Archive for the ‘Life in the NHL’ Tag
The new season is almost there. As every year, some teams have made a few changes in their logos and/or uniforms. Among them, the Buffalo Sabres, who recently introduced their new set of jerseys. As you can see, they’re going for a “traditional” look.
Of course, someone had to pay a cruel price for those changes.
The infamous Buffaslug is being pushed aside after only a few years of service. Poor slug, look how he’s sad…
Fortunately, an old friend is there to comfort him.
It’s good to see that in the cruel world of discarded sports logos, there is a still sense of solidarity.
Apparently, Jaro Spacek found some time to escape from his lifeguarding duties to answer a few questions about his personal music/books/movies/etc. tastes for the habs website.
I’m mentioning this because those kind of “get to know your players” interviews that virtually all the professional teams put on their websites tend to really make me laugh. But usually in a “Oh my god these guys are so lame” kind of way. I’m going to take one example here:
Yes Louis, you knew that was coming. But you deserve it. The habs have a feature on their site where they ask players to disclose a few titles they have on their MP3 players. Usually, that’s pretty bad. If it’s a veteran, you’ll find some U2 and Coldplay, probably some Nickelback (ugh!), sometimes there’s some Metallica too. If it’s a younger guy, you might find some hip hop. If it’s Carey Price, you’ll find… well just country music. But I digress.
Yeah… Louis Leblanc. Sigh. I know musical tastes vary and I don’t want to sound all elitist and stuff, but that list was just plain awful, dude. S CLUB 7!? And this is the future Habs captain? Trade this bum out of Montreal right now, Pierre.
Uh errm, sorry, hang up the phone Pierre, I got carried away.
What I’m trying to say is, those lists very rarely improve my personal opinion of a player. It does happen though. Occasionally, among crap you can find a true gem. Like say, the immortal “Final Countdown” from Europe on Sergei Kostitsyn’s list. I still can’t believe it’s there, and it makes me want to hug you Sergei. Or Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go on the otherwise forgettable list of Josh Gorges. (Of course Josh. Of course it had to be you…)
And there’s Jaro Spacek. His “Essentials” list makes no sense, and it’s a mess. It starts with this answer, about what movie people should see:
Casino. I like that genre of movie. It feels like real life – the way things actually happen. I think people can learn a lot from watching those kinds of movies
I LOVED that answer. Casino feels like real life. Well it certainly doesn’t feel like my life, but that must be because I don’t play in the nhl… And the answer where he tries to be funny about the Internet site he’d recommend is probably my favourite. This guy is so weird and quirky. I just cannot not root for him.
Yes, let’s face it, it’s summer, and there’s no hockey… But hockey fans are not the only ones suffering during summer. It’s not easier for hockey players. Just like every year, the Habs have to find jobs during the off-season to make a bit of money. This summer, thanks to an exclusive series* of photoshops portraits, we’ll discover one by one the rarely seen lives of our heroes when there’s no hockey.
Jaroslav Spacek ~ Lifeguard
*The last time I intended to make a “series” of posts, I think I gave up after 2 posts, so I can’t guarantee you’ll have much more than that one… but I’ll try!
This started as a post stating my love for Chipchura and my sadness to see him go. But then, it turned into something bigger. An ode to fringe NHLers.
I’ve already written a little bit about Chips this year (I’ll miss this name A LOT). As you know, he was dealt to Anaheim yesterday. Looking at the big picture, it’s certainly nothing more than a minor trade for the habs. The story is quite simple:
Chipchura was drafted in the first round a few years ago. For some reason, in spite of several stints in the nhl, he never managed to keep a regular spot in Montreal. His best season with the Habs was 2007-08. This year was his last chance to become a regular member of the team, and yet he failed to firmly grab a spot, even when injuries were hurting the team. Then younger guys were called up, the coach decided they were better, and Chipchura definitively lost his spot. Then it was only a matter of time before he would be waived or traded, since the Habs could not simply send him back to the AHL.
That’s a common story that happened to LOTS of players around the league. Just look at Benoit Pouliot in Minnesota.
So why am I even writing about this? Because I liked Chips a lot. Probably even enough to consider myself a fan. Then if you look at his story through the eyes of a fan, the perspective changes a little. I know his numbers this season were dreadful (19 games played, 0 point, -10, 11 shots on goal). I also know he played 68 games in Montreal, and it’s tough to argue that he didn’t get a fair chance to impress the team managment. But if you look at the way this season went, you have to feel for him.
