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!