Monday, June 26, 2006

AHF presents- "Did you know?"

What's up hockey fans?

Did you know that the first goaltender to wear a mask in a game was not Jacques Plante, but a goaltender for the 1927 Montreal Maroons named Clint Benedict? Well, until today, I didn't either.

Exciting, no?

C'mon people, bear with me here; it's either this or another post about the NHL draft, and really- does anybody who isn't drawing a salary in hockey still give a wet turd about that? I just deleted a half-assed post about how the Ottawa Senators just drafted Mike Foligino's kid, and the family's frantic search for one of those goofy-ass bike helmets in red and black.

I know.

I'm not proud of it either.

At any rate, my search for "stupid helmets" led me on one of those rambling google searches, and as one click led to another, I found myself immersed in the history of the goalie mask, which is how I came to learn the tale of Clint Benedict.

The year was 1927, and our story begins in the same classic, timeless fashion that all great stories about goalie masks start- with the dull, wet "thwack" of a frozen hunk of rubber hitting a grown man in the face. It's a disturbing sound, I'd imagine, and abrupt, kind of like the sound created by hitting an industrial sized bag of damp bread dough with the flat end of a snow shovel, or perhaps the inevitable result of slowly pressing your heel down on a large zip-loc bag, full to brimming with molasses.

Clint Benedict may have heard that sound, but more likely heard only the stick of famed Montreal Canadien Howie Mornez hitting the puck, followed by a deep resonant ringing sound, and then the hazy voice of the trainer, asking him for an accurate count of what must have been dozens of fingers being waved in front of his face.

When Clint returned to the game, he risked being called a coward twice; once for wearing the first ever face mask in an NHL game, and again for not being able to withstand the taunts of his peers, and abandoning it after two games, claiming that the leather nose piece restricted his vision.

And that's why Jacques Plante is the more famous name, not so much for wearing his mask in the first place, but for sticking to his guns and demanding a change despite taunts, slurs and a well publicized argument with his coach, the future hall of famer Toe Blake. By doing this, Plante proved two points that despite seeming obvious today, were significant achievements at the time, the first being that the National Hockey League was better off with masked goaltenders, and the second being that it isn't so hard to win an argument with a man named Toe.

So now- you know.


Now what the hell should I write about tomorrow?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I would love to see the naked pictures-

-of the Jacobs family that current Boston Bruins coach Mike Sullivan is in possession of.

I mean, Christ- what does this son of a bitch have to do to get fired?

According to today's Globe , Mike Sullivan is one of five coaching candidates on the short list of the new sorta functioning GM, Peter Chiarelli.

By the way, that list also includes Pat Quinn.

Pat Quinn?

Bruins fans are supposed to be rooting for Pat Quinn?

The same Pat Quinn who is famous for his dirty hit on not only the best Bruin of all time, but the best to ever play the game?

The same Pat Quinn who was paid back for his treachery by getting his ass kicked in this, the second best photograph in NHL history?

I just don't think the best way to honor your history is to hire a guy best known for his bitter rivalry with the face of your franchise back when it was at it's greatest. I mean, for Christ's sake! Look at the picture! Pat Quinn is getting the crap pounded out of him by Bobby Orr, and even an old lady is cheering him on!

That guy just can't be the coach.

I won't allow it.

Still, anything would be an improvement over Mike Sullivan, whose presence on Chiarelli's short list is nothing short of a total mystery to me.

Throughout Sullivan's tenure as head coach, the problem was always that they never played all 60 minutes. They would start strong, get a few great bids, and then seem to decide, "screw it- we did our best." Then they'd coast around, get lucky occasionally, but usually come up one or two goals short. When they had Joe Thornton on the team, they would usually either lose by one or manage to squeak a tie out of a losing effort, but in this league, you can't not skate for half the game and expect to win, you know, unless you're the 2002 Red Wings.

Those guys could pretty much do whatever they wanted and still win.

Of course, the 2002 Red Wings were coached by Scotty Bowman.

The Bruins problems for the last few seasons, as much as they would like to blame it on (League MVP) Joe Thornton has always been leadership and coaching. And if Joe wasn't a great leader, well, maybe you should have paid Jason Allison or Bill Guerin to stick around. But let's leave leadership out of it for now, and see if we can't fix the coaching.

