Friday, October 31

Howard Berger: Still Allowed to Write, Walk the Streets

Dear Most Valuable Losers

Yesterday, continuing a long-standing trend, another Toronto reporter took his shot at Leaf fans. This time it was Howard Berger calling us "losers" but we've seem the same cookie-cutter article before from virtually everyone who covers the team.

Quitre frankly, we've had enough.

As fans, we believe that those most deserving of our praise and our scorn are directly inovlved in the game, whether it's on the ice, in the press box or in the executive corridors. Fans don't pencil in the starting five, make bad trades, or write the headlines of the day and shouldn't be blamed (or praised) for the totals in the wins and loss column.

Hockey may be just a game but it's also a passion. If you're looking for passionate hockey coverage that offers insight and humour and you're sick of being blamed for supporting a team you're passionate about, you have a better option.

It's time to leave the media superstars behind. There's compelling, timely, wide-ranging content waiting just for you online in the Barilkosphere.

Many have found this better way of following the Leafs, but not every Leafs fan has been so lucky. Please send this message to your fellow Leaf fans via e-mail or postings on message boards and let them know that they do have a choice.

We hope you'll join us here in the Barilkosphere and become regular readers.

Sunday, October 26

HS/HS: Your One-Stop Shoppe For Senators Hate

That cool breeze you feel blowing across the land comes from millions of clapping hands celebrating the 2-5-1 record of the Ottawa Senators. It's certainly not coming from their window of Stanley Cup winning opportunity, as that thing has been shut, painted over, and has tin foil up to stop any daylight from peeking in.

The asshole Senators, a group so historically gutless they have to eat over the toilet, were shown up Saturday night by a Leafs team devoid of "stars" and "firepower" -two things the Senators supposedly have in abundance- with things like "courage" and "heart", two words unpronounceable to any NHL team in the eastern townships.

"OK, who's going to step up?! Anybody?...Anybody?!?"
Writing a post ripping a team so bereft of quality hockey players/people comes easy, as one gets to indulge in an orgy of choice. From the bottom of their roster, to the, well, bottom of their roster, just point your finger and you're sure to come up with the name of someone worthy of a beating doled out by an 18 year old kid. Well, hey, lets start there, with a piece of shit I hate to call "Chris Neil".

On Saturday night, Neil, who scientists refer to as "slightly smarter than Sasquatch", did what he's done since he began polluting the NHL: not score any points. Oh, wait, he did do one other thing: he tried to cripple Matt Stajan by hitting him knee on knee. Of course, how could I forget? Luke "Kelowna Who?" Schenn couldn't, and did what anyone would do when they see someone so blatantly victimized by criminals; step up and punch its face in.

The idiot Neil, seen here taking post-game questions, was asked how it felt to get punched in his face by a kid with not even 1 NHL fight, but then run crying to the bench later in the game when challenged by Jamal Mayers. Neil squirmed, fussed and appeared confused at first by all the lights and shiny objects on display, at one point exclaiming, "Pee pee!" Senators trainers got to work soothing him, by exposing him to the warm, familiar smell of hot dogs, back sweat and sleep apnea, courtesy of Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch.

Running around, playing tough until it counts. We shouldn't expect anything less from Chris Neil, a man whos patron saint is Ike Turner. The character of the club he works for is now well and truly known. Their soul non-existent, and their talent fishy, the Senators will have to kill themselves to get a playoff spot. Then, two months later, they'll get to choke down the taste of a mid-round pick. And doing that will continue the only thing the Senators do with any gusto at all.

Saturday, October 25


This goes beyond renewing old rivalries and I know hate is a strong word. You have to believe me when I tell you that I am not a misanthrope by nature, so the word isn't one I use very often. But I fucking do. I fucking hate them. The H word, although not as anti-social as the N, as feisty as the F or cataclysmic as the Big C, encompasses how I feel, whether noun or verb regarding that asshole team.

And when I use it as a verb, I'm using it in the third-person singular simple present hates, as in "She hates the Ottawa Senators", the present participle hating, as in "Look at all those people hating the Ottawa Senators" and the simple past and past participle hated, as in "All of us in the orgy hated the Ottawa Senators."
I wouldn't even have to crack a Roget's to know the synonyms of how I feel about that team would be; detest, loathe, can't stand, despise, abhor, revile.

And if I were on Jeopardy and given the answer, it is the antonym of love, I would write down, in the form of a question natch, who are the Ottawa Senators?

And when I say Ottawa Senators, let me be perfectly frank; I'm painting all of you with that brush. My hate is so marrow deep that it goes beyond the product on the ice and transgresses into the city and fans as well. My dislike, as black and uninviting as the devil's anus goes for Rick Dudley and the canal too; the Corel Centre, 240 Sparks, The Rideau Center, Max Keeping, The 87, CFRA, beaver tails, Bagel Bagel, Deluxe, the fucking Glebe, the Chateau Laurier, Hull and the OC goddamn, you know what... basically everything from the Ottawa valley in.

G'day, eh.

You assholes.

Yesterday I saw a man not only wearing a Sens jersey and cap, but a loud and, quite frankly, ugly Sens jacket. A leather monstrosity that literally stopped me in my tracks. I looked at this guy and I thought, you standing right there, with your atrocious apparel are picking Alexandre Daigle over Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya in the draft.
You and your team deserve that pick and that jacket. Then I allowed myself ten seconds where I thought how awesome it would be to punch him in the stomach.

You team is in a shambles Mr. Coat and that makes my day. So much so that I am breaking with HS/HS tradition and posting during the day.


Right now, I am not wearing a shirt and I am painted Leaf Blue and I am wearing comical pants and playing the trumpet. I am starting the wave and getting the crowd into it.

Tonight as we watch our young team play, a team that will absolutely not give up, it won't even matter if we beat the Sens score wise, because we already have beaten them in every other way.

Na na na na hey hey hey you fucking assholes (fucking assholes)
Na na na na
hey hey hey you fucking assholes (fucking assholes).

repeat and fade

ps. Did I mention I don't like the Sens?

