Sunday, May 03, 2009

Secret Spy

The boy has taken to wandering down for dinner in his housecoat, belt tied snugly, hood up, shading his eyes. He sits at the table and begins to pull out of his pockets numerous objects, placing them beside his supper, which he has taken to ignoring these days. He takes out a little rubber dolphin. He takes out a hard plastic white turtle that lights up when you press its shell. He takes out a worm ball. The worm ball is full of little plastic earthworms and is a pattern of blue and clear squares. Lastly he takes out between one to a half dozen dinky cars.

He's a Secret Spy and every night he has a mission. These are the tools of his trade.

The dolphin is to sniff things out.

The turtle is to see because all of his missions are at night.

The car or cars are for him to drive fast.

The wormball (and here he holds it out so the worms bulge out into a clear pocket) is to SCARE YOU.

He's nothing if not prepared.


Growing up a Chicago fan I really had very little to cheer for come the spring. For the first decade where I really began to watch hockey the Stanley Cup was won by the Flyers twice and then by the Habs and the Islanders four times each. I liked none of these teams and so I was reduced to cheering against them, and in a couple of cases when they played each other, cheering for a calamity like an earthquake to swallow the arena whole.

No such luck.

This changed when the Oilers came along. I loved the way they played and I loved the club and while I would not cheer for them to beat Chicago I could readily hope for them once the Hawks were knocked out, even when it was at the hands of the Gretzkys. And when at the beginning of the 90s the Oilers fell back it just so happened that this coincided with Chicago's rise under Mike Keenan. It was shortlived as Pulford slipped the knife into him but for a couple of years the Hawks were serious contenders. Once Keenan was gone the decline in Chicago started and of course we all knew what happened to the Oilers.

So I was reduced to cheering for ideas or individuals in May and June. When the Rangers won I cheered because of Steve Larmer and all of the ex Oilers and because of 1940.

I cheered for the Wings to end their drought and for Yzerman and Shanahan. I cheered for Sakic and Foote and Forberg, terrific players all, and for Nieuwendyk and Bourque and Belfour and Chelios - I was always happy to see ex Hawks lift the Cup or for the greats to do so as well.

And in recent years I have always found some small comfort in the ritual of raising the Cup. Brad Richards and Dave Andreychuk in 2004. Todd Marchant and Teemu Selanne in 2007. Dan Cleary last season.

But this spring has really captured my imagination. I look around and with the exception of the Ducks and the Canes (in the sixteen to twenty team Pat McLean NHL there are no teams other then Ottawa that have entered the league in any way after 1979 - I would be a merciless overlord) I would probably be reasonably cool with almost any squad winning this spring.

I respect the Wings and their quality and I would love to see Hossa win it.

The Bruins have turned it around for their long suffering fans and I like youngsters Kessel and Lucic not to mention Thomas and Chara, Bergeron and Ryder, as well as longtime favourite Andrew Ference.

The Caps play such a terrific style and with such enthusiasm that its difficult not to cheer them on.

The Pens have a terrific and interesting history and Crosby and Malkin carry on the tradition of Lemieux and Jagr. As well there are fine veterans like Bill Guerin and Hal Gill to hope for.

And here you can tell the difference between many Oiler fans and myself. With the Oilers out of it I can even find a small place in my heart to hope for the Canucks and their poor fans. A difficult team to like when they are skating against the Oilers their present incarnation is also one that is easy to respect. They play a hardnosed and aggressive style epitomized by guys like Willie Mitchell, Ryan Kesler and the veteran Ohlund. It would be nice if the Oilers could play with a little bit of that sand.

At the end of the day though I am hoping for the old team to do well. If Chicago wins the Cup it will be bittersweet for me because of what Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford did to this franchise and its fans. I turned my back on them and I don't regret it.

But I attended a game at the old Stadium and I know the history of this storied (and starcrossed) franchise and the sports fans of Chicago have suffered through long droughts (and awful ownership) in nearly all of the major sports. If the young Hawks manage to do something that hasn't been done since Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were in Toews and Kane's skates then I'll certainly raise a glass to them, regardless.

So lets go you Hawks. For old times sake.


PDO said...

I was a Hawks fan growing up. Till I was about 8 or 9. Saw Douggie Weight score a goal to make it 10-1 against Calgary (wasn't necessarily the 10th goal), but he was skating backwards and went roof daddy, and the Oilers have been my only love since.

However, the Hawks captivated me for a while. Roenick was always fun to watch and funnier to listen to. The jerseys were beautiful. I liked a couple of real assholes on that team that I've learned to hate since, in Belfour and Chelios, but alas..

Anyway, my point is they're the only Western team left I can cheer for, and the Caps are the only Eastern team left I can cheer for.

Vancouver's fans are insufferable. Worse than any. Any time I've been to a Canucks/Oilers game (and I've been to a lot of them... oddly enough, never a BOA), they've been arrogant, stupid, loud and ignorant. Not that I'm above being many of those things, but they're in our barn, and I can't stand that sense of entitlement the Dy's have.

The Ducks stole Pronger from us, are led by a guy who should be an Oiler in Getzlaf, were gift wrapped a cup from Pronger and still can't sell out playoff games, guys like Selanne and Niedermayer have always rubbed me the wrong way, and Perry is a dirty SOB.

The Wings get every call, and they've won enough for a life time. They get discounts because they're Detroit, and in general just piss me off for being too good. Call it the New England Patriot effect.

Out East, I'm sick of Boston fans. BoSox fans turned out to be every bit as bad as Yankee fans once they weren't loveable losers, New England Patriot fans are everywhere, and with the Celtics winning... well fuck that city. I like the group of players, but that just won't cut it...

I'd be cool with Carolina if they hadn't stolen our cup from us. I like the way they treat the game (it's an event... fans are rowdy, and it's a good product imo)... but the fuckers stole our cup.

I can't stand Pittsburgh. I'm a die hard Ravens fan, and I've had enough Steeler bias for a life time. Fuck them. And they shouldn't even have an NHL team... what kind of pathetic city needs Lemieux and Crosby to save the franchise 20 years apart? I still wonder if Crosby was rigged... those fans didn't deserve him, or Malkin for that matter.

Finally, Washington, I'm cool with. You nailed the description.

2/8.. ouch.

R O said...

I find it hard to respect the Canucks. Luongo dives, the Sedins dive, and Kesler and Burrows, while being great hockey players, are a pair of insufferable twats.

Black Dog said...

R O - yeah they're a bunch of dinks but they play the game hard

PDO - so much anger in one so young? I suggest alcohol and lots of recreational drug use to soften and blur the edges


andy grabia said...

Did you get the boy some of those ninja boots yet? Man, I wanted those so bad when I was a kid. Or those sweet Bruce Lee shoes. Damn. So awesome.

Black Dog said...

Andy - if the boy wants them he'll go out and take them

I need provide nothing for the boy

Vic Ferrari said...

Yeah, you have to feel for the Hawks fans. Just brutal ownership over the years.

I really don't care who wins in the playoffs unless the Oilers are still playing (in which case I cheer for upsets in the west). But I hope the Hawks come back to take out the Canucks. And even though we're all getting sick of DET winning hockey games, Detroit as a city has really suffered lately, so I wouldn't mind too much if DET won. Plus ANA is probably the one team in the league that I cheer against.

PIT and the Caps have good fans, PIT has a lot more of them, but they had their run las year, so I lean towards the Caps there.

I guess I should feel for the Bs fans, it's been a long time without a cup there. But every other sports team in that town weems to win lately, so you can only feel so much sympathy there. Still, as much as I like CAR hockey fans, there just aren't many of them, and the SC parade would suck. But I have a couple of dimes on CAR (I like Boston's chances to win the series, but +180 was too much love from the bookmakers imo) so I'll cheer for them.

Usually I'm ignoring the playoffs by this point, and recording the WHC games. But I know what you mean, Pat, there are better stories to follow this year. For me there are more reasons to care a bit, not a lot, but a bit.

Black Dog said...

Vic - yeah its a nice bunch of matchups to keep the interest going and the way the second round is going with every series pretty even it looks like every team may have a shot which is pretty exciting.

Although I hope Anaheim does not win. Carolina too because of '06

I have been watching what I can but not going too overboard. Its good hockey and the revivals in Chicago and Boston have been terrific.

Yeah Boston fans have had a nice run lately, huh?