The Toronto Blue Jays, having posted a 6-15 record in August, are 66-65. They have dropped to 6 games back of the final wildcard spot. This has prompted Jays management to have a team meeting with a motivational speaker sent by ownership.
[Several Blue Jays players sit in a room in front of an Alec Baldwin-esque character in a suit]
BALDWIN: So you’re talking about what? Bitching about that game you lost, some son of a bitch strikes you out, somebody hits what you’re throwing, some ump trying to screw you over. Let’s talk about something important. Are they all here?
ANTHOPOULOS: All but one.
BALDWIN: Well, I’m going anyway.
[Casey Janssen goes to the back to pour a cup of coffee]
BALDWIN: PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN! Coffee is for closers only!
JANSSEN: But I am a closer.
BALDWIN: Your blown saves against Detroit and Tampa say otherwise. You think I’m fucking with you? I am not fucking with you. I’m here from downtown. I’m here from Rogers. And I’m here on a mission of mercy. Your name’s Janssen?
BALDWIN: You call yourself a pitcher, you son of a bitch?
BAUTISTA: I don’t have to listen to this shit.
BALDWIN: You certainly don’t, pal, because the good news is: you’re all fired. The bad news is, you’ve got- all you’ve got- is 31 games to regain your jobs, starting with tonight’s sit!
Oh, have I got your attention now? Good! Because this is a wildcard race. As you all know, first prize is a ticket to the ALDS. Anyone want to see second prize? Second prize is a playoff game. Third prize is you’re fired.
You get the picture? You’re laughing now? You got leads. The Jays paid good money and prospects for these leads. Get those big names to win them! You can’t close with the leads you’re given, you can’t close shit, you are shit, hit the bricks pal and beat it because you are going OUT!
JANSSEN: Big names? We finished last in the AL East after we got all these “leads.” The leads are weak.
BALDWIN: The leads are weak? Fucking leads are weak? YOU’RE WEAK. I’ve been in this business for 15 years.
[Baldwin flips over a blackboard]
BALDWIN: A-B-C. A- always B- be C- closing. Always be closing! A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, dingers, action. Do I have your attention? Are you interested? I know you are, because it’s fuck or walk. You close, you win, or you hit the bricks. Dingers- are you going to hit some dingers FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, Jose? Action- get out there and win!
BAUTISTA: You’re such a hero, you’re so rich. How come you can’t get us any help at the trade deadline?
BALDWIN: You see this watch? It cost more than your salary. How much you make again? You see, pal, that’s who I am. And you’re nothing.
BAUTISTA: I’m the best player on this te-
BALDWIN: Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good with fans? Fuck you- go play catch with some kids at Booster Juice. Hit home runs? Maybe don’t fucking get yourself ejected. You wanna work here? CLOSE.
You think this is abuse? YOU THINK THIS IS ABUSE? If you can’t take this, how can you take the abuse pretty much every other team gives you on a nightly basis?! You don’t like it- leave. I could go out there with the team that’s built and get it to win a World Series. Can you? Can you?! A-I-D-A! Get mad! Hit dingers!
You know what it takes to win baseball games? It takes brass balls to win baseball games.
[Baldwin pulls out a set of brass balls and holds them in front of his groin]
Go and do likewise gents. The wins are there- pick ‘em up and it’s yours. You don’t, I have no sympathy for you. You wanna get some wins and close, it’s yours. If not, you’ll be shining my shoes. Bunch of losers sitting in a bar with Marty York. “Oh, I used to be a Blue Jay. It’s a tough racket.”
[Baldwin pulls out a list of names on pieces of paper tied together with a shiny red bow]
These are the new leads. These are the waiver trade leads. To your team, they’re gold. And you don’t get them. Because to give them to you would be throwing them away; they’re for closers.
I’d wish you good luck, but if June was any indication, you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it. And to answer your question, Jose: why didn’t I get you help at the deadline? Because the Rogers family asked me not to. They asked me for a favour. I said the real favour, follow my advice and nuke the entire team because a loser is a loser.
[Baldwin packs up and leaves]
Your 2013-14 season: Second round exit. Actually thought they had a chance to beat the Kings, which was really just adorable. They even took the series to seven games, like a real team might! Of course, once they hit Game 7, this happened:
That isn’t just losing; that is complete and utter annihilation. There hasn’t been a train wreck that bad in that part of Southern California since The OC was on TV.
