To understand this latest J-Dub/SportsChump collaboration, you need to know that the exceptionally Floridian SportsChump is a recent convert to the religion known as hockey fandom. To most, the idea of ice hockey and Floridians seems as natural a mix as Navy Seals at a Tupperware party, but it actually isn’t that strange if you give it just a bit of thought. Allow us to explain…
I have a friend who’s a hockey fan. Actually, I have a few friends that are hockey fans but this one’s more ornery than most. He and I sometimes debate about sports and stuff. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. His name is J-Dub and he writes for this quasi-pornographic website called Dubsism. He’s the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up.
Well, since hockey season has officially started and Mr. Dub is always trying to convince me about the merits of hockey, along with the shame that comes from living in Florida, I thought we’d host a little conversation about hockey in Florida.
As you all know, I live in the Tampa Bay area, an area which hosts itself a pretty good hockey team. J-Dub would probably argue that we don’t deserve a team that good, if any team at all, but I’ll let him speak for himself. In a city whose sports teams cannot draw fans, the Lightning organization has done things the right way. In fact (homer alert), this team could be on a pace to win the Stanley Cup (again) within the next few years. They’ve got a founder in Phil Esposito (hockey lifer), a solid GM in Steve Yzerman (hockey lifer) and an owner in Jeffrey Vinik who’s willing to spare no expense in putting a quality product on the ice. Vinik is so effective as an owner that he recently got Bill Gates to invest in an area in Tampa that nobody even frequents.
So, Dub, let’s start this ice party off with a bang, shall we? I’m watching hockey now. Does that make you feel better at night? I even went and bought myself a t-shirt and a hat for the next game I attend. As an avid sports but fledgling hockey fan, am I worthy of rooting for the sport you cherish or am I the kind of bandwagoning fool you despise?
First off, let’s get a couple of things straight. A while back, Ryan Meehan and I clearly delineated what is hockey territory and what isn’t.
Cities all over North America clamor for major league sports franchises. Obviously, with such a demand, it would make sense that major sports leagues tend to place franchises in the larger population markets. But that hasn’t always been the case, and even today there are exceptions to that convention. Currently, the “magic number” seems to be around two million. In other words, to be economically viable, there has to be a substantial population base that can support a franchise.
Every year, the National Hockey League (NHL) makes noise about expansion, and this year is no exception. The greater Seattle area is a top fifteen U.S. market, and on its face would seem to be a very attractive destination for an expansion team. But there’s a reason why it hasn’t been.
On the other hand, Seattle isn’t the only city that gets mentioned in these talks; Quebec City, Kansas City, Houston, Las Vegas, and Saskatoon keep coming up in these conversations. In terms of types of city, Sasaktoon couldn’t be a bigger departure from Seattle. One is a major seaport and all-around world-class metroplex, and the other is a small city in the heart of the Canadian prairie. That seems to fly in the face of the “population base” angle, but obviously that isn’t the only criteria in play here. After all, the NBA and the NHL both have had success in cities that aren’t huge in terms of population.
That begs the question what really makes for a good market in which to expand? In terms of the NHL, it’s a surprisingly complex question, and one the NHL seems to have already answered. The annoucement came a while back that the NHL is close to finalizing plans to add new franchises in by the 2017-18 season. Let’s take a look at all those options, announced or not, because very few of them are going to work.
1) Lessons Already Learned
Every January since this blog was created, we here at Dubsism have given an award for achievements during the previous year in some under-recognized categories in the world of sports. In prior years, the nominations for the awards were done exclusively by an internal committee, but we’ve had so much success allowing nominations from the general public that we had no choice but to continue that. .
Between our committee and our valued readers, we had more quality nominations than we could ever possibly use. Thank you so much for that. When we received an outstanding nomination that proved to be a winner, we made sure to recognize those who submitted it. However, we did also receive nominations on multiple ballots that proved to be winners. If you see a winner that you nominated, and you weren’t credited, just know that you weren’t the only one who had the same idea.
With that, and after careful consideration, here are the winners of the Fifth Amnnual Dubsy awards.
Your Stanley Cup Champion Chicago BlackHawks: Where We Were Right And Wrong, and What the Future Holds
Back in March, fellow SportsBlogMovement member Ryan Meehan and I did a Blast-Cast about the Chicago BlackHawks in which the premise was the team which wins the President’s Cup (the team with the best regular season record) rarely wins the Stanley Cup.
