07 May 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

You know, it's really a shame the IIHF World Championships don't get more press coverage. I don't know about you, but it is one of the most wonderful times of MY year. The thrill of (the inevitable Canada-Sweden-Russia-Czech-USA) victory! The agony of (every other team's) defeat! It's even in Canada this year!

However, it has come with some sad changes. The first, and saddest change, is no roster pictures. Seeing the IIHF Worlds roster photos is like, a highlight of my year, and it never ever fails to be an excellent source of amusement. Come on, most of the players look A) exhausted from the playoffs, if they were lucky enough to even make them, B) bitter that their NHL team did NOT make the playoffs, C) thrilled beyond all belief that their country picked them, or D) faintly confused by the entire process and wondering when dinner is.

Also, sadly, Team Russia kicked off my favorite Russian Petr Schastlivy, which made me quite upset because since he plays in Russia, I get very little chance to actually see him play. But here's the thing--the coach who punted him is his coach in the Super League. I sense some drama going down! I'm still going to cheer for Team Russia, though, because I am a huge sucker for the superfast skating and the passing and oh my goodness, I can't help it. I mean, for heaven's sake, they have Ovechkin AND Kovalchuk AND The Sergei Fedorov Accept No Substitutes, plus a whole host of less-well-known NHL and Super League players, oh my God they are SO GOOD. Man, somewhere along the line I fell in love with Russian hockey and now I can't stop--look, I don't even like Atlanta but if I'm down, watching RDS's Top Ten Kovalchuk Goals or one of the most perfectly-placed shots ever or just about anything by Ovechkin, and you know, life is good again.

But I digress, because I just got off on a tangent there of watching about thirty minutes' worth of highlight-reel goals.


Belarus is thanking their lucky stars that Montreal got knocked out and they can avail themselves of the services of the Amazing Flying Kostitsyn Brothers. And so am I, because it brought the best interview ever into my life. One question: Apparently Sergei Kostitsyn watched Saw IV eight times. EIGHT TIMES. Why? WHY? I am simultaneously horrified and amused. Around Viewing No. 5, wouldn't you get bored? "Oh, this is the part where the guy pours red-hot battery acid into his own eye. You know, that reminds me, I need to make an appointment with the optometrist." I'm just speculating because I've never seen any of the Saw movies, but...EIGHT TIMES? Get a hobby, man.

Did you know that in Sweden they love Peter Forsberg so much they put him on a stamp? Personally he freaks me right out so I would never buy a stamp like that. Anyway, this is a pretty roundabout way of asking have you ever listened to Swedish hockey highlights? Now there is a language with a LOT of syllables. It sounds like they're trying furiously to get in all the words before the action moves on.

If Craig Anderson doesn't get a chance to play in this tournament I will cry. Tim Thomas is pretty awesome, but come on! Craig Anderson! TEAM USA PLEASE PLAY HIM BEFORE I HAVE TO FLY TO HALIFAX TO BECOME HIS ONE-PERSON CHEERING SQUAD.

28 April 2008

Playoffs in full swing; blogger falls off face of planet

I will freely admit that I have not been able to pay the strictest attention to the playoffs this year, save my beloved Senators' early exit. Unfortunately other things like "final exams" and "a social life" and "moving" have taken up huge chunks of my time, and undoubtedly "looking for a job" is next on the list. As much as I would love to be paid for my spittle-flecked bloviating about hockey at anyone who will stand still long enough, the actual job listings for "misanthrope who adores awful European hockey players and harbors an irrational hate for quite a number of teams and players and enjoys ranting at length" are quite thin indeed.

I'm kind of contractually obligated to be cheering for the Wings from now on, thanks to "that's the way I was brought up" rhetoric from my parents. Apparently Colorado has made the command decision to go old-school this playoffs and bring back some players everyone had forgotten about--Adam Foote being one and the eternally-broken Forsberg the other. I won't lie, I've been laughing at their mishaps--Forsberg can't play! Jose Theodore is sucking so badly that he's been pulled in two straight games and they still can't seem to start Budaj! Meanwhile, everyone at the headquarters for the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation is praying for Theodore to permanently fall ill, or for Carey Price to break his legs, or something, so they can finally have the prestige of being able to say a Slovak goaltender is a National Hockey League playoff-starter caliber player. Looks like we'll still be waiting on that.

What I am really excite for now, and by really excited I mean really frothing-at-the-mouth, lying-awake-at-night excited, is the World Hockey Championships, that start in about three days. IIHF.com has graciously had a countdown clock down to the second up on their website for about eight straight weeks now, and we're down to three days, eighteen hours or so. Not that I have been obsessively checking it or anything.

This year all the teams will be playing at one point with vintage jerseys. I hope I won't lose my honorary Canadian citizenship by saying that the Canadian jerseys look like the tragic aftermath of an autumn leaf-blower accident, but they do. More hilarity can be found with the French jersey, which has a rooster on it for real. I love how they have to say right on the website that the rooster is a "proud and noble" animal in France. Perhaps this will forestall some of the ridiculing that will be coming the French players' way, but I doubt it. Oh, come on! They put the chicken RIGHT ON THE FRONT OF THE JERSEY. I can't make this stuff up!

The rosters are also up, which is awesome. I know what team I'm going to be cheering for this year--Russia, man. Ovechkin and Fedorov and Kovalchuk and the Morozov-Zaripov-Zinovyev line from Ak Bars that has been absolutely tearing up the Super League? And one of my favorite players ever, Petr Schastlivy (and yes, I know they spell it with two Y's on the website, but in general North-American-published literature it's with the one Y, my personal theory on this is that it's to differentiate it from "schastlivyy" which is the transliteration for the Russian for "happy"), perhaps back for another stint as captain? I can hardly stand the excitement!