Tuesday, October 21


While watching the excellent Stevie Yzerman take the proverbial mantle of El General del Hockey Internacional Canadiense away from Wayne 'How are my clothes selling at Sears' Gretzky, I wondered, like we all did, not just how did Stevie Y get so handsome, but who? Who is he going to chose?

Rocking a hairdo that said both I am a man comfortable in my sexuality and I will win Gold for Canada at the 2010 Olympics; this phantom team, Yzerman promised, would comprise players who played a fast, skilled, multi-dimensional game.

It's pretty safe to assume there are certain locks to the team, regardless if we're talking about Yzerman's, yours or mine. Names like Crosby, Iginla, Pronger, Brodeur are on that list. What immediately went through my mind wasn't their names, but the names of the players who won't be on the team. As Canada's hockey talent overflows like peeing into a thimble, a team made up of guys not on the Olympic squad, would be way too good to be considered Team B. And even though they'd be hard pressed against the Russians who are, once again, scary good and the aging Swedes, who even without Mats as Captain, are a team you cannot count out, I still think they'd play Team Canada in the gold medal game.

(And with all due respect to Tavares or Hedman and even Stamkos with the Olympics being 16 months away, anything can happen but as of this , you are not considered).

Having said that, Ladies and Germs, may I present players that won't be proud to represent this country at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

FORWARDS (and in no particular order) Ryan Smyth. It hurts me to even write, because Captain Canada stands for everything I love about a hockey player. And although I believe there will be some veterans presence on the team that plays in Vancouver; I believe Sakic and Brind'Amour have the edge over Smyth.

Ryan Getzlaf: Even though the the line of Getzlaf, Heatley and Nash are wanted by Interpol for being international killers, (gay) and it would be insane to split them up, I think, in the end, they're going to go with Richards or Morrow instead. Both of whom play a better 2 way game.

Also available for weddings, birthdays and bar-mitzvahs will be Martin St. Louis (who will now be played by Marc Savard) Simone Gagne and Paul Kariya.
By the way, Shane Doan
meet Jonathon Toews, who thinks an honour just to be nominated. Thunder Bay's own Eric Staal will be the eldest of the Staal brothers not chosen and Jason Spezza; Jason Spezza is a 1984 Pontiac Fiero.

Taxi Squad's Taxi Squad:
Paul Stastny, Mike Cammallari, Derek Roy, Corey Perry, Jordan Staal

DEFENSE: The same way it felt almost guilty saying that I don't think Ryan Smyth will be on the team, is the same way I feel saying Scott Niedermayer won't be either. First off you have to know that I heart Scott Niedermayer and thinking how the Leafs lost him for Tom Kurvers still causes me abdominal pain, but part of the problem with the 2006 Olympic squad was that exact feeling. And its an ooey-gooey place with secret handshakes and Josten's rings glad-handing itself into thinking that Todd Bertuzzi is a better idea than Sidney Crosby.
And it's in the heart where loyalty resides, and my heart tells me that in 16 months time, Ol' Neidsy will be the Captain but my brain says, that in another 16 months, I'd rather have Mike Greene on the team.

Also available those 2 weeks as golfing buddy, Dad taxi and home renovator, will be Robyn Regehr, Brian Campbell and Brett Burns. Brayden Coburn will be catching up on his soaps so don't bother him.

Taxi Squad's Taxi Squad: Marc Staal, Francois
Beauchemin, Eric Brewer, Luke Schenn, Sheldon Souray.

GOALIES: Marty Turco, Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Even though I believe Turco was the best goalie in the NHL playoffs last year, with it being in Vancouver, and the advantages of home ice, I think Luongo is the man. As for Price and Fleury - they're #5 and 6 as of now.

Friday, October 17

Canucks Waive Kyle Wellwood

News just out that confirms what many in the Gillis family have long suspected, that most successful/popular Gillis, Mike, a.k.a. Vancouver Canucks General Manager, has a brain in his head, as he has waived Kyle Wellwood. Is there such thing as a reverse spit-take? There is now, as I just did one. This move comes as a surprise to everybody named Absolutely No One.

Kyle, seen here in his Vancouver condo, has yet to issue an official statement, but was heard leaving G.M. place muttering "Sizzle...sizzle...pop...sizzle!"

In related news, Seppo Sutela, General Manager of TPS Turko in Finland's SM-liiga has just released this statement: "I look forward to waiving Kyle from TPS 6 months from now."

Thursday, October 16


You've all heard the jokes; how do you get a short man to stop biting his nails? Make him wear shoes or What's the quickest way to a short man's heart? Straight through the rib cage or how many short men does it take to open a beer? None, cos it should already be opened by the time she brings it to the couch.

You are tall for your age if you're 11 and if you are a hockey player you're going to be overlooked at the draft. You've been called undersized since you could skate and Dad's and Mum's and coaches and teamates have called you the runt of the litter and always end sentences describing your stature with the phrase, "soaking wet". Veterans call you "Stumpy" or squirt or that fuggin' guy from that show with the other fuggin' guy.

Guess what pee wee, it takes a 100 million sperm to fertilize one egg and you're 5 foot 9.


I was recently reading an article on Maple Leaf prospect Dale Mitchell. Besides the fact that the article talked about his great numbers, his excellent skating, soft hands, tough-as-nails approach to the game, and that, by all accounts he is a heart and soul player, it also spent a lot of time discussing his size. Having all the ingredients of a great addition to any team, at 5'9, he could fare no better than 74th overall in the draft. That got me thinking about Steve Sullivan, who also 5'9 (233rd pick overall), never got to play enough minutes to show what he could do and was cast aside, lost for nothing, via the waiver wire. Which besides being like getting dumped via text message is just plain balls. Sullivan then went on to score 75, 60 and 61 points, the next 3 years respectively, for the Blackhawks.

