Tuesday, November 25


Leave it to the crack staff at He Score, He Shoot, to write about a trade 2 days after it happens. The same night the player coming back in the deal wears the jersey for the first time. Never one to miss an opportunity, next up: He Score/He Shoot Acid Wash Jeans, He Score/He Shoot Cabbagepatch Dolls and right after posting this, the entire editorial staff of HS/HS are in talks to open Iqaliuit's first Delorean dealership.

Keep your fingers crossed.

1.21 Jiggawatts?

In every movie showing a jungle, there's always a scene involving a machete and some heavy undergrowth. A morass so choked that the only way through it is the hack and chop. In much the same way, Fletch and the various Charlie Bergen's that ruin - pardon me- run our team, carved a little more path by getting rid of the 10th and 11th pieces of the former pie. Actually you could say that #'s 8 and 10 got us 12.
And since we're already talking numbers you could also say that #17 and #24 garnered us #148.

Call me cynical, but does this seem like a Jonathon Tavares move on the part of the Blues?

I guess the truth is that I never saw it coming. And...but...uh....I don't want to say anything...so I'm whispering when I say this, but is it just me, or has Trader Cliff done it again? It's not quite as horrific as the ass-humping he gave Risebrough, but not bad.

The question is - why isn't Brian "Mr. Brian Burke" Burke making these moves?

It's hard to believe that Steen, a player in the best deal that never happened (Kaberle/Steen for Pronger ) was once that highly regarded. I wouldn't say he was a complete bust, but as a top 9 forward he was completely expendable. Granted he was a terrific defensive player and incredible in the corners, but his offense, now 3 coaches in, never materialized.
And when you are supposed to be the future of the team and you don't score goals, you kind of become the equivalent of buying a clock radio to listen to music.

In all seriousness I hope that both he and Coli develop into the players they were always projected to be. Hopefully Steen with find the confidence to realize he could be more than a defensive forward. And Carlo...I hope Carlo plays 80 games this and every year for the rest of his career. I hope he beats his psyche that must tell him that every shift may be his last.


Here is my thinking; Lee Stempniak stays and plays. As a natural right handed shot who's fast, put him on the first line with Antro and Stajan. Bump Poni down.
Or put him on the 2nd line and replace Kulemin.
Or put him with Moore and Blake.

This is exactly the kind of player the Leafs need.

Then comes March 4th.

That's the day I see Stempniak piggybacking Jason Blake all the way to Pearson and off our team.

Or is Stempniak part of a bigger trade yet to happen? (which is what my Spidey sense is saying). If we sign him to an extension, then mark my words he's going to Florida for Bouwmeester (once he signs an extension too).

Which then allows us to bask in the windfall that Kaberle will fetch. Like how about Kaberle + Kulemin + Leafs 1st round 2009 for Kyle Turris + Daniel Carcillo and Coyotes 1st rounder 2009.

Isn't this Brian Burke's job now?

Wednesday, November 19

Senators in Last. Hubris Screams: "Gotcha!"

I know there are a lot of you out there who, when hearing the name Bryan McCabe, only conjure up the bad, the bitter. The plummeted stats after a huge payday. The own goal against Buffalo. For those of you, I have some soothing salve to rub over that still sore wound: On Tuesday, McCabe scored two goals in the Panthers 4-3 win over the Lightning. By winning this game, the Panthers rose from the number 15 spot in the Eastern Conference to the 14. In going there, the McCabe led Panthers pulled the chair out from the Ottawa Senators, sending them to their rightful place in a peaceful Universe: 20,000 Leagues Under the Leafs.

These are the standings as we speak. I would love this picture to be one of my photoshops, because if it were, I would be more proud of it than any photo I've ever done. But this is the truth, and as the gays say, I'm positively delighted!

