Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Rayzor Chronicles: What Happens In Vegas...Gets Your Ass Traded To Outer Mongolia

Handy man special. Good foundation, fundamentally sound. Needs electrical work (rewiring) particularly in attic. $7 million, or best offer. Inquire: E. Melnyk, c/o Bert's Bar, Rockley, Christ Church, Barbados.

Okay. I think I get it now. Granted, it took me a while, but I just needed a little time to make some sense of it. First I calmed down. I meditated. I pondered. I got mad again. I punched another nun. I calmed down. I slept on it. I wandered through the backyard desert in deep contemplation, wearing only a torn loincloth and subsisting on a diet of locusts and dirt. I prayed. I froze my nutsack. I wandered some more. I even thunk me some. Soon enough, my spirit guide appeared before me in the guise of (NSFW-ish) Ana Ivanovic slathered in baby oil (mental note for all future cold-weather desert wanderings: wear pants).

Gazing upon me with eyes that held the wisdom of a million years, she spoke, each word a drop of cool water on a parched tongue. "Dirt? Really? The dude ain't worth that. And you need to get a life". With that, she was gone. But not before I was filled with the light of inspiration! Thank you Spirit Guide! You have imparted your wisdom and left me with the only logical conclusion. Ray Emery ain't worth dirt! Nor is he worth a lot of other things you're likely to find lying around my backyard desert (you've met my dog, right?). And that's the problem.

Ray Emery's days as an Ottawa Senator are done (Sorry Sherry). We all know this, and I for one rejoice in it. His behaviour hasn't changed, he still doesn't practice hard, he's still the first guy off the ice after practice, he can't stop a stiff breeze and it seems he's also pretty stupid. Two hours to go a distance of 13 miles in a city with the most extensive public transit/taxi system on the planet? Really Ray?

Then there's the off ice stuff. Everybody knows about the tats, and the cockroach and the road rage. But there are also some nasty rumours floating around these here interwebs, children. Darker rumours about Ray and his possible off ice "pursuits". I'll let someone with a bigger readership and deeper lawyer-paying pockets break that little story (that said, I encourage everyone to read Erin's post at the Universal Cynic. Cough, indeed). And now this...again. It's too much Ray. Here's the rub, Sens fans. He can't stay here, but neither can we ship him anywhere else.

Murray doesn't want to send him to the minors. Not because of any compassion he may feel for Ray (lovely, "father knows best" soundbites aside), but because, according to the CBA, he'd have to put him on waivers first. Some other team could claim him on the way down to Bingo, which I think would be a godsend as it would rid us of both the headache and the salary. Yes, it would suck not to get anything in return, but this is strictly a "cut your losses" situation. HOWEVAH!, there's a little wrinkle to the waiver rules. If for some reason he is recalled to Ottawa, he has to clear them again, only this time, if he's picked up by another team, Ottawa is stuck paying half his salary. Even JFJ could work that out to his advantage. Somewhere, Ted Saskin is laughing his ass off.

He's untradeable. Very few GMs not named Mike Millbury would make a deal for a guy who doesn't care about the team, can't stay out of trouble either off the ice or on it, can't play worth a damn, seems to be incorrigible and comes with a 7.5 million dollar cap hit (Hugh Adami at the Ottawa Citizen has an unintentionally hilarious idea how a trade could work...but I'm sure once he sobers up, he'll come to his senses). Add that to the possibility that the aforementioned rumours may be true, bearing in mind that 90% of the league's dirty laundry, common knowledge inside the insular world of the NHL, never makes it into the press, and no GM in his right mind deals for Emery.

So, as far as I can see, the Sens have two options. Send him down to Bingo and let him rot out the rest of his contract there. If someone claims him on the way down, oh well. Or two, buy him out and release him to free agency. In other words, T.O. his ass.

I like option #2 better. Sure we'd take a small cap hit, pro-rated over the next two years. And that would suck. But do you know what would suck even more? Passing up an opportunity to tell Ray that this is all of his doing, he brought it on himself, and that the Ottawa Senators, as an organization, has never, will not now, and will never put up with shit like this from anybody at anytime.

Goodbye Ray. We warned you once about how we fans treat arrogant and irresponsible punks who think they're bigger than the team. Now go home and get your fucking shine box.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Around The Boards: All Star Week--OW OW OW OW OW

Blogger Injury Report: Senators Lost Cojones (Liver sprain/partial judgment tear -- Questionable)

As he recovers from a Boys Night Out of truly bacchanalian proportions involving, as it did, gallons of Jack Daniels, broken pool cues, irate bartenders and a rather confused and bedraggled puma, your regular author would like to offer his apologies for the delay of his promised opus, The DaPeddie Code. He would like to assure both of his loyal readers (Hi SLC's Mom!) that work will continue on the manuscript as soon as the room stops spinning.

In his stead, he has requested that I, Sir Humphrey Fartsalot, Duke of Underfoot, newly minted Earl of Crossharbour, and Canine Boon Companion of long standing bring you this latest installment of Around the Boards, a whirlwind tour of link whoring filler the very best that hockey blogdome has to offer:
  • First up, HF10, of Four Habs Fans fame, drops the (f) bomb with his All Star Rant on the relative merits of Western Conference All-Star and former Hab, Mike Ribeiro. Epic in its hilarity, yet poignant in its brutally honest portrayal of blind rage tinted with hatred, All Star Rant should be among the front runners for Post Of The Year...if such a thing existed.
  • Melt Your Face-Off brings us the third installment of Gary Bettman's Diaries, expertly demonstrating why the Commisar continues to be held in such high regard amongst the sports most knowledgeable fans. Be sure to also stop by their live blog of this evening's annual exercise in effete, non contact sham hockey known as the NHL All Star Game. It will be quite interesting to see if their posts can keep up to the inevitable onslaught of goals. I know I couldn't do it. But then again, I lack opposable thumbs.
  • And finally, the lovely Sherry at Scarlett Ice turns her exquisite writing and razor sharp intuition to the travesty that is the current state of affairs in today's Women's fan apparel. I have also been asked to convey my master's assurances that in no way does the fact that several pictures of Alyssa Milano serve as point of emphasis to Sherry's argument, affect his decision to include it here.
So on behalf of your humble scribe, whom I am about to poke with a stick in order to assure myself he is still alive, we here at Five For Smiting wish you a happy All Star Game. Remember, in order to help control the pet population, please have your pets spayed or neutered. But you'd better be bringing the love in the form of steak and gravy afterwards! It really fucking hurts! Fucking Bob Barker...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sens 8, Bolts 4: It's The Captain's World. We Just Live In It.

The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented to the National Hockey League in 1923 by Dr. David Hart.