It does seem antiquated and pre-lockout/caveman to care about being undersized, yet there is clearly a healthy dose of what can only be described as height-ism in the league. Size and the lack there-of, is worse than slow foot speed, no hockey sense or being Alexandre Daigle. How else can we explain 5' 7 Martin St. Louis not even being drafted, but Aki Berg (6'3) going 3rd overall? Incidentally, I hear Aki is doin' just super in the Finish league... hey did I also mention that St. Louis has won the Hart, Lester B, Art Ross and Stanley Cup?

My favourite little person (besides the awesome Billy Barty from Bizarre) has to be Theo Fleury. From the class of 1987, only Pierre Turgeon (6'1) taken 1st overall, Brendan Shanahan (6'3) taken 2nd overall and Joe Sakic (5'11) stunningly take 15th overall have scored more points than Fleury, who at 5'6 (soaking wet), was better than a point a game player. He was also taken 7 rounds later than those other taller players, 166th overall. And this little little man, God bless him, has represented this country.

Our how about Pavel Bure, who at 5'9 was not a big man, yet he was able to score 437 goals, and 342 assists in a very chintzy 702 games. As he was Russian, let me add that Bure was like the last doll in a Matroyshka set, collecting dusk in the wall units of babushka's all over the world.
Bure wasn't big, yet he was man enough to date the Paris Hilton of Tennis and perpetual Russian hockey player dater, Anna Kournikova. Can you imagine how good Bure would have been had he given a care? You don't get called the Russian Rocket unless you are a vibrator made in Moscow, or able to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. Twice.
He was also my favourite player in Power Play 96', even though I would always destroy his knee with that same inside move.

So to our Gagne's and Gionta's; Kappanen's and Kariya's. Our Mats Naslund's and Mush March's, I salute you for proving that perseverance and hard work always negate general shrimpiness. And remember you may not be very tall but at least you are not fat disgusting blobs of gross fatty fat fat.

Thank you for that.

Tuesday, October 14


Full of tryptophan and a fire in my belly that's 50% yesterday's game, and 50% the 1 and a half Guiness, turkey, stuffing, gherkins, shrimp cocktail, cranberry sauce, buttertarts, salad, cocktail sauce, mashed potato, cocktail onions, sour cream, Pepsi, buns, butter, yams, banana bread, peas, carrots, coffee, turnips, pumpkin pie, a mouthful of red wine and something called a "goofball" that was made with marshmallow's and rice crispies also renting space in my guts. Not to mention I also really enjoyed employing gravy as beverage.

What I want to talk about is the 5o% not associated with food.

As I stated in my excellent post yesterday (add link here) the game against the Blues would be a very telling one, and in many ways it was.

What really upset that 50% of my tummy-tums that isn't food related is and was the shoot-out. I like Ron Wilson and think he is absolutely the right man for the job, but his Pick 3 didn't make sense to me. Kulemin I did understand, and he scored. But Antropov, who I thought stopped playing the moment the Leafs went up 3 to nothing, went in slower than Jason Allison on an ether binge. And Kubina? Oh, I get it, you wanted to confuse Legace by pulling the 'ol Crawford move by putting in the wrong guy, right? Right?
If CBC were to cut to the bench after Kubina's- for lack of a better word, move- I'm sure we would have seen a dejected Niklas Hagman a'la Gretzky, hanging his head.

Not that it needs to be said, but let me just state for the record that when you are dealing with Norte, you are dealing with a m-a-n.

I eat my aspirin without water and I have never played touch football in my life. I love hockey and without sounding like the president of the Brian Orser fan club - I like it played hard.
I would rate our team toughness as above the Flying Fathers but below the Lizzies from the movie The Warriors. To say that we are in dire need of toughness would require me to look up the word dire so lets just say we're desperate for some team toughness immediately.

My favourite players are those who play hard (*sniff* Darcy) but not dirty. It may be a fine line but what Hollweg did was not, as Fletcher said, "marginal". And certainly not "debatable", as Wilson queried. It was, and I don't care that the kid saw him coming and turned his head, dirty. This is Steve Downie stuff, Gary Suter stuff. It's a fatty Mc-Bertuzzi burger with a side of super-sized Avery (and not that sort of good offensive side either) and quite frankly, I hate to see it in a Leafs uniform. (What I haven't heard mentioned and can only hope doesn't happen, is that as this is the 2nd hit from behind on a St Louis Blue (the latest being their own 18 year old wunder-kind, Alex Pietrangelo) and the next time the Leafs play them won't be a head hunting mission.)

Hollweg gets the 2 and a game and just like the TV show M*A*S*H, this major was a bitch. With goals 48 seconds apart from Keith "I still wont take you in the pool" Tkachuk and Patrik Berglund, and it was the start, for me, of what repeat LSD users call "gut-rot".

Saying that - do I believe there should be some internal punishment? Absolutely. Ron Wilson said he would hold players accountable, so we'll see. But do I blame Hollweg for the game and the loss of the point? No. This is an hour long game and not 20 minutes. The Toronto Maple Leafs let the Blues back - all of them, Hollweg included.

Monday, October 13

Alexei Cherepanov

Outrage over soon to be Toronto Marlies enforcer Ryan Hollweg hurting his career and more importantly, the Leafs, falls quickly silent this afternoon. It seems silly and insubstantial upon hearing the news of the heart attack death of a 19 year-old boy, Omsk forward and Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov.

The sense of shock about how this could happen to such a healthy young person is slowly being joined by feelings of outrage at how avoidable this might have been. As details come in about the incident- some true, many undoubtedly speculative- one tries not to perceive the incumbent events from a strictly emotional place. The situation will be ugly enough once we know what actually did and sadly didn't happen.

Apparently, an ambulance which is stationed at the rink for each game left before it had finished. Cherepanov had the crushing misfortune of collapsing at the end of the third, after its departure. The timeline varies about how long it took the ambulance to return to the rink. Some are saying around 15 minutes. Some are saying an insane 45. As there was no defibrillator on or near the bench, all Cherepanov's helpless teammates could do was carry him off the bench to the dressing room.

We'll see in the coming weeks what the state of Cherepanov's health actually was. We'll see if swift and proper medical attention could have saved him. We'll see whether or not his heart failing was only a matter of time, the only variable being where he would be when it happened.