Your coach: Bruce FUCKIN’ Boudreau. Probably among the best head coaches if you only count up to April 15 or so. Dude has a career 258-123-52 record in the regular season. In the playoffs? 23-28, and never better than a second round exit. The only Cup he’s won to date was a 7-11 Big Gulp. To be fair, summer barbecue season ramps up around then, and he isn’t fuckin’ gonna waste his fuckin’ time on hockey when there’s some fuckin’ ribs to be manhandled out there, fuckin’ right?
Your starting goalie: John Gibson. Or, wait, maybe it’s Frederik Andersen? Either way, the Ducks are going into this season with 31 games of NHL experience between two goalies. For a team that’s relied on insane shooting percentages that are just begging to regress for the last two years, that level of goaltending can’t instill too much confidence.
Your shittiest player: Clayton Stoner. What kind of team decides to make a four-year commitment on Clayton Stoner?! I suppose it is fitting when you consider that has to be the most Southern California name ever. Anyone named Clayton just sounds like a guy who will spend his off days on the boardwalk in a “SUNS OUT GUNS OUT” tank top hitting on teenage girls and throwing beer cans at rollerbladers. I’m pretty sure this is the reason both he and Dany Heatley signed here.
Why you suck in five sentences: Can anyone tell me what purpose the Ducks serve in this league? They’re the ugly redheaded stepchild of California. They started out as a Disney marketing ploy, and have always been the second-most popular team in Southern California EVEN WHEN THEY WON A CUP.
The Ducks also lost Teemu and Saku Koivu, then added Ryan Kesler and Dany Heatley, presumably because the best way to get attention is to make everyone hate you. Imagine them on a line with Corey Perry; no one in the league offices would suspend opposing players for triple-concussing that!
Why you might not suck: They play hockey in the state of California, which pretty much guarantees you a top 3 spot in this division.
Your 2013-14 season: No playoffs, but they made a name change! Now, instead of representing a city of people who couldn’t care less about hockey, they’re representing AN ENTIRE STATE of people who couldn’t care less about hockey! This is what we would call a real game changer.
Your coach: Dave Tippett. The best boring coach in all of hockey. I’m struggling to think of anything interesting to say about him. He just exists.
Your starting goalie: Former third-string Olympian and five-time Oscar winner Mike Smith. One good season aside, his goaltending has been mediocre at best, but his diving game has been on point! Here is Smith’s best technique at preventing goals at work:
By the way, the Coyotes backup is Devan Dubnyk, who managed to be the worst goalie on an Oilers roster that briefly featured Ilya Bryzgalov. So there’s that.
Your shittiest player: Shane Doan. It’s amazing to hear the ongoing narrative of TRUE CANADIAN CAPTAIN, EH BOY WHAT A LEADER THAT SHANE DOAN IS. He’s made roughly 6,000 cheap shots in his career, but never gets caught. Then because he never gets caught, the leadership narrative flares up. Then because the leadership narrative flares up, he can basically murder opposing players as if he has diplomatic immunity. It is the weirdest cycle of narratives I’ve ever seen.
Also, Doan is 37, and is making $5.3M to put up his worst numbers since the days of that Coyotes jersey that looked like it came for free with purchase of any Old El Paso product.
Why you suck in five sentences: New ownership, new name, same shitty stadium in an Arizona exurb that no one will visit! The Coyotes have rightly recognized that no one in Phoenix will commute to watch their games, but expect Glendale residents to go visit the Thing That Is Throwing Their Tax Dollars Into A Giant Hole. Beyond the dozen actual Coyotes fans out there, the only people at any given home game are: (1) expat fans of whatever team is playing the Coyotes; and, (2) people who want to escape the desert and sit in A/C for three hours.
This team also lost two of its top six players, and replaced them with Sam Gagner and BJ Crombeen. Should go well for a roster that wasn’t exactly world-beating to begin with.
Why you might not suck: Calgary and Edmonton are hopeless. Vancouver is still a clusterfuck. If the Coyotes get hot, they can bank wins against some truly awful teams and sneak into the playoffs.
Your 2013-14 season: Actually tried rebuilding the right way for once! Got the 4th overall pick and managed to not completely blow it with their draft choice. Other highlights included: making John Tortorella go insane; Sean Monahan being boring; and Brian Burke refusing to cut his hair. Say what you will about the Flames, but it was probably the most productive, relevant season they’ve had in over a decade.
Oh, you meant on the ice? Yeah, they still sucked. Real bad.
