Last week, I shared with you The Maple Leafs Song, my homage to Adam Sandler and truculence.
In honour of the commencement of the 2010-2011 NHL Regular Season tonight, I give you once again, The Maple Leafs Song – now with BRAND NEW VIDEO GOODNESS! (I learned that last bit from a marketing guy).
Spouse and I have the third installment of our pre-natal classes tonight; class begins riiiiiiiiiiiight around the time that the puck will be dropping. I believe this was purposely arranged to reinforce for me the concept that very soon, I will never again be able to watch the Leafs, or indeed anything else I’m interested in, on TV in an uninterrupted fashion.
I will be PVR’ing the game, so friends and family can expect that I will be entering a strictly enforced zone of radio, telephone, television and Internet silence, so that I may enjoy the game without knowing its outcome. Don’t expect to convese with me in this time period, it ain’t gonna happen unless you’re sitting on the couch next to me. And even then, I’m not making any promises.
My thoughts will also be with the various gatherings of PPP users assembling at pubs, watering holes and anywhere there’s a free TV to watch the first game together. Cheers, y’all, I’m with you in spirit.
HiR:tb has obtained exclusive photographic evidence of one such positive development in Lower Canada: a picture showing some of the extensive refurbishing that’s been done to the Bell Centre since early July.
Can’t wait to see that new equipment put into action when the Lollipop Guild needs a line change. In the meantime, Habs fans despairing of the future of their club should remember this:
Bring your kid to a Habs game this year; there’s a decent chance Gainey will sign him to a 6 million dollar contract and get him some time on the power play.
Thanks everybody for all your submissions – I think we’ve got to be getting close to 40 jokes or so now. Please keep ’em coming. I didn’t have much time to put into teh Intarwebs today, but this is my latest contribution to the list:
Educational opportunities abound: the moral of the Montreal Canadiens’ story is that having too many Molsons may make you small, soft and unable to score.
Was that a dick joke? I think it was!
Oh, and I thought of this one too:
Sponsorship dollars roll in as Gomez, Cammalleri and Gionta appear in ad campaign for world famous software manufacturer. Slogan: “We are Microsoft.”
Update: Monday July 13, 2009: Just phoned in by friend of the blog the Paris Goose:
Canadiens become official hockey team of the Walt Disney company; extensive retrofit of the “It’s a Small World” ride expected to include animated puppets wearing Brian Gionta jerseys.
…only instead of dollars, I’m begging for jokes. Oh, and I’m not trying to feed starving African children, I’m trying to ensure that we take the piss out of Habs fans. This shouldn’t be hard; it’s not like Gainey hasn’t given us material to work with.
Here’s where we’re at: 1/3 of the way there. Thirty four bits have been submitted. I can’t say “34 jokes”, because each one is, uh, “special”. You know, unique like a snowflake or a learning disabled child.
If you would permit me a couple of observations at this point:
I want to party with kidkawartha. Dude is nitroglycerin in a jar, man; crazy and scattered in a way that makes me feel naughty. Don’t go changin’ etc. etc. kid; and thanks for the multiple submissions. You are a man of great compassion.
Mirinov’s Nose. Read the submission (it’s comment #14 on this page). Defying convention, it refuses classification. I can’t decide whether it is the punk rock or experimental jazz of Habs jokes. I know that I liked it immediately, which suggests to me it’s more Social Distortion than John Zorn. You decide.
Not to denigrate any of the fine work submitted to date, but I feel as though we’re still striving to hit our stride on these. Consider the first 33 submissions akin to the pre-season and a Wednesday night in October against Atlanta; we played hard and all, but the competitive juices just weren’t flowing at maximum capacity. Well now it’s metaphorical November, bucko, and we all know what that means: time to bring your “a” game. I want all of you who previously offered submissions to review the tape, look at what you did right and take note of what you did wrong; then I want you to get out on that (still further extended) metaphorical ice and take your best shot. Or two. Or 66. At the Habs. Those of you who didn’t even show up to play? Get out there and show me what you can do.