A sad reminder to keep hockey, and in a much larger sense, life, in perspective. We've seen it with unfortunate frequency in the past few years. It was there after Luc Bourdon was killed, and when Jason Blake was diagnosed with cancer. Tempering our passion for our game with this view is perhaps the only way to find and make sense out of such senseless tragedy.

Sunday, October 12


Two billion years ago a meteorite 10km in diameter hit the earth about 100km southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. The impact of the 1000 megaton blast of energy created an enormous impact center now known as the Vredefort Dome or the largest crater in the world. That was nothing compared to the sound of the collective jumping from the Leafs bandwagon Saturday night.

In the same amount of time it would take you to spell Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn properly, the Montreal Canadiens had the Leafs beaten.

Admittedly, it wasn't pretty. Actually is was kinda terrible. So terrible in fact that I am shocked I didn't see Mats on the ice wearing the C. Or Paul Maurice behind the bench, shammy in hand, cleaning his latest frames from the Elton John Collection in frustration. Or McCabe scoring on us.

There was a stink to Saturday's game that reminded one of the Leafs circa 2005 - 2008. With Blake second guessing himself as he did on the 2 on 1 with Antropov. (Halak was beaten and instead of a one timer high (Halak was down) Blake took a second (to think about it) and Halak stopped it.) And with more giveaways than a double winner on showcase showdown and 3 periods of tentative, undisciplined hockey; not to mention Leafs forwards who, by re-enacting the comfy chair sketch from Monty Python all night, doled out less punishment than having to sit through a Ben Affleck movie.

It was just the opening night of Hockey Night In Canada, in front of a sold out home crowd, recent Olympians, the ubiquitous 48th and Alex Trebek. Just two days after a win so uplifting that they could have held up a pair of tits.

This is exactly what people want from our team. Losses that humiliate. Self-congratulatory viper Damien Cox wants it, asshole with a moustache Howard Berger wants it. Habs fans want it, and we know how those sanctimonious and truly awful people who live in this nation's capitol feel. You know that old phrase, "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy"? They're the worst enemy. And guess what friends, those GDCSers wish it on you.

To those capitol fuck-faces, I would say: you with 1 line, no secondary scoring, shitty goaltending, weak chins, girlfriends with fat legs, a slow defense with no offensive ability and absolutely zero team identity, I would worry about your team, not mine.

But there was a difference between last night and those dreadful years I mentioned earlier. First thing was that I didn't feel humiliated like I did last year when the Leafs lost similar games. This team looked engaged, especially in the third, right to the final buzzer. I like when people don't give up. Van Ryn looked great, and so too did Luke Schenn, getting into a fight sticking up for Stajan. That's the kind of shit that makes a team tight.
A big problem is that the Leafs have no game breakers. But this is a team with 10 new players on its roster, 5 of which have never played in the NHL before, its going to take time and patience to find that.

You have to look at them exactly like scoring in competitive diving; where the highest and lowest scores are erased. What you are left with is the middle, and the middle is a pretty accurate estimation of what you're dealing with. Similarly, the way you cannot judge this team by how they performed against Detroit can you by how the played against the Habs. You want to get a more accurate view of the team? Watch tomorrow's game against the similarly troubled St Louis Blues.

And finally the anti-'atta-boy to the powers that be at the NHL and or MLSE for cutting off the 48th Highlanders, thus not allowing them to play themselves off to the Maple Leaf Forever, but for allowing Def Leppard time to play cuts off both the Pyromania and Hysteria albums.

Friday, October 10


I feel a complete sense of relief tonight like I finally slept well or had a swig of water on a hot day. Last night's game, may have been anti-climactic but a relief none the less. The product on the ice surprised me. Forgetting the turnovers and the too many passes and even forgetting the win. Not to oversell it but after last nights game I honestly felt that the world made a little more sense. If I were writing this blog for TV Guide, it would have been a cheers instead of a jeers from me.

Have you ever seen the Chippendale's Dance-Off sketch on Saturday Night Live? In the sketch (guest host) Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley play Adrian and Barney. Two men auditioning to be Chippendale's dancers. As the music begins its clear, even before they dance, that these are 2 very different men and 2 very different dancers. Adrian (Swayze; mulletted but chiseled) and Barney (Farley, coked up and self-deprecating) are the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs respectively.

Detroit like Adrian (Swayze) with his much better parts moved fluidly to the Loverboy song, playing. Barney (Farley, Toronto) showing unbelievable heart, as his fat and flabby body tried unsuccessfully to stay inside the shirt. His buttons threatening to rocket across the room and into the eyes of Jan Hooks. As his shirt came off and his disgusting fat blubber proved to be grosser than we thought, he had the heart to even attempt the worm. Last night our Maple Leafs (Barney, Farley) attempted the worm by trying to beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions; Detroit (Adrian, Swayze) in their own building. And win or lose you have to love that spirit.

Wilson proved himself to me last night. Not only honoring the Wings and his Uncle, who was one of the guys behind Mr. Hockey and the other guy carrying the banner last night, but for honoring winning itself.

What better way to show our new, young, team, finally free of that apathetic stink of entitlement, what winning, real winning looks like. I don't even care if Wilson made them all sit and watch Clockwork Orange-style. Zetterberg, Lidstrom and Gordie Howie? To those of you concerned that Luke Schenn shouldn't be on the big club don't you think that's exactly what we want him exposed to?

A few HS/HS 'atta boys to mention of course. First and foremost to our future Captain, Luke Schenn, who in his 17+ big boy minutes never looked out of place once and never warranted a Cory Cross sphincter clench (other-wise-known-as Aki-Ass). Another 'atta-boy to Dominic Moore who hustled like a guy having fun playing hockey. Another 'atta boy to Jonas Frogren, not just for his assist but for making me mentally compare him to Robert Svehla after his hit in the first. Another 'atta boy for Tlusty for looking like he knows where to place himself to create chances. And even though Greener is right that the Grabovski line is 33% too Euro, they looked determined to me and made our 1st line look bored and sluggish (Is it just me or does Poni seem out of place on the team?) Another 'atta boy to Kubina for looking like the leader of this team. And to Kulemin for not only stealing that pass and going in alone, but for having, what my people call the cajones to score, a real beauty, in his first NHL game.
'Atta frigin boy.

