Who the F%#% is Tim Brent?

Questions Will Become Answers: Tim Brent Edition
Questions Will Become Answers: Tim Brent Edition ('shop lifted from a comment by loserdomi on PPP)

Who the fuck is Tim Brent?  It’s a question that has circulated in the Barilkosphere – sometimes semi-seriously, mostly in jest – since some time after he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization as a free agent on July 6, 2009.

Now, there’s “Ilya Kovalchuk free agency”, and then there’s “Tim Brent free agency.”  This past summer’s production of Waiting for Kovalchuk, for example, featured (in the pre-circumvention ruling days, anyway) daily updates from multiple media sources about the complete absence of any development relating to Kovalchuk’s status.  To give you an idea of the level of media interest in Burke’s signing of Tim Brent, a Google News archive search shows that the Toronto Star has exactly one reference to Brent’s career with the Maple Leafs in 2009;  it’s an almost parenthetical reference to the fact that Brent had signed a one-year deal with the Leafs, wedged into the body of an article that is 100% about something else – the signing of Francois Beauchemin.

The Barilkosphere’s own beloved meeting place, Pension Plan Puppets, had (on the front page*) but an offhand reference to the acquisition of Tim Brent:  again, an almost throwaway mention of Brent’s contract in a larger piece devoted to the signing of Rickard Wallin, for goodness sake.   Keep in mind that PPP is a site frequented almost exclusively by highly motivated Leaf fans;  the kind of place that generated weeks of discussion and heated debate over the signing of Brett Lebda this summer.  On the day AFTER Lebda signed, PPP Princess Karina was moved to put up a post reassuring PPP users that the apocalypse had not occurred and seeking to heal rifts of geologic size that seemed to be developing among the faithful on this most contentious issue.  It generated 310 comments.

There is a reason for the differential level of interest of course;  Ilya Kovalchuk had 338 goals in 621 NHL games when his marriage with the Devils was finally given the Blessing of Gary this past September.  Tim Brent, by contrast, had exactly one goal in 18 games (over 3 separate seasons) with Anaheim, Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Them Blades at Mitzi’s Sister

Met up with a few of the folks from Pension Plan Puppets last night for the very first time in person. Thanks to the organiz-y efforts of @kidkawartha, Spouse and I were able to meet him and @kimjorn for dinner at Mitzi’s Sister on Queen St. W. in Toronto before Them Blades took the stage later that evening. Also joining us – once he managed to make a brief escape from an ongoing slumber party, as I understand it – was @mforbes37.

KidK will be well known to those who read the comments around here. Jorn is lead guitarist for Them Blades.  He and  another fellow by the name of Godd Till (@zambonicyouth) now reputedly write with @mforbes37 (himself of Bitter Leaf Fan fame) at a site called Zambonic Youth, but I don’t believe it because I am fairly certain that the last new post over there was drafted on a cuneiform tablet by ancient Egyptians.

Spouse and I had a great time meeting these PPP peeps and the others in attendance too. At the very same time that this was going on, there were a lot of other PPP’ers meeting up with one another in the Big City last night;  there was a huge crew meeting up at the Loose Moose for a combination spontaneous birthday celebration for Down Goes Brown/pre-game piss-up (PPP overlords Chemmy and SkinnyFish had driven up from the States for Saturday night’s Leafs/Habs tilt).

I thought that I’d post the video below – a quick clip I took of the band playing their third song of the night – so the PPP’ers who couldn’t make it out to Mitzi’s would be able to see a little of Kim Jorn’s band for themselves.

I hope the folk in Them Blades don’t mind that I’ve posted this video clip; I haven’t asked their permission. I think the name of the song is “Rock the Cashbar”. As a point of interest, keep your eyes peeled for the freaky looking dude on the dance floor near the mid-point of the video; he was the drummer from one of the other bands on the bill. Reportedly, he had difficulty keeping hold of his drum sticks, played much of his set clad in his boxers, and fell off the drum throne 3 times.

Blog Interrupted: Explanatory Explanation Dept.

Yes, yes, I know.  I’ve been neglecting you for a few days.  Aside from the occasional tale of nocturnal chaos, it’s been pretty slim pickin’s around here.

As usual, it’s been busy , but I’m not going to rely on that old excuse for my postFAILage.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing over the last week or so, just not for this site.  For starters, I have finally completed the script I mentioned some time ago.  Tough slogging for me;  not the kind of writing I’m used to doing at all – it needed to be informative and authentic, but youthful, was based primarily around dialog and I was pretty much completely unable to use any profanity – so I found it very difficult.  Anyway, that’s one project finished (sort of*) which is something I am going to choose to be proud of, seeing as I am still laughably “working” away at NaNoReMo 2008.

In addition, I’ve been working on a piece about the NHL trade deadline and the reasonable expectations that Toronto Maple Leaf fans should have of their angry Irish overlord Mr. Burke over the next few days as the rebuild begins in earnest and – perhaps – various pieces of the team are dispersed across the continent in an effort to re-stock the MLSE cupboards.  It’s not finished yet;  I am hoping that a good night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast and a nice pot of tea will do the trick in that regard early tomorrow morning.  I will post that as soon as I am finished;  hopefully BEFORE the trade deadline actually passes…

I’ve also been moved to put virtual pen to paper on a few occasions over at Leaf-fan uber-site Pension Plan Puppets.  It’s been a busy week over there;  first, there was the return of Mats Sundin to the Air Canada Centre last Saturday night, an emotional evening for all Leafs fans and an event that had us strangely and bitterly divided about how to receive our former Captain.  I spent quite a bit of time defending Sundin and encouraging anyone who would listen to take the longer view and give Mats his due when he stepped on the ice (and I’m pleased to report that Leafs fans chose to do exactly that when Sundin was feted with a tribute video at the first TV timeout during that game.  Then there was the whole  “Brian Burke” controversy, during which Down Goes Brown nearly broke the Internets by continuing to tweet as “Brian Burke”, making humourous and insulting observations about various people around the NHL in a tour de force of parody;  the problem was that some people didn’t get the point of the joke and couldn’t find their ass with a map and a flashlight, never mind grasp the nature of DGB’s jest.  There were also three game threads to enjoy in the virtual company of my homies the Triple P peeps.  The last of these games – versus the Islanders on Thursday night – also produced the outrageous Brendan Witt elbow to Niklas Hagman’s head.   I wrote a quick piece last night (posted at PPP) about the usefulness of the Tie Domi/Scott Niedermayer incident in the 2001 playoffs as a useful comparator for measuring the appropriate suspension that Leafs fans were sure had to inevitably be coming.

Although the NHL maintains that it is cracking down on disgraceful and gratuitous cheap shots like this, the kind that endangers the health and safety of the players that put the bread on the suits’ feasting table, there was nary a mention of this incident in the press coverage early this morning.  What mention there was in the papers was only as necessarily incidental to explaining how it came to pass that both the Leafs and Isles scored in the course of a major penalty imposed upon Witt in the 3rd period.  In fact, there was virtually no discussion of the incident at all until after the NHL imposed – in its infinite wisdom – a 5 game suspension on Witt.

I spent much of this evening writing about this last decision;  as it happens, Witt will serve his suspension just in time to return for the rematch festivities in Toronto on March 10th.  I refuse to believe this is a mere coincidence, and I am appalled by the league’s ridiculous decision to arrange things so as to enable Witt to play in this game.   That, as they say, has put the cat among the pigeons indeed.


*of course, there’s the inevitable re-write to do now.  And filming.  And editing.  So…..more projects.

Bower, Avery and Honky the Christmas Goose: Invective Dept.

After many years of searching, last night I managed to find (thanks to the glory that is teh Intarwebs) not one but TWO copies of Johnny Bower’s vocal masterpiece, Honky the Christmas Goose.  Recorded for charity in 1965, the tune gave the Beatles a battle on the CHUM charts in Toronto for a while that year and made an unlikely musical hero out of the Maple Leafs’ brilliant goaltender.

It’s important to understand that Bower made the record for charity and never banked a dime of the considerable proceeds generated by its sale.

I have posted a little screed about Bower’s selfless and unselfconscious act of charity over at Pension Plan Puppets.  It’s amazing to me that Bower would have agreed to do this;  it speaks volumes about the man’s good heart and compassion.  I couldn’t help thinking about the contrast between Bower’s decision to use his fame to help others and Sean Avery’s efforts of self-aggrandizement.

