Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In No Way Can This Be Misconstrued. Nope. Not At All

Every hockey fan knows (or if you don’t you’re about to find out) that each member of the Stanley Cup winning team gets a day with the Cup during the off season to do with what he pleases. And of course, as professional hockey players the world over are renowned for their maturity, clarity of thought and general all around genius, this has led to the Cup being kicked into the Rideau Canal, used as a horse trough and spending time at the bottom of a swimming pool (among other less distinguished incidents). Carrying on this fine tradition, we present Temmu Selanne and his whirlwind tour of Finland with its mountains so lovely and treetops so tall.
In Finland, the concept of a sauna is a much-loved part of everyday life, and a Stanley Cup celebration screamed 'SAUNA' to the men at Selanne’s party. The orange-shirted fans, doffing their recognized attire, clambered into the sauna, followed by a few others. Selanne briefly brought the Stanley Cup in with him.
Now personally, if I were in possession of the Holy of Holies, sitting in a hot room crammed…ahem…cheek-to-cheek with a bunch of sweaty naked guys would probably not be the way I would choose to celebrate. But that’s just me.

So party on Temmu! But jeez, would it have killed you to go to a strip club?

p.s.: Special thanks to the geniuses at Battle of Ontario for the pic. Apparently, the NHL isn’t quite as metro as Stanley and has since removed it.

Stanley Cup Jounal [NHL Connect]

What’s Russian For “We Still Own Your Ass, Biotch”?

A few months ago, Russian goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak suggested that a second Summit Series might be a fun way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the glorious original. Because the thought of a 65 year old Phil Esposito hobbling and wheezing his way up the left wing boards, jowls flapping in the wind, pretty much gave everybody a raging case of the dry-heaves, the idea was mercifully spiked.

Undeterred, the International Ice Hockey Federation, never one to turn its back on easy money its rich history organized the Super Series, an 8 game exhibition series between the respective U-20 teams as a cash grab tribute. Both hockey pundits who were paying attention immediately leapt to the conclusion that Canada was going to get pasted because their guys had been in camp since May, MAY! and had already played some exhibition games against teams from the Russian elite league. Our guys? Three months of extra butter on the popcorn while watching Slapshot.

The predictable result thus far? We are kicking their collective commie asses, following up Monday’s 4-2 win with a 3-0 shutout today. Somewhere, Paul Henderson’s botox is smiling. But a word of caution here kids. 35 years ago, the original started this exact way, with the home team losing the first two. We all know how that ended.

Just to be on the safe side, can we borrow that stick Mr. Clarke?

Canada Keeps On Cruisin’ []
The Noise You Hear Is Valeri Karlamov’s Scream Of Impotent Fury [Five For Smiting]

Update: Well, it's now the eve of Game 7 and we're up...6-0. From what I've watched of this series, an eight game sweep is not out of the question. If this had happened in '72, the entire history of soviet Russia may have turned out completely different. A rather succinct summary of the general feeling around this series can be found here.

Now Then. Where Were We?

Aaaaaaaand........we're back.

Some quick hits on various goings on I've been too lazy drunk busy to touch on:

The new unis: When Reebok (sorry...RBK) introduced their new "form fitting/aerodynamic" jerseys at the Torino Olympics, my first thought was "God I can't wait to kick the living shit out of the Americans." My second thought was "Where the hell did the players go?" Hated them then, hate 'em now. They look...smaller somehow. In the good old days (last June), a perfectly square block was formed between the top of the pants to the neck. As he was being chased into a corner by a wild-eyed forechecker like, say, Mike Fisher, the defenceman's last thought before the air was removed from his lungs was "Wow, that cube sure is coming fast." Now, it will probably be "Ooo, what a lovely hour glass figure he has. I wonder how he does it?"

I gave myself a week to think about and my over all impression remains: Corset with elbow pads. The solid red/white colour scheme makes them look like practice jerseys (bring back the black stripe across the torso). As for the "new" logo? Naked. Cash. Grab. Then again, things could always be worse. Who knew the Whalers had come back and landed in Lotus Land?

Signings: McAmmond's 3 years for basically meal money was absolutely inspired. The others? Oddly satisfying. When the lockout ended I told everyone who would listen (and a few who wouldn't...I had the bruises to prove it) that in light of the new cap, Cups would be won and lost on how smart GMs were in getting the most out of the third and fourth lines. The super stars would continue to get their stupid money (hello Mr. Sather) but it would be the muckers and grinders that would take you to the promised land. See file: Patriots, New England. So welcome Messrs. Donovan and Richardson. Just do what you do best (and most important, don't bitch about it), and you'll get your rings.

T.V. Schedule: Cover your ears children. What follows may very well be the loudest obscenity you've ever heard. Ahem...*cough*...MORE PAY-PER-VIEW IS A FUCKING CROCK!

There were five last year. There are seven this year. Everybody, and I mean everybody who shelled out bucks for these abortions last year all howled the same thing: NOT FUCKING WORTH IT! The play by play was a simulcast of what Centre Ice subscribers were getting with the added bonus of production values straight out of your Grade 8 AV club. So...what happens? The Senators, citing "a surprisingly large viewership" added two more. Of course the viewership was surprising. We didn't have a fucking choice! So allow me to be perfectly clear Messrs. Murray and Mlakar: It will be a cold, cold day in Hell before I a) recognize Mizzurah, or b) give you money to watch a third rate telecast. As far as I know, the Team 1200 still airs games for free.