I know this will sound insane and perhaps a tad premature considering this is game 1 - but I don't think I have ever been as proud to be a fan of this team as I was last night. I hope that sounds sincere because it is. We may lose every game from here on out - but I enjoyed watching hockey last night and I haven't felt that for a long time. I don't even mind losing with these players. They played like instead of looking for a finish line, they were concentrating on their 30 seconds. And when determination usurps ego, as it did in last night's game, you're gonna win.
Great goaltending as per the usual with Toskala also helps tremendously.

I'm not quite sure what the exact opposite of an HS/HS 'atta-boy is: perhaps a knee to the groin or pink eye. Whatever it is, I offer it to the powers that be at the NHL for Def Leppard. I mean really? Def Leppard. Are you sure? I won't even get into the lead singer taking our most treasured possesion, the holy grail, Lord Stanley's cup and placing it upside down on that specially made Def Leppard podium, I won't even get into the drummer with the one arm or that Phil Collins is in this band. It's Def Leppard.

You know how I knew the NHL was gay? Cos they booked Def Leppard for their big opening night. One last 'atta boy to Gary Bettman for having his finger on the pulse of the nation. I heard he's trying to get Stryper for the Heritage Game.

Thursday, October 9

Leafs Win Opener. Howard Berger's Night Ruined

There's something freeing when you've been released from the shackles of expectations, reasonable or otherwise. Going into the first game of the season, to say that the 08/09 version of the Toronto Maple Leafs were free of expectations would be the understatement of the century, unless those expectations were for them to "suck", and also to "blow".

Well, terrible writer Howard Berger and the rest of the viperous Toronto sports Fourth Estate had another night of developing coronary heart disease ruined Thursday, when the Leafs did what nobody except everyone who reads blogs thought they could: Win. Against the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings ™. In fact, I believe in his Leafs preview/poison pen piece, the friendless Berger predicted the Leafs wouldn't even be able to find the Joe Louis Arena. Well, the Leafs sure did, and in a sad, related story, so did Howard Berger.

I watched the game at the home of an old acquaintance whom you may all remember. His name is Moose? Slightly above average height, medium build, a little too hairy, refuses to write his blog? Yes! We have a positive I.D.!

Moose as pictured, shockingly close to reality

I showed up, excited to actually watch a real hockey game on TV, instead of the endless hours of "Greatest 80's Oilers Moments" Moose has been Tivo'ing all summer on the NHL Network. Hey guess what everybody? The Oilers were really good in the 80's! And now you, me, and Bill Berg all know it! But tonight, we have live, meaningful hockey games! Come on, it's 4:00 (PST), let's go, put on Hockey Night in Canada! Opening night! Yes! What's that? The game's on Versus in the U.S.? So HNIC is blacked out then? OK, after I get over the shock of actually seeing a Canadian team on Versus, we'll get down to business, right? No, of course not dummies. First up is a performance sure to get the North American hockey audience pumped! Ladies, put for lace-gloved hands in the air for Def Leppard! You heard me, Def Leppard! Why Leppard? Cause obviously, when the NHL thinks of Canada's game, naturally it thinks of these guys:

Ron Wilson forced the Leafs to endure the weird spectacle of the Wings doing some scheduled maintenance up in the rafters of the Joe. I don't know what they were doing, putting some things near the roof. The Leafs don't do that. I guess that was to catch excess moisture? I have no idea what that was, but you'd think the Wings would do that on a non game night. And did Gordie Howe have to help? Man, he's really earning his pension. He even wore his old jersey. And holy shit, he's still the captain!

When the latest in G. Bettman's marketing fiascos triumphs was finally over, the Leafs came out dressed in their new (3rd) 36 point "we always win in these" jerseys, and played as sharp as they looked. Relying on young legs and the enthusiasm 5 guys playing in their first NHL game, the Leafs pushed the Red Wings just about all night, relying on things like:
  • Speed
  • Tenacity
  • Fore/Back checking
  • Neutral zone control
On the other hand, here are things the Leafs did not rely on:
  • Mats Sundin
It was an evening of many small victories among one large one. While the Wings were at one point greatly out shooting the Leafs, the chances were even. There were a lot of active sticks all night, and the Leafs forced a lot of Wings turn overs, the most important being the one which led to the Kulemin game winner.

Everyone's favorite fake Facebook friend, Vesa Toskala, looked amazingly smooth and confident, playing his angles super aggresively. Chris Osgood had to make a lot of good saves, and he spent a lot of time flat on his back, pleasing no one in the Wings organization except for Kristen Bell. The second line of Grabovski, Hagman and Tlusty created a lot of great chances, but I think that line had 33% too many Europeans in it. They kind of had a pass first mentality, notably when Tlusty was centered pretty much all alone in the slot with the defenseman sliding away and he elected to dish it back to the high point. It seemed to need a little grit in there somewhere. Like perhaps a little Mark Bell? Nah, you know I'm just kidding!

Antropov was largely invisible, and 4th line detainee Matt Stajan has looked a lot better. Perhaps it was just one of those games for those two. Luke Schenn played 17+ solid minutes and never looked out of place in the #2 spot out of a potentially great looking foursome of him/Kaberle/Kubina/Colaiacovo.

No third period collapse despite the Wings' last minute powerplay. Leafs win 3-2, and the bad people in the world go to bed unhappy. If I had a job, I'd be skipping to work today.

Wednesday, October 8

He Score, He Shoot: He Said, He Said

This is a cross-post of our Leafs Season Preview written for the great Pension Plan Puppets. It's here to give everyone who hasn't already read it on PPP a chance to see it. All none of you.