The trophy is presented to the most valuable player in the National Hockey League during the regular season. The initial winner was Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators. -- Hockey Hall Of Fame
The Highs:
  • Memo to NHL engraver. That's A-L-F-R-E-D-S-S-O-N. With two S's: Three goals (one short handed), seven points, the best defensive forward, if not the best defenceman on the ice, faster than a speeding Ovechkin, leaps tall Lecavaliers in a single bound, takes over scoring lead, walks on water, rents lake to Jesus on weekends. Ho-hum, just another day at the office.
  • Hey, the Coach was right! This IS a contact sport!: AWOL for a month, the worker bees in our lineup (Schubeedoo and Neiler in particular) made an impressive, if suitably sheepish, return, beating the Lightning to most loose pucks and wreaking havoc along the boards. I'll have to check the replays, but I think I even saw Golden Groin throw a hit on the backcheck TWICE! Amnesty on your collective desertion will be granted on a conditional basis, pending your performance after the All Star Break. But as a reminder, military law still allows us to hang repeat offenders from the nearest yard arm.
  • I have had just about enough of your crap, young 'un: Ladies and gentlemen, how about a big hand for the Geritol Brigade! Luke! Shean! C'mon out here boys! No, really, it's okay. Wave to the nice people. We just want to say thanks for showing us, for the first time this year, the leadership we had hoped we were getting when we signed you last summer. Ornery suits you Shean. You should try it more often. And Luke! The way you went after T-Bay's uber rat, Andre Roy even though you must have known you were going to get pummeled was truly inspirational. And that onion hanging from your belt? Stylin'!
The Lows:
  • Sean Avery thinks your a bit of a chickenshit: Speaking of hemorrhoidal abscesses, former Senator Andre Roy was certainly in fine form, wasn't he? In one sequence in the 2nd period he a) ran at The Captain (from behind), b) ran away from Chris Phillips who merely wanted to discuss said run and subsequent kick to Alfie's head c) ran Phillips from behind during a scrum in the corner after the whistle, and d) immediately went to the bench before Chris could turn around and find who had hit him. Then, on his next shift, backed down from Neil, but once Neiler was safely off the ice, dropped the gloves with a 38 year old Luke Richardson. That, in a nutshell, pretty much encapsulates why we traded his worthless grandstanding ass for a bag of pucks a few years ago.
  • Dammit! Didn't you guys get the memo?: Gerbs, if that was your audition for Coach's Goalie Idol, then prepare yourself for a comfy spot on the bench once everyone gets back for the All Star break. Sure, you got the win, but Christ... Perhaps language issues have prevented you from grasping the general gist of what your coaches and we fans are looking for, so allow me to try and explain: When people talk about a "money goalie" we aren't referring to someone who gives up four goals (two of them impossibly weak) to what is arguably the worst team in hockey not playing in Toronto.
Gord Wilson nonsensical homerism of the night:

In a ridiculous attempt to foment outrage at a perfectly legitimate hooking call on Andrej Meszaros, our intrepid hero and favourite clueless windbag blamed (and I'm not making this up), Vinny Lecavalier's "awkward syle of falling". Okay then. I wouldn't expect any calls from HNIC anytime soon, there Gord (apologies to those of you not "graced" with the embarrassment that is the local A-Channel feed).

We now pause for these twin moments of thanks, and blatant self promotional tripe:

Unbeknownst to your humble scribe, it seems our local sports radio station, The Team 1200, read a goodly portion of my "Fire THE COACH" post on their Three Guys On The Radio morning show yesterday. Unfortunately I missed it, but I must say, I'm humbled and hope it provided some of their audience a modicum of amusement while stuck in traffic. Had I known that was going to happen, I would have taken more care in not letting my participles dangle quite so freely.

But my biggest thanks goes to Don and the boys at the incomparable Battle of Ontario who, along with some wholly unnecessary but much appreciated kind words, initially pointed it out here. Even if 50% of their number have come down with incurable cases of Maple Pox, there's no place I'd rather hang out during our ritual curb stompings of the Leafs than their game threads. Cheers, gentlemen.

Creamy Middle: Skimming my notes from last night, I came across this little scribble in the margins: "Is it bad if I have zero confidence in a five goal lead?" And that, Sens fans, is why we should be very careful in assigning too much importance to this game. While the Ottawa MSM fall all over themselves declaring an "end" to our latest slump, those of us not drawing a paycheque by pumping smoke up Emperor Eugene's ass know better, don't we?

We managed 8 goals, sure...against Tampa. While the team's effort was a marked improvement from what we saw in Miami or especially (shudder) Philadelphia, seven points makes it fairly obvious that we won this one riding The Captain's sore hip. Two thirds of our D is still a wreck, and we still can't rely on either of our goalies to make a stop when they have to. I'll wait and see what happens next week before I'm ready to move the optimism meter away from "guarded".

The next game we can see without being extorted for the privilege: Ignoring next Tuesday's Pay-Per-Screwed tilt on Long Island, we come to Thursday against the Bruins, Sportsnet East with the pretty pictures. Thankfully, this one is being played at The Bank, thus sparing our boys from the suffocating cloud of smug hanging over the greater Boston area. Go Giants!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Panthers 5, Sens 3: Creamy Middle, Unbridled Panic Edition

"Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside?"

"Yes. Yes I would, Kent."
Bryan, we gotta talk. I tried talking to John, but I don't think he's listening, so, with regret, I have no choice but to go over his head to you. The Big Enchilada. The Grande Fromage, if you will.

Now, I've put a lot of thought into this. Well, some thought. There was an isolated thought or two involved. Okay, this flashed through my mind in the millisecond between the eleventh shot of tequila and punching the nun in the face (losing to Florida does funny things to a man). But that in no way should discredit the legitimacy of this idea: We must sacrifice someone to our gods. And not just anyone, but the one person most responsible for the absolute mess our Senators have become. I'm referring, of course, to Spartacat...Wait, what? Oh, sorry, wrong note pad. I actually meant the other creepy anthropomorphic representation of a human being on our team: John Paddock.

Yes, that's right. John has to go Bryan. I know! I hate saying it as much as you hate hearing it. But consider the facts man. We started 15-2. All was sweetness and light, sunshine and lollipops. All the coach had to do was roll his lines, just like you did last year. Those lines were set in stone. The defence was an immovable paragon It was so easy, monkey butlers could have run the bench.

But John isn't a big fan of monkey butlers, is he? No, monkey butlers are definitely not THE COACH's style. When they aren't flinging poo at innocent passers by, they're stealing THE COACH's thunder. So, sometime after beating the Sabres on the 15th of November and the pregame skate before the Leafs game two nights later, THE COACH decided that he knew better. He'd show those monkey butlers! Line combinations would now be written on the back of napkins in an orgasmic frenzy of creativity, to be pulled at random throughout any given game! Except when that didn't work! Then THE COACH would put out the CASH line as often as it took to make him look good! YEAH!! That'll show 'em! Then we lost that Leafs game. Then we lost the next seven. And, of course, we know how the rest has played out. From 15-2 to 15-13-4 since. We can ugly it up even more if you like. Take out the OT/shootout losses from which we salvaged a point, and it's 15-17 since the 17th of November. That's two games under .500 Bryan.

Look, I know you guys go back a long way. But remember, this is the guy that was so successful in Winnipeg, he fired himself before the team moved to Phoenix. Before this year, he hadn't been trusted with a head coaching job (other than his minor league stints) in 13 years. And now, it looks like he's lost the team. No one knows who the hell they'll be playing with from shift to shift, or even if they'll be playing a regular shift, our goaltending has degenerated into a quivering mass of infuriated impotence, two thirds of our top line have been ridden into the ice to the point of injury, the other scorers aren't scoring, the hitters aren't hitting, and the only fights our boys ever get into happen in practice. As for answers, THE COACH can only offer petulant press conferences held for the sole purpose of publicly humiliating his players (the guy who almost decapitated Dean? Sure! Love to have him!). Enough.

As much as it pains me to say (and it does, believe me...okay, maybe not so much), you have to act. You have to act before our Cup dreams...your Cup dreams...turn to so much bile in the puke basin of a wasted season. You know what you have to do Bryan.

Fire John Paddock.

