Friday, July 25, 2008
I like Survival as a concept. A plot device. I like survival stories, whether the books of Farley Mowat or watching some shark attack extravaganza on the Shark channel. (I've only ever watched Survivor because of the drinking game my friends made of it.) I believe survival, whether figurative or literal is as much as right of passage as losing one's wir-yin-ity. No pun but it's a hump one must get over or learn to take. I take it so seriously that I also place far too much stock in the answers people give whenever I've asked them the Which 5 CD's Would You Want If You Were Stranded On A Desert Island question? (Hand on a stack of bibles I once dumped a girl solely because she began the answer to that question with the words Bell Biv Devoe. (The fact that I may have stayed the night first may or may not have been because of the inclusion shockingly of I, Assassin by Gary Numan at #4)).
Loving the Leafs as I do, as we do, I believe that sense of survival, of being a survivor serves us well. To love this team as we do is all about survival. It seems insane to me that there could possibly be someone who hated this team with as much venom, as much vitriol as I hate the team that shan't be named (you all know who I mean ... you are going to make me say they're name, aren't you?
but there are. And admitting to them that you/I love this team as much as you/we do is all about survival. You know as well as I do some people's reaction when you mention that you are a Leafs fan. (Particularly fans of that aforementioned team) The fact is that it really is us vs them. People have laughed in my face for loving the Leafs and thrown punches at my face because I love the Leafs and you know what...so fucking what people hate the Leafs? People also eat horse tranquilizers like Pez and think Daniel Alfredson is a good captain. I once saw people do something in Italy that I still can't talk about but I bet you at this very minute, somebody somewhere is making love to a dog, so that's how much that shit means.
I have stared and stared at my computer screen compiling line combos and defensive pairings and finding that I am actually feeling something akin to excitement for the upcoming season. Obviously the problem is at center where we have 3 potential #2's. And does anyone else think we need another natural right winger? I will tell you a few things I do like. I like Antropov being coached by Wilson. As I believe last year was only the beginning of his coming out. I'm not sure why people still underestimate Nik Antropov, especially Leaf fans. But everybody knows, you ask any GM in the league who the most underrated player in the league is and they'll tell you Antropov. Let me explain why I love the thought of Nik Antropov being coached by Ron Wilson. Firstly Wilson is a proven winner who actually holds his players accountable, which is also why I like Wilson and Grabovski (but more on that in a moment). He plays strong, defense first hockey and apparently is great with younger players. The older it gets the better this decision seems.
I think of a guy like Grabovski. (Let me paraphrase what I've read on various Habs blogs about him. Firstly let me say that Habs fans are almost unbearably awful people.
While there was no real consensus about Grabovski I did read words like dynamic and and unlimited offensive potential, which is always good. He has good speed but most concurred that he wasn't going to be a 2 way player but maybe a legit point per game guy. Most knocks about him were about being out of position. Missed opportunities because of blistering foot speed isn't the worst thing I can think of. That can be tamed, just look at Martin St. Louis.
Admittedly without Mats we are 32 goals and 46 assists short of last year, but really, with this new system and
Niklas Hagman scored 27 goals last season, Tlusty, Kulemin...the fact that Toskala is El Presidente from the first game. Poni, Strahlman, stay at home defense. Finger, Frogen, tradebait, August 15th, uh oh...I suddenly feel like I just ate too much sugar. Mayers/Moore/Hollweg. Steen and Stajan are already good defensively and now with Wilson.
In about 5 seconds I am going to get up and start spaz dancing.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
In the 1980’s some of us were introduced to wax faced Canadian Alan Thicke and his television family; the Seavers. The Seavers’ and their Growing Pains (Yack!) were 30 non-threatening minutes of life lessons in sweater vests also staring born again Christian moppet Kirk Cameron. (A guy so douche-y that when he found out the actress who played his girlfriend posed for Playboy (Julie McCullough) he insisted she be fired.)