The problem was coaching when the Bruins blew a 3 games to 1 lead in the first round of the 2004 playoffs versus Montreal, and yes, Joe Thornton was hurt, but if you have a 3 games to 1 lead, it's a coach's responsibility to get at least one of those victories in three tries for you. Coaching alone can't get you 3 wins in a row, but good coaching should get you one out of three.

Case in point?

The Hurricanes were on the verge of blowing a 3-1 lead in the Finals this year, and say what you want about Peter Laviolette, but that Hurricanes squad came out ready to play in game seven, ran their system, and won the Cup. Sure, Bruins management loved to blame Thornton, but if your star player can't go anymore, it's the job of the coach to tell him so. Ask Grady Little about that one.

If your team can't finish, can't beat guys, has shitty goaltending, can't play D, or can't kill or set up a power play, you can argue that the GM isn't bringing in the right talent.

And yes, the Bruins GM sucked last season too, but that's not the greater problem.

Glen Murray, Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes can all score and have some moves. Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen have both proven they can play goal in this league, PJ Axelsson is one of the best penalty killers in the game, Brad Stewart is one of the finest young defensemen in the league, and Hall Gill (even with his occasional lapses in judgment) is so fucking big that he'd be an asset to any team in the NHL.

Could they use a superstar? Sure- but even without one, the Bruins shouldn't have been a last place team, at least talentwise. To illustrate my point, I bring you back to one of the very few Bruins games I actually watched down the stretch last season, an agonizing loss to the Rangers, in which Brian Leetch made his return to Madison Square Garden ice, and the Bruins lost, bad.

Leetch, who undeniably has lost a step or two, still has great instincts on the blueline during a power play, but was on the ice for at least two goals, one of which came shorthanded. In case you didn't read that recap, this is a direct quote from that Leetch after that game:

"I skated around in a fog out there," Leetch said in the visitors' locker room that he never entered before Monday. "Unfortunately it showed and our team played that way, too. "It's hard to play a hockey game when your mind is like that."

You know what solves that problem?

Oh yeah- coaching.

That is a clear-cut example of when it was Sullivan's job to pull Leetch aside before the game, tell him he knows it's a big night for him, and to enjoy the applause in the pregame warmups. Then, after he had his moment, Sullivan should have slapped him in the face, reminded him that he is on a team without veteran leadership that is 6 points out of the playoffs, and they needed a fucking point. On that night, they needed Brian Leetch to step it up.

Mark Messier would never have let a teammate play "in a fog" and that motherfucker went back to both Edmonton as a Ranger AND New York as a Canuck.

Leetch was practically in tears in the pregame interview, and while I am sympathetic to his situation, there is a hockey game to be played, and it's Sullivan's fucking job to notice if his quarterback on the powerplay is weeping all over his sundress.

Bottom line, if the coach can't motivate players to fucking skate- they suck at their job.

Mike Sullivan, man- he's gotta go, even- even if it means Pat Quinn.

I can't believe I just wrote that.

And why doesn't Robbie Ftorek have a job in this league?

I mean, really?

I don't know, man- the Bruins-

They vex me, man- they fucking vex me.

And don't get me started on this trading the rookie of the year for an unknown prospect.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I've been getting a lot of suggestions-

- about what to blog about in the offseason.

You know, the draft, free agency, stuff like that.

I'm not sure I'm into it.

I mean, the draft?

I can't get that excited about commenting on people who MIGHT be playing hockey later. Also, it pisses me off a little that AOL is "blogging" the draft.

if you're AOL, you aren't a blogger.

You're AOL.

Still, I suppose there's some fun to be had when we see Brind'Amour in a suit at the awards dinner. It'll look like the "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene from Young Frankenstein. That son of a bitch is so ugly, if you put a lobster bib on him it makes the bib look better.

I got nothin' today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Whale!

This turned up in the comments section today, a sweet find from my pal Eric Cole (no relation):

Enjoy Whaler Fans- it's The Brass Bonanza!

Also, congrats to John Buccigross for another good season of hockey columns- being the intelligent passionate hockey fan over at ESPN is to endure more blank stares than I can possibly imagine.

And check out the plug he gave me!

"In some strange way, the lockout and all its wretchedness didn't end for me until NBC went off the air after Game 7 faster than Brad Pitt rebounds from a broken relationship. It was just the latest slap to the American hockey fan. But we are used to that. We know the greatest byproduct of the Internet for us is that there are pockets of hockey love all over the world. Find them, bookmark them, watch the games and talk to your friends. Anything else is a bonus."

