Saturday, July 28, 2007

If Left Unchecked, They May Start Running With Scissors!

You are the publisher of the biggest, baddest sports mag on the North American block, if not the planet. The last seven days has been Christmas in July. You have the feeling that the Tour de Farce crown will be given to the only clean cyclist in France: a 12 year old baguette delivery boy from Cannes. The NBA is wracked by a gambling scandal that makes Rick Tocchet look like your Auntie Gertrude at Saturday night bingo. MLB has Barry Bonds, and his totally illegitimate claim to the game's most hallowed record. And Michael Vick is...well, Michael Vick is just sub-human and his name should forever be stricken from the record of civilized society.

The news keeps breaking, so good, so damn juicy, that you set up a special section on your website. You call it "How They Cheat" and dispatch your finest writers to dig up as much dirt as they can on each of the major leagues. Content, after all, is king.

You turn to Alan Muir, one of your top hockey guys, and say "Go get the NHL. With all of the others imploding, there has to be something we can dig up on hockey! Go get it!" And after an exhaustive investigation leaving no stone unturned, no seemy underbelly unscratched, he comes back to you, not with tales of gambling, cheating spouses, domestic violence or the once widespread abuse of a certain flu remedy. The name Bertuzzi never even comes up. No, your intrepid investigative reporter comes back to you with...sticks. Illegal sticks.
How prevalent is this offense? Go down the list of the league's top snipers and many of them -- including Ilya Kovalchuk, Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne -- were nabbed last season with an illegal curve. Ask around and the belief is that as many as one-in-five players regularly break the rule, secure in the knowledge that they're unlikely to be caught.
As nefarious as these allegations are, or as risky giving Brett Hull an open microphone can be, this opens a huge door for the NHL but it won't stay open for long.

So get on it Gary! Put down the marguarita! Get your marketing monkeys going! An opportunity like this only comes around once in a lifetime! Here's your chance to fulfill your wet dream, vault over the Big Three and put the NHL back on the U.S. map! "Hockey! Dodging Major Scandals Since 1917!" Just make sure you lock Marty McSorley in a closet first.

Breaking the rules: NHL []

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What Happens In Lutsen, Stays In Lutsen

Well, it was inevitable really. We've all seen it. We've all read about it. A group of young, rich celebrities looking to have a good time in a party town take things too far and before you know it, old people get upset, phone calls are made, and once promising careers are tarnished. The next thing you know, your mugshot appears on The Smoking Gun, and your lawyer sends you to rehab where you spend the next 90 days fighting off rather bizarre sexual advances from one "Ell Lohen". Two of the Staal brothers have been arrested. At Eric's bachelor party:

LUTSEN, Minn. (CP-AP) - Brothers Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins were among 14 people arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a weekend party.

Seeing as my bachelor party consisted mostly of an exchange of crafting ideas and a discussion of Proust's A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu over cups of tea (yes, that's right my Beloved. Just like I told you. Tea. No brass poles or Jello shooters to be found), a group of 20 youngsters screaming, yelling and playing loud music would certainly lead me to believe that the Apocalypse was upon us. And I would hope that the authorities would act with a firm hand to quell such anarchy.
The group was warned by police around 12:50 a.m. to quiet down ''or they may be removed from the property, issued citations/arrested, and/or deported from the country.''
So let that be a lesson to you young man! Whether they write you a $13 fine while ordering you to vacate the premises and spend the rest of the night at the IHOP sobering up, or throw you out of the country, the police are not to be trifled with! You will respect them! Now get the hell off my lawn.
Oh, and the Sutter brothers called. They said until you can tip a whole cow over, you're still strictly bush league.
p.s: thanks to NHL Fanhouse, via Scarlett Ice for the mugshots.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why We Should Go Back To Chiselling On Rocks

Ordinarily whenever I post something that is laughably out of date, it's because I'm incorrigibly lazy. Since I don't exactly have firm deadlines here in my chucklhut the reasoning goes, whatever breathless prose I've come up with can usually wait until the whiskey is gone. Not this time.

The two posts which follow were originally written on Friday, but the combination of wonky technology, wayward email, and what I can only assume was a rather inebriated Dial-Up monkey meant that I didn't get these up until just now. I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, but because I had a lot of fun with them, I'll settle for three days flaccid rather than trash them completely.

To my faithful readers: I apologize to both of you. Especially you Mom.

Larry Tanenbaum Can’t Get Anyone To Return His Calls

As most of you may know by now, the deliciously dysfunctional Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Ltd., owners of our favorite punching bags, has been trying to recruit a “mentor” for their beleaguered General Manager, John Ferguson Jr. This came as a bit of a surprise to JFJ himself when the news hit the papers a few weeks back, but ever the company man, he completely accepted it with the humility and grace which befits such a huge vote of confidence from one’s employer. That was then. Now it would appear that MLSE has “reconsidered”:
Efforts to woo an advisor/mentor for Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. have temporarily been shoved to the backburner by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Ltd.
No reason was given (yet), but the prospect of working for such a well-run organization with a rich and storied history and bright future was so attractive that Scotty Bowman turned them down flat. Dan Poile was also offered the job, but reluctantly refused in order to stay in…Hamilton Kansas City Nashville. Also interviewed for the job were former Bruins GM Harry Sinden and our very own John Muckler. Unfortunately, they were both judged unsuitable after Sinden tried to lift Richard Peddie’s wallet and Mucks spent the entire interview talking to the potted fern in the corner.

I bring this up for a couple/three reasons. First, I never, EVER pass up an opportunity to mock Toronto. Second, I needed something to segue smoothly to Kid Canada’s eloquent yet ultimately futile defence of the Leafs on Melt Your Face Off.

Thirdly? The prospect of another sad-sack Leaf season doesn’t hold the same pleasure for me anymore. I’ve come to the realization that no amount of misery will shake Leafs Nation out of their myopia and arrogance. The Harold Ballard Years created an entire generation of pavlovian fans who will happily continue to shovel money by the bucket full into the gaping maw of whoever, or whatever, owns the team.

So, I actually want the Leafs to get better. The rivalry has gotten boring (“Oh, we’re playing Toronto tonight? Umm…in the…face??”), and after the rape and pillage of the Sabres effectively gave us the Division, there’s nobody around here to hate. I miss that.

Your mission JFJ: get better, make the playoffs and play the Senators. That way we can remind ourselves why we don’t like your team and the slack-jawed troglodytes that make up 80% of your fan base.

On top of that, we’d be happy to remind you that this year marks the 40th anniversary of…well, you know.

Maple Leafs Halt Mentor Search [Fan Nation]
Why My Team Is Better Than Your Team: THE Toronto Maple Leafs [Melt Your Face Off]

UPDATE: Taking a look at my site meter today I noticed a new IP address I hadn't seen before. Upon further investigation (well, I just clicked on it really) it turns out that the computer is registered to...wait for it...Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment! Hi Larry! But, um, if I may be so bold, for a man with your responsibilities Googling yourself is rather unseemly, don't you think?

Hi Mom! Having A Great Time! The Police Here Are Really Ni-OW OW OW OW!

For the second time in a month, we turn our attention to soccer, only this time, instead of mocking weak girly men for falling down too much, we focus on weak girly men and the cool, dispassionate manner in which participants at the highest level conduct themselves. Soccer moms, take note:

TORONTO (CP) - The president of FIFA says the ruling body of soccer will take "adequate actions" following a brawl involving the Chilean team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Toronto. Sepp Blatter told CBC Newsworld today the incident is a "black mark" on what had been a successful tournament.
As an aside, I love FIFA press releases, if only because it affords me the opportunity to type “Sepp Blatter”.

Anyway, after having two of their players thrown out of the game and 30 of the 53 fouls assessed called against them in a 3-0 loss, our Andean heroes expressed their displeasure through a spirited debate with “hundreds of angry fans” gathered near their bus. The thing was, between the fans and the team stood a large number of local policei (who were there, it should be noted, because they had earlier been forced to keep the team away from the game officials). And they had their own yellow card:

A member of the Chilean delegation was subdued by Taser during the brawl. It was not immediately clear if he was a player or a team official.
When all is said and done, this could lead to a major breakthrough in soccer’s popularity in Canada. From all accounts, this wasn’t your father’s soccer brawl, full of flailing legs and limp-wristed bitch slaps. Actual, real punches were thrown. Blood flowed. A little more of that during, say, a Toronto FC game, and MLS might have a chance here.

Barring that, then Five For Smiting respectfully requests that Sepp Blatter (WEE!) allow all on-field officials to carry their own Tasers. It may not clean up the diving, but it'll make those Uruguay-Bolivia games a lot more fun to watch.

FIFA To Take Action After U-20 Melee []
Bend It Like Nate Kaeding [Five For Smiting]

Update: Over the course of the weekend, we were treated to the spectacle of a full blown international incident as the Chilean government wrote a strongly worded letter to the Canadian Ambassador in Santiago over the "abominable brutality suffered by our boys at the hands of the Toronto police", accompanied, naturally, by requisite photos of one of these poor dears showing off what could have been a welt on one shoulder. Then again, it might have been a big pimple. At least we know where those little boys get their class and ability to lose with grace and dignity.

So, Senor El Presidente, in order to help foster warmer relations and maintain diplomatic ties between our two proud nations, please allow me to state the following on behalf of my fellow Canadians: Get fucking bent. Strap on some skates, candyasses, and we'll show you what a man's sport looks like.

Monday, July 16, 2007

God’s Beer League Just Got A Whole Lot Tougher

At the 1994 entry draft, John Ferguson, then the Senators Director of Player Personnel, convinced GM Randy Sexton to take a flyer with their 6th round pick (133rd overall) on a skinny European kid no one had ever heard of. Years later, that player admitted that even he didn’t think the NHL would draft him. That skinny kid’s name was Daniel Alfredsson.

Big John passed away of cancer on the weekend. Five For Smiting extends our heartfelt condolences to the entire Ferguson family.

We would also council Satan to think twice before going into the corners from now on.

You Can Never Have Too Many Helenic Warriors Playing Left Wing

Call off the search. Crate up the bloodhounds. Bryan Murray has been found alive and living in a utility closet deep in the bowels of ScotiaBank Place. That’s right folks, the Ottawa Senators have announced a Free Agent Signing!

The Senators, (have) inked free-agent right winger Niko Dimitrakos to a one-year deal. Dimitrakos, 28, is a veteran of 158 NHL games. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder has scored 24 goals and 38 assists with San Jose and Philadelphia.

A native of Somerville, Mass., Dimitrakos was originally a fifth-round pick of the Sharks in 1999. He ended last season with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but sources tell Five For Smiting that the phrase “unlimited supply of Spam” appears in multiple clauses of the contract.

So congratulations Bryan! Take a break. You’ve earned it. After all, figuring out a way to tap into that elusive Athenian-American market is no easy feat.

And you’ll be happy to know that this momentous occasion will completely allow us, as fans, to move past not getting Ryan Smyth. Totally.

Senators re-sign Nycholat, add winger [Slam Sports]

Mr. Tocchet Would Like To Assure The Court That He Is Completely Rehabilitated

You are Rick Tocchet. You currently find yourself on “indefinite leave of absence” from your job as Wayne Gretzky’s towel moistener assistant coach. In May, you plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and of promoting gambling after you were caught running a $500,000.00 gambling ring. On the 17th of August, you will be sentenced on those very charges. So, how do you spend the intervening time?

Well, if you or I were Rick Tocchet, I would think we would do all we could to convince the sentencing judge that we do not, in fact, belong in prison where our powerful hockey glutes, developed through years of falling on our ass, would prove a rather popular attraction to our fellow inmates. We would accomplish this by, say, doing charity work, or maybe buying puppies for leprous orphans. At the very least we would spend three months in our own house. Not. Touching. Anything.