I know it’s summer holidays ‘n all, but can somebody put the bat signal up for Godd Till and Kim Jorn, late of the Cox Bloc? First, everybody knows those boys can bring the sass, and sass is what this project is all about. Second, I feel like – karmically – they kind of owe it to the universe to participate in this exercise on account of this abomination, which (much like porn) makes Baby Jesus Cry. Contact Godd or Kim and tell them about the Project. Tell them the cool kids are doin’ it; they’ll get on board – just like teaching kids to smoke at daycare.
Chemmy. Vitriol + ridicule + hatred of the Habs. This is right up your alley, brother. I need more than one goal out of you if we’re going to win this thing.
Once again: your mission, should you choose to accept it (and you should choose to accept it): offer up something “positive” we can say about the Canadiens’ upcoming season. Leave your japes in the comments below.
Also – I’m collating all the submissions to date on to a single page – there should be a link to a “Project C’est Something Nice” page at the top left corner of your browser, near the links for home and aboot. You can click on the link at the top of the site’s homepage at any time to get to the complete list of well-wishery.
Lastly, I offer up my eighth submission to the project:
Exclusive, Unique Marketing Opportunity: the Habs can become the only NHL team to offer actual size Bobblehead Dolls.
But it has to be said that it is not just the Leafs’ good fortunes that have sparked the positive mojo; also playing a role in Leaf fans’ gleeful anticipation of the coming season are the disasters-in-waiting being presided over by Messrs. Murray and Gainey in Ottawa and Montreal respectively. It cannot be denied that a healthy dose of schadenfreude in relation to our divisional rivals’ struggles is spicing the Blue and White soup of excitement just so, turning this particular dish into a gourmet delicacy upon which the faithful are gratefully gorging themselves.
I can’t help but think that we owe our friends in Montreal and Ottawa a debt of gratitude for the enjoyment we’ve received from this most delicious and nourishing meal (trust me, I’m going somewhere with this). Accordingly, I have a proposal, set out in more detail at the end of this post, for a way in which we might show our appreciation for our rivals’ hospitality.
But first, a little refresher on the facts.
The Senators contributed the first ingredient or two to our delicious repast, first with Dany Heatley’s ridiculous team-chemistry destroying trade demand (followed up expertly by his refusal to waive his no-trade clause upon the conclusion of a trade agreement with Edmonton). Next came that delightfully flavourful moment at the draft, thankfully captured for posterity by TSN cameras and microphones, during which our angry Irish overlord produced, with the unwitting assistance of the beleagured Murray, the most astonishingly public gobsmacking in recorded history. Just a few days ago, Murray put the cherry on top of his part of this concoction, signing the chronically apathetic Alexei Kovalev to a contract so unbelievably lucrative that I originally assumed that the financial figures must have been reported for some reason in pesos.
These events, though, have in truth paled in significance when compared to the struggles of one Robert “Bob” Gainey, the manager of generalities in Montreal. On the heels of the “centennial” season that wasn’t, the laughable drive for 25 that ended up as a bug to the Bruins’ windshield and widespread public dissatisfaction with the Habs players (I’m looking at you, Carey Price) and management, Gainey gave Leaf fans another gift or two. In the early hours of free agency, Leafs fans were like disappointed children on Christmas morning (having opened a box containing Colton Orr when the Sedins had been expressly requisitioned of Santa Claus) but Gainey gave us something to focus on and deride: his trade for the enormous contract of a tiny underachieving centreman: Scott Gomez. The trade made no sense, even to Leaf fans, who are especially adept at attempting to piece together the demented and alleged logic underpinning the roster moves of our own organization; why would the Habs take on a massive salary, give up their best young prospect and get back so (literally) little player for their troubles? Just as the startled laughter began to fade over this move, along came the punch line: Gainey apparently designed and built a nuclear powered money-throwing machine that he immediately deployed to assist him in propelling currency at both Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, which currency the two gnome-like wingers quickly stuffed into their tiny pockets.