Oh Yeah.

I'm pretty sure he was talking about me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A few thoughts-

Well, the Carolina Hurricanes are Stanley Cup champs.


So, no hockey till October.

As I'm relatively new to this hockey blogging thing, um- what the hell am I supposed to write about for the next 3 months?

Advice would be appreciated, and if you beg, I'll write out the story about how my buddy Duben and I once played a pick up roller hockey game with Rick Moranis and his 10-year-old son in Central Park. Long story short, I knocked down Rick's son and made him cry.

It was awkward.

I'll just start out with a few thoughts:


There has been a lot of talk about Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward, comparisons to Patrick Roy, and speculation that he will be the next great goaltender. While his accomplishment is nothing to sniff at, I think it bears mentioning that he won the MVP mainly because Brind'Amour disappeared in games 5 and 6, and you can't give it to Pronger or Pisani after the 'Canes won. So you give it to Ward, cause, really- who else is there? I'll tell you: The MVP of that series was, as a unit, the Carolina Hurricanes penalty kill. Fast, aggressive, constantly blocking shots, forcing bad passes, and a constant shorthanded threat, they have written the book for success in the "new NHL."

You can talk all you want about speed through the neutral zone, but the fact is, to win in the new NHL, you better be able to kill a penalty, 'cause there are gonna be a lot of them. Edmonton was very good at that too, as was Buffalo. Certainly Ward was effective in game seven, and made every save he had to, but he by no means stole that game, and his biggest save of the series came in a 4-0 loss. As Ben mentioned when I was out of town, the Carolina penalty kill is frightening, especially seeing as they immediately clinched the Cup win with an empty net goal as soon as the Oilers pulled their goalie. I haven't looked at the box score, but as I remember it, the Oilers pulled Markennen with over a minute left on the clock, and after Carolina scored there was at least 40 seconds left, enough for me to keep rooting for a miracle for the Oilers.

In my view, smart GM's should start recognizing that shorthanded specialists like Boston's PJ Axelsson, Washington's Matt Pettinger, Pittsburgh's Ryan Malone and Toronto's Matthew Stajan might be far more valuable to a team than their point totals indicate.

Just sayin.'


As I've mentioned on this blog before, celebrities who don't give a fuck about hockey standing in front of the Stanley Cup does nothing to build the game. Reading the Stanley Cup does. How about an interactive website that allows you to get up really close to the cup, scanning along the names with the same technology they use to give "virtual tours" of museums and restaurants? This way, fans who have never seen the cup up close actually could "read" Lord Stanley's Cup. As I've said, with each engraved name, there is a story, and you clicked a name on the cup, you could be sent to a transcript (or movie) of a player's story from that season. How cool would that be?

Wicked cool.


I started blogging in April, and was linked by Deadspin today, which jacked my sitemeter into the hundreds before noon. It's a great feeling, but never would have happened without the support and linkage of quite a few people, in particular, the excellent Off Wing Opinion, the always entertaining Vancouver Canucks Op-Ed, and of course, the omnipresent Jes Golbez, who is as insightful a hockey guy as he is a class act. I emailed him during the first week I was doing this, and he wrote me back immediately, and answered all my questions. Good on him.

Thanks, guys.

Speaking of Al Gore-

What's creepier?

That kiss that Brind'Amour gave the cup?

or when Al Gore made out with Tipper at the democratic convention?


I mean, congrats to the Canes, props to Glen Wesley (Who I wrote about here), and I'll post more when I'm sober, but Christ- that ugly son of a bitch locked his lips on that Cup like he mistook it for a fucking fishhook.

I know, I know, he earned it, but Jesus, Rod-

Get a room.


I mean... am I right about this?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Al Gore saw this coming, why couldn't we?



Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

And tonight, there ain't gonna be no motherfucking recount.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I'll take it.

Game seven.

Stanley Cup finals.


I'll take it.

If I had one little gripe, it's that now that NBC has taken over the broadcasts of the games, OLN has gone back to a 24-7 format of fishing and bullriding. When they were broadcasting the games, they led in to them with terrific hockey specials, promos, and Stanley Cup flashback videos unavailable elsewhere. It was great, and I'm sure they could do better ratingswise with some hockey programming before and after the games. Maybe the postgame interviews? Why not buy the CBC postgame? Are there people awake at 11:30 at night demanding fishing shows?