Yeah, about that…
That’s the big difference between us and the turd flumes at ESPN. We will actually admit when we gagged on a prediction harder than Jenna Jameson at her first audition.
At the time, Chicago looked like a lock to win the President’s Cup, which they did. But they also took Lord Stanley’s Cup, which we were betting against. So, while Meehan and I are trying to make this month’s house payment pulling double-duty at the plasma center when we aren’t trolling roadsides for recyclable cans, take a look at what we got right, and more importantly, what we got wrong.
What We Got Right:
1) “If the BlackHawks make the Stanley Cup Final, they are going to win, because nobody in the east is really that good.”
What you have to remember is that at the time we did the Blast-Cast back in March, The BlackHawks were leaving the Western Conference in their wake, and the Eastern Conference Standings looked like this:
- New Jersey
Boston wasn’t on anybody’s radar until goalie Tuukka Rask got hotter than Al Roker’s underarm fat in a Greek fisherman’s sweater. Anybody who thought Carolina or Montreal would go deep in this tournament probably had visible spots where their electro-shock patches were attached. This meant the Penguins band wagon was getting more riders than a rush-hour ox in Calcutta. That band wagon got more overloaded than Kim Kardashian’s maternity ass-lifter panties once Pittsburgh acquired Jarome Iginla.
The Penguins then went 15-0 in March, storming to the top of the Eastern heap, and for a time looked like they might wrest the President’s Cup out of Chicago’s clutch. In the playoffs, Pittsburgh struggled with the Islanders and the Senators, then quickly adjourned the Senators. But in the Conference Finals, the Pens got Tuukka-ed.
Really, what Boston accomplished in the post-season was to win $50 off Penn and Teller, who dared the Bruins they couldn’t create the illusion of Toronto as a real play-off team. Then, by getting John Tortorella fired by the Rangers, the Bruins allowed him to get a better job.
To be honest, the Bruins played well against Chicago, especially in the first three games. But then came the last two minutes of Game 6, when their defense disappeared faster than Aaron Hernandez’ alibi.
2) Why The Wild Couldn’t Beat Them
We never trusted the Wild, but especially not a Wild team with such a lackluster offense that it couldn’t score in a women’s prison if it had a fist full of keys. Minnesota also didn’t have a defense good enough to carry that lack of offense, and couldn’t win on the road.
3) Why The Red Wings Couldn’t Beat Them
This one is all Meehan, because he was the only person outside of Detroit who thought the Wings could even make the play-offs, let alone win a series and take the BlackHawks to 7 games. I think he guessed this right because he secretly liked all those old commie bastard Red Wings of the 90s.
4) Why the Kings Couldn’t Beat Them
The fact the Kings made it to the Conference Finals is a minor miracle, considering they had the scoring capacity of an Amish mouth-breather at the Playboy mansion. We knew that lack of offense would be deadlier to the Kings than Henry VII was to his wives.
What We Got Wrong:
1) The Los Angeles Kings
The earlier comments about the Kings should make it pretty obvious we gave the Kings as much chance to advance in the playoffs as a Christian Scientist with a severed artery. As a Kings fan, saying that pained me as much as dropping my balls into a deep-fryer, and being wrong about it felt as dipping them in ice cream afterward…not that I’ve tried that, mind you. However, we still missed on the Kings’ keying off Jonathan Quick to beat Chicago, which also meant the Kings never found an answer to their scoring problems, which made us more wrong about them than the dipshits who changed Coke and the “Cold Fusion” eggheads combined.
2) The Anaheim Ducks
Here’s a team we both thought was going to roll through the Western Conference playoffs like the Red Army rolled through Prague in 1968. The Ducks have one of thickest rosters in hockey, with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and of course veteran winger Teemu Selanne, even though he is older than the Peter, Paul, and Mary special PBS uses when they are conning aging hippies into buying a coffee mug for $150 by calling it a “donation” to the only TV channel that gets $12 bazillion in taxpayer money.
Let’s face it. If you like Peter, Paul, And Mary, and you’ve read this far, you are an anomaly, or you have a blogger-level drinking problem. In other words, even if you don’t follow hockey, you more than likely saw winning Anaheim scores on the ESPN score crawl while you were channel-surfing away from the commercials PBS “doesn’t have,” or while you were rolling another “Puff, The Magic Dragon.”
If you follow hockey, then you know why we thought for sure Anaheim would be the team from the West competing for the Stanley Cup; at times they were first in power play percentage, third in goals per game, and swept the regular season series with Chicago.
