few situations where it’s harder to suppress a laugh than watching a guy who thinks nobody is looking do a mini-pec dance for himself.

And guys, lets agree on something.  If we’re both walking down the center of a hallway big enough for two people, let’s pretend we’re cars.  We’ll both get in our lane and sail on by like happy buddy ol’ pals.  If I take my lane and get clipped by one more guy pretending he can’t pull in his arms because of his huge lats, I’m calling my tough friends in their leather jackets and declaring one of those snap-fights from The Outsiders on your gang.

Sometimes the weights are really heavy, and you have to exhale loudly.  Or grunt a bit.  Sometimes if you give a little “ungh” it can help you get that last rep out.  But much like girls in porn, you don’t need to make that ridiculous sound every time you do something.  I guess if I poured my tips as a bouncer into GNC for supplements to inflate my chest, I’d want people to notice too.  But believe me, we do.  I don’t like using my string bean arms to do bicep curls with weights from the Pilates class as is, let alone when I’m beside Johnny Bravo.

 

The problem is that the gym has become a meat market dating scene for meats that should be in the market for counseling.  Lulu Lemon has only propagated this sickness by spray painting girls lower-halves and declaring “pants!”  It’s a gift and a curse.  The gift is obvious, but the price for this is that girls who don’t want uncomfortable male attention at the gym get it, like it or not.  Arena’s are to pucks like Gold’s Gym is to eye-rape.  Find one, you’ll find the other.  What most of these guys don’t seem to realize is that the majority of women think they’re acting like clowns too.  Stooges even.  If only I could find an appropriate picture to summarize my exact point…..

 

Next Page »

Login