Monday, June 28, 2010

Who's staying on board

...because I made a boat analogy

Three days before losing them to free agency (I think), Pierre Gauthier has secured two of our young forwards for another season.

Benoit Pouliot's contract reportedly costs about $1.37 million. That's a small bite out of the remaining cap space. If he can keep up the great scoring mojo he had during the regular season, and avoid growing another aesthetically amusing bad-luck mustache, it'll be a good year. If he gets injured again or performs like he did in the playoffs, well, it'll be the second time in 2010 that people are angry with the letters BP.

A year of Tom Pyatt costs half a million dollars. I guess we'll have to see how he performs in what could be his first full NHL season, but this is looking like a pretty good bargain for the team. I'm betting Pierre Gauthier feels like I do after a day of outlet shopping.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The week that was

NHL Awards are over. (As quickly as they began, and that's a good thing because you all know by now how I feel about this Shinedown band.)
The draft is over. (Or maybe it's still going on... do drafts ever end?)

Maybe you're thinking that after our fairy tale of a playoff run, we Habs fans would get all sorts of applause from the rest of the NHL this week when everyone got together to shake hands. But alas, no Habs came home from Vegas with hardware and Montreal showed up around the middle of the first draft round. All eyes were on Edmonton as it morphed into Hall-ywood. Still, we should be optimistic.

The majority of the NHL Awards went to guys who play either in the Western Conference or for teams that the Canadiens beat in the playoffs. I take it as further proof that our team's postseason proved that the Canadiens are 100 years old and still got it goin' on.

Trading up in the draft saved me from watching more kids get drafted by other teams that are not my favourite, and it was worth it. Good move, Pierre. I approve.

From 0 to badass in the time it takes a scout to announce your name

Twenty-four hours ago I had no idea who Jarred Tinordi was. Within minutes of his selection I became a fan. He's so very tall. If it were possible to make Trevor Timmins look as tall as Gary Bettman, Tinordi's the guy who can do it. He has leadership experience. He seems to have a really calm demeanor, which I can hope will translate well to the ice. Vancouver wanted him. And the best news is probably that, as with most defensive prospects, Tinordi will need a little while to develop before we see him on NHL ice, so with any luck he'll show up just when we need him: when our more experienced D's will have either aged or moved on and our younger guys will be the ones with experience. Oh, the circle of life. It moves us all.

We might not have the excitement of Edmonton right now, or the immense pride of Detroit or Chicago, but I think Montreal has just what it needs. Especially when the riots are on in Toronto.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Awards time!

The pop-culture junkie side of me loves awards shows. In part it's for the "who's wearing what" factor, but obviously that's a little less exciting here. It is, however, 90 minutes of hockey players in suits, and that's something we can all enjoy.

It would appear that the awards aren't airing live, and news sources are already spoiling us on winners, but I'm going to pretend I didn't find out about any winners. Can I still call this a "liveblog" if the awards aren't airing live?

Well, I think I might anyway.

Before the show: I missed the red-carpet stuff online, because it wouldn't load, but I'm sure there'll be pictures and stuff. Plus what fashion is there to comment on, really? Like, "Oh, Shane Doan's wife shouldn't have worn those shoes?"

Snoop Dogg: And Travis Barker? They're definitely trying to up the ante with this year's Awards, after Chaka Khan didn't kick enough ass last year. "Snoop Gretzky the Great" should be his new name. You know Diddy wishes he came up with it first.
My sister: "Is this what happens when you let Americans be in charge of things?" Well, yes, but there was also the MMVA's.

Opening credits: Are hurting my eyes.

Okay, Jay Mohr, let's get this show on the road.
Four minutes in and the first player we see is Sidney Crosby. Surprise surprise. Jay Mohr's monologue is pretty good for a guy who doesn't watch much hockey. And he just made an "icing is delicious" joke, which I always approve of. It's pretty much what I would have expected, Jay Mohr is just mean enough, but there's still just a little bit of CBS sitcom left on him.

Rookies: Mark Wahlberg is going to bust someone's head open, I'm sure. Ugh, these nominee videos don't look too special. Whatever.
Tyler Myers wins, of course, and oh dear GG, he's so tall. His speech is quite decent, and less awkward than rookies usually are. It would have been better if he'd said to Mark Wahlberg, "Say hi to your mother for me, all right?" A girl can dream.

Selke: So this is the Ryan Kesler award, right? Presenter Natasha Henstridge does not age.
Oh, my bad. This is the Pavel Datsyuk award. I forgot he's like Meryl Streep with this sort of thing. You'd think he would expect a win at some point, and not make all his speeches off-the-cuff. His English is better than he thinks it is, though.

Henrik Sedin: I think. I can't tell the twins apart, but he won the Art Ross trophy and is now being interviewed by some Maria Menounos clone. He doesn't seem to like it very much.

Strombo!: Oh, and much to my surprise Patrick Kane is glued to some showgirl or other woman that's probably friends with a Tiger Woods mistress. He said some random platitudes about winning the Cup. This segment is just there to introduce a Cirque du Soleil performance, which is effectively spiced up by some breakdancing.

