Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Repost! Ovechkin Eliminated from Playoffs; Bettman Cancels Remainder of 2008 NHL Playoffs; Awards Cup to Ottawa Senators Instead
[For shits and giggles, I thought I'd repost last year's post decrying the elimination of the Ovenchicken from the playoffs. Yes, some of the references are dated by a year, but it just seemed appropriate to air it out once again. -EOH]
In a move unprecedented in professional sports, the NHL today cancelled the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs; opting instead to simply award the Stanley Cup to the Ottawa Senators next Tuesday. “Going forward, we just felt that this move was the best course for both the league and its fans”, said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "Without Ovechkin to look forward to, there's nothing left that's worth seeing. And without that magnificent Russian scoring machine, what will the NHL beat writers possibly write about. Who in their right mind would want to read a hockey article that wasn't all about the wonderful Ovechkin? Certainly not me..."
As for awarding the cup to Ottawa, Bettman said it just felt like the right thing to do. "They've got such talented players and they've worked so hard. You just feel bad for them. Plus, they are a Canadian team, so the vast majority of our fanbase will be somewhat pleased. Just think what would've happened to me if I'd just given the cup back to those NASCAR loving hicks in Carolina", remarked Bettman. "You'd find my burned out carcass nailed to a tree outside of Moose Twat, British Columbia if I'd done that. And I'll be damned if I'm gonna give Lord Stanley's cereal bowl to those quiche eating surrender monkeys in Quebec either."
However, some NHL owners and General Managers were visibly outraged. “I think this really stinks”, said Cliff Fletcher, Interim General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. “If any team deserves to just be handed the Stanley Cup, it is the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s not like we have the talent to win it by ourselves. Jesus, our coach is Paul Maurice for god’s sake. But Ottawa? Their Captain is from Sweden and their Goaltender is friggin Swiss! I’d rather see my daughter in a whorehouse than see Daniel Alfredsson’s name on our cup.” Fletcher bristled at the suggestion that the Maple Leaf’s Captain was also Swedish. “That’s a lie! This is Mats Sundin you’re talking about! Sundin not Sedin! How dare you criticize Mats Sundin! Mats Sundin is as Canadian as baseball and apple pie. All he’s ever done is given his heart and soul to our beloved Maple Leafs, and you reward him by questioning his Canadian heritage? Damn you all! Damn you all to hell!!!” Future Maple Leafs GM Jim Rutherford had no comment on the cancellation, but did mutter something unintelligible about Peter Laviolette, a tire iron and a garbage dumpster.
Other General Managers were also perplexed by the move. “I don’t know how the league can just arbitrarily award the Stanley Cup to some team other than the Red Wings”, said Detroit General Manager Ken Holland. “If the cup belongs anywhere, it is in Detroit. It’s a natural fit: Detroit is known worldwide as ‘Hockey Town’. And this place is such a crime infested sh*thole, we could use any help we can get to take our residents’ mind off the high unemployment rate and the rest of their miserable existence. By the way, you aren’t going to print that last part are you?”
Montreal Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau also weighed in strongly on the matter, saying: "Rezendez vous, parlez vous, voulez vous couche' avec moi, ce soi. Chateau Marcel Marceau escargot. Oui, oui mon cherie. Quiche vichyssoise! Inspector Clouseau. American pig dog! Ptooey!". He then smeared white makeup on his face, put on a black outfit with a striped shirt and funny hat, and tried to storm silently out of the room; but was thwarted when he encountered what appeared to be a very strong headwind. Unable to make headway, he became temporarily trapped in what might've been a glass box, before slowly pulling himself out of the room by means of an apparently invisible rope.
Oddly, Buffalo Sabres coach, Lindy Ruff’s response to the news was uncharacteristically calm: “This is B*llsh*T!!!” roared Ruff. “$#@%! *&%^, #*&#, *&%#ing bleep! We *&%#ing sucked way *&%#ing worse than those arrogant *&%#ing Ottawa Senators did! In fact, they were so *&%#ing arrogant they had *&%#ing champagne in their *&%#ing lockerroom before game four against the *&%#ing Penguins. They *&%#ing knew they were going to be awarded the *&%#ing cup. The league *&%#ing hates us. Everybody *&%#ing hates us. We get no *&%#ing respect. Their all out to get us. Well I'll just have somebody take out Spezza's knee or Heatley's achilles tendon and see how they *&%#ing like it. That's old time hockey right there. How Ottawa gets a cup without even putting a skate in the crease is beyond me. *&%# off and die!"