Then the Fun Train really got chugging along as the Leafs signed Mike Komisarek – a big part of the physical presence on the Montreal blueline – and Gainey fired his riposte, an overpayment for defenceman Jaroslav Spacek to the tune of $11.25 million. It was as if the spirit of a drunken, brain-injured John Ferguson Jr. had inhabited Gainey’s body, and (predictably) had begun rampaging through the Habs’ organization like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man, with nary a Ghostbuster in sight. Fans of the Blue and White couldn’t get enough of this poltergeist’s mischievous destruction.
Leaf fans have been wiping away tears of laughter ever since. Sure, Mike Cammalleri is a talented player, and the Leafs even wanted to sign him up to the hometown squad, but Mike Cammalleri is no Steve Austin; he just isn’t a Six Million Dollar Man. Gionta and Gomez were/are also vastly overpaid, but more amusingly – I don’t know if you’ve noticed this – they’re all rather diminutive. It occurred to Leaf Nation – and approximately 100% of the rest of humanity not pulling on the controls of the Hab machinery – that this might not be the best plan ever concocted for success in the National Hockey League.
Gentle reader, it’s a known fact that people can be cruel about such things. I am saddened to report that some among the Leaf fans gathered at Pension Plan Puppets even succumbed to their lesser nature and fashioned a jest or two thousand premised upon the central organizing conceit that Montreal Canadiens forwards, this coming season, might be somewhat smaller than average. I have even heard the occasional jape fashioned around the notion that Alexei Kovalev might not exhibit the sort of leadership that even, say for example, a fourth grade hall monitor might. Shocking and misguided, I know.
Watching the whole series of events unfold in the Twitterverse, I’ve started to get the feeling that Habs fans were feeling a little down about the whole thing (side note: is there a collective term for Canadiens fans? Is there a “Habs Nation” or are we just sticking with “that bunch of fickle pricks chanting `na na na na’ and singing fucking soccer songs”? Yeah, I thought so.) I started to wonder whether, in the spirit of good karma, we Leaf fans ought not to pitch in to cheer the fuckers up. I got to thinking about the many ways that the Leafs’ free agent signings had improved the general welfare of the universe and it occurred to me that there MUST be something positive, from a wider societal perspective, to say about the Montreal transactions (we know they’re no damn good in terms of improving their chances of winning hockey games, that’s for sure).
As for Senators fans, well they’re a bit different. The thing about the Sens fans is, bless their little hearts, they don’t understand how totally screwed their team is. They have, to put it mildly, a problem. I have a suggestion about how to help fix that for them (watch this space in the coming days), but – for now – the immediate concern is our depressed friends in the bleu, blanc et rougechandails.
So here’s my proposal.
To thank the Montreal Canadiens and their fans for the part they played in cheering us Leaf fans up, I propose that we come up with a series of 100 simple statements (one for each year in this, the REAL centennial) about the state of the Canadiens’ franchise along the lines of a positive affirmation for our friends. Each statement should delineate some beneficial feature of the Habs’ present predicament that represents a silver lining in the storm clouds gathering over the Bell Centre, along the lines of the model set out below. Let’s collect a hundred such statements (remember, it’s their centennial), package them up with a nice bow, and send them off to our friends at Habs Eyes on the Prize with our compliments; after all, they’ve been so supportive of us during the last few difficult years, I truly feel this is the absolute least we can do.
Here’s my first contribution to Project “C’est Something Nice!”:
In the future, the Montreal Canadiens will be leaders in the field of hockey equipment innovation and research: the Buster Brown shoe company, for example, will be retained to design and manufacture special “right-sized” skates for the Habs’ forwards.
Feel free to leave your own efforts in the comments below. Let’s make this happen, Leaf fans – I know you have this kind of compassion in your souls.
Update, Thursday July 9 8:30 p.m.: Well, folks, we’ve only managed to gather together an even dozen zingers so far. Quite frankly, that’s a Kovalev-ian effort, dammit. We are far, far…erm….”short” of our goal of a century of zingers soothing mottos to package up for the burning cop car/broken windows at the depanneur set. I know there are some of you who have more love to give. Maybe you’re uncertain whether your first attempt at soothing the Gallic pain will hit the mark; no problem, leave a couple of attempts in the comments below. Let’s work this bee-yatch up, yo.