Oh and one last thing. Only 220 days until Mark Bell goes to jail. What? You didn't think the Leafs would make the playoffs, did you?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Spezza To Be Horribly Crushed From Above Somehow

Fantasy League GMs take note: do not draft Jason Spezza this year. After a wildly successful 2006-2007, a rumoured mild slump mid June-ish which we've managed to expunge from memory (thank you beer!) notwithstanding...our very own poster child for the maddeningly talented yet infuriatingly inconsistent, has successfully begged to be been selected as the cover boy for NHL 2K8.

For Spezza, appearing on the cover of the box is a bit of a dream come true. The Ottawa Senators centre is an avid video game player and has been playing hockey related video games for as long as he can remember. The company said it was Spezza's rabid interest in video gaming that prompted them to use him on the NHL 2K8 cover.
We all know what this means of course. Following in the limping footsteps of Marshall Faulk, Donovan McNabb, Stephen Alexander and yes, even that sub-human dog murdering goat molester from Atlanta, Jason will suit up for the first Senators pre-season game...and get run over by the Zamboni in warmups. And just like that, *poof*, his season is finished.

On the upside, if Take2Interactive, the game's producers and the responsible, caring corporate citizens who brought us such wholesome entertainment as Grand Theft Auto and Bully, stay true to form, our boy Spezz should play a whole lot tougher in the game than he does in reality. Who knows, maybe his digital alter-ego might show Jason how to back check, or better yet, where the corners are.

But a word of advice Jason: if Sports Illustrated comes calling, hide under the bed until they go away.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Around The Boards: Hockey Blogs + August = Fun With Filler!

If there is one thing I’ve learned (or had pointed out by kind hearted friends) since birthing the squealing infant that is Five For Smiting way back in March of aught seven, it’s that there are many, many, many folks much more talented than I out there in the hockey blogosphere. Hence, I give you Around The Boards*, a weekly round up of what my betters are talking about:

Patrice Brisebois returns and Habs fans couldn’t be happier! [Four Habs Fans]

The key to Kansas City hockey? Twinkies! [Melt Your Face Off]

I for one, welcome our new Puck Bunny Overlords. [Dear Lord Stanley]

Scotty Bowman may, or may not, be finished screwing with JFJ’s head. [Behind The Jersey]

Don’t make me go Alex Trebek on your ass. [Hockey Ladies Of Greatness]

*Five For Smiting LLC would like to point out that while this feature is a blatant ripoff of Deadspin’s daily Blogdome, it is meant as more of an homage than easy filler. Really. Totally.

Fox Sports and Sun Media Separated At Birth? Discuss.

I think one of the coolest jobs in the world would be that of a sports writer. In fact, it has long been one of the few secret fantasies I harbour that doesn’t involve Nicole Kidman, a garter belt and plaid mini-skirts. Being allowed to watch games for a living and delight millions afterward with a few lines of lovingly crafted prose would be, I think, the ultimate experience. To get paid real money, on top of that, for doing so would almost feel like theft (not that that would prevent me from cashing the cheques mind you). The “job” of sports writer should be earned through years of dedication, and a proven ability to express those things which make the games we watch so special. In short, it’s a privilege, and I’d wager a large percentage of those of us who romp through the toy box that is the sports corner of the blogosphere would feel the same way. Apparently Fox Sports disagrees. Jay Mohr is back to haunt our dreams:

You may remember Mohr from his cable series with ESPN (cancelled) and column with (dropped), and for such films as Community Service. Well now you can get your regular Mohr fix at the Fox Sports web site…

In an exercise guaranteed to make you want to get blind drunk and pummel large objects with a four iron, let us compare and contrast the literary stylings of Mr. Mohr and our very own favourite hack, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons. First Mohr:

I find it hilarious that Los Angeles has a soccer team but no football team. Soccer sucks. Most soccer games end by a score of 2-1. If you played the entire game without goalies, it would end 9-8…I think it is unfair that the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in the same parking lot as the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey Nets…All NBA referees are on the take. They all stink. Games at the YMCA have a better rhythm to them.
Now Simmons:

In protest of the NFL's treatment of disabled players, Mike Ditka boycotted yesterday's Hall of Fame inductions. Funny, didn't hear him say anything about boycotting his job as an NFL broadcaster ... Royce Clayton, the 12th starting shortstop of the Ricciardi era, is out. The next great Ricciardi shortstop will be the first ... Gambling in tennis: Who knew? ... The suspended Neifi Perez, batting a powerless .172, is giving banned substances a bad name ... Quick confession: I have become an HD snob. If it's a sporting event and it's not in HD, I don't want to watch it anymore…And hey, whatever became of Randy Knorr?
See kids? Who needs school? Become a C-List celebrity based on a supporting role you had in a movie ten years ago, or cling desperately to your union backed tenured position at a large circulation broadsheet, and you too can scribble random thoughts on a napkin with your navy blue Crayola and use it to vault over others with far more talent and become a sports “writer”! And hey, whatever became of Steve Rushin?

Meet Jay Mohr: Judge For Yourself [Fox Sports]
Simmons Says []
Why Your Fox Sports Columnist Sucks [Deadspin]