Every show, although I can’t ever remember sitting through even one episode, can be summed up thusly; Cameron, in the ubiquitous Ferris Bueller schematic, played lovable scamp Mike Seaver. A schemer who got into shenanigans whilst wearing acid wash jeans with pleats in them and high top Reebox. He also had a permed mullet so it was like, 1 gaylord – 2 haircuts.
Thicke as the stay at home dad (I think he ran a puppy mill) seemed to be in charge of Mike Seavers' morality tale. There was also a Mom, relatively hot in a model in a flyer sort of way who always wore pants and I don't think was ever home.
There was a middle sister who threw up a lot and an ugly younger brother. Then all of a sudden Leonardo DiCaprio showed up and a they also seemed to have a 5 year old daughter that looked like neither of them. Culturally speaking its significance although a notch below Riccola commercials is still a notch above After M*A*S*H.
For reasons I don’t really want to get into I was stuck in a surprisingly long line-up at Kentucky Fried Chicken recently. I mean I was there 35 minutes and the fact that I was picking up food for someone else made it feel like 35 more. Did I mention that the air conditioner was broken? Yeah. The stink of grease, chicken fat and armpit was astounding. A hot stink like a Dutch Oven, it was as terrible as steel pan music.
At some point the theme song to Growing Pains became stuck in my head. How is entered my mind is lost to the ages, why it did, is perhaps a question best left to a Doctor of some sort, yet over and over it played, show me that smile again, like an evil mantra, don’t waste another minute on your crying and what bothered me as the song played over and over, we’re nowhere near the end, was that I never watched this show, and yet somehow, I knew all the words, the best is ready to begin.
What really bothers me is this: is the memory used to remember that song and its lyrics taking the place of how to do fractions or who discovered sodium? Cos I sure as hell don’t know how to do fractions let alone that other fucking thing I mentioned.
The theme song sounds David Foster-ish and on the saccharine scale I would rate it about a Lionel Ritchie. It is not sung by Alan Thicke as is widely believed but by the mercurial BJ Thomas.
Hearing the song over and over as I did in that sweltering chicken shack, people all around me showing far too much feet, the lyrics began corresponding with the Leafs in many ways. Now admittedly this sounds kinda creepy and to my defense I might be completely making this up as I go along.
As long as we got each other we got the world spinnin right in our hands
Okay it’s a bit of a stretch but I get it.
Baby you and me we gotta be the luckiest dreamers who never quit dreamin’
How many of us are the post-67 Generation, huh? If we're not dreamers than I don't know who is.
As long as we keep on givin we can take anything that comes our way
That’s a Leaf fan if ever I’ve heard one, I mean Jonas Hoglund?
...as Sittler replaced Keon and Vaive replaced Sittler and Ramage replaced Vaive and Clarke replaced Ramage and Gilmour replaced Clark and Sundin replaced Gilmour and
Baby, rain or shine, all the time, we got each other sharing the laughter and love
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I never forgot that shirt or that man who, I’m sure, has long since perished of high blood pressure, heart failure or some other anthropometric distinction that kills land monsters like him. But what has stayed with me all these years is that his shirt said, louder than anything else I’ve ever seen ironed-on, that this man was happy or at least satisfied with mediocrity.
It’s one thing when it your choice but when you are forced fed mediocrity, no matter how much seasoning you use, it still tastes like shit. I absolutely detest watching the fucking Red Wings (who I like a lot) win another Stanley Cup as we flounder. We are the Toronto Maple Leafs, no offense to the Wings but, c'mon, we're the Leafs.
So I understand what we need to do, and I understand what I have to do to be able to accept more mediocrity, and its this; I really believe that this is the only way we don’t have another 1980’s era Leafs on our hands. By drafting well. So my thinking all the way till trade deadline day is going to be trade everybody.