As summer '08 gives way to the autumn of same, the time comes when hands reach back into any number of closets, grasping for the trappings of fall: The comfortable sweater knitted with earth tones. The kid-dreaded "Back to School" fliers from Zellers, and the compulsory team/division/conference hockey preview.

Well, your bro-felds at He Score, He Shoot are no different from you and your blog/text messages/drunken ramblings. We have a history of previews on our site, and, in doing research for this piece, I've noticed that they've been pretty much all been written by my...well, I almost said friend. How about "guy I made the mistake of mentioning doing a blog to", Moose. Since PPP has brilliantly devised a way for people to do his work for him (just by asking, you conniving bastard!) and to do a Leafs season preview, I thought I'd look and see what Moose wrote about the Leafs in his NHL season preview a mere year ago:

3. Toronto Maple Leafs: After writing that about Ottawa, I suddenly want to put the Leafs 2nd. See Leafs fans, you've improved already! Ironically, the Leafs look a lot like the Oilers on paper. Good goaltending, dangerous PP, but concerns about secondary scoring and defence. I think the addition of Jason Blake and another year of development from Wellwood, Steen, and Ponikarovsky, should allow them to score enough goals. The defence is still a concern. It's strange how hard I try to like, no, accept the Leafs for Greener's sake. Fuck, I'm a really good friend.
A few things. First, I am not his friend. I can't stipulate that enough. Secondly, this was after he chose Buffalo to win the Northeast with the Leafs third and Montreal 4th! And lastly, who the fuck cares what he just wrote about Ottawa! This was during a dark period in our blogs' history when Moose actually wrote a lot, usually about a team in the Western Conference...The Something Somethings...oh, who cares. The point's He Score He Shoot's Leafs Season Preview! Joining me on the journey will be my compatriot on this Blue and White Brick Road, Norte! Yes! Awesome! Who cares! Well, we're going head to head today, point/counterpoint style. It's He Score, He Shoot: He Said, He Said. Or: "HS/HS/HS/HS"

GREENER: I've written recently about my Zen master's ability to put aside all yearning for the seemingly unreasonable things in my Leafs life, like "a Stanley Cup win", or "a playoff berth". Such are the whimsical fantasies of a child-like, yet sexily handsome (...ladies...?) young dreamer. I know the truest path towards the Leafs 08/09 season fulfillment, and it's through the forest of realistic expectations.

With the Leafs this truly begins and ends with the forwards. There's not a lot to demand out of this group, just a lot of possible surprises to be had. Can Nik Antropov finally build on a great career season and, you know, be good for two years in a row for the first time ever? Can he pull guys like Ponikarovsky along with him? I hope the Leafs don't rely on Nikki too much in the leadership department. I don't think he's the "respond to responsibility" type of guy. Too much pressure and he's more the "Wow, Nik must have the flu again" dude. He slumped last year while wearing an 'A', so lets just quietly ignore him and let him score 25 goals, shall we?

Another couple of mysterians are A. Steen and M. Stajan. Poised on greatness (ok then, goodness) for so long, this really is a case of since Mats isn't around to carry everyone, look for one or both of these guys to be significantly better. Stajan must hear a lot of the "future captain" talk, and if it's his ring to grab...then, uh, he must grab it! (nailed that one.)

In the TBD file, I'm putting any number of Grabovski's, Kulemin's unt Hagman's. I've been tantalized by promises of hot-shotness before (and I still think Alexander Suglobov can make the team), so I'll just let these dudes go out and have fun and delight in playing in the greatest uniform since nudity. If they want to score 20 apiece and dangle Chris Phillips out of his tiny jr. jock, then fine by me.

Lastly, I want to say that I actually got excited by Ryan Hollweg's suspension today. I can't wait till the Leafs start being those guys again. The kind that used to be detestable for all the best reasons. My darling Darcy could only do so much after Domi and Roberts left. I'm fucking happy that if the Leafs have to lose a game, then at least they'll kick the Jesus Christ out of the opposing team for doing it.

NORTE: I wish it were only a question of diet, and a simple answer of not enough meat as to why the Toronto Maple Leaf forward core are the most anemic crew since the Vegan information tent at last year's Lilith Fair. I don't want to say these guys are a bunch of pansies, but yesterday my neighbors Dalmatian took a dump on Anton Stralman.

And when you get called out by your own GM (and I don't care how much reverse psychology was spun into it, it's not motivating to hear your own GM say there's only 1 top 6 forward on the team, it's like your Mom telling you you're ugly. When you hear that - guess what, you're an absolute bowser.) I have to give over to Greener about this year- His Kung Fu starring David Carradine machinations and fortune cookie soundbites regarding what can't kill him only making him stronger. He's correct. When your expectations are at absolute zero, something is better than nothing.

Our absolute zero, looks like Blake (who in this mulligan free year must re-connect with his inner-Tikkanen) and Antropov (who absolutely must not carry the weight of no Sundin on his shoulders.) Centered by Stajan. That hurts a little to even type. Should he be the Leafs 1st line center? I dunno. Should I expect anything even remotely first line from him? Meh. Yet do I expect Matt Stajan to play himself right into the Captaincy of the team? Shrugs.

If this line were an 80's Sitcom; "Perfect Strangers"

Of course with guaranteed spots also going to Poni, Steen and Moore, guys like Grabovski, Tlusty, Hagman, Mitchell, Devereuax, Mayers, Hollweg and Kulemin will be sprinkled like salt on the boiled chicken of the rest of our lines. And it pains me to say this, although Sensei says it shouldn't, that some, if not most of these guys will also do duty on the first line this year.

Dominic Moore played himself into the roll of 2nd line center by showing more hustle than a Van McCoy reunion cruise. Does it make me want to vom in my own mouth that Dominic Moore is our 2nd line center? Lalalalalalala - I can't hear you...lalalalalala - sticks fingers in ears. He is winged by Poni and Steen. When I close my eyes and wish upon the stars, this sounds like a pretty good line. But the I CHING tells me not to give a crap about that because I fear this line will never gel. And it goes without saying that Steen needs to be like last years' Antropov.

