Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who the fuck is wearing this?

It's called the fucking "Corleone."

How about a royal blue capper to go along with the new/old jersey? How about a nice, vintage puff-on-top winter knit?

How about you realize despite the fact Long Island is full of Long Islanders, hockey fans are generally not the types to be found on this.

Of course, I'm sure I will soon stand corrected. Mediocre One, I will leave that to you.

But that's an ugly-ass hat.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Real Life turns into NHL 94

Ryan O'Byrne decides he hates himself

My original, Islander gut reaction was, “Jesus, is this what we need to happen to win?” But the truth is the goal only tied the game. The Islanders killed some penalties and then Park and Guerin came up clutch in the shootout. We’d all love for the Isles to be Red Wing like and make their own opportunities but we’re not there yet so it’s a good sign that when doors open, they can walk through.

And let’s all have a drink for Ryan O’Byrne. Not only did he have a brain fart in the wrong town but he’s a Cornell alum. Not that I’m a Cornell alum but just read the previous post and you'll understand. Anyway, Canadian fans need to chill just a bit.

Watching Hockey with the Lazy Eye, Vol. I

Credits due to the folks across the Internet-o-sphere who paid appropriate homage to Paul Newman/Reg Dunlop, acknowledging in his death the actual weight of the role and looking back, thinking, "Slap Shot actually is a good movie, not just some hockey slobs version of a Caddyshack."

It isn't On the Waterfront, but if you've lived in a town that looks a lot like the Charlestown/Johnstown of Slap Shot, there is a darkness captured in the mill, in the brown winter jackets, dirty snow, worn-by-wear jeans, and cheap hats that looks a lot like November through April in Binghamton or Syracuse, or whatever place is home. That's what hockey feels like. Snow on the curbs, wet road, bare trees, canadian beer, and cars covered in salt.

And that's what missing at this past weekend's hockey visit, Cornell University, whatever the charm of Lynah Rink and the active student cheeering section.

The Upstate Ice Girl and I cashed in a grandma-babysits chip Saturday night and watched the Big Red take on Dartmouth in Ithaca. I've been to at least one Cornell game each winter since a high school friend/Cornell student starting passing tickets my way in college back in 1995.

Lynah is fun. The students have a series of ritual cheers they perform throughout the game, and they go off script often enough to keep it fresh and funny. During the Dartmouth game, the student section engaged in a battle of wills with the Dartmouth goalie, imploring him to "bend over" during a Big Green powerplay. He would not oblige. For at least 1:45. Finally, the Big Red cleared the puck on net, and he went to a knee to steer the puck to the corner. Big cheer, some laughs. (elynah is a great, comprehensive site for learning Cornell cheers, checking out pictures, etc.)

Lynah has a low ceiling, old wooden beams, and concrete benches for bleachers. The fan involvement and passion nearly reminds me of the Old AHL I used to watch in Binghamton, but with a key ingredient missing. The Dirt.

A visit from Rochester or Syracuse was a serious event in the days of the Binghamton Whalers, and, to a certain degree, the Rangers. I was too young to attend Dusters/Johnstown games, but I have a feeling that might have had a little spice, too.

Dusters at Philadelphia Firebirds

Two years ago I forgot my place at a Cornell game and stood up to admonish the Big Red captain, Byron Bitz (who, coincidentally, I saw playing for the Providence Bruins a few weeks ago during a hockey trip to Albany).

It appeared Bitz had been on cruise control most of the evening against Dartmouth, so when he finally laid a body to the opposition with 1:10 remaining, I leaped up and screamed something along the lines of, "if you'd done that 25 minutes ago I might not want to rip that 'C' off of your chest, you pu..." and as I saw the heads turning, that final epithet weakened and went unfinished, a bit like Joe McGrath in the lockerroom at intermission of the Federal League championship, had he collapsed while struggling through "puuusssies."

So I'm not arguing for vulgarity (today), as I like to be able to take my kids to a game and not have to explain what someone means by "cocksucker." But I always find myself missing "The Dirt" when I am in Lynah.

I miss the Binghamton/Syracuse girls dressed for bear, hair to the ceiling, leather coats and boots glistening, lips begging come hither. I miss the drunk dancing, the kids running up to the glass with an eye cocked over the shoulder waiting for the usher to bring them back. And I miss the broken bar signs outside of the arenas, palm trees or overflowing mugs that had once been proudly lit from within only visible now in the lights of passing cars.

Cornell is nice. And think that's what's missing.

In the catacombs of the Old Bird, the Broome County Veterans War Memorial

The Islanders

Well, frankly, I haven't been watching much due to scheduling conflicts, road trips, and the impending holidays. I'll get back to it soon enough.

I like what I read. I watched the Vancouver game and felt the Islanders were the better team for the night, and it seems they're carrying that energy forward, for the most part.

The Nielsen thing sucks, but I think the whole "let's talk about head shots" thing is something I'll think about before I write what everyone else is writing. We'll get there.

Ok. We'll try to stay with it ... .

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Plea

Before mustaches were retro

I am sick of league tyranny. The NHL under the Bettman administration has been one disappointment after another. One year the refs call penalties one way, the next they call it another way. Schedule formats change, conferences shift and unprofitable expansion is embraced. And yet, the league slavishly clings to one of the most outdated tenets of the game—three periods.

The current format today is as old as it is unfair. The first written record of ice hockey period lengths comes from an 1883 three-team tournament at a Montreal winter carnival. It was the first championship of hockey and featured TWO 30-minute periods.[i] This became the standard until the 1910-11 season which saw the format change into our current three 20-minute periods.[ii] This format has been with us now for… carry the one… 98 years!

And as we can see from the on ice product, this is outdated. The game of hockey wants to be a faster game? How about being done in 40 minutes instead of 60 minutes? Look at other sports—the NFL, NBA, and MLS all have two halves. Yet the NHL continues with its archaic, and may I say uneven, three-period system.

There are those who would point to my affiliation with the Islanders and their penchant for blowing leads in the third period (hereafter referred to as the ‘turd’ period) as the reason for making such a plea but to them I say, “OK, we get it Mr. Douchebag, you can read. This is me clapping slowly and sarcastically for you. clap… clap… clap…”

In conclusion, I would like to ask all readers to please write Gary Bettman and insist that he bring the NHL into the 21st century and dispense with turd periods. Thank you.

[i] Fischler, Stan. “The Great Book of Hockey.” 1991 pg. 3.

[ii] Ibid. pg. 19

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Just Says it All

Normally we do our own work here, but we're not "on top" of this, and this can't be ignored.

PuckDaddy is on top of it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No We Can't

A trend perhaps? Throughout the second period, I was going to write a post entitled, "make me stop" where I started to talk about how the Islanders may be for real and that I'm getting genuinely excited about the team. No need, I've been stopped. In trying to understand these collapses, I first put the onus on the players. But then I thought, in all sincerity, that perhaps there's a flaw in the game plan and it just takes other teams a little while to see the holes and they're then able to exploit those holes in the third period. Of course, those holes may also be called Gervais, MacDonald, Polk, or Tambellini.

Before I go totally negative, let me say that Hunter looks good this year. Damn good. The numbers aren't there yet but he plays smart and seems to play position well. Like what I'm seeing from him. I predict he gets hot in the second half of this season.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes we can!

I feel better now.

Big win tonight, with strong goaltending from Joey Mac and a good job of taking it as it comes from the offense. And that was the kind of third period I was hoping to see. It wasn't a perfect game by any means (plus, there was no Fritz-Orr, but there'll be time for that later in the season), but if the Isles can win some games like these, it'll make the clunkers a little easier to take.

I generally don't like to gloat, particularly so early in the season, but I'm not sure how many gloating opportunities this season will present. So, though I'm sure it will come back to haunt me, please enjoy the results of my indie film shoot after the game:


Monday, November 3, 2008

Campoli scores twice, one counts, Isles win

I don't think I can handle an in-depth update after that ... but hey, you won't find me complaining.

Give this team credit for finding some wheels after giving up another three-goal lead. They're entertaining even when they're awful. And they weren't awful tonight, save for the third period. (can I get away with writing that? dear reader?)

I still believe, Mr. Bad Example. I think I'm getting a little delusional, but I still believe.