My second contribution to the project:
Corporate cash cow: sales of official Montreal Canadiens “game-used booster chairs” expected to skyrocket in 2009 – 2010 season.
Nb: I am cross-posting this article to both my own site and Pension Plan Puppets; I spent a lot of time working on this, and it occurred to me that if Jammies or Sexypants accidentally pushed the wrong “deletify” button over there at PPP, I might lose the whole thing. So here ’tis:
Here’s the lowdown on the must-see command performance of the season: Brian Burke goes to work at the trade deadline.
Artist’s rendering: Burke demonstrating how to do a proper hernia exam.
This year, for Leaf fans, there is one command performance that we are all waiting to see. Strangely, the exhibition we’re awaiting will not be given by any skater dashing up the ice with stick and puck. Rather, the demonstration of skill and excellence we await will be accomplished in an office using phone, fax and email.
Our angry Irish overlord is the only truly high-priced, blue-chip quality talent that we have in Maple Leaf blue and white this year. In truth, everything that has happened with the players on the ice to date this NHL season is but prelude to that which is about to unfold before our eyes. Burke’s handling of Pogge, his resolution of the Sundin situation, the acquisition of Brad May, the waivers of Stralman and Bell – all of these matters were mere preparation for the Bellicose One.
The eyes of Leaf Nation are upon Brian Burke at the trade deadline.
I bought the Toronto Maple Leafs today. No, really, and although the Maple Leafs I own will never win the Stanley Cup, I’m just as happy as can be. Just to fit in with the previous owners, I told the first guy I met on the street today, “you’re fired.” I also raised the price of beer – formerly free in the paradise that is Juniorvania – to $18 a pop – and you’ll be lining up to use the bathroom at my place from now on, too. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, I promptly forgot everything I ever knew about hockey and have instead begun following the Market quotes rather obsessively.
Okay, seriously, what’s this all about?
Some of the regulars over at Pension Plan Puppets are having some good-natured fun at the expense of fans of other NHL teams. There’s a new reference site about hockey being set up called, oddly enough, hockeyreference.com. That site has a page for every NHL player, team and coach. Evidently, the good people at hockeyreference.com would like to bank a little coin to pay for all the server space being devoted to such arcana instead of hosting Second Life netizens; accordingly, they have set things up to allow regular folk like you and me to sponsor the page of their choice. Sponsorship entitles the rights holder to inscribe upon the page a caption for all to behold, as well as to insert a link of the sponsor’s choice.
Interested fans of many teams are scooping up the rights to their various principal nemesises (can that word be plural?) and posting appropriately scathing tributes to their targets. Thus, Caps fans have taken care of Jaromir Jagr; choosing not to overthink the prank, the not-so-huge fans of their former captain at Japer’s Rink (a Leaf fan’s home away from home while cheering on the Caps) have selected a heckle of a traditional bent, pointing out that Jagr wears women’s clothing. They happen to have a link to certain photographic evidence proving the claim (on at least one occasion) to be indisputably true.
Leaf fans have secured the rights to the pages devoted to certain of our own historic arch-rivals, with extensively comedic results: thus Daniel Alfredsson, Wayne Gretzky, and Chris Neil have been skewered. Toronto supporters have also turned some of their anger about the team inward and have given some of the Leaf players the same treatment: see for example Vesa Toskala, Bryan McCabe and – inevitably – Jiri Tlusty.
I chipped in a few bucks on my own behalf and in honour of dear old Dad (hey, Father’s Day is coming up and a guy never knows if he’s going to remember to get a card) to ensure that the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators franchise pages are under the control of Toronto sympathizers. As I understand it, a suitably stinging caption is still being crafted at this time. I will update with linkies when the deed is done and the prank is posted.
I was of course personally interested in the Wendel Clark page, but it had been snapped up by Sean at Down Goes Brown. I know Sean will take good care of the page; anybody who names their blog in honour of a hockey fight featuring Sylvain Lefebvre is okay by me. (I believe “Down Goes Brown” is a reference to an incident in a game that I actually attended, a December 1992 dust-up between Sylvain Lefebvre and Rob Brown of the Chicago Blackhawks. An overhand right from the usually mild-mannered Lefebvre clobbered Brown and sent him crumpling to the ice, causing Joe Bowen to exclaim – repeatedly – the title phrase.) Since I couldn’t get Wendel, I decided that I would buy the whole damn 1992-1993 team; as I’ve written before, that team gave me so much joy watching their run to the Conference Finals against the Kings.
Quickly: I can’t believe Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau started Jaroslav Halak in place of Carey Price at goaltender in last night’s Game 4 matchup with Philly. Bonehead move. I do not understand the thinking behind that; Price had not played poorly in game 3, despite what the sportscasters are blathering about in their 30-second soundbites, not even in games 5 and 6 in the Boston series when the Habs allowed 10 goals in two games. Although it would be fair to say that Price was not brilliant in any of those three games, the goals allowed were not attributable to negligent goaltending; it took a team effort to surrender leads consistently and quickly. On Monday night in particular, (game 3 vs. Philly), Price was screened badly by his defencemen on the first two goals. If the Habs’ blueliners would either stand up at the blueline a little more, reduce the gap between themselves and the attacking Philadelphia forwards and possibly generate the occasional offside OR get the hell out of the 22 year old netminder’s way, he might have had a chance. Since they chose to do neither….not so much. It is true that Price made a mistake on the third goal, but what of it? Is Carbo sending the message that one mistake will result in a player’s butt being nailed to the bench? If so, I suggest he examine the game film a little more carefully, especially any footage he might have filed under “Kovalev, A: defensive coverage”. I suspect that file might be a little thin, so it won’t take Guy long to review the available material. Also, the Kostitsyns’ pictures ought to be showing up on the side of a milk carton any day now. Anyone having knowledge of their whereabouts is invited to contact Canadiens’ management and advise.
My point is that the whole team turned in a Game 3 performance that was a big pile of meh (much to my delight, I might add). To single out Price and bench him as a result has nothing to do with encouraging accountability among the players, and any efforts to justify it on those grounds are ridiculous. Once you accept that, it’s obvious that playing Halak in game 4 was a mistake – down two games to one in the other guy’s barn, you need to win and carry the series back home tied. Going down 3-1, knowing you’ve already surrendered home ice advantage, and heading back home is not a plan for success. The rest is easy: if you have to win this game, you play your best goaltender, no ifs, ands or buts. Choosing instead to turn to a guy with limited NHL experience and who hadn’t played in something like three weeks until the 3rd period of game 3 is not a wise choice.
As it turned out, Halak did not play terribly. He was facing the wrong way for two of Philadelphia’s goals, but at least one of those goals was a direct result of more incredibly bad team defensive coverage. Halak could not be blamed for the loss, but he did not play well enough to steal a win either. It’s possible that Price would not have raised his game to such a level either; we’ll never know, though, because Carbonneau kept his powder dry and his best player on the bench in the Habs’ most important game of the season to date.
I actually like Guy Carbonneau even though he spent all those years as a player wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge and then toiling away in obscurity and boredom for the Dallas Cattle Rustlers (or whatever they’re called). I think he’s shown himself to have some flair for coaching; you can’t argue with the success that the Montreal power play had in the regular season, and there’s no doubt the team over-achieved this year. Both of those things are symptomatic, in my opinion, of good coaching. Even good coaches make bad decisions, though, and tapping Jaroslav Halak on the shoulder last night was one of them.
Watching Game 6 of the Caps/Flyers series tonight, I was struck by how great a game Mike Green was having. From the hit he laid on Sami Kapanen (the one where they had to get the Philly Fire Department to pick l’il Sami out of the rigging up in the rafters) to his rapid and purposeful sprints up ice, to his masterful puck handling along the Flyers blueline while on the attack, Green made me a believer. I wish this guy was on our team.
Of course, Green’s play was overshadowed by that of certain a hairy Russian force of nature. What a play Ovechkin made on the go-ahead goal; he blocked the point shot of his constant tormentor Timmonen, then immediately broke for open ice between the two Flyers defencemen, instinctively knowing that the partially blocked shot would surely be recovered by Kozlov and that he had an opportunity for a breakaway – but only if he didn’t hesitate. Ovechkin took two lightning quick steps towards centre and was eight feet past a now very alarmed Timmonen and the much maligned Kozlov hit Ovechkin on the tape with a beautiful pass as Ovie blazed up the middle of the ice. Everybody in the rink, including Martin Biron, knew that Alex the Gr8 would not be denied, and moments later the Caps had taken a very improbable lead.
The Philadelphia fans had barely resumed breathing through their open mouths when, for a change, it was the Flyers who took a “too many men” penalty (really, Gabby – three of those in the last couple of games is waaaaay too many). On the ensuing powerplay, Ovechkin was served up another beautiful pass, this one from Brooks Laich and Ovechkin hammered that thing so hard, everybody seated in the stands behind the goal ought to immediately drive to the nearest church, synagogue, mosque or temple and thank the resident deity or deities that Ovie’s shot bulged the twine, because if that puck had hit the glass it would have killed everybody in the first six rows. Do you think that game will shut the TV monkeys up about Ovechkin needing to “step up”? Probably not; five’ll get you ten that’s still the main theme harped upon by the flapping gums – “monster” or not.
Alex’s interview on TSN after the game was awesome; it was so obvious to me that he wanted to strap the blades on and play Game Seven RIGHT NOW. This guy is Rasputin on skates – aside from the near spooky physical resemblance, there is the matter of Mr. Ovechkin’s superhuman constitution to be addressed. He played a shift in the second period that lasted well over two minutes of concerted attack. The Flyers may well need a group of Russian assassins and some cyanide-laced confections to take down their hirsute nemesis, because neither the substantial hits applied within the rules by Richards, Umberger and others, nor the straight up punches to the back of the head administered by the ever-classy Derian Hatcher have done the trick, and the hitherto-successful Philadelphia scheme for Ovechkin prophylaxis by the constant application of major doses of Timmonen has run its course. Ovie has figured out how to get away from that coverage, as evidenced by the six shots he had on goal in Game Five and the further seven (not to mention two goals) he added tonight.
This is going to be a great Game Seven.
Can I ask what the hell Pierre McGuire was babbling on about when he kept referring to Martin Biron’s “active glove”? Umm, Pierre, that’s just stupid. No goalie has a “passive” glove. They catch stuff with them. They’re called “trappers” and “blockers” for a reason; these items of equipment represent an active concept. Anyone who stands there just waiting to get hit, is… well, Andrew Raycroft does that. Perhaps that’s a bad example, but you get my meaning.
As for the other game this evening, I didn’t see much of the Habs/Bruins Game Seven. I did see Game Six of that series and much of Game Five too. One thing I don’t understand is the media babble about Carey Price supposedly having come apart at the seams. The so-called experts point to the ten goals surrendered by the Habs ‘tender in those two games and lazily conclude that Price played poorly. Now I’m no Habs fan, but I do know a classy and talented kid when I see one – Spouse and I were lucky enough to see almost all of Price’s games with the Hamilton Bulldogs during last year’s Calder Cup winning run – and Price is most certainly getting a bum rap from the wags on that one. Yes, he coughed up the puck late in Game Five to put the B’s ahead, and yes, he looked rattled after he made that rookie mistake, but none of the five that got past him on Saturday night in Game Six could be called soft goals. The pundits ought to have been asking where the defensive coverage and veteran leadership was on the Habs bench; how, it might fairly be asked, were the Bruins allowed to continually come back and score throughout the third period? With the series on the line, the Habs got a questionable effort from the Kovalev unit, for example, which was a -3 on the evening. I do not recall hearing much mention being made of that fact; it’s too easy, I guess, to point the finger at the goalie. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for whatever kind of Habs-related misery there can be, but it’s the job of those in the media to correctly identify the reasons why the Habs suck, not to pin the whole shootin’ match on a twenty year old rookie who was playing in the WHL last year at this time.