Your coach: Bob Hartley. I don’t really *get* Bob Hartley. He’s a not very good coach that basically lucked into a stacked team many years ago, and relies on that for coaching pedigree. Quick! Name one successful thing Hartley has done since the 2001 Avalanche! Literally just one…..*time passes*….BZZT! You can’t. Nobody can. That one Cup ring is all he has. Bob Hartley was the Randy Carlyle of this league before anyone even knew who Randy Carlyle was.
Your starting goalie: Jonas Hiller. Was pretty much average behind a much better team in Anaheim, so this should totally go well. $4.5 million is quite the overpayment until you realize he’s being paid to be better than Karri Ramo. That’s all he has to do, which is basically the easiest job ever. The rest of the team will still suck, but Hiller will earn his inflated paycheque by not sucking as badly as the last few years of goaltending have sucked.
Your shittiest player: Deryk Engelland. Best known for punching lots of people and scoring 47 points in 243 career NHL games! His career high in one season is 17 points. AND he’s making just under $3M a year to do that! The Flames have stockpiled one-dimensional goons like Soviet nuclear warheads (also not relevant since the mid-80s!), but at least Brandon Bollig and Brian McGrattan get paid around the league minimum to suck. Engelland is basically making premium dollar to give someone CTE. You also forgot he was a defenseman because nothing he has literally ever done in the NHL would remind you of playing defense.
Why you suck in five sentences: If you’ve never met a Calgarian, they’re the worst. They’re convinced their mediocre city is somehow world class, presumably because they’ve never actually travelled outside of Alberta. I’ve been to Calgary many times, and they have an okay downtown core you could find in any big city and a river; the rest is just a giant big box suburbia. BUT WE GOT STAMPEDE AND A DOME SHAPED LIKE A HORSEY SADDLE AND OUR STREETS ARE DIVIDED INTO QUADRANTS; WOOOOOOOO!
On that note, of course it took Calgary three years to figure out the Flames needed rebuilding after literally everyone else did.
Why you might not suck: They have decent young players and better goaltending, which might be just enough to narrowly miss the playoffs despite not actually really being in contention. I’d like that. The Flames are funnier when they think they have a chance.
Your 2013-14 season: So, you get on a roller coaster. The roller coaster remains level for a little while, maybe with a slight upward incline. Then, with almost no notice, the roller coaster just nosedives right into the ground and breaks in half. As you’re left writhing on the ground in pain, a billionaire drugstore magnate approaches you, kicks you square in the balls, and takes all the money in your wallet. On the bright side, he promises that in a few years, he’ll build the roller coaster in a nicer part of town and have someone less incompetent running the switches.
I call this roller coaster: “#HereComeTheOilers: The Ride.” COMING IN FALL 20-EVERY YEAR OF EXISTENCE.
Your coach: Dallas Eakins. Career highlights include: being considered the most competent hockey coach in Toronto when his basis of comparison was Randy Carlyle. To be fair though, you or I could win that title just by making a perfectly good piece of toast. Career lowlights include: pretty much everything that’s happened since leaving the more successful Toronto team. Eakins looks like an AHL coach in the NHL, although having AHL personnel doesn’t help. Dude’s just in over his head. Eakins’ career ceiling is going to be the equivalent of trying to win Masterchef with ramen noodles on a hot plate.
Your starting goalie: Ben Scrivens. I can’t say a single disparaging thing about The Professor. He’s what I wish more pro athletes were like. That said, the thing he’s most notable for in Edmonton is a 59 SAVE SHUTOUT?! Christ; the Oilers are going to kill this guy, aren’t they?
Your shittiest player: Matt Hendricks. I remember back in Fall 2011 when I walked into an Edmonton sporting goods store. The clerk was a die hard Oilers fan, and was convinced the Oilers could actually make the playoffs. One of the reasons cited for this was Ryan Jones. The clerk then waxed poetic about how Ryan Jones was “good at Twitter” and “loved by fans.”
The Oilers finished second last that season. Ryan Jones sucked, and is now gone. By the way, Hendricks is the prime contender to be the new Ryan Jones. And he’s got three years and $1.85M in which to pull it off!
Why you suck in five sentences: The Oilers have managed to draft every young phenom possible because that’s what sucking enough to land three No. 1 draft picks will do. Before the Hall/Eberle era, the Oilers were an awful 62 points, but with Hall/Eberle/Nugent-Hopkins/Yakupov/Schultz, managed to improve on that by FIVE WHOLE POINTS this year! The Oilers are trapped in a time paradox of continuous nonlinear suckage (/Doctor Who theme music).