I'm making a list. Someday I'd like to have the pleasure of looking at it and thinking, "naw, I shouldn't actually make an in-person visit to every single media member who maligned Islanders fans for the past 10 years, should I?"

Somebody Canadian explain the CBC to me, please

passport please

I don't get P.J. Stock

The same network that employs Don Cherry lets P.J. Stock talk on its radio and television shows. I'll give you Don Cherry as a kind of guilty, almost/sort of justifiable pleasure. Maybe he's giving a voice to the Great Forgotten Classic Canadian Hockey Fan, made nearly extinct by new age queers who like Europe and composite sticks.

But I can't excuse P.J. Stock. He's another practitioner of schtick, but with none of the self-awareness or flashes of humor Cherry brings to CBC. He's got the charm of a drunk spoiled frat boy thumbing your eye. No smarts. No charisma. No nothing.

P.J. Stock feels sorry for the Islanders franchise, and can't understand why a team in such a great market, with an owner who has "so much money," is not constantly successful. ("hello P.J. Stock, my name is the Nassau Coliseum ... nice to make your acquaintance." and, while we're at it, "hello P.J. Stock, my name is the Toronto Maple Leafs. I am surprised someone so staggeringly uninformed, arrogant, and grating could be hired by the network that claims it is home to hockey.")

And Jeff "Barley Sandwich" Marek, who never met a guest and/or CBC personality he couldn't agree with, went right along with P.J. on Monday's Hockey Night in Canada radio show as Stock went off on Garth Snow and the Islanders. "What kind of team is this? Where's the character guys to teach the young guys? Where's the veterans?" And, I swear, this was after he rattled on for a minute or two about how the Islanders are "too old."

Too old. The Islanders are too old.

Look, there was a guest on before Stock (I tuned in late and missed his name) who actually had some nice things to say about Garth Snow and, especially, Scott Gordon's aggressive system, so I'm not accusing the show of anti-Isles bias (wouldn't matter anyway), but I am accusing them of anti-listener/viewer bias.

P.J. Stock offers no analysis other than his recollections of the "code" as it was employed during his NHL career. And most of the time he's spouting so much shit you can almost hear the players he competed against laughing from their tree stands in Saskatchewan.

The anti-Islanders prattle between Marek and Stock degenerated into a conversation about the leadership qualities the Isles are lacking, pointing the finger at Bill Guerin and Doug Weight and wondering why the Isles would bring Kyle Oh!poso up to the team and not have him play with veterans. Stock said, "All of the old guys are playing together."

"Islanders Move Okposo to Top Line." Newsday, Nov. 3, 10 a.m.

I honestly don't give a shit if Bill Guerin says three words to Kyle O! all year. The franchise has a coach whose job it is to teach the young guys how to play. But, I also know neither P.J. Stock or Jeff Marek has any clue what kind of lockerroom the Isles have, or what kind of leader the Isles have in Bill Guerin. It must be a special Canadian news media power to see inside the minds of hockey leaders and neophytes, because I hear a lot of spouted bullshit about the various off-ice qualities of certain players who are "leaders."

I'm not convinced any of these commentators have a damn clue what they're saying. Too often I imagine younger players rolling their eyes when so-called "character" guys give them another speech full of the same old tired bullshit lines rolling across the Canadian prairies for ages.

I met some Canadians this weekend, and they were really nice

So forgive me for this one ... .

Speaking of Canadian bullshit, here's Daryl Sutter on Doug Weight's hit: "It used to be 90 percent Canadians and 10 percent Americans. So it's changed, even though it's our game, and we should be able to legislate that. It's our game. It's nobody else's game. It's not the Europeans' game. It's not the Americans' game. It's our game, and we should have the say in it.

"If there's a guy who is only going to hit a guy because he's trying to hurt him or if he's going to hit his head, that's where the players should control it. Because that's a lack of respect. That's not how we used to play."

I like the Sutters, for obvious reasons, and I forgive them their reactions to Doug Weight's perfectly legal, moral, and ethical hit because they are protecting one of their own ... but "it's our game"?

That provincial bullshit belongs back in the 70s or 80s.