Ted Lindsay Award: Presented by Ted Lindsay (well I certainly hope so) and Ron McLean. So this award is like a popularity contest, right? I think Ovechkin will take this one.
OK, I don't deserve a parade for guessing that. By the way, I have no idea why the nominees are waiting backstage
"First of all, what's up everybody?" A hung-over (or slightly buzzed) Ovie starts his speech awesomely, then ends it sentimentally. But doesn't want it to end, and Kanye's the next presenter.

Ooh, a race joke! In the middle of an Olympic tribute. Which turned into a pretaped sketch about Ryan Getzlaf being a jerkstore. Athletes don't make great actors, but this is quite all right. It's not the actors, it's the material.

Red carpet again: Aw, Steven Stamkos! If I were him I'd totally try to one-up Crosby on camera.

Coaches: I'm not sure who will win this... Dave Tippett! Yay! Because the Coyotes surpassed all expectations this season. Can someone just buy this team and treat it right already?
czechtacular is very pleased with this win, as expected.

Toe pick!: I'm a little excited to see DB Sweeney, because I love The Cutting Edge (but hate Battle of the Blades). Jamie Kennedy should have just stopped working after his hidden-camera show was cancelled. Oh, but then he and Jay Mohr couldn't have ribbed each other about being on CBS.
Upset of the night: Ryan Miller wins the Vezina. Wow, huge surprise there. I was not expecting this after a season of the Ryan Miller Hype Machine and him carrying his team so much he makes Halak look like a slacker. (Jaro come back.) He thanks his teammates, of whom I can name maybe two.

Brodeur: Won the Jennings trophy! Congrats! What does that mean?

Best thing ever: Did Jay Mohr just do a Tracy Morgan voice?

Shinedown: Yeah, ok, not my favourite band so you can just youtube them. Or try to imagine a rap-metal Nickelback, and there's their whole performance right there.

Another best thing ever: Mike Green's hair looks more human. And a Geico caveman still has beef with him.

Lex Luthor has hair: And is presenting the Masterton trophy, and doing a pretty good job.
I'm a sucker for inspiring stories, and it's no surprise that Jose Theodore won it, since losing a child is a parent's worst nightmare. (His accent is starting to sound a little Chuck Hughes there. Okay, not important.) Very tasteful speech. Good job, Theo.

Jerry Bruckheimer: Does not acknowledge the world's most useless DJ. He's presenting the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which I just heard of today. And the video shows us some baby Shane Doan - did you see that! Aw, Shane Doan, what a guy. I'm trying to pay attention to his speech, because he's so sweet (he puts Iginla to shame, and that's saying something) but for some reason he's reminding me of Keanu Reeves. Only less sad.

Jonathan Toews in a suit: Oh, and also the Stanley Cup. To introduce a crazy montage of hockey insanity. Someone needs to show this montage to people who watch other sports: they'll very quickly realize that hockey is king.

Lady Byng Trophy: Wow, these guys are impressive. Did they make a miniature Trophy for Martin St. Louis, or is he just lucky that it's small? He's hilarious, making jokes about sending Christmas cards to refs and reading his speech off his phone.

The Messier Trophy: With no buildup at all, just gets placed next to Crosby. Um, there were other dudes nominated, too. Ugh, this was better last year when the trophy was won by someone I love, and not presented by Fake Maria Menounos. This telecast isn't so special.

If there's hockey somewhere, then Jeremy Roenick is there to talk. That, dear readers, is a fact of life.

This is who they named the trophy after, right?

Norris: I hope it's Drew Doughty, come on, it HAS to be. I hope. And (in the words of Roenick)the winner goes to...
Duncan Keith. The guy I knew the least about. Still, it must be cool to win a Trophy and a Stanley Cup within days of each other. Maybe next week he can get a damn haircut. This guy's never watched the Oscars, has he? The music means GTFO from the stage. Still, he uses his speech overtime to tell Ovechkin to stay away from his girlfriend. Nice.

The Foundation Award: Or something, goes to Ryan Miller because he does charity work. Oh, actually, I think I have heard of this award before. Gary Bettman is still short. If anyone knows his exact height, please tell me in the comments. I tried Googling it and found nothing.

Jay Mohr does his Christopher Walken voice: And the world is a better place for a few seconds. On to the Goo Goo Dolls, and I'm sure that John Rzeznik is younger than Jon Bon Jovi, but he doesn't look it. Is this what happened during the last few years when he wasn't making music? He just sat around and aged? Um, make more albums, please.

A "Thank You Fans" commercial: Makes me feel special! You're welcome, NHL.

Guy Lafleur!: If the Awards were held in Vegas back in his day, he'd have gone missing. His pre-award banter is pretty cute. The Hart Trophy, technically, should go to the guy who screamed out "Go Habs Go!" But I don't think it will.
Instead, it does to Henrik Settin'. Wait, that's NOT how you pronounce it? Whatever. He's Guy Lafleur. Henrik makes a great speech, very appreciative, but not at all treacly.

[By the way, there seemed to be a lot of people wearing the same tie... Stylist fail.] No, that's because John Varvatos appears to have dressed pretty much everyone, and while the man certainly knows suits, I can't get behind this much product placement, what with the matching suits and the Geico and everything. I can't stand it on regular TV, and I don't like it creeping into hockey like this.

And just like that, it's over. That's the end?
Oh well, congratulations to the winners, and we'll see you next year. Now please let the hockey players go have some fun, as I'm sure Patrick Kane has already exited the theatre and pounded a Jagerbomb or two. See you next year!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another one of those days

So... the NHL is busier when there's no hockey? Is that how it is?

First, Mathieu Darche gets a new contract for next season. His salary is undisclosed, and according to people who know hockey, it's a "one-way" contract. So if I understand correctly, he might be needed to rally up all these former St. Louis Blues prospects in Hamilton but regardless of what jersey he wears he'll still make a Hab's salary. Or something.

Then, we find out that Marc-André Bergeron needs knee surgery. Some people could take his injury as a reason why our power play included a few less crazy slapshots... mystery solved.

Then Tomas Plekanec and the guys in charge decided to keep him in Montreal for six more years, costing the team a very appropriate $5 million per season. He played just as well as our most expensive guys this past season, so it is definitely not too much. Stop hating. Hating on Pleks means hating on goals, and if you hate goals then you should watch golf or something.

Coming soon to a Hall of Fame near you...

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced this year's inductees, and while there was unfortunately no love for deserving Montreal sweethearts Guy Carbonneau and Pat Burns, my XX chromosomes are very happy about the first women to be inducted: Cammi Granato and Angela James. Finally there'll be more than just a plaque about women's hockey at the HHOF!

The Bruins and Panthers did some trading today. There were draft picks involved and then everyone went to Tim Hortons, if I understood correctly.

Scott Niedermayer, captain of the Anaheim Ducks and this year's Team Canada, announced his retirement today, but it's really just a coincidence that he held a press conference right before tomorrow's NHL Awards and Friday's draft. Totally a coincidence.

Brent Sopel of the Chicago Blackhawks proves that I completely misjudged him and his My Name Is Earl mustache by agreeing to bring the Stanley Cup to Chicago's Pride Parade, accompanied by his family.

Rollie Melanson, having already coached B.C. boy Carey Price in Montreal, will now coach St-Leonard boy Roberto Luongo in Vancouver.

Oh, and the schedule was announced for all of next season's NHL games. Yes, that ALSO happened today.
Some highlights for the Habs:
We open and close the season against the Leafs in Toronto.
The October 13 home opener, against Guy Boucher's Tampa Bay Lightning, will happen less than two weeks before the Phoenix Coyotes come to town on October 25th. Yes, czechtacular will need lots and lots of paper bags to breathe into. I'll probably buy some wholesale.
This year's Dec 4th anniversary game (does it matter every year, or only once a century?) will be in the afternoon against the San Jose Sharks. California boys are going to freeze if it's anything like it's been the last few Decembers.
Luckily we broke the December 23rd curse last season, because the Habs will be in Carolina on that very day.
Last season's seats for the Habs vs Flames game at the Bell Centre were slightly better than the ones we had the year before. On January 17th, we might get to the first row of the blues!
The Heritage Classic will indeed be happening on February 20th.
Jaro doesn't come back to town (just go back to the playlist if you're sad) but he'll get to make stops on his old teammates when the Habs go to St. Louis on March 22nd.
In general, there are just a few too many back-to-back games for my liking. I prefer it when the players have a day off between games, especially if there's travel involved.

... was that it?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lost a player you love?

Hearing that one of your favourite hockey players was traded, or that he just moved away, is never easy to stomach. The 2009 offseason proved that. There isn't much you can do about it, outside of complaining to every news outlet you know or maybe writing your GM a strongly worded letter (send us a copy if you do!), and it can be a lot to handle emotionally. You might need to have some worthless breakable objects around in case you get really angry. Or you might need a tub of ice cream and some sad songs to help you feel better.
That's where we come in.

Introducing the I Can't Believe He's On Another Team playlist. It might help a little.

No Doubt - Don't Speak. I know from experience that it helps!

Matchbox Twenty - If You're Gone. It's a little cheesy and sad, but I kind of secretly love Matchbox Twenty. Don't you judge me. You're the one stuffing your face full of chocolates and weeping.

The Fray - Never Say Never. Because basically every song by the Fray is sad enough for an occasion such as this.

oh, and if you're really mad at management then their cover of Heartless might do it for you.

Metric - Combat Baby. I went with a live acoustic version here for you, because I love the original version (it's just as melancholy but the electronic sound makes it a bit more bouncy) but it sounds amazing when it's stripped down.

Heart - Alone. Because if you're really down, an 80's hair power ballad might be the only thing that can pick you up.

Or maybe you don't want to be emo anymore and want to try and cheer up and convince yourself that everything will be okay.

Friday, June 18, 2010

HIHW gets hairy

You knew it was coming. Everyone loves looking at awesome beards. My Paul Mara fandom and hours spent researching this category are proof of that. Obviously, like basically everyone else on the Internet, we had to honour the best playoff beards and hand out the Paul Mara Memorial Trophy for Best Playoff Beard (since Paul Mara's Beard didn't get to enjoy any playoff glory this year.)
Now, I decided to make this category all about beards, so Jonathan Toews' mutton chops, the Pouliot-stache, and PK Subban's helmet strap didn't quite qualify. Much love, though.

