Yes, it’s true, I am ramping up for hockey season and am now free of the corporate fetters that prevented me from blogging.
Not that y’all missed me much–I admit, I lost a lot of what little punch I had after 2006 and before the Great Hiatus. But I’m still me, I’m still opinionated, and I’m going to give ‘er another go.
I want to talk today about Chopper Harrison. Lots of electrons have been spilled over the tragic deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak–may their ancestors welcome them all warmly into their halls.
But nobody really talks about superfans like Chopper. Chopper died on 23 August at his home, after a battle with cancer. He was a year older than my husband, which did kinda hit home for me.
Chopper was annoying as hell. He drove everyone up the wall with his antics and blind homerism (the Warchief even called him on it after one particularly bad game, when Chopper said “yeah you guys played great last night!” and the Warchief said “What are you talking about? We played like crap!”), and after one incident where he said “asses” while doing an intermission whatchamadingding (during the 2001-2002 home opener), Great Leader banned him from doing any more on-ice stuff for the team. Of course, that ban lasted about as long as Dan Blackburn’s career, and Chopper was back on the ice about halfway through the season with his trademark “OVER HEEEEERRRRRRREEEEE!” and “THEY CAN HEAR YOU IN THE LOCKER ROOM!” bellowing. He was a hard drinker, a hard partier, scuttlebutt had the team telling Bates Battaglia and Shane Willis to stay the hell away from him, and eventually his antics drove the team away from him. He became the butt of jokes on message boards like thescoreboards.com and on blogs and among the folks at the RBC Center. I found myself apologizing on behalf of North Dakota for him on more than one occasion–as if my own famn damily didn’t make me ashamed enough to be from that state.
But there was no denying one thing: He was a Caniac through and through. He loved this team like he never loved anything else in his entire life–it was obvious to everyone with half a braincell. He braved Acrophobia for this team, by getting up on the canopy above the RBC Center’s box office as part of a season-ticket drive. For an acrophobe, that is a huge step. He stood up for them when few people in this state would, and was unceasing in his evangelizing of hockey and the Hurricanes to the college ball-watching masses.
Even after players eventually stopped talking to him and the org deliberately forgot he existed and Curtis Media Group fired him after a DUI arrest in 2006, he still loved the Hurricanes with his heart and soul and every last breath in his body–and when it was time for him to fight his final battle, he didn’t go back to Fargo, where he grew up and played hockey for the Spartans of North High. He came home to Raleigh, to be near his favourite team. David Martin, known to so many as Chopper Harrison, was, for all his many flaws, One Of Us–The Few, The Proud, The Caniacs–and the Caniac Nation (est. 1997) is greatly lessened by his passing.
Rest well, David Martin. May your ancestors welcome you warmly and may you enjoy a premium ice-side seat at the Eternal Game.
The blog went away–I’m sure some thought I had gone underground, but no; a spammer had hacked it.
I’m back, the spammer has been hauled out into the street and shot (and I wish all the other spammers on the planet would suffer the same fate) and decided that this was as good a time as any to go with a new theme.
well the selections have been made (whether they were right or wrong is another matter), the exhibition games have been played and the biggest annual hockey tournament this side of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is about to begin on December 26th. I am speaking of the U-20 World Junior Championships, being held this year in Ottawa. Here are some story lines to watch and what to expect from our players, as well as some under the radar draft eligible players that I like.
1) Did Canada make the right move in net?
This one will be questioned for years if it backfires, with Caniac Nation and OHL followers serving up a healthy dose of “I told you so” the entire time. The goaltending position could mean the difference between Gold and Bronze this year for Team Canada with so many of their best eligible players for this tournament currently in the NHL. So you would think they would go with the hot hand, right? Well they did with one of their goalies: Dustin Tokarski from Spokane, who is putting up solid numbers this season (16-9-0-2, 1.97GAA, 93.8%). However the omission of OHL standout Mike Murphy, our 6th round draft pick this past season, from even making the training camp roster is making people in the know shake their heads in disgust. Murphy is putting up better numbers (20-4-2-2, 1.97GAA, 94.4%) in a more offensive league and looks like a lock to repeat as OHL goalie of the year, if not taking CHL goalie of the year outright, which would give the Canes their first CHL goalie of the year prospect since Cam Ward. While Chet Pickard, the player Canada took over Murphy, is defending CHL goalie of the year his numbers this year aren’t nearly as good as they were last year and this tournament is often won by the hot hand. Right now there is nobody hotter in net then Mike Murphy, and with this being the strongest American team in a long time this may come back to bite Canada hard. Along with other questionable moves, such as the inclusion of Angelo Esposito, Canada may be in trouble.