To begin with, he was injured during the whole training camp. I don’t want to rewrite history, but you have to wonder how things would have gone if he had been healthy at a time when Jacques Martin was learning to know the habs roster and his prospects. His season only started during the infamous trip in Western Canada, when the habs were dominated by the Flames, the Canucks and the Oilers. He was bad during those games, just like the rest of the team. After a few games, though, he seemed to play better and better. (To be sure I was not making this up, I re-read some of Mike Boone’s after game comments on Habs I/O, and it confirmed my impression.) But then, as he was showing signs of improvment, White and Pyatt arrived. Chips was immediately scratched for the next 4 games. He only returned once Gionta was injured, because the Habs had holes to fill. From then on, he never played more than 7 minutes a game, mostly with inexperienced wingers, on the 4th line. Martin clearly decided others were better, and that Chips was not useful anymore.
You didn’t think I’d let a guy named Chips go without doing this, did you?
At this point, it was already almost over for him in Montreal. It was definitely over once the habs traded Lats and got Pouliot, a natural center. It was painfully obvious that he would be waived or traded as soon as regulars would return to the lineup. This is just what happened yesterday. Now honestly, there is nothing dramatic about the whole thing. He’ll hopefully have a chance to redeem himself in Anaheim, and I believe he still has the tools to become a regular NHLer. I realize the habs still have some good prospects, and they probably won’t regret Chips much. But I’m sad anyway.
And it’s not the first time this happens to me. I tend to be emotionally attached to perpetually the same kind of players. The fringe NHLers, or the guys who have trouble keeping their spot on a team. The underdogs. I can’t help it. I know there is a great chance that I will be disappointed in the end, but I always do the same thing. They come and go, and I always fall for the next one in line.
I liked Mike Johnson. I liked Aaron Downey. I liked Garth freaking Murray (although it was mostly because of that old pic where he has an Afro haircut). I rooted for Corey Locke. I was a fan of Streit when he was playing as a forward because he had no spot on the Habs D. I liked Smolinski. I loved Tom Kostopoulos. I miss Lang. I fell in love with Gorges when he arrived from San Jose and had a hard time getting a regular spot on defense. I love Halak. I love Metropolit. I liked Chips. And I already know I’ll cheer for Pouliot, because everyone seems ready to jump on him.
My little Hall of Fame
What’s wrong with me?? Am I doomed to love average players and to have my heart crushed every time the habs get rid of them for a bag of pucks? It’s tough because not only do half of these guys go away, but the general feeling on internet forums and blogs when they do is “whatever” or “good riddance!”.
I just can’t truly fall in love with superstars (Koivu was one of the only exceptions here. And I still got screwed!). Sure, I like successful goal scorers and exciting playmakers. And I’m as excited by guys like Malkin as anyone. But most of them feel a little boring *cough cough Cammalleri* compared to guys like Kostopoulos or Gorges. Watch Gorges when he scores a goal, and compare that to Gomez. It’s just not the same. (By the way, Gomez only scored one more goal than Josh so far this season. Just sayin’) One of my favorite situations in a game is when 4th liners and defensemen have to take part in a shootout because the talented forwards have failed to win the game. It’s glorious.
I guess that’s the way I am. I don’t think it has to do with a special love for hard work (I’m lazy) or mediocrity (or at least I hope so!). It’s just that I love seeing those guys beating the odds. And well, maybe I’m a little masochistic too… But at least, even if I’m regularly crushed, I know I’ll always have new 4th liners and less talented guys to love. There are new ones popping up year after year! :P
I’m a little late on this, but I just wanted to say something about the Hartnell finger biting incident.
Every time this happens, I’m HIGHLY amused by the sheer outrage and the apparently terrible pain that a little bite on the finger inevitably provokes.
Now, it’s true that I haven’t been bitten in a long time, so it’s completely possible that I simply forgot how EXTREMELY painful it is. But, you know, we always hear about how tough and courageaous hockey players are, how they can play through pain, and there are numerous stories of NHLers playing with broken ribs, broken jaws and so on. So I’m always surprised to see big guys who happily repeatedly punch each other in the face immediately roll on the floor in agony when someone bites their finger (through a mouthguard and a pair of big gloves).
OMG OMG OMG! It HUUUUUUURTS!