Unfortunately, my favorite team from last year and most of the years before that, Slovakia, is not looking so hot this year. With Marian Hossa still competing in the playoffs, and Marian Gaborik out with an injury, Satan turning down his invite, Meszaros having walked off a cliff after the Sens' demise, that leaves the outstanding lights of Marcel Hossa, Andrej Sekera, and Lubomir Visnovsky as the big names on the team. Clearly, I am using "big names" with the largest possible interpretation. Supler, obviously, is returning as coach, and their three goalies this year will be Lasak, Krizan, and some U20 kid, Hudacek. Lasak didn't play last year, and I don't know why, and Budaj has refused several invitations to play for his national team in the past, which meant last year Krizan got the top spot. In a couple years I'd be looking for Halak to challenge that, but this year he's otherwise occupied waiting for Carey Price to fall down some stairs or slip on a banana peel.

Sweden has a guy playing with the last name of "Warg." How much would that rule? "And now, down the pike comes WARG!!!!!" "Warg" is something I use as a general term of exertion--"warg, I'm so tired." Heh. I'd want to watch the games just to listen to them say his name. But then again, Italy has a player with the last name of "Hell." Frankly, I don't know which is better.

In other exciting goalie news, the USA will be starting Craig Anderson, my perennial favorite backup goaltender. Oh, Craig Anderson, why are you so awesome? I've been keeping an eye on him ever since he backed up in Chicago, the hometown-boy-makes-good story of the year, and this is an awesome opportunity for him. I don't know if he has the raw talent to get a starter's spot, but this will probably make his stock rise a bit anyhow.

Finally, as for Switzerland, who generally nobody cares about, they have two guys with the last name of "Gerber" on the team. One is Martin Gerber, my beloved Sens' goaltender with the fantastic bald spot, and the other goes by the name "Beat Gerber." IT'S FUNNY, PEOPLE. Martin Gerber and Beat Gerber? I hope no one in the Ottawa media gets hold of that, or it will be a field day for them. (Switzerland will also be featuring the talents of Julien Vauclair, who played for the Sens a few years ago when they had that league record of five guys with names starting with "V" playing for them. Not that anyone cares/cared about him except for me, but it's nice to see he's still doing well in Switzerland. (Which, apparently, is where Sens players go to die, seeing as how last I checked, Alexandre Daigle was playing there as well. (I need to stop with the parenthesis now, I think.)))

May 2nd can not come fast enough.

07 April 2008

Playoff Matchups

Every other blogger on the planet is giving their picks on who will win the first-round series we have coming up. Instead, I will be ranking the teams based on the highly scientific HMETGM scale, or "How Much Entertainment They Give Me" scale, which I have carefully calibrated from zero to Tyler Arnason, e.g., the most hilarity you can possible have.

Montreal Canadiens v. Boston Bruins
Well, let's have a look at this. Jesus Price v. the Boston Bruins "Gotta B Here" (who came up with THAT? Fire them. Immediately). Now, I am wanting to lean towards Boston here just based on the fact that they have three ex-Senators, Andrew "The Most Annoying Man In Hockey" Ference, and the goaltending duo of Tim Thomas and Alex Auld, the latter of whom is so bad that in that absolute drubbing the Capitals gave them he got put in in favor of Tim Thomas and then got pulled again. He has played for four different teams in six years.
On the other hand, Montreal has chosen to go with the obviously superior goaltending pairing of Jesus Price, Savior of All Hockey in Montreal and Jaroslav Halak, the hideously ugly yet strangely endearing Slovak kid whose stock just shot up sky-high when Cristobal Huet got traded.
Hilarity Advantage: Boston.

Pittsburgh Penguins v. Ottawa Senators
This one is a little closer to my heart. Oh, Ottawa, you have faltered so many times this season---the Ray Emery garbage, the "our captain gets injured and we play like lost kittens," the many, many terrible losses they have endured this year. And I seriously hate Pittsburgh--a LOT--they have Sidney Crosby whom I would not be sad to see disappear from the planet for ever, possibly taken away by some kind of large alien spacecraft, they have a mutant Staal brother, they have the disgusting Jarkko Ruutu, Marc-Andre "I have two full sets of teeth!" Fleury, the list goes on and on and on. Unfortunately, they appear to have no sense of humor at all, about anything, and their fans are wicked annoying.
Hilarity Advantage: Ottawa. Always Ottawa.

Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers
I'm obviously going to cheer for any team with Alex Ovechkin on it, Alex "Girls where are you?" Ovechkin, the one who met his girlfriend on the Internets. And Philadelphia's playoff slogan is "Vengeance Now." VENGEANCE NOW? That is some scary-ass sloganing going down right there! Marty Havlat is somewhere cowering in terror!
Hilarity Advantage: Washington. Perhaps they will ride into the first game on Segways.

New Jersey Devils v. New York Rangers
Martin Brodeur recently started in his 40th consecutive start. Please, no one be alarmed when he drops dead FROM SHEER EXHAUSTION. Dear Marty Brodeur: You are not the Terminator. Sooner or later you will need to sleep. Also the Devils feature my Favorite Useless Player, Karel Rachunek, who has missed the past few games on behalf of a neck strain. (Yes, I know.) They are playing New York, which in my extremely professional opinion has been super boring all season.
Hilarity Advantage: The Devils.

Detroit Red Wings v. Nashville Predators
Well, the Preds are disgusting. Obviously. Contrast them to Detroit, who is being led by He Who Represents All That Is Good And Pure In Hockey, Nick Lidstrom, the awesome-yet-aging Dominik Hasek, Ironman Chris Chelios, and featuring the hilarity of Tomas Holmstrom, Valtteri Filppula (nobody told me he could totally pass for a younger version of Art Alexakis!), and the hairpower of Henrik Zetterberg.
Hilarity Advantage: Detroit, no contest.

San Jose Sharks v. Calgary Flames
Let's look at this seriously. San Jose has the beyond-awesome Nabokov, who refers to himself in the third person in interviews (and please everyone go watch this clip and laugh and laugh), and they USED to have Vesa Toskala, who carries a man-purse--that, right there, is a clip worth watching. Calgary? Calgary has Curtis Joseph and I know people who thought he was dead.
Hilarity Advantage: On the strength of the goaltender matchup alone, clearly San Jose.

Minnesota Wild v. Colorado Avalanche
Colorado has the triple threat of Tyler Arnason, Peter Budaj, and Jose Theodore, which is comedy right there. Unfortunately they also have the completely insane Peter Forsberg-Adam Foote thing going on, which sucks all the funny right out of them. Minnesota, on the other hand, I have heard rumors of some kind of some weird Slovak feud thing going on between Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik. I don't know whether it's true, although I do know that for a long time Gabby about worshipped the ground Pavol Demitra walked on, but I think if it was true it would be the most amusing.
Hilarity Advantage: Minnesota, by virtue of the fact that they don't have Peter "Made Of Glass" Forsberg.

Anaheim Ducks v. Dallas Stars
Ugh, Anaheim disgusts me. They are not funny at all. The only funny thing is that Ryan Getzlaf is balding, and he's like, twenty-two. However, Dallas just bores me, and I know nothing about them.
Hilarity Advantage: Dallas. Based on Mike Modano.

25 March 2008

The Ides of March have come...and gone...but things still suck

Sigh. I don't know if you've noticed, but the Sens, after having a brief resurgence, seem to have decided that the season is as good as over and they are bound for sunny Mexico or Florida or Arizona or wherever they want to go in just a couple of weeks. I, and many many many other Sens fans, are not so pleased with this idea. Look, I understand that the weather has been just godawful, and the high today was 0 and it's snowing again when usually by this time it's 7 on a regular basis, but...okay. Really. And, AND, Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Sens, is getting into hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission, proving that when it rains it pours for this organization.

So, to cheer myself up, I've concocted a list of Headlines That Could Possibly Make This Slump Worse. (Um, these are all NOT TRUE NOT TRUE NOT TRUE.) (Yet.) (Thank goodness.)

Martin Gerber Quits Team To Seek "More Rewarding" Career As Astronaut

Ray Emery Quits Team To Seek "More Lucrative" Career As Model
(ok, well, this one would bring a lot of visual joy into my life. That's all, though.)

Anton Volchenkov Discovered To Be Communist Agent Sent To Infiltrate Canada. Volchenkov, 26, said to "pummel" his intellectual opponents. He declined to comment.

Wade Redden Decides Hockey Career Meaningless, Returns to Lloydminster To Family Farm. Mr Redden, winner of the 1987 Lloydminster 4-H "Best In Show" ribbon for his prize calf, Bossy, is trying to seek out the "simple life" after making millions of dollars as a professional hockey player. Lloydminster Daily Telegraph.

Christoph Schubert Injured In Freak Schnitzel Accident. Schubert will be sidelined indefinitely after being tragically injured in a freak schnitzel-eating incident Monday, March 25th. "Don't ask me, I don't even know," Schubert said.

Luke Richardson Breaks Hip Executing In-Depth Stretching Routine. "I told him that was dangerous!" the Senators training staff howled as one as Richardson was taken to the hospital. "He's not twenty anymore! You can't DO that!"

Andrej Meszaros Accidentally Walks Off Cliff.

Chris Phillips Cuts Off Hand While Doing Minor Home Repairs--Expected To Be Out 6-8 Weeks. Phillips, an amateur handyman, built his entire neighborhood from scratch. Last night, however, replacing a lightbulb proved to be his Waterloo as a broken shard of glass took his whole hand clean off.

Mike Commodore Sells Out, Agrees To Wear Number 64 In Return for Lucrative Ad Campaign. (What am I talking about? This news would fill me with glee!)

Popular Winger Shean Donovan Quits Team To Produce His Own Reality Show. The show, imaginatively titled "The Shean Donovan Reality Show," will focus on Donovan's mishaps in his daily life. Its first episode, slated to air at 9 AM Monday morning, will be entitled "Shean Donovan Goes To the Grocery Store And They're Out of Canned Tomatoes."

Dany Heatley Out For 16 Weeks While Getting Bionic Teeth Implanted. This experimental process carries with it a high risk, but also has the added benefit of being able to channel XM radio through the bionic false teeth.

Jason Spezza Misses Six Weeks While In Intensive Learn-To-Read Program.

Mike Fisher Quits Team to Become Full-Time Hockey Preacher.
(Actually, this one would also make me deliriously happy, just to get this @%#&#@* off my team. What he does on his own damn time is his own damn business.)

Randy Robitaille Inserts No-Trade Clause Into His Contract

Martin Lapointe Declares Team "Hopeless," Seeks Counsel With Legendary Detroit Red Wing Steve Yzerman

Chris Neil Suffers Yet Another Random Accident

Dean McAmmond Retires Early To Become Motivational Speaker.
His first clients will be his old teammates, the Ottawa Senators, who stand to benefit quite a lot from his speech.

Brian McGrattan Discovered To Be Physically Incapable Of Scoring Goals.
(That would explain a LOT.)

Antoine Vermette Suffers Critical Hair Injury; Out 4-6 Weeks For Repairs

Daniel Alfredsson "Gives Up" On Team, Flees To Sweden With Wife and Children.
"You people! I can't do this any more! You make me crazy!"

03 March 2008

It's a car, not a Life-Maintaining Device

Yeah, you've done it--left your car running while you went in to return a movie or something. But there's a good reason why you're not supposed to leave your car on while you do an errand that takes more than 2.5 seconds to complete--a reason I think Dion Phaneuf could tell you a thing or two about, after he got his SUV stolen while he went into Starbucks. I would be lying if I told you I didn't absolutely laugh my face off at this news.

The best part of this story is that he was at Starbucks. What does Dion Phaneuf order at Starbucks? I have a feeling he'll tell you he was ordering "plain black coffee," the way manly men drink it, but I'll tell you what, Manly Men don't get coffee at Starbucks, they get their Manly Man coffee at 7-11 or White Hen or Tim Horton's. I don't think he'd get a lot of respect from other league defensemen if it turned out his truck got stolen because he was ordering something stupid like a "double chocolaty chip frappucino blended creme" (which would also not be very good for his diet, because I definitely had to look up a Starbucks menu to write this entry, and apparently one of those things has 510 calories. In a medium. My goodness.) I imagine the conversation would go something like this:

Dion Phaneuf: Hey! Hey, Cheli! Hey, old man! How does it feel to play for a team that [edited] the [edited] [edited]?
Chris Chelios: Well, you [edited] [edited], it feels better than getting my [edited] car stolen after I was stupid enough to [edited] [edited] [edited] [edited] [edited] while I was getting [edited] [edited] [edited] from [edited] Starbucks, you [edited] [edited] [edited] pansy-ass.

(That's an approximation, never having actually met either of them. But I like my imagination.)

And it leads me to this question: What does your favorite player order at Starbucks? If he even goes to Starbucks, that is--hockey is full of Manly Men who, I'm sure, wouldn't be caught dead in a 'Bucks. They get coffee at Tim Horton's, the way God intended it. But hey, Tim Horton's serves Iced Cappuccinos, which are not the most testosterone-laden drinks I've ever seen, either.

Martin Havlat probably isn't allowed to have caffeine because it'll interact with the 238579325 meds he's taking for whatever Injury Du Jour he's battling. But because he's a badass, he drinks it anyway. Because he's European and "classy" he probably goes for a nice cafe au lait in the afternoon.

Mike Comrie is like, the NHL's poster boy for high-maintenance, and he hooked up with Hilary Duff, for heaven's sake--I think he enjoys Frappucinos on a fairly regular basis.

Nikolai Khabibulin I think has his picture up at all Chicago-area Starbucks, Caribou Coffees, White Hens, 7-11s, and independent coffee shops with big labels that say "Do Not Serve To This Man." But in the privacy of his home I think he drinks high-octane, 8-shot espresso. And a lot of it.

Daniel Alfredsson strikes me as the kind of guy who drinks lattes in the afternoon. Maybe, because he is a very efficient kind of guy, he buys them in the morning and nukes them in the team microwave.

Mats Sundin drinks whatever coffee they serve on the Mothership. Or I don't know, maybe they don't serve coffee in outer space, where he's from.

Pat Kane isn't old enough to drink coffee, his mom probably told him it'll stunt his growth. So he drinks hot chocolate, even thought I have it on the best authority that Starbucks hot chocolate sucks. Maybe chocolate milk, then. Or juice.

Trevor Linden seems like a very laid-back kind of guy who probably drinks tea. With milk. And hey, he plays in Vancouver, they have some really really good tea shops there. (If you're ever in Vancouver, visit Murchie's and have your horizons expanded.)

Martin Brodeur drinks black coffee, but Carey Price needs half a cup of coffee, half a cup of milk, and plenty of sugar until it tastes like coffee ice cream. It's okay, he's still a kid, and he'll get on the caffeine train like the rest of us sooner rather than later. Although maybe it's best he stays off it, so when Montreal dies in the playoffs, he won't sit around drinking coffee and staying up until four AM every night, reliving every painful goal. (No, I don't think it was a good idea for Montreal to trade Huet, why do you ask?)

What does Dominik Hasek drink? Whatever he [edited] wants--he's Dominik [edited] Hasek! Come on people, do you not know me AT ALL?

28 February 2008

Why Hockey And Food Are Better Partners Than Gretzky and Messier

Food and hockey. They go together so well. What's a game without a selection of tasty snacks to accentuate it? And hockey players enjoy their food as well--Zdeno Chara eats like it's going out of style, but he has six feet, nine inches, and 260 pounds to keep in motion. Other players, like Tyler Arnason, are more like the rest of us and eat because it's delicious. (True story: Tyler Arnason is forever and ever one of my favorite players because he told the Blackhawks magazine if he wasn't a hockey player, he'd be a fry cook or food critic. Normal players say things like "firefighter" or "police officer" or "architect" or "golfer." Not Tyler. Fry cook it is.)

There was one goalie whose name I cannot for the life of me remember, but got into trouble with the league because he was sitting backup one night, got hungry, and got one of the trainers to bring him peanuts or something that he sat, eating out of his glove. Apparently you're not allowed to do that. And Jeremy Roenick got a slush one time while sitting in the penalty box--also did not go over too well with the officials.

But for you there, Joe Hockey Fan, I know you're asking "tell me, oh wise one, what is the appropriate food to eat during hockey?" Here. I'll tell you.

Hockey Foods

First things first:

Don't serve this. (Photo from cska-hockey.ru, a website that I love beyond all reason because I have grown attached to the Red Army team. Also they keep me updated on Petr Schastlivy, who I like very much, and was glad to see he's finally shaved. Ahem.) Anyway, I understand the motivation one might have to serve a cake shaped like a jersey, but...don't do it. Just, don't do it. It's too much like symbolically eating your body. (Nice cake, though, CSKA.)

1. Pizza. And lots of it. Pizza is like, hockey's perfect food--you can eat it with your hands, it comes in a box large enough to share (or not, if you're so inclined), and you can get it delivered to your door! Or if you're feeling gourmet, you can get one frozen and cook it in your own oven! Now don't get me wrong, I love cooking, but not on game night. I can only keep track of so many things, you know?

2. Chips. Now this is where Canada excels--chip flavours. Recently dill pickle chips have become available in the States, at least in my neck of the woods, and have become exceedingly popular in my family. THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS. And KETCHUP chips--I was only introduced to ketchup chips when I moved to Canada, but I cannot believe I spent my whole life without them. Ketchup chips are a gift straight from God. And there are so MANY chip flavors--bacon chips! Curry chips! Roast chicken chips! Salt and pepper chips! Cheeseburger chips! You see, the fun never ends. Just be careful not to get really excited and knock your bowl of chips all over the couch and into the carpet. (Not that that ever happened, Mom. To me.) Bonus: dip!

3. Other snack foods. I'm putting in this category things like popcorn and pretzels, things I don't really care for, but lots of people I know do.

I think you get the gist of it. Nothing that involves A) elaborate preparation or B) utensils.

To Drink

1. Beer. Duh. I don't particularly care for beer--it's all right, I guess, though I do really like Rickard's Red--but beer is like, The Face Of Hockey. I think it's Molson's entire advertising strategy at this point. And given the absolute rivers of beer that flow at hockey games, I think this one is a gimme.

Bonus Drinking Game! : Get an alcoholic beverage. (Preferably more than one.) Watch a Pittsburgh game. Drink every time they say "Sidney Crosby." With a bit of luck you'll be hammered well before the halfway point of the first period, at which point you'll forget you're watching a hockey game and turn it off in favor of the Home Shopping Network. In which case you'll be better off anyhow.

2. Gatorade. Only recommended if you really, really, really identify with one of the players and want to be Just Like Him. Even so, you're better off with water--you won't come off like such a tool. Let's face it--they're playing an extremely physically demanding sport, you are sitting on the couch like a shlub, and probably eating pizza. (True story: One time Tomas Holmstrom inadvertently soaked himself in blue Gatorade on the bench and had to borrow a jersey from a fan, there being for some strange reason no other white jerseys around for him to wear. He signed it and gave it back to the fan later. Luckiest. Fan. EVER.)

And For Dessert Thankfully, we've established those cakes will not be on the menu.

1. Those chocolate puck things. You know, the ones that look like a hockey puck. These things. They're not very tasty, and sit in your stomach like a rock so you'll think you HAVE eaten a puck. Very timely, though.

2. Any other dessert, ever. You could serve a triple chocolate mousse to the drunkards in the 300 row of a stadium and it would be more appropriate than one of those awful chocolate hockey puck things.

3. A cake. Just out of curiosity now, I googled "hockey cake," and this cake came up. I like it so much I'm going to make myself one for my next birthday.

26 February 2008

Trade Deadline roundup

Today was an exciting day, the Christmas of the hockey world--in fact, in many ways it was MORE exciting, because you don't have to buy gifts for people you hate, or worry about gaining fifteen pounds in dessert weight, or drag a plant larger than you into and out of your house as it sheds needles in the process that will live in your carpet for the next seven to eight months.

In fact, today was so exciting that I skipped classes because of it. That's not entirely true, I also skipped to study for a psych midterm I have tomorrow, and I was very productive in terms of chores and things. But no lie--trade deadline? VERY EXCITING DAY.

Deals that went down:

Brandon Bochenski to Nashville for "future considerations." This is not really important, and only noticeable because Bochenski used to play for Ottawa, and used to take public transportation around, and people would see him bumming around town on the bus with the rest of us lowly mortals. Unfortunately he's suffered a Reversal Of Fortunes and has played for about four teams in four years now.

New York Rangers get Sjostrom, Gratton, and Lenevue for Marcel Hossa and Al Montoya. So look, both Hossas were in the works on trade day! Unfortunately for Marcel, he got sent to Hockey Hell in Phoenix, poor kid. Hopefully he will be able to get some decent playing time in there. And as for Al Montoya, I approve of him--he's from Chicago and went to the University of Michigan, and is one of the very best young American goalies. So best of luck to both of them in Hockey Hell.

Detroit acquires Brad Stuart for two draft picks. I think Brad Stuart is on a plane somewhere, praying to whatever hockey gods there are that he won't fall off a cliff or electrocute himself or get beaned in the head by a falling brick because the Detroit defense corps are all broken right now.


Carolina receives Tuomo Ruutu for Andrew Ladd. Poor Ruutu. I really liked him in Chicago, for the 2.5 weeks he wasn't broken or injured or had a horrific hair injury or some other damn thing that kept him out of the lineup.

New Jerseys gets Bryce Salvador in exchange for Cam Janssen. I will be honest, the only reason I cared about this one was because I wondered what it means for my favorite lousy defenseman, Karel Rachunek. He didn't get shipped out of Jersey, which is good news, but...okay, sometimes I feel like his only fan on the planet and even I say things like "well, he isn't very good." Before he was scratched he wasn't doing terribly, either--I mean, he wasn't Nick Lidstrom-style stellar, but he was putting up some points and playing physically and getting about twenty minutes of ice time a night. Um, this one kind of got away from me, didn't it?

The Big Trades

Washington gets Huet in exchange for a second-round 2009 draft pick. First of all, I believe I speak for all of eastern Canada when I say this: "WHAT THE HELL?" This means Montreal is going into the playoffs with the excellent goaltending of twenty-year-old Carey Price (Hockey Jesus, the Second Coming of Patrick Roy, etc.) and 22-year-old Jaroslav Halak, known to Slovak hockey fans as "Karol Krizan's backup at the World Championships." And he lost the one game he played. You know, I was pretty sure Montreal had opened the door for some really awesome three-way goalie trading with this, but now I'm just concerned that the management didn't think this one all the way through. On the other hand, if you can still get him for your fantasy teams this year and next year, DO IT.

Colorado acquires Adam Foote for some ridiculously complicated series of picks and crap. This one was just unnecessarily confusing--"if Foote gets on a plane with a flight number that ends in an even digit, you can resign him for the 2010-11 year provided he isn't yet dead; if he is dead, you can resurrect him using clippings of Joe Sakic's hair, etc." Also, with the acquisition of Peter "Yes I Will Play/No I Won't/Yes I Will/No I Won't/Split Personality" Forsberg, it's like they're trying to re-create the 2001 team that won the Cup. Except many years older.

Washington gets Sergei Fedorov for Ted Ruth. Don't you think it's a blow to Sergei Fedorov to be considered an even trade for some D kid no one's ever heard of? Of course, I think Alex Ovechkin about creamed himself when he heard about this. There's a sizable Russian contingent on the Caps now, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately their average number of STDs floating around that room just increased by a factor of about twenty.

The Name Trade:
Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh for Erik Christiansen, Colby Armstrong, Angelo Esposito, and a first round draft pick. I can discuss this one rationally now that I've stopped vomiting. As sad as I am to see a player I really love like Marian go to a team I hate like Pittsburgh (whose name I have a very hard time not replacing the first syllable of with an unfortunate and profane noun), I am quite evilly excited to see how much Pittsburgh gave up for what will probably (I hope and pray) be a rental. As much as I hate Colby Armstrong, which is a LOT, you need players like him to do well in the playoffs, as Ottawa ably saw in last year's playoffs. Erik Christiansen is nothing special and pretty ineffective, but might grow up to be a 20-goal scorer. Esposito is a rookie with some promise. The draft is going to be absolutely loaded this year. Enjoy sucking, Pittsburgh, I will laugh pretty hard.

The Sens trade:
Martin Lapointe to Ottawa for a 6th round pick. I was flabbergasted at this trade, because everyone was yammering on and on about leadership--you know, I'm really not sure "leadership" is what the Sens are missing right now, so much as "goals" and "goaltending" and "defense" and "forechecking" and "competent coaching" and "a copy of Hockey for Dummies" and "stick tape" and "food" and a long long list of other things. I'm curious to see who he'll play with, given that the lines are being shaken up lately. Ah, Lapointe, I know him well, he played for Detroit when I was younger, and he's been in Chicago after that after a stint in Boston, so let's just say I expect very very VERY good things out of him (and the rest of the Sens) in the upcoming weeks.

Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to the Sens for Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo. Sigh. The Corv was never very happy in Ottawa, that's no secret, but it hurt me a little bit to see them give up Eaves, who the organization has been bringing up. Cory Stillman has been doing fairly well on a line with Vermette and Kelly, so I can't complain about that, and Mike Commodore? The hair? The hair on the ice at the same time as Andrej Mezsaros? AWESOME. That alone consoles me to the loss of Joe Corvo. (As does the fact that the average alcohol intake in the locker room probably dropped about fifty notches after his trade.)

Thank goodness the deadline is over and we can all quit losing sleep over this.

24 February 2008

The Hockey Hall of Fame: Licking the Stanley Cup

You know where I was this past week? Yes, that's right--I was in Toronto! For the first time in my life, surprisingly. (Well, the first time I can remember. My parents don't seem to recollect whether or not we were in Toronto in the years pre-remembrance, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't based on the lack of photographic evidence. Please--if you know my family, you know there would be plenty of photographs of myself as a baby or toddler pressed up against the Stanley Cup.)

I did visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, on a pilgrimage, if you will. My friends and I were not particularly reverent guests, except for the part with...


...the Stanley Cup.

And yes, it was "the real one," the Presentation Cup. The best news: I licked it.

Yes, you can all tell me how disgusting that is, but I was feeling all right since I watched the guy
"sanitize" it about 2.5 seconds before I did, and he was pretty quick to hop on with the sanitizer again after we were done. I mean, people have let their dogs eat out of this thing--among many many other things. (And, for the record, people have had their children baptized in it. Can you imagine? I would be all over that if my husband won the cup--"honey, let's baptize [Child] in the Cup!" and I would say "ALL RIGHT, LET'S DO IT RIGHT NOW." If you can even do that without Papal dispensation, that is. And that child would immediately become my favorite child.)

Anyway, I definitely licked the Stanley Cup, specifically: Dominik Hasek's name. It was a beautiful moment.

The Hockey Hall of Fame, and hopefully Gordie Howe will not strike me down for saying this, is slightly overrated. I mean, it's GOOD, but it's expensive, and there's not an incredibly amount of stuff. It depends how much "watching your friend lick the Cup" is worth to you, or "watching your friend flip out over some player that nobody else cares about." There's a cool replica of the Montreal Canadiens' dressing room, and thank goodness it's a replica because the real one is probably full of STDs considering Jose Theodore used to play there. There's a pretty good display on international hockey. There's some information about the many, many minor league teams in North America. There is not a whole lot of information on the European leagues. It's also not extraordinarily well laid-out. There are some really atrocious films you can watch.

While I was in Toronto I did NOT go to a Leafs game. Here is a short list of Things I Would Rather Do Than Attend a Leafs Game At the Air Canada Centre:

1. Put my head into a bag of live eels.
2. Go to the top of the Sears Tower (being afraid of heights, this one is HUGE).
3. Wash my hair with 100% pure maple syrup.
4. Clean the floor of the Pittsburgh Penguins' showers. With my tongue. On game day. (Like that makes a difference.)
5. Drink an entire bottle of tequila, then write all five of my final exams in one day.

Trade deadline day is coming up on Tuesday. It cannot come fast enough.

15 February 2008

I have many, many things I want to talk about on this thing, honestly, but since I have an incredible amount of schoolwork right now and, you know, a life, they're going to have to wait. But I promise, I will totally weigh in on the Sens trade and this awesome post about food I have planned, and the trade deadline, but I will get there, really.

Instead today I am going to talk about Richard Zednik. I will freely admit that the only reason I know anything about him is that he's Slovak and I have a disturbing obsession with the Slovaks in the NHL (I can name all of them! Really! Even the crap ones!) and has played for the Slovak national team in the past and has done quite well for himself.

I will also admit that I've seen the accident about fifteen different times, and it never stops being gross. There is actual spurting blood. It's horrifying. But...can you imagine the presence of mind it must take in order to, after you just had your throat cut by a skate, clutch your neck and skate off the ice? He must have been practicing the Vulcan Mind Meld or something because I can just not imagine that. At all. It's pretty intense. Now, according to TSN, he lost TWO LITERS of blood on Sunday, but is feeling so much better by today--Friday, for those of you keeping score at home--he asked if he could eat Buffalo wings, and he might be discharged tomorrow. Kudos to him. I hope he continues to improve and comes back to playing as soon as possible.

Just think about that--let's say you have some horrific accident at work, like a freak stapler accident or something, that somehow involves the loss of several pints of blood and emergency life-saving surgery at the hospital. How long are you going to be out of work? I mean, really. Zednik probably won't be back for the remainder of the season, but it'll be interesting to see if he continues playing next year. I mean, I'm hoping he will and I'm sure he'll be in physical condition to do so, but if he decides not to, can anyone blame him?

Malarchuk, the goalie who had his throat cut in another freak accident in 1989, has recently been pretty open about the horror of it all. In an interview he did on TSN, he mentioned his struggles with depression and OCD in the years following, and he deserves all kinds of support just for admitting that on television. It's hard. More people coming forward with stories like Malarchuk's can only help remove the stigma on mental illness. Nobody wants to wake up and see a story like Roman Lyashenko's. Stories like that, and like Zednik, bring the message back that even though these sports are played on a worldwide stage for big money, they're entertainment, but they're not movies. They're real people with lives like us. I don't understand the people who enjoy running down specific players, calling them stupid or idiots or what have you. Yeah, they might be bad players--trust me, I know from some bad players--but for heaven's sake, they don't deserve to be publicly mocked.

They're just people, guys. Live and let live.

05 February 2008

No, really?

Hey guys, wouldn't it be weird if I ACTUALLY talked about hockey for once? I think so too!

1. Surely you've all been paying extremely strict attention to the slump the Sens have been in, right? I thought so. They're missing their beloved captain, Alfie, which is clearly a huge drag on the team. They're missing Dany Heatley, whom I've actually grown to love even though I never thought I would because he was traded for Marian Hossa, whom I love absolutely. Emery has been...having a few issues here and there, let's say. I'm not going to pretend I know the answer to what ails them, I'm just going to mention that I hope they start winning again soon because this is a drag.

2. Goalie controversy going down in Montreal! Huet is still their number-one, but they sent Price down to the minors for a monthish and had Halak as their backup, and didn't even have him play any games. My cards are telling me there's a goalie trade in there for Montreal somewhere before the deadline as they throw their hats in with either Price or Halak, but not both. Maybe they'll do a goalie-for-goalie trade with Ottawa, eh? Halak and...probably a draft pick, a hefty sum of money, or another minor-leaguer in exchange for Emery? Oh, I'd be bummed to see Emery go, but I would totally volunteer to chauffeur the Jaroslav Halak Welcome Wagon around.

3. My favorite lousy defenseman, Karel Rachunek, has been a scoring FORCE lately! Not the most highlight-reel goal you've ever seen against the Kings (and Jason LaBarbera? Not the league's most challenging and complex goaltender, I'm not going to lie to you), but a very good, solid effort nonetheless. For those of you who are keeping obsessive attention to his stats, like me, that brings him up to a whopping 2 goals and 8 assists this season. Which is...not horrible, for a defenseman, let's put it that way.

4. In news that my mom for one will be very pleased to hear, Darren McCarty has signed with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins, hopefully in steps to return to the NHL.

5. The Edmonton Oilers have been sold to Darryl Katz, a "pharmaceutical billionaire." He has Gretzky's endorsement as owner, which is a pretty darned good seal, and Messier's as well. Apparently he actually really truly loves hockey, which--my natural skepticism notwithstanding--if it is true, is really an outstandingly awesome move. Honestly. There needs to be more owners of teams who love the sport, instead of owners who are slowly dragging their teams into the ground by, for example, not allowing home games to be shown in the area.

6. For heaven's sake, the people who find this blog looking for exciting updates on who Sidney Crosby or any one of the Staal brothers or Rick Nash or whatever horrifyingly ugly young player is making the rounds this week, is dating. I DO NOT KNOW. Frankly, I do not care. I could not possibly care less. The love lives of all those people concern me even less than, for example, whether or not everything in my closet is organized in alphabetical order by type of fabric. I DO NOT CARE EVEN IN THE SLIGHTEST. Really, all of those players make me want to vomit. And I have my own life to worry about before I can even begin to think about these people.

Finally, watch this space for an exciting entry coming up about...food!

27 January 2008

The All-Star Game!

This is the All-Star weekend, which means for the vast majority of players, they get a long weekend off to spend with their families, relax and rehab their bodies, or get drunk, depending on who they are. (Or a combination of all three. Who knows? I'm not here to judge.) For the lucky All-Stars, they get a weekend in...Atlanta, where they take part in pointless but hugely amusing competitions and do stupid interviews.

So, I really like the All-Star game. But this weekend I thought I could celebrate better by doing my own personal All-Star event. I think I will call it "The First Annual All Hockey All The Time All-Star Ranking!" I like the exclamation point.

Our first competition will be Best And By Best I Mean Most Amusing Foreign Forward. This is a pretty tight competition, you see, because I generally want to shy away from "most amusing" meaning "funny-looking." (That's a separate competition.) (Also, frankly, there are a lot of weird-looking North Americans out there. Maybe they're all from Love Canal?) However, this is going to go in a heartbeat to Alex Ovechkin. Even if he is pretty funny-looking, this category rests solely on this video [warning: goes straight to video]. This is one of the most amusing videos I've ever seen, a bunch of the young Caps players taking a tour of D.C....on Segways. It's also one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen, since Ovechkin spends most of the tape zipping around like a nutjob, getting in trouble with the authorities, going "YEEEEAAHHH!" and asking "To find girls. Girls, where are you?" Ovechkin seems like a pretty hilarious guy to hang around with. (Call me next time the Capitals are in town, Ovie. We don't have any Segways here, but we can walk around Parliament and take stupid pictures with the statues, which is also pretty fun.)

Up next we have Most Funny-Looking Player. This is actually a close competition between the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, whose pictures I'm not going to link to because they skeeve me out too badly; and Jason Spezza. I love Jason very much, and he is an outstanding young player who will one day have a lot of leadership potential, but I'll tell you right now I don't understand the girls (and there are a lot of them, believe it or not) who hail him as some kind of sex symbol. Because...no. Just...no. He ran a couple commercials for a jeweler here in Ottawa with the tagline "Dare to Dream," and they're just so hugely stupid and goofy and...He's a good guy, just he wins for Funny-Looking.

Now over here in this category, we have Most Useless European Defenseman. Duh, this is a layup for Karel Rachunek. Now, I adore Rachunek, but I fully realize his uselessness. In nine out of ten pictures, he looks stoned off his head. He has taken maybe three pictures while smiling in his entire life. When he was playing for the Sens, Jacques Martin accused him of being "unemotional" and "cold." And this was repeated by his teammates. From everything I've read, he's pretty well-liked, just...apparently has no feelings, EVER. Not that this makes a difference to me. I love him even in his uselessness. Even if I am the only one. (And really, he's getting better! The older he gets, the better he gets as a player! I'm not kidding, guys! He's grown up and filled out...hello? Hello?)

How about the goalies? They get no love. (That's a lie.) How about Most Completely Smoking Hot Goalie? (Yes, I am about as deep as a puddle, but I don't lie about it!) Now, Ray Emery got into hot water with management when he was photographed getting a tattoo and it was in all the newspapers (there's a long story that goes along with that about a bet about eating a cockroach off the locker room floor and $500, but yeah), but frankly, I don't care. Thank you, Sun Media, for putting this into my life. YEAH I THOUGHT SO. I could do without the funky little chin-beard he has going on there, but please. That's like critiquing the landscaping behind the Mona Lisa, people.