In other words, buying into the Ducks was a “How fucking much did I spend on for a PBS tote bag?” level mistake.
3) The BlackHawks Themselves
It’s a legitimate criticism to say a team is vulnerable to beating itself. It was easy to fall in love with the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the star power that shines so bright it hides the ugly facts we thought would keep the BlackHawks from getting out of the West.
The Chicago penalty kill was shakier than Lindsay Lohan on day three at the rehab center, the goaltending had stretches where it was more suspect O.J. Simpson in a slow-moving Bronco, and I kept worrying that the injury bug was going to bite them harder than a hooker with a poorly-repressed gag reflex.
I thought it was a safe bet that one of those things would be the BlackHawks downfall, and while those things certainly reared their ugly heads, they never rose to the heights needed to take this team out of a series.
Where This Leaves Us:
Don’t look now, but not only are the BlackHawks good now, they could be very good for a while. If there’s a team in American professional sports that has the best chance to achieve the “dynasty” status we love to toss about, it sure as shit isn’t LeBron and the South Beach Douchebags. It is the BlackHawks.
This championship, Chicagos’s second in the last four seasons, could very well be the bellweather of a new era. After the last Cup victory in 2010, the salary cap demons forced a “Willie Nelson meets the IRS” style sell-off of that team.
But this time around, Chicago has a far more manageable salary cap situation, which offers the possibility of a future glowing brighter than a firefighter at Chernobyl. Like I said before, the BlackHawks have arguably the best core of talent in the NHL, they have a deep and versatile roster, and a first-rate coaching staff. I’m still not sold on the goaltending situation, but Chicago clearly has a renewed emphasis on team defense, and when you add it all up, the sub-total is that this team appears shows all the signs of being a factor in the NHL for a period of time almost as long as the time people will question your sexual preference if you buy a Prius.
If you doubt that, consider the off-ice factors. the BlackHawks have proven they can scout talent, draft talent, and develop talent better than this commercial can give you the wrong idea.
Not only does the current Chicago club exemplify that, but the pipeline of talent (which includes 2013 Hobey Baker winner Drew LeBlanc) is fuller than Louie Anderson at a Brazilian steakhouse. On top of that, Chicago has become as desirable an address for free-agents as Argentina was in 1946 for goose-stepping guys named Dieter. This was a major factor in Chicago’s landing the highly sought-after Finnish goalie Antti Raanta, which backs up my theory that the BlackHawks are as confident as I am in their goaltending situation. I trust the current Chicago goalies about as much as I would count on a dentist who sells miniature ivory statues.
Boil it all down to gravy, and what you get that the color of dominance in the NHL used to be red worn by a bunch of ex-commies in Detroit. Now it may very well be red worn by a bunch of Canadians in Chicago.
When it comes to hockey, I grew up on the Los Angeles Kings and the Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970′s , which means I am a connoisseur of the knuckles-in-your-mouth style of play. There’s an art to sheer bad-assery; the trouble in hockey is that bad-assery is really limited to the realm of the skull-buster. But when it comes to some of my favorite television and movie cops, the art of being a bad-ass has so much more license; but make no mistake, it is bad-assery nevertheless.
So, in honor of the soon-to-be end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, let’s take a journey of comparison between 15 all-time hockey knucklemen and their fictional cop counterparts.
15) Derek Boogaard
The story of Derek Boogaaard is one that is at the same time bizarre yet awesome; hilarious yet tragic. Boogaard was born in a Mennonite community in Saskatchewan where he towered over the other kids. Due to his size and the fact that he was the son of an RCMP officer, he was a frequent target of bullies, until he shit-hammered one of them and a legend was born. All through his rise to the NHL, Boogaard garnered a reputation for winning fights decisively. In particular, there was an instance while Boogaard played for the Melfort Mustangs in which he charged the opposing bench and proceeded to dismantle several players. Scouts from the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats were so impressed that they signed Boogaard the next day.
Once he got to the NHL, Boogaard became known as “The Mountie” and was literally feared as an enforcer, especially after he caved in fellow enforcer Todd Fedoruk’s face with a hammer-like right hand. Boogaard was so intimidating as a brawler that Georges Laraque, one of Boogaard’s prime knuckle-throwing rivals, atrtributed his retirement to not wanting anymore of Boogaards’ savage beatings.
Sadly, Boogaard met a tragic and premature end by his own hand.