So, who did make the cut?
Todd Bertuzzi has a playoff beard that the Internet seems to love as much as bacon.
Kris Draper's beard most reminds me of Paul Mara's, as it is both ginger and quite awesome.
Patrick Marleau's beard is great. You can't even see any face behind it. I didn't know he had it in him.
Joe Pavelski is half-cute, half-awesome with this beard. Mostly awesome. He looks completely different in playoff mode than he does in his roster shot.
Glen Metropolit trimmed his beard, but it still looked great.
Roman Hamrlik... I wish I had a better picture of his beard in all its glory.
Tom Pyatt grew the best rookie beard this season, and I'd be saying that even if it wasn't the exact same beard that Ryan Gosling had in The Notebook. #94 gets extra points in the "I wrote you every day for a year!" category.
Mark Stuart has such a great beard that honestly, I have no idea who he is other than the Bruins' #45, but I saw this picture and nominated him.

Eight nominees is a lot but for all I know, I omitted someone so if I did, that's what the comments section is for!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Here's to you, Jaroslav Halak

Traded to the Blues for two guys who'll have to show us what they're made of. Mostly because I know almost nothing about the St. Louis Blues. Usually I have to be reminded that they're even a thing.

Jaro started the season somewhat out of the spotlight, then grew in popularity as he became "the other white meat," an alternative to Price that Camp Carey Boo were constantly calling out for, then got the ice time to prove just how talented he is, behind both the Canadiens and the Slovakian Olympic team, then became such a mythical figure that his talent was celebrated even outside the Montreal bubble. Some TSN analyst described a brilliant third-round performance by Antti Niemi as "Halakian."

So it looks like we've got to say goodbye to the Halak puns and the stop signs. He'll post shutouts for other teams.

Jaro and Carey might now have a shot at each getting the ice time they need and deserve, and we might finally see an end to the childish, Twilight-esque rivalry.

But that doesn't mean I'm happy for the St. Louis Blues.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jay Mohr announced as host of the NHL Awards

I'd say that it's a step up from Ron McLean, but I promised to abstain from Ron McLean jokes for a while after he saved someone's life.

Jay Mohr's pretty funny: I don't know if he'll rival Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais for clever quips, or if he can match Neil Patrick Harris' Oscar opening bit for sheer awesomeness, but I liked him as host of NBC's Last Comic Standing. He didn't take himself too seriously like a lot of reality show hosts do, and he let the comedian contestants do their thing. He also starred in the short-lived single-camera Fox comedy Action, which went way over my little head back in 1999, so of course I watched it. (Its cancellation may or may not have been one of the catalysts that drove me to loving TV like a mother loves her child. I haven't been able to watch Action again because I'm terrified I won't like it anymore, and then I'll have an identity crisis.)

Having a host to help the proceedings along, maybe knock some guys' egos down a few pegs, will probably make the awards telecast a lot better. Last year's show started off great with a passionate pretaped intro by Denis Leary (who would make the most deliciously evil awards show host, but we'd need to put the broadcast on like a two-minute delay) and then got a little messy, with people coming on stage, then showing up again... a host is going to solve that problem, and as long as we've got Jay Mohr on his toes, and maybe just a bit angry, then we're in for a good show. If we've got the Gary Unmarried Jay Mohr, then, um, clearly Julia Louis-Dreyfus just wasn't available.

The NHL Awards ceremony will also feature a performance from Shinedown, who surprisingly enough are not Nickelback.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Once you Laraque...

You never go back, as we learned today.

Georges Laraque is now truly, officially, irrevocably (unless for some reason we buy him again) no longer a Montreal Canadien. And after a season of blogging, with a great list of Laraque puns in my back pocket that I never had the right occasions to use, I can't help but smile as I say goodbye for real.

It's a good thing for everyone concerned: the Habs have roster space for the players we've grown to love over the course of this season and need to keep next year. And Laraque finds himself in a pretty good employment situation: he, like the services offered by his spokescompany TekSavvy, finds himself with no contract. (I didn't say "with no contract" loud enough, did I?) And a $1 million severance package is pretty sweet, especially in this economy.

Maybe we'll see him again soon, and he'll be a perfect fit in some other city. He'll have a goal under his belt, and a few months away might make him more aggressive and make that personality show on the ice. He might even completely forget that the next time he comes to the Bell Centre, he gon' get booed.

Mostly, I'm just glad that it gives me some Habs-related news to blog about... otherwise this would have just been an excuse to mention the resemblance between Jonathan Toews and The Office's Cousin Mose.
Pointed out to me by an acquaintance... and now I feel like watching The Office.

Monday, June 14, 2010

First week without hockey.