2) Is this US team for real?
We’ve heard it a couple times since the US victory in 04, that “this will be the year we take it again” from the US fans. And each year, with the exception of 2007, which was unfortunately decided in a shootout after an epic Semi-Final match with Canada, the US has disappointed. So what’s the difference with this years team? Well, two things: 1) they finally have a solid goalie in Thomas McCollum (2.13GAA, 92.8% in the OHL) that can go save for save with the best Canada or Sweden can offer. 2) They finally have secondary scoring and are built like a team. Combine the dominant 5-1 result against Russia in exhibition with a weakened team Canada squad; this may in fact be the year we take it again.
3) Tavares or Hedman?
Towering defenseman Victor Hedman, who is projected by many as the #1 pick at the moment, is expected to lead what is arguably the strongest U-20 Team Sweden since the Cold War era. However in the pre-tournament exhibition it was Tavares that looked like the one deserving of the #1 pick as Canada stomped Sweden severly outclassing the Swedish team. Still, it would be insane to say that Sweden isn’t a threat to take in the gold this year. But the best story line between which of the 3 favorites that look pretty equal on paper (USA, Canada, Sweden) will be which of the two highly touted draft eligibles makes the biggest move towards being the #1 overall pick in this tournament. One thing to note is that Hedman is coming off an injury, and may have in fact been re-injured in that game against Canada.
My projected finish:
LW/C Drayson Bowman (United States) – While he was a foolish omission by a US team that was desparate for secondary scoring last year, he wasn’t snubbed a second time. Bowman is among the players that the US will be relying on the most to compliment their top line of JVR-Wilson-Schroeder, and with his Spokane linemate Wahl also on the team Bowman has some built in chemisty on a line already. He might not put up huge numbers but, at the very least, expect him to make a name for himself.
LW/C Zach Boychuk (Canada) – While Bowman is one of the secondary threats for the US team, Boychuk was outright dominant in exhibition play for Canada with 3 goals and 2 assists in 3 games playing on a line with Cody Hodgson and Jordan Eberle. If Canada is to have any chance they need players like Boychuk to really step up and put up numbers like this throughout the tournament. I expect him to do so and expect him to skyrocket up prospect rankings everywhere in the process.
D Michal Jordan (Czech Republic) – While the name itself is rather epic, the kid can play as well. He’s building off last season nicely as Plymouth’s top defenseman this year with 3 goals and 18 points in 29 games to go with a +3 rating. Good size and good mobility go with it for the Czech national. He was on last years Czech WJC team and played a rather solid game for a team that seems to be on the decline in the past few years. Look for him to build off that performance and potentially for the Czechs to make a surprise run to the Semi-Finals.
Draft Eligibles to watch:
F Evander Kane (Canada), RW Jordan Schroeder (USA), LW Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (Sweden), D Ryan Ellis (Canada), D Dmitry Kulikov (Russia), C Jacob Josefson (Sweden), C Tomas Knotek (Czech Republic), RW Tomas Vincour (Czech Republic), LW Marcus Johansson (Sweden), RW Andrej Nestrasil (Czech Republic), D Tomi Kovisto (Finland), G Danil Alistratov (Russia), F Yakov Vorobiev (Kazakhstan), D Evgeny Bolyakin (Kazakhstan), C Richard Panik (Czech Republic), D David Rundblad (Sweden), LW Toni Rajala (Finland), D Tim Erixson (Sweden).
In a tournament that is typically dominated by 19 year olds, if any of these players have a high impact for their teams they are likely worth paying close attention to throughout the rest of the season. Draft stock for players such as Patrick Kane have taken off after solid performances in this tournament in the recent past.
So with all that said, Merry Christmas everyone, and enjoy some of the best hockey of the year starting on the 26th. I’ll be there in person next year, so hopefully we can expect some in-person reports from the tournament.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a William Faulkner “fan”. I appreciate the body of his work, I admire the beauty of his work and I do like his work. But I don’t geek out over the guy like I geek out over, say, Les Dorscheid‘s Battletech and Shadowrun artwork (which is some of the most amazing artwork I have ever seen–it breaks my heart that no Loren Coleman novel ever got a Dorscheid cover, even though my pet project got some).
This gem from the Sports Illustrated archives is possibly the best “my first game” story that I have ever read, and it’s something that I plan to show to anyone who ever asks me why I like hockey:
Hurricanes take on the Capitals tonight at the RBC. Puck drops at 7:00 PM. Go Canes.
(Man, I wish I could write like that)
The preseason continues apace for Los Huricans de Carolina, who have sent another 4 guys (and little Jakub Petruzalek) down to the AHL and returned four prospects to their junior teams. Brandon Sutter will be sent back to juniors after Tuesday night’s game. Saturday’s slack-ass lackluster effort in Nashville managed to get the game thread on letsgocanes.com to degenerate into one person whining about people “bashing” Crackers for his wild inconsistency–and then it immediately turned into a John “Spicy Italian” Tortorella-bashing thread after a fan of Crackers posted about how so wicked mean the Spicy Italian was to poor Johnny when he was in Tampa. Torts is LGC.com’s favorite target among the NHL’s coaches (more so than Whingey Ruff), because he’s mouthy and over-the-top (stop looking at me like that).
Gee, I dunno–maybe if Crackers would stop getting all durnk and actin’ the fool at local watering holes on his off-time, he might actually be a little less inconsistent in the net. Just sayin’–not that I and others have seen him do this or anything.
In other news: Top Gear is all kinds of win. Monday nights at 8 on BBC America–watch and be amused. Even if you’re not a car fan, it’s still a hoot.
Just sayin’. Next game is Tuesday night at the Phone Booth vs. the Washington Capitals. Leighton in net, puck drops at 7. Go Canes.
So my dear old Radeon 9800 Pro went tits-up last week. It wasn’t that old, really–so why, pray tell, were parts falling off of it? Your guess is as good as mine.
Through the magic of eBay, I now have a new video card…just in time for me to miss the start of the season because of my yob. I can only entertain myself by tormenting NCSU freshmen and high-school students for so long before it gets old, kids. Another UFinishIt.com POS? Gods I hate September.
OK, so Chris The Penalty Killer and Bubba were on 850 the Buzz earlier this week. Bubba opines that Chris looks kinda like Scott “Remo Williams” Walker, but I beg to differ–I’ve met Chris. He looks nothing at all like Remo. Just sayin’.
And the BoG finally got the hint that fans were tired of not being able to see teams from the opposing conference more than once in a blue moon, so the schedule’s going back to the way it used to be…sort of. Guess people will have to find a new excuse when a SE Division team wins the Cup, huh? The only bad thing about this? I have to put up with the assiest members of the Red Wings
Bandwagon Nation at the RBC again, as well as having to deal with the SlugThugs twice a season. But, you kinda gotta take the bad with the good I guess.
And speaking of Bubbalo, not only did the Sabres show their collective
class by suspending Teppo Numminen without pay because the guy has a heart condition and they can’t count on that insurance money to line Golisano’s pockets, but Blue Jays, Bills, and (of ALL people) Maple Leafs season ticket holders got to jump the queue on ticket sales for the Blizzard Bowl err Winter Classic. Dowhatnow? Last I checked, neither T-O-R-O-N-T-O M-A-P-L-E L-E-A-F-S nor T-O-R-O-N-T-O B-L-U-E J-A-Y-S spelled “Pittsburgh Penguins” or “Buffalo Sabres”–so why were the Leafs STHs allowed to buy tickets ahead of Pens and Sabres STHs? For that matter, why are Blue Jays (or for that matter, Bills) STHs even allowed to be involved in the ticket-buying privileges? It’s not even the same gods-damned sport! Somebody explain it to me, please, because I am wicked confused.
And finally–’Canes training camp continues apace, as 15 players get assigned to Albany. Friday night, the Hurricanes take on the Nashville Predators at the RBC Center. Doors open at 6ish, Puck drops at 7. Get there early and tailgate.
Several Hurricanes (and ex-Canes) have congregated at the RecZone in Raleigh for what fans affectionately call “Camp Brind’amour“; informal drills and skates to help players get ramped back up for training camp. Have I been able to go watch? Not really–work will do that to yer.
And speaking of work: as you all know, I currently work for a convenience store within a 2-mile radius of the RBC Center. Barring some horrific catastrophy, that will all change next month–I’ve accepted a job offer from a prominent national company, and will soon be trading the “ZOMGROBBARY!!!1″ panicbutton for a headset and a desk. And more money. This job is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll make the school thing harder to do, but that’s what WebAssign is for.
I texted Tapeleg about the happy news yesterday, and he asked me “What will you do without the adventure?”
I’ll breathe easier, that’s what I’ll do.
DO SOMETHING ALREADY!
A sure sign that I’m bored? I’ve gone to pick a fight with some nubcakes who thinks that Eric Staal’s drunken hijinks are a sure sign that he’s headed down the Ron Mexico route. Because clearly, getting arrested by some bored county mounties for hollering at a vehicle or two after being ASLEEP AT ONE’S OWN BACHELOR PARTY is exactly the same as trying to smuggle pot onto a plane in a “diversion safe” (and then running from the heat after getting caught), bankrolling a dogfighting ring (and personally ordering the cruellest possible execution of losing dogs), and generally being a weeping sore in the ass-crack of society.
Hey George, did it hurt getting the CRAFTSMAN tattoo removed from your forehead? Seriously, I’m asking here.
The Fraud has cribbed a rumor from the Hurricanes website’s official boards about Aaron Ward returning to the ‘Canes from Bahstahn–which will never happen, unless there’s been a radical rethink in Beantown and JimR has finally gotten over getting hosed by Harry Sinden in the Glen Wesley deal* (which sent three first-rounders to the Bruins and hamstrung the Hurricanes’ farm system for years). And don’t get me started on the idiots and know-nothings that infest ch.com’s boards, because I’ll be here for the rest of the year.
Joe, Lord of Evil is now an Islander. Good luck–you’ll need it! (aside to Steve Zipay from Newsday: Joe’s Czech, not Slovak. Big difference.)
That’s the news, and I am off to play some Caesar IV.
*:I like Glen and recognize his great contributions to the team and community, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Bruins buggered the Whalers on the deal and exposed the sham that was the old RFA system.
A couple friends of mine asked why I went up on the mountaintop a while back, why I left when all kinds of juicy stuff started coming down the pike and people were surely hanging on my every word about such things as Vote For Rory and Sid Crosby getting chucked from a Dallas nightclub after the ASG cos he’s underage.
I didn’t care much about any of that. I was more concerned with my complete and total inability to get upset over the Hurricanes’ performance so far this season–performance that is decidedly less than stellar.
Had the Cup win somehow made me less of a fan? Had I lost my desire to see my team win? Was I still in shock?
And then it hit me: What had happened wasn’t the win itself. It was the Cup. Specifically, it was my finally getting to lay hands on the Cup.
As I said on HLOG:
You cannot touch that thing after your team has won it, can’t dip your hand in the pool of history and emotion that the thing is bathed in, and come away unaffected by it in some way. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or dead inside.
There’s a a word for that pool in Old English: mægen. Main. It’s a spiritual energy that every living thing has. To relate it to hockey: it’s what makes a playoff game so electric. It’s what spurs a team on to great deeds. Objects absorb mægen from people that use them, that touch them–ask any craftsman who uses the tools that his (or her) parents and grandparents used if they feel like their ancestor who used those tools are watching over them and guiding their hands, and I guarantee you that the answer will be “yes”.
I keep coming back to the image of Mike Keenan sitting in his living room with the Cup, staring silently at it all night and letting its spirits quietly tell their stories to him until the sun rose and he was finally moved to tears. It’s such a powerful image, seeing somebody so moved like he looked upon the face of God and touched the stars.
When I silently ran my fingers over the upper rings and bowl of the Cup back in September of ’06, I plunged my hands into that deep pool of mægen like so many others have done before. In those few moments, I reached back through the years and shook hands with Howie Morenz and Bill Barilko and Maurice Richard and Georges Vezina and Sid Abel and all the other einherjar that have won the Cup and since moved on to play in the Eternal Game, and I came away forever changed by it.
The moment was epiphanic, an amazing moment of revelation where I finally felt like everything really was going to be OK–like an explorer cresting a rise and seeing the Seven Cities of Cibola laid out in front of him with the Fountain of Youth in the middle. I can honestly say that I wish every fan could experience it.
I still feel like I’m not properly articulating how it felt to be quite honest, but hopefully all of you will one day get to experience the wonder for yourselves.
I’m going radio-silent for a while. A couple months or so, more than likely. I’ll post the occasional creative challenge-post over at HLOG and rotate the header pic here every now and again, but other than that I’m not going to be doing a whole lot of posting (at least in this space) because I’ll be going on a walkabout. I’ve had a couple of personal epiphanies, and I want to ponder them for a while.
Keep the light on for me, I’ll be back. Go Canes.
I am sick and tired of fighting with the hubby over hockey on teh DVR, and I don’t want to have to wait 2 weeks for a ‘Canes game to get posted to Google Video–so I turn to all four of you, my adoring public:
Help me pick out a TV card, peeps. Preferably one that won’t go tits-up on me and show nothing but a blue screen and/or totally distorted video (followed three days later by a blue screen) after two weeks.
Added a couple new folks to the blog:
Wild Puck Banter — Hockey rappin’ from the Land O’ Lutefisk err Lakes
Paperwhites In Season — Magnolia Mer talks about lots of things, including hockey.
Carolina Blue Line — A new blog, from a Caniac in the Durham Militarized Zone.
Give them links, give them love, give them a warm welcome. By the way, for those folks who’ll be heading to the RBC for the game tonight: I’m going to be up in 332 with some friends of mine, and pry down in that little bar by 111 during first intermission with some other friends. Feel free to come say hey.
Greetings from a fellow Nodak to the folks that meandered over hmyah from the message boards at siouxsports.com. Enjoy the blog, and hope y’all stick around a while.
Anyway. A comment was made to me in my previous post about Amerind/First Nations/Native American team names that I would like to cover in more depth:
Justin Bryant said:
There’s another way to look at this. Not all natives are honored by teams using names such as Sioux, Seminoles, etc. Here’s a short analogy to explain why:
Say you were promised a promotion and a big corner office at work. Then your boss reneged at the last minute, gave the promotion and office to someone else. But then he tells you that he’s naming the break room in your honor. You wouldn’t be at all insulted? You wouldn’t think, “If you want to honor me, treat me fairly and with respect, not the window dressing of an empty gesture?”
That’s why your Vikings analogy, while funny, is not relevant. Vikings were never systematically oppressed, slaughtered, cheated, etc.
I know I’m being Mr Serious No Fun Guy here, but is it really so hard to see why not all Natives see it as an ‘honor’? And by the way, the implication seems to be that “they” don’t mind. This is certainly not entirely true. Here’s the position taken by The American Indian Movement:
I ripped off a short response, but I wanted to reheat this a little bit because I feel that this analogy blows more chunks than a drunk supermodel.
First: This analogy assumes that the corporate culture at the fictional company has been exactly the same the whole time the fictional employee has been there–in other words, it completely ignores the passage of time and the changing of minds by other people in the company, just as it ignores the passage of time and the changing of minds by people here in the United States. It blames the innocent for the sins of the guilty, in other words, and that is something that won’t fly with me.
Second: This analogy also assumes that the US Gubmint still patronizes and marginalizes the American Indian, which I disagree with. They’ve moved on to other things like hauling off the random innocent person who happens to be Muslim, turning a horrific national tragedy into a latter-day Reichstag Fire, invading countries for their oil, strip-searching travelers that wear t-shirts with benign sayings because those sayings are in a foreign character set, and telling four-year olds that they can’t get on airplanes because they’re turrists. They no longer have the time to devote to marginalizing and patronizing the last group of people to be recognized as citizens.
Third: Universities and colleges are not arms of the federal government. This gets back to my above statement. The states are responsible for their institutions of higher learning, whether they receive any sort of Federal funding or not.
Fourth: My analogy is not wrong, especially after I hear a customer telling me (after I told her what my belief system is) that she thought I was Christian because I display what are seen as Christian values (you know, trying to treat people with respect, being honest, working my ass off, all that–stuff that my ancestors placed great stock in. Read the Eddas if you don’t believe me)–my Norse ancestors have been maligned as barbaric savages who bathed in blood and had no morals whatsoever, because of the guys that raided Lindisfarne and other such places. Sound a little like how the American Indian was painted for years and years because they defended their homes and lands from invaders? Yeah.
Fifth: The American Indian Movement, though I respect them and their goal of empowering the American Indian to stand on his own and rise out of the hole that past Administrations dug for him, does not speak for all Native peoples. Using them as the sole end-all/be-all authority on this subject doesn’t do much to impress or sway me, especially since I feel that in this matter they’re not taking into account the wishes or feelings of those Native people that may not agree with them–you know, that whole patronization thing.
Sixth: I maintain that this campaign is even more demeaning to Native Americans than the mascots themselves are supposed to be, because it’s mostly led by the White Man–and excuse me, but last I checked quite a few tribes (like the Lakota (Sioux), the Cherokee, the Illiniwek, and the Seminoles) were heirs to a proud warrior tradition. They are strong people who can fight their own battles, and they don’t need some bleeding-heart cracker with White Guilt patting them on the head and saying “There there, you poor oppressed person. You just don’t understand how this is demeaning to you so I’ll go wage your wars for you.” That, to me, is FAR more offensive than a team being named for an Indian tribe–especially since one of those tribes (the Seminoles of Florida) has been quite vocal in saying “We’re not offended, so all y’all can just step the hell off” only to be ignored by activists who are–more often than not–white.
And if THAT is not demeaning and patronizing, I don’t know what is.
Rather than violate a moratorium that I implemented at the start of the season (mostly because I don’t want to have to drop a bug-bomb in the commentbox to get rid of the trolls that such a post would attract), I’m going to talk about something other than last night’s debacle:
After taking a look at the trade that the Ducks and Flyers made yesterday, I got to thinkin’.
The ‘Canes need a defenseman–preferably somebody young and less of a liability than Avi Tanabe. Given Paul Holmgren’s penchant for trading away talent and potential in exchange for garbage (or, in the case of yesterday’s trade, trading for a cat who’s on the IR), I bet we could send Avi to Philly in exchange for, say, Joni Pitkanen. If we wait six weeks we might be able to get Jeff Carter, too. Then mebbe we can flip Carter to another team for another defenseman.
(What? Why are you all looking at me like that?)
Some folks ’round these parts are salivating at Gagne, but really we need defense more than we need forwards. How about this:
To PHI: Avi Tanabe + ’07 draft pick
Snatch Joni Pitkanen + Freddie Meyer
I dunno, I kinda like that. Give up a defenseman and a draft pick for two defensemen? I bet we can hoodwink Homer into making that trade–though I’m sure he’ll try to get us to make some boneheaded trade like Erik Cole + Kevyn Adams for Mike Rathje + Derian Hatcher or something.
It’s worth a shot.
Yeah, I had a senior moment and forgot somebody in yesterday’s link re-org:
Lightning Hockey Central. This cat’s really a Wings fan, but he lives in T-Bay so he writes about the Lightning.
Sorry about the oversight.
Decided to fix up the links list a bit.
LadyPredator: She’s one of my best friends, she got me hooked on the Preds, and now she’s on my blogroll.
The Hockey Chick: Former intern with the Florida Panthers (and for that she has my deepest sympathies) who comments on hockey in general from the perspective of somebody who was a real insider.
One Fan’s Perspective: Hey wow, a vocal ‘Yotes fan! Cool!
Islanders Army: After seeing the trauma that was Jason Blake kissing Mike Sillinger like a lover (after Sillinger scored the game-winner vs. Los Huricans last month), I shouldn’t even add this cat. But the blogroll needs some Isles representation, so there you go.
On The Wings: Matt’s blog got usurped by a dirty spammer, so he had to migrate. But he’s back online now, and lookin’ good….for a Wings blog, anyway.
8 Feet: Formerly Gunner’s Webblog. New name, new look, same cat.
Abel to Yzerman–mostly cos the current link is broken. Soon as Da Chief gets his ass in gear and gets on board as a Kukla subsidiary, I’ll re-add him. Go Navy.