I actually agree with Sutter on many points. But the issue of big hits and their effects on the human body is for more complicated than "Americans and Europeans are pussies trying to steal our game and our women." Watch an old game. I've seen more hitting in the first period of the Islanders (big, high-speed collisions) than you'll see in a week of hockey from the 80s. The players were slower, especially on third and fourth lines, and they wore pads that looked like rolled up athletic socks taped to their shoulders. You couldn't risk those kind of hits every night.

It goes on, but suffice to say limiting the game to only Canadian players is not going to fix everything Daryl Sutter thinks is wrong with the NHL.

Anyway, it's my game Daryl. I play in the driveway, I buy the hats, I buy the T-shirts, I play the games, I teach my kids to love it. You don't get to claim it for anyone.

Bill James, the baseball writer, discusses the problem with the societal view that professional athletes are somehow exceptional individuals (this is where the "clutch" argument begins) as opposed to people who are just very good at their chosen professions, much like you are very good at reading blogs whilst getting paid to pretend you are doing something else.

Daryl Sutter must be full of a lot of shit if he thinks he can tell us all who owns the game of hockey.

Game update, 9:13 p.m. (full post tomorrow)

It's 3-3 right now. I'm gonna get drunk.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dodging Lions and Wasting Time

I should have known better.

I should have known to just stay home and watch the game on TV.

I should have known not to splurge on a higher-priced ticket.

I should have known that a 4-1 lead going into the third meant nothing.

But I didn't. And so now I am back in Jersey after the first trip to the Coliseum this season and what might be the most demoralizing sports experience I've ever witnessed in person. And that is saying something, because I was also in attendance at the infamous Islanders-Rangers "chicken dance" game (if you think I'm going to YouTube to get you a link to that, you're crazy) and one of the Mets-Phillies implosion games in 2007.

Maybe it's a little hard to grasp that if you weren't there. Sure they blew a three-goal lead in the third period, but they've done that sort of thing enough that it shouldn't be a complete surprise. But what made it worse was that the Coliseum may have had more Habs fans in attendance than Isles fans, and I seemed to be surrounded by them. So every goal in the third brought about a rowdier celebration, culminating in the postgame "Ole, Ole, Ole" parties that every poutine-eating douchebag was photographing and recording for posterity on the concourse (seriously, Habs fans, don't gimme this Ole bullshit). After tonight, I finally get why people hate the Canadiens. For the first time in my life, I'm with you, Leafs fans.

I should also point out that I saw several people wearing Yankees hats and Canadiens jerseys. Nice combination. You could wear a giant vibrating dildo on your head and a complete Nazi storm trooper outfit and still not look more physically repulsive. Congratulations!

But back to the game. For two periods, it was the greatest game ever!

That's all I want to say about the game at this juncture, because I have my health to think about.

Of course, I should mention... Mitch Fritz! (Clap! Clap!) Mitch Fritz!

Good first bout. I was hoping for the clap chant afterward. No luck. We'll get there. I thought of starting it myself, but I was alone and had already yelled so much during the fight that the people around me may have been frightened.

After the game ended, I sat in my seat for about 10 minutes, partly out of sheer disbelief and partly because I needed to calm down before I made my way to the concourse. And in that time, I thought back on the game I'd just seen, the last few years of the Isles, the last two seasons of the Mets and wondered if it's not too late to say goodbye to all this and pursue something new, perhaps an avid devotion to the musical theater.

But I know I will be back at the Coliseum. And at Citi Field next year. Why? Because I'm stupid. What...you were expecting something profound?

But, yes, OK, also because, despite everything, despite all my brain tells me, despite all the demoralizing train rides home from Hempstead, I still believe.

However, I also believe that next time I'm getting the cheaper seat.

Live Game Breakdown: Isles vs. Canadiens, 11/1/08

Highlight: Mitch Fritz! (Clap! Clap!) Mitch Fritz!

Lowlight: Let's just go with the entire third period

Food consumed: pretzel, chicken tenders, and some fries before I lost the desire to eat anything

Merchandise purchased: nothing, though I did get a free t-shirt from the Sports Soup people

Best jersey spotted: (tie) Hubie McDonough and this guy