You know what I hate about the Stanley Cup Finals? The schedule (only one hockey game every two days, and no other hockey at all) is supposed to help transition viewers out of the hockey season and into the summer, but Final games are usually the most exciting, as evidenced by all the high-scoring and coach-whining. Someone (in this case, an Original 6 team, yay) gets a big shiny trophy at the end, and everyone's cheering and hugging and singing "We Go Together," and then it's over. Done. No more hockey, come back next year.

What's a girl supposed to do?

Top 5 Things To Do Now That It's The Offseason/Summer

1. Get "Chelsea Dagger" out of your head. (If you dislike it as much as I do.) The Chicago Blackhawks have given us a pretty big mission over the summer, by scoring so many goals and letting us hear that earworm so many times. I thought I was going to go insane. I had the men in white coats on standby. To finally exorcise "Chelsea Dagger," you'll have to fight fire with fire, and find some song that'll replace it in your head but hopefully not make you go mad. Maybe some Michael Jackson or Beastie Boys or if all else fails, watch a musical. (The manic Moulin Rouge! did it for me.) If you're really desperate, I guess there's Lady Gaga or the Black Eyed Peas, but you don't want to go there unless you have to.

2. Other sports! You may have watched the Grand Prix this weekend, or just enjoyed the downtime between soccer games. We're pretty lucky that there's a World Cup this year to tide us over, since soccer is one of the closest things to hockey you'll get, and international soccer is the best kind. (Hockey - pads + bromance = soccer) If you like baseball and tennis then you're also in luck. Or, roller derby! It's basically hockey - sticks and puck + better nicknames. Montreal events have been selling out quickly this season, so you might want to buy your tickets in advance.

3. The standard. Watch hockey movies, read hockey books, go back a couple years in the Habs Inside/Out archives... I'm sure you thought of all this already. I've got some magazines and things I picked up during the season but didn't read, Larry Robinson's book, Ken Dryden's book, and a brand-spanking-new copy of The Hockey Sweater to read, along with some other books, so I'll probably manage - and learn a thing or two along the way.

4. Um, summer stuff? You can't usually have barbecues during the regular season, especially in Montreal, so get outside and eat some meat. Or run to Ben & Jerry's to try Caramel Hat Trick. Or go to the beach. Or go see a comedy show. Or skip the draft to see a free Brian Setzer concert at Jazz Fest... I'm just never going to watch an NHL draft, am I?

5. Do the Happy Gilmore. Go golfing in a hockey jersey.

(Any excuse to mention Happy Gilmore is a good one, no?)

Friday, June 11, 2010

On with the awards!

To be added onto later tonight. For now we have:


1- Patrick Kane vs. Cabbie: said taxi driver did not wish to pose with our favourite Stanley Cup-winning delinquent, so Snoop decided to instead. (I like to think it was an hommage to Rookie, but that's just me.) Anyway. The loose change jokes still haven't stopped, even if he put an end to this season in the weirdest of ways. Apparently now he's even dancing about it.
2- Goalie vs. Goalie: this doesn't necessarily have to be Habs-centric, even if it's obvious that Montreal happens to be the most obsessed with this topic. There should be a drinking game to its name. Me? I'm drinking to the fact that I found an old Jeff Hackett poster this afternoon. Remember THAT controversy? Where's Theodore now? Anyways. You get the jist.
3- PHX and bankruptcy: Obviously I nominated this one, because being where we are, we kind of have this elitism to "HOW DARE YOU HAVE AN EMPTY RINK WHEN WE ONLY HAVE 6 TEAMS IN THIS COUNTRY" and yada yada yada which is kind of repulsive when you want to highlight what the team on the ice HAS done for itself all year. That also never went away, despite attendance figures putting themselves in the black, so to speak. It still won't go away even now.
4- Kostitsyn drama: Enough already. We know he/they don't hang out with the good crowd. Who cares, honestly? Remember when you tried to get in with the cool kids and they had you throw your best friend in the dumpster in the process? Yeah. We don't watch who passes out what, unless it's pucks and they're on the ice. We don't want to hear about anymore.

Playerwise, now:

1- Sidney Crosby: the only reason we applaud him is because he apparently moved out of Mario's house. Finally. Otherwise, groan.
2- The Sedins: This is even worse because they're multiples. Meaning double the amount of coverage. Oh, Henrik for Hart. Oh, what a nice pass by Daniel. Whatever. I'm still convinced they switch jerseys for whatever games the other doesn't really feel like playing up to his usual standards so that the rest of us never know which of them is actually better, or worse, and therefore can't find some way to complain about it.
3- Guillaume Latendresse: This may not make sense unless you've painstakingly struggled to figure out which one of him is the real Gui since, I dunno, 2005? However, since he famously moved on to Minnesota, the goals sought from him for so long finally started pouring out without an end in sight. And lo and behold, networks like Versus started hopping on the Gui! Gui! Gui! bandwagon. VERSUS. Really.
4- Alexander Ovechkin: There was a reluctance to include him in this (we still like him), but it's impossible with Crosby, since despite being almost nothing alike as players, they simply go hand in hand.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More categories...

We've probably got too many of these categories to ever be able to post them all, probably because I got just a bit too excited about this project and suggested a "Best Rapper" category. Crazy, I know. In any case, this blog wouldn't be here if we didn't think fans had a voice in hockey. Two categories honoring fans just seemed appropriate.