Fictional Cop Counterpart: Officer Andy Kilvinski, The New Centurions
While no brute, Andy Kilvinski was no less legendary. He was best known for his unique manner of imparting wisdom into his younger counterparts as though it were a non-Euclidean geometric postulate. Many an L.A.P.D. rookie in his charge were subjected to a finger-wagging lecture beginining with the header “as Kilvinski’s Law dictates…” What followed was a harsh, yet useful life lesson delivered in a wizened, cynical, and crusty manner heavily salted with gallows humor.
Sadly, Andy Kilvinski also met a tragic and premature end by his own hand.
In order to truly understand this, you must have suffered through those god-awful Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials set to the putrid strains of that audial vomit she calls music. Seriously, these ads are so goddamn annoying they make me want to kick the nearest puppy just to spite these people. Don’t get me wrong, nobody should abuse animals, but nothing will turn me off to your cause faster than being all whiny and overly moralistic about it. You could turn me to a me pro-baby cancer stance if you made the commercials against as preachy and condescending as those ASPCA spots.
Enter the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League, who have made a masterpiece of parody with their latest season-ticket campaign. The premise of “minor league hockey players are terribly mistreated, abused and ignored” totally lets the air out of the pompous windbaggery of the “we are better people because we care more than you.
For that sirs, I tip my cap…
I can’t explain it, so take a read of the incident from the Western College Hockey blog:
Farmington high school (Minn.) held a 2-1 lead over Chaska high school with just over three minutes remaining in the third period of their game on Thursday night when the truly bizarre happened.
Farmington senior goalie Austin Krause retrieved a puck behind his net, skated to the crease and put the puck in his net. Krause then proceeded to remove his gloves, and while skating off the ice, turned to his bench, flipped them off and gave them a salute before exiting the ice. Here is video of the incident: (video is from a cell phone, and not the highest quality...)
ICYMI…that’s “in case you missed it” for those of you less hip to internet slang than a 45-year old blogger…
This goal by NHL propsect Alec Rauhauser of Bismarck Century High School was not only a classic “What the fuck was that?” moment, it actually made #2 on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays on Wednesday. For those of you that are hard-core hockey fans, this goal might look a wee bit familiar.
I don’t know about you, but to me it sure looks like that sick-ass goal Michigan Wolverine Mike Legg hung on Goldy F. Gopher back in the day. Rauhauser is drawing the attention of pro scouts with his line going into this game of 19 goals, 26 assists, 45 total points, and that goal helped Century beat cross-town Bismarck High 5-4 in overtime.
While that goal was pretty sweet, I can’t like it because far too many years ago, I was a BHS guy. But, then again, I’m hoping this kid was just living a dream; getting a chance in a real game to re-enact a moment every kid does in his back yard. I would think for a hockey player, scoring that Legg goal had to be high on the list. In comparison, my “Sandlot” age friends weren’t hockey players; but playing “pitch and catch” in his back yard, I can’t imagine how many times my best friend Doug threw Strike Three in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series…and he probably can’t tell you how many times I dropped Strike Three and had to gun down the runner at first…thus saving his perfect game.
Doug is also the witness to my then-infamous “Century Sucks” chant at a state tournament basketball game. Whether it is the NFL or North Dakota high-school sports, fuck the Patriots.
America is a country capable of incredible acts of class, and is also capable of the exact opposite.
The Highlight: It was pure class the way the St. Louis Blues paid tribute to baseball icon and St. Louis legend Stan “The Man” Musial.
The Lowlight: The asswipes at PETA using the Manti Te’o situation to advance their idiotic agenda.
Here’s the saddest part. I will be the first to admit I’ve made my fair share of Manti Te’o jokes, but there’s two problems here. First, the longer this story plays out, it is morphing from odd through funny into pathetic, and it isn’t over yet. The second problem is PETA isn’t joking; they really think this is going to help their cause.
If the mere thought of the “Dubs-eteria” doesn’t inspire gastronomic terror, then the following menu items certainly should. The only defense we can offer is that these dishes still aren’t as lousy as anything you can get at Olive Garden.
The Baseball Writer’s Association of America “Poo-Poo” Platter
It doesn’t even come with a plate. You give us $29.95 and our head waiter will act like an self-righteous asshole “poo-pooing” deserving Hall of Famers while having security escort you to your car. Afterward, our head waiter will post an article on your Facebook page telling you how stupid you are for disagreeing with him.