Up Next: Tomorrow night, in Tampa Bay, for (mercifully) the last game before the All Star break. Historically, these little two-game Florida trips have not been kind to us. I see no reason to hold out any hope that this will be any different. Luckily, I plan to be extremely drunk by the time the third period rolls around.

Behind Enemy Lines: I'd like to thank Bolts Blog for being our gracious, if unwitting, hosts for this one. A quick read finds a treasure trove of very knowledgeable stuff. I'll try to refrain from making light of our expansion cousins and the depth of their fans' passion. They have a banner we seem to lack, after all...JOHN.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Come Here Boy! I Have A Treat For You. It's Just Out Behind This Barn

All those who had January 22nd in the JFJ death pool, please form an orderly line to the left in order to make the process of collecting as smooth as possible. Thank you.

Well, it's done. The wicked witch of Southern Ontario has finally been vanquished, Lake Ontario shall part, all will now be goodness and light, dogs and cats will now lay down together and the Leafs will now immediately vault into playoff contention, thus restoring order to the (centre of the) Universe. Right? Isn't that how it's supposed to work? Um, not so much:

"The key here is to initially start the process to move the club ahead to the next level so that it can compete with all the top teams in the league, which will eventually lead to the playoff success."

"The first step will be to meet with all the people involved in the hockey department here," Fletcher said. "I'm looking forward to their input on how they see the internal operation of the hockey team here and how they see the club moving forward."

Now, despite my service to Queen and Country, I'm not quite fluent in Corps-Speak as your new "interim" Septuagenarian General Manager, but that reads to me like: "Um...thanks for the job. I have to figure out exactly how many of the 87 MLSE corporate officers I actually report to. But in the meantime, I'll work hard to think about ways in which we might be able to put a working group together in order to recommend a course of action that may result in an actual plan. And I like pudding!"

Now, I have to go, because, you know, I'm watching a real hockey team play Florida right now. But I'd like to assure everybody that I will be fully mining today's press conference for all of its comedic goodness in the next few days (and at first glance, there are many many delicious layers). But in the meantime, on behalf of most, if not all Canadian hockey fans who don't bleed blue and white, I'd like to assure Leaf Nation of my complete sincerity when I say: "Finally!! Holy crap, can we move on now? Please?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Flyers 6, Sens 1: Creamy Middle, Gutless Wonder Edition (Some Language May Be Unsuitable For Younger Audiences)

"We didn't have a lot of good players," he said. "I was disappointed a lot in different individuals I thought would really take advantage and step up. I don't even mean the forwards with (Heatley and Alfredsson) out, just individually within team play. They're not being responsible and doing the right things.

"I don't think disheartening's the word. You're upset or pissed off, but not disheartened. you've got to play the game right. That's what we preach all the time -- just play the game right." -- John Paddock

Overheard in the Senators dressing room following last night's game*

*That this is the product of author's fervent wishes and disgusted imaginings also highly possible.

Coach Paddock:

"Well, congratulations ladies. After tonight's performance you have collectively set the reputation of the Ottawa Senators back ten fucking years. Yep. That's how long it took us to convince the rest of the league that we weren't a self serving bunch of pansies, pushovers and pussies. We finally threw all of our soft hearted weak kneed Euro trash off the bus. Good, tough, Canadian kids to take their place."

"We started to fucking HIT. We started to fucking FIGHT! And we finally got us some fucking respect!! Got us all the way to last year's Finals too. When we got our --HEY, NEIL! STOP SMILING! YOU THINK THIS IS FUCKING FUNNY?!? For all the goddamned help you gave us tonight...Christ. When we got our asses handed to us in Anaheim, everybody in this room swore to me and to Mr. Murray that we wouldn't let it happen again! And people believed us! And YOU guys...FUCKED IT ALL UP!!" *throws garbage can across room*

"Seriously. Did it hurt? Did it hurt to skate around with your dicks tucked between your legs? Did it hurt when you all tore off your ball sacks and gave them to the Flyers for lunch? Sure as shit looked like it. "Oh...don't hurt me Mr. Big Bad Flyer. Please??" And now that little Downie shit thinks he's some kind of fucking hero!! SON OF A BITCH!" *turns over stick rack*

"What was that Jason? You want to know about the highs?? The HIGHS?? There are no fucking highs! EVERYBODY IN THIS ROOM ABSOLUTELY SUCKED!! Everybody! But we have lows. That we have in spades!"

"Let's start with you Gratz. Oh you talked big, didn't you? Oh yeah, got Bettman's Underroos right fucking twisted didn't you? "Oh, he'll get what's coming to him"..."I hope he's in the line up the next time we..." blahty blah fucking blah. So what do you do when I put you out against the gutless puke who nearly killed your teamate? You blow out your shoulder picking a fight with...wait for it...RILEY COTE! Riley fucking Cote! The fuck?? So now, it's your turn Chris. You were out against him on the opening fucking faceoff, and what do you do? Answer me Chris! WHAT DID YOU DO?? That's right. NOTHING! SWEET...FUCK...ALL!!!" *overturns Gatorade table*

"And as for you two...Okay...Ray, you get a bit of a pass here for coming in cold and not screwing up an already lost cause too badly.

But you, Martin. You...How do I say do I get my point across just right...without any ambiguity at all...ah yes. Let's try this: YOU PLAY GOAL LIKE A 16 YEAR OLD BOY FUCKS!! Floppin' around all over the place, no fucking clue what you're doing and always aiming for the wrong fucking hole until all of a sudden it's over, the girl is laughing at you, and you're standing there with your limp dick in your hand, junk all over the ceiling and no clue about what the fuck just happened!! Four goals on ten fucking shots!! Jesus jumped-up Christ! And I swear to God, you little Swiss candy ass, if I so much as get a hint that you were bitching to the press about getting pulled after the second, I will sodomize you with the fucking zamboni! Got it??"

*sighs heavily, sits down. After five minutes of staring, takes wallet out of suit coat*

"You know what? Fuck you guys. First Tampa kills us, now this. Here's $1000. I think I saw a whorehouse down the street. Here. Better take it. Because, by the looks of it, until Alfie and Heater come back, it's the only way the rest of you gutless wonders are going to score. I'm going to Atlanta." *slams locker room door on way out*

If this speech, or something like it was not made following last night's abomination before the eyes of man and God, replete with wanton destruction of inanimate objects, then we have bigger problems than we thought, Sens fans.

Creamy Middle: The Creamy Middle will be suspended until further notice pending author's ability to find anything good to say about anything.

Up Next: Tomorrow night, against Jacques Martin's man-eating kittens in Miami. Ordinarily, the Panthers are the cure to what ails everybody, but the way we're lurching to the All Star Break that is very much up in the air at the moment. One thing I will guarantee, if Alfie isn't playing tomorrow, I may have more fun shoving sharpened spoons up my pee hole while impaled on a meat hook than I will watching this game.

Behind enemy lines: Panthers Daily Puck, brings it’s “Just the facts, ma’am” philosophy to our little corner of madness. Hopefully, they won’t be too embarrassed to be linked, however tenuously, to our current edition of the Ottawa Senators.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hi Steve. Remember Us?

Hi Steve. Been awhile eh? Too long, I think. Your having to serve a twenty game suspension before hiding in the minors for our first game against the Flyers will do that. But you can't duck us forever.

Did you think we'd forget? Were you hoping that, perhaps with the passage of time, we would eventually chalk up your asshattery to youthful inexperience and put it behind us? Not fucking likely.