They say that Defense wins games and that certainly is the case when McCabe is on the ice. Ok, I have to say that in recent years the forwards defensive game has been brutal, so I do believe McCabe deserves a better fate than what is going to happen and is happening. How could he not waiver in his no-movement clause when Fletch essentially said that he is not part of the team’s long term plans. I would tell him to give me a list of teams he would want to play for and then start making calls. He is being run out of town ala Larry Murphy and will probably be remembered for that goal he put in our net last year. Shame.
Kubina – I’d like to state for the record that I like Kubina. And that with McCabe gone, I would love to hang onto him but when you consider his Stanley Cup ring, that he just came off his best year points-wise and was the only Leaf defense that never finished with a minus. And in a year when Wade Redden is worth 6.5 million a year, Kubina is an amazing bargain. He is sponge-worthy…and will garner a first round pick.
Just to let you know, that’s 11 million off the books right there.
Kaberle – Fist thing I would like to say about him is that he is the best player under contract. Second thing is it’s an amazing contract. Add that to the best first pass in the league and we have incredible return. He’s about as desirable as a photo of Jacklyn Smith in satin pants. And as we all know, at the trade deadline, it was Kaberle for Carter all the way. I would like to point out that Kabs is 30. I’m just sayin’.
Carlo – We all know the issue’s with Mississauga’s favourite bambino. I will say this about him, every 11 games he plays for the Leafs impresses me…but Project Carlo ends this year if his balsa wood body gives out again. If he succeeds than Carlo is a big part of the future.
White – There were times last year that I really liked the way White looked. I think he’ll get more minutes this year (my prediction, paired with Finger) and should grow with confidence as the season progresses.
Stralman – Looked ready at the end of last season and at the World Championships. Can’t wait.
Harrison – Hard nosed bruiser who will start the season with the Marlies but will be given the opportunity to play that he didn’t get last year. Particularly if Frogren is a bust.
Frogren – Apparently he has no offense and Fletch saying he’ll be in our top 6 seems a tad risky but lets give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Finger – We signed a guy named Finger for a surprising amount of money. I believe it was something like a 7000% raise.
Kronwall – He is clearly an NHL defensemen and showed some physical flashes last year but I don’t think he’ll make the team at camp.
Monday, July 21, 2008
You ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I love Mats Sundin. I love Mats Sundin as much as one straight man can love another straight man he has never met and only ever seen on TV (and 4 games). I love him less than an Uncle but more than a 2nd cousin for example. He is my Captain (okay that last bit was kinda gay). But if he goes, he goes. I don't and wouldn't begrudge the man one iota. Whether he goes to Montreal, where he and that team become immediate threats in the East or to Vancouver where, and lets be honest here, 20 million dollars is 20 million dollars. If he does go, I honestly believe his one regret would be not retiring a Leaf.
I’m gonna tell you what I think and here it is; Your 2008 – 2009 Toronto Maple Leafs will be better than you think. With or without Mats, and I’ll get to that in a minute, this team will be exciting to watch. The problem is that it’s an 82 game season.
I do believe that there will be less lapses , less defensive errors. I believe that the team will fight hard game in, game out. People, through-out the year will say that the Leafs are a hard team to play against, that they are not a team to be taken lightly, you know all the usual cliches. We all know that Toskala is going to stand on his headand when not him, prodigal son Cujo. (Welcome home son, all is forgiven. Let's just blame Don Meehan and leave it at that.) The problem is that this Toronto Maple Leafs squad, the one I just described, could quite possibly lose every single game this year.
Without Mats, our leading scorer, might have to be, gulp, sweet Jesus, Jason Blake. Ok…look…we all know that he gets the free pass, and I’ll talk about passing in a minute, the man has/had cancer people. I get a cankor and I don’t wanna leave the house. Again I was all ready to reserve judgement until December on him but then I thought about it and thought, ah, fuck him.
Without Mats, everybody’s numbers drop faster than Dolorean stock so I see, whoever leads us in scoring, hitting the 50-55 point mark and no higher. That could be Jason Blake which makes me pee myself and cry a little. It's not the amount of money he makes or even his numbers that bother me it's his hockey sense. Not even considering the turnovers galore and the what the hell is he doing shots on net, more than anything it was the lack of passes. (ps. What is this I’ve heard about him being a disruption in the dressing room?) Most nights I found he would kill the teams momentum with his meanderings. Missing opportunities by hanging onto the puck and taking those terrible shots on net. 4000 shots on net, not one rebound?
