Saturday, October 4, 2008


<br /><br />NHL ice hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier handles the puck during his team's practice session in Prague October 3, 2008 REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC)There's a chill in the air, the leaves are starting to turn, the Christmas decorations are already in the stores, the Mets choked away another season . . . all of this can only mean one thing: BETTMAN SUCKS!


Unless you were from Michigan, last season probably left a bad taste in your mouth, what with Avery's Rangers douchebagging their way past the Devils, the Sabres missing the postseason boat, and the Big Red Wing Machine boring everyone en route to another Cup while making Sid the Kid cry. But it's a new season and a clean slate, as right now every team is in first place and dreaming of kissing Stanley's shiny metal butt at season's end. Conversely, every team is in last place, trying hard not to completely embarrass themselves in front of ever-dwindling crowds who would rather be playing golf or watching NASCAR. It's a crap shoot, but it's a fun one.

Because everyone loves bullet lists, here's my Things To Look Forward To for the NHL 2008-09 season.

* This year, four NHL teams are inexplicably being exiled to Europe to play their first 2 games: Sidsburgh Penguins vs. the Senators in Stockholm, and the Rangers vs. TB's Mullet Marauders in Prague. Wouldn't it make more sense to put the Lundqvist-led Rangers in Sweden? Maybe when they planned this, they envisioned Jagr being on the team and playing in his native Czech Republic, but it's still shitty planning if you ask me. Anywho, the Rangers had to lug 6800 pounds of equipment over there for just TWO GAMES. With the economy in the toilet, the high price of jet fuel, and playing these games at noon time (Eastern) during football season, the NHL is really thinking outside the brain on this one. Brilliant marketing ploy. I hope you sell a lot of $400 jerseys in Prague, you assholes.

* I have to admit, the site redesign is pretty slick. However, they decided to (uncreatively) go all black, just like the vast majority of the league's 3rd jersey designs. Will voters reciprocate and go all black this November? We'll have to wait and see! (A cheap joke, I know.)

* As Salo pointed out, the season for exaggerating Canadian announcers has already begun. Check out this Carey "Jesus" Price save, from a Montreal preseason game.

Yeah, nice effort, but we've pretty much determined that it wasn't going in anyway. But that doesn't stop the irritating homerriffic TSN announcers from losing their shit over it. The Canadians want a Canadian born goalie on a Canadian team to be the next Patrick Roy/Martin Brodeur SO BADLY, so they can say, "YUP HE'S THE BEST AND HE'S A MONTREAL CANADIEN!" Of the 6 teams they're clinging to, Luongo can't win the big one, and you saw what happened when Ray Emery crashed and burned: they made him RUN AWAY TO RUSSIA. They're just a little bit frustrated, and will stop at nothing to overrate their own. In other news from Canadia, Vancouver is undefeated in the preseason. I say we give them the Cup now!d

* In local news, Chris Droooooory was named the Rangers captain. Who was their last one? I can't remember. It was Messier . . . and then someone else, who isn't even on the team anymore. Anyway, great choice, I've always liked him.

* I have to tell you, I like Bobby Holik back on the grind line for the Devils. He signed big money to be "the man" in NYC, and had similar expectations foised upon him in Atlanta, with subpar results. But as a team player on the Devils, he's where he should be. If he and Madden can remain relatively healthy, I think they'll grind out a few goals here and there.

* I don't go out of my way to frustrate myself, most of the time it just finds me. However, this time I sought it out directly by researching the NHL Center Ice package. Specifically, what the going rate is and weather they're going to make more HD games available, a promise made in 2005 when the league returned with their VERSUS/NBC package. Since I have cable I'd have to go with Comcast's "Sports inDemand", and it's quite pricey at $159 for the season (by comparison, baseball is $199 for the season and offers over twice the number of games). On top of that, this is what their site says about HD games: "Up to 7 games a week in Hi-Def now included." Wow, as much as SEVEN and as little as ZERO games will be in HD every week, despite the fact that they're ALL broadcast in HD. Sure, I'm luck I live in the NYC area and get quite a few games already (Rangers/Islanders/Devils) plus Versus HD. But I don't think Cablevision has any HD channels devoted to CI (at least they didn't last season). What a waste.

So if I wanted to watch the same games online, it would have to be cheaper right? Nope: the NHL Center Ice Online package is $169. So I can watch the games on my laptop for more money? And the ridiculous blackout rules kill a lot of the games, and the out-of-market NBC, VERSUS and NHL Network games are not available either? Holy crap, where do I sign up? Since CI subscribers get 50% off the purchase of CI Online, it would cost $243.50 for the season! That is monumentally absurd. What average fan is doing this? All of this for a sport that is less popular than the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA and NASCAR in this country. (Again, by comparison, the package is $129 for the season. That's right, it's less.)

Once again, the NHL seems insistent on screwing their fans right in the wallet (including increasing the cost of premium weekend games in D.C.). Instead of catering to the fair weather fans, and trying hard to break into markets that don't really care about the sport (Atlanta, Florida, soon to be in Europe), how about you cater to THE FANS YOU ALREADY HAVE??? If the NHL wants their sport to grow and the ratings to improve, they should be giving this stuff away, or at least they should think outside of the current business model, which is, "Screw the fan and they will bend over and take it." I've said it a billion times: they just don't get it. At least there's a free preview from October 4 - October 15 (NOT AVAILABLE IN FRANCE).

* I've decided to increase my hockey intake (or frustration) twofold this year: Once, I've started the 1st Annual Open Hockey Blog Fantasy League. And two, I bought a Playstation 3 along with a copy of EA Sports' NHL 09. So I can have my players underperform in real life AND in the videogame world (especially when I'm the one controlling them). At least I can live out my dream and skate for the Hershey Bears or the Lowell Devils using the new "Be A Pro" Mode.

(I thought about blogging my BAP progress here, which wouldn't be interesting to anyone else but me--but when has that stopped me before? That's one thing I wish people did more of: review games as they're playing it, weeks/months after it comes out. I hate these guys that play it 3 times, and say "I give it a score of A-minus!" and then never talk about it again. Well, how is the Be A Pro mode over the long haul? What about the online league? They just abandon the game after posting their initial review.)

Let's drop the puck already!

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