I don't care if we win tonight. I don't care if we lose. The only thing I care about as I watch this game is how much of your blood is pooled on the ice at the end of it, and how long it takes Philadelphia's finest medical staffs to sew your battered carcass back together. How disgusting! the self-righteous will scream. Barbaric! will come the cry from a clueless media commentariat. Well, guess what Steve? We don't care about that either.

Hockey fans, real red-blooded born-and-raised-on-the-game fans know that sooner or later, you have to answer for what you did. And God willing, tonight you will.

Buckle up asswipe. It's go time.

R.I.P. Don Wittman, 1936-2008

photo courtesy of

If, like me, you're a sports nut between the ages of 30 to 40 who also happens to be Canadian, your formative years revolved, for the most part, around three voices. The first was Danny Gallivan calling Habs games on HNIC, where "cannonading blasts" reverberated around the old Forum. Next, comes Bob Cole. While we make fun of him from time to time for mangling the language (and player names), or bristle at what we perceive as his biases, for those of us not quite old enough to remember Foster Hewitt, Coley is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The third was Don Wittman.

As I flip through the cluttered file cabinet in my memory labeled "Greatest Sports Moments I've Ever Seen", it is truly astonishing how many come with Don's distinctive voice in the soundtrack.

One of the two seminal moments responsible for turning me into a hockey fanatic as opposed to a casual fan (the other being Gretzky to Lemieux in the '87 Canada Cup) will always be my favourite Don Wittman moment: The Punch Up In Piestany.

But whether it was at the Olympics (Ben Johnson's rise and subsequent fall in Seoul, Donovan Bailey's 100 meter win and the Men's 4X100 relay in Atlanta, Perdita Felicien's fall in Athens), iconic NHL playoff goals, too many memorable Grey Cup games to list here or even Brier finals (yeah, I like got a problem with that?), hearing "Good evening everyone. I'm Don Wittman" in the opening was as comforting as putting on an old sweater. We knew that whatever happened during whatever event we were watching, Don wouldn't let us get too low, too high, or too excited until the exact moment it was called for.

In today's t.v. sports landscape, polluted as it is by the likes of Pierre McGuire, Gus Johnson, "You got JACKED UP!!" and the voracious 24hr/day two headed monster that is ESPN/TSN, young up and comers could do much worse than study Don's quiet competence and rock solid style. Sadly, the fact that so many don't is the reason Don will be missed most of all.

Friday, January 18, 2008

We Now Bring You A Very Special Message To Leaf Nation

Before I get started, please allow me to apologize to you both (Hi Mom!) for not posting the Creamy Middle of last night's 5-1 curb stomp of the Hartolina Whalicans. While I may get to it before tomorrow's game against Tampa, truth be told, it was a pretty boring affair against a rapidly tanking team, with very little to recommend it safe The Captain's wonky hip and Paddy Eaves' rather interesting follicular fashion statement (I hereby dub thee Ghengis Eaves! Or maybe Patrick Khan. Which would you prefer? Seriously, I had a whole riff on him all set to go, with furry hats and everything). I promise I will get back to my usual dick jokes in the coming days.

No, what I'd like to talk to you about this evening is something altogether more serious. More insidious. And really, really, really fucking infuriating. Gather 'round and hold hands children, as I take you into the dark and scary world that is the mind of the hard core fan of that most Evil of Empires, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

First a little background. Earlier today, I got into an increasingly heated email exchange with a good friend of mine about the nature of the Leafs, the Sens and their respective fan bases. Well, when I say "heated" I mean as belligerent as one can get when the only means of expressing one's outrage is the liberal use of CAPS, bold fonts and the ever popular @#^%$ you, you $%#@ing idiot!! We were using company email, after all.

Anyway, our discussion centered around an acquaintance of his (Leaf fan) who put forward an opinion (an opinion with which my friend agreed, I should add...hence the repeated use of the ampersand-exclamation point combo) about the nature of Sens Army which I'm starting to hear more and more often from the Nation as the Leafs' season swirls deeper into the shitter. Basically it goes something like this:

We're better fans than you, because we've stuck it out through 40 years of losing without abandoning our team. Everybody knows that Ottawa fans aren't real fans since they loved other teams, mostly Toronto, before the Senators were reinstated in 1992, and as soon as it gets bad in Ottawa, all the fair weather Sens fans will drop the team like a disease ridden Vietnamese whore. Therefore, we're still better than you. WOO! WE'RE THE BESTEST FANS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD !! (insert sound of two million packets of Kool-Aid opening simultaneously here)

In fact, here is a slightly edited transcript of what my friend told me was his paraphrasing of what his acquaintance may have said. Or something like that:
Will Ottawa fans still support their team when they end up not making the playoffs? They call for heads during three-game losing streaks in this town, imagine if they didn't make the playoffs? How would season tickets sell the following year? Imagine if it happened two years in a row, would the fans have the patience to endure it? My team is doing poorly now, yes they are and I admit it and they haven't been a very good team for the majority of the time I've cheered for them over the past 40 years. But I still support them. When your team meets this hardship, tell me who you are cheering for then.
There are two things about this statement that should infuriate the living shit out of all right thinking Sens fans (or fans of any other Canadian team for that matter), the first tying directly into the second. The first is this: Where the hell does Leaf Nation get off thinking that their martyr complex somehow makes them better "fans" than anybody else, that they "care" more and therefore have the right to lord some twisted sense of loyalty over the rest of us? Why, because we won't put up with 40 years of corrupt and inept management? Because when we see something wrong, we don't act like fucking sheep, hand over our credit cards and say "Gee...I hope it gets better next year" knowing in our heart of hearts that it never will?

But here's the second half to that argument, and the rub that Leaf Nation doesn't want to hear. Maybe, just maybe now, if Leaf fans hadn't been so "wonderful" over the years, so supportive, so fucking loyal things wouldn't have sunk this low. Maybe there wouldn't have been the Ballard years (or at least they wouldn't have lasted as long). If the fans had stayed away, stopped buying the jerseys, for the love of God, stop being such almighty assholes, then maybe there wouldn't have been 40 years of wandering in a Cup-less desert. And maybe, just maybe, the current ownership abortion would have wised up long ago instead of using Leaf Nation as the passive cash cow it so obviously is. As it stands, why the hell should they do something to improve the team? As long as the Nation keeps opening their wallets in a masturbatory frenzy over everything and anything blue and white, the money just keeps rolling in. Here it is Leaf fans, as plain and direct as I can possibly state it: MLSE DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR TEAM and the quicker you all wise up to that, the quicker things will change. The only thing they want is your money. As long as your willing to give it to them, you will never, ever, come close to winning anything.

What you would call "abandoning the team" is, in actual fact more accurately labeled as "not putting up with stupid shit from management". Habs fans are notorious for getting on their team for the slightest transgressions. You call it "fair weather". I'd call it a higher standard. And those 24 Cup banners hanging from the Phone Booth's rafters win that argument rather convincingly.

Yes, we know, Leaf fans, there will come a day when the Senators won't be Cup contenders. There may even come a day when they won't be very competitive either. We know that. These things are cyclical, and lord knows we've been through it before (see: Expansion years; League sodomy). But I'm extremely confident we will never allow OUR team to sink to the same depths of craptacular ineptitude as you've allowed. And we'll do that by withholding our financial support if we don't like where things are going, confident that team management will hear our message and act accordingly.