80's Sitcom Comparison: "Alf "

After that, this free for all includes a lot of seat-fillers. A 3rd line, with nothing set in stone, as some of these guys have been put on waivers, but I will say Hagman, Williams and Tlusty.

80's Sitcom Comparison: "Benson"

Watch for Devereaux, Hollweg, Mayers, Bell and Grabovski to enjoy the amenities of the Comfort Inn in Milwaukee when they play the Admirals when not playing on the first line.

80's Sitcom Comparison: "Punky Brewster"

GREENER: How fortuitous that a defense-minded coach like Ron Wilson inherits a club with so many dreamy D men. While the Leafs perhaps have a couple or three too many puck movers like Kaberle and Stralman, Cliff Fletcher has balanced out the ticket with ex-navy Seals like J. Frogren and M. Van Ryn. If Van Ryn can retain his health and play physically, say like, off the top of my head, Bryan McCabe from 3 years ago, that is a great plus. Kubina and his 2-way game keep getting better, and should finally look like a relative bargain with his 5 M salary. To put it in perspective: Wade Redden makes 6.5 M. Fuck Wade Redden. Is it crazy to think of Colaiacovo as a full-time Leaf? Of course it is. But a little Carlo goes a long way, and again, with limited expectations (ie: don't try be Chris Pronger every game), I see Carlo being strong, solid and gobbling up #3 minutes.

The D will get a lot of work done this season under Wilson, and I think the Leafs have the best combination in a long time to match those demands. As for Luke Schenn, the Leafs have the kind of problem they should be having every year: do they keep their top and best draft pick up, because he's been fantastic and deserves to stay, or err on the side of caution and send him down for seasoning? Whether or not Schenn stays with the club after 10 regular season games (I don't think he will), the Leafs have already provided us with a real and needed light upon which we can train out telescopes, in this the first of too many re-building years to come.

NORTE: I have to admit that I love the Leafs defense. Perhaps love is too strong a word. I like the Leafs defense a lot. I wouldn't marry their defense but I wouldn't cheat on it on vacation either. I like that there are 10 quality defensemen fighting for 7 spots and that not one of them is named Wozniewski. I love that one of them is a 5th overall pick, and that at 18 years old was good enough in camp to even be considered for the team. When I was 18 I still cried when I got pimples. Do I believe he will overlap his probation period of 9 games, no. Do I believe we will see the man in the boy? Yes. Yes, I do.

To me the Leafs defense is the most encouraging thing going for the team. It's less a bitter pill than the forwards, more like a cucumber sandwich made with a meely cuke.

The obvious Leaf studs are Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina. Besides the fact that they're both obvious top 2s, they'll eat the most minutes and play the point. I worry that Kaberle will take less shots this year as he will constantly be setting up Kubina's great low shot. Besides, both know that 9 times out of 10 a "trhni sih nohou voleh" will get you a "vyser si voko!"

Also, does anyone remember Wilson saying that had the Sharks acquired Kubina at last seasons' deadline , he wouldn't be the coach of the Leafs right now? In non-gay man-crush terms, that's like getting down on one knee and proposing. I look at this line as our obvious number 1. Game in, game out, playing them, is tantamount to chumming the waters.

If this line were a Hollywood movie soundtrack: "The Mission"

The second line pairing. To me this is all about a phrase we are going to hear a hundred times this year: make it or break it. If the Leafs can be accused of letting guys go too early, than they can also be accused of holding onto players too long. This year that honour belongs to Carlo Colaiacovo. Maybe even more so than Steen and Stajan, Colaiacovo has to prove he isn't made of popsicle sticks. As this has got to be Carlo's coming out year, his make it and not break it. I hope- and I know this is strange to say considering how soft the Leafs are- that Carlo plays less physically. He seems to get into the most trouble when he's trying to be Scott Stevens, so for that reason I hope to see him paired with Jeff Finger. Granted Finger isn't really known for his physical play (or his offensive play either) but I believe under Wilson's tutelage, he (Finger) will allow Carlo the room to play hockey. I also see this unit playing a big shutdown roles, and being a big part of (what I believe will be) an improved Maple Leaf penalty kill.

Hollywood Movie Soundtrack: "Footloose."

3rd pairing: With Frogren and Stralman already having been paired at the Worlds, it makes sense that they'd be the Leafs #3 unit. That is very encouraging. Even though I believe this duo (which will also rotate Van Ryn in and out) will see the other team's weaker forwards, developing under Wilson, this allows Stralman a chance to be competitive offensively. For that same reason (it being a real development line) I see White as the odd man out. Although I did really like him and his right hand shot playing on the wing the other night.

Hollywood Movie Soundtrack: "Dirty Dancing". (w/ Ian White as She's Like The Wind by Patrick Swayze)

GREENER: One of the smart things that JFJ did during his reign of terror was sign Vesa Toskala to that premature contract extension. With former-former coach Wilson in charge of putting up walls of good D around Vesa, a good season of good numbers and a bad win/loss record is to follow. The games the Leafs will win will be because of him, and really that's how it should be. As for the losses, there will be a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 tallies in the box scores this season. The question with Curtis Joseph is, is a 41 year old Cujo better as Leafs back-up than say, a 31 year old Marc Denis? Money wise, yes. The same goes for the locker room. Cujo has a big role to play off the ice as well as on, and you can already smell the post-retirement job offer the alumni crazy Leafs must be making him.

NORTE: As last season came to a close I began to wonder if Mr. Hakim Optical, Paul Maurice, had started Toskala as the #1 from the start of the season, would the Leafs have made the playoffs? Granted, nobody could have predicted Andrew Raycroft would have been a terrible as he is...pardon me...was...and playing yourself into number 1 sounds good in a media scrum but it failed the Leafs badly. The Brotherhood of the Mask insists that I say that I hope it didn't completely destroy young Raycroft. (Cos I know the moustache was just a way to mask the pain). But I am glad to see him gone. Toskala is a number 1 goalie and a very good one. I see this team losing a lot of games, potentially all 82, but I don't see Toskala getting blown out.