Anyway, you can check out the full-on rant by folowing the link above.  Incidentally, take a peek around the site and consider joining up.  Pension Plan Puppets is the epicentre of the Barilkosphere, the community of Leaf bloggers that have plenty of funny and insightful things to say about the Blue and White.   If you join the site as a result of this referral, let me know (by leaving a comment on this post or sending me an email), because – if you then make a paltry 20 comments on the site in the month of December – I, as your guide and PPP mentor, will be eligible to win some awesome swag.

Birds, Louts, and Losing

A couple of days ago, I congratulated myself for sticking with this blog project fairly consistently. I then promptly disappeared for a couple of days. So it goes.

A few things:

As I type this post, I am seated out back of the family estate here in Juniorvania on a Muskoka chair that needs a coat of paint and some TLC. Nevertheless, the birds are chirping, the wind is rustling through the trees, even I can see that there are buds in places that used to feature only bare branches, and the daffodils have announced their yellow presence throughout my general vicinity. I am in my shirt sleeves and the sun is shining. I do not have to work today, and in a couple of hours I’m going to go in and watch a playoff hockey game. The wireless signal produced by the JBC geegaws is of sufficient strength to permit me to chronicle my indolence from this most favoured position.  Life is good.

I became aware of this as a result of a comment by PPP in a post over at Pension Plan Puppets. It’s truly sickening.

Hugo Contant’s only connection to countryman Jean Pierre Masse was that he happened to be close enough on Causeway Street after the game to see Masse try to walk past about two dozen drunken Bruins boors.

“He (Masse) was wearing glasses,” Contant recalled yesterday. “And he had a red Canadiens shirt on. When he approached them, they began yelling things like, ‘Go home, you French (expletive)’ – things like that. I heard (Masse) laugh and say, ‘We don’t want to fight . . . we don’t want any trouble,’ as he tried to pass. Then someone punched him once, maybe twice, in the face. He went down and his eyeglasses came off.

“That is when I see this other man in the Bruins shirt walk up and kick him in the head, while the man was still laying in the street,” Contant said. “And then he kicked him again in the face. That’s when I ran to him, because I thought they would kill him. When I got to him, I thought he was dead. That is when I screamed, ‘Look what you’ve done!’ ”

It is truly astonishing to me that some people apparently have so little going on in their own lives that they would even consider physically assaulting a complete stranger because of his support for a rival sports team. All joking aside, I have real difficulty conceiving of the complete and utter lack of basic civility and humanity that facilitate the commission of such an act.

Obviously, such behaviour is unacceptable. As I indicated in my reply to PPP’s comment, I think that morally, we are obliged to prevent such things from happening where possible, and that we must see to it that those who do offend in this way are punished severely. If we do not, we are to a certain extent complicit in this outrage. There will be a tendency among newspaper columnists and other social commentators, eager for the easy angle I suspect, to try to make this an issue about Boston sports fans, or perhaps American culture; any such attempts to neatly confine the issue are, in my opinion, misguided because they fail to admit of the possibility that it could have happened anywhere. Neither the City of Boston nor the United States of America has cornered the market on hooliganism and loutish behaviour.

Keeping that proviso in mind – that I do not suggest that either Bostonians or Americans are uniquely or especially morally defective – it seems to me that at the very least, the Boston Bruins ought to be all over this incident. They ought to be making an example of the waste of skin in the Jason Allison jersey ( ! ) who did this to Mr. Masse and any other person that they believe to be involved. For starters, they ought to be taking steps to ensure that nobody who participates in anything remotely like this is ever admitted to a Bruins game again. They ought to go public with an announcement to that effect, and they ought to make it clear that they will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any kind of association with those who behave in such a fashion. The other NHL clubs ought to be adopting similar policies and security measures, and the league as a whole ought to speak out immediately and emphatically on this issue, making it clear that violence and hooliganism will not be tolerated in any way. I recognize that the NHL is big business, and that taking such a stance may be more problematic in certain markets than others (I’m looking in your direction, Philadelphia). I further recognize that the last thing the league wants to do, on the best of days, is to re-ignite the eternal debate about the role of violence in hockey, a topic that will inevitably arise as those with sport-related agendas and small brains will point to fights on the ice as somehow “causing” an incident like this. Nevertheless, this is an opportunity for the league to take a principled and ethical stand on an issue of general societal importance; we ought to demand no less from good corporate citizens.

