Ryan Callahan

The FUN In DysFUNctional

There’s this great saying, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

There’s also another great saying.  That the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

And there you can interchange “Glen Sather” with “insanity.”

Yes, this is in response to the firing of John Tortorella as head coach of the New York Rangers.  I guess like many, it came as a surprise but it was not exactly shocking.  One cannot fire a whole team, so you fire the coaches.  And unfortunately, with Torts, the buck stopped with him many time.

Most notably, now, with the recent ousting of the Rangers in the Eastern semis to the Boston Bruins.

Well here is a novel thought, Slats…GET BETTER PLAYERS YOU FUCKING MORON!

I haven’t yet finished my Rangers season wrap-up (and it’s coming, don’t you worry), yet, I’m already getting agita from this bullshit going on into 2013-14.

Yes, this was a shortened season.  Yes, I wasn’t crazy about the prospect of the whole “half a cup” thing. But goddammit, if I didn’t get excited about the playoffs this year.

Yet, I don’t think it’s Torts who failed his team.  Rather, the team failed Torts.

Give the guy some credit.  In a big media market, Torts took the pressure off his team and put it on himself.  Never a media darling, the fans loved him because he could separate the emotional from the professional.  Or at least the fans who liked him.

The fact is, whatever gave him his relationship with the players was his folly this year.

Dan Rosen of NHL.com wrote about the Seven Reasons Why the Rangers Fired Tortorella, and one of the reasons was that his top guys underperformed in the playoffs.

Yeah, no SHIT.  But here’s a swell idea: How about we actually BLAME the players?

What a novel fucking idea.  Instead of playing to win, they figure skated their way through round one, only to realize they can’t do that when the stakes are higher.  Right?

What’s more, is Torts had every right to scratch Brad Richards during the playoffs.  This is the same guy who underperformed ALL season…and he actually has a GOOD relationship with Tortorella! This is also the same guy who dormant during the lockout.

Sure, he may have kept in shape elsewhere.  But the reality is, he underperformed the entire season.

Not to fucking mention, there was a BIG spot missed without Marc Staal healthy.  Add that to the rising shit, and the Rangers were fucking lucky they made it TO the playoffs, let alone make it out of the first fucking round.

Yet, I have to ask, besides Sather basically solidifying future Stanley Cup runs in Columbus, what has he done that has made him so untouchable?  James Dolan has been in rehab: clearly, there must be some kind of damning evidence that Sather has on him that warrants him to be the GM forever and ever.

Could it have been a fluke that the guys he got in the Marian Gaborik trade were hurt? And where the hell was Rick Nash?  Did he NOT realize that yes, your goals count just as much in the playoffs as they do in regular season?

At the end of the day, Torts wasn’t out there NOT scoring on the power play.  Torts didn’t tell Brad Richards – hey, put your job AND mine in jeopardy by forgetting how to play.

To get canned after a half season when it seemed like the team ran on its moxie and mojo from the year prior is an insult.

 

I’ve only been a Ranger fan since 1989. I’m one of the lucky ones, that I only had to wait five years to see my team win a championship.  Like my dad and Kranepool Society, many other fans have been through some dysfunctional times.  To see the team get so far and to fall short.

I’m not sure if Sather, like many people, expected John Tortorella to turn water into wine, or turn the shit that Sather throws to the wall and see if it sticks.

I can only hope that next season the Rangers make it TO the playoffs.  Because Tortorella’s tenure brought back a legitimacy that hasn’t been seen since 1993-94 season.  And remember how Mike Keenan left, and subsequently, cursed the team.

As long as Glen Sather is in charge, we’ll have fun watching these teams, but we’ll be watching a shitload of dysfunction too.

WHAT ARE YOU, A BUNCH OF FUCKING CRYBABIES?

Once upon a time, a few months ago, someone asked me why I made fun of Sidney Crosby.  A Penguins fan, he claimed it was “sour grapes,” and that “any one of us would love to have him on our team(s).”

walter_sobchekThere may be an element of truth there.  I mean, for years and years, as a Mets fan, we taunted and made fun of Larry Jones…but I don’t think there is any one of us that wouldn’t have loved him on our team or didn’t respect the shit out of him.