This is an uncommon lesson in schadenfreude for me, and I have to say its been brought out organically in response to years of barnyard squeals by the smuggest, most self-satisfied fan in the entire sports world: The Senators fan. The Sens "fan", a member of the "Sens Army"- a crack unit on par with the Swiss Navy- has been bleating on for the last 10 years or so, with the help of EVERYONE in the hockey press, about how great Ottawa were/are/will always be. It was never a question of if they won the Cup, but when, and how long would be their dynasty? Well, you have to actually win something to be something, and I don't give a good Goddamn how may Presidents Trophies a team wins, if you're a bunch of heartless, rail-blowing assholes, you get exactly as many Cups as you deserve: Fuck all.

The Senators window of opportunity shut, all that remains is for the hot sun of hubris to bleach their bones a pearly skeletal white. Only then can the members of the team be released to do something they're all maybe good at, like perhaps playing in Europe, or sword fighting Sinbad the Sailor.

As their team falls into a pit of its own design, just watch the rats fleeing the ship. Remember, with the exception of their fans under, say, 10 years old, every single one of those people who follow that team was once a rabid fan of another. Incredibly, either Toronto or Montreal, and they all bailed when they built that ugly rink in the middle of a field 20 miles down a two-lane highway out of town. Let's just say that over the course of this and future Ottawa seasons, you'll be seeing a lot of #10 Habs sweaters re-emerging from closets filled with Birkenstocks, Teva's and Jorts.

Tuesday, November 18

Bruins 3, Posts 4

There's a scene in every single "Pink Panther" movie, where, to the amazement of everyone, bumbling French detective Inspector Jacques Clouseau actually manages to solve the case he is on, despite having absolutely no actual abilities to do so. In one of the films, his former boss, Inspector Dreyfus, goes completely insane because of Clouseau's diabolical ability to fail upwards. These are great movies to watch, and as is usually the case, there's a parallel between today's NHL, and mid-to-late 70's Hollywood comedies, and its name is Tim Thomas.

On Monday night, late bloomer Thomas- and by late bloomer, I mean he broke into the league in his mid-to-late 70's- did exactly what he does best(?), and that is stymie a better Maple Leafs team by failing upwards enough to get a win. Thomas has that no style-style down so well, he makes the former principle of that school, D. Hasek, look like a mathematician. Tim's goaltending basically breaks down him moving randomly around his crease when he sees the opposing players moving toward him. Then, as they get closer, he falls to the ice until he hears a whistle. And...Oh, what do you know? The puck with the little Leaf on it is in his pads! Somehow he's done it again! Thomas is kind of like those retarded guys who can correctly multiply huge sums in their head, but when you ask them to write their names, they take a crayon and write an "X".

The handsome/multi-dimensional James Duthie wrote a good piece on Thomas at TSN.ca few weeks ago. While somehow restraining himself from insinuating that Thomas is retarded, Duthie writes that because of how Thomas plays, he considers him the most entertaining guy to watch in the NHL. I agree that he is, uh, interesting to watch, but I will stop waaaay short of where Bruins color man and full time homer Andy "The Departed" Brickley goes, which is to fantasy land and back every night. Listen to Brickley, and "Tawmus" is a master of the position, saving the game for Boston each shift. Like last night against the Leafs, when he saved the game for the B's each of the 4 times the Leafs cranked the puck off the post.

Well, the Bruins win over the Leafs 3-2. For Chief Inspector Tim Thomas, another case well closed. Now he can go home and expect to be stalked and attacked by his valet and manservant Cato Fong, admirably played by the nunchuk wielding mongoloid, Zdeno Chara.

Friday, November 14


Dear Jason Blake,
I know this seems weird to be writing you. We barely know each other. You are a player on my beloved hockey team and I am a humble fan.

I am the semi-awesome Norte of He Score, He Shoot, and in a lot of ways you and I are connected through the magical Blue Leaf. It could also be said that both you and I make our living because of the team, except that I don't make any money for doing this.

Since you and I haven't actually met and I don't know where you live, it seemed like the next logical step to write.

I have to be honest right off the bat and tell you that if someone were to ask me who I wanted off the team, my answer, quick as you please, would be you Jason Blake; Jason Blake. I'm not just saying that to be mean and I hope you don't mind me being honest, but it's true. If I were trying to be mean, I would be more blunt and say something like you are the perfect set up to the oft-used yet seldom funny punch line, for a bag of pucks.

I hope I don't sound cavalier when I use the word mulligan to describe your first year in a Leaf jersey. Quite frankly, all things considered, you played heroically. Let's not even talk about it....So what if you are the only player Mats Sundin wasn't able to make better? That was last year. This is fresh and new, like hot bread or kittens.

But you know that this is shit or get off the pot time right?. With it being only year 2 of your 5 year, "you're gonna pay me what?" contract, your only way out is gonna be by playing well.

It's money walks and shit talks time Jason Blake, and right now you're pissing pennies.

(Did it just get creepy?)

Now listen, I know that sounds harsh, but Momma can't lie to you, baby.

"Maybe it's not meant for me to be here."

I have to admit I was a little surprised to hear you say that the other day. I kind of felt like saying to you "Pardon me, Jason? What? This isn't about us Jason, this is about you."
And I felt a little miffed at your description of the team as here. Here has a name and runs pretty deep for some of us. But I knew you were just tired from the bag skates and the benchings.


I watched the game in Edmonton and I have to admit it was the first time I couldn't describe your play as Berezin-esque. You played angry and made two great passes. I hope I don't sound ungrateful when I say, do it every game and you'll be worth every penny you're paid. And except for the weird slow motion take down of Lubomir Visnovsky, which looked like watching Figure Skating at the Special Olympics, I was excited by how you played.

Getting benched must be awful, especially with you being so eager to make mathematically impossible shots and the willingness with which you seem to put yourself offside to kill the rush.
Accountability isn't just owning up to the Bangles being your pre-game music, it's about proving you aren't expendable.

Now understand Jason Blake, that you play on my team and if someone fucks with you, they may as well be fucking with me. It's biker gang rules when it comes to our team, and it's from my perfect and beautiful Leaf heart that I tell you that you bug me Jason Blake.

I know my letter just did a button hook to the left but it's true, you bug me. It's not just because you resemble the heavy from the Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn vehicle "Foul Play". And it's not just that I know, Jason Blake, that you won't ever score 40 goals again or that maybe even reasonably can't score 40 goals again. I don't blame you for that. You and I are the same age and I have to admit, I chose my footwear on how long I have to be bent over to get them on, I can't imagine how crappy your body feels.
What bugs me about you is that you seem to be willing to be the living embodiment of the economic theory of the law of diminishing returns.

I don't blame you Jason for accepting the contract handed to you. No matter how egregious it is, it will forever be a black mark on the record of JFJ, not yours. And to be fair, the same year you were signed, Daniel Briere was signed to a 6 year deal worth 7.5 a year - and without Googling the information - I believe Jason Smith got something similar, so perhaps, all things considered, the Leafs got off easy. The point is, at this point, at some point, you have to realize that you aren't going to score.
How come I can tell you aren't but you can't?

Jason Blake is an asshole for completely the wrong reasons.
Your Sugar Ray Leonard-ness that you display most nights, when you take those shots, bugs me. Because Jason, a scorer who can't score, fight or pass doesn't belong here. And by here I mean the NHL.
Nobody wants you to succeed more than me, the Fan. I just ask, here humbly and honestly to continue to consider the team first, as you did the other night in Edmonton.

I truly believe the assist is ultimately more awesome than the goal.

Good luck in Vancouver and the rest of the season.

See you March 4th.

Sincerely, Norte.

ps. Could you ask Mikhail Grabovski if he got the muffins I sent.