This unexpected cancellation comes on the immediate heels of the Philadelphia Flyer’s overtime, game-seven defeat of the Washington Capitals and the corresponding elimination of the NHL’s new poster boy Alexander Ovechkin. But despite increasingly strong outcries from the players and team executives to continue the playoffs as scheduled, the league remained firm in it’s position. “I mean, without Alexander Ovechkin in the mix, what’s the point”, said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Sure, Sidney Crosby was still in the hunt, but he’s like so ‘last year’. That’s not to knock Sid or anything. He’s still got those juicy lips and a wicked wrist shot, but let’s face it; he’s no Alex Ovechkin. With that nut-hair beard and Russian accent, Ovi’s so dreamy I could just scream. And besides, given the NHL’s abysmal Nielson ratings, and the fact that Versus is only available in 16 U.S. households, it’s not like anybody will notice the difference anyway. ”
The Commissioner’s attempts to justify the action did little to allay the ire of angry team officials. “So this whole thing was because Gary went and got himself all butthurt that his Russian boy toy got eliminated?” stormed Leafs GM Fletcher. Well, we’ve got a Russian too, but I didn’t see that rat faced little bastard cancelling the season back in January when the Leafs were out of contention! Hell, you want Russian? How about Alexei Ponikarovsky? You can’t get anymore Russian than ‘Alexei Ponikarovsky’. Sh*t fire, I'll bet every one of you a shiny new quarter with a beaver on the back that you can't even pronounce Ponikarovsky! Hell, ‘Alexander’ could be damn near anything, except maybe Chinese or Korean. But Alexei? ... THAT’s pure Russian.” When asked his thoughts on Fletcher's Russian theory, Rutherford simply smiled and said, "Samsonov".
Meanwhile, the sporadic cable network Versus scrambled to fill its now vacant evening lineup. “Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘scrambling’”, remarked Jamie Davis, President of Versus Network. “We’ve got plenty of PBR Bullriding footage that’s just begging to be aired. And we’ve got years of old Tour de France highlights that we can, uh... recycle, pardon the pun. While we here at Versus are deeply disappointed that we will not have any more exciting NHL action to broadcast this spring; we are excited about the huge increase in ratings that PBR Bullriding and pre-recorded European Bicycling are sure to garner in these time slots...
Posted by East of Here at 6:22 PM
Friday, May 15, 2009
Meet Scott Walker. He was once an ordinary man, like you and I. But fate intervened. And with one sphincter rattling bitch slap, he became "Walkerine". His skeleton may be adamantium alloy, but his balls are 100% brass. Don't make him angry, Penguins. You wouldn't like him when he's angry...
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Flashback time: Sunday September 28, 2008.
The Philadelphia Flyers were in town to play the Hurricanes in a pre-season tilt. Matt Cullen, who everyone was still being precocious with after returning from double concussions, was blind-sided by Nate Guenin of the Flyers with a vicious hit. Scott Walker immediately went after Guenin and began punching him rabidly.
Walker injured his hand on the play - required ligament surgery - and was out the first six weeks of the season. As he neared his return to the line-up, he dropped this gem:
""People say should I have gotten in the fight," he said. "I try to look back and say what would have I have done different? I think if the same thing happened today I would do it again."
- Canes Now blog entry
Last night in Boston, Walker stood by those six-month old comments and again stepped up for Matt Cullen. While all the focus has been squarely on Walker dropping A-Ward like a limp noodle (rightfully so) - not many people have mentioned Matt Cullen in this discussion.
Ward was all over Cullen as he has been on many of the players in this series. Aaron is great at what he does. But the in-game and post-whistle potshots have been going on for all five games with Ward and the majority of his teammates all being guilty of it. If you watch around the 0:07 mark of this video, you can see Ward violently cross checking Matt Cullen in the head:
Also not mentioned today was the Chuck Kobasew cross check to the back of Erik Cole's head. No one needs reminding of the history behind Cole's neck. How much crap did they think the Hurricanes were going to take before they retaliated? Carolina usually takes the high road and lets their skill-game do the talking. But they've got a Tim Conboy, they've got a Tim Gleason and they've got a Scott Walker ready to do some wailing if need be.
While I wish Aaron Ward would have been better prepared for the punch, Scott was just doing what he's wanted to do all along. Aaron Ward was ready to go with Matt Cullen, but when Walker skates over - he wouldn't drop the gloves and he got what was coming to him.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Did anybody actually think that the NHL would let the Canes eliminate Boston without a fight? I certainly didn't. But I didn't think the league would be so obvious about it. But I guess that desperate times calls for desperate measures.
Let's face the facts:
As much as we all love hockey, the truth is that it is run like a second rate league. And I won't even go into the whole abysmal TV deal bit (that's a whole 'nother rant...). But I do want to point out a major difference between the NHL and the other major sports leagues. In the other leagues (NFL, NBA, etc.), the rules don't change for the playoffs. A penalty is still a penalty. A foul is still a foul. However, in the NHL, the powers that be have decided that in the playoffs, what was a penalty in the regular season is somehow not a penalty now. Case in point: this Bruins/Canes series.
In a previous game, Eric Staal got the puck and a step on the defender and was clear for a breakaway. The defender reached out and literally grabbed a double handful of Staal's jersey and nearly turned him around. This is a penalty right? Wrong. No call.
In game 3, a Canes player was hooked down blatantly in front of the Bruin net, and the defender actually threw his arms up in disgust because he knew he was going to get a penalty. Tripping and/or hooking are penalties right? Wrong. No call.
Taking a high shot to Cole in the back (remember that broken neck Cole had a coupla years ago boys and girls? Boston does..) behind the play? Not a penalty in the playoffs according to the NHL. [Edit: Yes, I did see Jussi Jokinen slash Chara on the foot with no penalty. I'd almost bet that Jokinen will draw a suspension, while Stuart will get nothing for cheapshotting Erik Cole. But I digress again...]