But that only matters if you or I were Rick Tocchet. Rick Tocchet, the man, selected a slightly different approach. Displaying the acute judgment for which professional athletes are renowned, Rick Tocchet decided that the ideal way of impressing the judge overseeing his illegal gambling conviction would be to play in the World Series of Poker:

Former hockey star Rick Tocchet and Wayne Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, are making gambling headlines again. Tocchet and Jones, who were named in a gambling scandal that put Gretzky in an unwanted spotlight, are trying their luck in the World Series of Poker.

Tocchet's name appears among those who survived the first round of the WSOP's $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas hold 'em main event at the Rio.

I think all convicted felons should do this while they await sentence. Drunk drivers should pound back 40s of Jack while working as valets. Drug dealers should rent a theatre and stage all night Dennis Hopper movie marathons complete with open snack bar. Bank robbers should hang out with Imperial Oil VPs.

After all Rick, there will be plenty of time for puppy buying later. I think they call it “parole”.

A little poker before court date [Las Vegas Review Journal]

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hark! Is This A New Blog I See Before Me? Be Afraid Gary. Be Very Very Afraid

Emerging from the anarchic depths of riotous synergy that is the Deadspin commenter family (a family I am proud to be able to call myself a member of...playing the part of the alcoholic second cousin nobody wants to discuss but who shows up every Christmas to drink your good scotch and grope your wife...but only if she's hot), comes the latest battalion in Will Leitch's attempt to take over the interwebs. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Melt Your Face-Off.

To call them a Deadspin spin-off would not only do a gross disservice to the founders, but would also give more credit to Deadspin (and by extension, parent Gawker Media) than it deserves, for as much as Will has become the King of The Sports Blogs, and beloved by legions of knowledgeably smart-ass sports fans the world over, his site's coverage of hockey kind of...well...blows.

But what wonders he has wrought! From KSK to DeadOn to Ladies... and now to Melt Your Face-Off, the like minds that gather daily (and nightly) under cover of his nurturing snark have found each other, said "Hey let's start a blog about this" and, as a group, have produced some of the finest ways to spend an entire day in a cubicle without actually producing anything of note other than carpel tunnel and an ability to laugh until coffee comes shooting through your nose.

The site is six days old now, so by all means, pop in and say Hello. If we act fast enough, we might be able to convince them that the Leafs aren't an actual professional team and hence, should be banished from all discussion for reasons of health and sanity.

Now where the hell is that scotch?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alexei Yashin Will Take His Ball And Go Home

As some of you may recall, we had the pleasure a little while back, of travelling through that wondrous alternate universe that is the mind of Mark Gandler, agent to Ottawa's favourite ass pimple, Alexei Yashin, and his musings about a triumphant return to the Senators. Well hold on children, because we are entering the land of Nod one more time.

It would appear that dear Alex is finding the task of securing gainful employment rather difficult, and Gandler is mystified as to why that would be. And he's getting rather pissy about it.

Alexei Yashin, according to his agent Mark Gandler, is not happy with the contract offers he has received from NHL teams.

''We are still talking to some teams. So far the offers we have received we are not happy with,'' Gandler said in an interview with CKNW Radio in Vancouver. ''If we are not going to get what we are looking for, then he (Yashin) will definitely go to Russia.''

''I think that what's making an impression on the teams is the fact that he received this huge buyout. I don't know what else is weighing on them.''

Like me, I'm sure you're detecting the musky odour of collusion in this tragic turn of events. How else to explain the fact that a proven warrior and staunch team player like Alexei Yashin, a man as true to his word as any who has ever walked the face of this earth, remains without a team to call his own. This, ladies and gentlemen borders on the criminal, and it cannot, nay, MUST NOT go unchallenged!

