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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stan Lee & The NHL - Guardians of the Sports World

In early October, the NHL announced a unique partnership with comic book legend Stan Lee. “The Guardian Project” will feature 30 new superheroes each inspired by an NHL team. This partnership is expected to produce video games, comic books, even full length movies, and will take the sport of hockey into territory it has never known before (unless you count that truly epic animated series starring the giant alien Mighty Ducks).

I have to admit, when I first read about this I was very excited. I may be just a tad outside their “tween boys” target demo, but I love hockey and Stan Lee is the man so I was excited to see what would happen. I knew they were going to keep a tight lid on this project so leaks weren’t likely, but that’s nothing that a little chloroform and some good ol’ B&E couldn’t take care of. While Mr. Lee was passed out, I had just enough time to rummage through his personal stuff and swipe written descriptions of some of the Eastern Conference characters. Take a look at what I found…

Boston Bruins
Guardian’s Name: The WereBear
Bio: Bear Brewenson was a retired boxer struggling to find meaning with his post-fighting life. One dark and stormy night, he sought the company of a professional woman. Bear noticed that she was overly aggressive, and knew something was very wrong when she took a big bite out of his neck. He passed out from losing so much blood, but woke up the next morning with no scratches or scars. As the weeks went by, Bear felt very strange (almost wild like an animal) and suddenly had huge cravings for raw salmon. Then, on the next full moon, Bear transformed into a giant beast of a creature; he became hairy, grew sharp fangs and began to howl with rage. The WereBear was born!
Special Powers: The WereBear’s powers include intense strength, deceptive speed and the remarkable ability to lose a seven game series after being up 3-0.

New York Islanders
Guardian’s Name: Housewife Hulk
Bio: This spinoff of a Stan Lee great truly pays tribute the traditions of Long Island. Carey Summers, once a promising scientist in the 80’s, is now a housewife and mother of three with a lot of time on her hands. One day while performing her usual experiments with drugs and alcohol, something goes terribly wrong. After downing the two full bottles of wine and 3 vicodins that she had stashed in her microwave, Carey sees that her skin is turning blue and orange and her muscles are growing at an alarming rate. In a matter of minutes, Carey is The Housewife Hulk!
Special Powers: Housewife Hulk has an array of powers and she’s not afraid to use them. She can beat you into a pulp or she can nag you into a pulp. She can max out your credit card with just a single trip to the mall, and she’s not much to look at either!

Washington Capitals
Guardian’s Name: Captain Capital
Bio: Robert Norfolk was just your average DC politician until one fateful day. After successfully blocking important 9/11 health care bills, Norfolk decided to celebrate by driving through the poverty stricken parts of city and laughing at the poor from the back seat of his limo. All of the sudden, the limo skidded out on some ice and flew into an abandoned building filled with toxic goo. When Norfolk woke up, he was uncontrollably tortured by pangs of guilt and remorse. His conscious started to eat him alive and now he must do nothing but good deeds to successfully counteract his pain.
Special Powers: Robert Norfolk had to ability to act without feeling or emotion. He was a shell of a human being with a very small heart and absolutely no conscious. The toxic goo caused his heart to expand and his conscious to develop, but to dangerous levels of intensity. Now, CC is a slave to what’s right. He fights for the weak, speaks for the voiceless, and punches Sarah Palin right in the face whenever he sees her!

Florida Panthers
Guardian’s Name: Pantheron
Bio: When the Simmons family of Miami found a stray cat living under their porch, they thought they had found a new member of their family. They named him Checkers and fed him Meow Mix, but they had no idea that Checkers was from deep space! The cat was the last of its kind, and was sent to Earth to protect humans from the fate of his home planet. He transforms into the formidable Pantheron with one ring of his cute little collar bell and protects the streets of Miami from gangsters, drug dealers and the cast of Jersey Shore.
Special Powers: Pantheron will maul you into submission with his giant claws and sharp teeth, but is also known to impede his enemy’s breathing by inducing severe allergic reactions. Although Pantheron looks very scary and strong, he is easily taken down by those with a ball of yarn or an amusing stuffed mouse.

Buffalo Sabres
Guardian’s Name: General Sabre
Bio: General Sabre used to be a Civil War General who famously rode into battle on the back of his giant Buffalo “Bob”. He was the ultimate man’s man. He drank whiskey for breakfast and shaved with a dull spoon. Wait, “used to be”? Yes, “used to be”, because this hero is actually a ghost! Meant to represent the dead cup dreams of Sabre fans everywhere, General Sabre haunts the tundra of northern New York for all eternity.
Special Powers: Because he’s a ghost, General Sabre has a hard time physically harming people. To get around this immaterial inconvenience, the General prefers to scare his enemies into a petrified paralysis. Very few dare to disturb the General’s peace and incur his wrath, but that could just be a side effect of the fact that no one in their right mind would go to Buffalo anyways.

Pittsburg Penguins
Guardian’s Name: The Flightless Bird
Bio: Little Billy Sacks isn’t your typical twelve year old. After his parents were murdered by a petty thief right in front of his eyes, Billy decided to devote his life to fighting crime and following his favorite hockey team. As an homage to his hometown heroes, he names himself The Flightless Bird and vows revenge on the thief that killed his parents and all other criminals. The name is fitting, as Billy is a short little fat kid who waddles around the neighborhood in a black cape and underwear and cannot fly.
Special Powers: The Flightless Bird’s enemies usually laugh themselves uncontrollably upon first seeing the boy. This gives him just enough time to call the cops on his cell phone and tell them where the trouble is. He also has the amazing ability to ignore all the physical evidence that suggests Sidney Crosby is a whiny, diving sack of shit with a stupid looking mustache. Spoiler Alert! Matt Cooke killed your parents, kid. Sorry.

Philadelphia Flyers
Guardian’s Name: The Scumbag
Bio: The Scumbag is not human. The Scumbag is not animal. He is a hybrid creature, born and bred in the sewers of Philadelphia. His brain is underdeveloped and his mannerisms are irritating, but he hits hard and does whatever it takes to win (even if it means purposely puking on little girls at baseball games).
Special Powers: The Scumbag is known for his amazing ability to disgust his enemies. His ‘Toxic Vomit Attack’ has been known to scald the skin and blind the eyes, but his stench is what always seals the deal. One whiff of this cruddy cretin causes a temporary loss of bowel control.

New York Rangers
Guardian’s Name: The Dick
Bio: Tex Tomlinson was your average New York City bouncer; not too bright and not too nice - the typical meathead with a clipboard. That all changed one day when a well dressed man who called himself Mr. Avery showed up to the club. The man was not physically imposing, but immediately Tex knew that he was a grade ‘A’ asshole who demanded respect (he was also on the list, so that helped). The mysterious Mr. Avery approached Tex and said he had a mission for the young man: Protect the streets of NYC from PA Parenteau. He said that the evil Parenteau was “a total dick” who “must be kept out of all the city’s fine clubs and lounges”. He handed Tex a pair of designer sunglasses with effeminate-looking blue shades. “Here”, he said, “wear these and you will become ‘The Dick’. All will tremble before your doucheyness. But beware, with great power comes great responsibility…”
Special Powers: The Dick has the power to deny you access to any bar, club or lounge in the city… even if you’re not THAT drunk! He smashes in heads with his ‘Clipboard of Death’ and drives around in an extremely loud motorcycle that ruins everyone’s nice quiet evening out. He’s always on the lookout for his mortal enemy, PA Parenteau, who legend says will one day try to enter an NYC lounge and bring about an end to the reign of the mysterious Mr. Avery.

So there you have it. Sorry I couldn’t get you more, but just as I was reaching back into Mr. Lee’s bag for sheet number two, his Asian mail-order bride came running in and started yelling at me in Asianese or something. Needless to say, I got the fuck out of there faster than you could say, “Devils Suck”!

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season! I’ll see you all on the other side of Christmas. Until then, I leave you with this haiku entitled, “HERE WE GO RANGERS!”

Here we go Rangers!
Merry Christmas Blueshirt fans,
Let’s go win the cup!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas 2010 - It's All About the Presents

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go… and everywhere you look… and every time you turn on the TV - it’s inescapable! Like it or not, Christmas is now the king of all holidays. It commands obedience and demands respect. It eats other holidays for breakfast. The very mention of its name sends children into uncontrollable fits of glee. And it’s almost here!

The countdown to Christmas is a special time of year. Everywhere we go, we are all reminded of the great holiday traditions – the lights, the carols, and the unbridled desire for material goods. Things! Stuff!! Presents!!! Write to Santa, ask your parents, as long as you get what you want, it’s all good baby! Everybody has gift cravings, and the hockey community is no exception. Thanks to a few well paid sources inside the mailing systems of North America, I’ve been able to figure out what some NHLers are asking for this year…

Alex Ovechkin - A full refund from Oscar De La Hoya for those personal fighting lessons.

Tom Renney – After coaching in both New York and Edmonton, I just want a job in a city where no one cares about hockey or winning.

Jarome Iginla – A one-way ticket to JFK.

The KHL – Santa, I stopped believing in you when you failed to bring me Ilya Kovalchuk and instead provided Evgeni Nabokov. He’s overrated. Here, you can have him back.

Mikko Koivu – I want my stick back from Bobby Ryan… with an autograph if he could.

Sidney Crosby – More press would be nice. Oh, and a Louis Vuitton 2 piece swimsuit with matching strappy sandals.