Famous fans are just as busy with their movies, TV shows, albums, clothing lines or what have you as they are with their passion for hockey. Still, it's always cool to see someone cheering at a game when you're used to seeing them at awards shows.

VINCE VAUGHN was born in Minnesota, so of course he'd grow up to be a hockey fan, but spent his childhood in Chicago. That's why his Blackhawks jersey remained pasted on throughout the playoffs. He's also frequently seen at the Staples Center for LA Kings games, and I'm starting to think that a major part of the Kings' fans just started out as expats from other cities who really needed their hockey fix.

JASON REITMAN, who probably resides in LA for most of the year, is further proof of my LA Kings theory. He's a huge hockey fan and has grown very fond of the Kings, but you can't take him away from his Canucks. Last year he was one of's celebrity bloggers, and this year he cheered for the Canucks in LA during the playoffs. (The passion of a guy born in Montreal is all there, but the bleu-blanc-rouge isn't. I don't know why he's not a Habs fan, but I really like his work so I'll let it slide.)

ROBIN SCHERBATSKY is technically not a real person, but she is a minor New York celebrity on How I Met Your Mother. I've already mentioned on this blog that she's an awesome female hockey fan. She started the show's fifth season by agreeing to go on a date with a guy because he had Canucks-Rangers tickets, and wore one of her Vancouver jerseys in a sea of blue shirts. She also needed her best friend to make a Canucks analogy in order to understand why New York women want to date Yankees. Sure, she sounded just a LITTLE bit like a puckbunny, but considering that the girl knows her sport and owns multiple big Canucks jerseys, she can't ever be called one. Plus, there's a message board thread on actress Cobie Smulders' IMDB page discussing hockey. (The best part is the end, where someone mentioned the Habs.)

GEORGE STROMBOULOPOULOS, whose name I hopefully spelled right. is awesome. He's a vocal Habs fan whose feelings about the Leafs range from the "respectfully disagree" to, well, the expected. He came to town for the centennial. He keeps a Habs jersey visible in his office. He LOVES Saku Koivu, as any sane Habs fan should. And he was born, educated, and currently works in Toronto. Earlier this year, he auctioned off a Leafs jersey someone brought to the Hour, with proceeds going to charity, basically asking Leaf fans to get the thing out of his sight. He might just be the greatest of them all.

VIGGO MORTENSEN is probably the most famous of the famous Habs fans. (Starring in an Oscar-winning, globally popular film trilogy will do that to you.) My brother told me I'd never guess that he showed up at the Centennial game, and if I did guess, that he would literally buy me a pony. (A real one!) Viggo was my third guess, after two completely irrational answers befitting his "You'll NEVER guess..." however, I'm still waiting on that pony. But about Viggo: he's told the world he loves the Habs. He came to town in his well-worn Lafleur jersey and spoke French. I'm almost surprised Montrealers haven't started buying shirts with his name on the back.

Honourable mentions to Habs fan Alex Trebek, and onetime LA Kings game attendee, the delightful Jake Gyllenhaal.

As for the rest of us... lots of people call themselves hockey fans. Some of them can't name their hometown goalie, some of them bought a T-shirt a week or two into the playoffs, some of them ARE hockey fans, and some of them take it to the next level and let everyone know how much they love their sport. These are what we like to call "superfans" - the sporting equivalent of those long-haired guys who keep the KISS cover band together well into their fifties.

THE GREEN MEN have a taken a brilliant Always Sunny In Philadelphia joke and run with it like Usain Bolt. Sully and Force have made Vancouver the team to watch - if only for the entertainment. They've become famous for their flexible, sometimes crude antics by the penalty box.

MR. CANADA, whose real name is Dave Ash (according to a Saskatchewan newspaper) goes wherever Team Canada goes. Fans are often called "the seventh man on the ice," and Mr. Canada takes that to a whole new level. He shows up to every game, wearing his uniform, and he brings his own equipment (concise but sassy homemade posters).

ANGRY SAL (the image above is an artist's rendering) might just be the most popular Canadiens fan of the season. Thanks to word of mouth and YouTube, whoever missed his bit on Team 990 (airwaves for the insane!) has had a chance to hear it. We have no idea if this guy survived the postseason. Still, he's the #1 argument people can use in the "Habs fans be crazy" debate, and we love him all the same.

More on Coach

Gotta love these crazy news days, right? Yeah, me neither. I'm trying to counter all this NHL drama by watching me some WB drama.

In any case, all this Guy Boucher news has been a lot to handle in just a few days - and I'm not even the one all over his Facebook fan page.

We thought he was going to stay with the Habs organization, then we thought we lost him, then we thought we got him back, and now it seems like he's gone to the beach. This is probably even worse than knowing that Steve Yzerman, the man responsible for a gold medal at the Olympics, is working for a team that's inferior to both Team Canada and the Detroit Red Wings. OK, maybe that's the Canadian "nationalism" and Original Six jackassery talking. Now, Tampa has both Stevie Y and Guy Boucher. No more Coach after one glorious season with the Bulldogs, where he might have turned a lot of our top prospects into NHL-ready players. And, like the most promising of players, he's been called up.