Fear not Alex, I'm with you! On behalf of all right thinking hockey fans, I demand an independent third party launch an immediate investigation into how, in this day and age, the market for lazy, selfish, lying, underachieving, parasitic, cancerous man-children is being artificially held down by the League and those dastardly owners hell bent on receiving value for money.

We will not stand for this Gary. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the fate of the known Universe, your entire League and Carol Alt's shoe allowance all hang in the balance. Do the right thing, Gary. FREE ALEXEI!

Agent: Yashin not happy with offers [TSN]
Hey Yash, What's That Smell? [Five For Smiting]

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ray Emery Would Very Much Like To Make It Rain

As so many of us know, tailored Zoot Suites, tattoo removal and trashing random Hummers can significantly increase one's cost of living, to say nothing of the prohibitive impact the crickets and rodents needed to feed one's pet python can have on one's weekly grocery bill. So we can hardly blame Ray Emery for looking for a significant raise now that he is a restricted free agent over the paltry $600,000 he made last year.

No. 1 netminder Ray Emery will file for arbitration by today's deadline...and he is going be seeking close to the $4.5 million a season that Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro is getting in the 15-year deal he signed last summer.

It's interesting to note that, given Emery's RFA status, no other team has put in an offer sheet, if only to force Murray to match the dollars or lose him for a couple of draft picks and a bag of pucks. A poison pill, if you will. Peter Kormanos, that fun loving owner of the Hartford Hurricanes created quite the stir a few years back by doing just that to Detroit. Emery's salary expectations combined with the sorry state Ottawa's goaltending would be left in if we lost him would seem, at least to the eyes of a non-Genius Hockey Dude such as your humble scribe, to be the perfect storm the other GMs would exploit to fatally weaken what should be a solid contender next year (yeah Gainey, I'm looking at you). And yet...nary a peep.

So Ray, what conclusions are we to draw from this? Well, no matter what your agent tells you between Mai Tais, you may not quite be ready for DiPietro money. Yes you were good. Yes, you were a large part of our run to the Finals. But $4.5M a year?

So here's my idea Ray. We'll swap you for DiPietro straight up for one year. You can spend the season playing behind the Islanders defence and Ricco can spend a year playing behind ours. Then we'll compare numbers again. If you're close, you get your four-and-a-half mil, an unlimited supply of rental cars to mutilate and your pick of the Puck Bunnies that prowl the hallway outside the dressing room. If not, than we keep DiPietro and you get to sign a 15 year contract with Chuckie Wang. He might even throw in a Hummer every now and then to keep things interesting.

Keeper Of The Farm? [Ottawa Sun]

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy Free Agent Day Canada! Please Spend Responsibly.

In its continuing effort to prove to Canadians that the NHL does in fact care for and value its largest and most loyal fan base, Gary's Gang has bestowed upon us, the Canadian fan, a great gift.

When gazing across the desolate moonscape that is the off-season calendar, it was decided by those Wise Men in New York that the annual livestock auction known as "The Opening Of Free Agency" would be held on a day when Canadian's attentions would not be distracted by superfluous events. In no way would external influences be allowed to tear us away from our blogs, our internets, our radios or our television sets. "Allow their full attentions to be paid to this, the eighth or ninth most important day of our season!", they cried. "Maximize the hype and spin. Wall-to-wall coverage! Show them we love them!" the marketroaches added. And lo, it came to pass that a day that rivals the trade deadline for Canadian water cooler talk and navel gazing shall be fixed on...a Sunday afternoon. A Sunday afternoon that was also July 1st. Canada Day.

So thanks guys. We could not have received a more thoughtful gift for our Nation's 140th birthday than to be forced to choose between a beautiful long week-end outdoors with our fellow countrymen and being yelled at by Pierre McGuire.

As for me, the cooler is packed, the steaks are marinating and the margaritas are blending. If you're lucky Gary, the folks now out on my back deck might, might talk a little hockey at some point between the fourth bottle of Cave Springs 2005 semi-dry Riesling and the fireworks show down on the waterfront. Maybe. Then again, tomorrow is a stat holiday too.

Happy Canada Day everyone!