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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Angels & Deamons of the Hockey World

Good versus evil, right versus wrong. This classic matchup drives much of the world’s entertainment, including professional sports. Fans usually hold true to the standard “my team is good, everyone else is evil” theory, but watching those (insert any synonym for ridiculously awesome here) HBO 24/7 episodes recently gave me a craving for just a little more access. I mean, who knew that Marc Andre-Fluery was a pretty funny guy? Based on looks alone, I thought he was probably a child molester.

Anyways, I took it upon myself to personally survey every player, coach and general manager in the NHL (sorry for the delay between posts, did I mention I was busy?) to figure out exactly who was naughty and who was nice when it came to the real world. The results were rather surprising, check it out…

Good Guys of the NHL

Ilya Kovalchuk – The NHL’s answer to Carmelo Anthony made enemies amongst the Thrasher fan base (though given the team, that’s about 80 people max) when he turned down extension offers to test the free market, but things aren’t always as they seem on the surface. Aware that his excessive personal demands would cripple any team he signed with, Kovy knew that he had to leave Atlanta for the sake of the franchise. Thanks for choosing Jersey, Ilya! He must hate the Devils too…

Ron Wilson – The Toronto Maple Leafs head coach is the kind of guy who is always willing to throw in a few extra bucks for the cause.

Jarome Iginla – renowned for his charitable spirit and generous attitude, Jarome has spent the last fifteen years donating nearly all his time and energy to a non-profit organization known as the Calgary Flames.

Evgeni Nabokov – What a guy! The former San Jose Sharks goalie realized his family was unhappy living in Russia (Daddy, everyone here only has one eyebrow?), so he came back to the league ready to help any team in need of his services. Except the Islanders… anyone but the Islanders.

Zdeno Chara –
For the sake of the kids and their families, Zdeno agreed never to visit the Children’s Hospital of Boston ever again. Just the sight of him, they wouldn’t stop crying!

Brian Burke – To this day, many people in the hockey world are still stunned that Brian Burke, general manager of the Maple Leafs and apparent humanitarian, would give away two first round draft picks for absolutely nothing.

Mike Komisarek –
Mike is a really approachable guy and is always willing to give fans advice, tips or insight into what it takes to be an NHL player. So when a woman approached him in a Hollywood nightclub recently and asked him what it was like to be in a hockey fight, he was more than happy to show her.

Mats Zucarello – Did the whole of middle earth a favor when he threw the evil Lord Sauron’s ring back into the fiery pit of Mount Doom.

Joe Sacco – The head coach of the Colorado Avalanche recently made a dream come true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation when he allowed Peter Forsberg to practice with an NHL team just one last time before it all ended for good.

Eugene Melnyk – The Senators owner considers his franchise to be like a family. “And you don’t fire family, ever!” he told the Ottawa media recently. “Now for the last time, stop asking me if Bryan Murray and/or Cory Clouston are in jeopardy of losing their jobs!”

Bad Guys of the NHL

Eric Staal – I didn’t even need to interview anyone to figure this out. Just watching him take a couple dirty runs at his younger brother Mark about a month ago solidified his role as the family villain. “Did he just say ‘dirty runs’?” Indeed I did.

Mike Comrie – This guy married Lizzy McGuire. How dare you violate the sanctity of my childhood Disney crush! In a dark basement somewhere, the guy who played Gordo is crying himself to sleep watching their movie on repeat.

Steven Stamkos - Don't let the school boy smile and youthful good looks fool you, Stamkos has yet to supply authorities with a credible alibi for his whereabouts on November 22nd, 1963. We deserve to know the truth!

Chris Pronger -
Do I even need to explain this one? Chris Pronger makes Kim Jong Il look like Regis Philbin. A normal a-hole would have just stolen the game puck after that Stanley Cup Final loss, but I have it on good authority (Bobrovsky fears for his life) that Pronger is turning that puck into a pipe bomb destined for Patrick Kane’s car… deranged nut job.