Still, the NBC broadcasts have been great, and having Pierre Maguire on the benches is a stroke of brilliance. For my money, he's the best analyst in the game, or at least on American TV; I didn't get the package this year, so I haven't seen the CBC stuff.

I've been watching a little bit of the World Cup over the weekend. I've been doing my best to appreciate soccer, mainly because the haters seem to drag out many of the same criticisms that are leveled at hockey (low scoring, not enough "name" stars, etc), and I don't want to simply shrug off something that so much of the world loves, simply because I haven't given it a shot, which is what I perceive has happened to hockey. So I've made an effort, and yeah- you know, it's all right. I'll definitely tune in for the final.

That said, would it kill them to put in a fucking blue line?

Seriously, I'm not really loving this "Anything that seems exciting is offside" rule.

Watching soccer is like rooting for a wave to wash over a sand castle as the tide comes in. It's like "here it comes, will it happen? ...nope it's going out again. OK here it comes, will it happen this time? ...nope, there it goes. Wait, look! Here it comes, will it happen? Oh for God's sake."

Oh, and in a closing note, I've been poking around Youtube for hockey clips, as I'm wont to do, and I came across the clip of the infamous Clint Malarchuk accident, where the Buffalo goaltender had his jugular vein cut after taking a skate in the throat during a collision in the crease. Anyway, I'd seen print photos of the incident, but had never actually SEEN it until now, and it's pretty grisly, awful stuff. I thought about posting a link, but I'm not really comfortable with it- this blog is for entertainment, and that clip is not entertaining. If you want to see it, go to Youtube and enter "Malarchuk" and "hockey" and it will come up. But be warned, you are seeing a man with his throat cut, and blood literally pouring out onto the ice. It's chilling, it's a miracle he survived, and it kind of upsets me to even think about it.

But you know, that's what the internet is for right?

You gotta make your own choices.

Enjoy game seven.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Hi everybody.

Ritch Duncan here, back at the helm of AHF, extending a hearty "Thanks a Bunch" to (previously) silent team member Ben Z who stepped up to the plate and guest-blogged his ass off over the last few days while I was on a much-needed vacation, far from the realms of wireless internet connections. I gotta learn how to insert those pictures he does.

But he did a great job, despite making me die a little inside by hipping me to that picture of Lindsay Lohan posing in front of the Stanley Cup at a party for Maxim magazine. Clearly, she's a hockey fan. In fact, bystanders were impressed by her reverence for the greatest trophy in the world when they overheard her telling one of the Cup's official handlers, "Thank God, my Scorpion Bowl is here! Oh, and HEY! Where the fuck are my straws!?"

Fuck her, and fuck the PR douchebag who thought that was a good idea.

To quote my pal Chris Regan : "I love reading Maxim, mainly because I have a crippling fear of real pornography."

I guess I think bringing the Cup to that party is an odd fit, mainly because the Stanley Cup is a bowl worth reading, whereas Maxim magazine is hardly worth reading on the bowl. And that's what you do with the Stanley Cup, by the way- you read it. It's more than a big trophy, it's a piece of living history with a million stories in it, and at least one great story for every engraved name.

But many thanks to Ben.

Great job.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The thing about predictions

is that no matter what you say (and by "you" I mean "I"), "you" always end up looking like a jackass.

Great game last night, though...speed, scoring, defense, hitting, overtime, a shortie, a few goalposts, a few big saves, missed calls, dives, and that rarest of beasts, an Edmonton power play goal. You can bet that hockey fans worldwide put down their crossword puzzles and took notice.

Throughout the whole playoffs, and through most of the first period last night, Carolina looked like a team that just would not be denied. No matter what Montreal, New Jersey, or Buffalo threw at them, it wouldn't just seemed like it was Carolina's year.

And let's face it, it probably still is.

But last night, the Oilers came out like a team possessed. They scored 16 seconds in, then took a bunch of weak penalties, and it looked like a done deal (or, if you will, a lead pipe cinch) for Carolina. Then Michael Peca (to the disgust, I'm sure, of Islanders fans everywhere) came up huge with a clutch goal to end the first. Markkanen held the fort til OT, Cory Stillman took a brief on-ice nap, and Pisani capitalized, putting it where Grandma keeps the peanut it's back up north we go.

