Friday, December 19, 2008


Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery leaves a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008 in New York. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Frank Franklin IIIn these troubled times (Media Cliche of The Year), it seems that more has been made about the NHL's off-ice follies than the on-ice action. Of course, this leads us to the whole Sean Avery kurfuffle whose douchey comment received a ridiculous amount of attention. This was most likely due to the post-election hangover, where the media was desperate for something to talk about (see also: Plaxico Burress).

But it's beyond silly to even get worked up about someone saying "sloppy seconds" during a pre-game interview, while a dozen rabid reporters eagerly awaited his every utterance. Yes, Sean Avery is an arrogant, narcissistic, self-promoting dickslap who thinks he's smarter than he actually is, mainly because he spends a lot of time around hockey players. But Gary "Fucking" Bettman was way out of line giving him a 6 game suspension, and Stars' GM Brett Hull was gutless by washing his hands of him.
This was less about "offensive" words and more about the league wanting to "protect its image", and quiet a loudmouth who thought the league does a "lousy
job of marketing its players". If the league had instead read a list of his crude, boorish behavior, and his general lack of respect for the game, his teammates, and everyone around him, they might have made a better case for his exile.

Neverthless, not discussed much during this whole debacle is the fact that this happened in Canada (some say Canada, others Calgary), where they don't have "free speech" as most people know it (thanks to Rob for the link). Also not discussed: how fucking horrible those sunglasses are for someone who claims to be fashion savvy.

But the most overlooked part of the equation is Canada's own Elisha Cuthbert, one of GAvery's former "girlfriends" who was implicated in this mess. Since her acting "career" is all but non-existent, I think she should use this golden opportunity to pose for Playboy. This way, everyone wins.

THE NEW MEDIOCRITY. The NY Times Slap Shot hockey blog (who I've linked to before) broke down the playoff standings last year using an alternate scoring system (3-2-1) to illustrate how deceiving the current NHL standings are. Jeff Z. Klein wrote a great article showing how the NHL standings system makes mediocre teams look much more impressive than they really are.
Let’s examine the record of a random team, like the Rangers. The N.H.L. tells us they’re 20-11-2. Wow, that sounds good — 20 wins, 11 losses, and 2 “OTL,” which seems like ties or kind-of ties. They’re a powerhouse, and Rangers fans should be really happy!

The reality, of course, is that 9 of those 20 wins came via overtime or penalty shootout, and those 2 “ties” are actually losses in OT or PS. And, you know, in the playoffs there is no four-on-four overtime or penalty-shot contest … just hockey, with five skaters a side and no guaranteed points for being tied after 60 minutes.

So the Rangers, when playing actual hockey during the 60 minutes of five-on-five with no points guaranteed for making it to overtime, have really won 11, lost 11 and tied 11. Hey, Scott Howson, isn’t that mediocrity? Yes, it is — and anyone who’s watched the Rangers will tell you that’s a far better reflection of reality than their official record, inflated as it is by their luckiness in penalty-shot contests this year.
As it stands now they're 12-11-12, and anyone who has watched this squad (and especially their defense) knows they're not dominant world beaters. But hey, they've won enough to lead the division and that's really all that counts in the NHL, where 22 of 30 teams are somehow above .500.

I really wish they'd do away with the shootout so we wouldn't even have the aforementioned scoring system problem. I honestly lose interest in a game if it's not won in regulation or the brief overtime session, and usually just turn it off. Furthermore, some people have complained about this shootout spin-o-rama goal by Jason Blake (okay, Devils fan Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski did), but I think it's a brilliant move.

While some like Bobby Holik have said it's "bullshit" and "un-hockey" and others claim it's "illegal" (since the puck isn't moving forward at all times), I personally have no problem with it. Since the shootout is already gimmicky, I say anything that lets the players show off their creativity and skill should be encouraged. As it is now, players only seem to go with two different moves: come in wide and try to go five-hole, or come in slow and try to bury it one of the top corners. Rarely do they show off their skating and puckhandling skills. Isn't that whole purpose of this tacked-on sideshow?

GOAL OF THE YEAR? This happened way before Turkey Day (Nov 26, in a 3-1 loss versus Jesus Price and Les Disciples), but I'm just getting around to it now. At this rate I should be done with my Christmas shopping by January 15th. Anyway, check out Johan Franzen turning O'Byrne inside out (poor kid had a rough month) before netting this ridiculous backhand shot.

THE WAR ROOM. They had a little piece about the Toronto instant replay HQ during one of the MSG games a few weeks ago. I envisioned a giant high ceilinged suite with giant screens, or maybe something like the police station in the underrated Minority Report. But it wasn't even close to being anywhere near hi-tech as that; it was more akin to an air traffic control room, but more depressing. One of the things they bragged about was their 3 HDTVs that they use for replays, along with several video walls split into 4 different games. Go back and read that again: only 3 of their monitors are in full HD. And when they showed a "replay official" in action, the special TiVo-like unit that they used showed a pixilated mess that looked worse than my Cablevision HD feed. Are you kidding me? This is what the league is using to decide winners and losers. Astonishing.

I'M SICK OF THE WORD 'BAILOUT'. Despite layoffs at MLB, NFL and the arena league shutting down for a year (okay, that last one is no shocker), Gary "Fucking" Bettman claims the NHL is doing well. Is he whistling in the dark, or is the league actually financially solvent? I would be willing to bet that if this recession keeps up, a heaping handful of teams will suddenly cry poverty, perhaps shutting down the weakest teams. I have no problem with that happening
. I just hope the Canadian government doesn't intervene and bail them out.

INTERESTING QUOTE: "It ended up coming to me, bouncing, and I knew that if I would just turn around and shoot it that Price is solid in there, so I had to get him off because I was in so tight. I just tried to put it between my legs and it worked out." Allegedly, Thomas "Manic" Vanek was talking about hockey. I'm not convinced.

CHITOWN CAM. This is officially cool: a webcam showing the construction of the Wrigley Field Winter Classic rink. I can hardly believe it's only 13 days away. The long range forecast for Jan 1 in Chicago calls for a high of 23, windy and colder with sleet, freezing rain and snow. Yecch, that could be a mess. The question is: will the wind be blowing out or in at the Friendly Confines? And who would win a hockey game: the 1990-91 Blackhawks or a whole team of mini-Ditkas? I just hope it goes off without a hitch . . . whoops.

Finally, Happy Birthday to Alyssa Milano, who turned 36 today. Naturally, that calls for pictures of her sporting her "touch" line of sports-related clothing (or less).

Remember the 80's? And is that a Claude Lemieux jersey she's got on?

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