This year is the 20th anniversary of both the seminal NHL ’94 and the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. Way back in 1993, the Montreal Canadiens, with Patrick Roy in net and Jacques Demers behind the bench, defeated the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings in five games for their NHL-record 24th Stanley Cup as a franchise.
18 seasons have come and gone since then. Canadian teams have come close since — the Canucks made it to game seven of the Finals twice, the Flames and Oilers once each, and the Senators lost in five games — but haven’t been able to carve their names into the Cup itself.
As a result, every year around playoff time, the debate rages over who will be “Canada’s Team,” the marginally non-racist version of the “Great White Hope” that will battle for the pride of Canada and wrest the Stanley Cup from the evil clutches of the United States. For the first time since the 2005-06 season, there are four Canadian teams in the playoffs and thus four claimants to the throne. Who will be Canada’s Team? Who?
How about none of them, since the entire concept is idiotic.
Early Wednesday morning, Damien Cox caused a minor stir online with a tweet about a trade offer the Maple Leafs supposedly made for Roberto Luongo at the 2012 draft that Mike Gillis turned down. It had everything Cox could want in 140 characters: two of the biggest hockey markets in Canada, one of the hottest players in the NHL in Nazem Kadri, the ongoing intrigue of the Luongo trade saga, and even a snide put down of an NHL General Manager.
Worth noting at June draft Canucks could’ve had Kadri, Bozak and a pick for Luongo. Got greedy. Now have lost as many as have won.
There’s only one problem: none of it was true. For such a brief little story, it had a remarkable number of holes in it. It’s the Andrew Raycroft of tweets, if you will. For starters, the Canucks were never offered a package of Kadri, Bozak and a pick at the draft. The rumour at the time was that Luke Schenn was the player offered by Brian Burke and Gillis, understandably, balked.
In fact, the Leafs never offered Kadri, Bozak, and a pick; instead, that was what Gillis reportedly asked for in a trade for Luongo from the Leafs. So, at no point could the Canucks have had Kadri, Bozak, and a pick for Luongo, because Burke and Nonis said no to that offer. What actually happened is the complete opposite of what Damien Cox said.
What’s worse is that Cox knew it wasn’t true. Actually, what’s even worse is that people believed him.
Whenever there’s a fight in a hockey game, invariably one of three things will happen:
1 – The player who won the fight sees his team score in the next five minutes
At this point, the goal is credited to the fighter, who did a sufficient job rallying his troops with his fists, bringing his scorers to life, and pumping them with the necessary amount of confidence to get the goal.
2 – The player who lost the fight sees his team score in the next five minutes
Now the broadcasters are crediting the lost fighter with the goal. You see, they saw their teammate sacrifice his face for them. That’s, really, what got the team going. They felt like they just couldn’t lose it for their teammate after he’d put himself in harm’s way for the team.
3 – Nothing, in which case the matter is forgotten about completely
A broadcast will completely forget about a fight if it fails to have any impact on the game. This happens in most cases after a scrap, but are consistently ignored when a commentator tries to make the illogical link between fighting and wins.
Early Wednesday morning, we found out about a massive mess left behind in Switzerland by Tyler Seguin. It was an amusing little story about a 20-year-old kid unaccustomed to living on his own. It was quickly overshadowed by another mess, this time created by Tom Anselmi and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, as they fired Brian Burke as the Maple Leafs General Manager.
The Leafs were a mess when Burke was hired and they’re a mess now. That’s not to say that Burke didn’t make some good moves as GM for the Leafs – he definitely did – but the overall results have remained the same, missing the playoffs in all four seasons of his tenure. it could even be argued that the Leafs have gotten worse, as their goal differential has been worse every season since 2007-08 before Burke took over. The Leafs won 36 games that season. They’ve only bettered that total once, winning 37 games in 2010-11.
So who left behind the bigger mess: Seguin or Burke?
For the third time in the last 18 years, not a single National Hockey League has been played at the Christmas break. If Gary Bettman keeps signing collective bargaining agreements that aren’t sustainable to the future health of the league, I hope the next guy is a little more forward thinking…
Anyway, there’s been enough wrapping our hands around Bettman’s non-existent neck. He’s been great for the corporate side of hockey, the business owners and the season seat holders, none of which are going to up and leave the NHL as long as it’s a trendy way to entertain clients. Nobody’s given up on tickets, even though it’s just as embarrassing to be a fan of hockey these days as it is for Shane Doan to be a player. I’d include writers in there, somewhere, but we don’t matter as much as players and fans in the way the game is played or presented.
It’s December 24th and there’s no labour agreement. I think a number of outside observers believed that the National Hockey League could not be so stupid to withhold a few million dollars to guarantee the league would not play the Winter Classic, or at least the first week of January, but that was months ago we made that projection, and we’re talking about business owners who decided to put teams in Glendale, Sunrise and Atlanta.
Earlier today Puck Daddy ran a post about the Bikini Hockey League, with Greg Wyshynski doing a running diary of the league’s promo video (above). We heard about the league awhile back, but now seeing it assembled, I feel the need to share a few thoughts on it. I feel ranty.
The concept seemed ridiculous from the get-go (the Lingerie Football League’s “success” aside), and of course, it is. First off, there’s no shortage of places to direct your eyes if you’re interested in seeing exploited women (try the internet). Secondly, it’s assumed that the hockey isn’t going to be especially spectacular, given that it’s clearly not even the focus of the league, as evidenced by the fact that actual hockey highlights make up less than a minute of said video.
So who, then, is the target audience: men who want to ogle women? (Has to be a better avenue than this, creeps.) Women who like to watch women’s hockey…but not real hockey, roller hockey where the hockey is secondary to the cleavage? (Can’t be a very big group there.) Honestly, I cannot figure out how the organizers plan to get a return on their investment, aside from the fact that Wysh and I are spreading it around and creating a buzz for it like assholes by taking it even semi-seriously. It’s like I’ve fallen prey to a troll who took the time to assemble an entire league to troll me. But fuck it, whatever, I clearly took the bait. Read the rest of this entry »
Of all the things the lockout has taken away, the thing I miss the most is the conversations, arguments, and debates I would be having with other puckheads. One of the great benefits of NHL hockey over other forms of hockey is that it is pervasive. Here in BC, I can bring up the latest Canucks game with most of my friends and they will have seen the game, allowing us to start from a shared point of reference. If, instead, one of us brings up the latest Abbotsford Heat, Chilliwack Chiefs, or Aldergrove Kodiaks game, we can’t have a debate or argument: one of us is simply informing the other of what occurred.
Instead of conversations about the NHL, we find ourselves talking about the NBA, the trades made by the Toronto Blue Jays, and what the Vancouver Whitecaps need to do during the offseason. I have opinions – strong opinions - on the viability of the Princeton Offense in the NBA, particularly with veteran players who have played a very different style of game throughout their careers and – oh god, someone stop me.
Sometimes we even resort to topics of conversation that aren’t about sports at all.
When the conversation does turn to hockey, it’s all kinds of wrong. Instead of what we should be talking about at this time of year, it’s all idiotic nonsense with only the most tenuous connection to the game we love. While it’s all well and good to proclaim that “hockey still exists,” and I have many times, we lose something when we’re not all following the same league. We lose the common ground.