Thursday, November 13

Jason Blake Finds Religion: Converts to Wilsonism

"Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" is an old proverb which suggests that the only way to get someone small in stature to do what you want, is to give them a firm but loving lesson in discipline. After all, it's for their own good. This oft used maxim sounds great in theory, but always seems to boil down to some over-weight, over-young, over-kidded woman wailing on her 4 year old in public because he was playing with the bread at the Safeway. Usually...

Ron "Cruella De Vil" Wilson tried out that very notion on someone small in stature this week, when he got out the belt and beat Jason Blake back to Moorhead, Minn. for playing with the very same bread. Or actually, for not playing with enough of it.

For some incredible reason, the term "Healthy Scratch" just kind of gets under your skin when you're a former all-star 1.25 seasons out from a 40 goal year for a rotten team, and doesn't Wilson know it. Similar to what he did with M. Stajan, when he basically told him to fuck off and die on the 4th line (or worse), Wilson did just what he always said he would: He'd hold his players accountable for their play, and those who play well would get rewarded. Those who don't, he hands a parasol and a little sign with "YIKES!" written on it, and kicks them over a cliff.

Wilson walks it after he talks it, and aren't we glad for it? Paul Maurice is great at a lot of things as a coach, but kicking fat asses is not one of them. The ridiculous Leaf tenure of future Finnish League star Kyle Wellwood speaks to that. One of the reasons Wilson is getting so much out of this team is because he absolutely insists that you listen to the icy tough-love that comes from his lump-of-coal heart, or, to push the metaphor even further, from a Gibson ES-335

Thursday's game at The ACC...no wait...the...yes, The ACC against Edmonton was the very first time in a Leafs uniform I saw the Jason Blake whom I hated when he was with the Islanders: a mean little prick who I'd pray my beloved Darcy would kick the living Jesus Christ out of. I wanted that because he was dangerous every game the Leafs played against him, and because his absolute lack of melanin gave me an easy go-to physical trait which I deemed he must be punished for. Thursday, he drove the Oilers nuts while they ran all over the ice trying to get him to snap. Snap he did, snapping two-points into the boxscore, pausing only once to try and cripple Lubo Visnovsky.

All this coming in the middle of another hard working, everyone-producing, Leafs effort. A commonplace sorely lacking in Toronto teams of the recent past. As the Leafs build toward the future, this is exactly the kind of identity you need once you re-enter the rarefied air of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Friday, November 7


Friends, losers, Leafs fans, lend me your ears. First off let me say, forgive the long absence between posts. To apologize, let me misquote John Lennon in a terrible and self-congratulatory way: life is what happens when you are busy making other blogs.
To show you how important you are to me, acknowledging how neglectful I have been, amd knowing that we are beyond a simple and shitty bouquet of flora, I'm going to tell you something that I have shared with very few people.

Right now between the furor of Howard Berger, the Leafs 3 game losing streak and the fact that tomorrow they play the Habs, I think its a perfect story to tell.

Everything you are about to read is true. You can choose to believe me- which is more fun- or you can chose not to- also cool. I mean hey, some people still wear toupees, so...you know, what are you gonna do?

Of course, if there is some sort of recourse or statute-of-limitations on the crimes I am about to admit to, than let me be the first to say that I am making all of this shit up. Right now as I go along.

It concerns the very last time I ever stepped foot inside Maple Leaf Gardens. Just like you, I consider that shit hallowed. I should also tell you that I have walked on actual consecrated ground, and to me, Maple Leaf Gardens feels the same underfoot. Now granted I was never involved in a moshpit at Machu Picchu as I was while seeing Ministry at the Gardens in 1992. And yes, there are less hookers around the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian than the corner of Church and Jarvis on any given night. And yes unlike the Gardens, the 24 hour breakfast restaurant across the street from the Acropolis doesn't charge for refills. Regardless. Maple Leafs Gardens besides being the Leafs home since the 12th of November 1931, has hosted the Beatles, Elvis, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones (and others on Q107's playlist). In the late 50's, my old man had season Greens. Duran Duran filmed a video there. Ali once fought there. The Who played the very first of their very last concerts there, and to a much less significant way, so did Queensryche.