Which is true really for a few others, Bell for example who is still a mystery. I don't even know if he is eligible to play but is in inconceivable for Bell to get 15 goals this year? A mere 15 goals and I see a 2nd rounder at the deadline.
My feeling as the press is about to roll is that Kubina, McCabe, Bell, Blake, Poni and Antropov are all available. When you talk about rebuilding from the bottom, the model for years to come is going to be Philadelphia. With a foundation of Carter, Richards, Pitkanen, Giroux and Downie to build from, the route from bottom seems an easier climb with good draft choices. Perhaps I am just draft crazy like when I first discovered watching poker on TV: mesmerized before I realized that poker on TV is the new fishing.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
What I’d like to talk about might have about much cultural relevance as cold war jokes (I’m looking at you Yakoff Smirnoff) but I have more or less been living in a cave for the past 4 months...I'm still catching up. Regardless what I want to talk about shows the difference between the Leafs and the team from otwa.
What's interesting is that my loathe of the sens is also pure and beautiful. It may be as black as the Devil's anus but somehow in being completely the opposite, its exactly the same.
I see both Razors as the perfect simile. Both goalies were terrible last year. Arguably as bad, although for different reasons. If Raycroft is Toronto, in the way he always kept his dignity. I can't recall ever having seen him with a toothpick in his mouth for example. Then Emery is otwa. A guy who is such a douchebag that he drives a Lamborghini.
Clearly nobody wanted to take a shot on him and really why would you? You don't get called a cancer for nothing. But if you’re Ray Emery you really have 2 choices; choices so simple yet so colossal that in choosing either one vs the other, defines the kind of person you are.
Do you a) Learn from this, hire the best personal trainers in the world, work your ass off from now until training camp, first one in, last one out; grow a beard and chop some wood like Rocky in Rocky 4, go within yourself to find yourself or do you take the money?
Perhaps I am naïve to think that anyone would ever not take the (easy) money. Perhaps I am even naïve to think that I wouldn’t. But this is just like fucking your best friend’s girl; just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. No matter how hot she is and, to me, Ray Emery is the human equivilant to putting it in, even just a little.
Option A basically comes down to staying in North America. Granted the pay cut would suck and yes Ray, I know it's expensive to get your Lamborghini repainted every time somebody keys it when you're at International Clothiers in the St. Laurent Mall picking up your suits but let me put it to you this way. 2 words: Hyundai Accent. You can totally repaint that shitter with stuff you can buy at Canadian Tire. But at least its the NHL.
Option A means working hard. No girls, no 8 balls. Working your ass off from now until training camp and going to whatever 3 teams it was/is that invited you and blowing everyone way. It means taking 800k a year and continuing playing well until everyone calls you a steal. It means working yourself back to respectability. It means stop acting like a fucking European center and be a fucking goalie. Put the mask on and stay humble..cos nothing would make the sens and their deplorable fans more upset than playing well.
But that’s just not who Razor is.
I bet we never see Emery in the NHL again. Then he'll be relegated to the place he belongs; a trivia question that nobody asks cos nobody cares.
In the end he took the money cos when you get right down to it, even he knows he isn't even an 800k a year goalie. Pay-cut, schmay-cut, Ray Emery isn't even an NHL goalie. Period. He knows that, that team knows that.
Not to tell tales out of school but I lived in the former Eastern Bloc and let me tell you the Russians wont put up with any of his shit. And I don't know what Razor is going to do , everyone knows that Russian coke is shitty, stepped on a dozen times and cut with far too much baby laxative, regardless I wonder if he knows Russian for, ‘the first hit is free’.
(Incidentally it’s something like, “Первый удар свободен.”)