Teemu Selanne - This relic of the '90's is one of the games most popular players amongst fans and teammates. But after he opted to purchase a pure-bred boxer dog from a breeder rather than save a canine from the shelter, PETA and the ASPCA were all over his ass. Heartless bastard.

Gary Bettman – The league’s commissioner is a cruel, vindictive, powerful man. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t just take away your NHL franchise. He’ll take away your NHL franchise, and then he’ll go and give a franchise to every city south of the border, whether they want one or not.

I talked with numerous teammates who claim they saw either Henrik or Daniel Sedin scrape a parked car parallel parking and then hurriedly drive away without leaving a note or anything. If any of them could have been certain as to which Sedin it actually was, that twin would certainly be on this list.

Bruce Boudreau – Thanks to HBO’s 24/7, the Washington Capitals head coach is solely responsible for teaching half of America’s youth every single possible grammatical application of the word ‘fuck’.

Pavel Datsyuk – Although few have ever actually heard the man speak, Pavel Datsyuk is apparently a huge fan of prank calling. So the next time you pick up the phone and the other end abruptly hangs up without saying a word, just know that Pavel got you good!

Max Pacioretty – No one is willing to repeat exactly what Max said to Henrik that caused the Ranger goalie to repeatedly blocker-sock him in the face, but I’m told it would have enraged even the mildest of Swedes.

Well that does it for this rendition of '94 Parade. Thanks for checking out the site and spreading the word to all your friends and family that like hockey. Oh wait, what's that? You haven't yet told all your friends and family that like hockey about this blog? Interesting... Well, next time you need something from me, we'll see how receptive I am then, won't we?

To close it out, I give you another edition of Ranger Haikus. This little gem is entitled, "Stop Letting Every Team You Beat Walk Away With One Point Too Many".

A win is preferred
Regulation would be best
Avoid overtime

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pros & Cons - Theoretical Winter Classics

Here we are - half way through with much more to do! I truly believe that this has been a successful season (so far, knock on wood) for our beloved New York Rangers. The mentality of the team is maturing, yet the average age is getting younger. Yesterday’s trade of Michael Rozsival is a great indication that management may finally have their head on straight. We’re not where we want to be just yet, but champions are born in the years preceding their championship. If we can keep up the effort, it’ll show in the standings. Let’s Go Rangers!!!

With that being said, there’s still some topical content to address. December and January are statement months for the NHL. The league’s regular season now has two signature, fan-favorite events: the now annual tradition of the Winter Classic and the now annual tradition of discussing next year’s Winter Classic (screw the ASG). It didn’t take long for blogs and other disreputable sports sites like to take to the rumor mill. There are plenty of potential match-ups being proposed, and I’d like to address some of the possible Classics I’ve seen.

Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers

Pros: Besides the obvious pro of including our Blueshirts, this game would give fans and viewers around the world the opportunity to witness first hand how beautiful the game of hockey can be when played in the vicinity of Henrik Lundqvist.
Cons: Dan Carcillo, Chris Pronger and Sean Avery on the same ice at the same time has NBC worried that the game might turn into an episode of CSI, which of course would be free promotion for rival network CBS.

New Yankee Stadium – Bronx, New York
New York Rangers vs New York Islanders

Pros: Setting up a cross-town rivalry game in this historic-yet-modern setting would bring out the grit and physicality in the new years day game, which is good because the final score wouldn’t even be close. Hell, if Rick DiPietro is starting we may even see the first Winter Classic with a double digit final score.
Cons: Besides the fact that Yankee Stadium is committed to hosting the Pinstripe Bowl for the foreseeable future, NHL executives are worried that the extremely expensive seats and boxes would not sell out and the stadium could look empty, much like a regular Islanders home game.

New Medowlands Stadium – East Rutherford, New Jersey
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils

Pros: Hosting the game in this brand new stadium would ensure that the NHL gets the very best of everything – high seating capacity, great sight lines, modern amenities and superior music. Seriously, if Pittsburgh thought a pregame performance from The Clarks was special, wait ‘til they get a load of Bruce The Boss blasting E-Street goodness all in their faces!
Cons: Besides the ambiguity about which franchise would be the game’s host, the match up would limit the Classic’s potential success by restricting the game to only one designated market area and only one competitive team.

Mile High Stadium – Denver, Colorado
Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings

Pros: Winter weather wouldn’t be a concern for Dan Craig and the ice crew in this Rocky Mountain atmosphere. Unless the league wants to go all Mystery, Alaska on our ass, Colorado is basically the west coast’s only option as far as hosting goes. Plus it would give the NHL a chance to make every Quebecer’s dream come true - to see their departed-yet-beloved Nordiques back in action, if only for a day.
Cons: Because Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty no longer play in the NHL (though both did attempt comebacks before, so you never know), the task of starting the traditional bench-clearing brawl will pass on to Adam Foote and Kris Draper – don’t expect fireworks from these grandpas…

Michigan Stadium – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Pros: The NCAA set a world record for attendance at a hockey game after a staggering 113,411 witnessed Michigan trounce Michigan State late last year, and you know the NHL took notice. Shouldn’t the world’s best league hold the world record for best attendance? I expect the NHL would make breaking it a sure thing by loading up the auxiliary rink with a shit ton of children and forcing couples to sit on their significant other’s lap.
Cons: A rematch of the 2009 Winter Classic would also be intriguing given the old “familiarity breeds contempt” idea. Oh wait, “familiarity” is the regurgitated match up and “contempt” is that feeling deep in my stomach when I hear that the Rangers are, yet again, not included in the Classic.

Ohio Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings

Pros: A “Classic” college football stadium and an outdoor NHL game might be all this fringe market needs to finally embrace hockey like they do Buckeye football.
Cons: Who are we kidding, no one would show up. Plus, the Blue Jackets franchise is only 10 years old, so in order to choose a valid retro uniform they’d actually have to get civil war-era blue jackets and play in those.

Target Field – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars

Pros: 1992, meet 2012. The possibility of a Wild versus North Stars Winter Classic has Minnesotans all giddy and excited. Unfortunately for all of them, both teams would inevitably hold true to their history and refuse to win the game.
Cons: Besides the fact that few Dallas Stars fans are likely to make the lengthy trip to Minnesota, NBC has expressed concern over any match ups that don’t include Sidney Crosby so don’t expect to see this one before 2029.

Beaver Stadium – University Park, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Pros: Half way between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Penn State football stadium would be the perfect battleground for this Pennsylvania Face-Off. A seating capacity of 107,000 would shatter all previous Winter Classic in terms of attendance as well, unless of course people stay home due to hazardous, Pronger-like conditions in the area.
Cons: Although the stadium’s capacity may seem attractive at first glance, league officials will be hesitant to green light the all-Penn game due to the inherent danger in packing that many scumbags into one place at one time.

FedEx Field – Landover, Maryland
Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Pros: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! That’s what fans of the 2011 Winter Classic are saying anyways. The league doesn’t give a shit if it’s nice to share, Canada, if it ain’t bringing in record TV ratings and shattering revenue precedents, it ain’t worth holding.
Cons: If HBO and the NHL get one more taste of this match up, they may just make the Caps and Penguins obligatory Winter Classic participants… until Sidney Crosby gets traded to LA, that is!

Safeco Field – Seattle, Washington
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings

Pros: On first glance, one might wonder why? Given the NHL’s commitment to new markets, introducing Seattle to the game of hockey through the Winter Classic might just be one-punch-knockout in terms of event marketing. They’ll be clamoring for an expansion team faster than you can say, “The Seahawks were only 7-9”.
Cons: Giving the game to a city without an NHL team is a risky move for the league. Franchises like Atlanta and Phoenix will wonder why they weren’t thrown a revenue life raft, until Gary Bettman reminds them that outdoor hockey in the south would be like Jon MacLean’s coaching career… just awful, start to finish, a complete failure. Lemaire isn’t doing too hot either, hahaha!