But Crosby is different.  He gets the benefit of the doubt with EVERY call.  Anytime something happens to him, legal or not, the league goes RUSHING to his defense.  Mario Lemieux, a player I always loved and respected and would have never ever called “soft,” has become a total pussy when it comes to defending the crown jewel of his organization.

Yeah Sidney Crosby is a good player, a perennial Hart Trophy candidate as long as he is healthy.  But he’s a crybaby.  And in a paraphrase of Walter Sobchek, what kind of hockey player are you if you’re gonna be a fuckin crybaby?

But this isn’t about Sid, entirely.  No, the Rangers, in case you didn’t remember, eliminated the Washington Capitals on their own home ice in a 5-0 blow out Game Seven.  The game, which should have been all about Henrik Lundqvist not giving up a goal for 120 minutes straight, should have been about role players coming through in the clutch, and Captain Cally remembering that he honors a legacy of Mark Messier and tough guys.

But no.  Alex Ovechkin, yet another Hart Trophy candidate, has cemented his legacy as a crybaby official questioner.

“Not saying there was a phone call, but they wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin reportedly said in Russian, translated and tweeted by Slava Malamud, a senior writer for Russian sports daily Sports-Express. “For ratings. You know, lockout, escrow, league must make profit.”

I take it he doesn’t remember this call from Game Three, that worked to HIS benefit.

Or basically any other call that has worked to his benefit.  In you know his entire CAREER.

I don’t get it.  Hockey guys get enough shit for skating around.  I’ve even been known to make fun of them for “figure skating” at times.  But these are big tough guys.  They are hulking beasts.  They hit.  They carry around a shit load of equipment as they skate.  Someone like Henrik Lundqvist needs to wear a shitload of equipment AND make moves to save his team.

And two of the best players in the league whine that nothing has gone their way.

WAH!

Sorry to drag Sidney Crosby into this…because this diatribe really has nothing to do with him, but more so the culture that encourages players like he and Ovechkin to openly bitch about shit that happens EVERY DAY in hockey.

Instead of looking at a dominating performance by one of the best (at least Ovechkin gave Lundqvist his due), and his team not showing up for an elimination game on THEIR HOME ICE, I think the Eagles might have a thing or two to say about that.

HNIC: Hockey (Date) Night In (New York) City

What a difference a week and change makes.

A little over a week ago, I remember people were calling for Glen Sather’s head, to void the “big trade” with Columbus Blue Jackets.  That Torts has lost control over the team.  That Henrik has lost an edge.  I had fans from other teams trolling me (and other Ranger fans).  And even tried to discount the win against the Leafs last week.  Which, I mean, a win is a win is a win, right?

Then there was the game against the Flyers in Philadelphia last week, which was a close, hard-fought and super-intense game in the last two minutes especially.  Like many teams down in the count in a very close game, the Rangers had an empty net to get an extra man on the ice.  The intensity was in ten cities, but they fell short of tying the game.

Not to worry, they made up for that last night in the Garden, winning 2-1 against Philly with another super-intense ending with crowding this time at the Rangers’ net and suspense to the last second.

And boy, was it fun.

About a year ago, I became twitter buddies with Miss J To The K.  She was a Jets and Rangers fans like me, but we differ on baseball teams.  That’s cool.  We got involved, inadvertently, in an Islanders argument, about the origins of “Potvin sucks.”  Then we realized we were on the same team.  It was all good.

Not Glen Sather sold me three tickets during this shortened season.  I asked J to come with.  She accepted.

So it was Date Night in the City.  A Hockey Date Night.  I was psyched.

It’s different going to an event like this with my husband.  He’s not as into hockey as I am (though he did admit to not being able to pay attention to much else while the game was transpiring).

It was my first game of the 2013 shortened season, also my first time at the Garden since the playoffs.  When I attended the playoffs in 2011, construction started, and it was unbearable walking around.  Like death heat due to the construction.  Then in 2012, I sat in the 400s and loved the Skybar.  I knew more renovations were upcoming.   Now the 200 level stretches up to basically where the 400s used to be.  The old “Blue Seats” are no more.  Though they haven’t been the “Blue Seats” truly in some time.  The Dancin’ Larry does his dances now in the aisle at Section 224ish, right by where Not Glen’s seats are.

The sections are steeper.  But I had a great experience with the seats.  Center ice, great view.  No complaints from this hockey chick.

Sec225

The food at MSG has changed, too, and not for the better I’m afraid.  Everything is now overpriced shee-shee food, and how can a Carnegie Deli stand NOT have their blintzes? (Maybe not the hockey friendliest food…but still…make Coopie happy).  And how do you upgrade food and not bring back easily the best thing sold at MSG…the delicious waffle fries???? Dang.  They were really really good.

I will miss them.  But I do love the new set up.

We sat in the middle of the 20th row.  J struck up a conversation with the women next to us…actually, a mother and daughter team.  Turns out, they knew their shit about hockey, the teenager even had a fantasy hockey team.  I’ve done fantasy baseball before, but I generally lose interest by the end of the season.  Fantasy hockey, though, is a whole ‘nother level.

Not much to tell.  We were still waiting to get to our seats when the first goal was scored by Michael Del Zotto.  We were in our seats for the second goal, and it was fabulous.  The Garden still can rock.

I also saw that the team seemed to play more together, if that makes sense.  Any rust they may have had prior to Tuesday’s game seems to be all but gone.  Henrik was back to being Henrik, but Ryan Callahan looks to be out 10-14 days due to a stupid and unfortunate shoulder injury.

What was fun though, was the bonding.  I have many friends who happen to be guys, and I can go to a game with them.  But I dunno, I think girls have more fun, and the fun is brought to an entirely new level when we go to games together, like when I go with KB or any of the others I have met via Facebook.

“I’m glad we did this,” said J.  “I know we’ve been buddies for awhile, but I really feel like we’re friends now.”

I often say that I hold my “real and in person” friends behavior to a higher standard on social media.  What I mean by that is I expect more from the people I had established relationships with prior to the whole social networking component.

Yet when J said she felt like we were “really” friends after we parted at the trains, I felt truly fortunate to have my life enriched by so many people via social networks.  I hold them in a different standard, perhaps for better or worse, but those who I have had the opportunity to meet in person I connect with on a different level.   And I understood what she meant.

It’s tough enough to be a hockey fan in this town, let alone a female hockey fan.  To find a kinship with not just one, but many is a real gift.  One that you cannot quantify.

It’s easy to get carried away with a win this early in the season, but the game had a playoff vibe to it for sure.  It’s easy to get verklempt too when you make a friend for life.

How great sports can be!

Perspective

  I was at a baseball game a few weeks ago with my husband, and we met up with two of our friends, BlondeBombKels and ItsThat1Guy (aka Alvin).  Not only do we share the same baseball allegiances, we have the same hockey allegiance (my husband only by osmosis, since he wasn’t into hockey before he met me).  My ticket rep with the Mets is also a Rangers fan.  We talked about the season, and preseason, and I guess I was in denial with the fact that there was still a slight possibility of a lockout.

See, last year, Alvin got a bunch of us tickets for a Rangers/Devils preseason game at the Pebble.  It was fun, it was raucous.  We had a good time.

Alvin shook his head when we chatted about the preseason game, which the same crew was still interested in doing this year, and said, “It’s not looking good.”  At first, I thought it was the possibility of us all getting together to see the game.  Then I realized, he was referring to the lack of an agreement.

It then became a distinct possibility that in a year where I’m expecting my team to rebound from a great run yet disappointing end to last season that I might not see hockey for awhile.  I mean, keep in mind that during the last time this shit happened, I had all but given up on hockey for good.  Thank goodness, I suppose, for Mets late season collapses in September, when I needed an outlet besides a once a week fill for football.

So I was back, and I had a lot to look forward to as a Ranger fan.  The emergence of Captain Callahan and King Henrik becoming one of the best goalies in hockey, let alone Ranger history.  Looking forward to the passionate fan bases and going deep into the playoff season.  I was right last year, that anything less than a visit to the Eastern Conference finals would be a failure, it was just too goddamn bad they lost to the Devils.

Barring all that, most Ranger fans were optimistic and eager to get their team returned to the ice.

