Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eye Of The Tucker

This post can't begin without a tribute to a fellow named Chemmy and his work over at Pension Plan Puppets, and especially, the Darcy Tucker Fan Club. With great respect we would like to voice our support for the decision to keep the name, and our regrets that one of the most passionate and feisty show-stoppers in the game is no longer a MapleLeaf.

Feisty:–adjective, feist·i·er, feist·i·est.
1. full of animation, energy, or courage; spirited; spunky; plucky: The champion is faced with a feisty challenger.
2. ill-tempered; pugnacious.
3. troublesome; difficult

I've been thinking about the future of Darcy Tucker, and I've made a few comments about who I'd like to see him playing with. I then knew my next post would be about Darcy when I saw this NHL transaction:

Tampa Bay: Acquired the rights to LW Gary Roberts and LW Ryan Malone from Pittsburgh for a conditional 2009 draft pick.

My first thought: "does this mean Sir Gary won't be coming to Toronto?"
My second thought: "does this open the door for Darcy to come to Pittsburgh?"

The answer to the first question we'll leave to the Leaf blogophere. The answer to the second question, I sincerely hope, is yes. The only team I want to see Darcy playing for this year is the Penguins. I'm not a Pittsburgh fan, far from it. I'm a MapleLeafs fan and then I'm a hockey fan. But being a Leafs fan means I still cheer for the former Leafs who were among the best to wear and represent the blue and white. I'm still a Gary Roberts fan. I still like Cujo. I cheered for Hal Gill. And I'll always be a fan of Darcy Tucker. I'd like to see his courage and spirit recognized, and I hope he wins a Cup.

I really want the Penguins to see this. It fits so well. By adding Tucker, they essentially replace both Malone and Roberts at the same time. They get a younger, faster, sharper version of Roberts, who can still play Malone's ice-time. Tucker brings the same kind of experience and veteran leadership as Gary and also Malone's intensity, hustle and sacrifice.

For those that think Tucker is "worn out", I say, no way not even close. This was just an off year. There was no heart in the dressing room, no enthusiasm for winning, and nothing, therefore, to play for. Give Tucker a true shot at glory and honour and watch him go. That's his fuel. He's still a top-six forward on any team, and can still be a powerplay sniper. He knows how to finish, and I believe, come playoff time, he can still bang and crash and deliver.

Crosby and Malkin can't both play with George Laraque. Tucker would make a great middleweight body guard for either, though it's Evgeni that I can really see him clicking with. Could've been the spark on the forecheck Malkin needed in the Finals. But I also see Tucker paired up with another Penguin player for an explosive combination: Maxime Talbot.

I never really appreciated Maxime Talbot before this year's playoffs, but I admit, I've become a fan of his work. First of all, it doesn't hurt to have a great playoff beard. Second, he scored a huge goal in the Finals to send Game 5 into overtime. But I was already a fan before that, because I liked his overall style. I liked his energy, the way he seemed to always be encouraging his teammates on the bench, backing them up on the ice, and the way he'd zoom into the offensive zone, like he was Mark Bell looking for Daniel Alfredsson. He bangs, he scraps, he finishes, he antagonizes, and he leads. Basically, he plays like Darcy Tucker. And I think the two of them on the same line would be dyn-O-mite with a capital O.

Finally, I'd like to go on record, and risk credibility, by saying that if the Penguins do acquire Tucker, then they go back to the Finals, except this time, they win it all. I also think that Darcy Tucker hoisting the Cup would be a genuinely compelling moment, full of raw emotion and drama.
So, good luck, #16.
Wishing you the best. Passion. Glory. Honour. We don't forget.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Raycrap Reaction Recap Wrap-Up

First of all, I'd like to dedicate this entire post to eyebleaf, and his truly excellent blog, Sports And The City. If you can filter through all the basketball, baseball, football/soccer, football/Super Bowl, football/Pinball, and DEEP THOUGHTS, there's actually a lot of really good Leafs and hockey coverage. As far as I can tell Sports And The City has been up and running since October, 2006. In 2007, eyebleaf published a remarkable 77 posts on his site. Even more remarkable, he has already surpassed that total this year with his 78th and 79th posts this week. Forget "does he have the endurance?" -this is the Iron Man, folks. He doesn't just keep going, he gets faster. Bravo eyebleaf! We really appreciate your optimism and passion.