Within its very walls I saw Rob Ramage wear the C, and Alan Bester in nets. I saw Mats play in a Nordiques jersey, and a game where Tie Domi got 2 goals. And once, I broke up with a girl outside of it instead of being forced to see Glass Tiger in concert. I grew up a couple blocks East, in Cabbagetown. MLG is my hood.

Hello...Earth to World Heritage people?

But the last time? I was there in an officious manner. Through an intricate web of lies that I had fabricated with the aide of a friend on the inside, whom we'll call "Mark", I somehow got the job of official photographer for a group of retired NHL players and Leafs alum taking a tour of Maple Leaf Gardens for the final time. Little did it matter that my knowledge of photography never went beyond the "appropriate" moments, of merriment. This was MLG, and Mark told them I was the next Youseff Karsh.

I was told to arrive at MLG at 6 am (which I did), and as anyone from Toronto can tell you, standing outside at 6 in the morning, in January, particularly on a wind tunnel like that part of Carlton Street, is plain stupid. What's worse was that when they finally did open the doors, (security: a man with a moustache) I was immediately told,that I couldn't bring my Timmy's into the building. So there I was, chugging my scalding coffee and wondering if my fingers were already too frostbitten to take photos, my burnt tongue telling me it didn't even matter.

Then out of nowhere, they started showing up. The oldtimers I was to photograph. I was hoping for Wendel of course, and expecting say, Ian Turnbull, but these old timers were a tad older. They were camera pan through the crowd on Remembrance Day, old. Maybe it was the same overcoats, or ubiquitous glasses, or that they were all the same size, but these guys were all Grandads. These were gentlemen who could've stunt doubled Pierre Burton.

I made them take a step to the right, then to the left, told them to all say "cheese", and took a photo. I would love to tell you who was there. But truthfully out of respect to these great hockey men and because of the douche-baggery I am about to confess to, I feel I shouldn't. Let me tell you this: I was later allowed to listen in on these great men swap stories about fist-fights with Gordie Howe, and how much they really hated Ted Lindsay. One former Leaf defensemen talked of taking a beating from the Hammer. And later, yet another Leaf, this time a Winger, took off his 1966-67 ring, to let me look at it.


At the same time that this tour was occurring, there was a major motion picture being filmed in Maple Leaf Gardens. I don't want to say which movie, but I will tell you that it was directed by Ron Howard and involved depression era boxing and it's name rhymed with "Ginderalla Nan". I was told by a different cotillion of Security (than Mr. Moustache who told me No to me an my Double Double) who were wearing matching film crew jackets, that I had better not take photos of the boxing ring set up for the movie, (which of course I did) and that all I was allowed to do was basically follow the old guys around and take pictures, of them, as they talked.

At center ice, in a circle like girls at a school dance, the oldies swapped stories and I took photos. Then in the dressing rooms, as they laughed and reminisced, I took photos. Whilst in the hallway talking, I took photos. And it was there that it hit me: the realization that I may never step foot in the Gardens again, certainly not in its current state.
So at some point, while all of us were in the hallway and I began to look at the camera in a way that implied I knew what I was doing and quietly snuck away towards ice level.

Knowing really that it was now or never, my first thought was to get a seat, one of those horrible, tiny little things that I hated sitting on but now coveted like the Ark. But to remove a seat was pointless. I had neither the tools for removal nor the leaden cojones needed to say, "No, no - I came in with this seat."

I ran to the home bench knowing that I had only moments before the collective Security tandem of Mr. Moustache and Film Crew Jacket realized I was no longer on radar. My hand on a stack of Bibles, I jumped the boards. You can think that I only thought of that later but I didn't...I jumped the boards, which was way way harder than I thought. I got to my knees, and with alacrity akin to a panther, began to pry a tile off the floor.*

(*At this point I would like to remind law enforcement types that this is all false.)