My prediction: Carolina (or possibly Edmonton) in 6-7.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oh, and one other thing

Lead pipe cinch

I was so busy trying to come up with the answer to the clue "Hulking B's forward Neely" (three it yet, Ritchie?) that I forgot to remind you to tune in for tonight's forgone conclu--I mean, Game 5.

I'm always pulling for the underdog, but I just don't see how Edmonton wins another game - never mind three in a row, with two in Raleigh.

"Prove me wrong, kids...prove me wrong!"

Who says the NHL doesn't know its fans?

Buried deep within the bowels of, deeper even than the photos of random celebrities pretending to appreciate the Stanley Cup, is the Fun & Games portion of the site. Sure, you'll find your usual assortment of "fun" "stuff" for the die-hard hockey fan: wallpapers, screensavers, video game reviews...and, of course, this:

That's right, it's an NHL trivia crossword puzzle! Finally! I've been racking my brain for years trying to figure out how to get my grandmother hooked on the sport - ever since they took the team logo crochet patterns off the site - and now the NHL has done the work for me!

Finger on the pulse, my friends...finger on the pulse.

All kidding aside, though, it was nice to see a picture of Bob Gainey with the Cup:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Due for an Oil change

And with that post title, I have officially exhausted my supply of Oilers-specific puns.

Having said that, though, change they must. The big question mark was always between the pipes, but you absolutely cannot fault Jussi Markkanen for the Oilers being in a 3-1 hole. Not only has Markkanen given his team a chance to win each game he’s played, but he’s fun to watch, too. Not in an acrobatic-Martin-Brodeur-how-the-hell-did-that-not-go-in kind of way, but in a let’s-put-a-contest-winner-in-nets-for-the-Cup-final-and-see-what-happens kind of way. It’s like watching a tightrope act with looser clothing.

But anything seems possible when it comes to playoff goalies this year. Who would have predicted that Manny Fernandez’s backup would have what it takes to get to the finals? With Cam Ward, sure, he’s talented, but he’s a newcomer, still potentially a Gigueresque flash in the pan. There always seems to be a hot young phenom come playoff time. But Roloson? If you told me a month ago that an arena full of Canadians would be chanting his name nightly, I’d have called you a filthy liar, and that probably would have been the end of our friendship. So thanks for not telling me that a month ago.

But back to the oil change. The Oilers have two problems, which is really one problem. Yes, their power play is sucking wind, but it’s for the same reason they’re not scoring at even strength. They are just not shooting the puck enough. Carolina throws everything they can think of at the, bad angle shots, anything. Because you never know what might go in. And with Carolina’s defense blocking more shots than Harry Whittington, a kooky deflection past Ward is always a possibility. But all night last night, and on the PP especially, Edmonton kept to the perimeter...passing, passing, passing, passing. Combine that with Carolina’s fortress-like penalty kill, and they never had a prayer.

And speaking of that, Carolina’s PK is so good it just makes me angry. It is almost too aggressive to be believed. You get the puck for less than a second before one of their penalty killers is right in your face. They force quick (read: bad) passes and break down any set plays before they have a chance to breathe. When Carolina kills penalties, it looks they’re at even strength. And when they went down to 5-on-3, it still looked like a really solid 5-on-4. I don’t get it. Hence my anger. I fear what I do not understand.

Other notes on last night’s game:

1) Rod Brind’Amour is entirely too ugly to be on primetime television. Or late night television. Or out in public. I would have found a photo to back up that contention but while I was looking through them, my computer committed suicide.

2) The new “Sounds of the Game” feature is utterly pathetic. You know they’re cutting out all the good stuff. If I wanted to hear Mark Recchi grunting and breathing heavily, I’d listen to him bending over to lace up his skates.

3) Peter Laviolette is whiny. Honestly, Peter. Please. Shut up. Just for a sec, okay?

Prediction: For the first time in his career, the ugliest man in pro hockey will hoist the Cup in Raleigh tomorrow night.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sending in the backup

This has got to be a tense moment for American Hockey Fan's legions of regular readers. Stalwart blogger Ritch Duncan goes down after a collision in the crease. He's slow to get up. The AHF trainer makes his way carefully onto the ice, towel at the ready...but it's no use. Duncan is down, maybe for good (until Thursday-ish).

Time to call in the backup.

