Monday, May 30, 2011

Canada's team my white, freckly ass (and other Monday morning musings)

I'll probably have my citizenship revoked for it, but I'm rooting against "Canada's Team" in the Stanley Cup final. Never mind that the Vancouver Canucks have fewer than a dozen Canadian players who've taken a regular shift in the playoffs as opposed to the 15 Canadians who suit up for the Bruins on a routine basis, or that I can drive to Boston in the time it takes to fly to Vancouver, the patriot police have decreed that the Canucks are Canada's team, with the not-so-subtle implication that cheering against them would represent an unpardonable act of sedition. That's exactly the kind of perfunctory flag-waving and narrow-minded jingoism that used to make bemused Canadians roll our eyes at our American neighbors...Lady Luck was a generous mistress yesterday at both the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. Dan Wheldon celebrated a gift-wrapped Indy championship after last lap leader JR Hildebrand crashed on the final turn. In Monaco, a red flag accident with six laps to go allowed Sebastien Vettel to pit for new tires and hold off a hard-charging Fernando Alonso, who otherwise probably would have passed Vettel and given Ferrari its first checkered flag of the season...One of the unique touches at the Indy 500 is the traditional singing of Back Home Again in Indiana, much like the Kentucky Derby honors tradition with the singing of My Old Kentucky Home. I'd like to see other sporting events adopt the same tradition, and to that end, I have a few suggestions: for the Tour de France, Bicycle Race by Queen; for the Calgary Stampede, the Rodeo Song (with appropriate disclaimers); for the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, take your pick - AC/DC's Big Balls, Dumb by Nirvana or REM's Everybody Hurts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thomas steals the show (and other Monday morning musings on a Tuesday)

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher didn't play the wrong hunch last night as much as Boston's Tim Thomas flat out stole the game. Boucher made the logical choice by starting backup goaltender Mike Smith, who saved the Lightning's bacon after Dwayne Roloson ran out of gas. Smith remains the logical choice for Game 6...After flirting with disaster against Chicago and playing in fits and starts versus Nashville, the Vancouver Canucks appear to have hit their stride against San Jose and restored their pre-playoff status as Stanley Cup favorites, assuming they don't tank against the Sharks and regardless of who comes out of the East...Becoming the world's oldest boxing champion was a remarkable achievement for Bernard Hopkins, but he could have shown more class. Taunting Jean Pascal by doing pushups between rounds and at the end of their Bell Center bout this past Saturday showed that while Hopkins might be a 46 year old man in a 25 year old's body, he's got an adolescent teenager's mentality and emotional maturity...Too bad Fernando Alonso couldn't parlay a spectacular start at the Spanish Grand Prix into something better than a fifth place finish, a full lap-and-then-some behind Sebastien Vettel. Ferrari is still Formula One's glamour franchise, and the sport lacks something when the Scuderia is puttering around with the also-rans...Say a prayer for Gary Carter, who's been diagnosed with brain tumours. No one personified the Expos more than Carter, who always had a smile and a good word and never complained about playing in the Siberia of major league baseball. On the contrary, he embraced the city, and now more than ever, we need to return the sentiment ten-fold.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If hockey blogs were written by copyright lawyers

May 20, 2011
Without predjudice

The following commentary was written so as to satisfy the expectations and demands of copyright lawyers who are paid handsomely to monitor and litigate trademark violations against the parties referred to herein, to wit: I was watching a sporting event being broadcast on an electronic entertainment device located in the living quarters of the enclosed structure where I reside. The contest involved two formations of athletic participants whose collective aggregations are based in the eastern portion of one of two continental land masses named for late 15th/early 16th century explorer, navigator and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (I hope none of Vespucci's descendants settled in Lasalle - if they hear this, I'll get a cease and desist letter by noon).
I was unable to maintain consciousness for the entire occurence, owing to my failure to visit a refreshment establishment named for a former professional hockey defenceman, where the lineups of gas and diesel-powered motor vehicles extend for considerable distances because of the distinct allure of a hot beverage that is highly caffeinated. It has been brought to my attention, however, that the players wearing the white jerseys with black trim emerged victorious, giving them the advantage in pursuit of a silver trophy donated by the former representative of the empire that oversaw the colonial territory prior to its formation as a federation of provincial bodies.
According to information gleaned for a desktop electronic processsor designed to accept data, perform prescribed mathematical and logical operations at high speed and display the results of those operations, Game 4 goes tomorrow afternoon in Tampa.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bob Cole strikes again