What’s more though, outside of being a Ranger fan is that another large market team, the Los Angeles Kings, finally went all the way and won the Cup.  This was a feat for themselves, their fans, and even the passionate hockey fans who followed certain players on the team.  Yes, 2011-12 was a fun season for most fans.  Even for Phoenix Coyotes fans, who saw their team actually go deep into the playoffs.  Even for Devils fans, who may have seen a last hoo-rah for Fat Uncle Daddy Marty.

So I say to the NHLPA, the NHL, the owners, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, the hockey gods…while you’re nickel and diming each other (and hey, I’m a supporter of Unions, but these asses are just arguing about pennies while they’re letting diamonds go away in the form of fans), remember to take some perspective.

One year ago today, the hockey world was rocked with news of the Lokomotiv Yaraslavl plane crash that took the lives of the entire Kontinental Hockey League team.  Scott Burnside writes on ESPN today: “Friday, Sept. 7, marks the first anniversary of the crash and marks an opportunity to reflect on the men whose collective impact on the hockey world cannot easily be summed up.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a bunch of horses’ asses are arguing about MONEY.

I don’t know what the deal is with the KHL, if there were collective bargaining agreements or unions or ability to get paid the way they do in here where the NHL exists.  What I do know is that several players, including a former 1994 Ranger Alexander Karpovtsev, died while traveling to play a game they loved.

A game I’m sure most players would have said back when they were kids, they love it so much they’d play for free.

But they’re not playing for free.  They’re playing for real money, and real dollars, and owners and players and the league are arguing about who gets more.

It’s a shame really.

Like I said, I’m all for unions, I’m all for collective bargaining tools.  I’m all for what makes workers’ unions strong and beneficial.

But being a fan of a sport that is about to embark on its third lockout in 18 years, the first one took half a season, the next one took out an entire season…what’s next?  Take out TWO seasons?

I’m not saying I’m most fans.  I remember when hockey came back after the last lockout, a few of my friends were pumped it was returning.  By then, I had checked out.  Some of it was devoting more time to my baseball fandom (even became a season ticket holder during that time).  A lot of it had to do with my team at the time.  I was not happy with the directions of the Rangers at the time, and thought devoting time and energy to having Glen Sather as the General Manager was nuts.  But sticking with him turned out to be a good thing, I’m rooting for a hard working, blue collar type of playing team that makes Rangers fans proud.

The same blue collar types that made Unions strong.

But my question to everyone involved in…what the FUCK is taking so long?

My answer is to put things into perspective.  Count your blessings that you live in a society that you can bargain for this and take your sweet damn time with it.

Then look at the past year, of losing fellow hockey players in a tragic crash, and saying, what the fuck are we arguing about now?

I’m not saying one side is more at fault that the others.  But what are CBAs for anyway.  TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN.

Get your shit together, both sides, and figure this out already.

Bargaining over lost dollars won’t matter when you alienate another generation of hockey fans once again.

Only the Names Have Changed

Back then, the names on the jerseys were Messier, Leetch, Graves, Richter.  There might have been a Gilbert or Ratelle jersey in the mix.  I might have even seen a Gartner jersey.

Now, the jerseys say Gaborik, Callahan, Richards, Lundqvist.

This, of course, is my trip to TGI Friday’s on 34th St and 8th Avenue, a few blocks north of the Garden.

Gabby the Ranger bear anxiously awaits the opening faceoff while dining at Friday's.

It’s sacrilegious you know, since I do live in New York City, to go to of all places a chain restaurant that merely serves to set itself up as a tourist trap.  Well, bear in mind that once upon a time I actually was one of those…yes, I was a tourist.  I was also 18 years old, not of legal drinking age, and when the Rangers won the Cup in 1994, my dad and I wanted to be near the celebrations.  I could only imagine what places like Mustang Harry’s or Blarney Rock were like in 1994.  All I know is, when I walk past this Friday’s, I get the warm fuzzies, knowing my dad and I were there for the final three games of the series against Vancouver which led to the moment that would last a lifetime, as Sam Rosen called it.  (And by the way, I will miss him for the rest of the playoffs, which are of course to be determined to go as long as they do with how the Rangers perform.)

So Dad and I got a chance to go to the playoffs.  We went last year, to a crushing loss in overtime to the Capitals, and I was thinking this may deja vu all over again.  See, we went to home game two (which is what these are labeled as on the ticket), and I was also coming down with a cold in 2011.  This year, I had a full blown cold, but I’m feeling better now, thank you very much.  The Rangers lost that game in overtime, when Henrik Lundqvist did his best impression of a closer in a non-save situation, as he was fronted a three goal lead, and still managed to give up four unanswered.

I hemmed and hawed.  I wanted to go to a game, but for all I know, it could have been a sweep (it won’t be) and tickets to game five would be moot.  So I threw caution to the wind, and invited Dad and we went.

Dad and I were joking around during game seven in the last series, when I said I should go back to Friday’s for old time’s sake.  Try to get some good energy.  When I told him we were going to game two, I said we should go there for a pregame.

My dad hasn’t touched alcohol in years, but he feels at home at a bar.  It’s odd because he just gravitates towards people, and well, where do people congregate?  A bar!  I drink, as you all know, but since I was under the weather, I wasn’t feeling it.  So we split an appetizer and two soft drinks.  It didn’t break the bank, but we got a kick out of the $19 cheeseburger.

Shit.  Don’t people know you can walk like eight blocks up to Shake Shack for a fraction of cost?  And it’s a far superior burger?

Dad was pretty anxious to get in, about an hour before.  He needed to get his game face on, and so did I.  I also introduced Marian Gaborik, aka Gabby Bear, to playoff hockey.  She was born in December during a game in the Team Store, so this is her first experience.  As we walked into the security bag check, the usher said, “Oh I see we’ve got our mascot here.”  He lifted her out of the bag, and she yelled, “YAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” as she’s wont to do during a game, especially after a goal.  She’s a wild one, all right, like her mom.  She loves junk food, especially french fries and chips (of any kind), is a brawler unlike her namesake.

 

The 50 or so minutes we had to kill before the game went quickly, as before I knew it, John Amirante was out psyching up the crowd during his rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

   

But I guess the rally towels they handed out as we walked into the arena were only good for show, as the Rangers quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole.  That literally should have been a 1-0 at best deficit, but Henrik decided to get fancy at one point.  Do what you do best, Henke: guard the fucking net.

But they managed to tie it up by coming from behind, only to lose on a bullshit call with a bullshit penalty.  It was like the refs wanted to keep the Capitals in the game.  Although they were in it.

I didn’t think of this as a wrenching or crushing loss.  It was just a loss.  Not like last year as I sat there, with a bad chest cold coming on, wanting to die as they went into OT, where they shouldn’t have been anyway.  I knew the series was over, although technically, it took the Caps a game to finish that deed off.

Tonight was different.  I guess after such a stressful first round, you don’t sweat the small stuff.  You’re going to win some games, you’re going to lose some games.  Shit happens.  Both teams played equally well.  The Caps may scare me, but I think the Rangers can take ‘em, and let last season seem like a fluke.  In fact, it only shows this won’t be nearly as easy as we thought.  It will be interesting.  It will be a challenge.

It will be what hockey playoffs are supposed to be.

Yet, I’ve come a long way, because I didn’t have to stay at Friday’s to watch the game, I was able to actually go to the game.

Fridays might not have changed all that much, though.  In fact, my dad pointed out the brass rail that some crazy homeless dude who got into the bar almost tore off the wall during the Rangers wins.  “He Shoots! He SCORES!” the guy kept yelling, as he was falling all over the place.

But instead of “TGI Fridays” it’s branded as “Fridays.”  The names on the jerseys may show Messier, Leetch or Richter, but there are Callahan, Gaborik and Lundqvist.

A new generation, but same old Rangers fans.  And only the names have changed on the back of the jerseys.  The excitement and the heart of playoff hockey still rings true 18 years later.

Callahan’s Messier Moment

There’s only one Captain, someone told me. Actually, many have told me that.

But Mark Messier, as celebrated as he is within New York Ranger culture, is and was a mercenary. I know we hate to think of him that way but truth is, he was celebrated and a champion well before he ever came to the Rangers.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Messier brought to the Rangers those years, especially in 1994. I don’t think the Rangers win a goddamn thing without him. The Rangers were a storied franchise before he came to the team, yet he brought a certain something that brought them to the next level.