But we'll keep cheering, Mr. Red Fonted Blockquote. And to the rest of you in the Nation, rest assured that if and when things go bad, we'll keep cheering for OUR Ottawa Senators. But what we won't do, will never do, is roll over and just take it up the ass for the "privilege" of having a pro hockey team. And if that seems utterly incomprehensible to you, well, all I can say is that I feel sorry for all of you. Oh, and suck it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Isles 3, Sens 1 -- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

I'm not a bad person. Really, I'm not. I try to be nice. I hold doors open for little old ladies. I'll help somebody pick up that pile of papers they've just dropped, even though they aren't one of those "hot secretary types" who only exist in commercials for men's body wash. Hell, I'll even help get a cat out of a tree (but only if the owner really is of the "hot secretary" persuasion. I have a terrible fear of heights and surprisingly weak ankles). But sometimes....sometimes...ya know? I just...GAH!...I just...get so mad...UGH...ME GET ANGRY!!! COJONES SMASH!! COJONES SMASH ZEBRA MAN!!!

The Highs:
  • We now take you live to the Ottawa Primary. Or was that the Kanata Caucus?: I am hereby declaring Five For Smiting as the official party headquarters of the Alfie For MVP Campaign. On a night when everybody else wearing the condom logo came out flatter than my first girlfriend (HEY-YO!! Thank you. I'll be here until Thursday), the Captain was all over the ice. Not content with tying the Islander D in knots for most of the night, he played mean, scored our only goal and crushed 6'6", 245lb Andy Sutton along the side boards. Twice. Sing it with me folks: EM-VEE-PEE!! I fully expect to hear that at the next home game, Sens fans. Vote early, vote often.
  • Excuse me sir. I believe I may have removed your spleen: We may have witnessed the birth of a line, the likes of which we've never seen in Ottawa. A genuine, bona fide Crash Line. A line to strike fear into the hearts of lesser mortals throughout the league. I am referring, of course, to Coach P's latest experiment in social engineering, Mike Fisher between Christoph Schubert and Chris Neil. Ho. Lee. Shit. The Islander shaped impressions in the boards, to say nothing of our opponents numerous flinches, cough-ups and just plain "get me the hell off the ice coach!" tell me that this can't possibly be a one-off. Make this happen John.
The Lows:
  • I'll take "How To Get One Of Our Best Players Killed" for $500, Alex: Hi Wade. You knew I'd come to see you didn't you? Do you know what they call a pass from a defenceman to one of his forwards who is skating parallel to the blue line, in the middle of the ice, with his head down so as to receive said pass? That's right. It's called a "suicide". Good boy. And do you know WHY they call it such? No? Really? GO ASK JASON, YOU IDIOT!! Jesus Christ! What the fuck man? What, you figured that 6 weeks without Heater wasn't quite challenging enough, so maybe turning Golden Groin into Golden Rutabaga would spice things up a bit? You've been in the league for 802 games! Don't EVER do that again.
  • Egads! If only there were some way to deter our opponents from such brutish behaviour: Coach, you've just seen the second of your "big three" go down. You've seen a punk ass Sean Avery wannabe by the name of Freddy Meyer hack, slash, run at and basically maim most of our top talent. What are you going to do now? Here's a hint: stapling Bryan McGratten's ass to the bench for the last 58 minutes of the game is the wrong goddamn answer.
  • They all ran after the farmers wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife: I'm sorry Dan. In a fit of pique brought about by, what to me seemed incredibly baffling, utterly inconsistent and downright incomprehensible officiating (a stick blade across the arm is a hook, but running the goalie and a baseball swing to a prone player's neck is perfectly fine. Got it), I posted that you were an incompetent embarrassment to your chosen profession, and that I wished for your sexual violation by a hydrophobic rodent. I was wrong. I apologize, and I hope you'll forgive me. What I should have said instead was "may you be anally raped by a syphilitic goat". I'm glad we could clear that up and put this whole unpleasant business behind us.
The Creamy Middle: Look, we can bitch about the referees all we want (and boy-howdy, do we want to), but the truth of the matter is, we were never in this game to begin with, The Captain's attempts to carry everyone on his shoulders notwithstanding. Whether it was the hangover from the Detroit game (*sniff*....smells like cop out!) or losing a quarter of our offense to a separated shoulder, to Wade's attempted murder on Golden Groin, this was as bad a stinker as we've seen in a while. If there's an up side to all of this, it's better that we get it out of our system now, than in April. Right? RIGHT?? For the love of God, somebody tell me I'm right!

Up Next: Oh joy of joys, we're in Washington tomorrow night. Hoo-fucking-ray. Sportsnet East again for those of you who a) have access to that, and b) become aroused at the sight of 20 year old Russians handing us our collective ass. Thankfully this is the last time we get to be humiliated by Ovechkin this year, barring the truly frightening possibility of meeting them in the first round. Just leave a twenty on the night stand when your done, please.

Behind Enemy Lines: Japers' Rink, of course. Oddly enough, I wasn't asked for my input on "Why Ottawa will win" this time. Good thing. Uh...ugh...COJONES SMASH KEYBOARD!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Special Message To Dan Marouelli

There's eight minutes left in this game as I type this. The Islanders are winning 3-1. Randy Robitaille has just taken a two handed chop to the neck, while you were standing three fucking feet away, without a penalty called. Yet Ottawa has taken 10 penalties, mostly of the "brush the stick against somebody's arm" variety. Gary Galley has said "Even I don't know what a penalty is anymore."

You're an embarrassment to the league Dan. Any resulting blood from this game will be on your hands. It is my fervent hope that you finally come to your senses and realize that you are an incompetent piece of shit better suited to typewriter maintenance at Rocco's School for the Insane. Fuck you Marouelli. May you be anally raped by a rabid porcupine.

Sens 3, Red Wings 2: Some Marinara, A Little Lemon Juice -- Delicious!

Yes, I realize that calamari is actually deep fried squid and not octopus, but you do a Google Image search for "octopus balls" and see what you get. I had no idea some of those things were even possible.

Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:
  • Very classy "welcome home" for Stevie Y before the game. Of course, I'm sure he was all agog over his induction into something called the "Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame" and will no doubt put the trophy on his mantle right next to his 10 All Star Games, 3 Cups, and his Conn Smythe. Yep. Absolutely positive.
  • To everybody at the Bank last night not wearing Red Wings jerseys, I'm terribly disappointed in you. You were presented with a golden opportunity and you let it go. I wanted clown dolls dressed in goalie pads hung in effigy! I wanted soothers and tubes of A-535 to rain down on his head! I wanted Ace bandages (good for abductor pulls, dontcha know) burning in the rafters! What did you give me? About thirty seconds of halfhearted HAAAASEK! HAAAASEK! Weak Sens fans. Just weak.
  • For most of the game, the rink board in front of the Wings bench featured a giant ad for Viagra. I'll stop here and just let the irony sink in for a moment. It was gone in the third however. My guess is Chris Chelios mistook it as a birthday present and ate it between periods.
The Highs:
  • There was more than one Swede on the ice? Really?: The Captain comes through with 2 PP goals, including the winner, to once again remind us why we will have him bronzed and mounted on Parliament Hill immediately following his retirement announcement (you won't mind, will you Alfie?) There was much talk about some "Lidstrom" somebody-or-other before the game, but I didn't notice anybody by that name during it. No word yet on whether King Carl Gustav is planning on launching an international manhunt.
  • Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death: I'll admit, I've been rather harsh with you Ray. But I know what I hate, and your performance last night was definitely not it. I'll even give you a pass on allowing the two goals to blow (yet another) two goal lead because a) you were facing the most dangerous pro hockey team in the known universe and b) I'm well into my Sunday 12 pack as I write this. Keep it up, and more importantly keep your mouth shut and you might just get off the top bunk in our goalie dog house.
The Lows:
  • OWOWOWOWOWOW: 4-6 weeks. That's what TSN was reporting this morning on Heater's separated shoulder. That pegs his return for the 19th of February game against the Flyers. Among the many downsides to this are that a third straight 50 goal season pretty much goes in the crapper, his Iron Man streak comes to an end at a ridiculous 207 games and Coach P loses his opportunity to tell the rest of the league to suck it by putting the Heater-Spez-Captain line out at the All Star Game.
  • "Game of the Year"? Pfffft...who cares. I want to fellate Darcy Tucker!: It's no secret that Grapes is a Leaf fan. And really, Coach's Corner is his show and he can talk about anything he wants. But really Don, would have been too much to ask that, during a game featuring the two best teams in hockey, you take a little time to talk about that game instead of wasting your entire segment blathering on about how the Laffs are "close" and "gonna to turn it around in the second half!"?? Especially when the Leafs aren't playing for another two fucking hours?!?! Put down Peddie's Kool-Aid blowhard, and face the fact that your darling little boys suck. You're embarrassing yourself even more than you normally do.
  • And never again, the twain shall meet: Greg Wyshynski at AOL Fanhouse ran a fantastic piece yesterday in which he asked some of the most talented bloggers from both teams why the League wasn't hyping this game the way, say, the NFL pumped Colts/Pats or Cowboys/Packers, among other things. I'll let you read their answers for yourself (mostly because I can't possibly do them justice here), but my theory is that deep down, the League knows that they completely screwed up with this unbalanced schedule and didn't want this game to draw attention to the fact. And the way the first two-and-a-half periods were played, I think bears this out. There was no passion, no hatred, no heat to this game. Because both teams are so good, and had so much respect for their opponents, the game itself turned into a tentative trap game played mostly between the blue lines. And now, they won't see each other again unless they both make the Finals. So congratulations Gary. You've managed to suck all of the remaining excitement out of what should have been THE regular season game because you would rather have Phoenix play Los Angeles eight times a year in front of ten thousand empty seats. Bravo. Think about that the next time you see a ratings report from Versus.
Creamy Middle: It was costly as hell, and not particularly pretty, but we took the two points, and earned the right to call ourselves the baddest asses in the world, for at least 24 hours. If there's a silver lining to Heater's dark cloud, it's that it will force Coach P to come up with a completely new strategy. One that doesn't involve "Throw out the big line when we get in trouble".

Up Next: The fishermen are coming! The fishermen are coming! The fisherm--wait. That's not very scary, is it? Tonight, at the Bank, Sportsnet East with the coverage (Yippee! No Gord Wilson). I can't be the only guy who misses those Captain Highliner third jerseys, am I?

Behind enemy lines: The Drive For Five lends their talents and surprisingly honest analysis to this night's festivities:
Simply put, this Senators team scares the crap out of me. They have it all, two goaltenders most teams in the league would love to have, plenty of primary scoring threats, a host of solid role players who can contribute and a defense that can contribute on both sides of the ice.
"Two goaltenders most teams in the league would love to have"??? Really?!? Dude, give us a call. We'll talk.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sens 3, Sabres 2 (SO) -- Excuse Me, Concierge? There's An Elephant In My Room

All of the talk before this game seemed to center around the possibility that the Senators were distracted somehow. Not totally focused on the task at hand, but looking ahead to some future opponent for some reason. As it turned out, a blown 2-0 lead would seem to indicate that the talking heads were right for a change. How in the hell did that happen? Hmmm...let me just consult my handy pocket schedule here. Ah, here it is. Thursday, January 10th...Sabres. Good. Right. Let's see. Saturday, January 12th, at home...Red Wi...oh crap.

The Highs:
  • Dost mine eyes deceive me??: Less than two minutes into the first period, the puck is cleared into the Sabres zone. As I watch Spezza chase the Buffalo D man to the puck sitting in the far corner, I take a quick look to see whether our point men are ready for the inevitable Sabres breakout since Jason will just do what he usually does and wave meekly at the -- HOLY CRAP! A HUGE hit! Some poor bastard in a Sabres jersey lies crumpled on the ice! Wow. Seriously, at that moment Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster could have walked into my living room looking for beer, and I wouldn't have noticed.
  • For my next trick, I'll do it blindfolded: Memo to Paul Gausted. The next time you fight Chris Neil, you might want to try a little more than just pulling his jersey over his head. If those four right hand bombs that you took to the face while Neiler was chuckin' blind are any indication, you may want to consider borrowing some of that bondage equipment your parents keep hidden in their closet. Or just bring the ball gag. Just remember, the safety word is "banana".
  • Oh great. Now I'll never be able to call in sick again: Fish spent the day before this game puking his guts out. Right up until the pregame skate, there was talk that a bout of the flu would keep him out of the line up. So how does he respond? By going 100mph from the opening face off, centering Neiler and Robitaille on what was easily the most physical line on the ice for either team and scoring a goal on the shoot out. Thanks Mike. Thanks alot. The next time I have to drag my fever ridden ass to work only to infect most of my co-workers, I'm blaming you.
The Lows:
  • Wait, wait, wait. There's a THIRD period??: For those of you too young, or too new to the bandwagon to remember, there was a time, believe it or not, when a Senators fan could routinely wager his or her own children on the outcome of a game in which our boys were leading after two periods and not fear for the outcome. Yeah...those were good times. I wonder what happened?
  • Oh yeah! That's what happened! Our goalie is on a vicodin high!: Quick question for you, Pastry. Have you ever watched game tape of yourself? Really? You have? Wow. That surprises me, and I'll tell you why. keep...making...the SAME FUCKING MISTAKE over and over again!! Here's a hint: A physical body will remain at rest, or continue to move at a constant velocity, unless an external net force acts upon it. It's called Newton's first law of physics. Please muse upon it the next time you find yourself sliding to the faceoff dot as you admire your initial stop. Fix that, and then we'll see about doing something about your love of dropping into the butterfly too early as you did on the tying goal.
Creamy Middle:

Well, we managed to get the second point out of a game we tried to give away. Again. I have to admit, after a first period where we hit everything and shot from everywhere and generally made Buffalo our bitch, a bit of hubris set in. When Donovan scored a minute and a bit into the second, I said to myself, "That's it. No way we lose this game." And we didn't. But that's not to say that we deserved it.

Up Next:

The Big Red Machine that are the Detroit Red Wings come to the Bank for the first time in four years. While Coach P's desperate search for a legitimate money goalie continues, Emery gets the start against Ottawa's favourite head case, and we fans look back on those heady days when our opponents were known as the Dead Things. On the upside, getting our asses handed to us might finally wake somebody up to the fact that we have many, many problems to straighten out before April. I'm looking at you Bryan.

Behind Enemy Lines: Behind the Jersey is your source for all of your Red Wing-y needs. Brilliantly written, they've also managed to remain surprisingly humble considering the Wings record. I like that. Maybe I should try that for a little while.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Your Totally Half-Assed Mid-Season Review

In the summer between Grades 11 and 12, I went to a bush party thrown by a friend of mind on his dad’s 80-acre farm. This being Cornwall, where the entertainment possibilities presented to the teen population consisted primarily of a) go to Montreal and hope you can fool a bouncer with your older cousin’s ID, or b) hang out at the only legitimate mall in town making fun of fat American tourists and their even fatter kids, this was the highlight of our social season, and hence most of my high school was there. Included among these last was an absolutely smoking hot goddess whose perfect breasts and lethal ass I had spent most of the previous school year trying desperately to see naked stalking asking out with somewhat limited success (I could never get both parts to agree on a date at the same time). But this time, I reasoned, I had an advantage I didn’t have before. Alcohol. And so, over the course of the evening, I went to work, deliberately battering her defences with the combination of my natural charms (“Why yes, I am very happy to see you. But this is, in fact, a 40 of Jack in my pants”) and generous helpings of that universal of social lubricants.

