Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank you, Game Points listeners.

This has been one hell of a hockey season. Now that it's winding down, I won't have much to flail about on the Team 990 airwaves.

You won't be hearing me on Game Points, at least not for a little while. I'll be using my Tuesday nights to enjoy the summer weather, indulge the side of me that loves movies, and maybe learn about this baseball thing at my own pace. I know that our show has listeners who keep the radio on while they watch sports on mute, and I never knew how they could multitask like that. I'm looking forward to trying that out. We'll see if I succeed.

My first seven months of radio have been great. Without Game Points, I'd still be completely lost when it comes to legit sports talk. You know, the kind where the Habs' goalie is always called "Price" and never "Carey." I'm only now a little bit lost. It was obvious from the get-go that Matthew, Trex, and Moe would teach me more than I could teach them, so I tried to learn as much as I could.

And I can definitely say that I learned a lot. If it weren't for all the research and preparation I made myself do for Game Points, I wouldn't have the New York Jets. I don't think I would have watched as much NBA basketball as I did (which would have been a damn shame in The Year Of Blake Griffin). I can almost pronounce "Dan Hamhuis" properly now. And I'm slowly getting over my nerves and that crazy fear I have of the sound of my own voice. Plus, it was nice to have had three more people to ask about sports stuff, who weren't afraid to ask me about things either. It felt pretty good to school the guys on things they didn't yet know about.

Most importantly, I have a lot of people to thank for my beginnings on the radio. All the great people I met at the station, especially the guys I was on air with. The awesome guests who gave us their precious time and were more than happy to answer my questions. The friends who helped me prep for the show. And, of course, everyone who listened to and participated in the show regardless of how late we were on.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, your patience, and your support. Let's talk soon!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Plus/Minus: It's almost over, already?

I think I might hate the playoffs.

At first I was in denial about all this, just happy to watch such great hockey and take my bad-luck Josh Gorges T-shirt out of mothballs. But now there's only two teams and one playoff series left, and that's it. No more hockey. I don't like this one bit. But I digress...

+ I saw a profile of Roberto Luongo on RAI last week. (RAI, by the way, is probably the biggest TV channel in Italy.) I know, it's basically just Italians patting themselves on the back for the success of their emigrants, but the interviews were pretty good. It felt like more than just a fluff piece, and it was cool to see something hockey-related on Italian TV. Trust me, that doesn't happen every day.
+ Guy Boucher. I don't know how often we can give this man a Plus, but we look forward to finding out next season. He knows exactly how to run his team, and he isn't scared of anything.
+ Patrick Marleau has been on fire this round. I guess Jeremy Roenick should criticize players more often, if it means they start producing like Marleau did this round.
+ The Under Armour commercial featuring, of all people, Tyler Seguin. He's one of the few Bruins that I don't completely hate and wish dull skates upon, but I never would have pegged him for a total badass.

+ Speaking of badass, Steven Stamkos didn't even seem to care that his face got cut open during Game 7.
+ Ryan Kesler was injured in Game 5, and still scored a last-minute (literally) game-tying goal, which led to a series-winning OT. Can they please start mass-producing this man?
+ Uh, Teddy Purcell? You're awesome.
+ Okay, okay, I begrudgingly congratulate Nathan Horton on his series-winning goal skills. But I still don't like his face.

- I miss the Hamilton Bulldogs already. (But I'm proud that they forced a Game 7 after being down 3-0 in the series.)
- I think I might have seen a couple of people on Twitter making "Sedin sisters" jokes. Still? Really? Morons.
- Nathan Horton gets a Minus to go with his Plus: I probably wouldn't nitpick about this if he weren't a Bruin and there were more teams left in the race, but he should leave the fans alone. What's with the water-squirting and stuff?

One round left. I know not everyone is happy to see the Bruins and Canucks in the Finals, but let's enjoy the hockey while there are still games to watch.

Monday, May 23, 2011

If Hockey Were A Telenovela...

So I've been watching more telenovelas than usual lately. (Don't ask why.) I don't know how Latin America does it, but they've somehow blended soap operas and sitcoms, and struck gold. You don't even need to fully understand Spanish to enjoy them! There are slaps to the face, ultra-dramatic closeups, appearances by people that I'm assuming are famous singers, and middle-aged women in completely age-inappropriate outfits. I'm enjoying telenovelas so much that some days, I have to stop myself from starting every question I write with an upside-down question mark. ¿Verdad? ¡Si!