But for the love of Emile Francis, Ryan Callahan needs to have his Mark Messier moment. And he needed it yesterday.

On my pre-playoff podcast, I discussed with Kevin DeLury from NYRBlogs and Nick Montemagno from Ranger Tribune, that I expected a big series from Captain Cally.

It’s going to take a lot for Ranger fans to accept someone into that cherished Captain fold. It certainly wasn’t Kelly Kisio nor Chris Drury. As beloved as he is, Brian Leetch was never fully accepted into the captain mold. Leetch unfortunately had big shoes to fill. Because he was on the storied ’93-’94 run, it was almost like more was expected of him. Leetch = great player, not a captain.

Callahan is the heart and soul of this team. We point to how blue collar and the hard work ethic that he and John Tortorella have brought to this team. While mercenaries like Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards are supposed to add to the goal scoring capabilities of the team, we point to Henrik Lundqvist and his intensity, to guys like Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust for being young upstarts. But Callahan is Mr. Ranger, the guy you look to in these times, when the team heads back to Ottawa for a one game playoff and hope to get that one more win to have home ice that one last time. The reason, you know, for game sevens to exist.

I can’t say it’s happening.

So in the first round, I’m wondering if Cally will have to break out a page from the Book of Messier, where he said, “We will win tonight.”

Is that too dramatic? It may be. After all, some people may be happy with the way the season went and take the playoffs as rationalizing that whole “it’s about who gets hottest at the right time,” that the Rangers have laid the foundation for years to come and blah blah blah.

That’s just fucking bullshit, as far as I’m concerned.

I want all that but I want them to fucking grab the bull by the balls and kick the Senators’ ass all the way. They should have by now. They are not.

I’m saying that anything less than an Eastern Conference final visit is a failure for this season. They have the goods to do it. They just need to see Lundqvist can’t do it all on his own.

That means it’s time for Captain Callahan to wake the fuck up and slap these fuckers into reality.

It’s down to two games now. Let’s do it already.

The Shores of Tripoli

I guess in John’s world you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can’t do the same here…He’s either got short-term memory loss or he’s a hypocrite.” – Pete DeBoer, New Jersey Devils Coach (March 18, 2012)

“I figured he was just blowing up. I’m sure he’ll apologize today about it and everything will be forgotten.” – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, in response to John Tortorella’s blowup post-game last night. (April 5, 2012)

What did I hear?

WAH WAH WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

Gimme a break, you crybabies.  This is NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE, not Big Boy Pants Day Camp.

Again, gimme a fucking break.

The first quote was in response to Tortorella starting a line of tough guys at the get go in the game last month against the Devils.  Now, this is pot meeting kettle over here.  DeBoer knew exactly what he was getting into, and when Torts played fire with fire, he got mad about it.  Especially when it worked in Torts’ favor.

Last night was the biggie.  Look, if this was a game that truly meant anything at all, playoff ranking implications, whatever, well, teams need to do what teams need to do to survive.  Reality was, the Rangers are locked in #1 seed in East, whereas Penguins are also in playoffs.  OOOOH do I suspect a little bit of **SHOCK HORROR** JEALOUSY from those igloo dwelling babies?

Look, I didn’t see the game last night as I was (shameless plug) on a baseball podcast and needed to prepare some notes for it.  Plus, I had posted (another shameless plug) on the Rangers getting top seed on YouTube two nights before.  I was riding high on a Mets win in Flushing, then I had to hear about this bullshit.  And it pissed me off.

But you know what made me happy?  Things aren’t that bad.  I mean, of course I hope that D-Step isn’t hurt from that dirty play by Brooks Orpik (look, no matter what side of the fence you are on, you see that move, and it was DICK MOVE no question).  But when I heard what Tortorella said after the game…made me love him even more.

He called them out on the Penguins double standard bullshit basically, calling them the most “arrogant team in the league,” and “whiners.”  You know what?  Every team, no matter what sport, has their crybabies.  I might root for a few of them in my lifetime.  But only look at what Sidney Crosby has to say in response (calling out Ryan Callahan, saying Tortorella spoke in the heat of the moment, dismissing what the real issue is here), let alone the “WAAAAAAAHHHH” mentality of their owner Mario Lemieux.

See, Lemieux makes some very good points, as illustrated last season, the Islanders got fined a shitload of money for disciplinary action against the Penguins.

But you know, he comes across as that kid who grew up across the street with you.  You remember him, right?  He was kind of a douche but he has a pool (inground!), a mom who bakes cookies and lot of cool toys.

Then comes the day when you realize that he uses this against you.  Like, if things aren’t going his way, he threatens to take all his toys with him back to his house or makes you go home because you aren’t letting him win.

Except substitute “one of the legends of hockey” for that bratty fucking kid down the street, and there’s Mario.  (And you’re talking to a chick who was ALL ABOUT Mario Lemieux back in the day).  You know the league isn’t going to do anything to DARE cross Prince Mario’s path.  Noooooooo.  Especially with this two fucking arrogant bastard players, Malkin and Crosby…the poster boys for double-standard practices in NHL.  I get it — they’re good.  And I always had a philosophy that if you dislike a player, it’s really because you secretly want them on your team because they are good.

Well enough is enough.  Even though those two weren’t involved in the hit (and I do think that Orpik should get disciplined, but that’s just me talkin’), they perpetuate the idea that they are above the law in the NHL and that somehow, the rules don’t apply to them.  Well, fuck that noise.

As for Torts, should he apologize?  Is RYAN CALLAHAN somehow as bad with the dirty plays (as Crosby alluded to) that the Penguins do, and then complain about in the next breath when it’s one of their players?  NO TO BOTH.

I’ll tell you why.  John Tortorella is the MAN.  I can’t say I was his biggest fan, I liked him enough, just was like – whatever – when it came to him.  Now, call me in the corner of Tortorella’s camp.

We’re about to go into battle with this guy calling the shots.  He’d take a bullet for his players, and they would do the same in return.  You gotta love that in a coach.  You really do.

Oh and for the record, fuck Sidney Crosby with a rusty nail.

**Gratuitous Eye Candy Photo For The Ladies**

Ladies (and gentlemen, since I know there are many men who follow this site)…I introduce to you…the Classics FOUR!!! (Also known as Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Henrik Lundqvist and Brandon Dubinsky)

The Winter Classics Four (photo credit to MSG Sports)

The ladies now have my permission to swoon (also, the men might too, but over the sweet jerseys).  Oh, and this picture was taken at the unveiling of the jersey ceremony at Wollman Rink at Central Park on Monday.  Oh, did I mention I ran right past that rink doing a three-miler yesterday and had no idea?  Yeah, some fan *I* am.  /sarcasm

Now, I have a bit of a dilemma here.  Actually, it’s more of a command.

I NEED TO GO TO THE WINTER CLASSIC.  It’s not a want.  It’s a necessity.  I need to be there.

Now, my husband chides me, because it’s not an exhibition, it’s just a “regular game.”  But outdoors.  In the cold.  In Philadelphia.  Nearby.  It’s a special event.  And my team is playing in it.

I NEED TO BE THERE.

So I am whoring myself out to whomever would like to offer their ticket to me.  Now, I will pay for it.  Problem is, I won’t pay $900 to sit in the 400 level for one goddamn seat.  See, I’ll try to appeal to your sense and sensibility by saying…I am funemployed.  Well, I may not be by then.  But I am right now.  I know tons of people going.  But they are all committed to going with someone else.  Bastards.

So I will need a nice person who would like to offer their ticket at face value (charge me 10% over if you want to *make* money off it), and I’ll be responsible for buying beer.  Oh, and if you’re driving and don’t wish to drink, I’ll buy food…or your parking fees.  Whatever.  I want to go.  Scratch that.  I NEED TO GO.

So I can see these fine-ass men skating around in the cold and my nipples will be hard for reasons other than the cold.

Erm, was that too much?

I need to be there.  Period.  Someone help me make it happen.  Kthxbye.