And it worked! While I don’t want to bore you with the details (mostly because my recollection of them is somewhat fuzzy), I must say that my performance that night was one for the ages, a glorious, nay, virtuoso combination of Lothario and Casanova, with a dash of Duracell. Well, that’s how I remember it anyway. When I inquired about her feelings later that week through a third party, the response was “I passed out after the third time he hit himself in the eye trying to unhook my bra”. Never so much as sniffed a date with her, or any other girl in the Greater Cornwall Area for that matter, for the remainder of my not-so-glorious High School career.

Anyway, what could this possibly have to do with reaching the mid-way point of a hockey season? Well, I’ll tell you. The Senators should, to a man, feel exactly the way I did on that long ago morning following the party. They’re ecstatic! They're on top of the (Eastern) world! They’re not quite sure how they did it, or if they deserve to be there, but they're happy to take it. And most of all, they’re feeling slightly ashamed about how it all came about. Unlike myself, however, they still have a chance to straighten some things out before the rest of the girls figure out it was all smoke and mirrors to begin with.

So, without further ado, I am proud to present Your Totally Half-Assed Mid-Season Review!

Players NOT named "Martin" or "Ray":

While I had hoped to use the same format as my season preview and break things down line by line, a combination of injuries and Coach P's hair trigger line scrambling at the first sign of a bad drop pass makes this impossible. Therefore, I had to come up with something that would a) give the illusion of quasi-serious analysis, thus pleasing both of my loyal readers (Hi Mom!), and b) involve the least possible amount of work on my part because, well, I hate that.

So I decided to throw all of the forwards and defence into one bag, and using a completely original idea I so totally thought of all by myself, grade them on a scale of one to ten. Everybody got that? Sorry Leaf fans. Try reading it slower.

10/10 I respectfully request that you impregnate my wife so I may raise your progeny as my own: Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher.

The Captain is top 5 in points, has just become the first Senator voted to the All Star Game as a starter in franchise history and, in terms of leadership, is the Swedish equivalent Mark Messier, only with a less creepy smile. Right behind him in the scoring race, Dany is on track for a third straight 50 goal season, but more important, contributes in both ends of the rink. And Fish, aside from the fact that he's on pace for a career best 30 goals and 50+ points, and being the last evangelical Christian you ever want to go into a corner against, cemented his place among the elite with his December 12th pummeling of Carolina goalie runner extraordinaire, Scott Walker.

9/10 sister-in-law is kinda cute. I'll introduce you: Jason Spezza.

Sorry Jason, but you just won't listen will you? The things keeping you away from my wife are all of the same things everyone has ever told you since you've been in the league. Blind drop passes...are...bad. Seeing eye passes through the middle of the offensive zone that have no hope in hell of succeeding and end up going the other way on an odd man rush...are...bad. Oh, and it would be cool if you could at least pretend to throw a body check every now and again. Seriously man, the only thing that got you this high is the fact that you're shooting the puck a little more than you're giving it away.

8/10 Okay, you can date my little sister, but she'd better be home by 11:00: Antoine Vermette, Chris Phillips.

Both are playing above expectations, and therefore have earned their standing invites to my dinner table. Verms' off season conditioning has improved his speed from merely "Wow!" to "Holy Shit!". And Chris has done a solid job covering up for the innumerable and completely baffling screw ups by his fellow D-men, all the while doing it without his regular side kick.

7/10 Sorry Guys. She said she just wants to be "friends": Christoph Schubert, Chris Neil, Anton Volchenkov.

Solid work, do what's asked of them, plus a little bit more. Despite the fact that he was out for a month with his busted digit, I'm putting A-Train up here because without him, our defence has basically sucked moose balls while giving up a gazillion shots per game.

6/10 Yeah, we can hang out for a beer. I guess. Just let me check my calendar: Andrej Meszaros, Chris Kelley.

Both started the year strong, but have faded of late. While 18 points from a third line centre is nothing to sneeze at, there have been too many nights where #22's effort just hasn't been there. As for you Mesz, I'm not sure if you heard, but that whole "sophomore jinx" was SO last season. Pick it up will ya? A +8 rating after 41 games does not a wealthy restricted free agent to be, make.

5/10 Everything okay there fellas? I hear Dr. Phil has been chasing you around the parking lot with a microphone: Wade Redden, Dean McAmmond

I'm not sure what's going on here gentlemen, but you still have the benefit of my doubt. Dean, I can understand if you're still a little punky from Dipshit Downie's head shot, and I have to admit, you have been skating much better the last few games, so we'll see how it goes. And man? Where are the hits? Where are the sweet breakout passes? Whether you want to stay in Ottawa, or make the big bucks as a UFA, either way, I'd suggest you work on the "don't fuck up the play more than it already is" part of your game. And I'd start with "How to defend a 2-on-1".

4/10 There's never an easy way to say this, but...: Brian McGrattan
Look man, I like you, I really do. I love watching you do what you do, and I'd hate to see you go. But you've got to show the coaches why they should give you a roster spot and more than a shift and a half. And I don't mean by picking fights with unbalanced teammates in practice either.

3/10 Look, if you're going to stay in my shit shack this long, I'm going to have to start charging rent: Randy Robitaille, Nick Foligno, Shean Donovon, Luke Richardson

Spawn of Mike, we can understand. He's a rookie after all, and there have been flashes of the talent that got him drafted in the first place. But the other three? Dead Fucking Weight. Bryan, you need to change offices before you make any more deals. Apparently you've succumbed to the John Muckler Curse Of Craptacular Signings.

2/10 This shall remain empty in order to emphasize just how putrid the next step is:

1/10 Your presence here after the trade deadline will be taken as conclusive proof that there is no God: Joe Corvo.

Please go away and take your bad pinches, lazy-ass icing touch ups, brutal give aways, tattoos, and skater punk 'tude with you...dude.

Players who ARE named "Martin" and "Ray":

Oh dear lord, where to start. I said at the beginning of the season that these guys could be our downfall.

There is no such thing as a middle ground with Gerbs. He's Darth Gerber for a string of games and then, one bad goal later and faster than you can say "Red Light Racicot", out pops Swiss Pastry (or Swiss Cheese as the boys from BoO call him). Luckily, when Pastry is in the house, Rayzor somehow manages to fit in some solid, if slightly shaky, work between bouts of petulance and road rage. And then, on cue, Darth returns just as Emery decides he'd rather look the part of a pro goaltender than actually play it. Either way, this is no way to solidify our title of Top Eastern Contender. Combined with $3 million plus a year per, neither one can be moved to any team that has any kind of sentient being as GM. And Toronto doesn't have the cap room.

Front Office and Coaching:

Six months ago all was sunshine and lollipops. Fresh off a Finals appearance as coach, Bryan Murray had finally wrestled the big chair from the cold, clammy hands of John Muckler. No longer would our future be mortgaged by giving up top prospects in exchange for such notable superstars as Tyler Arnason and Oleg Surpee Serpry Surpri that Russian guy. In response to getting shoved out of the rink by the Ducks, promises were bandied about like B12 injections at a Roger Clemens cook out. We would get tougher! We would get bigger! TESTIFY!! Hallelujah and pass the secondary scoring!

So how's that working out? Please see above, re: 3/10. Half way through this season, and we look almost exactly the same way we did last June. Four guys are doing 80% of the scoring, we still can't hit anything (Neiler, A-Train and Fish excluded), and the whole world knows that if they come heavy on the forecheck, our D will cough up the puck quicker than you can say bulimic supermodel. We're middle of the pack on the penalty kill, and as for the power play, Emperor Melnyk should demand, at his earliest possible convenience, that teams be allowed to decline penalties, a la NFL.

And Coach P.? Well, after a summer long PR sham of Peddie-esque proportions, the Crown Prince was finally given the keys to the kingdom in a transition so smooth, Leaf Nation wept openly in the streets. The result has been rather underwhelming. Since the roof caved in on our 14-2 start, our boys have looked confused and frightened. Lost souls, yearning for comfort and guidance have found only scorn and a quick benching for their troubles. As a result, the top line is being ridden into the ice on most nights ("You're 36 Alfie? Okay, only triple shifts for you then"), our line combinations may as well be written with a #2 pencil for all of their permanence and anyone with a two-way contract is scared shitless. As the cherry on top, Coach has also managed the dubious distinction of having both of his goaltenders pissed off at him at the same time. Quite the feat. A final note John. Would it kill you to look like you're enjoying yourself once in a while? Even just a little? Christ, even at the press conference announcing your role as Eastern Conference All Star Team Grand Poobah Back Patter, you looked like someone was cutting out your spleen with a rusty spoon.

The Next 41:

As I mentioned in the intro (about a million words ago) there is still plenty of time to patch the leaks and tighten the bolts before the playoffs. Starting with Thursday's tilt against the fast fading Sabres, the Senators play the equivalent of every second night (41 games in 83 days) from here on out. But as I once heard someone say at some meeting or other (I happened to be walking by on my way to the pub), the first step in solving the problem is acknowledging you have one. And we have plenty more than one. That said, they are all fixable, folks. While it may seem like forever and a day since it happened, 14-2 was no mirage.

So what's my fearless prediction and/or my point, you're asking yourself (and if you've made it this far, you probably should be)? Considering the packed schedule over the next 3 months, I predict that I will in no way be able to post after every game, while maintaining my duties to Her Majesty, my sanity AND my marriage. I also predict I will try my damnedest to keep you both amused as often as I can.

And finally, I predict that the entire team will huddle around their computers tonight, inscribe what I've written here into their very souls, change their ways, correct their bad habits and march triumphantly through June to claim that which is rightfully ours. You're welcome. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some other important delusions to attend to. Where did I put that 40 of Jack...?

Update: While Four Habs Fans seem to have beat me to the "half-assed" punch, please rest assured that it is merely a case of great minds thinking alike, and not, as it would appear, lazy assed thievery on my part. Mostly because I've been writing this beast for three days.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Caps 6, Sens 3: These Acquaintances Can't Get Auld Fast Enough

The only thing I could find that could cheer me up after the last two games. Happy 2008 everyone!

Throughout history, all great heroes had their foils. People who, outside of their disproportionate effect on the actions of those heroes, were otherwise insignificant in their own right. Sherlock Holmes? Professor Moriarty. Mozart? Salieri. Superman? Lex Luthor. Eric Lindros? The blue line. And to that list we can now add: Ottawa Senators? The Washington Capitals. January 15th is the last time we play the Caps this season. I think I can safely speak for the majority of Sens fans when I say "Please God, just make them go away".

The Only High...kinda...ish:
  • Hey, that kid's pretty good. Maybe we should watch him a little more closely: Following Saturday night's debacle, the fine gentlemen at Japers' Rink asked me to contribute a blurb for their site outlining why I thought Ottawa would win the rematch. No way Alexander the Great scores another four, I crowed. Take him, and his 40% contribution to the Caps offence out of the game, and voila, no problem, right? Um, not so much. While No. 8 managed two measly assists tonight, it's too bad our boys didn't think to stop the rest of the team while they were at it.
The Lowest of the Lows:
  • Will someone not rid me of this turbulent goaltender?: Watching TSN's That's Hockey following the game (something I normally try to avoid due to numerous Darren Dredger induced nosebleeds), an interesting point was made. No, really! It was pointed out that Swiss Pastry's performance tonight (3 goals on 8 shots in 2:19 to blow a 2-0 lead) was the very reason Ray Emery has yet to be traded despite his latest, er, problematic behaviour. While I would hazard that perhaps the real reason is that, as difficult as this may be to believe, there isn't a GM stupid enough to trade for either Emery and his $3 million bag of headaches or Gerbs' temperamental confidence, we can go with this too. Either way, we're stuck with these two for the foreseeable future. Quick! Somebody get Mike Milbury back into the league!
  • Snow angels are fun! You guys go ahead without me: This is a bit of a cheat, as it has more to do with Saturday's game, but it needs to be said. Lord knows, it happened often enough tonight as well. Huddle up boys. No, you too Wade. You especially. listen very closely. If you're the only D back and you're facing a 2-on-1, please, and I can't stress this enough, MAKE UP YOUR FUCKING MIND! Either take the trailer, leaving the shooter to the tender mercies of our incompetent goaltending, or charge the shooter allowing said incompetent goaltender to at least have the chance of preparing for the pass through the slot. Do NOT, and Reds, I'm looking at you, do NOT just glide down the middle of the ice on your ass hoping against hope that one of your flailing limbs will deflect the puck into a harmless corner. This is especially advisable when one of those two players is one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the known universe. It's the first thing you learn in freakin' Atom house league for Christ's sake! It's so bad, Beloved turned to me earlier tonight and said "They're killing you, aren't they?" And she never watches hockey.
  • Me: "Can I have some money?" Bank: "Do you have any money?" Me: "No." Bank: "Then you can't have any money": It's one of the cruelest paradoxes we've all had to face. How do you get a job and gain any experience when The Man won't hire you because you don't have enough experience? Well, from the looks of things, John Paddock hasn't a fucking clue either. Now, up to this point, I've been loathe to criticize Coach P beyond his wardrobe choices. But I have to say Coach, riding the Captain-Golden Groin-Heater line into the ground doesn't strike me as the best way to develop your youngsters. Everyone told you that we lost the Finals because we were a one line team. So how do you respond? By stapling your third and fourth lines to the bench because they screwed up somehow, leaving those aforementioned lines so nervous they can't make a D to D pass without squeezing their sticks hard enough to shatter and your big guns on the 1st and 2nd lines to burn themselves out trying to save you from yourself. Seriously John, you're trying our patience. When someone hands you the keys to a Ferrari, you don't bitch about the trunk space. You just get in the fucking thing and go.
Creamy Middle: We have much to fret over fellow Legionnaires. If you take out the 14-2 start, we've now gone 11-7-4 which is as close to .500 hockey as we've been since the Dark Ages of exactly a year ago. Worse news, our goaltending situation is as bad as it's been since a certain Czech head case screwed us out of a playoff run, our guys seem to have forgotten how to play defence, and I'm not entirely convinced the coach has any clue about how to fix it. Other than that, things are GREAT! Oh dear Lord, I suddenly need a drink.

Up Next: Friday night in Buffalo, Pay Per Screwed only. I have it on good authority that they'll play this one inside so, if I were you Coach, I'd take "Let snowbanks be our seventh defenceman" out of the game plan.