The kid hasn't seen blogging action in over 3 months. But will his performance bring to mind a Conklin-esque giveaway resulting in the game-winning goal against? Or a Markkanen-style shutdown, yielding only a single goal against an insanely hungry and high-powered offense? (NOTE: For the sake of the comparison, let's pretend Markkanen didn't get shelled for five in Game Two. Nobody's perfect.)

Anyway, only time will tell...stay tuned.


Yes, I'm talking to you, the fans of American Hockey Fan.

You unwashed masses (and by masses, I mean up to 60 every day) who rally to the site for my particular brand of cynicism, profanity and mean-spirited grousing inspired by the world of the NHL.

I'm talking directly to you guys right now.

You listening?


Now piss off.

Yes, like the NHL for the entirety of last season, I have decided that I don't get paid enough to do this, so fuck you- I'm leaving. If you don't like it, talk to Jeremy Roenick. He's a moron, but "gives good sound bite." When my silly little tantrum is over, I will have been dropped by blogspot, and forced onto on a significantly smaller blog program, that tries harder, but is known mostly for blogs about parasailing, deer ticks, and unsuccessful fishing voyages.

It will be unavailable on most computers.

Die hard fans will lament it's loss, but most internet users will claim never to have missed it, and will write snarky blog posts about it's low sitemeter ratings, and how it will never again be one of the "big four" sports blogs.

Somewhere, someone, will write a new blog, fighting for the rights of the fans of this blog; it will be called "American Hockey Fan Fan" and it too will rise to glory, until it's owner leaves as well.

Actually, the blog isn't going anywhere, I'm going to Maine on vacation for a few days, and my buddy Ben will be guest blogging until Thursday. I mean, I wouldn't just walk out on you guys- locking you out from what you have come to expect for a season or more, would I?

I mean, what kind of dirtbag organization would do something like that?

I mean, to get away with something like that, and have the fans return- well you'd have to do something really extraordinary.

You know like write the words "THANK YOU FANS" really, really big.

You know, so big that even the people in the 60 dollar cheap seats can read it.

I'll be back on Friday-

Be nice to Ben.


Sunday, June 11, 2006


Not bad, eh?

Thanks to SP Larsen for the find.

Friday, June 09, 2006

How about this douchebag?

Man- what is it about hockey that makes hack journalists like to shit on it so much?

Here's a pretty fun story that I found by googling news results of "NHL on NBC", and it's really worth checking out. Here we have the "sports television" columnist for USA Today speculating, SPECULATING mind you, that this Saturday's Stanley Cup Final game MIGHT be the lowest broadcast network prime-time rating ever.


Not will be, not is, but might be.

Thanks a lot, asshole.

He figures it's a Saturday night, when nobody watches TV, it's two small markets, and Tampa Bay and Calgary got a crummy rating the last time they were in the Finals on a Saturday, so he's making the case, and kicking hockey when it's down. What I say is if nobody watches TV on Saturdays anyway, well then what's the point?

If hockey is the worst rated on a night when there are actual people staying home and watching, well that's valid. But if you're saying that Hockey doesn't do well on a day when the only people staying home to watch TV are invalids, agoraphobics, and sports television columnists, well now you're just piling on.

By the way, Skippy from Family Ties called. He wants his hair back.

That's gotta be a pretty coveted gig you got there-The "Sports Television" beat at USA Today. Wow- you get to be the guy who writes about sporting events he doesn't get to attend- for a newspaper that doesn't work weekends. Kudos, Mr. Murrow.

You know you work for a quality newspaper when it's included with the continential breakfast at a Red Roof Inn.

So bring it on, guys.

Hockey will be there, and at least I'll be watching.


I mean, c'mon, it's only game three, and it's a Saturday.

I might go out.

But fuck- at the very least, Ric "Nature Boy" Flair will be watching.

And that's gotta count for something.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Oh my God.

Last night's blowout, and now this .

Anybody know the mailing address of the Phoenix Coyotes?

Cause I'm mailing them a turd.


For those of you out there who don't know who Ulf Samuelsson is, he's the dirtbag ex-Penguins defenseman whose dirty hit hastened the end of the career of Cam Neely. Let me put this in perspective. If I saw Ulf Samuelsson 50 years from today in a Swedish nursing home, I'd pull the cane out of his lap, jack it into spokes of his wheelchair, and push him down the stairs. Then, as he lay helpless and muttering at the bottom of the stairs, the warm liquid he felt dripping onto his neck would not be blood. It would be urine.

My urine.