Whfew! Not that we got that obligation out of the way, we can get on with the body of this piece: Here's something from The Files Of He Must Be Freakin' Joking! A completely deadpan reports that Andrew Raycroft's agent, Jordon Nuemann, had this reaction to the Raycroft buy-out situation: (I'm gonna use big letters now, 'cause I don't want anyone to miss it)

"Because financially, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to buy him out and then add the cost of another replacement goaltender," said Neumann. "It's going to end up costing you roughly the same amount, and you're not going to get a guy as good as Andrew."

Now the fun part; I get to write a list of things that are as good as Andrew.
1. a bag of pucks
2. one puck
3. an empty bag
4. a cardboard cut-out of Andrew
5. the midget from Love Guru
6. my mother
7. a 4-year old
8. two goalie sticks forming a cross from post to post
9. styrofoam targets in the corners
10. a snowman
11. an extra thick set of goalie pads
12. Garth Snow
13. Ray Emery
14. Curtis Joseph
15. Justin Pogge
16. Scott Clemmenson
17. Tuuka Rask
18. Manon Rheaume
19. You
20. anyone who's ever laced up skates, and even some people who haven't

But don't take my word for it Jordan, if that is your real name. Read the reactions of others here and here. Keep in mind, these are the words of the most diehard Leaf fans, those who bleed true blue, who support this team through thick and thin. Tears have been shed for Darcy Tucker, for Mats, for Kyle "the Lion-hearted", even poor, little Johnny Pohl. Here's a sample:

"Raycroft was close to the worst starting goaltender in the league, and he was just as awful as a backup in 2008. "
"Raycroft is a disease. We must be cleansed of him. Good riddance to bad rubbish."
"Don't let the door slam your butt on the way out Raycroft"
"Back to're being replaced by Scott Clemmensen...that speaks VOLUMES...being replaced by the guy who backed up Brodeur."
"I’d be really surprised to see Raycroft in the NHL again. He can follow Rob Pearson and go play in Germany. Guten tag, mein fuckface!"

That last one was me. If anyone else would like to clear the air, and let Jordon and Andrew know what you really think, feel free to leave your own personal message to them in the comments below. But first, have a look at what Raycroft himself said, a little more then a year ago. In the last game of the season, 2007, with Leaf playoff hopes on the line, Raycroft was pulled after allowing a fourth goal, in favour of Jean-Sebastien Aubin. The Leafs valiantly fought back to win that game, 6-5 over the Habs, and when the game was over, Raycroft was asked how he felt about coach Maurice's decision to pull him out. He called it "The coaching move of the year". I couldn't have agreed more. One year later, the decision to waive Raycroft and remove him from the team might be called "the General Manager move of the year". Just too bad it isn't 2007.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exciting Poll Update!

10 Votes!

Yes, we've reached a milestone and it almost went unnoticed. We are in the double-digits now. 10 votes! 10 remarkable people have cast their ballot. 10 have chosen to make their voices heard on this blog. 10 people in the whole universe. That's pretty amazing stuff.

Update #1: First, thank you to everyone who cast their ballot so far. Pay attention to further updates for special announcements.

Update #2: Randy Wood surges ahead. After 6 votes the race was a dead heat. Valk, Cross, and Wood were tied, 2-a-piece, despite an early lobbying effort from Pension Plan Puppets. However, the last 4 votes have all gone Woods' way and suddenly he has a comfortable lead. Will the 60% trend continue? Does Wood have the endurance? We'll see. Originally, Randy was ranked 3rd "least memorable Leaf to score an overtime goal in the playoffs" on this blog. So this might be a bit of a surprise. Still, there's a ways to go yet and anything can happen!

Update #3: As mentioned previously on this blog, the poll will be open until Dec. 31/2008, so there's lots of time to decide who is the least memorable Leaf to score an overtime goal in the playoffs. However, if you have voted, it is possible to change your vote at anytime. If you haven't yet cast your ballot, then vote now, change your mind later, vote again, who cares?