Why couldn't it be the Panthers? They let all their talented guys get away eventually so we'd have a good shot at getting him back someday.

If I had to find a bright side to all this, I guess it would be that Lightning fans finally get some good news. Coach will make Steven Stamkos even better than he was this year. He might make Vincent Lecavalier, who's got one of the most ridiculous contracts in the NHL, worth the ridiculous money he's being paid. Because right now, the best thing Lecavalier's doing for hockey is making Scott Gomez look like one hell of a bargain. (Just kidding, Scott! Let's get some frogurt sometime and we'll gossip.) Or he'll just be one more francophone that RDS can talk to, so we'll have a bit more variety in interview subjects.

Guess we'll have to see what happens next.


The winner of the "perhaps" derby, it seems, was "perhaps I spoke too soon."

For the record, this still isn't over.

Best of luck to Guy Boucher and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yes, I said it. Sue me if I'm not willing to torch the man for pulling a bit of a fast one on two leagues and 4+ teams' fans. Everything in the last post is no less true if/when this comes with an official presser.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Because it's mandatory I step in here

I have somewhat ridiculously long-term commitments to my favourites. One of my most long-standing is that with strawberries, eventually evolving into the combination of strawberries and chocolate. Try all they might, Chez Cora persists in the idea of getting me to order something else, but I'm a little--more like a LOT--difficult to shake.

Mark Recchi's been stuck with me since my hockey fandom started in 1998, despite sporting few jerseys since then that I would ever be seen dead wearing myself. Tomas Plekanec shares the same burden since his first (or second, if we're counting his draft day) public appearance in North America (Jamboree 2001).

He didn't even have a goatee then, to give you an idea. (Still the turtleneck though, so don't worry.)

Guy Boucher's a bit of a "new" one by my standards, running at four years now. I'll be the first one to admit that the ones that stick like the ones I've mentioned come with a little overprotectiveness and this is no less true even for the newbies. So here I go.

(credit, once again, to l'Express)

Every decision comes with two halves. No, it's not every day that a coach that's only been in the pro ranks for one year gets so much buzz and excitement, translating to offers from bona fide NHL teams. It's also not every day that said coach would decline the opportunity to move up.

But in all this rarity there's a little familiarity, from "weighing all the options" to "one step at a time." Individuals, and special ones such as Boucher, especially with his attention to detail and considerations of the whole picture, don't jump at just anything, no matter how good it looks. Remember, this is only June and the Bulldogs were just eliminated from the playoffs. Wrapping up that season is as new as most of the attention those accomplishments have brought him so far. The setting is very much the same as what it was last year, when the bubbly from the President's Cup hadn't even had time to go flat and in waltzed Julien BriseBois and the rest of the Hamilton crew.

I know what you're thinking: "That time he said yes. Did something go wrong?" Not necessarily. His demeanour approaching last year's offer and the one now have been the exact same--which is what the people who look at this latest turn of events with a puzzled eye may not necessarily understand. Personally, I was fully prepared to have to make another adjustment in him moving up again. But as much as his final word shocked many, I was thinking, "classic Boucher." If anyone knows how and why to say no, it's him.

As we will see July 1st, unrestricted free agents seldom say yes to the very first offer. Especially first-timers. Coachwise, it's hardly different. Boucher is very much a rookie himself--he would probably be the first to tell you--but he is certainly not unaware of the clamor and commotion surrounding him. All the vacancies, all the big city names popping up, all the upset fans in Montreal having barely made acquaintance to his name picking up a newspaper, seeing the quotes, hearing those of others and realizing how important it is to hang onto such a commodity. That's all well and good, and surely the Habs' and other organizations are not blind to this fact and not sitting quietly about it, but the final word is his and only his. Power like that isn't something to take lightly, and he is fully managing that situation. Columbus won't be the last, as we can already tell, heck, he might even just stay where he is. We've got a good while longer with this rollercoaster left to go.

Like you and I, Boucher is a family guy. In considering Hamilton, he also needed "a weekend." He said then, as he surely said recently, that if he saw anything that would hinder his family to adjust, he would stay put or look elsewhere. (Not that Columbus isn't kid and wife friendly, but moving to the States itself--I'd imagine--has to be somewhat of a significant deal after just having moved to Ontario the year before. Whether that's the case or not, that is a pretty focal part of his decision-making.) The more ambitious guys would find a way to make it work. But to Boucher, whose attitude is probably the most ambitious of all without even directly being so, finding the best surrounding conditions to undertake such a significant career move is as important a factor as the job conditions themselves.

Then there is timing. Boucher famously keeps his eye on the present, and firmly believes in each of his projects until he feels it's time for his involvement to end. Until he signs the dotted line, he stands by what he has going with the organization that retains him. Drummondville hadn't had a league championship to its name in its 27 years, but when the job with the Bulldogs wasn't set in stone yet, the mindset to get his players to repeat the 2008-09 performance was definitely one he had on his plate. So there is that speculation to consider as well. Perhaps he felt like his work with the Bulldogs wasn't done yet. Perhaps his plans extended farther than the third round of the Calder Cup. Perhaps he wanted to take those 30+ records and add to them. Perhaps he quite simply wasn't ready to move on just yet.