(I love the completely panicked stare of the team doctor)
And then, the outrage! Not only do they go through this abominable pain, but they immediately have to run to the bench, find a doctor, and call the referees to show them the extent of the injury, with scandalized faces and big gestures. I love how the whole scene is so dramatic.
Oh, the Humanity!
And it’s funny because it works just about every time this happens. Just remember a few months ago, when Jarkko Ruutu decided to see what Andrew Peters fingers taste like:
Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe Aïe!
Look at this, everyone, this is a gross violation of the most sacred principles of human decency! He… he bit me!
Just a last word: I’m leaving tomorrow morning for 2 days. I won’t be back until sunday night, so have a good weekend everyone!
J’ai toujours aimé ces petites histoires de superstition et de routine d’avant match, parce que ça montre finalement bien que les sportifs professionnels sont des gens ordinaires (ou presque) placés dans des situations extraordinaires, où on attend d’eux des choses spéciales. Comme il leur est impossible d’avoir le contrôle sur tout, alors que la pression est toujours la même, c’est intéressant de voir comment ils se rattachent à ce genre de petits gestes pour évacuer le stress. C’est encore plus intéressant quand la superstition devient un geste collectif et non plus seulement individuel C’est toute l’équipe qui adopte un certain rituel, même si chacun sait bien que tout ça est irrationnel, dans le fond.
Voilà une petite vidéo que j’ai trouvée par hasard sur youtube, à propos justement de ces superstitions des joueurs de hockey. C’est une archive de radio-canada de 1998, qui est assez amusante. J’ai été surpris d’apprendre à quel point Patrick Roy était superstitieux. L’histoire de la rondelle déposée dans un coin du vestiaire avant chaque période est assez fascinante… Ca devient presque du vaudou.
Enfin bien sûr, pour moi le détail le plus intéressant de cette vidéo, c’est ça:
Le bonhomme lego des Senateurs d’Ottawa
Génial. J’imagine tellement les joueurs tous réunis au centre du vestiaire, chacun en train de rajouter leur petite brique. “Vas-y Alfie, mets le patin gauche!” “Non, moi je veux le casque!” D’ailleurs, je crois pouvoir vous révéler que les Sénateurs ont complètement réaménagé leur vestiaire depuis l’installation de ce bonhomme lego. Voilà en exclusivité un aperçu de ce qui reste normalement caché aux journalistes:
Avec de tels équipements, pas étonnant que Kovalev ait choisi Ottawa!
I’m sorry I’m not updating this blog a little more often these days, but I’m busy, and honestly, I just don’t feel very inspired. I’m not really excited about the Stanley Cup Final, and there’s just not much going on with the habs. Actually, I just realized I didn’t even bother posting anything special after they hired Jacques Martin. I’m a bad blogger. At least, I think this is a good indication of my enthusiasm level. Right now, I’m a little fed up with hockey. I feel like this season has been going on FOREVER.
I’m not even really missing the habs. The end of their season was so crappy that I’m enjoying this break. This lack of habs news is actually a good thing right now. Because I know it won’t last very long. In only a few days, the season will be over, and the draft will come. We will inevitably be surrounded by a crazy amount of rumors about who the habs will sign, trade, and let go. The fact that the draft takes place in Montreal will make this even worse, because every single one of the journalists covering the habs will be there, trying to get some scoop. No matter what Gainey does or does not, he will be praised by some, and ripped by most. Some of the decisions that will be made will leave us baffled, some will probably crush our heart, and some will hopefully be pretty exciting. So before this rollercoaster of emotions starts, I’m trying to enjoy this moment. Everything is still possible, and I don’t have yet to worry about the fate of some of my favorite habs (Yeah, I’m thinking about you, Saku and Komi).
In only a few days, you’ll read everywhere how this is a crucial time for Montreal. And it’s true that this will be a defining moment for this team. With that many free agents, the decisions made by the habs (and their ability to attract the free agents they’re going after) this summer could really set the tone for the 3 or 4 next seasons. If they decide to let go Koivu, this offseason will mark an even greater change. Saku wore the C for longer than legends like Toe Blake, Emile Bouchard, Maurice and Henri Richard, Yvon Cournoyer, and Bob Gainey. If he leaves, this will truly be the end of an era. Not the most successful era for the habs, that’s for sure. But this is during this era that I fell in love with them, so it means something to me.
But I’ll speak about that in a few days. For now, let’s enjoy this little break. Just like the habs are enjoying their own holidays.
Nice tan, Kovy!