Update #4: This is a special announcement regarding the 10th vote in our poll. In honour and celebration of that milestone ballot, we would like to call forward the distinguished individual who cast the 10th vote, if they know who they are, to receive our spectacular sweepstakes contest giveaway bonus prize gift! The lucky winner will receive from us at this blog: a congratulatory message in the comment section, and also, an entire post dedicated to them, which may include a link to their website, if they have one. Wouldn't it be weird if the winner also has a blog? There's no way of knowing who cast the 10th vote, or even if it isn't just one person voting again and again, but whoever you are, claim your prize by leaving a comment below.

Cheers to Everybody! Democracy is Fantastic!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Holy Cow, It's Nostalgic!

What a strange day. And what a strange way to leave town. That's what PPP might be thinking. I wonder what's goin' through Sundin's head?

Scene: (lobby of a fancy hotel) The captain, Mats, dressed as Humphrey Bogart, tips his hat, quietly puts on his raincoat, and without turning around to wave goodbye, just an ever so slight glance over the shoulder, steps through the hotel's gold and glass revolving doors, disappearing as it turns. Silently it spins as one second, then another passes when suddenly, emerging from the other side and into the hotel lobby again, it's ..! Cito Gaston wearing a Blue Jays uniform? Huh?

Welcome back, Cito, I guess. Do you know Cliff? Surely, you guys bumped into each other at a cocktail party back in '93. Ah, the good old days. Not at all like today, where the biggest news should be that the greatest player who was ever a MapleLeaf is no longer a MapleLeaf. Instead, we get a heavy dose of nostalgia.

1993 is a popular year on this blog, but I feel like I'm watching a Star Trek episode where characters from the past are interrupting the present to warn about a future that looks exactly like the past, except it's a re-run that I've seen before and now I can't figure out if this sense of deja-vu is real or if time is actually moving backwards or if I'm just stoned. Did the Sly Fox just make a dramatic move at the Draft Table? Was it for Wendel? Does Cito shoot left?

Back in reality, despite the Habs bold play for the former Leaf captain, Mats might not sign with Montreal. I remember what he said once about a trade rumour to the Canadiens. He used a profanity. True, it would be a great team for him to play for because of the key players they have, but he might feel that if he's not playing for the Leafs, why sign with anybody before July 1st? At least, for ego's sake, see what the market will flatter him with. I'm also thinking he might enjoy spending less time being an NHL Superstar when he's not on skates, and more time being a regular person. That won't happen in Montreal. Despite Koivu, Kovalev, and Carbonneau, Mats' presence in hockey-mad, french-goalie-worshipping, police-car-burning Montreal would be huge. Enormous. It'd be like Bill Clinton becoming the president of Mexico.

So I actually don't think Mats will sign with Montreal, but maybe the Habs know something I don't. I also don't think he'll be back here though, either. For Cliff, it's a win-sorta win situation. If Sundin does sign with Montreal, then I guess we get something in return. If he doesn't, at least it looks like he tried. Which is the other reason I think Mats won't sign with Montreal. I think he might be a bit miffed that Cliff tried to swing any deal. Unless he approved it, which then begs the question, why hasn't he signed yet? According to Fletcher: "It took you guys (Toronto's best investigative sports writers) a while to find out... It would have been better if you hadn't found out". Funny thing to say. Makes me wonder who let the cat out of the bag.

Sundin's agent had this to say: "At this point Mats hasn't decided if he wants to play, let alone where". Doesn't sound like someone who's said, "Yes, give them the green-light". Sounds more like, "Piss off, I'm enjoying my vacation".

Bon Voyage, Captain!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How Creepy Glenn Sabotaged Our Future

Yesterday, in a chilling and stark ceremony that featured pagan ritual, witchcraft, and the drinking of goat's blood, Glenn Anderson was inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame, while former Leaf captain and franchise saviour, Doug "Dougie" Gilmour, was not. Yet another bitter kick in the teeth for those of us that remember Game Six.

For those that don't realize the significance of yesterday's event, let me explain: Late in the third period, after Wendel Clark heroically ties the game as the extra attacker with his third goal, setting up overtime, Anderson decides on his own to make up for it by putting the Leafs down a man for overtime with a completely stupid, pointless, and obvious hit from behind on an L.A. player. If you don't know what happened after that, see the "special feature" in my
very first post: The Greatest Screw Job Ever in the History of Sports. Then read every NHL Sourcebook since 1994, and then read today's newspaper. Then come back to reading my blog. (There, now you're all caught up)

But what if Anderson had never thrown that stupid hit? How different would our world be today? Global warming, terrorism, Paris Hilton... would any of these horrors exist, or would we be living an ideal, utopian dream, with King Wendel Clark reigning over a land of justice and harmony for all? Maybe somewhere in between. But, first of all...

Gretzky doesn't high stick Gilmour. Or, if he does, it's of little consequence, because the Leafs wouldn't be short-handed. Since Dougie was about to dump the puck the length of the ice to kill off the remainder of the penalty, "the Dastardly One" had a sense of urgency that contributed to the "high stick". If there's no penalty, Gilmour's not looking to dump the puck, and Greztky is most likely to let him carry it and try to stick-check when a defenceman pinches. No stupid Anderson penalty, no high stick.

Leafs win Game Six. The only conclusion you can draw is that if there'd been no high stick, then the Leafs would have won Game Six. Otherwise, none of our suffering makes any sense. So the Leafs must win that game if Anderson doesn't sabotage it. There's no other option. Probably Wendel scores his fourth, around the 5 minute mark. Clark is the overtime hero with a 4-goal game in Game Six. Leafs win and advance to the Finals to meet Montreal. Wendel's heroics go down in the hockey world as one of the greatest achievements ever. Does Cliff still trade him at the '94 Entry Draft? Perhaps, but if so, his value is way up. Maybe the Leafs get Sundin and the rights to Forsberg (ha!), or more realistically, maybe instead of Garth "the" Butcher, they get Adam Foote. Imagine then, the Leaf defense evolving in to a six-pack that looked like this by 1999: Yushkevich, Markov, Kaberle, McCabe, Foote, and... Bryan Berard, because...

Bryan Berard doesn't get high-sticked in the eye by Hossa. Kerry and Wayne conspired to set the precedent that certain star atheletes in the NHL can wave their sticks around players faces and get away with it. Without that precedent, maybe Hossa feels less inspired to act like Zorro, and more encouraged to keep his stick on the ice. Okay, maybe this one's a stretch, but really, if Anderson had never thrown that stupid hit, everything would be different. Everything. Even your breakfast cereal. Wendel would be on the front of the box. Because...

Leafs win the Stanley Cup in 1993 and again in 1994. It's pretty obvious isn't it? I don't have to explain that one. Probably they win the Cup again in 2000 and 2001 also, since the pressure is completely off and the city is behind the team like never before. Multiple parade routes are planned with each championship, and each time celebrations take over the city and no one has to go to work for three weeks. Every Leaf player on the 93-94 team becomes an eternal legend in Toronto, even Krushelnyski. Gilmour, after scoring a hat-trick in Game One, having six assists in Game Two, scoring the winner in triple overtime in Game Three, and then adding a goal and 2 assists in an 8-0 blowout over Patrick Roy and the Habs for the 4-game sweep, wins his first of 2 back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies. Fourteen years later, Gilmour goes through to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Creepy Glenn, who scored 498 career goals, but failed to score the 2 that mattered most, is left out, year after year, again and again, and no one sheds a tear.

So, in mock tribute to Anderson's "accomplishments" let us present our nomination for a new chapter to
DownGoesBrown's immortal classic, "How To Fight When You Don't Want To Fight". Congratulations Dougie, in our hearts, you're already in the Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ron Wilson And Me

Here's a fun thing to do: Take quotes from someone else's coverage of a press conference, and use them out of context to create a dialogue between 2 people. In this case, let's use Paul Hunter's piece, which was really well done, great job and all that, and the two people in conversation will be new Leaf head coach Ron Wilson, and me.

Welcome Ron, and thank you for inviting me out for coffee with you. I must admit, when I saw you in the washroom at Pearson I was surprised that you approached me. Tell me, why did you want to do this imaginary interview with an ordinary sportsblogger after the press conference?

"You can get fooled by what other people write about you. Did I actually say that? Did I really do that?"

I think you did, but I get your point too. Good irony. Kinda like Damien's piece today. I thought it was going to be about you, but instead it was about playing baseball backwards and Frank Thomas, and had nothing to do with reality. Kinda like this interview. Moving on... any words for Sundin? Anything you'd like to say directly to Mats before he makes his decision on returning?

"Making the playoffs is not our goal. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. Period."

Wow. I've been waiting for a leader on this team to say those exact words ever since Pat Quinn left.

"I don't have Pat Quinn's presence. He walks into a room and it's a parting of the Red Sea."

Wow. Like Moses. So which Biblical figure would you be?

"Not the Antichrist."

Whoah. Let's hope not. How 'bout we step away from religion for a second. I hear you like Saturday Night Live movies?

"I'd kill to meet Will Ferrell. I think he's the funniest guy on the planet. I should probably say Mike Myers now."

Weird. Funniest guy on the planet, eh? You obviously haven't read DownGoesBrown. And, um, the second guy you mentioned, who's that? Never heard of him. Seriously though, you did say something there that was interesting that I'd like to follow up on. If a meeting with Mr. Ferrell can be arranged, who would you kill?

(Long silence)

"Darcy Tucker for years was one of my favorite players, but... (another long silence) he's starting to wear down."

So, it'd be like a mercy thing. I get it. Speaking of movies, wanna go see a flick or something with me sometime? Would your wife mind?

"Hopefully I'll be able to go to a movie, maybe in a disguise... but I don't want you to think I'll be the guy in the back row in a raincoat with a box of popcorn."

No, I know that guy. He sends e-mails to Howard Berger. Changing the subject.. do you know anything about a curse or a hex on the Leafs?

"I left Fort Erie in 1967 right after the Leafs won the Stanley Cup, so it might be my fault."

Okay, but did you know that in 1968 CBC also started playing that song that everybody hates now? So, there's 2 reasons to hope. Finally, Ron, is there a message you'd like to send to the team and it's fans, something you might write on a blackboard, or put on a banner to hang in the dressing room? What will be the character of this team with you behind the bench?

"The only thing I guarantee is this team will not accept defeat. If they go down, they'll go down swinging."

Awesome. Ron, you get a gold star beside your name. Keep it up. Try to get a whole row. Thank you for your honesty and thank you for coming to Toronto.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Memo to CBC: Fire Scott Moore Now And All Will Be Forgiven

In March, 2007, Scott Moore was hired by the CBC as the executive director of Sports. Here's what he had to say about budget constraints:

"You have to be (fiscally) responsible whether you work for a private company or a public company," he said. "I don't think we'll ever use (money) as an excuse."

Here's what he had to say on
InsideTheCbc just a few days ago:

“We are proud of the association with the former theme song and are saddened that we were unable to reach a deal, especially when we presented an offer which we believe was not substantively different from what the rights holders had proposed to us."

Interesting... Here's what he had to say
the day after CTV scooped the rights to the HNIC theme:

“The owner’s demand of $2.5 to 3 million is well beyond—actually, three or four times as much as—what we consider to be a reasonable valuation,” said Scott Moore, executive director, Television Sports. “As a public broadcaster, it would have been irresponsible to have offered that amount.”

It's bad enough that Scott Moore is wholly incompetent, now we have to listen to his contradictions as well? What garbage! I hope this guy drowns in his own fantasy pool.

Is CBC not governed by a mandate to ensure the identity and culture of Canadians? What could be more Canadian than the HNIC theme song? An "American Idol" style contest? Really, I don't approve of foul language, but in this case, Scott, why don't you go fuck yourself!

Fire Scott Moore now, CBC, and all will be forgiven. Have a contest to replace him. Insult him personally, and his profession at the same time, by finding an ordinary Canadian amateur sports director to do his job. Offer the contest winner a cash prize of, oh I don't know, 1/10th the value of the position. Just please, don't tell Canadians that the opposite of what they want will be "exciting".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Gary's An Easy-Going Guy, Just Talk To Him

(This post inspired by a comment from DownGoesBrown in the previous post.)

It's not that Gary Bettman doesn't like fighting, he just doesn't understand it. On the ice, off the ice, in the ring, or on a street corner, he doesn't get it. There's no distinction, and there's no purpose. Furthermore, he's terrified of it. He is, after all, a lawyer, and though I'm not saying most (if not all) lawyers are terrified of fighting, I would say that if I were terrified of fighting I know what profession I might pursue. (Just to be on the safe side, I hereby retract everything I've said so far, and then some)

Convincing Bettman that fighting has a place in hockey, is actually good for the sport, and brings drama and excitement to the fans may seem an impossible task, and I'm not going to attempt it here. Instead, I'm going to encourage others out there to try (go for it, DGB!), by suggesting that Gary the Commissioner is an open-minded guy, willing to listen to and explore new ideas, no matter how zany, off the wall, illogical, or poorly thought out. Here's a few examples of the idea's he's heard, and liked:

Hockey in Florida, Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. These states will freak for the NHL!! Also, move a team out of Minnesota, say you're going to move it to San Jose, don't, then split the team in two, and move the team to Dallas, and "award" San Jose an expansion team. Then put a team in Minnesota.

The Canadian dollar is going to kill the NHL. Get teams out of Winnipeg and Quebec and restructure league finances or else teams like Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary will never make the playoffs.

Have a 48-game season. See how they like that!

Use video replay to determine whether or not a player is in the crease. If so, disallow the goal. Have an entire season marred by the fact that every other goal requires a replay review and have countless quality goals disallowed because of half a skate, or a thick mustache. Then give the Stanley Cup to a team that scores the OT winning goal with a skate in the crease.

Six divisions and an unbalanced schedule. Half the league doesn't see the other half of the league more then a couple times every two years, while games between division rivals are so frequent, even the opponents back-up goalie will be familiar. We're not just talking "a familiar rivalry" anymore, Gary. We're talkin' "an extremely familiar rivalry". Everything's got to be extreme now.

Americans don't know what a puck is. I ain't never seen a puck an' I ain't never figured out what all them players is running around after for! Maybe y'all should make it glow or somethin'. You could call it the Fire Puck, or the Laser Puck, or the Flamer Puck! Make it look like a video game! (Coincidentally, around the same time as Fox's Fire Puck, NHL '95 for Sega was like the best video game)

Some games should have a value of 3 points. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you only sorta lose. These losses don't count against your .500 record, because you get a point. That way teams and media can mislead themselves and gullible fans by saying they're a game under.500 with a record of 11-12-5, despite opponents winning 17 out of 28. Climbing up the standings will be twice as difficult, and instead of teams playing it safe in overtime, now they'll play it safe for the entire 3rd period. Extremely safe. Exciting!

Cancel an entire season. That'll show'em! Let's sleep with their wives, too!

New sweaters, all the time. I don't want to know what any team looks like from one year to the next. That's boring. Bring in 3rd sweaetrs, classic jerseys, anything goes, no logo is sacred. Also, road teams should wear white, ya that makes sense. That way fans always see a white team. Forget the diversity of a team wearing blue, the next game a team wearing red, that's old. The visiting team should always wear the same colour. If you wanna see a different colour, go to a different building.

(As an aside- I can't do this in 3rd person, -the "white out" effect is completely ruined by the road team wearing white. All those Pittsburg fans "looked" like they were supporting the Red Wings. Does no one in Pittsburg own a black Penguins jersey that they wanted to wear instead of a white t-shirt sponsered by a bank? Why not a black-out? That would've been cool. Sorry Pittsburg, you're "white-out" was lame and contrived. Do it like Calgary, or don't do it at all. Wow, way off topic. Back in character.)

Shoot-outs, Gary. Freaking shoot-outs! Bang-bang! Bam! Bam! Whoooeee! What could be more exciting then a penalty shot? How about 6 in a row at the end of the game! And if it's still tied, just keep going. I'll never get tired of seeing miss after miss after miss after miss after miss after who cares! And then one team wins, the other gets a point. That's not frustrating!!!!!!!!!! A tie would be frustrating. Shoot-outs could be the showcase of the sport. How 'bout a shoot-out exhibition with "judges" at the Skill's Competition? I'm not kidding. Can you feel the excitement?

As you can see, Gary does feel the excitment- when it's explained to him very slowly over the telephone. He's an open-minded guy who likes to listen and no idea is too stupid or ridiculous to ignore. So if you can string 3 paragraphs together, and fit them between an introduction and a conclusion, you're more than half-way there. Now all you need is Gary's cell phone number. When he says, "Hello, Gary the Comissioner, I'm listening..." start reading.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wings Win, Ho Hum

"If anybody ever says he's the worst goalie that ever won the Cup, I'm gonna punch'em in the mouth!"