Thanks for your time, ladies and gentlemen, please be sure to tell your friends, loved ones and fellow hockey fans about ’94 Parade! Us Ranger fans have a big week in front of us. With games against the Habs (twice), the west’s best Canucks, and the Flyers on Sunday to close it all out. Taking more than six points from this stretch would have me singing, especially if we beat Philly in the process. So in the hope that our boys stay healthy and make it happen, I give you this haiku entitled, “Half a Season Down, Half a Season Left to Go”.

Stop getting injured.
Before you know it, we’ll have
Weise on the first line.

Monday, January 3, 2011

'94 Parade's First-Ever 2010 Possibly-Annual Super-Megalicious End-of-Year Awards Show!

2010 is in the books, ladies and gentlemen, and it sure has been a fun one. We had lows (acquiring Olli Jokinen) and we had highs (getting rid of Olli Jokinen), and yet somehow Glen Sather still runs our team. We laughed out loud (Derek Boogaard scoring a goal) and we shed some tears (PLEASE, NO MORE OLLI!!), but since we didn’t raise any banners this fall, the memories are all that’s left. To honor those memories and the people who made them possible, I give you all: ’94 Parade’s Possibly-Annual Super-Megalicious End-of-Year Awards Show!!!

*The winner of each award will receive a coveted “Golden Cigar”; an actual stogie chomped upon by "Sathermiester" (as Glen likes to be called by his female staffers) retrieved from the GM’s personal garbage bin, dipped in gold and mounted on a formidable mahogany pedestal.

The “Wish You’d Show Up More Often” Award

Winner: Erik Christensen
Reasoning: Christensen is classic trade-bait material. He’s been in and out of Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Anaheim without ever really cementing his presence. When he’s on his game, he’s a difference-maker on the ice and compliments Gaborik’s style. Unfortunately for Ranger fans, he’s on his game about as often as Lindsay Lohan is sober. This season, when Erik scores, the Rangers are undefeated. Now he’s out four to six weeks with a sprained knee, so that particular stat won’t be tested for another 25 games. Actually never mind, that sounds like the status quo for Christensen.
Runner Up: Marian Gaborik. So far this season, our resident sniper has yet to truly catch fire. His point total is only two above the joke known as Ilya Kovalchuk (granted, Marian’s played 11 less games. Come to think of it, that’s more hilarious than it is depressing).

The “You’re Dead to Me Now” Award
Winner: PA Parenteau

Reasoning: Last season, Parenteau made a name for himself as a dependable shootout participant and a promising member of the Rangers’ youth movement. He endeared himself to the blue shirt faithful when he clinched a shootout win for the Rangers in Ottawa with his parents in attendance. Then, Parenteau signed a one year contract with the New York Islanders. Fine by me PA, I consider it your loss. A season in Long Island is like 3 years San Quentin time, but don’t go mocking your former team after merely assisting on a tying goal (in a game that you lost). Get some class kid; even “The Classless Kid” himself, Sean Avery, thought that was low. You’re dead to me now, don’t even try getting into my bar, club or lounge.
Runner Up: Olli Jokinen (Duh!)

The “Please, Someone Kill This Guy Soon” Award
Winner: Pierre McGuire

Reasoning: This award was going to go to the obvious candidate Sidney Crosby, but then Pierre McGuire came on camera at the Winter Classic and reminded us all why he’s the champ.
Runner Up: Sidney Crosby (Duh, again!)

The “Inseparable Butt-Buddies” Award
Winners: Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust

Reasoning: For all I know and care, these guys could be like oil and water off the ice. It doesn’t matter to me because when these two beasts are fore-checking opponents and forcing turnovers, it’s like music to my eyes. They rock, they roll, they feed the slot and bang away garbage goals – they do all the dirty work, and they do it so well! Watch closely next Rangers game. You know those periods of time when the Rangers look lifeless and ineffective? Watch for their first good, positive shift and look to see who is out on the ice. I’ll bet you right now that it’ll be Prust and Boyle. For all the line-shuffling John Tortorella does, he doesn’t dare break up Prusty and Boyle.
Runner Up: Artem Anisimov and Enver Lisin were best friends in New York last year. Then we didn’t make Enver an offer in the off-season. Boo-Hoo Butt Buddies!

The “Mannish Boy” Award
Winners: Michael Del Zotto

Reasoning: MDZ was a revelation last year. At only 19 years of age, he led all Ranger defensemen in both goals and assists (and points for those of you who couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together). But this season has been a different story for the young number 4. Pedestrian point production, inconsistent play and costly mistakes have pushed Del Zotto down the depth chart. So much so that the Rangers just sent him down to the Hartford for the first time in his career. Say hi to Wade for us, Michael!
Runner Up: Derek Stepan, but for much more positive reasons.

The “You Kind of Look like Frodo from Lord of the Rings” Award
Winner: Mats Zuccarello-Aasen

Reasoning: Well, because he kind of looks like Frodo from Lord of the Rings… and he’s short.
Runner Up: Marc Staal. This one wasn’t even close.

The “Ha-Ha, Your Life Sucks Now” Award
Winner: Wade Redden

Reasoning: There was a moment in late November when I thought, “Wow, I’ve been really happy lately. I don’t know why, but I feel like things are a lot better now. Is it my job? No, not that. Girlfriend? Can’t be that, we’ve been together for 7 years now….” Then I remembered that Wade Redden got demoted to the minors, and I knew exactly why things were better lately. He’s a -5 down there, by the way.
Runner Up: No one's life even comes close to sucking as hard as Wade Redden's does. Can you imagine how brutal the family gatherings are back in Saskatchewan? "So Wade, how are you and Danica liking the cultural scene in Hartford?" Owch.

The “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” Award
Winner: Alex Frolov

Reasoning: Frolov made us all very happy Ranger fans when he signed for the club back in July. Unfortunately for us, he hasn’t made Ranger fans happy at all since then. His 7 goals put him on pace to match his rookie season, and his play has been about as inspiring as a wet dish cloth. Nevertheless, Alex remains an attractive bargaining piece for Glen Sather. He was a consistent 50+ point guy in LA and would certainly spark the interest of inquiring GMs. Unfortunately for us (again), Glen Sather is an ass and will likely trade him to Phoenix for a used puck bag and Derek Morris.
Runner Up: Matt Gilroy. Here’s the Catch 22, Matt. The better you play (when you get the chance, that is), the better you look to GMs on a selling spree. Beware of being too good, you might just find yourself playing in Calgary before you know it. Holla, Jarome!

The “You Know, Why Don’t You Just Sit This One Out” Award
Winner: Derek Boogaard

Reasoning: This guy is a waste of a roster space. I bet Torts is slipping the team doctor bonus cash under the table just to keep saying that Derek “is not yet symptom free”. I find it hard to believe that this guy has a concussion simply because I have yet to see evidence that he even has a brain.
Runner Up: Sean Avery. When he’s not playing his game out there, you wonder why he’s playing the game at all. One goal to date is far too few for this should-be game-changer. 14 assists are all well and good, but we need him to perform without a public tirade from Torts prior to each freaking game.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The first Possibly-Annual Super-Megalicious End-of-Year Awards Show brought to you by ’94 Parade (and Honda, of course). To everyone who didn’t receive an award, I truly am sorry. I would have given one out to all Ranger players, but then I’d be making up lame awards like the “Best Ukrainian on the Team” just to keep Ruslan Fedotenko happy. I hope you all had a happy and a safe New Year! This edition of Ranger Haikus is entitled, “Here’s to Making 2011 a Good One”.

Raise your glasses, all,
And toast to the Stanley Cup
We’re coming for you.