As for our own individual conduct, we should each of us remember this sickening incident and see to it – by policing ourselves – that no one around us is ever permitted to cross the line separating civilization from barbarism again. Long before the scumbag in the Allison jersey went off on Mr. Masse that night, he was asshole. There were people around him who knew he was an asshole. They failed to make it clear to him that he was behaving like an asshole and that he needed to not be doing that. Those who failed to discourage such behaviour are not guilty of assaulting Mr. Masse; they do not have his blood on their hands. They have, however, most assuredly failed us and failed our society in general.

Game Five, Washington/Philadelphia: I was left with two lingering thoughts following Knuble’s goal in double overtime to end Game 4. First, I wondered where this game would fit for Caps fans in Bill Simmons’ “Levels of Losing” taxonomy. At first, I was convinced that this had to be a “Level XII” or “Achilles Heel” loss because it seemed to me that Washington’s defencemen were revealed to be so obviously and woefully overmatched in this game (particularly the uniformly execrable Milan “Here, Let Me Tee That Up For You” Jurcina) that no other description could possibly apply. On further review, however (he says, holding the little black phone to his ear and jamming the other finger, the one with the whistle clipped on to it, in his other ear to staunch the crowd noise) I believe this to have been a “Level VIII” or “Dead Man Walking” loss: Jurcina in particular had played badly in the series prior to Game 4, and even the otherwise heroic Mike Green had committed some costly turnovers in all three previous games, so I think it would be a little false to characterize this loss as revealing a hitherto secret weakness on a contender. Rather, it seems to me that this loss was one from which mentally, it is likely that there is no coming back for the team. The Capitals got such outstanding goaltending from Cristobal Huet, and as a team they hung in there so tough in the face of an amazing amount of adversity – the five minutes shorthanded in period one, brutal officiating that allowed the Flyers to unleash their elbows at will, their own stupidity in taking not one, but two “too many men on the ice” calls, more brutal officiating that had Victor Kozlov in the box for a laughable goaltender interference penalty with less than three minutes to go in a tied game that they HAD to win – and they came so close to winning in spite of it all, but it was not to be. The point is that they had the chance to turn the tide in the series – a win in that game, in the face of all that adversity would have given their legs an incredible burst of energy stemming straight from enhanced confidence. Instead, they went down 3-1 and have to suspect, in their heart of hearts, that it is not meant to be. They are Dead Men Walking.

Second, as I have noted elsewhere, in my opinion the person who ought to be most ashamed of his performance in this post-season (with the possible exception of the aforementioned Mr. Jurcina) is Steven Walkom, the NHL’s Director of Officiating. Seriously, what the hell is going on this year? There have been goals scored when the attacking team was offside. There have been goals disallowed because the official was “intending” to blow the whistle. The types of calls being made within games and from game-to-game vary so broadly and erratically that the referees have become nothing but a laughable source of frustration for the fans and players of every team. In what world was it fair for the referee to banish Kozlov for goaltender interference (please read, “being propelled into the goaltender by an opposition player”) with 3 minutes remaining in the third period of a tie game, and yet no call at all was made when a Philadelphia player (it may even have been Knuble, now that I think of it) steamrollered right over Huet in overtime? Bugger the fiction that it’s fair to “let the players decide” by putting the whistles away: that philosophy of officiating gives an advantage to a team that takes physical liberties with its opposition. If you can make it into overtime with a bunch of muggers and goons, your opposition is doomed because they don’t stand a chance of surviving the extra frame. This type of “situational ethics” is exactly the kind of thing that engenders suspicion of the officiating in general. If it’s a penalty in the first period, it’s a penalty in the second overtime. Call it, and call it the same for both teams. How hard is that to understand as a mission statement for the zebras?

Twenty-five minutes to game time now. I need to go run a couple of quick errands, then settle down in front of the tube. Ovechkin and Semin need to dominate early in this game, and the Caps need to score early and often. If they can win this one, who knows what might happen – but I suspect they are Dead Men Walking.