On defense, #5: SHE HATE ME.
Why do I hate the teams that I hate? Why do I hate the Red Wings, the Blue Jackets, the Capitals, and the Flyers?I decided to actually sit down and write a nice longish entry about it.The Detroit Red Wings.I have never liked this team, ever. 2002 has nothing to do with it, and I am far from jealous of anything that team has ever done (despite what most of the Wings fans would say). I merely disliked the Red Wings until about 1997ish. My mother (who, I am ashamed to say, is a Wings fan—she also likes the Celtics, the Cardinals, and the 49ers, which just goes to show that nobody is perfect) and I would go round and round about them, just because. I mean, I’m a fan of the Lakers, Dodgers, and Redskins—so we’d always be talking some smack to each other at any given point in a year.And then I met representatives of the rest of the Red Wings fanbase—you know, the ones that hopped on the bandwagon in 1996 and wouldn’t even recognize Alex Delvecchio if he came up to them on the street and clubbed them over the head with a baseball bat. These people are the most assy and classless bunch of chavs on the face of the planet, and I want to see the Red Wings get owned as much and as often as possible just so I can laugh at them as they cry in their beers. They make my blood boil—they’re rude, obnoxious in the extreme, arrogant as fuck, and pretty much like your average English soccer lout (though they don’t cause riots). Of course, not all of them are that way—but enough of them are that if Detroit were burning, I wouldn’t even so much as spit on it to put the fire out.And don’t EEEEEEEEVEN get me started on some of the players!Up next,The Columbus Blue Jackets.My interactions with Blue Jackets fans have been rather uniformly poor, with few exceptions. I swear, I could go on a Blue Jackets board and say “hello”, and I’d get nothing but nastiness in return just cos I’m from a southern state—and heaven forbid I make my allegiances known, because then I get hailed on with all kinds of shit about how Blue Jackets fans are so much better than the Caniac Nation (est. 1997) because of a North Carolina invention:The Personal Seat License. If having to shell out a mess of cash in order to have the right to shell out even more cash to get season tickets makes you a better fan, then the Carolina Panthers (who are three hours down the road in the Kingdom of Charlotte, and who invented the PSL as a way to pay for the construction of their stadium) have the best fans in the NFL even though half of them don’t even show up when the Panthers are sucking on toast.Whatever—get over yourselves, people. Your expansion team’s marketing genii put GO BLUE on the jumbotron during an Ohio State-Michigan game and the only two things you have going for you are Rick Nash (when he’s healthy) and Jaroslav frickin’ Balastik, so I really don’t think you have any room at all to bash us for anything OK?Moving right along.Your Nation’s Crapitals.Now see, here’s a team whose fans I get along famously with—probably because (for the most part) we have the Redskins in common. The team, however....CHEAPER THAN A 40-OUNCE KING COBRA AND DIRTIER THAN THE SUPERDOME, KIDS.I swear to Malik, if I see Brendan Witt or any other Capital take a cheap shot at one of the ‘Canes again, I am going to be waiting for them out in back of the RBC with a blackjack and a huge-ass chip on my shoulder. At least Jason Doig doesn’t play for them anymore.And finally we have….The Philadelphia Flyers.Two words: Derian Hatcher (the reason why I loathed the Stars for so many years).Two more words: Turner bloody Stevenson (who I will never ever forgive for his antics during Game 3 in 2001).Add to that a GM who’s trying to recreate the team that cheapshotted its way to two titles (three, if you count the Summit Series) in the 70s, and you have a recipe for hatin’. If you’re a Euro, Clarke hates you. If you’re not big, Clarke hates you (unless you’re Sami Kapanen, in which case you play like you’re big). And Ken Hitchcock is as cheap as they come—dirty play is a hallmark of a Ken Hitchcock-coached team. Though I hate the team passionately (except for Dennis Seidenberg and the aforementioned Sami Kapanen), this is another team whose fans I get along with for the most part, because the really annoying ones are easy enough to ignore (kinda like the more annoying of the Devils fans).And there you have it.
A History of Violation
So the question comes up every once in a blue moon: Why does the Extra-Sucky Poker Network always slag the ‘Canes?And the answer invariably comes back (usually from the Carolina side of the fanbase): They’re upset about the move, because they were all Whalers season ticket holders.BZZZZZT. I’m sorry, that answer is incorrect.Mostly.The Worldwide Leader in Poker has made a sport of Whale-bashing (and now Canes-bashing) since very soon after the Whalers’ entry into the NHL. Sure, there were people like Chris Berman and the Fabulous SportsBabe (who was on ESPNRadio at the time of the move) who were upset STHs, but they were in the minority at ESPN.
