Last night, I painted a metaphorical picture of Maple Leafs’ defenceman Francois “Happy Trails” Beauchemin and his bulky blueline brethren as each being rather like a rampaging Godzilla, treating the opposition like so many unfortunate stomped-upon movie extras. Today, Brian Burke brought us a real live Monster; the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one year entry-level contract. For those of you who are heavily medicated, have severe brain injuries, or are Ottawa Senators fans, I will explain slowly and carefully: the nice man who used to wear the yellow and blue hockey sweater has a funny nickname – that’s a name that isn’t his real name, but which people use to refer to him anyway – and that nickname is “Monster”. Yes, that’s right, just like Jason Spezza is known as “Giggles” except, you know, about 100 bajillion times cooler.
No doubt Don Cherry will rant that the Leafs have blasphemed by signing a foreign Monster, when good Canadian beasts like Ogopogo or Champ can’t catch a break in the NHL. Cryptozoological curiosities aside, however, I am very much encouraged by today’s news. Not only the Toronto Maple Leafs, but indeed society at large will enjoy many advantages as a result of this development. In an effort to foster reasoned, objective and complete debate about all of the many wide-ranging positive ramifications of this acquisition, Heroes in Rehab: the blog has developed the following Monster quick-reference fact sheet:
Benefits of The Monster: a preliminary (but holistic and societal) estimate:
FACT: Unless my old Dungeons & Dragons papers have gotten mixed up with these scouting reports, the Toronto Maple Leafs are now the only NHL club whose goaltender shoots left, catches left, and has a fiery breath weapon that does 8d10 damage. Note: simple chronic halitosis doesn’t count as a “breath weapon”, or Henrik Lundqvist (who presumably eats rather a lot of lutefisk) might have qualified here. Gustavsson’s fiery cone of destruction is advantageous because the repeated immolation of Ottawa Senators forwards on national television, in additon to being profoundly entertaining, will teach young children not to crash the crease irresponsibly unless they are willing to man up and make a saving throw with 2d10 or (in the alternative) are impervious to fire. Wait; come to think of it, I might be slightly confused about this one.
FACT: Sports headline writers throughout the mainstream media learned of this signing today and instantly burst into tears of joy. They immediately saw that (as a result of the off-the-charts pun potential of Gustavsson’s nickname) they could seriously elevate the already considerable level at which they are just fucking mailing in their work, and that this profound apathy can reliably be expected to continue until the end of Monster’s contract year or until newspapers themselves become officially extinct, whichever comes first. In any case, the world has thus been spared the possibility of these ink-stained wretches having to actually work, becoming unhappy, and going postal on a Mickey D’s while screaming incoherently about not being able to come up with any new foliage-related bon mots.
FACT: Rodan and Mothra are now 38% less likely to attack and destroy the Air Canada Centre during a Leaf game – which is good for MLSE and its shareholders, mostly for insurance reasons. Oh, and also, there is also some non-financial (but still desirable for MLSE anyway) benefit to the fact that 18,000 Leaf fans won’t be slaughtered in their seats by giant prehistoric monsters bent on destruction. This is also good for beer sales.
FACT: In an unusual move, the National Hockey League will prohibit Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa from even entering the building if and when Jonas Gustavsson is present. This ruling comes as a result of the Brian Berard incident in 2000; apparently, the league is worried that Hossa’s casual approach to stick control might cause a similar injury to the Toronto goaltender. The NHL is determined to avoid the significant embarrassment and notoriety resulting from the inevitable subsequent references to the “One-Eyed Monster” in net for Toronto. The league is reported to be extremely concerned about one nightmare scenario in which a wounded and monocular Gustavsson plays poorly and is replaced during the game, in which case the wags would no doubt scandalously be talking about Ron Wilson pulling the One-Eyed Monster.¹
FACT: It’s 2009 and there’s a worldwide recession in full swing, people. Except that now MLSE has the Monster and cross-promotional marketing and advertising opportunities abound! New Leaf sponsors are expected to include monster.com (hey, I hear they’re so good, they even got Andrew Raycroft a new job – playing hockey!), Monster cable (I suspect somehow related to the washrooms in the ACC), Monster trucks (ACC Zambonis, suitably modified, clear the ice and crush surplus Chevy Cavaliers at centre ice during the intermissions), and the occasional monster movie (Aliens vs. Predators on the ACC Jumbotron at intermission with Gustavsson in goal for the Leafs against Nashville, naturally). Result: Jonas Gustavsson single-handedly saves the global economy.
Some will tell you that Gustavsson’s signing is a good one because it gives Brian Burke and the Leafs some depth and flexibility at the goaltending positon with Justin Pogge still apparently developing in the AHL. Some may say that it should have the desirable result, via the natural engine of pre-existing national rivalries and competition for employment, of spurring Finland’s Vesa Toskala to greater achievements in Toronto’s twine tent this season. Should Gustavsson prove himself equal to the job of an NHL starter, some may even say that this signing might provide Brian Burke with the ability to trade a (hopefully) rejuvenated Toskala for some scoring depth at forward while simultaneously retaining the mobile, offensively gifted and musically beloved Tomas Kaberle. This latter achievement, of course, would be the stick and puck managerial equivalent of the loaves and fishes miracle and would legally entitle Brian Burke to slap every other NHL GM in the face whenever he wanted, just for shits and giggles. These are among the various benefits that some hockey analysts will identify in relation to the Jonas Gustavsson signing.
But you know better, gentle reader. You know that the real benefit has to do with breath weapons, economic recovery and a significantly reduced risk of annihilation by rampaging mutant dinosaurs.
¹Critics will tell you this was a very long way to go for a dick joke, but I stand by my artistic decision-making process.