Another excruciatingly long summer is over. Actual hockey games are on the horizon. Because this is the 265th most widely read hockey blog on the internets, MYFO felt a deep obligation to our dozens of readers to prepare this series of previews telling you about every single team in the NHL. By “prepare” we mean, we found other people to write many of them for us. We were looking for people who (unlike us) might have an actual clue about these teams, but were also eager/willing/dumb/not self-respecting enough to work for free. Within those constraints, we think we did an admirable job.
Today’s preview of Dan Hopper, Contributor to MYFO and Associate Editor of Best Week Ever.
Coping With Cup Finals Grief
For the sake of perfectly applicable argument, let’s say you randomly find yourself fighting in the death tournament from the game Mortal Kombat, and after easily beating down an alcoholic one-legged Canadian man, you end up squaring off against the guy at your job who you’ve always openly hated ever since he got promoted over you even though he’s asinine and incompetent and stole your girlfriend, and you end up ripping his head off, spinal cord still attached. Then in the next round, you face the kid who bullied you from Kindergarten all the way through your senior year of college before marrying and knocking up the prom queen you’ve always had a crush on, and you beat the crap out of him too, then turn into a dragon and bite him in half. Then in the Finals, you lose to the Detroit Red Wings. Who are, I don’t know, Johnny Cage.
Honestly – would you NOT consider that tournament a success?
ESPN Hockey Talker-Aboutter Barry Melrose was officially introduced as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday. MYFO did not, in fact, manage to land an interview with Coach Melrose following the press conference, but if we had, it might have gone uhhhhhhlittttle somethingggg………. liiiiiike this:
MYFO: Do you believe the Capitals are the team to beat in the Southeast?
BARRY MELROSE: I believe Alexander Ovechkin is the most dynamic player in the National Hockey League right now. He scores goals, he delivers big hits. But also, the Capitals have some talent with Semin and Green, they’re a very good young hockey team.
Fleury’s Agent and Ray Shero sit through the entire tape of Pens/Wings Game 5.
FLEURY’S AGENT: Or, how about 25 years, $1 trillion?
RAY SHERO: …Deal.
FLEURY’S AGENT: I believe my client has demonstrated time and time again that, at the young age of 23, he is already an elite NHL talent capable of backstopping a team deep into the playoffs. He’s followed up his 40-win ’06-’07 regular season with a dominating 2008 playoff performance, winning 12 of his first 14 starts and posting a sub-2.00 Goals Against Average and a 94% Save Percentage en route to a Cup Finals berth. Therefore, my client is seeking nothing less than legitimate, top-notch goaltender money in the vicinity of $6-$7 million per year over the next five seasons.
Ray Shero pauses. He pulls out a remote control, hits a button, and a video screen drops down from the ceiling. The following clip plays:
Behold – the great Mario Lemieux… with a solid white line in his mouth, so it looks like he’s toothless and wearing a mouthpiece… and a big bright red “66” on the front of his jersey… hoisting a vague, golden statue above his head… looking less like a hockey superstar and more like a kid with Down Syndrome whose parents allowed him to pretend a Rolo wrapper was a magic fleece. Yes, my friend, you have just wasted your money.
In Mario Lemieux Hockey, the 1991 Sega-manufactured “game” (inasmuch as the word “game” does not automatically imply potential for enjoyment) you can’t aim your shots, there aren’t any real teams, faceoffs are decided by the puck bouncing in the air three times then landing on someone’s stick, and the overall gameplay offers you less control than a quadriplegic Calvinist – Yes, “Lemieux”will stand forever as a shining example of what happened in the 90s when someone besides EA tried to make a hockey video game.
According to the National Hockey League’s Committee For Awards and Trophies That Aren’t Made Up, the Vincent Francois Damphousse Memorial Trophy (founded in 2004) shall be presented annually “to the player who, by publicly announcing his retirement from playing hockey to pursue other endeavors, makes us all laugh and say to ourselves ‘Really? That dude was still in the league? Hmm. Whatever.'”
Past recipients of this elite award include Doug Gilmour in 2003, who received the award retroactively after Damphousse’s 2004 retirement and the subsequent creation of the trophy, Steve Thomas in 2005, though he declined the award because he is still waiting for an NHL contract, and Luc Robitaille in 2006, who received the trophy milliseconds after officially announcing his retirement, as a league official happened to be standing right next to him clutching the trophy in his outstretched hand for three years.
It is with great pleasure that I now announce the 2007 inductee into the elite club of NHL players who have amused us greatly by announcing their retirement and thereby reminding us that they hadn’t yet retired. Drum roll please.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
I’ll spare you the paragraph about “in all my years of watching sports…” Let’s just say I have seen exactly 6.85 billion games in my life, dating back to the first sporting contest on record (a wrestling match on Crete, circa 746 B.C.)
I’ll also spare you the paragraph about how “Even if I weren’t a Pens fan…” If I had to repeatedly shiv Sid the Kid in the ACL to prove my objectivity while writing these accounts, I gladly would.
That being said, the second period of last night’s Penguins/Devils game marked the single worst, most consciously unconscionable display of deliberate officiating arrogance I have ever seen in a sporting event, ever. And I have seen me quite a bit of spo– sorry, never mind.
Here’s how the second period — henceforth referred to as the “Dancing Bullshit Jamboree” — went down: