Monday, February 22

CYRILLIC MY ASS

In honour of the 30th Anniversary of the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the U.S. and Soviet Union (I refuse to call it a Miracle because to paraphrase Don Novello, '...2 of them were card tricks') I would just like to say; everyone, and I mean everyone, knows the real reason they won.
Not Jim Craig standing on his head nor Jamie Farr in the crowd. It wasn't because of Herb Brooks and his abusive, confrontational coaching style. It happened because of what Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov called the biggest mistake of his life.
Владисла́в Алекса́ндрович Третья́к

Vladislav Aleksandrovich Tretiak
was voted by his own people as the Greatest Russian Hockey Player of the 20th Century. And along with teammate Valeri Kharlamov are the only non NHL players to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a First All-Star in the Soviet League consecutively each year from 1971 until 1984. Won 3 gold medals, 10 IIHF World Championships, recipient of the Order of Lenin.

One can only guess what Viktor Tikhonov was thinking then when he replaced Tretiak with Vladamir Mishkin. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, but I have heard Tretiak himself say that he (and clearly the whole Russian team) were furious that he was pulled (the 'greatest mistake of my life' as mentioned above). It was clearly the turning point of the game.
Tretiak has also stated that if it weren't for that mistake that he would have won a fourth gold medal. You have to believe him when he states that he would never have allowed the goals that Mishkin did in the third.

So in the end it is what it is. An enormous error is Olympic judgement, tantamount to Marc Crawford not playing Gretzky in the shoot-out. Or Mike Babcock not calling a time out late in the game.

Friday, January 15

Toskala Gets Shutout, Says: "I've Had a Laser Pointer in My Eyes For Two Seasons."

All right everyone, please settle down. I know it'll be difficult as we've all suffered an incredible blow. Obviously this morning we're still reeling from the shocking happenings at the ACC last night, or as I will now always refer to it, "The Events of 1/14.'"

Wins don't come easily to this Leafs team, and a win by shutout is the rarest gem in Leafs Nation. The timing for this one was perfect, as it stemmed another Toronto slide, and pulled the un-fastened fight-strapped jersey over the head of a creep filled Philadelphia Flyers team. Now just to make sure we're all on the same page here, let me take a quick poll: I want to see a show of hands of all you Leafs who played their best game of the season... Not so fast Ian White, you're always awesome. But to the other 19 of you, that estimation is pretty much spot on. Most unbelievably this also includes one V. Toskala. You may remember him from such opposition goals as 'the one a minute into the game', and 'the one a minute and a half into the game.'

Toskala, who in spite of his better judgment stopped all 38 Flyer shots, looked solid, calm and dependable. These words replacing the three adjectives I thought I'd be using to describe him when I heard he was the starter: "Horrendous", "Pathetic" and "Never Kissed a Girl".

But for the very start of the game, Vesa didn't stray into those problem areas he all too often finds himself in: Playing too deep in his net, not challenging the shooter, not being able to catch anything, and inspiring despair in his teammates. He did everything he needed to do, and not once did it occur to me to slam my fist down onto my coffee table, a hilarious ritual I've taken up, coincidentally every time he's in net.

See below for the incredible first career goal by Ty Bozak, a kid who is sure to have a great career for another team. With that shot, not only did Bozak score the game winner, but he accomplished the best thing anyone has ever done in a #42 Leafs jersey. Ever. Ever. He also elevated the play of Kulemin and Kessel, and the first line had 5 points on the night, thereby doing everything that they needed to do. Great energy and enthusiasm from Jay Rosehill who had a "I'm so fortunate to be here!" way about him that perhaps became infectious. Other people fortunate to be there: Every other goddamn guy with a Leaf on his chest.

As much as we'd love to believe that Vesa would never hit us again, I'd advise everyone to be very cautious. Remember that when he came back from injury in November he played lights out great, just long enough for us to love him again. Did I say us? I meant me. What? This black eye? I just walked into a door, that's all!

Still, it was a great game, and one that we all deserved to be a part of. The Leafs were defensively strong, had balanced scoring, a perfect penalty kill, and next season Vesa Toskala will look great in a Florida Panthers uniform.

Thursday, December 31

Leafs Lose, Broad Side of Barn Safe

In preparing to write this post about last night's Leafs/Oilers game, I tried to think of a bunch of cliches that I could use to illustrate my frustration. "Flat as a Pancake" was a good start. "Give the Shirt Off Your Back" was a bit of a stretch and "You've Got Ants in Your Pants" kind of turned me on, so it wasn't until I came across "The Leafs Can't Hit the Broad Side of a Fucking Barn" did I know I hit the seam.

So, the Leafs can't hit the broad side of a fucking barn and doesn't newly minted Vezina trophy candidate Jeff Deslauriers know it? Deslauriers, yet another average NHL goalie who gets the once a season treat of having his stats inflated at the Leafs expense, coasted to the win at Rexall Place for once not disappointing his parents. I'm not sure about you but I am sick to death of the Leafs making their opponents' 'Goalie of the Future' look like their 'Goalie of the Present'.

Remember the good old days when all we had to fuss about was Jason "I Hate Logos" Blake making sure he ruined the very center of a goalies' jersey with yucky black puck marks? Well the Leafs have decided to be the bane of a different team employee; going from the guy who does the teams laundry to the guy who paints the end boards at the end of the season.

On an interesting side note, this was going to be a post about how much I hate Vesa Toskala, but I found that typing is hard to do with clenched fists. I learned early on in life that anger is something which needs to be expressed, and not buried deep, deep, deep inside, so I promise I'll talk about this black hole in my heart the next time Vesa Toskala is inextricably given the start in another Leafs game. Until then I want to wish Joey MacDonald all the best for the new year.

Saturday, December 26

The 13th Man or how to do your homework on the bus on the way to school.

Admittedly words like formidable and dynamic come to mind when describing the Russian contingent for Vancouver 2010. The squad is a venerable who's who of the NHL's offensive elite. With names like Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Alexander Semin an argument could be made that this is one of the best they have ever iced. Their команда мечты is fucking хороший.
As a hockey fan, it makes for good eats.
Of course what every body is talking about is the KHL players. Who was left off vs who was put on the team. Clearly a marketing ploy to show the world that the KHL is a big boy too. But politics and international hockey are balls together so this is exactly the kind of thing that derails teams in tournaments like this.


In the end it will be the thing with the goat horns after losing the gold to Canada.


So on the eve of what I am sexily calling Countdown to Van 2010.
I would be remiss if I didn't throw my two cents in...and thats balls because then i would have to look up what the word remiss means.

Countdown to Van 2010.
Let's start with the obvious. The best goalie in the universe, and I know he has his detractors who say that without playing for the defensive minded trap orientated Devils that his numbers wouldn't be so great, and to those people I say balls. You absolutely cannot ignore his resume. Martin Brodeur is the best goalie in the universe.
His heir apparent is Roberto Luongo and rightly so. The crown hasn't been passed yet but it will be one day and watching how to win is an amazing lesson. Roberto will be on the bench and watch Brodeur do it.
And the third goalie, of course, is Marc Andre Fleury. I can see his interview now, smiling that beaming smile he has (-that sounds a little gay) saying it was a'honor just to be nominated. And you know what? I'd believe him. Along the way the likes of Carey Price, Steve Mason and Cam Ward have played their ways off the team. And Fleury played his way on. Marty Turco is driving the bus to the airport.

The locks are such a snooze. Not to be blase but we all know that Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash, Heatley and Iggy are all on the team. Nash is first line, all the way. He is an international killer no matter who you play him with (who in my humble opinion should be Crosby and Iginla.) Don't put the C on any of them and let them just score.
Then of course the argument of instant chemistry comes up. And of course the chemistry that Heatley and Thornton (another lock) have with the having a contract year Patrick Marleau means that he'll (Patrick Marleau) be on the team. His 25 goals are hard to ignore but if there are any surprises (I'm looking at you Mike Fisher) then it's Marleau who gets cut. And of course you cannot not, which is a double negative which means that you mustn't not, take Getzlaf and Perry. Everybody knows that they're big game guys. And I read it somewhere and agreed...it would be very interesting to see these two play with ubber-finisher Dany 'One N' Heatley.

And although the dark horses are always cool to mention; besides Fisher there's Steve Stamkos, Patrice Bergeron and Dustin Penner all who won't be on this team.

Also figuring that it would be Crosby taking Gagne's place (hard to imagine Crosby being left off Torino) then who takes Lecavalier's place? The Richards' are a toss up. I could give you a pro/con for both but in the end I'd take Mike over Brad. That's a tough one because Mike is good too but the 2 of them cancel each other out almost....wait no...the other way around.

Jonathan Toews, Martin St. Louis, Brendan Morrow and Shane Doan...wait how many is that?
I think that's 13.

It's late....

The key to the Russians is being about to skate with them and control them along the boards. The fact for the first time, its NHL sized rinks as opposed to the huge international surface means that we need our 4th to be big and tough. Brendan Morrow is a lock for this team for this exact reason, not to mention what he can do on a penalty kill. Shane Doan with him. Lock.

The D is interesting. The locks being; the fist pairing of Scott Niedermayer, 36, (of the Anaheim Ducks) and Chris Pronger, 35 (of the Philadelphia Flyers). Again instant chemistry.
Weber-Boyle just sounds good. Like an insurance company you can trust - which is true of them in many ways.
Jay Bouwmeester, 26 (Calgary Flames) is the loan Flame D I have on my team. Then you got a frappe where any of Seabrook, Doughty, Burns, Keith and Green could and would (and for all intents and purposes) should be on the team. But I would go with Keith and Seabrook. Doughty is another one of those picks that spices up these predictions and I might have to acquiesce to Los Angelino and snappy dresser, Greener on this one. What do you say Greener? Doughty to be sexy or Seabrook?

Is that my team? Can I go to sleep now?

Friday, November 6

TML: Here's to Future Days

Here is Greener's post from this morning's Pension Plan Puppets.

A funny thing happens to a young NHL superstar on his way to setting a personal high in shots in a game: you electrify a nation driven mad with desire for culpable proof that their team will actually have a number in the "wins" column in the double digits. And by double, I mean, "2". As a charter member of that Nation, did I get all the proof I need? You bet your over-used Wellwood fat-jokes I did. So tonight, as the goal lusty Phil Kessel and the Leafs head into flavour country, do I believe Toronto will reach that plateau over a ripe-for-the-taking Hurricane team? Does a Wellwood eat in the woods?

The thing I found most noticeable about Kessel's first game as a Leaf was how dynamic he was with the puck. When he had it, he wasn't thinking "...hey, a drop pass would look great right about now!". He just wanted to take it and score with it. He failed miserably of course, seeing as how the score was 2-1 against and not 11-1 for, but still. The intention was there, and considering the season so far, that's a lot.

I feel a sense of peace and hope for the future that the binary star of Kessel and Gustavsson will bring to the Leafs. The future looks better than today. As the Hadron Collider is sabotaging itself from the future, Newton's third law has kicked in, and future Kessel brings hope! And goals! And wins! And the retirement of Howard Berger!

Don't worry Pension Plan Puppets fans, in this future your beloved blog still takes to the sky each night, now from our new HQ in an abandoned cistern miles beneath Mt. Fuji, where we take delight in the ugly, gutless play of the nearby Osaka Senators. Your core group is still here, except now "1967ers" calls himself "2012ers" for reasons too wonderful to even speak here. Leaf of the Day's still going strong, bringing us former Leaf news and information. Here's a sneak peak at future Kessel's installment. 2012ers continues doing a great job on LotD. Hopefully in May of 2011 you won't miss his two day piece on Jyrki Lumme's post hockey career rise to become Finland's top acid house DJ. See you then!

Monday, October 26

Maple Leafs: Turn Head, Cough

As a doctor, I have devoted my life to ending the pain and suffering of those wretched souls who wander the world without hope, without direction. Choosing this path in life has brought me many riches; for example, it's how I met Moose. But now I want to put my powers to even greater use: I am going to help the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"But how?", none of you must be asking. How is Greener going to do it? Well, if I told you everything, I'd have to charge every one of you my full fee of $****.95 an hour, so I won't, but I will let you in on a little thing I use in my practice. It's a little wonder drug called POSITIVE THINK-ING! And just how am I going to do this for the Leafs? Well, I'm going to the Leafs/Ducks game today in Anaheim, and I will be personally instructing the boys on how to change the course of their season. I'll be going into the dressing room before game time. A cool guy I met online told me he'd bring me in. He said to come around to the back of the Honda Center around 6:30 where him and his friends will meet me. He said bring money, so that'll be cool. I love making new contacts!

So, a quick visual lesson in Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life™, by Dr. Greener, PhD, PsyD, SeXY.

So, in no particular order, come... enter my healing place.

Whatever2_medium

I mean, right?!? Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are already correct! You Leafs CAN win, because you WANT to win. Y...Y...You do want to win, right? Guys? *hilarious crickets sound*

God, it's funny cause it's true. The Leafs have lost everything, if "everything" means every hockey game in the 09/10 season. So that means, FREE PASS! You Leafs, to a man, are free to do absolutely anything. If by "anything" I mean beat the goddamn Ducks and let we, the lovers who love you, regain the ability to achieve an erection smile again.

Fear_medium

What I'm saying here is that allowing yourselves to live in fear is WORSE than going out and facing up to the thing that you dread the most. In other words, going out there tonight and playing as hard as you can, throwing shot after shot at Ducks (hopefully) call-up goalie Justin Pogge is a lot better than waiting around for Brian Burke to call a meeting with you, Jason Blake, and telling you he's buying you a ticket to the Marlies. Did I say Jason Blake? That was a slip-up. I could have been talking about anyone.

So there you are, a quick lesson into how to make your life a success. I'm obviously living proof that it works. When you watch the game tonight, and Toronto is up by... uh... well let's just say when they're up, just look for the Leafs fan in the stands getting accolades from all his new chums. And when you spot me, just know that I'm thinking of all of you.

Thursday, October 22

KICKIN' THE TIRES

I'm a Torontonian, born and raised, and on her playgrounds is where I skated most of my days. Even though my important years were spent in the Cabbagetown section of the city, my first home, right after I was born, was Mimico. In fact some of my earliest memories are of being on skates in Marie Curtis Park. Mimico is a fine proud section of Toronto and in fact many members of that den of vipers that calls itself my family still live there.

Let's not hold that against Mimico.

I mention Mimico because of something that I recently read about Brendan Shanahan. It was in that paper written by that guy whose best work is his Wimbledon coverage. His article mentioned Mimico's own Brendan Shanahan.

...Now I know what you are immediately thinking; Uh, Norte haven't we been down this road before? 17 games and 5 assists of Yanic Perrault cost us Brendan Bell. And the less said about atrocity that cost us Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and our 1st round draft pick in 2003 (and correct me if I am wrong but did that pick not turn out to be Steve Bernier?) the better.
But this Mimico kid, years past his best before date (for sure), a man who probably still remembers the H Salt Fish and Chips jingle; won in junior, won 3 Stanley Cups, and an Olympic Gold Medal, oh yeah and he grew up grew up living and breathing the Leafs.

This isn't Lindros. Nobody needs us to lead us to the promised land. He isn't the final piece of anyone's puzzle. And he is not the prodigal son returned home after every other team closed their door on him.
But what he is, is a winner and a leader. (Like I said, this is no Lindros). And what this teams needs right now, maybe even more than a W is a Captain. A leader who can teach this team how to win. Not even a playoff warrior just a player to be accountable to.

And I can hear my brother's voice in my ear talking about
Lou Lamoriello, "he's a great hockey guy Norte," he's saying, "and by everyone's estimation a pretty loyal guy....if he took a pass on Shanny...what does that say?"
And I'd say back to my brother, "Can you like take a step backwards bro? Not to be rude but your mouth smells like feet."
He'd be all embarrassed and maybe cover his mouth with his hand and say, "We'll need to play the kids."
And I'd shrug and tell him that floss is not expensive.

Tuesday, October 20

SYMPTOM V CAUSE

You can ask my posting brothers here at He Score He Shoot about all the posts I have begun but never finished this season. They're just sitting there in the dashboard of HS/HS mocking me in their unfinished-ness. I see them, with their barely funny titles, with half baked ideas that really go nowhere. Posts where I've compared the Leafs to deadbeat dad's and said that you and I (the fans) were like a rooming house where said deadbeat dads lived. I believe the big pay-off was saying something about making him pay his rent by the day.

Yeah, sad really.

And yet another post where I talked about set fights (off the draw), and how they were starting to remind me of the Rocky movies. With the law of diminishing returns etc, it's hard to get excited about Colton Orr's 6 minutes a game when you know what he is going to do.

How about the one where I compared the Leafs to the later seasons of Miami Vice. I believe I got as far as calling the Leaf forwards sockless pastels, and our defense as porous as Edward James Olmos' face. But really comparing your top 6 or bottom 6 to an Vittorio Ricci unconstructed blazer and making fun of what must have been debilitating acne for young Mr. James Olmos just seems weak. (Although I will say that I still agree with calling our goaltending the equivilent of rolling the sleeves of your blazer up.)

These un-posts were filled with talk about not liking the play of Komisarek, Hagman, Blake, Stajan or Grabovski...but its like duh...obviously, so that post fizzled after a few paragraphs too.

And that's exactly the problem this year. That this one, unlike any other year that I can remember, has left me utterly uninspired. I have found absolutely no inspiration in losing. So beyond the few interesting (?) things I mentioned above, I haven't had a hold on even one post.
There were plenty of things bothering me of course. I wondered why, for possibly the first time in my life, when I would watch a Leafs on a rush, I'd know - I'm talking KNOW - that it wasn't going to work. I would wonder if it was because we have the worst finishers since the Bachman books were published as an omnibus. And is it just me or do the Leafs not even dump and chase right? And someone please explain how you miss the net when you shoot at it? Luke Schenn?
There are some bright lights, Stalberg looks like he could be real good and Ian White...well...Ian White is Ian White (anybody know why he isn't wearing the C?). Stempniak is playing for a contract which is exactly why he's going to make about 1.7 m than he currently does.
Our forwards gamble less then the Amish on Pentacost Monday (or Second Christmas) when the Amish are generally confined to religious customs, family gatherings, and quiet festivities.
And you know what I hate? When goalies make shooters look better than they are.

...And you know what...the playoffs are over for this team already. I was never good in math but even I know that the playoffs are already done for this team. Like seriously over, seriously. Which makes me want to say serious-the fuck-ly? Serious-the fuck-ly? Already? It's like October though. Over?

This summer I wondered aloud why Burkie addressed the D and G but seemed to F the F's. Who is going to score? Now I wonder who is going to set up Kessel?

It hurts even writing this. I feel sad...like I should be wearing a black arm band or a button like Bill Cosby did after Sammy Davis Jr. died.









































































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ps. I loved Darcy Tucker but showing a glowing tribute to our favourite of the Muskoka 5 seems asinine. Who in the name of sweet shit approved that? If I were on the Leaf bench I would have been livid.

Friday, October 9

STOP WITH THE PANIC YOU DUMMY

I have been accused of being a hater. I know that there are things that make my fists ache from squeezing them so hard. Everybody knows about my personal fatwa against the nation's capital (I will hereby never use that city's name again in print), there's also Daniel Alfredson, the instigator rule and Flyers Fans. People who can't cook but think they can.

Natural iced-tea bugs me too...like....I gotta tell you...I don't give two shits that you naturally brewed it in your backyard all afternoon.

I don't like finger lickers either, these are the same people who bang on the glass at games.

I would add Howard Berger to that list as well. But saying it seems too obvious; like hating Nazi's or multiple sclerosis. It's like yeah...duh.

I hate the human groin.

I was once doing yoga in my living room, and when I say yoga....i have to tell you I was just trying to stretch and contort my body in weird ways to make my baby son laugh. Saying it was yoga just sounds cooler.
Whilst in one of these 'positions', lets call it the Itchy Lotus, my son laughing his beautiful laugh, his mother, let's call her the fucking loved one, threw a gummy bear at me. Now it wasn't so much that I didn't know that she was there or that I was in a vulnerable position...it was that she threw the candy at my nutsack and hit.
And they were there man...just there....exposed like grapefruit in a basket of grapes. What kind of english she was using I don't know cos she somehow hit both with the one throw...kind of 7 10 split style.
And whilst my son laughed away I unpretzeled myself and did what Doctors would call wrenched my bag.

To this day I there are times that I know that I am one wittily re-produced electric O away from destroying that same nutsack.

And now...because of another weak bag, we're left with the option of starting our 3rd goalie or Joey MacDonald.

Thursday, October 8

WILL HE OR WON'T HE? I DUNNO

Right off the bat I should tell you that this post will not be about the sens and or my snarling, angry wound of a loathe for them. I know that seems odd, as your old pal Norte rarely crawls from under the overpass unless it is to write a screed about how terrible, useless, awful and atrocious the sens are.

Couple that with the fact that they played the Leafs Tuesday night, the timing, at best, seems fishy.

Bare with me.

This post won't be like that. It won't be one of those where I mention how fat the thighs and calves of all the women in the city are. So what if they're all overweight, I say, they have to deal with Pascal Leclaire as their starter.
I won't mention how truly shite a city it is when one of its main attractions is 6km of frozen cesspool, full of missing cats and shopping carts.

....I fucking hate you Ottawa - no wait...I promise I won't sat that either.

I wont even really talk about the game... The Leafs' 2nd loss in a row or that their arena, which smells like feet, is in the middle of a field near some bushes and shit.

I promise I won't rail against their captain. I won't say something like he is a man so fey that David Hyde Pierce once beat the fucking shit out of him.

Scout's honour I won't mention the eye, the lisp or the Neil.

I wont make some left field dada-esque joke like Ottawa is like bad karaoke or mention how the whole city smells like the inside of some dude's ass.

I will not create a piece of digital art for this post; a visual beat so perfect that the nation, so collective in its hatred of that city and its "team" shout "hurray!" when they see it.

I won't mention the Heater or that the former Leaf Killer is now more of an Kings Killer than anything else.

I won't.

I won't even mention the game or the terrible officiating or a stick higher than Kate Moss on cocaine. Or that this team -and believe me I have to squeeze that word out like Fonzie saying "I was wr..wr..wr.wrong"- didn't earn their two points.

See.

Friday, September 25

Game Review: TML 10

Summer has given way to fall this week and obviously that means a couple of important things. One is: VAMPIRE MOVIES!!1! The other is new hockey video games! And until they can merge my two faves (online screenname: PhaneufBiter69), I'll have to settle for one or the other. To that end I want to review the newest game out there: TML 10!
Exploding out of the gate TML 10 is the best TML to come out in years. At least the best since the pre-lockout TML 04. For those of us who've suffered through the versions since that time it appears to have been worth the wait.

While the gameplay is top notch, the real draw here is the GM Franchise mode, where you play as Brian "That's Mr. Brian Burke" Burke, a hard-nosed Rhode Island Red with a long memory, a short fuse, and deep, deep scowl lines. The Burke character, working from an engine borrowed from "Genghis Khan" and "The Second World War", is a welcome change from past years as things in TML 10 have actually changed.

In TML 10, every skill, like skating speed and shooting accuracy, is attached to sliders. This allows Burke to dial them up or down. All except the "Fighting" skill which has its gauge locked at 100%. When this skill is in effect, the player has to fight and beat the Jesus Christ out of the opponent and if you don't the Burke character shuts your game down and you have to go back to playing Conker's Bad Fur Day.

After you've done an on-ice game, you as Burke have to play a "Scrum". In this game, you are surrounded by the worst lazy questions the Toronto media can lob at you. By aggressively repeating the sequence of X B X Y, you make Howard Berger piss his pants and run out of the locker room. This gets you an ovation from your players and 1,000,000 extra points.

It's still early, but I''ve loved what I've seen and played. It'll be an exciting game to play for the next 9 months. Overall rating: 8.5/10.


* Rated 'T' for Truculence. Not available in Eastern Ontario.

Monday, September 21

And Burke Said, "Let There Be Goals"

I'm not a religious man, to say the least. This one time a street corner preacher asked me if I needed to have my soul saved, and I answered "It's 11:30". In spite of this, I know when someone is doing the Lord's work, if the Lord is the Stanley Cup, and the work is kicking the shit out of everyone in the Eastern conference.

To that end, I sit at the hem of Brian Burke's garment. Me and 11 other saintly guys - PPP, Chemmy, uh, Trevor, and like, others - follow him around in blue robes loving what he's done with and for the Toronto Maple Leafs. By the power vested in him by his oft repeated mantra of personal truculence, testosterone, and perhaps some sort of magic sword, Burke has made the Leafs "something" other than the serving of milquetoast they were before he entered the GTA. No matter what you think of the deal to make Phil Kessel a Leaf, you can't argue with that.

Burke, seen here coming down from his place on Mt. Olympus, has bestowed onto us a team with personality, identity, tons of upside, and now, finally, an answer to the question, "...so who's going to score goals??" With Phil Kessel a Leaf, the team has in its possession a first line all-star who has every intention of continuing to live up to his 5th selection overall. Kessel was picked just behind Jonathon Toews and Nick Backstrom, and you know who the two first rounders Burke gave up for him are going to get picked behind? Their names are Who Knows, and It Doesn't Matter Anymore. It should be more than obvious by now that the Leafs' re-build is a year ahead of schedule, and a big part of Burke's rationale is, all he's trading are mid-round picks. In Leafs Speak, that's Landon Wilson and Eric Fichaud. Toronto now has a NHL proven, 21 year old guy who's going to score goals and push the team into the playoffs, and he came without having to lose a rebound ready Tomas Kaberle.

The Leafs probably haven't given up on a low number, Schenn-level player. 1) Because players like that are so rare they're pink in the middle, and 2) Because Burke traveled to the island of Aeaea to order Circe to concoct a brew to ensure that Daniel Alfredsson becomes sterile. That last one he did just for fun.

Amen.

Friday, August 28

Talk to Your Doctor About DDoSS

If you're anything like me, and lets be honest, with all my charity work, how could you be, you're someone who loves the summertime. Long, hot days. Short, steamy nights. Tops go down and tops come off. With all due respect to Autumn, it's the sexiest, sexy season. So, that all said, let me also add: BORR-RING.

This year, there are certain, special affectations which fall under the banner of Dog Days of Summer Syndrome™. These symptoms last precisely from the closing of Tomas Kaberle's trade window, to the first time a member of the creep-cabal of Berger/Cox/Simmons makes the "joke" that since it's pre-season, the Leafs are tied for first in the league.

Here's a major DDoSS symptom: Sitting at work refreshing the NHL page at TSN.ca 700 times a day between noon and 4. Because of this, it must be a happy time for the the good people at Coldwell Banker right now, because their click-through rate is going through the roof! There's nothing else to look at. Seriously nothing epitomizes the lack of hockey news going on more than hoping there will be a development in the Phoenix Coyote's Don't Have a Lease and Might Have toZZzzz-zzz-zz...

I'm so desperate for any hockey information, that I've been doing something I never, and I mean NEVER do: read about the Ottawa Senators. See, I don't even like to acknowledge the Ottawa Senators, so that usually precludes reading about them. But during the long, long summer one learns that the motto of sufferers of DDoSS is that beggars can't be choosers.

So for the first and almost certainly last time... have you seen what's happening with the Senators lately? Man, they are way worse than I thought they'd be! OK, that's a lie because given half a chance I'd tell you what an ugly, gutless bunch of assholes they are, but wow, everything around them is awful!

Have any of you been reading Don Brennan? Brennan, a Sun Media drone with a soul patch, must believe in karma, because the Universe is forcing him to write about the Senators. Lately he's been covering the Dany Heatley thing I'm loving every minute of situation, and, like everyone else who writes for that paper, is bad at his job. Doing away with such dull and antiquated notions as journalistic integrity, impartiality, and that whole - not putting yourself ahead of the story - thing, Brennan wrote an article after Heatley's "why I done it" press conference, stating,

The 'A' worn by Dany Heatley stands for Asinine.

The reluctant Senator proved he is also worthy of an 'A' for Arrogant and 'P' for Pompous with all the whining he did on a conference call late last week.

Without further delay, his 'A' should officially be removed. If not dramatically ripped off with threads flying everywhere during a ceremony at Parliament Hill.

Ooooo-k. Here's another letter: 'D' for Don Brennan is completely, wonderfully insane. Now remember, this is not a blogger. This is someone paid to write for public consumption. Like the guy who writes out the menu in chalk on the board at your local pub. Only not as good. Brennan went on in the piece, obviously feeling that the article was skewing a little too subtle:

Dany Heatley doesn't need that 'A' on his sweater. He has one permanently tattooed on his chest, right above the spot that those with a backbone have a heart.

Two things strike me about that. The first is that it is absolutely bananas, and the second is that it's the same thing we've all been saying for 10 years now. The moment you put on that ugly uniform, you just get a concave silhouette. But Brennan takes it so personally, as if he were the one showering "Heater" with contractually obligated cash.

There's an interesting thing I've noticed about the way the Leafs and Senators are covered by their respective media followers. Whereas the jackals who feed year in and year out on the succulent body of the Leafs (again, Berger, Cox, Simmons et al) all seem to hate the team, delighting in slanting everything about them downward, the uh, people who cover Ottawa (Brennan, Bruce Garrioch) are all apologists, who herniate themselves trying to ameliorate a rotten, soulless team. I honestly have no idea which kind is worse.

Thursday, August 6

Kerry Fraser: The Divider

This is a re-post of my article written for the great Pension Plan Puppets, from Thursday. It's here to give everyone who hasn't already read it on PPP a chance to see it. All none of you.

As I sit here writing a post about Kerry Fraser, I sit here having a heated argument with someone I've never argued with... about Kerry Fraser. This person, whom I'll call "my 4:00 patient", listened intently to everything Fraser said as he fought for his life yesterday on Leafs Lunch. After telling me her impressions of the interview, which were "he said the non-call had nothing to do with it being Gretzky", and "...he seems like a genuine guy", I gave her my impressions, which were, "You're absolutely nuts", and "That'll be $2700 please".

AM 640 held the interview in its floating studios out on Lake Ontario, pirate radio style. This was because the Leafs Lunch technicians realized that the making of a street-level gallows is very noisy, and those mics pick up everything, so the station had to take it off-shore. After all that fuss, Fraser took calls made by Leafs fans, which is ironic, as he can't stand making calls himself.

I'm not sure what prompted Kerry to want to talk about himself, but I suspect he's going on a "protect the legacy" tour, kind of like George Bush. I know it's strange to think, but actually those two have a lot in common: Both men rose to their positions' highest office. Both men have all their hair. Both men totally ruined the world. Stripes never, ever, looked more fitting.

Thursday, July 30

Leafs of Fury

This is a re-post of my article written for the great Pension Plan Puppets, from Thursday. It's here to give everyone who hasn't already read it on PPP a chance to see it. All none of you.

When Brian Burke and his collection of thesauruses became Leafs GM last November, a (Leafs) nation so used to absorbing the polite banalities of say, Stephen Harper, or the completely made up writing of say, Howard Berger, turned on its collective heel, not quite knowing what to make of such a Sassy Sally.

Much, much, much has been made of Burke's supposed use of the word "truculent", a 16th century word, meaning, in part, "fierce; cruel; and savagely brutal. I say supposed because I actually never heard him Burke say it, and I figure it could be turning one of those "Play it again, Sam" things; something which everyone believes was said, but never actually was.

Now before all you awesome joke killers little darlings fill the comments section with a thousand Toronto Sun links showing Burke's quote, let's just look at the point Burke was making when using the term: That win or lose, your Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be something we're all going to be proud of, really, really and enjoy watching.

Remember, this is a team that, just two years ago, was hoping that that plate of Hamburger Helper on skates - Kyle Wellwood - was going to be its first line centre. Wellwood, a player only a mother could love, and by mother, I mean Navin from Sports and the City, is like that girl/boyfriend from your past you just can't believe you went out with, but, you know, you're stronger now, and you'd never be that stupid again. Wellwood is an embarrasment to the fucking Vancouver Canucks, let alone the Leafs. At least the Leafs saved face by dumping him.

So what can we expect from the 09/10 Leafs? How fierce; cruel; and savagely brutal will they be? Let's ask the trembling chicken hearts beating in the "chests" of the Ottawa Senators, or the little people in Montreal who get to face the Leaf monsters all season. On Saturday night. In front of their parents. Here's a future echo of the truculence the Leafs will have this season: Want more proof? Please note that Bruce Lee is the Alternate captain.

Thursday, July 16

Q AMPERSAND A

I get a lot of fan mail here at He Score, He Shoot!. Hockey guys mostly, shut ins, some sluts; long time listeners, first time writers. They fawn a lot, which is nice. There is something though that every single one of the literally tens of letters I have gotten have in common: they all ask me if I hate Ottawa as much as I write I do.

You just can't
, they write. It's unhealthy to be filled with that kind of blah blah blah, they reason. Massive coronary, they warn. Using a lot of words and sentences that end in exclamation points. I write these fans back, sometimes in my own blood, sometimes in others' and tell them that they should mind their own goddamned fuckin' asshole business.

But seeing as everyone has asked and seeing as we're a few weeks removed from the chummed waters of free agent signings. With all the interesting stories already written and the fear that Kaberle could turn into this summer's Sundin. His where, when and for what replacing last summer's will he, won't he, why wouldn't he? as most annoying by- line.
And there being a really obscene amount of times between posts here at HS/HS. Let me answer the question honestly and objectively.

Ottawa: Oh , How I Hate Ye

It was this Canada Day where I really enjoyed the Dany Heatley saga. Because I was imagining those filthy bastards. The whole crusty-healed throng sitting on the 'hill', wondering aloud, "les odeurs d'air comme farts, uh?". Shaking their fists in between polite applause for the entertainment. Between those kids who dance from Otter Lake and that girl fiddler, just after their hit of angel dust or Molson Canadian (or whatever gets them through their day) they'd bemoan.
"That godamn 'Eatley.'
"I hate dat godamn guy, me." Someone would answer.
"Dat friggin guy." Another would say.
"....godamn Murray." They'd all say in unison, raising their fists like they're the gold and bronze medalists (respectively) of the 200 metres at the 1968 summer games in Mexico City.
"That guy's an arsehole." Someone would yell.

Max Keeping would be onstage saying gidday and wearing something embarrassing. You can bet that at some point in the afternoon you were going to hear him lisp, "Ladies and Gentlemen... The Nylons!"

J.J Clarke, (my 2nd most hated Clarke after Bobby) would be standing on Sparks Street telling the people watching at home that it's sweater weather and to be wary of the wind chill, and that, oh yeah, that OC Transpo has a special ride all day for $25 Canada Day promotion so there is no reason to drive and drive.
The look of panic on J.J's face as obvious as a neon coldsore, and the flop sweat pooling around his neck suggest that J.J. has already had too many 7 and 7's.
(I've heard that he lost all his money investing in a Planet Hollywood in Manotick.) Whatever it is, J.J. looks like a man who took a very hard kick to a very fat stomach.

Somewhere near the CJOH van Chris Neil would be selling cigarettes to school kids and bullying others. The sleeves of his too-tight jean jacket would be pushed up as he'd yell "2 for flinching!" at the passerby.

And it would be there, close enough to hear the skateboarders not landing any tricks at the War Memorial that you could close your eyes and take it all in; Ottawa: A loud roar of nitrate, trans-fatty acid and Pepsi burps.

Monday, July 6

Kovalev Leaves Habs. Cuts Off Nose, Spites Face

When news that Alex Kovalev had been booted from the Lollipop Guild Montreal Canadiens reached me at the charity I do wonderful un-publicized work for, the first thing that struck me was, "Hey, keep it down, I'm operating!" The second, was, "Awesome! Now I get to write a post ripping a team other than the Ottawa Senators!" Ah, silly. Why are the beautiful ones always so dumb?

Ignoring the obvious fact that Kovalev signed with Ottawa merely to get a chance to stick it to Bob Gainey and the rotten-hearted Kostitsyn brothers 10 times a year, lets just say that the Senators' hubris has reared its ugly, scarlett head, and once again, Ottawa gets the type of player it so richly deserves: Lazy, self-entitled, and, whenever they feel like it, prone to taking a couple months off. Months like January and March.

In spite of this, some Habs fans actually wanted to see Kovalev stay in Montreal, if only because he was the only member of their team who could reach the overhead compartment on the team bus. And amazingly, a hundred of them gathered at the Bell Center to show their support for the cause. I say amazing because this is the first time in history 100 Habs fans have gotten together without flipping over and burning a cop car.

But the real victims in a situation like this- the ones who will suffer the most from Kovalev leaving Montreal- are of course, the cities' stripper population. As the Bell Center rally was taking place, all over St. Catherines st. candlelight vigils were being held, at places like the Maison du Sexe. The strippers there, colloquially known as "Montreal's Other Smoked Meat", are devastated, as they know that Kovalev's absence means their earnings are projected to go down 12,000 percent.

Maison dancer Sylvie St. Germain* was quoted as saying:

"Dat Kovi, huh? He come in da one time wit Enrique Eglasias. Oooh we pardy-hardy dat nights! And da best part was, dey only hit me once! He will be miss."


*
Not her real name

Monday, June 15

Senators Hire Leeder. Well, Now They Have One

Taking a cue from the voices in his head, Ottawa Senators farmer Eugene Melnyk continues his comi-tragic rearranging of the Titanic deck chairs, by booting one loser inside his creep-filled organization for another. Out is former president Roy "No, That's Actually How You Spell It" Mlakar. In is current COO, the unbelievably named, Cyril Leeder.

Not even hairy Ottawa native Alanis Morissette could miss the irony in a guy named "Leeder" taking a position with the Ottawa Senators. The Sens, a bunch so gutless their team photos look like a bunch of x-rays, have gone without any sort of team leadership since they re-emerged from the filthy Rideau Canal to once again pollute the NHL with their overweight fans, heartless play, and ugly uniforms. The only time the Senators did anything great were the years between 1934 and 1992. These heady times were the decades the team didn't exist, or as I call them, "The Good Ole' Days".

Leeder, seen here conferring with Daniel Alfredsson, has been with the Senators since its very inception, and, despite the diabolical karmic implications of his actions, appears to be relatively tumor free. He replaces the long serving Mlakar, who was damned by faint praise by Melnyk who said he had,

"...contributed greatly to defining the Ottawa Senators and our relationship with our community and our fans."
...which means creating a team of losers and their followers becoming the laughingstock of the league. In the meantime, Mlakar is now free to pursue his hopes and dreams, and this morning heard the sound of his own laughter for the first time in 13 years.

Wednesday, June 10

RUMORS, TRUCULENCE AND WHEELING AND DEALING ON THE DRAFT ROOM FLOOR

During the MLSE press conference introducing Brian Burke as new Leafs GM, amid talk of plumber jobs, patience and of building from the net out, right after Burke's track record was trumpeted but just before admitting to a little dumb luck, he spoke of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.

With a couple of weeks (15 days actually -ed.) left before draft day and a full season behind us, surely Brian wasn't speaking of this time right now. Because as we sit 7th in a 5 horse race, pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence are exactly what's needed to either move up or to wheel and deal.

Everyone knows that this draft is the deepest in years, but general consensus says that there is the top 5 then a drop, the next 5 and then another drop. I feel like we may be able to move up 2 more spots - but if not, 7th suits me fine. And at 7th I've read the speculation that we'd take everyone from Jared Cowen to Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi. I think it's a safe call to say that Brayden Schenn will not be available at 7. I think I even heard Burke say so himself in an interview.

(As I write this there is talk and it's making me barf in my mouth a little. Apparently, the Heater, Dany Heatley, has requested a trade. What's making my mouth well with bile is that I keep hearing he will be traded for this year's 5th. And we all know that those godamned cock-sucking assholes will pick Schenn just to spite us. They're just the type of disgraceful douchebags to do so).


This years top 3 seems to be set. And even though all signs seem to point to Matt Duchene absolutely killing it at the combine, he is still #3 on everyone's list. Top 2 seems to be a tossup. More often than not it's JT going first, but I've seen more than a few postings where the Isles take Hedman. Leave it to Canadian media to eat its own and call Tavares' defensive ability into question and get the next one picked 2nd.

Of course the rumours are flying, some of my favourites are; Grabovski and our 7th to Atlanta for their 4th. (Apparently they're very interested in Evander Kane who will still be available at 7).

Or that horrid one about Kaberle, Strahlman and our 1st to the Rangers for Dubinsky, Stall, Redden and their 1st (19th). This one scares me because its Stall and, let's face it, Dubinsky is a Burke type player. And at 19th, in this years draft, I believe we could still get a Landon Ferraro or a Scott Glennie or maybe even a Carter Ashton, who's dad Brent, spent nearly 15 years in the league. And not that long ago Ryan Getzlaf went 19th (not to mention Mike Richards 24th and Corey Perry 28th).

But Wade fucking Redden? Besides having that sens stink of awfulness still on him, his contract is so bad, so Mike Millbury-esque that its a shock that Slats still has a job.
I would take any Stall any day of the week...but Wade Redden? I think I would rather have Andrew Raycroft as my number 1.

Did anyone else read that ridiculous rumour written by a supposed former consulting aide to Brian Burke? Who after being 'let go' delivered (via a Damian Cox message board) some set in stone drivel that came with a spoiler alert warning and had us trading away; Justin Pogge, Tomas Kaberle, Mikhail Grabovski, Pavel Kubina, 40% of Kubina's contract, two 2nd round picks in 2009, Matt Stajan, and the 7th pick in 2009 for the 3rd and 4th picks overall. Where we select Hedman and Schenn.(The Heatley talk is still going on and on but as I write this I've been thinking, what with Heatley making it public he wants a trade, does such public knowledge not open the doors for them to be low-balled? Not to mention a brutal 5 year, $7.5M contract that also contains a NTC/NMC. (So say goodbye to all of those top picks from re-building teams). Of course the fans of that team; those ghastly, caked-on ass-eaters are all overvaluing him and thinking they are dealing from a position of strength, imagining picks and prospects returning.
Hope you Tiva-wearing cunts like Olli Jokinen or Patrik Marleau. God I hate you all so much).

A few others....Kaberle and our first in 2010 to the Bolts for their 2nd and Ryan Malone. (An obvious salary dump). And/or Kubina, Poni, 7th and a 2nd to the Avs for their 3rd. Where we would then draft either Hedman or Tavares (again depending on #1) and Duchene with that 3rd. Talk like that gets my mouth watering because we would instantly become young and very talented.

It would be the next step in the long term solution for us poor Leafs fans. We'd be free of that Pat Quinn schematic; Play your veterans and pay them bloated salaries that don't match performance or production. Insist that signing 30+ year olds makes more sense than the draft-schmaft. Brad Boyes for Owen Nolan.

It's about developing your talent and using free agency to compliment that core, not the other way around.

The point is this: trade rumours and number of draft picks aside, I really believe our supporting cast is falling into place. Perhaps we need a Boogaard here, and a Beauchemin there. Personally I would stay away from Komiserak but chase JBo - thus allowing us the leverage of trading Kaberle and Kubina come Canada Day.

And finally all this talk about the Sedins coming to the Leafs. What bothers me is this. I keep reading how they want to stay in Vancouver; but if Gillis doesn't and hasn't signed them then what does that ultimately say about the faith he has in them? PPG guys yes, amazing ability to find each other on the ice yes, red pubes - yes.
And it's not a cap issue, as Vancouver, like Toronto, have lots of cap space. So something stinks in B.C, and this time it's not all the drunken Indians.

Thursday, February 19

GO SENS GO? I'D RATHER BE TAGGED IN THE NUTS BY A VERY STRONG MIDGET

Word came from no less than 4 separate Sens fans yesterday morning. We're talkin' people who woke up and thought that one of the first things they had to do was go on-line, email me and cyber-gloat. It's astounding really but as I have said before, if there's one thing you can count on with sens fans, it's douchebaggery.

You people (who wrote me, you know who you are) who figure leapfrogging the Leafs for 11th in the East is something to gloat about intrigue me. I suppose though, coming from Ottawa aka the World's Shittiest City, you gotta take what you can get. We all know that fat legs aren't something to brag about so it's beaver tails, Voice of Fire and now being only slightly less shitty statistically that the Leafs.

Remember when you were in the Stanley Cup final not that long ago?

You know me well enough to know how I feel about Ottawa but just in case my long absence has made you forget let me remind; I hate the Ottawa Senators like poison. Like poison, you hear me? Skull and crossbones on the label poison. The whole grabbing at your own neck, saying 'gak!, how could you?' with your last breathe poison. (And when I say Ottawa Senators, I include Ottawa, the valley and a handful of South West Quebec too; the people and their team. I’m talking the old, the young, the sick, the retarded, the good, the bad, the ugly. Babies, twins, immigrants, pets, lesbians, my friends, my relatives…it doesn’t matter…you and it are all the same diarrhea bouillabaisse to me.

It and you are all dreadful, so terribly terribly dreadful that if this was 16th century Turkey, I would hunt you all down like Albanians. You and it are so horrible, so scabby, pimply-assed ugly and terrible that you feel the need to gloat about being 13 points out of the last playoff spot. If it didn't border on a police matter I might even say that the best way to describe my feelings would be to quote Bruce Cockburn and say that if I had a rocket-launcher some sonofabitch would die.

Consider then, how rare the words ‘Go Sens Go’ are for me to say. I can tell you this for sure, I have said it less times than say, 'hey, hand me that Ronnie Milsap cassette', and certainly less times than, “Wow, that’s a beautiful cock” as I have barely said that before. (Remember I do know Greener) Even writing the words, ‘Go Sens Go,’ burn my fingertips a little. But bare with me. I hate Cory Clouston like he was some sort of fissure on my anus ...you know that - but his arrival and the sudden sense of hope these kleenex breakfast's suddenly have for each other makes my heart sing. You know why? Cos hope can really fuck with you.
And my hope is that their hope makes them believe. Cos belief is Bonnie to Hope's Clyde, and the two them can make you stupid. They can make you think that you can take a run at 8th and that you are a Cinderella team for more than Daniel Alfredson and his admiration of petticoats and glass pumps.
Hope and belief will make them drop down the draft, or, I am salivating as I write this, even trade it away for even more of their future for say Niklas Bakstrom.
Hope and belief are what will make them hold onto quasi-gunt Jason Spezza instead trading him. Cos at a time when Mathieu Schneider goes for a 2nd and a 3rd (I don't care how conditional) - everybody's stakes go up. (Anybody hear a 1st for Kubina?)) Jason Spezza, no matter how shitty his D is or how much he will go against the cap next year would be a huge trade. And the sens could potentially take a giant step toward a re-build with it. But hope can make you think otherwise.

And the fans? When they have hope and they have belief, they add in prayer and prayer riding shotgun is whats going to make those ass-munching half-humans get exactly what they deserve. And I want every last one of them to feel it. The players, the coach, the city, the area code. I want it to sting. I want it to sting real bad.

ps. Anyone else notice that the GM for the Sens has a wicked bad speech impediment?

pss. Note to Mike 'Crazy Eye' Fisher...when your girlfriend hides in terror of being spotted associated with you, perhaps its time to move on.

Monday, February 2

Hartsburg Leaves Ottawa, Can Again Hold Head Up

Only a few things were going to get me to come out of semi-retirement and write a HS/HS post - these orphans aren't going to feed themselves. One of them was that I just couldn't take having a goddamn Oilers logo staring out from the top of the page any more, and another was anything to do with the ongoing humiliation of worst team EVER: the Ottawa Senators.

The firing of Craig Hartsburg, which I predicted in picture form, here, has added another member to an ever growing group tainted by that gutless bunch of creeps. Others include:

  • Hockey fans
  • The hockey world
  • Seniors
  • The arts
  • Bipeds
The Senators have now had 4 coaches since the 2007 Final. Ottawa is where coaches go to die, along with pride, guts, and good looking uniforms. In spite of this, owner Eugene Melnyk refuses to do the only sane thing the owner of the Senators should do - well, besides committing Seppuku for bringing shame and dishonor to his family - which is break up that smug collection of win-nothings.

Melnyk, seen here protecting his superstar #1 line, still believes the hysterical press his litter received from every hockey journalist in Canada from 1997 to 2007, who said they'd win any number of Cups. He still can't see that the only thing those guys will ever win is a Blue Ribbon at the State Fair.

Hartsburg, who before this mess had a coaching resume that had the word "awesome" on it, paid the price for Melnyk's blindness. He is now free to leave Ottawa, and pick up the pieces of his career in a much, much better city. Like Chernobyl.

Wednesday, January 21

YOUR KISS IS ON MY LIST...

"Ales is probably the smoothest player in the league today when he's got the puck...when he's stickhandling, nobody's close. You had Gretzky here, now you've got this guy."
- Joe Sakic on Ales Hemsky

Normally I don't put much stock in comments from a guy who maimed himself in a one man snowblower accident, but I'll cut Joey some slack. Plus, he's right. You see, this is Ales Hemsky, he plays for my team. You wish he played for your team. 

He's just different. It's the way he moves - the composure, self-assuredness, and that rare dynamic quality that brings an expectation that something is going to happen every time he touches the puck. But it's more than that.

You hear a lot of broadcasters or fans say a player is "a joy to watch." Usually that's applied to a guy who scores a lot of goals or does things at a high level, without regard to the WAY they do it. Ales Hemsky is a joy to watch aesthetically. If Hemsky never scored a goal - and believe me, there used to be many nights when you thought he was intentionally trying not to - he would still be worth watching. There's a rhythm to his game, a fluidity of motion, that's unlike anyone else in hockey. Nearly every Hemsky goal, even a wrist shot from the slot, is "highlight reel" quality, because of the buildup to it and the grace with which he does it. I'll admit it, I've thought about what his lips would feel like, pressed against mine. Don't judge me.

For all you non-Oiler fans, if I could compare Hemsky to another player it would be Johan Cruijff. You know, the great Dutch footballer of the 1970's? 
(At this point, Greener is fuming, because not only am I not waxing poetic about him, I'm now talking about football...and not calling it soccer). 

Cruijff was the most elegant of athletes, a near perfect blend of speed, quickness, balance and agility, complimented by a limitless footballing I.Q. The great Rudolf Nureyev was fascinated by his movements and loved to watch videos of Cruijff playing. Nureyev's assistant once hypothesized that it was because Nureyev thought Cruijff would be a better dancer than the legend himself. Cruijff and Hemsky share that same balletic quality. They almost look out of place playing a sport.

With Hemsky it's those three crossovers in the neutral zone gearing up to top speed, the shoulder drop to freeze the d-man, the half push-off (in lieu of a full stride) that kicks him clear when turning the corner, and his puck control in traffic while under pressure. Put it all in one package with innate hockey sense, vision, and fearlessness, and you have a very special player.

Hemsky used to be a "potential" guy, the prettiest 15 goal, 70 point scorer in the league. This year he's taken his game to a new level and become the unquestioned leader of this team. It's not just aesthetics anymore. In the next four years (the time Hemsky has remaining on his current contract), Ales Hemsky's play will determine the success of the Oilers. If Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner live up to their fat contracts it will be because of Ales Hemsky. If the Oilers are going to win a Stanley Cup, it will likely come during that period as Hemsky begins his prime and graduates to elite status.

Others may be better, but no one is better to watch.