Thursday, June 30, 2011

July 1st Wish List

I'm a simple girl. I don't ask for much.
Okay, that's a lie. If I could, I'd buy myself boats and unicorns and expensive handbags. But when it comes to tomorrow's free agent market, I don't think I'm asking for too much.

I want James T. Wyman to stay in the Habs' organization.

I want Pierre Gauthier and Josh Gorges to make this official, already.

I want Brad Richards to decide where he'll play next season quickly. Remember how Ilya Kovalchuk ate up the better part of last year? I do not want that.

The LA Kings have already made me reach for the wine and turn up The Trade Playlist. Please, general managers, no more heartbreak.

I do not want Jaromir Jagr to come to Montreal.

I want to see all of my former young Habs find good homes. Ryan O'Byrne just agreed to two more seasons in Colorado. Matt D'Agostini should be sticking around in St. Louis. I hope there's a team with space for Kyle Chipchura, Greg Stewart, or Shawn Belle.

I want good homes for all this season's Habs who'll be moving on. Yes, even Tom Pyatt.

Oh, and I don't want to hear the kind of rumours that are so crazy they could be true. I'm still recovering from that rumoured Jarred Tinordi for Dustin Penner trade, okay?

Happy Canada Day. May you all have many Timbits.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm Happy I'm Not A GM

I've done an awful lot of ragging on general managers lately, from impatiently waiting for a new contract for Josh Gorges, to my tirades about Paul Holmgren's insanity.

But I just realized something: I can't criticize their work, because I know I'd never be able to do it. I've never been able to call a coach an idiot because I know they know more about coaching hockey than I ever could. (Case in point: Jacques Martin, as much as we love/hate him, won a Memorial Cup before I was even born.) But somehow, being the eternal rookie that I am, I never realized that I should apply the same logic to GMs.

I may hate the way they seem to treat players as commodities, but maybe they do too. All they do is make decisions - it's the backbone of their profession. They have control over who stays and who goes, who needs to look for a new job and a new home and who gets to stick around, surrounded by an ever-changing cast of teammates. They decide how much money someone deserves to make, and they have to own up to their decisions. Every move they make will be criticized by fans and analysts alike. One too many poor decisions or unfortunate twists of fate and they're fired.

It's too much planning, too much decision-making, too much stress. I'm so glad I'm not in a general manager's shoes this week. It must be awful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thank you, Kirk

So, we're losing our Kirk Muller to the AHL.
Not gonna lie, we all knew this day would come but that doesn't make saying goodbye any easier.

Looking at Kirk, a Stanley Cup winner turned assistant coach, reminded us of the Canadiens' pedigree as the greatest team in anything, ever. (As if we needed reminding. But humour us here.) I also loved how Welcome Back, Kotter this was: Kirk was assistant to two other important, Cup-winning Habs players. It was a testament to just how great he is.

I've loved watching Muller work with players at practices and development camps. I don't know if all assistant coaches do this, but he led the players without any pretense of power. He treated them as equals, explaining every drill and staying on the ice to help them out. He'll make a great head coach. Too bad he's too nice to hate irrationally as soon as something goes wrong with the team - maybe he'll never come back to Montreal as a head coach for exactly that reason.

I miss him already.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Plus/Minus wraps up for the season

This was supposed to be my Stanley Cup Final Plus/Minus. But then everything happened.

+ All the great citizens of Vancouver who got together and cleaned up their city after the riots.
+ Ryan Kesler for trying to play his ass off in the Stanley Cup Final, even though he was obviously injured.
+ Dear Jon Hamm: Thank you for showing up at the NHL Awards, and then calling Tim Thomas' mustache a "modifed Ron Swanson."
+ Andrei Kostitsyn, Mathieu Darche, Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Andrei Markov (!) are all re-upped for next year. AK and Darche for one year, Pac and Desharnais for two, and Marky for three - does this mean Josh Gorges will sign for at least 4 years? Someone please say yes.