Rick DiPietro – Another major injury ASAP.

Joe Nieuwendyk – A little attention please! The Cowboys are a dismal 4-9 this year and my first place team still can’t get noticed in this state. Screw Texas.

Gary Bettman – I know it would take a miracle, but all I want for Christmas is for people in Arizona, Georgia and Florida to start liking hockey.

Brian Burke – Please Santa, send me a first round draft pick before the entire city of Toronto tears me limb from limb.

Sean Avery – More All-Star write-in votes please! By the way, did I see you at the club last weekend? It could have been you, but it might have been PA Parenteau in disguise. I was wearing designer sunglasses so it was a little hard to see.

Alexi Kovalev – A deadline day trade to a Stanley Cup contender and severely lowered expectations from my new team.

Cory Clouston – I don’t care if I get coal in return, just get Alexi Kovalev out of Ottawa!

Patrick Kane – Summertime, and the living’s easy. Drinkin’ all day, partying with Stanley.

It’s may be just a coincidence, but both Jody Shelly and Colton Orr asked for “Justin Bieber concert tickets for a special date I have planned”.

Chris Pronger – A thick steak of human meat and a tall glass of children’s tears.

Vancouver Canucks Fans – 10 more sets of Sedin twins please!

Dan Ellis – For once, I’d like to be mentioned in the hockey media without the accompanying adjectives “whiney”, “greedy” and “talentless twitter-whore”.

Olli Jokinen – shootout skills. Oh, and regular skills too.

’94 Parade – Santa, I don’t need anything now. I’d like to forego any presents I might get this December and cash in one big, shiny, silver present in early June.

There you have it. The various wishes and wants of the hockey world revealed for all to see. I hope you all get what you want from Santa this year, and if you’re Jewish, I’m sorry! Battling Christmas is a tough match up that no one expected you to win. Kind of like every Islanders game that isn’t against the Devils! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Monday, December 6, 2010

12/5/10 - Observations From A Rangers Game

Gotta love birthdays! If it weren’t for those annual celebrations and their gift giving traditions, I would never be able to watch the Rangers in person without spending two month’s salary. Thanks to this year’s edition, I was off to see the blueshirts battle the Ottawa Senators in what I thought would surely be a Rangers win. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Well, they lost. BUMMAH! Here are some observations from my first Rangers game of the season.

- My girlfriend Courtney and I arrive half an hour before the game. We both head for the bathrooms. The men’s room is relatively empty, except for a grimy looking, six foot five monster who appears to be using the sink to bathe himself. Only in New York.

- The only thing more ridiculous than watching Derek Boogaard try and play hockey is John Amarante’s hair piece.

- $10 for a freakin’ beer?! Shit is expensive!!

- Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle work harder than anyone else on the ice, and John Tortorella knows it.

- 8 year old kids are really annoying. Even your dad agrees with me. You’re annoying so shut up already and watch the game.

- Ottawa sucks. Screw the Seantors.

- The Rangers have tried to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the “We’re #1” foam hand. All I can say is that looks like a molestation charge waiting to happen.

- The Rangers Heritage jersey looks awesome, on the ice and on the average joe. Now if only it didn’t cost me $300 to own one…

- I am supremely jealous of the mini mites that get to skate on the ice inbetween periods. I am less jealous of the kids that get to ride on the zamboni in between periods because they have to wave to the crowd for literally eight minutes straight, but still jealous either way.

- Nothing ruins a visit to MSG like sitting in front of the only 5 Senators fans in the stadium. Hey buddy, stop shouting at all the players like they’re your next door neighbors. They don’t know you, they can’t hear you, so leave “Alfie”, “Spez” and “Pascal” alone for a minute so I can enjoy the game without your Canadian commentary, thanks.

- Alexi Kovalev is a shell of his former self. Thanks for the memories Alex, but I wouldn't even put you on my fantasy bench. It's time to retire.

- How did a third rate player like Chris Kelly manage to score a hat trick? He got half his total season goals in the one game, for Christ’s sake!

- Frolov has infected Anisimov with the deadly Russian disease, “Suckalitis”. As of this posting, the cure is still unknown.

- The Rangers are now 0 for 2 when wearing their new Heritage jerseys. Considering that the Rangers’ heritage is built on losing, this makes perfect sense.

Well, there you have it. Observations from a Rangers game brought to you by ’94 Parade. Thanks again for reading! Be sure to pass this blog on to any friends or fellow fans you may know, as that would make my holiday season. Once again, I’ll leave you all with another edition of Rangers Haikus. This one is called, “What’s With All These Home and Homes, Holmes?”

Revenge is a dish
Best served this coming Thursday
Ottawa sucks ass

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Battle of New York: Apparently, It's a Rivalry!

I don’t know about all of you, but it took me about 24 hours to cool down after Monday’s loss to the Penguins. I was pretty pissed off. Not only did the Rangers play like a lifeless group of talentless bums, but the game also provided more examples of how Sidney Crosby is exempt from all forms of league scrutiny and punishment. He clearly slew footed Ryan Callahan, and yet Cally gets called for interference. It was as nonsensical and full of crap as an episode of Lost.

Luckily, the Rangers’ schedule allowed me another full day before the team played its next game. I had some free time to cool off and look forward to their home and home match up against the Islanders. So I did some poking around on the Google, and to my surprise, I found out that the Islanders and Rangers are actually considered an intense rivalry.

I was born in 1986. I have never known the Islanders to be anything other than a completely dismissible team not capable of challenging for anything other than the #8 playoff seed. I considered them an afterthought to the Devils, a team not worth worrying about. As a young fan of the modern NHL, my jaw dropped when I learned that the Isles had once known their own share of success. It was the kind of disbelief you feel when you see really old pictures of your much younger grandma and realize there was a time when she wasn’t all old and wrinkly.

So I decided to do some digging and find out as much as I could about these Islanders. Who are they? Where do they come from? Why are they here if not just to provide us Rangers fans with a slight sense of superiority? What I found may come as a surprise to you younger fans…

FACT - Long Island was awarded an NHL franchise in 1972, but the league’s motives were far from familial. The Islanders were created simply for legal reasons, to keep the WHL’s fledgling league out of the new Nassau Coliseum. County officials didn’t consider the WHL a major league caliber product, and to keep the New York Raiders (weird, right?) out of Nassau, they lobbied the league and were rewarded with an NHL team.

Biggest Surprise Here - That people actually fought over the rights to play in that dump of a stadium. It doesn’t look like Nassau county officials are still concerned with what constitutes a major league caliber product, does it?

FACT - During its conception, the team was widely expected to name itself the Long Island Ducks, a name that paid tribute to the area’s EHL minor league team. Upon realizing that “Long Island” conjures up images of spoiled rich girls and cocky meatheads, they decided to change it to the more geographically expansive “New York Islanders”.

Biggest Surprise Here – That an NHL team was almost named the Ducks 20 years before the Disney movie made the mascot immortal. Had they kept this name, Gordon Bombay wouldn’t have had to convince District 5 to adopt the moniker with an impassioned speech midway through their season, they would never have won that championship and Gordon would never have banged Charlie’s mom. Thank God for the Islanders!

FACT – Being the NHL’s second New York team came at a price. The Islanders were forced to pay our beloved Rangers a $4 million “territorial fee” for the right to play in the league.

Biggest Surprise Here – What’s not to love about someone paying you a $4 million fee so they can move into your back yard? The fact that these days, that kind of money wouldn’t even cover the Derek Boogaard contract.

FACT – Original owner Ray Boe ran into financial troubles during the late 1970’s and was forced to sell his team to minority partner, John Pickett. To salvage the team’s finances, Pickett signed a lucrative cable contract with Sportschannel, an upstart network run by Charles Dolan. Dolan was convinced that the promising Islanders would be a great centerpiece for his new network, and offered the Islanders very generous terms that helped keep the team in Long Island.

Biggest Surprise Here – A Dolan was actually willing to part ways with money to ensure they watched a winner. This strategy is atypical of the Dolan family who, since then, has been infinitely more interested in collecting money and fielding mediocrity than actually winning anything.

FACT – It took only 11 years for the Islanders to win all four of their Stanley Cups. It took the Rangers to 67 years to win the same amount. During their “Dynasty Years”, the Islanders beat the Rangers in four straight playoff appearances and effectively owned the Battle of New York.

Biggest Surprise Here – At one point, it actually was competitive. I thought it was a myth, but apparently we had some hard fought battles back in the day. And here I was thinking they were just a geographical footnote!

FACT – With the first pick in the 1973 Draft, the Islanders selected stand-out defenseman Denis Potvin. Potvin was heralded as “The Next Bobby Orr” and was the cornerstone of Stanley Cup Champion Islanders during the early 1980’s. He broke Ulf Nilsson’s ankle in ’79, forever cementing his place in the Rangers Hall of Infamy. Despite his notoriety, Potvin was asked to come out of retirement in 1994 by none other than New York Rangers head coach and legend Mike Keenan. He said no.

Biggest Surprise Here – Who the fuck is Ulf Nilsson!?

Well, that does it for this edition of ’94 Parade. Hopefully tonight and tomorrow’s games help reaffirm that all is still right with the world. LET’S GO RANGERS! I’ll end this post with another edition of Ranger Haikus.

This one is entitled, “Just Got Tickets for My First Rangers Game of the Season. BOOYA!”

This Sunday the fifth
Rangers versus Senators
Guess who’s got tickets?