To understand why ESPN is the way they are, one has to know the history of the network and its relationship with the WHA/NHL team that lived in their back yard until April of 1997.
The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network was formed in 1978 to show Hartford Whalers home games and UCONN hoops (the Sports part), plus other things like movies and even music videos (this was back before MTV got started). It was this way even into about the middle or so of 1980—I remember visiting my grandmother’s house in North Dakota a few months before I moved up there, and seeing (of all things) a Gary Numan video on ESPN. Let's hear it for a stolen cable connection.So, anyway. The founder of ESPN, one William Rasmussen, was the original voice of the Hartford Whalers back in their WHA days. The network was cordial with the Whalers—downright friendly, even—up until about 1981ish, when then-owner Howard Baldwin (you know, the guy who spent the Pittsburgh Penguins into bankruptcy? Yeah—he used to own the Whale) had a falling-out with Wild Bill and his crew in Bristol. The nature of the feud isn’t entirely clear, but the result is that the Whalers’ broadcast rights were yanked away from the still-fledgling network and given to SportsChannel America—a move that damn near killed ESPN, which was deep in debt and on the verge of collapse.And thus, the sport of Whale-bashing was born. ESPN slagged the Whalers every chance they got—even after Rasmussen and Baldwin patched up their differences, the bashing continued because it had become such a part of the corporate culture that it was pretty impossible to root out. Pierre Maguire, the TSN talking head who at one time coached the Whale, used to comment a LOT about Bristol’s bias against the team. Richard Gordon (the worst owner EVER of the Whalers) pissed and moaned about ESPN’s slapping a “Curse of the Bambino” on the franchise after the Francis trade (though honestly? He deserved it). Jimmy Rutherford had a rather public feud with Keith Olbermann in the mid-90s over a series of “scoops” that Olbermann ran on Sportscenter—stories that alleged fraud in the Whalers’ 95-96 season ticket drive and a supposed deal on the table to move the team to Nashville (which was complete bunkum). Olbermann wound up getting the short end of that stick when his “confidential sources” backed away quickly, but still.The move from Hartford and the very acrimonious way in which it was handled by both sides (not to mention the piss-poor treatment of Greensboro during the transition years and the Canes' complete lack of clue when it comes to marketing the team) only added fuel to ESPN’s fire and has led a lot of people down here to claim that ESPN holds the move against the ‘Canes, which isn’t exactly true.ESPN does hold a move against us—but it’s not the Whalers’ move to North Carolina.
Holy crap, dude!
Goddamn, Alexander Ovechkin is amazing. I hate the Washington Capitals almost as much as I hate the Detroit Red Wings (and that is a lot of hate there, kids)—but I’ll gladly give this kid his due. He’s got amazing hands, plays a more physical game than you would expect a Russian to play, and….wow. Just wow. If the Capitals ever get their shit together I’ll actually be afraid of them.I’m finding myself watching last night’s Hurricanes-Capitals game over and over again, because of two things:
Well that and Nicky Wallin’s Steve Smith moment—surely, it is a sign of Laviolette’s “all for one” philosophy that the team rallied from that goal and to a man busted their asses to erase their teammate’s mistake. That, to me, is one of the biggest signs that the team has changed from the Maurice era.Do I declare the Hurricanes’ power-play woes solved? Of course not, that would be foolish. The power play is still anemic, when you look at the expanding picture of this season, and it still needs work. But they did look a LOT better last night than they did the first three games of the season, so I hold out hope that this can continue over the course of the season.
- Alexander Ovechkin
- The Hurricanes actually scoring power play goals.
A great wailing and gnashing of teeth....or something.
And the reviews of the new rules are in, and they are mixed.I also don’t give a flip what anyone else thinks—here’s what I think of the new rules:
In other news: My favorite defensively-challenged (and slightly cross-eyed) defenseman, Poor Andy Delmore, has been sent down to Syracuse of the AHL. That poor sod, he just can’t catch a break can he?
- Interference calls, and lots of them: I fail to see how this is a problem for people—after years of screaming that the refs don’t bother enforcing the rules, they finally start doing it and people scream about it? Ananalsphincter says what? I mean, sure—it shows how piss-poor the Hurricanes’ power play is (WORST IN THE FREAKING LEAGUE AGAIN….so far), but still; what’s wrong with actually enforcing the rules? For example, the NHL rulebook clearly states in Rule 67 that “A strict standard of interference must be adhered to in all areas of the rink, with emphasis on interference in the Neutral Zone.” Where’s the problem (as long as the refs call the penalties like they should all season)? I don’t see a problem. I actually LIKE it when the refs make the calls instead of letting crap slide.
- Score, score, score some more: Well…..meh. I like goals—but I also love a great goalie deathmatch. I’ve seen some damn exciting 0-0 and 1-1 ties, and I’ve seen some mind-numbingly boring 11-and 12-goal games. You can say that I’m in the middle on this one—after all, the object of the game IS to put the puck in the opponents’ net more times than they put the puck in your net. But at the same time, anyone who claims a game is boring just because nobody scored (or because it was low-scoring) should go see their doctor about getting put on Strattera, because s/he clearly can’t pay freaking attention.
- Shootouts STILL suck! I don’t care if my team wins every shootout they’re in this season—I STILL HATE SHOOTOUTS. What’s the freaking point of fighting back from eleventy billion goals down to get a tie, only to wind up losing because the three biggest floaters on the other team are better shots than your three biggest floaters?
- TRAPEZOID! Who the hell is the latter-day Pythagoras that came up with this one? Why don’t they just say that Martin Brodeur and Marty Turco can’t do what they can do better (i.e. play the puck) than any other goalie in the League and have done with it? I mean, I hate the Devils and have no love for the Stars—but come the hell on already. Instead of a Harrison Bergeron-like solution to prop up teams with goalies that can’t play the puck to save their lives, why not simply make goalies fair game if they leave their crease?
And now for a few words about being a female fan.
I open with this: Darren McCarty will never not be hot to me. Even when he decides to shave his head again, I will still turn into a melting puddle of hormone-laden goo whenever I see him. Even if he puts on a stinkin’ Red Wings jersey again, I will still drool mindlessly at the sight of the man and his eleventy billion tattoos.Why? Because I think he’s smokin’ hot. I don’t care whom he plays for, I don’t care what he does for a living. Even when he played for the Red Wings, I didn’t care that he played for them (and that is saying something, because I have always despised the Red Wings with the fire of a million white-hot suns). He could dig ditches or deliver beer for Long Beverage, Incorporated and I wouldn’t give a damn. I just think the man is hotter than Death Valley in the middle of July.Does this make me a puckbunny? To some, it does. Others would see me as a puckbunny if I ever said that I “loved” a particular player. To still others, the mere fact that I have ovaries and a Joni (spot the reference and consider yourself well-read—or clever, take your pick) makes me a puckbunny despite the fact that I know more about hockey than half of western Canada. Fuck y’all haters.I know my sport, and know it damn well. I love my sport, passionately. I love my team, fiercely, passionately, and wholly. But all too often, the last line of defense for some simpleton who gets into an argument with me (or any other female fan, for that matter) on a message board or in a sports bar is to drop the “puckbunny” smack--as if that somehow makes the simpleton the automatic winner of the argument. It’s as if being a female fan means that you have to not like the menfolk.To hell with that, kids.I love me a nice side of beef—hello, I do sit on that side of the fence. But come on—when valuing a player's worth, I rate his skills as a player far more highly than whether or not he sets my ovaries alight. As a friend of mine once said, “I refuse to be thought of as less of a fan because I like to comment on Bruno St. Jacques’ game and, occasionally, his butt.”
Why is this so hard for some people to comprehend? It never ceases being a wonderment to me.
I end with a sad, but true story:The News and Observer sent a female reporter out to a ‘Canes game once to talk to my hockey buddy Lisa (who is all about little Sami Kapanen) and me for a story about female fans. The reporter asked me why I am such an ardent fan of Marek Malik—this was back during the days when I would get into fights (both virtual and real) with motards who thought a 6’5” defenseman should do nothing but smack people into the next county—and my answer actually had to do with hockey, and I said nothing about whether or not I have the hots for him (for the record, I don’t—my love for the Serene Master is maternal). Same with Lisa. She went on and on about Sami’s skills as a player and his tenacity on the ice—when the reporter asked her “But do you think he’s hot?” Lisa’s response was “Who cares?”The article got turfed and never saw print.