I didn't watch Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference final between Tampa Bay and Boston in its entirety so I wasn't party to all of Bob Cole's inevitable stupidities, but I did catch this gem from Hockey Night in Canada's resident gasbag with the Lightning up 3-1 late in the first: "Before a minute-47 is out in this first period, we could be looking at a brand new hockey game." Earth to Bob: what kind of ridiculous observation is that? It's not a bold prediction as much as it is a doddering old man desperately trying to come up with something that he thinks is going to create a sense of drama. Cole is bad enough at play-by-play without subjecting viewers to his equally preposterous color commentary. Say what you will about Don Cherry, but at least Cherry still has his wits about him. Bob Cole makes Mike Tyson sound like Sir Laurence Olivier. For the love of God, somebody give this guy his gold watch and a one way ticket home to Newfoundland...Please tell me we're not going to be subjected to a steady diet of caterwauling about how the Canadiens let Chris Higgins and Maxime Lapierre "get away." Just because Higgins and Lapierre are enjoying a deep playoff run with Vancouver doesn't change the fact that they were dead weight when they were unloaded by the Habs...The lycra-clad Green Men who taunt visiting players from the other side of the penalty box glass in Vancouver are the best NHL arena sideshow since the off-duty strippers who flashed their assets from the private loges at the Bell Center. Someone actually using their imagination to entertain the crowd between whistles is a refreshing change from a matted, googly-eyed team mascot whose creative repertoire is limited to the handshake, the head tilt and the blank stare...Bret Favre says he has no intention of coming out of retirement. He didn't specify which retirement.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Canucks lack killer instinct (and other Monday morning musings)

They're still well in the hunt for the hardware, but it's difficult to envision the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks fulfilling the prophecy that made them pre-playoff Stanley Cup favorites. Saturday's loss trimming their series lead over Nashville to 3-2 marked the fourth time in five opportunities that the Canucks have failed to win an elimination game in the 2011 post-season. Assuming they get past Nashville - and that's a giant assumption - the killer instinct element missing in Vancouver would not stand the Canucks in good stead heading into the final four. They just don't look like a team on a mission...Did I hear Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli correctly when he said the Bruins sent Patrice Bergeron to the "quiet room" after Bergeron suffered a concussion against Philadelphia? I thought the quiet room was a place of penance for unruly toddlers at daycare, which would represent a major step forward in child welfare from when I was in kindergarten and Mrs. Paige used to put us in the furnace room...Animal Kingdom's spectacular sprint down the stretch Saturday at Churchill Downs reinforced the Kentucky Derby's reputation as the most exciting two minutes in sports, which got me to wondering, which sporting event or segment of a sporting event represents the least exciting two minutes in sports? I've got it as a three way tie between Hal Gill on a breakaway, any curling highlight package, and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association doing the national anthem in sign language.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Other letters to fans from NHL owners

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis' open letter of apology to the team's fans following another disappointingly early playoff exit appears to be part of a trend. It's only been a few weeks since Canadiens owner Geoff Molson penned an open letter to Habs fans, promising to play a leadership role in cracking down on hockey violence in the immediate aftermath of the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident. NHL owners are busy people, with business concerns other than hockey teams, but as long as they're committed to accountability, I'd like to volunteer to ghost-write letters to fans for them, starting with New York Islanders owner Charles Wang:

Dear Islander fans,
Long time, no see. I've guess you've both been pretty busy. Just wanted to remind you that plenty of good seats are still available for next season, and you might want to jump on them because I expect a real run on season tickets, now that we've got the nucleus of an up-and-coming team with Tavares, Moulson and some other guys whose names I don't remember. Our 30 year rebuilding plan is right on schedule.
Any travel plans this summer? I'm thinking about Quebec City, for no particular reason. I hear it's quite charming - sort of like France, but within driving distance.
Saw Milbury on Hockey Night in Canada the other night. Hard to believe he's an even worse commentator than he was a general manager.
Anyhoo, must run. The DiPietros are over for dinner and I think Rick just fell down the stairs and broke every bone in his body. Why am I not surprised?
Keep in touch, and don't forget to check out our website for online discounts on the ten thousand Alexi Yashin jerseys still in stock.
All the best,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sore winners and other Monday morning musings

It hardly seems possible, but certain elements in the Boston Bruins' fan base and media entourage have managed to harvest sour grapes from winning. The anti-Montreal vitriol on the internet and in the Boston press in the days following the Bruins hard-fought and well-earned opening round playoff win over the Canadiens sounded like the stuff of sore losers rather than gracious winner and would-be champions. The best explanation I've heard for that kind of mentality is "inferiority complex"...Even though Phoenix and Los Angeles were bounced in the first round and Atlanta and Florida missed the post-season entirely, the NHL playoffs are not without enduring dream scenarios for league Comissioner Gary Bettman, who must be absolutely giddy at the prospect of a Nashville-Tampa Bay Stanley Cup final...The New York Giants' second round pick in the 2011 college draft, North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin, has been described as undersized for an NFL nose tackle even though he weighs 310 pounds. Is it any wonder these guys turn to steroids and human growth hormone?...Don't know if you've seen former teenage golf phenom Michelle Wie's Kia commercial, but she's not "this many" anymore.