I hate that bastard, and while pissing on his battered corpse might fall into the realm of hyperbole, I can tell you that I am a grown man, with responsibilities. If I were in Phoenix, and I knew where the practice arena was, I would DEFINATLEY key that bastard's car.

What is Ulf Samuelsson possibly going to teach young defensemen?

Advanced turtleing?
How to hit a star player from behind, knock him out of the game and then the next time you play that team mysteriously come down with, as Derek Sanderson used to say "The Swedish flu?"


I just can't believe Gretzky would do this.

I mean, what are the odds?

Maybe I'll ask his wife.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ty Conklin vs. Jussi Markkanen!

Of course, I'm not talking about who will start in goal for Edmonton tonight; I'm referring to the American Hockey Fan's annual "silliest sounding name competition."

It just worked out that those two ended up head-to-head today.

Weird coincidence, no?

I think Conklin's in the lead for now, based on the funny K sound, and my tremendously scientific assertion that he's the only guy in the NHL whose name can be most accurately pronounced by a goose. Plus, I don't know that much about Finns. For all I know, "Markkanen" is about as exotic over there as "Smith."

Regardless, perhaps I should hold off, as I've repeatedly stated in the past, making predictions is for chumps.

Or chimps , as it were.

And no, I'm not talking about Barry Melrose, who picked Dallas to win it all, by the way.

I'll go with the monkey, thank you very much.

But as we go into game 2, with the whole series seemingly swinging on the goaltending issue in Edmonton, something that is completely in the hands of the coach, I say the best thing to do is sit back and enjoy the little details that make our game so unique.

Like this gem of a video that my buddy Jack hipped me too. He got it off of Deadspin , I think- it's made the rounds, but if you haven't seen it, it's worth a look and a listen if you're not someplace where rampant homophobia, foul language and inappropriate use of the term "tit-fucker" is frowned upon. You know, like work, or Brian Bellows' house. Seriously, fair warning- it's dirty, and I've already watched it about 25 times.

Still, I wish I had the tape of the dive that inspired this:

At any rate, yeah- Jack's a Buffalo fan, and a good egg.

He had this to say to me in the email where he sent me the link, and it’s pretty much all the hockey analysis you need. I’ll give him the last word:

Hey Ritch,

Here's the link to the Google Video…If you have another party for the game, definitely let me know. I can't believe Roloson's out. I hate Brindamour and his big stupid face so much.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

And with the Stanley Cup Finals...

...out come the hockey haters.

Here's a particularly lazy one, from the Boston Globe, along with ESPN's typical weekly " no one watches hockey anyway, and the fact that we give women's golf bigger play on Sportscenter has nothing to do with that" piece.

But for sheer douchebaggery, this guy has to take the cake. Here we have a guy who gets paid to write about hockey bitching about how hockey sucks because it's no fun to be the only guy in your country interested in it.

Wow, nobody to talk hockey with?


Christ, what a pussy.

I have never missed the broadcast of the Stanley Cup being raised in over 25 years, and I'd say that for a full half of those times, at least 15, I've been either watching it by myself, eagerly explaining the game to an interested newcomer or been the only guy in the bar who remotely gave a crap.

Hockey is, in my opinion, the best sport to play and the best sport to watch.

Obviously, not everybody feels that way, but hey- that's their loss.

And I suppose, Ty Conklin's gain. The fewer people chatting about that one, the happier he'll be.

Fuck it. It's the Stanley Cup finals.

I'll be watching tomorrow.

Anybody wanna come over?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Oh, for Christ's sake.

Why do you do this do me OLN?


I mean, you have come so far.

I mocked you early on, made fun of the bull riding thing, busted your stones for that Ted Nugent reality show, and generally lamented the fact that the greatest game in the world was only available on a network that envied the Nielsens of professional bowling.

But then, you started turning it around- the legends of hockey specials, lifting live broadcasts directly from TSN, constantly re-running the gayest hockey movie of all time on nights when a playoff series wrapped up early and generally giving American fans of the game of hockey the kind of programming they've been craving for years.

UPDATE: The gayest poster of the gayest hockey movie of all time:

But you've been great, OLN, and the only gripe I've had with you is availability. My buddy Duben, who lives in Brewster, NY has to drive to a different town to watch hockey, and once he gets there, the chance of finding an Upstate New York bartender who has even heard of OLN, is about as good as your chance of getting him to talk you though the recipe of his favorite crepe filling in fluent, Parisian French.