Saturday Night’s All Right For Fightin’

There’s an old saying…probably from French Canada or aboots…that goes along the lines of, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”

Such is the case for Saturday’s “Original Six” matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.  These games are always intense.  I have to say the fans are second to none, really.  Well, most of them anyway (I’ll get to that in a second).  A good Original Six matchup is always appreciated by both fan bases (I’m hoping to get to Boston this year for a Bruins/Rangers game at the I’m-Calling-It-Boston Garden), and it’s evident by the amount of French-speaking folk in attendance that they are just as passionate about their team as we are here in this region.  The probably 2% of the fans who showed up from Quebec who weren’t cool didn’t “get” that they needed to take their caps off during OUR National Anthem too (and one of the few times I get to hear “O Canada” at a sporting event) were part of the not-second-to-none part of their fanbase.

I hadn’t been to a Saturday night hockey game in a long time…or a hockey game at all, period, since the playoffs in the first round last year.  And even so, I did attend the last regular season Saturday afternoon game with my friend @sfmerkakis.  By the way, he won’t know what you’re talking about if you ask him if he’s @NotGlenSather.  Moving right along, Saturday night games are interesting. You don’t have to worry about going to work the next day (or in my case, at all), and the night is still pretty early once the game is done.

Two of my world’s collided this night.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I attended the game with @Stefmara, and I love attending hockey games with people who are just as passionate about the team as I am.  When I go to games with my husband, as an example, he’s not as into hockey as I am, and I usually have to bribe him in order to attend.  No bribes in this case, just beer for us chicks.

When I last left the Garden earlier this year, there was construction going on.  I was annoyed because there was little ventilation in the concourses, making for a very hot arena and uncomfortable situation.  I didn’t know how they were planning to do the renovations, and they are still taking place.  But I can tell you this: the Garden will be AMAZING once it’s completed.

The concourses, though many of the stands were not operational yet, are less restrictive as they’ve seemed in the past.  The choices seem phenomenal: sushi, pizza, of course the standard chicken fingers and hot dogs.  They have a 16 Handles stand (if you do not know what that is, it’s a frozen yogurt place that is the shizzle…).  In the 400s, they’ve made these seats less working-class and gave us bars with a great view of the entire arena (even the ceiling).

The fact that most of the stands were not operational, though, left us with a not-so-pleasant experience of the evening.  There was not a lot of information telling us what was available and where to go.  I understand that this is still a work-in-progress, but this is a Saturday night, in New York City, with many visitors in from out of town.  More information is better, please.  (We couldn’t even really get beer, that’s how bad it was).

Back to the game.  I was talking about the naming of Ryan Callahan as captain of the team early in the evening.

Stef and I were both in agreement that it was a tenure thing, not that it wasn’t well-deserved however.  Also, that Chris Drury was not going to be on the team anymore, it just had to be Cally.  I wondered, to myself though, if he would be just a Brian Leetch-type: the guy who was a lead-by-example kind of guy, but not a vocal or take-charge kind of leader on the ice…something the team desperately needed.  (Don’t get me wrong: I love Brian Leetch…just always questioned his leadership abilities).

Any questions I had about Callahan were solved less than 10 minutes into the game by standing up for his teammate and having the first brawl of the season.  YEE HA!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.  It’s bad enough that Henrik Lundqvist is the guy who has to save this team’s collective ass most nights.  Now Cally is showing once again what’s he made of, and that no one on his team won’t have someone going to bat for him.  Exactly what we need in a captain.

It was also the much-heralded return of one Sean Avery.  I make no bones about it: I like Avery.  Do I think he’s the team’s solution to all their issues? Noooooo.  But I always like him on our side.  I really would like to see Marc Staal return, but I know from my experience with head injuries on my baseball team that I’d rather he take his time getting well…but I still miss him.

I get a little concerned these days, about the team. Seems like no matter who they get (like Brad Richards, who scored a goal when we were there), there is always some kind of hole to fill.  You all know how much I love Henrik Lundqvist, yet he can’t do it all on his own (and of course, there’s the whole complacency thing I see when the team scores a lot of goals to back him up).  This game had it all and makes me truly believe they are the real-deal-holy-feel this year.  There was a fight, a lot of them actually, great goals scored by guys you expect, and even an empty-netter at the end.

I love Saturday night games, and this one tied many things in my life together being a sports nut.  Good friends, good conversation, good heckling of the other team’s fans, and a Rangers win.  What more could I ask for?