By the way, this fanbase manages to convince itself EVERY YEAR that this is going to be the breakthrough season, what with these
two three five six shiny young players here for the future! The fans are Charlie Brown, the Oilers are Lucy, and they always keep running right at that football.
Why you might not suck: The Oilers might have decent goaltending and depth players for the first time in roughly a century. They might even crack the 75 point mark this year!
LOS ANGELES KINGS:
Your 2013-14 season: Stanley Cup champions! Only required the Sharks choking (complete with a goalie interference goal in Game 6!), almost blowing their second round series to THE DUCKS, and then almost blowing it again to the Blackhawks before Alec Martinez dislodged a horseshoe from his arse in the OT of Game 7. Then they played whatever crud bucket the East churned out in what was basically a formality and still required three OT wins to make it happen. SUCH RESILIENCE. VERY DOMINATE. WOW.
TL;DR: unlike in 2012, the Kings’ win was basically like getting a hole-in-one by bouncing the ball of two trees, skipping it off a water hazard, onto the green, and in the hole.
Your coach: Darryl Sutter. If you see one video of Darryl Sutter’s career highlights, make it this one!
Your starting goalie: Jonathan Quick, who, with two Cup rings, continues to hold the title belt of Most Overrated Goaltender Of All Time™. Your reminder the Kings traded away two goalies in two years that finished last season with a higher SV% than Quick ON WORSE TEAMS. He had a .911 SV% in the playoffs, which made him the seventh best starting goalie. He plays average behind the best possession team and one of the deepest bluelines in the league, yet the narratives wax poetic about Jonathan Quick as an elite goaltender. BUT HE HAS TWO RINGS. People who think Jonathan Quick are great also probably think Big Bang Theory is funny.
Your shittiest player: Captain Dustin Brown. He put up 27 points last year, is 29 years old, and is signed through 2022. How can this possibly go wrong?! But seriously, 27 points? I’m pretty sure Brown threw more elbows to the head than that last season.
Why you suck in five sentences: Being a Kings fan isn’t even about hockey as much as it’s a symbol of Hollywood social stature. At least half the fanbase is made up of trendy celebrities that have nothing to do because the Lakers suck. In spite of this, local media still can’t pronounce anyone’s name and still think the team plays basketball in Sacramento. Admit it, you all were happy when Vince Vaughn made Gretzky’s head bleed. LA KINGS HOCKEY: CATCH THE STREAMERS FEVER.
Why you might not suck: Technically *did* still win the Cup last year. Also, the East sucks, and there’s about two other teams that are legitimately as good as they are. One of those is the Sharks, so LOL. They have a decent chance to repeat and shove Quick down our throat for another year, all things considered.
SAN JOSE SHARKS:
Your 2013-14 season: First round exit to the Kings in seven games, which I guess isn’t so bad considering they won the Cup and….*whispers*….hold on. What? WHAT?! They were WHAT?!?!?! THREE TO WHAT?! HOW DO YOU EVEN?! HOW?!?!
The Sharks had a 3-0 series lead and needed to win ONE GAME OUT OF FOUR to win a bye to the conference final. I mean, sure, they’d have been eaten alive as their 1-8 conference final record suggests, but it’s the principle of the thing. How do you blow that? That’s like burning a microwaved burrito; you pretty much have to try to screw that up. The Sharks have had some pretty Shork losses, but this was by far the Shorkest.
Your coach: Todd McLellan. He was hired by the Sharks to be Not Ron Wilson. Consequently, the only reason he’s probably kept his job is that he’s basically a less scowly Ron Wilson. Recall that Wilson was considered the guy who couldn’t get this team over that last hurdle, but here are Todd’s Greatest Hits:
2008-09: Win Presidents’ Trophy; lose in first round to THE DUCKS, then coached by a guy who doesn’t know how puck possession or household appliances work.
2009-10: Make it to conference finals; get annihilated 4-0 by Blackhawks.
2010-11: Make it to conference finals after almost blowing a 3-0 lead to Detroit; get annihilated 4-1 by the Canucks.
2011-12: Lose in first round in 5 games to….St. Louis? LOLOLOLOL.
2012-13: Lose in second round.
I’ll give McLellan this much: when the Sharks failed under Wilson, it was boring. This is just year after year of flaming train wrecks. I applaud Todd for finding new and innovative ways to Shork everything.
Your starting goalie: Antti Niemi. