Friday, May 20, 2011
When your team never makes the playoffs, when they are out of the race every year before the snow flies and you are subjected to months of boring depressing poor hockey, interrupted only by a monthly success that we like to call the Greyhound Handjob in these parts, then the arrival of the playoffs is welcome. Meaningful hockey, played with passion and excitement, by hockey teams that range from good to excellent.
The only sour note - realizing that your sadsack squad is miles away from being good enough to even win a series. And competing for the Cup? We're talking travel to Jupiter far away, pal.
Oh well, what the fuck, right? At least we have teenager hockey players who are awesome! And a new arena coming!
A couple of nights ago I wandered down to the far western reaches of Queen Street with my partner in crime. It began as a lovely warm night and degenerated into another fucking deluge as we tried to make our way to a second bar. We were left soaking and bitter. Well, not really bitter.
When we get together we talk about books and music and politics and our kids and beer but mostly we talk about sex and hockey. Because we are men. And last night was no different. I'll not get into the sex talk because quite frankly I'm starting to worry about myself a little. Our trip to the DR was pretty well awesome in that regard and since our return I have essentially obsessing about those tropical goings on to the point where I can barely go out in public due to the constant boner I have. Its kind of raging right now. What can I say? My wife is fucking hot and I'm a dude. I should just get over it I guess.
So to hockey. The game was on and we witnessed the Canucks just kicking the shit out of San Jose. The Sharks can totally come back but the Sedins are rolling now, hell the whole club is, and imagine that they are without Malholtra and Samuelsson. Could Vancouver not win the Cup? Of course but right now I think they're looking to be in pretty good shape barring a catastrophic injury.
My pal is a fan of Les Sabres and so we were talking about who we were rooting for this year. Since 2006 I've been pretty happy with what has happened in the playoffs. Out of the eight finallists I really could only object to the Ducks on the basis that they were generally douchebags, had their genesis in a Disney movie and were one of Bettman's pet franchises. On the other hand Ottawa is a Canadian club. Detroit and Chicago are original six clubs and have long histories and of course we all know my connection to the Hawks. Ending their Cup drought was just outstanding and I celebrated that triumph by drinking a lot of wine and having sex on our couch. With my wife too, not the usual solo act that happens there. You haven't really lived until you have had crazy sex while Duncan Keith mumbles and slurs through his broken teeth in the background. Adds an element of danger because its like a hobo is in your house watching you do it.
Oh those precious moments.
Chicago beat one of the '67 expansion clubs and love them or hate them (most do the latter) Philly is one of the premier franchises in the league. And the two previous years we had the Wings and Pens, another '67 club, probably the most successful one of those.
So its been quality. None of that old New Jersey/Dallas shit.
This season its a little more difficult to figure out. Who do you go for when you don't have a real interest? Here's what I go by, in no particular order:
Does it matter? Sure it does. I knew a guy in school who was a huge Leafs's fan. Every pool he entered he chose all Leafs because he couldn't bear to cheer for anyone else. Easy easy money, this was before the Gilmour trade, one and done pretty well every year.
So presently I'm in third with eight of my ten players left. Not bad eh? The fellow ahead of me and the fellow behind me each have four guys left and all of them are Tampa players. The guy in first, about six points ahead of me and fading, is down to two Bruins and Pavelski.
So I need a Canucks/Bruins final. And if I were to really get greedy I need the Bruins to win quickly and in low scoring games and I need the Sharks to come back and push this to six or seven. If I am arrears but get Vancouver and Boston in the final then as long as that is not a sweep and we get some goals I should be good. I'll be rich! Rich I tells ya.
Well maybe not rich but a little bit of money so I can go get some beerth.
So Vancouver and Boston.
When it comes to sports I'm a traditionalist. I like old timey franchises in all sports. I respect clubs that have a history of success but having said that I don't like clubs that have a fanbase of frontrunners (the Yankees, Manchester United). And if I were king of the world and that day is coming so watch your step the first thing I would do would contract teams in all sports. I'd be a dick like that because I think less teams is better. Seriously, thirty teams in the NHL? Unfuckingnecessary. They should tie that runt Bettman to the back of a truck and drive down the old cordouroy road to my camp a few times for all of the teams he has added. And yes I know he answers to the owners etc etc. Fuck him anyhow.
Anyhow these novelty franchises in the south don't do a damn thing for me and yes I know that there are passionate fans and you bet that I'm not one of those guys who smiles when I see one of them fail. Losing your team would be heartwrenching. And in a few cases - San Jose, Nashville, Carolina, Tampa, it appears that there may be roots taking hold. And that's great. But I can't cheer for a sunbelt team over an original six club and while the Canucks' fans are apparently the biggest bunch of douchebags going I really can't comment on that because I only 'know' three Canucks' fans. My cousin, who is an absolutely terrific guy. Oilogosphere commenter Temujin who seems a totally decent sort. And Tom Benjamin who may be a little cranky but certainly seems a fine fellow. That's the thing. Here in Toronto there are no Canuck fans - maybe if there were I'd feel a little more strongly about them. Other than the cowards and punks who attacked Theo Fleury on twitter after Chicago was defeated in game seven I haven't really seen a lot of evidence of the fanbase being bigger tools than, say, the Oiler fanbase, which God knows has its share of assholes and idiots. Although the whole Looouuuu chant is pretty goofy.
You always want to think (or at least I do) that the guys on a team are the same as the guys on your own club team. A bunch of terrific guys who kid around before the game, treat each other like adults, go out for a couple of beers afterwards. Most of the guys I've played with (and against) over the years have been pretty good guys and of course there have been dicks as well. And with the sense of entitlement and ego that any professional athlete will have you know that probably you're going to have more than your share of dicks on any club even though anecdotal evidence seems to point to most NHL guys being decent sorts. Shayne Corson anyone?
Still its hard not to look at the remaining teams and check out the guys on the roster. Are there any ex Oilers? When the Ducks won the one thing that made me happy was that Todd Marchant got to hoist the Cup. Are there any longtime veterans who are getting what may be their last or only shot? Marchant again. Selanne. Sopel. Hossa. Guerin. Brian Campbell. Hal Gill. And finally are there any guys who just seem like cool guys? Or conversely are there a lot of jerks?
San Jose already has two strikes against them and what can I say but I cannot and will not ever cheer for a club that has Dany Heatley on it unless its Team Canada. Buddy is a fucking choking prima donna tool and if he ever won the Cup I'd cry bitter tears and put a gun in my mouth. There's no such thing as justice or karma but please please never ever let me see his name engraved on the Cup. And that goes for junior douche Ian White as well. I like Dan Boyle and I like my old Auntie Niemi and I don't mind Marleau or Thornton at all but no Shark Cups unless 'Heater' that big idiot and White are long gone.
The Canucks? Well here they fail somewhat although again I must admit I don't hate them as much as most. Burrows is a twat and I'd prefer Kesler to be a little less dirty and a little less of a diver (although Messier and Anderson, to name a couple old Oilers, were about as filthy as you can get). The Sedins are dull but I think that's mostly because they are Swedes. Bieksa is a dick and Luongo's flopping about is plain silly. When the Canucks play the Oilers I dislike them intensely. When they're caving in the Sharks I kind of enjoy it. And yeah I'd like to see Raffi Torres win the Cup just because I think he would go on such a fucking weird emotionally fraught bender afterwards that he would become a legend and we'd never see him again.
Now if you really want to see a bunch of guys to cheer for its obviously Tampa. You have your ex Oilers - Roli, Brewer, Bergeron. You have Marty St. Louis. You have Stamkos who seems like a pretty happy go lucky fellow. There's Vinny Lecavalier who gives millions of dollars to the childrens' hospital in Tampa. There is Dominic Moore and Bergenheim and Nate Thompson and the veterans Ohlund and Kubina. Other than superdouche Steve Downie there's whole lot of guys you want to see do well.
As for the Bruins well you have Michael Ryder who is easy to cheer for he's such a cement and I've always liked Chara and Bergeron and Andrew Ference. Adam MacQuaid is from the Island and played his junior in my hometown so that's a couple of big checkmarks in the black for him. And Tim Thomas is Tim Thomas.
So there's a fair amount of players to cheer for on each team. Well except for the Canucks.
So who am I hoping for, other than the Jets? Well I have to say a Vancouver - Boston final would please me most of all. That would be four straight finals with some cachet.
If it gets to that then we'll revisit the issue but before the playoffs I was kind of hoping for Boston and really I can't say that anything has changed there. Don't think anyone is stopping the Canucks though.
Posted by Black Dog at 12:45 PM