Now we have prodigal son Jo-sieve back in the fold. All is forgotten buddy. You and your eyebrow are welcome in my uniform any time. Truth be told, I love him in this role. It's a feel good signing of course, but who better to mentor our youngins (Mssrs. Reimer and Pogge) than Cujo?

I see him playing more games than Raycroft did (I'm thinking 18 -20) and winning more than Raycroft could. However I also see him until the trade deadline where he gets shipped out for a 5th rounder.


Toskala - Ponyboy Curtis

Joseph - Sodapop Curtis

Raycroft - Johnny Cade

There you have it, He Score/He Shoot: He Said/He Said. Brought to you by your friends Greener and Norte, c/o the great PPP. We hope you enjoyed us it.

Contemporary Design Comparison:

Greener: Mies van der Rohe

Norte: Le Corbusier

PPP: Frank Lloyd Wright

Saturday, October 4


If I could just get your attention...everyone...(clinks fork aggressively on glass) everyone...I would like to take a moment to mention something about our very own Greener. Forgive me for taking time out of your busy schedules.
What can you say about a man like Greener? Talented writer, great friend, terrific, nothing like that...but you can say that today he celebrates the day his mother could no longer carry his parasitic ass around in her stomach.
That's right, today is his birthday.
Right now in some shitty bar, some shitty band is singing Today Is Your Birthday, shittily directly to him. And Greener no matter what your age - you are always gonna be the prettiest girl in the room to most of us...not me mind you - but others. The gay ones with vision issues primarily.

It's either very new cheese or very old meat
Anybody who knows me knows I love three things; the Leafs, old Halloween candy and Greener. Quite frankly, you already know this is a blog about the Leafs/Oilers, so that gets the hockey angle out of the way. The fact is this is because of Greener, what I am writing and what you are reading. Because in italics- because of Greener, you are reading this post; on this blog which exists because of Greener. And in many confusing and sinister ways you could say that its because of Greener that I have my sparkling smile that dazzles you when we meet.

However I would rather talk about his quality posts (when he can be bothered to pick up his 24 carat pen) which are always funny and thoughtfully well written, timed perfectly with only a soupcon of gay that never undermines his actual hockey knowledge. That's Greener for you. He's just like that pretty gospel song about Jesus I can't remember the name of...He lays it all out on the line, every time.

In all honesty without him at the helm of the ship that is the HS HS/HS there would be no forum, other than bathroom stalls, to claim his greatness. (For those of you who may have read some of those posts, if you took down his number, I can still guarantee that, if you call him, he will provide a good time. ps. Just in case any of you were wondering, Greener, like Moose, speaks Greek.) But - a birthday, like a roast or a best man's speech, is one of the few times you get to burn someone you like this much, as much.

As the less than stellar Lennon-McCartney couplet said today is your birthday We're gonna have a good time, I'm glad it's your birthday - Happy birthday to you.

...having said that... the fact that you are yet another year older than me fills me with a kind of warm gooey embrace like living in an egg. An egg created by your anger and confusion (the white parts) over the tone of my tome, and the bitter betrayal you feel because of my delicious yellow yolk of words.

I was brought up to never kick a horse when its down but then I thought, forget about that shit.

Greener is now at any age where he has nothing left to learn the hard way and proves everyday to us and to himself that enthusiasm and 'trying real hard' will always triumph over actually possessing any talent.

Greener is like being a virtuoso on the recorder.

I am not sure of his exact age, I know it lies between Exhibition Stadium old and sending money to PBS old. He's like lukewarm old.
Truth be told, most of us our just counting the days until he starts talking to us about liniment.

You know Greener just had a birthday when you compliment him on his alligator shoes and then realize he's barefoot.

I don't mean to infer that Greener is old but he did take Katherine Helmond's virginity.


So please everybody from this day forward you will have to forgive Greener because as he's the first to tell you his memory is not as sharp as it used to be, also his memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

Also he wanted me to mention to stay off his lawn.

Wednesday, October 1

Zen and the Art of Hockey Team Repair

Is it hockey season yet? I'm not entirely sure. The evidence I've found has provided sketchy details. I haven't seen even one Leafs pre-season game. That's kind of my own fault though. I received messages from my homestyles at the Worldwide Leader in Sports, PPP, saying that there were links posted for me to watch them. Chemmy even graciously used the word "dummy" in his note. While I thought that that shot at Moose was uncalled for however accurate, that fact is, I'm still without seeing my beloveds this season.

I'm not going to blame the weather either. As you all know I live in L.A., where for most of the year the weather ranges from this:

To This:
I'm used to that by now. The fact that on Tuesday I left a 4:30 meeting to go home and the temperature was 39 °C, didn't even faze me. Here's another thing like that: the fact that Curtis Joseph got murdered Wednesday night allowing 6 goals on 12 shots. Or was that 12 goals on 6 shots? No, no, it's the first one, 6/12, because the other way would just be crazy.

I'm unbugged by this for a number of reasons, and realistic expectations are numbers 1-7. This has made me quite happy as I've come to the wonderful realization that this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs can't hurt me, they can only surprise me. I really, truly know what kind of season the Leafs will most likely have, and honestly, I'm OK with it. I don't like it, but I accept it. That is called peace of mind, my friends. You know, I can't remember the last time I felt like this. Oh wait, now I do: Never.

I also know that, like Wednesday's game, we will see a lot of young Leafs playing slightly to radically out of their depth due to the likelihood of diabolical injuries which Toronto is already sipping heartily from, with pre-season hurts on N. Kulemin (knee), J. Finger (foot), P. Kubina (knee), J. Blake (leg), M. Stajan (lower body), D. Moore (groin), and C. Joseph (pride).

I will enjoy seeing the Earls', the Rogers', the Petiots' and whoever the Leafs get for Ian White, because this year, that's what this is about, my loves. It's what we wished for. A 7-3 loss here, and a lot of 3-2 losses there is the only way back to where this team is always and forever destined to be: Eliminating the Senators in the first round of the playoffs. Now go on, and enjoy your Thursday!