Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Pictured: therapists.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I am a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s been mentioned on the podcast once or twice. In the weird, twisted, nonsensical world of sports fandom, I am dug deep in my love of this team. However, this year I’ve started to feel something more for my team. Something kindred, if you will. Perhaps it’s just where I am at in my life but I’m starting to feel a connection with this Leafs team I’ve not felt for a sports team, well, ever. As I said on today’s show, this is a team for people who are bad at life. And that’s a good thing. This Maple Leafs team is pretty much everything I dislike about hockey – they play way too many goons for way too many minutes and said goons drum up fights and trouble for no real reason outside of the fact it’s all they know how to do – but I can’t help but love them. They’re losers. I am a loser. We lose together and, to steal a phrase from my favorite TV show, we lose well.

But what does that say about me? And what does that say about fandom in general? How do we justify cheering for teams that we know are bad but are forced to live with because of geographic predisposition? Cheering for a bad team is tough. So is life. Let’s get through both together. I am a disaster of a human being and I cheer for a disaster of a hockey team and it’s pretty helpful. (yeah, that probably doesn’t say great things about my mental health but it’s true). So, here are some steps for cheering for a team that should make you feel crazy but, instead, makes you feel sane.

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An Open Letter to Sad NHL Fans

I know, these guys don't look very sad at all. Use your fucking imagination.

Hey! Yeah, you, over there, Average NHL Fan, with the drooping flag and the mournful shuffle. Hold on a sec. We need to talk.

How’ve you been doing? How’s the family? Your grandmother, really? I thought she was more of a knitter. Oh, that was the other one. Well, good for her. And the house? Still living on that street over by that other street? Yeah, that’s a nice place you’ve got, I wouldn’t move either.

So yeah, this lockout, eh? Fucking lockout. Sucks, doesn’t it? I know, I know. I’m staring down the barrel of all these Movie Nights in Canada, man, what the fuck am I going to do on Saturday nights? Goddamn Toronto in the winter, a girl can only handle so many hipster clubs and sushi restaurants. Not that average fans like you and I can afford sushi like those millionaire players. Fuck, man. I know how it is.

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Things to look forward to from Bergevin rule in Montreal: snazzy glasses, ominous phone calls.

As a Habs fan, the very fact that the Bergevin regime exists at all fills me with hope. True, last year was a shame and a humiliation, and true, the damage that Gauthier wrought will not easily be undone, but at least our ownership is capable of recognizing terrible management and incapable of tolerating it, which is more than can be said for a few fair owners in this fine League. Why, in the frigid reaches of Edmonton, on the concrete shores of Long Island, on the gentle plains of Columbus children go to bed at night praying that they might someday be so fortunate as to have a new GM. It is a glorious thing to have a new GM. It’s like the rising of a new sun.

Okay, not really. More like the opening of a new mall, maybe? Where maybe it’ll be cool but then again maybe it’ll just be full of those kiosks that airbrush Bugs Bunny on T-shirts? Yeah, more like that.

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Perusing the NHL’s news of the day would have you believe a few things. First, the labor negotiations are ‘productive’ right now. Second, nobody knows what to expect from the Minnesota Wild. Third, all of the big name free agents are off the board.

The funny thing is, the third part — and likely the first — of that isn’t true. At all.

Enter Alexander Semin.
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Nail Yakupov did and said all the right things leading up to the NHL Draft, then was (miraculously) chosen correctly by the Edmonton Oilers at #1 overall.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun wrote a story on the rookie yesterday titled Yakupov’s Excellent Adventure, which highlights Yakupov’s time at the Oilers’ prospect camp last week. It’s a good piece, but I winced at the opening lines:

Wow, that was awesome. But don’t do it again.

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In 2007, the Kings passed on Karl Alzner, Alex Cherepanov and Jakub Voracek, making a reach on lower-ranked Thomas Hickey of the Seattle Thunderbirds with the fourth overall selection.

One thing that should strike you about the successful Los Angeles defence is how it was put together more a random association of functional parts rather than built a certain fashion. What I mean is, there was an organizational philosophy instilled in the Kings’ management system to improve the team’s back-end at the draft between the years 2006 and 2010 and it didn’t necessarily work.

Willie Mitchell came to the Kings after they gambled on him coming off a concussion with a multi-year deal. Rob Scuderi was a free agent. Matt Greene was a thrown-in as part of a Lubomir Visnovsky-Jarrett Stoll trade.

Granted, three defencemen were drafted by the Kings who were on the team, but not the ones you’d think. Drew Doughty is there, of course, but in a two-year period between 2007 and 2008, the Kings also drafted two defencemen in the first round, beaten out organizationally by Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov who were drafted in the late rounds.

Thomas Hickey and Colton Teubert each had successful-enough WHL careers, but they function better as warning signs at this stage in their hockey careers than successful players. Teubert was eventually traded as a major piece to acquire Dustin Penner, while Hickey, a former fourth-overall pick, is now 23 and has yet to play an NHL game.

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More for hockey players, less for watchers – a rant:

Hindsight is 20/20. Unfortunately, having good vision of the immediate past is effectively worthless for a hockey player. No two shifts are the same, and your job is to be great in the moment, not analyze what happened after and know what you should have done (I should’ve shot that!). There are bloggers who make a living off that. (He should’ve shot that!)

I can’t remember a time where I made an error on a play that could have resulted in a goal for my team, I was told by a teammate to do something else the next time, the same situation came up a few shifts later, and we scored. Hockey is fun because each shift is almost always different. “The next time we have a 2-on-1 on that d-man” probably isn’t gonna happen anytime soon.

So that brings me to my point: shut the truck up on the bench, especially in rec hockey.

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