I've even started thinking about what it would be like if hockey was a telenovela.

As with any narrative - and you should all know by now that I see sports as a narrative, rather than a bunch of stats or however it is most of you see it - there are archetypes. You'd be hard-pressed to write a telenovela (or even a gringo soap opera) without a few key characters.

THE VICTIM. There's always that character whose parents were poisoned the day before his wedding to a girl who only wanted his money, or that character who was raped by her boyfriend's brother and then shamed in court because no one believes her story except her boyfriend, whose wife is pregnant. The Victim's life is just one awful misfortune after another. There are a few guys like that in, including our own Max Pacioretty. This season was one thing after another for poor Pac, whether it was something he said, something he did, or something that injured him. You want soap opera drama? Just think of what people said for a week after Max lay on the ice, unconscious, after a stanchion pushed him into Zdeno Chara. However, unlike your average telenovela victim, Pac was never a one-man pity party. But we as fans gladly picked up that torch and made ourselves heard.

THE TEENAGER. Everyone on telenovelas has a huge personality and a crazy appearance to go with it. (Seriously, these people dress like prostitutes on early 90's sitcoms.) And, obviously, there are enough disagreements to go around. But it seems like the emotional teenagers have it worse than the grownups. There's usually a teenager on every telenovela who talks a little louder than everyone else, has a really wacky sense of style, and gets no respect from their elders. Does that sound like PK Subban to you? Young, energetic, snappy dresser, constantly being shut down by adults who think they know better but don't necessarily act like it?

THE BITCH. You'll see this character in lots of gringo soap operas as well, because you can't have drama without a pre-menopausal, ultra-wealthy superbitch. She runs things. She's a master manipulator. She ruins lives for no reason at all. Heck, in a couple of telenovelas this character flat-out killed people for money or personal satisfaction. Everyone hates her and yet no one can take her down. If she were a man a very small man, she'd be Bettman.

THE MONSTER. A telenovela isn't complete without a guy who's nothing but bad. He's committed about as many crimes as you can name, but he rarely sees the consequences of his actions. If you hate him (and you most likely do), you have absolutely no idea how anyone can like him. And that, at least to me, sounds an awful lot like Zdeno Chara. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Habs fan whose respect for Chara outweighs their disgust.

It's a shame the hockey drama is winding down. I've learned all these fabulous Spanish insults, and I'm not sure if I have enough time to use them all before the Stanley Cup finds a new home.

Holiday links

A new post is in the works, I promise! I've been slaving away for this whole Victoria Day, doing various hockey writing related activities. I didn't even have time to go out and buy the deceased Queen a birthday card or a P.K. Subban jersey or anything.

Queen Victoria, pictured here saluting her fans at the end of a successful hockey season
In the meantime, please enjoy the most recent work by all of our blogger friends. Links are on the sidebar, in case you haven't noticed it. (Which you should.)

Or, have a look at a Facebook profile that I'm 100% sure is not Mike Cammalleri. (Be sure to read his bio.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An oddly timed second-round Plus Minus

I'm apparently terrible at writing my post-playoff Plus/Minuses on time. What should I even write about? These teams aren't the Habs.

+ Repeating myself already, and I haven't written anything yet. I already congratulated the Tampa Bay Lightning on sweeping the Capitals. I'm saying it again.  As much as I like Washington, it was a relief to see them lose to a HIHW-approved team and coach.
+ What a great round for goalies, including but not limited to Niemi and Roloson, who did everything their teams needed them to do. (I remember wondering why Steve Yzerman decided to buy Roloson back in January. I don't wonder that anymore.)
+ Hell of a series between San Jose and Detroit. Just when it seemed like nothing could top the first round of the playoffs, the second-round matchups proved to be a perfect fit.
+ Devin Setoguchi was something else this round.

- The Canadiens weren't in this round.
- It's really a shame that we've seen the last of Shea Weber's beard. I'm sure Paul Mara shed a tear for it when Nashville lost Game 6.
- Dear Philadelphia Flyers: Wow, you must really hate Montreal if you couldn't even win one game to avenge us.
- Dear Daniel Carcillo: I know that guys say really gross things when they're talking in private, but when you say something on a public forum, you have to watch yourself.

- Because I can't write this post without saying this: We're sending prayers and condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Derek Boogaard. What a shocking, unjust death. No one should die that young. 

Hopefully the next Plus/Minus will end on a more positive note.
Best of luck to the four teams still in the race for the Stanley Cup.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Host with the... most?

It was announced today that Jay Mohr was tapped to host the NHL Awards for the second year in a row. Not gonna lie, this news is a little surprising... And I'm saying this as a person who actually kind of likes Jay Mohr. (We're a rare breed.)

Now, I know that the NHL Awards will never be as flashy or as entertaining as all of the "real" awards shows I know and love, but why not at least try? Whoever's planning this usually gets it wrong at some point. They should either try to be boring but very classy (like a Kennedy Center Honors), or just go nuts and be entertaining at any cost (like an MTV Awards ceremony). Right now, the NHL Awards are kind of like what I imagine the People's Choice Awards would be like if I watched them: The nominees and speeches are just this side of lame, but not so boring that they cancel the show altogether. (It's just that viewers never get the OMGsuper-exciting!!! telecast they were promised.) I'll be honest: I'm going to make some suggestions about how to improve the show, but I'll watch it regardless, because there will be hockey players in suits.

Just for fun, let's have a look at who could have hosted this instead:

What, you had a year to plan this year's show and you couldn't book Denis Leary? The man lives and breathes sports, he's engaging, and he can be bitingly hilarious. He'd be perfect. (Also, I recently found out that he's related to Conan O'Brien. It's win-win-win!)

Dean Winters recently returned to 30 Rock. You're telling me we couldn't get him onstage in character as Dennis Duffy wearing a variety of hockey jerseys? He could try to sell a beeper to Gordie Howe!

Las Vegas is full of celebrity impersonators, or at least that's what it looks like on TV. I'm sure if we look hard enough and sift through a sea of fake Elvises, Lucille Balls, and Kardashian sisters, we'll eventually find someone who gets paid to look and sound just like Gary Bettman.

Or why not hire from within? A former NHL star like Marc Messier loves the sound of applause. A former NHL star like Jeremy Roenick loves the sound of his own voice. As long as you don't lose track of Paul Bissonnette the instant he steps off a plane in Vegas, he'd make a great host. It might not be a family-friendly telecast but what's funnier than a current NHL star who spends most of his time on the bench emceeing a show honouring hockey's best and most productive?

I've got a few ideas bouncing around about this awards show. Maybe the NHL forgot that they have a crazy TV fan to deal with.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A long overdue Plus/Minus

You know your first-round Plus/Minus is really late when two of the second-round series are already over. Uh, blame it on the grief?
I'm guessing that a simple "I'm sorry" won't suffice, so I'll try to make up for it by posting really cool links when I find them. Like, say, pictures of goalies drinking water.

It's mine, all mine!
+ Very few players were more exciting in Round 1 of the playoffs than PK Subban. And that's saying something.
+ Carey Price. What else is there to say?
+ Really nice to see so many hockey players joining Twitter in an attempt to connect with fans before and during the playoffs: Yannick Weber, Mathieu Darche, Brian Gionta, and Ryan O'Byrne (I still sort of miss him, okay?).
+ Ryan White is great in the playoffs, both as a Hab and a Bulldog.
+ Paul Mara's beard. And Shea Weber's beard.
We didn't make this, but we wish we did
+ Congratulations to Guy Boucher and his Tampa Bay Lightning for sweeping the Capitals. I loved watching that series. I think it was also the first time in all these (few) seasons of watching hockey that I wasn't a little disappointed to see Washington eliminated from the playoffs.
+ A Plus for Jonathan Toews, Alex Burrows and all the players who made Game 7 between the Blackhawks and Canucks so damn exciting.
+ I guess Carey Price gets an extra Plus for his cowboy hat and his Rolling Stones shirt.

If people could be arrested for stupidity, I would.
- Uh, Glenn Healy? What was with that "A Danish is something you get at a coffee shop" comment? It was ignorant and unfunny, and I can't believe I saw you in person two days after you made it and didn't find the closest overpriced Bell Centre beer to pour over your head.
- Nathan Horton's face.
- I was proud of Milan Lucic for most of the first round, I really was, until like a typical Bruin he ruined things. I was all ready to congratulate him on not killing any Habs defencemen, and then he went and hurt Spacek.
- It's 2011 and yet there are boorish Bruins fans out there who had the most disgusting things to say against both PK Subban and the city of Montreal. I'm not going to repeat them, or even link to them, because I can't bear to read them again.
- On a more serious note, as much as I dislike the Bruins, I can't help but wish Patrice Bergeron a full recovery from this concussion.