Perhaps, like me, he abides by some pretty strong commitment principles.

You and I can dispute all the perhapses until we turn purple in the face. But there certainly isn't and end to this story, nor will there be until all the spots in the NHL and AHL are accounted for. And even afterwards. So buckle up.

What I did on my blogging vacation

...Well, I didn't get a truckload of hours at work like I would have liked. Oh well. I took a little bit of time off because I needed a little break from blogging, and recharge, so to speak. I didn't think it would be so lonely.

It would have been stupid to take a week or two off from the blog during the playoffs, so I waited until there were no more Habs of which to speak. Suddenly everything was very quiet. I even started to miss the scalpers on Avenue-des-Canadiens... yes, the scalpers. That's how bad it got. Heck, I even joined Twitter when I was supposed to be on a break - that, kids, is what we call "taking a page out of the Mike Cammalleri playbook."

I pretty much jumped at the first chances I got to do anything Habs-related: I stared in awe at game-used sticks and equipment at the end-of-season Habs Zone sale. I picked up some merch for myself. I laughed at the teenager and his mom who stared at skates, bewildered: "How are you supposed to know which ones are your size?" I combed my house for exact change for the South Shore buses on the first two days of development camp.

By the way, how does a development camp differ from a scouting combine?

So I hopped on the 90 bus, for the first time since last July, when I spent most of my bus ride on the phone, getting hired for my first real grownup job (which, despite the economy, I fortunately still have and love). But that's a story for another day.
It's a pretty nice bus ride, compared to the loud, hot, smelly, jerky STM buses

You'd think it had been months since there was live hockey in Montreal. ~czechtacular and I dressed for the occasion, chose our seats, and settled in, preparing for an afternoon with no cell reception or WiFi.

Best seats in the house

Considering that my knowledge of each of these prospects is somewhat limited, I spent most of my afternoons watching the drills as a form of hockey catharsis, having snacks, and snapping endless pictures of Kirk Muller. I don't know why.

ok, maybe I do know why. Who doesn't love Kirk?

We even had a Guy Boucher sighting despite reports that he'd miss camp on Tuesday due to "family matters." And by now, we've figured out that these family matters were in Ohio and that Rick Nash was probably Steve Urkel.

Boucher, pictured here with a pink-shirted Jacques Martin and an unidentified bald man

Kids, there's nothing like spending a hot summer day inside a cold arena and finding every opportunity to make a pun on "Hunter Bishop." And, to be honest, Tanner House too. You very narrowly escaped seeing a picture of House captioned "It's not lupus." (But maybe sometime in the future.)

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Next categories...

Pretty straightforward here. Who was the most valuable player for the entire balance of the season for the Montreal Canadiens? How about the Hamilton Bulldogs? Here's some of the reasoning behind HIHW's nominees:

Jaroslav Halak: Unless you've been living under a rock, we might get away with not having to explain this particular one.

Brian Gionta aka Superman: A leader in every game that he dressed in the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. His relentlessness and fiery attitude led to him having the most goals on the team despite being in only 61 regular-season games. Some of those goals we still don't believe went in.

Michael Cammalleri: Point-per-game ratio in the playoffs, another close-to-thirty goal scorer and another example of "imagine if he hadn't been injured," Cammy won the hearts of many with his proposal-goals and ridiculous amount of shot-taking (hey, if you don't shoot, it doesn't go in) second only to Gionta in this category.

Tomas Plekanec: Establishing career-highs and returning to his form of two years ago to lead the team when those who were injured...were injured, he was your consistent everyday numero uno centre who could account for himself defensively as well as offensively. know. BUT. It's worth noting that for all the flack he's getting now, he was still 4th in Habs' pointgetters in the playoffs with 11.

P.K. Subban: Reasons, let me show you them:
Single Season Plus/Minus - +46
Single Season Points by a Defenseman - 53
Single Season Goals by a Defenseman - 18
Single Season Assists by a Defenseman - 35 (tied)
Single Season Power Play Goals by a Defenseman - 11
Single Season Plus/Minus by a Defenseman - +46
Single Season Overtime Goals by a Defenseman - 1 (tied with Yannick Weber)
Shootout Game Winners by a Defenseman - 1 (tied with Shawn Belle)
Single Season Shootout Game Winners by a Defenseman - 1 (tied with Shawn Belle)

Brock Trotter and David Desharnais: The two were instrumental leaders for the Bulldogs, each coming off impressive 2008-09 campaigns. It's a little hard to name one without the other, because they both notched key goals in the regular season and playoffs. My scouting is a little remiss (aka purely statsheets minus a handful of regular-season games and the playoffs) but I have backups who are capable of elaborating on this if need be.

Cedrick Desjardins: Okay, so he had help in a pretty decent supporting cast, but he established records of his own in wins and shutouts. He made the All-Star squad, and with Curtis Sanford formed a goaltending tandem to be jealous of, registering a 2.00 GAA and .919 SV% for his part in the regular season. None too shabby.