Sunday, August 23, 2009

Canadian Love and Hate

I remember one evening a few years ago when I was driving from upstate New York to Michigan. I drove through Canada, like I always did, but this time it was special because it was during the NHL playoffs. I pulled into a truck stop to fill my gas tank, went inside to pay and could hardly believe my ears. There were people talking about hockey in that building! I felt so out of place, yet totally at home. Conversations about hockey are a rare occurrence in the states so I made up my mind to join the discussion. I walked over to the table where a Leafs fan was telling another fan about an amazing goal he saw earlier that night and proudly asked:

'Hey, do you happen to know the score of the game that my team played in?' (yeah, that's exactly what I said. I don't know if I thought he was a mind reader or if I just wanted to be asked who my team was, but that's what I said.) Of course, he wasn't a mind reader so he replied, 'Who's yer team?' It was a simple enough question, but I hesitated. Hmmm, should I say 'The Red Wings' or maybe just 'The Wings'? I decided to say 'Detroit' because it was a truck stop in the middle of the night and saying 'Detroit' might make them think that I'm from there and therefore very tough, just in case he was planning on kidnapping me and filming 'Deliverance 2'. 'Yeah, they won.' and he went back to his conversation with his fellow Canadian.

I've always loved traveling through Canada. Despite the hassle at the border, the exchange rate, liters instead of gallons, Kilometers per Hour and the fact that my cell phone switches to roaming, I can look past all of that because there's a chance I can talk hockey with perfect strangers. Also, McDonalds gives away hockey cards in their Happy Meals.

And yet...

When the Olympics start, it won't matter who's playing against Canada, I'll be pulling for their opponent. I'm not sure why that is, but it might have to do with the typical Canadian fans arrogance. I know all about that arrogance, after all, I'm a Red Wings fan, but it is wonderful to see the hopes and dreams of cocky fans destroyed, especially in their own backyards, playing their own game.

Also, I'm really getting a kick out of the Stanley Cup losing streak they have going on. 1993 was the last time a Canadian team won the cup. They've come close quite a few times (including 2004 when I really think the Flames won in 6), but they continue to disappoint. Now, while I'm enjoying the losing streak and hope it goes on for generations, I confess that I was pulling for Edmonton when they played Carolina and I had my fingers crossed that the Flames could beat Tampa Bay in that game 7, but that's just because I can't stand seeing the cup go to a team who's fans really don't care about hockey. It's just something to do until football season starts up again.

So where do I stand on 'Make it 7'? I say make it 29 if you want! Just as long as Detroit stays in Detroit. Since I don't live in Michigan right now, I'm forced to get NHL Center Ice in order to watch all the games. (Of course, when I do get back to Michigan, I'll still order Center Ice because I love watching all hockey games, even the ones my team isn't playing in.) When Detroit isn't playing, I try to find a Canadian team playing at home, especially if it's against another Canadian team. Calgary vs Edmonton or Toronto vs Ottawa are a couple of the best match ups you can find in sports because it doesn't matter who's building the game is played in, the crowd is divided and hostile. I think the closest you can get to this kind of atmosphere in the states would be Philly vs Pittsburgh, but only Philly fans are hostile and Pittsburgh fans resort to sobbing in the bathrooms saying, 'Leave Sidney alone!' In short, the best non-Red Wings hockey out there is played in Canada.

Make it 7. Give Canada an outdoor game every year. Fire Bettman. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah... Go Red Wings! or Go Wings!... Go Detroit!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oh, what could have been...

This time last year, Canadians were mourning the loss of their second national anthem. 'The Hockey Theme' was the intro to Hockey Night in Canada for 40 years, but CBC's license for the song expired and negotiations for a new license failed. So, there was a contest to come up with a new song, with the winner being 'Canadian Gold'.

Now, I loved that old song and insist that it be played at my funeral to a string of photos and videos of my life, but honestly, Canadian Gold is way better.