But I figured with a few seasons of quality, you'd start getting some name recognition, maybe you could print up some of those free beer coasters, local bars would start getting a small but loyal following for the games, and hockey, although still a niche sport, would once again start to grow.

Then you turn around and do something like this.

For those you who don't feel like clicking that link, it's the announcement that in the fall of 2006, OLN will be changing it's name to, get ready for it, "Versus." According to the press release, "The new moniker, a culmination of a two-year network evolution, was chosen not only for its bold nature, but because it universally evokes competition."


You know what else it universally evokes?


If I can't get a local bartender to understand a three-letter anagram, asking him to put on "versus" is going to be a fucking Laurel and Hardy routine.

Me: Do you have versus?

Bartender: What?

Me: Versus. It's a channel.

BT: Verses? What is it, the poetry channel?

Me: No no, Versus- like- um, against? Uh- like Roe VERSUS Wade. Versus.

BT: We got Court TV. You buying a drink?

ME: Well, hold on- I'll buy a drink if I can watch some hockey; I just want to know if-

BT: Oh yeah- we have hockey on all the time- I'll put it on.

ME: No, it won' t be on tha-
(The bartender walks away and puts the channel on the local Fox Sports affiliate, which broadcasts Islander and Devils games. The Nets are playing. He comes back)

BT: Sorry, basketball.

Me: No, the channel is called Versus. You know... it universally evokes competition?

BT: You getting a drink or what?

Me: (heavy sigh) Red Label on the rocks.

And scene.

I understand that hockey is played indoors, but why don't they just do that thing that Kentucky Fried Chicken did, and just call themselves KFC? Screw it, they are just OLN, that's it, that's what they're called. What does it stand for? Who cares!?
I mean, does anybody even remember what ESPN stands for anymore?

Extra Sports Playing Network?
Every Sport Played Network?

I literally have no idea, and I don't think it matters. They could be the "Elephant Sized Penis Network," and I'd be none the wiser, although I guess that really wouldn't jibe with their constant coverage of Barry Bonds.

You know what I mean.


For crying out loud.

Screw it.

I'm getting the hockey package next year.

It's really the only way to go.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Finals...finally.

Well, I finally got my great game seven.

In what has been the best playoff series of 2006, (with apologies to Edmonton/San Jose)Carolina and Buffalo smashed into each other last night in a game that was less "New NHL" and more "26 car pileup." There were hard hits, ugly goals, great saves, and a pace so feverish that it made me dizzy just watching it.

Actually, that might have been the vodka.

I digress.

Still, it's telling that in a game as ugly as that one, the game winner would come from Rod Brind'Amour, easily the toughest, hardest working, and best player in the NHL who also happens to resemble Sloth from the Goonies. I realize that "Best player in the NHL who also happens to resemble Sloth from the Goonies" might SEEM like a limited category, but consider this. Regardless, I'd still take that ugly bastard on my team in a heartbeat. Brind'Amour (translated from the French: "only a mother could love") barreled into the slot, found a loose puck and buried the hopes of an extraordinary Buffalo team with a vengeance he usually reserves for well, mirrors.

Seriously, that dude looks like his head is made of wax and he got left too near the fireplace.

But with that goal, the Hurricanes move back into the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2002, and it's not the Red Wings this time; it's the team that beat the Wings in the first round. And not to dwell on it, but it's going to be great to see either team skating around with the Stanley Cup, as it's been a long, long time coming.

Let's watch some hockey.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Game 7

Is today.

And here's hoping it's a good one.

But for now, can I just say that I'm genuinely creeped out by that Snickers bar ad where the dude gets shot down by a girl, goes back to his car, peels the wrapper off a candy bar and a girl comes out?
You know the one?

Anyway, there's like this hot girl hanging out of his candy wrapper, and she tells him how great he is, and he repays her kindness by biting her head off.

It's a little troubling.

Kinda like that Molson ad where the bear comes to the door with a 6 pack of Molson beer and the girl all of a sudden wants to fuck the bear?

I mean, what the fuck is up with ad guys?


I mean, for crying out loud.

In terms of predictions, crap man- it can't be done.

If pressed, I still think it's gonna be Buffalo, but that's all gut at this point.

I like the way Lindy Ruff fucks with the media. As much as I hate Buffalo fans, I love a dude who can put on a good show.

What do you think?