I chose the one with the most skate nicks (and that wasn't broken) and with a little help from an issue of Hockey News I had with me, the tile gave way like the Sens in the playoffs. All in one piece, swish. I then went for the tile beside it. You may think I was motivated by greed, I wish I could say I had thought of that (I didn't). The next tile was for my brother. Not to be competitive with him, but he's almost as big a Leafs fan as me. Not quite, but almost.

As the 2nd tile began to give way, and the first tile, hidden inside the Hockey News, I felt pleased with myself, but then suddenly wondered: is this even right to do? Has opportunity blinded my desecration? Did I just scrape Norte Wuz Here on some precious fresco wall?
And then it's almost funny how karma has a way of holding you down and forcibly fucking your face because the 2nd tile, which, up until that point, was gliding like Fred Astaire, suddenly stopped. Instead of moving on to another tile, my fingers getting more and more moist from my fear and hubris, I began to sweet talk it. Quietly. "C'mon baby," I told it, feminizing it in my head. "C'mon..." I said again, rocking it gently. "C'mon babygirl..." I said, getting creepy. "You like that?" I continued, taking it too far.

Then panic came on and I imagined being humiliated in front of men whose names graced the Stanley Cup. And panic riding shotgun is never a good idea. I pulled the tile once more and then again much harder until up it came...except for the final corner, which stayed glued down.

In the end, I stashed the 3/4 tile and the full tile in the Hockey News and jumped back over the boards (not gracefully), making my way back to the Oldtimers, none of whom even realized I was gone.
And now, November 2008, my piece of tile, framed and perfect, hangs on the wall, not 5 feet away from me. I never caught a puck at a game, but feel that my very own piece of MLG is even better. You may say that I stole and I would answer, what's it to you, you goddamn bastard?

Monday, November 3

Howard Berger: The Bad Writing That Unites Us All

As any and all of you know/repeat to friends/tattoo as your Tramp Stamp, the Leafs are Canada's team. This is one of those inarguable, universal truths which galvanizes each and every one of us to our team. And as any and all of you know, one of the ingredients in the mortar which binds those very bricks, is how much we all detest Howard Berger.

Terrible writer Berger, a flinty-voiced contrarian who spends too much time getting his hair to part perfectly in the center, this week stooped to new, lazy, literary lows, by calling Leafs fans "losers". Why so? Well, just because we happen to love our team every single year, no matter what configuration it takes. Because we will never, ever be accused of being fair-weather, bandwagon jumpers. The kind you will see this season not following the Ottawa Senators. Yes, we really have it coming to us. Thank God the friendless Berger is around with his made up stats, to tell us that it's our fault that the Leafs don't make the playoffs, as he drones on and on about games he and his father saw in 1966 when they wentZZZ-zzzzzz-zzzz...

Well for every (in)action, there is an opposite reaction, and in this case, its name is FireHowardBerger.com. A simple site that is taking the internet by storm, and one which is being lauded by truth seekers all over the world:

"...a site whose time has come..." - B. Geldolf

"...makes Amnesty International look like crap..."-M. Gandhi
And it hasn't stopped there. Even American television pundits not known for opinionating about the business of big time hockey have weighed in on the matter:

Not one to back down from a fight -even though his pants are already down around his kanckles- Berger has responded to the calls for his dismissal, posting on that site an annoyingly smug little piece where he sniffs through his moustache at the very notion of people wanting him fired because he's incredibly bad at his job. It must take a thick skin to be Berger, as 99.9% of all his mail contains some variation on the phrase, "You are the worst thing in Canada".

Please visit FireHowardBerger.com and add your name to the growing throng of losers smart enough to stand against everything Howard "19 Years Without a Promotion" Berger has ever written.