Sure would be nice to have a player like Darren McCarty on the Leafs. Of course, if Raycroft ever won the Cup, Darren would have his fists full of other people's teeth. Mostly mine.

Be happy Detroit, and never forget where you came from. I remember a certain goal scored by a certain little Russian wearing a blue and white sweater, on a goalie who wasn't just having a bad day, he was having a Cheveldae. As if that wasn't bad enough, the next year this happened. Poor Osgood wept after the game, yet no one on the Wings stood up and said "hey, we lost as a team!". Or if they did, they didn't do it loud enough. The lasting impression was a young goalie, "the Kid", shouldering the blame for a massive team failure. Sound familiar, Carey Price?

The next year, (stupid lock-out year) the Wings went to the Finals only to be swept by the Devils. One year later, the infamous Lemieux hit on Draper, and Detroit tastes the bitterest kind of defeat. Even worse, the Avalanche win the Cup. The moral is: You have to lose to know how to win, and then you have to lose even more. Or: All you have to do is get Brendan Shanahan.

Here's a good example of building character for the playoffs. The Shanahan-Roy mid-air collision is so eye-poppingly spectacular I nearly lost my mind! It was cosmic, like it was meant to be, like it had somehow always been.

That's what you need to win to a Stanley Cup. Blood, and guts, and a whole lot of talent. And then the brave acceptance of destiny. Remember how you got there Red Wings, it might even make it sweeter. Congratulations.

And now as a tribute, Darren McCarty interviews Chris Osgood and clears up the question of "why Dallas Drake?" Enjoy, and beware: next year has already begun!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, obviously letting Sundin and Fletcher run the show is not such a hot idea. In fact, it's absurd. But the Leafs are in an absurd situation. No coach, no GM, and a captain that doesn't know if he's coming back or not. The coaching situation may change very soon, with TSN, Down Goes Brown, and Wikipedia all reporting that Ron Wilson is about to be named the new Leaf head coach. But who's the general manager? "Is Cliff going to be in charge or is there a new guy coming in?" Sundin wants to know. Will he be back? We don't know. So we wait, while Sundin waits for answers, for his answer. Confused? Tired? You won't be if you just stop paying attention for a moment and put your head down.

In the meantime, let me try to straighten out spaghetti. By the end of this week, possibly tomorrow, the Leafs will announce Wilson as their new head coach. Presumably, reporters will ask questions like, "how do you feel about the GM position... y'know, how it's like... whatever... can you say something about that... it... whatever?" Wilson will prepare his answers with 1 of 2 situations in mind: A) "I don't care who the new GM is going to be, I'm just happy to be here, and I'll work with anybody". Or, B) "Cliff's the GM. I'm happy to work with Cliff. I'm gonna whip this team into shape while Cliff builds for the future".

I guess I like option B. It's less murky, more aggressive, where option A looks like Wilson is setting himself up to be a patsy. The coach being hired by the interim general manager before the replacement general manager could be found diminishes the strength of both roles. The GM is stuck with a coach who may not share his attitude or vision, and the coach goes to work without the formal endorsement of his boss. It's nice to hear "you're the right man for the job" at least once from the man you have to work for. That's usually what they say when they hire you.
For this reason, I'm guessing Cliff Fletcher is here to stay, at least for this year, and that Wilson will have his endorsement. Wilson will keep the job on merit and no expectations for one year, and then he'll have one more year to prove himself to the new GM.

So where does that leave Sundin? With the door to the bus wide open, his favorite bead-cushion waiting for him in the driver's seat. It's his team to captain if he wants. There'll be no expectations. No heartbreak, either. This is just stage one of a long term building process. He'll get market value. He'll be very comfortable. Leafs will miss the playoffs for 2 years in a row, stockpiling draft picks and prospects. Wilson will be replaced by an impatient, glory-hungry GM (using Burke as a random example), and Sundin can retire as a MapleLeaf, never having won a Stanley Cup. Stage One Complete.

Or maybe Sundin will bolt to a team that has a good chance and really go for it! I wonder...