To quote John Forslund: That's playoff hockey baby!
Yep, the rules change in the playoffs. And it sucks. Worse, it makes the league look like the joke it has become. Worse, it penalizes the teams that build their roster around speed and skill (which is what people want to see) while benefitting teams that build their roster for big, slow and lazy players (which is what people don't want to see). But you already knew that.
Now I know I'll take some heat for bitching about officiating. It is the easy way out, more often than not. I'll draw the usual "sour grapes" comments and "blame game" whining from the usual suspects. But the truth is that EVERY SINGLE HOCKEY FAN IN NORTH AMERICA knows that NHL officiating sucks at the best of times. And while to date, the officiating has not seriously affected this particular playoff series, it has had the potential to do so. And that is simply unacceptable in a so-called "professional" league, IMHO. Especially when the advantage has been so obviously one-sided.
Don't believe me? See for yourself:
According to Toronto, in the playoffs (and if you are not an "Original Six" franchise), this is not a goal; despite the half an inch of visible white between the puck and the goal line.
Worse, the league isn't even trying to hide their obvious desire to see Boston (Original Six Franchise, BTW...) make it to the ECF for their desired Chara - Crosby/Ovenchicken showdown. In fact, they are damn near flaunting it.
Don't believe me? Check the box score for the game tonight. Specifically, look who they assigned to call the game. Yep: Watson and Peel.
Does everybody here remember Peel?
In case you've forgotten, he was the guy who called the phantom dive on Erik Cole to deny Staal a hat trick (on an empty net goal in the last 30 seconds of a game no less...) a couple of years back. The call was so obviously bad that Peel himself actually even apologized to Cole for the call at the next Canes game he officiated.
As if that isn't bad enough, the NHL has paired him with Brad Watson tonight:
Any non-Cane fans may be wondering why Watson is so bad. However, there isn't a Caniac alive who doesn't know exactly where I am going with this one. So for the non-Caniacs, check this jewel out:
And that was just one of TWO completely bullshit diving penalties that Watson called on the Canes that game. (Not to mention the other stinkers called in that one.) Worse, the officiating played a part in our loss in that game; which may not seem like a big deal now, until you remember that we missed the playoffs by 1 lousy point last year...
Now given Watson's well known propensity to call completely phantom bullshit penalties on the Canes, you'd think that assigning Watson to call such a critical game would be the last thing the NHL would do. If nothing else, you'd think the league would keep him away from the Canes to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in such an important game. Letting Brad Watson officiate a Canes playoff game is like the NFL assigning Ed Hochuli to work a Denver/San Diego playoff game. It doesn't even pass the smell test. Yet, there he is - out there blowing on his whistle like a runaway freight train...
But this is the NHL. The No Honor League. And predictably, the Bruins have gotten a truckload of power plays tonight. There is just no way the NHL could forget Watson's history with the Canes when they made this assignment. Nor is there any excuse for this assignment.
So to the NHL, I say this:
If you want to pick and choose who gets to play for the cup, just scrap the playoff system and adopt the BCS structure. That way, you can cherry pick your beloved Original Six matchups and your Ovenchicken/Crosby matchups and save us "small market" fans the expense of playoff tickets. It's not like you need the revenue, eh?
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Hallelujah in the name of all that is Jussi Jokinen. Holy guacamole does this guy know when to score goals in the playoffs. Timmy Thomas, do me a favor and ask Marty Brodeur how his own heart tasted - because Jussi Jokinen will carve yours out with a spoon and feed it to you. That goal already adds to the instant classics from this post-season that shall live on in Caniac folklore forever:
So Jim Rutherford is getting plenty of sunshine blown up his butt here lately for being so shrewd as to shed two dead contracts - Wade Brookbank and Josef Melichar - while also adding Jussi Jokinen in the February trade. Add that to the unpopular (at the time) decision that Jimmy Boy made to can Laviolette in favor of Paul Maurice back in December. He traded for Erik Cole and immediately the team steamrolled into the post-season. Certainly a candidate for a GM of the year award, you think?
Something else he's golden at is contract negotiations with his players. Chad LaRose was at an impasse the summer of 2008 with signing his RFA deal to remain with the Canes. The stalled talks happened because Rutherford wanted to pay Rosey 4th line duty money - and Chad knew that he was worth more than whatever he'd get from JR. #59 was on the top line with Staal and Whitney for a good portion of the Devils series. GM Jim knew that he could pay so little to receive so much. While that sort of pisses me off because you all know about my absurd Chad LaRose man-crush - you have to respect a boss of company who runs it so successfully while staying so frugal in this craphole of an economy.
So LaRose only signed a one year deal at .875mil and will be an un-restricted free agent this summer. After having a career year and being a key cog on the team for three seasons - he could easily choose to sign somewhere else where they'd pay him what he deserves.
But I wouldn't count on that happening. My boy Jimmy will probably figure out a way to keep him, Ruutu and Jokinen on the team and still stay low-budge.