Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Hockey season is upon us once again, and if you’re one of the people who helped ESPN’s televised rodeos earn higher ratings than their NHL coverage, then you probably don’t give a shit! Fortunately, yours truly is here to explain to you the sport that’s so good, the average American can’t ever follow it. Or, as I call it, the “Arrested Development” of sports.

1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Calgary Flames
3. Anaheim Mighty Ducks
4. San Jose Sharks
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Colorado Avalanche
7. Nashville Predators
8. Edmonton Oilers
[9. Dallas Stars, 10. Los Angeles Kings, 11. Phoenix Coyotes, 12. Chicago Blackhawks, 13. Minnesota Wild, 14. Columbus Blue Jackets, 15. St. Louis Blues]

We’ll start with the conference that plays its games after the important coast goes to sleep. People are down on the Red Wings this year, which is understandable— Brendan Shanahan just turned 56, Steve Yzerman is 80, and Chris Chelios is the half-formed titular creature from “The Mummy”—but expect new coach Mike Babcock, hardened by his experiences getting laughed at in middle school, to keep Detroit with the league’s elite. Calgary isn’t far behind, boasting the league’s best overall player in Jarome Iginla, and the city’s 335 residents would be ecstatic if they weren’t huddled together for warmth nine months a year. It’ll come down to the Sharks and the Ducks in the Pacific Division, but nostalgia always wins out, and San Jose’s Starter Jackets will be no match for the Niedermayer-Federov-Selanne flying V. If the NHL’s new rules do open up the game, keep an eye on the speedy Nashville Predators, at least until speedster Paul Kariya gets speedily injured. Colorado will still be good, too, but replacing Peter Forsberg with Pierre Turgeon is sort of like an art gallery replacing a Picasso masterpiece with Pierre Turgeon.

ESPN hailed Jeremy Roenick as a perfect fit in Los Angeles, which I understand in the sense that there are lots of loudmouthed assholes on the West Coast, but I didn’t realize people in California also constantly cross-checked one another. Dallas will have a shot at the playoffs after they fire coach Dave Tippett (the NHL’s Mike Tice…I give him fifteen games), but they, like Chicago and St. Louis, just don’t impress-a-me much. Last but not least, Wayne Gretzky is now coaching Phoenix, generating unprecedented hockey buzz throughout Arizona. The state now boasts a rate of two hockey fans per species of scorpion.

This is Arizona. Hockey is played here.


1. Ottawa Senators
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Boston Bruins
5. New Jersey Devils
6. Toronto Maple Leafs
7. Pittsburgh Penguins
8. Florida Panthers
[9. Montreal Canadians, 10. New York Islanders, 11. Atlanta Thrashers, 12. Carolina Hurricanes, 13. Buffalo Sabres, 14. New York Rangers, 15. Washington Capitals]

The wide-open East is buzzing with bees this year—storyline bees. The biggest of all is the arrival of 18-year-old phenom Sidney Crosby, a prospect with “the skill of Lemieux and the vision of Gretzky” according to the magazine Hyperbole Weekly; he’s essentially a combination of each member from the “Prostars” 80s cartoon. Crosby joins a Pittsburgh lineup which has added Ziggy Palffy, John LeClair, and Mark Recchi, in addition to Lemieux, to form a sort of Russian-dolls-inside-one-another of oldness. Can the Pens go from worst to first? Not likely, as the revamped Flyers have added Peter Forsberg to a lineup that was a win away from the Cup Finals last season. Don’t worry, Flyers fans, Bobby Clarke went ahead and got his big slow dudes too, adding defensemen Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje after he was unable to sign Warren Sapp and that giant rock thing from “The Neverending Story.”

Also among the league’s elite are the Ottawa Senators, a team with explosive speed and scoring talent in front of goaltender… Dominick Hasek?? Is that a misprint? Sounds to me like some kid in Ottawa is screwing around with trades on NHL 97 for Genesis. The returning champion Lightning lost The “Boulin Wall” in goal, but should be fine with John “The Graheme-lin” Grahame (instead of Kremlin, keeping with the theme of political walled things). I’m sure the Devils will be fine, they’re hockey’s Atlanta Braves minus the playoff chokes, the Bruins are deep enough on offense to make me somehow hate the Patriots even more, and the Maple Leafs will count on drooling vegetable Eric Lindros for some toughness, which might backfire if opponents distract him by telling him about the rabbits. Keep an eye on feisty Florida, now coached by Jacques Martin—the French national anthem plays whenever he enters a room—who complimented a talented bunch of grapes with the ageless Joe Nieuwendyk. I mean "ageless" literally, a number does not exist for his amount of years on this earth.

Can Eric Lindros (top left) make an impact on something other than a brainscan?

My Stanley Cup pick?
I’m going out on a limb, and I might just plummet and break my leg like that kid from “A Separate Peace,” but I’m taking the Vancouver Canucks over the Flyers in seven games. The Flyers, up 3-2 in the series, will blow a lead in the third period on a soft goal allowed by Robert Esche, who will have played well up til that point, then they’ll lose game seven and Esche will join Mitch Williams in the Philly Protection Program. Bobby Clarke, like Phillies GM Ed Wade, will never be fired, and Vancouver’s presence will ensure that the Cup Finals draw poorer ratings than Rodeo’s Stanley Cup Finals, a competition to see who wins the spittoon that some hick named Stanley used to own.


At 3:46 AM, Blogger Wally Raffles said...

Hi there

I hope you don't mind me jumping onto your Blog and making some comments, so please feel free to ignore me.

I am from Melbourne, Australia, where we don't really play ice hockey. I have just got back from a trip to Canada. Whilst I was over there, I was curious to check out an ice hockey game, and managed to get tickets to the Calgary vs Oilers pre season match. I enjoyed the game quite a bit. Now that I am back home, I thought I would check out the NHL website and try and understand the game a bit more, but there is one thing confusing me.

Calgary seem to have 82 matches scheduled for the season, but they don't seem to have any scheduled against some teams like Tampa Bay, but yet against teams like Colorado, they have a stack of matches scheduled.

So I was wondering if you could explain to me how the schedule works - do u play certain teams a set number of times or what?? And how do you get into the playoffs?

Any help with understanding the sport would be appreciated.


At 3:05 PM, Blogger Mike H said...

Is that brother Brett under Eric "lettuce head" Lindros? Or is that an eggplant?

I guess Eric isn't pictured here with the helmet he just had custom made for him. I heard it was apparently designed by the same guy who did Juggernaut's helmet, though because Lindros is somewhat less articulate than Juggernaut, his helmet does not contain a mouth hole.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nesting dolls, Dan.

Russian-dolls-inside-one-another are called nesting dolls.



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