Of course, there were other possibilities, many of them humorous. Since I like a good joke, here are my top 5 Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song Rejects:

"Come on in, come to the place where fun never ends! Come on in, it's time to party with Hockey Night in Canada."

That one made it in just for taking me back to the 80's.

Do the Mario! Just like that!

This one could easily have been first because I really like the song, but you'll see why it's only second...

I was browsing YouTube to kill some time when I decided to look up the old Hockey Night in Canada theme and maybe recall some of the finalists from last years contest when I found 'Potential New Theme #6'. I played it, expecting to hear some sort of symphony. I just about spewed pop all over my screen when I heard 'Hello Canada and hockey fans from the United States and Newfoundland... TROGDOOOOR!!!' It's also very epic to watch hockey highlights to the lyrics 'Burninating the countryside! Burninating the peasants!'

That video was the inspiration for my post today. There were quite a few others on YouTube, including a Full House version. Search 'hockey night in canada - potential new theme' for the rest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Huh... Bertuzzi, eh?

Yup, he's a Red Wing again. I know I'm going to take heat for this, but I'm ok with it, for the most part. Honestly, Big Bert should not even be in the league. Most people would agree to that. However, he is in the league and he has the ability to score. If he gets 20 goals at $1.5 million, I say it's a win. What I don't like is having someone with such a dirty reputation on our team. As if we don't get made fun of enough for our city.

This is going to be an interesting year for Detroit. In the event that all the 'IF's' actually happen for Detroit, then I see us as a cup contender. If not, then probably a first or second round exit.

What bugs me about all of this is when Detroit fans decide to get ticked at Ken Holland. I've said it before: Welcome to the salary cap. If this was 2003, Mike Ilitch would have opened up his wallet and POOF! Hoosa would have stayed and we probably would have added another star. Well, it's 2009 and POOF! We have retreads up the ying-yang. Relax, Red Wings fans. The rest of the league has the same issues as us right now. Notice all the one year contracts? Since the cap didn't go up a whole heck of a lot, it looks to me like GM's around the league are pretty much holding their breath and waiting to see what happens next year. If this was NHL09, most teams would be simulating until April just to get to the next season ASAP.

Still, I'm really looking forward to this season. Anything can happen in hockey so don't be surprised if Detroit brings the cup back home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did I Miss Something?

ESPN has done it again. This epic fail of a sports network has reported that Jason Spezza has been invited to try out for the Canadian Olympic team. That much is true, but since when did the Ottawa Senator's move to Washington? And is that Washington state or do the Capitals have a new neighbor? Great going, ESPN. Does anyone there even watch hockey? The worst part of it is you can see by the screen shot that I took that this error has been online for 2 hours. I wonder how long it will take to fix, if it's fixed at all?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Welcome Back, Jason

OK Wings fans, like it or not, Jason Williams is back. Why having a 28 year old potential 20 goal scorer on your team is so terrible I may never know, but he's ours. I know, he said something disrespectful about coach Babs once or twice. Sure, he took a bad penalty or two in his day. Fact is, he is young and he can score. The real reason he's on the team? He's a right handed shot. Since Sammy left for the Canucks, we were left with one righty on the power play. You really need two. Having a lefty play the left point on a power play reduces the threat of the entire left side of the ice. It all but eliminates the one-timer, giving defenders and the goaltender the ability to cheat to the right side, knowing they will have an extra second to get across in the event of a cross-ice pass. Sammy was less than perfect on the point, but he forced the PK to respect his half of the ice due to the threat of the one-timer.

Williams has manned the point before, so he has the experience. He has the right handed shot. He just has what it takes.

Sometimes, sports fans remind me of hungry kids. They know they want to eat, but when mom offers PB&J, they throw a fit because that's not what they wanted! Sorry, Jonny, but all we have is PB&J. Sure, it would be great if we could order pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it just doesn't work that way. It's this, or nothing.

Not everyone is Nick Lidstrom. Not everyone is Pavel Datsyuk. Welcome to the world of the salary cap.