- All the idiots in Vancouver who thought it was a good idea to destroy the city. I know not everyone who was there is at fault, but take it from a Montrealer: Riots are never a good idea.
- I've seen worse hits than the one on Nathan Horton, but what was Aaron Rome even thinking? Hitting someone like that in the Stanley Cup Final is never a good idea.
- You all know how I feel about all these Philadelphia trades. Drafting Sean Couturier didn't help.
- Devin Setoguchi JUST signed a new contract with the Sharks. And got traded just over 24 hours later. Why? And can they un-trade him?
- (Last minute addition) Oh, and my last warning to people STILL saying "Sedin sisters" wasn't enough? Seriously. You're just being an idiot. Stop. Or please watch some other sport.

Wow, this entire Plus/Minus could have turned into a Weekend Update-style "Really?!?" I'm not sure how I restrained myself.
Looks like this offseason won't be as boring as most people expected it to be.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's always spiteful in Philadelphia

I forgot that those "What DIDN'T happen today?" days could happen in June.

So the Flyers take away Columbus' Jakub Voracek and give them Jeff Carter, who I don't like precisely because he's a Philadelphia Flyer. But he didn't make Team Canada without being good at hockey, so this might actually be good for the Jackets. Do I stick to my stubborn guns or swallow my pride? Is this how Columbus reacts to being pushed aside last season in favour of the more exciting LA Kings? It was like your favourite indie band selling out and putting a song on some superhero movie soundtrack, but the song isn't terrible, and you don't know what to think of them anymore.
Oh, but then Philadelphia wasn't finished messing with what could have been a fabulously productive day. No, why would they be? I'm going to look up the name of the Flyers' GM (I don't know it because I really couldn't care less about the guy) then find him on Facebook or something and give him a piece of my mind.
(Paul Holmgren, eh? Well, get ready for a strongly worded email, Paul.)

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Mike Richards. He's my age but he looks and acts like he's someone's dad, and that is not to be taken as a compliment. (Not in this instance. But I know lots of great dads, including my own, who are much better people than Mike Richards.) I'm also confused whenever teams trade away their captains, unless they really don't want the guy as captain anymore for some terrible reason. (Maybe I'm just too loyal to captains.) But, whatever, even though the Flyers built Mike Richards and thus deserve him, they decided to put him up for trade. 
And, of course, to spite me, they go after the Los Angeles Kings, who I'm having a not-so-secret flirtation with. So, yeah, in some cruel twist of fate, we'll all get to see Mike Richards in a Kings jersey next year, and not in a "dump a bucket of pig's blood on him at the prom" kind of way. Remember when Richards went off about P.K. Subban and rookies and respect and stuff? The Kings are in the middle of a renaissance, aided in part by all these draft picks and prospects. He's either going to teach them something or turn into a whiny old man really fast.

At least Brayden Schenn will be spared of potential rookie-bashing? Nope, there's no bright side to this.
To make matters worse, Wayne Simmonds is a Philadelphia Flyer. I love Simmonds. I don't love the Flyers. This does not compute. There have been rumours of Simmonds trades for a while now, and I was really hoping he'd stay put. Or maybe be traded to the Habs, because who doesn't want a fast, aggressive, threatening goal-scorer? Instead, he was taken away from a team that I love and sent to the Flyers. And I already know that he'll make a great Flyer, and I'll have to watch him be a great Flyer four times this year against my Habs.

It hurts.

So in one day, Philly poached two players Czechtacular loves and two players I love from the Western Conference. Nope. The Flyers aren't doing anything to make me like them.

Unless this whole Wayne Simmonds thing pans out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What I did immediately after the Bruins won yesterday

So, yeah, the Bruins won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and it was obvious for most of the game that they were going to win it. But I was still upset when it happened.
This is how I reacted: (Nothing is time-stamped, as I was too angry to notice what time it was.)

Realized that this is the end of the hockey season. And THAT was how it ended.

Tried not to look at the TV, but I couldn't help myself.

Contemplated telling the bartender to "just bring me the whole bottle."

Briefly looked at the TV, thinking that the sight gag of Chara standing (on skates) next to Bettman would make me laugh. I did not laugh.

Tried to avoid seeing Roberto Luongo, knowing that in that moment our faces looked exactly the same.

Made awful attempts to distract Czechtacular as the camera turned to Mark Recchi.

Had a "glove malfunction" when Andrew Ference touched the Cup.

Realized that this whole "Not looking at the TV" thing wasn't working. Just kept shouting.

Made plans to meet up with a friend (the lovely Laura from The Active Stick, which I know you read) for lunch to eat junk food and/or throw things.

Took out my camera and looked at pictures of things that should cheer me up: My cat. My favourite hockey players. My boyfriend. Paul Mara's Beard. My tiny cousin in his Habs pyjamas. My visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, back when the Chicago Blackhawks were still the Stanley Cup champions.

Remembered how happy I was for the Blackhawks a year ago. How proud I was of Toews. How many wacky, emotional tweets I wrote that night. How little I cared about the Stanley Cup victory that was unfolding in my own country.

Luckily, even my angry tweets made people laugh:
I genuinely meant it.
Left the downtown pub I was at and passed Centennial Plaza, where a gaggle of Bruins fans were doing whatever it is that Bruins fans do.

Tried to fall asleep as soon as I got home. Couldn't.

Wiped away a few tears. Vowed to start removing my mascara before bed.

Checked my Twitter feed and saw that things had gone from bad to worse in Vancouver.

Thought about the riots and another bit of bad news I'd received that morning. Reminded myself that there are worse things in life than watching my rival hockey team win the Stanley Cup.

Woke up this morning with a headache.

How many days until training camp?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top 5: Reasons Hockey Beats The Grand Prix

Grand Prix weekend is a pretty big deal in Montreal, in case you didn't know. There are tourists and parties and sports cars and oysters all over the place. And what brings them to this city? A car race.

A car race.

Yes, really. A car race.

Guys driving cars around a track a bunch of times. In what is apparently a sport, and not just a poorly edited reality-competition show.


Top 5 Reasons Why Hockey Beats 
The Grand Prix

The human element. I know that racecar drivers sweat a lot on the track and that car races require a lot of mental acuity. You know what else is a mental game that makes you sweat a lot? Hockey. Everything that probably makes car races exciting is present in a good hockey game, plus so much more. Hockey requires both strategy and intense physical work. It's fast. It's unpredictable. And it's not about cars: it's about people in direct competition with each other, aided only by sticks and skates.

It sounds better.
What you hear during a hockey game: Skates slicing the surface of the ice. Players yelling at each other. Pucks hitting goalposts. Fans cheering like there's no tomorrow.

The rivalries are older and better. At least, I think they are. Look at how much animosity there is between Montreal and Boston, for instance. They're like the Montagues and Capulets. The reason why they started hating each other doesn't matter anymore because it happened so long ago. (I'm sure the Habs/Bruins origin story has been scrawled with a quill on a piece of parchment somewhere.) They'll probably never stop hating each other. I've never seen that in F1. No one ever advertises a race by spotlighting a long-standing rivalry between houses. It's always "This guy has won the most races so far! Will this be the week he's defeated by someone or other?" or "Look what city they're in this week! Okay, now look at the same racetrack for ten thousand laps!"


More accommodating schedules. A practice race on Saturday and a real race 24 hours later, and that's it. Really? If there are less than 3 games on in one night during the regular NHL season, it's a slow night. There's so much more to watch.

We don't waste champagne. Don't get me wrong, it looks like so much fun to shake a bottle of champagne and spray everyone in sight with it, but it happens at the end of every F1 race. It's probably old hat to guys like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel. Only one out of 30 NHL teams gets a post-victory champagne party, and it happens once a season after months of work. They're athletes, not rappers. A celebration should mean something, and not just be another part of that week's festivities.

(Sidebar: No one ever gives racecar drivers any grief for partying. What's up with that?)

So, thank you, F1, for all the tourism revenue, the movie stars, the camera angles that make the beach on Ile Ste. Helene look really fancy, and the opportunity to hear Pierre Houde's voice during the summer. But I'll stick with my hockey.