Like your goalies a little less flashy and flamboyant? How about a little Henrik Lundqvist? with your coffee? Yeah, I thought so.

He doesn't have ENOUGH hair for you? How about Roberto Luongo? Now, that one may be kind of an exposure-therapy thing, but seriously, "Bobby Lu" is so good he has men in Vancouver volunteering to dump their girlfriends for him. He is one of the best things to hit Vancouver in a long, long time, and they appreciate him every bit.

On a different, but still goalie-related note, we have Who Is The Weirdest Goalie? Now, this category is wide, wide open category because most goalies are on the express train to Bizarro Land with stops in Strangeville, Weirdson, and Completely Batshit. Will it be Antero Niittymaki, whose name I will never be able to spell right on the first try, who once let in a goal because he was too busy watching his own replay on the Jumbotron? No, that makes him Most Self-Centered. Will it be Kari Lehtonen, who was quoted as disliking the new NHL jersey style because he "saw some pictures of [himself] on the Internet and they made [him] look fat"? No, but maybe a close runner-up for Self-Centered. Twitchy Nikolai Khabibulin?

No, this one is a toss-up. On the one hand, we have the challenger, young Peter Budaj of Colorado. Budaj is from Slovakia, which is already one strike in the "weird" arena, but apparently he has abandoned ship and doesn't play for the Slovakian national team any more, which should drive Frantisek Hossa and Julius Supler just about insane. He has a drawing of Ned Flanders from the Simpsons on the back of his helmet. I can't call him completely crazy, though, because he did this one interview and won me forever.

On the other hand, we have the incumbent, the reigning king of lunacy, Dominik Hasek. I LOVE Hasek, like, a LOT, enough that it makes some of my friends uncomfortable. His autograph is truly one of my most prized possessions, although when I met him I was so completely in awe I couldn't even speak. (That's a good story, also the time Nicklas Lidstrom touched my neck, and yes, it deserves to be in bold.) But even I realize Hasek is a nutcase with a nutty filling. Hasek once attacked a sportswriter in Buffalo--like, full-on went after him and ripped his shirt. He has had an opera written about him (and, in fairness, the rest of the Czech national team.) There are pictures of him loose on the internet doing the splits in the shower. He is a big wrestling fan. He has a history degree and is qualified to teach at the high-school level. (I would not have missed a history class EVER.)

I think that about does it for The First Annual All Hockey All The Time All-Star Rankings! Stay tuned. My next entry is going to be all about food.

04 January 2008

Music and hockey don't always mix.

It's true. They're not always well-suited for each other. The ultimate proof of this lies in perhaps the greatest Christmas song ever recorded, Honky the Christmas Goose. [Warning: link plays sound] Recorded by Maple Leafs legend Johnny Bower, it's just...outstanding. My favorite part is how the tempo speeds up and slows down with no real apparent motive. And, it's about a GOOSE, okay? How many other Christmas songs are about fowl of any type? None, that's how many.

"But wait!" I can hear you saying. "There's tons of good hockey songs out there!"

"Tons" may be overstating it a bit. There is the wonderful classic by Stompin' Tom Connors, The Hockey Song. I think it's like a law that it must be played, at least in part, at every NHL game. I know I sing along with it, even if the people I'm with look at me a little oddly. (Hey, they know the words, too. They should make it a sing-a-long. It's easier to sing than the anthems, you know.)

Or how about the classic Hockey Night in Canada theme? Certainly one of the most well-recognized sports jingles out there, I think. Well, the Monday Night Football theme might beat it out, or at least in my house during football season, the NFL on Fox theme song, but I like the HNIC theme better. Even if sometimes they do play some awful version of "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," which...okay, I don't make the rules, but I'd rather they didn't and just stuck to what works. Also, once I heard an awesome story about a couple who had the organist play it at their wedding at some point. Which I think is just the coolest thing ever.

And there's all the music they play AT hockey games. Which is usually not so inspired. I think we've all heard Enter Sandman and Play That Funky Music White Boy a few hundred too many times. Where is the new, exciting music? (And I am not speaking here for the staff at Scotiabank Place, who play a lot of fairly crappy "nu-metal" music in some sort of weird attempt to rev up the crowd, when they could just as easily flash pictures of the Buffalo Sabres on the Jumbotron and make people angry.) Where are the daring arena staff playing Helmethead by Great Big Sea? Actually, that might not be such a hot choice, since it contains the line "I'll never win a title and I'll never win the Cup," and is all about a crappy player who sleeps around with lots of women. So, you know, it accurately describes many, many players, but is probably not such a positive message for the young kids at the games.

Speaking of things that are not a positive message, apparently the New Jersey Devils, when they opened the Prudential Center this year, played a montage of clips set to the music of...yes...friggin' Baba O'Reilly by the Who. (Yeah, I know the video says Quadrophenia, and the song is off Who's Next. I didn't make the video, I just needed the song.) CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THAT TO ME? Ok, maybe Pete Townshend admitted that he didn't even know what the song is about, and I know it has a catchy riff and lots of fun synthesizer bits, but...seriously, "It's only teenage wasteland / they're all wasted" AND SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE IN THE DEVILS MANAGEMENT THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA FOR A VIDEO MONTAGE ABOUT HOW GOOD THE DEVILS ARE. I don't GET it. It's a good song, just...maybe not for this purpose?

And there are plenty of hockey players who have bands! Jocelyn Thibault is an avid drummer, and my mom's perennial favorite ex-player Darren McCarty is the lead singer in his own metal band, which is creatively named "Grinder." And since I don't much care for metal, I can't comment on the...relative decency of the band.

Fun fact for the day: Did you know Chris Chelios is just about to pass Alex Delvecchio in the standings for most games played? Chelios has 1547, and Delvecchio played 1549, and was, of course, one of the greatest players ever to play in Detroit. Chelios has far and away the most games played of any active player, although his next runner-up is a former teammate of his, Brendan Shanahan. Hockey is a small world.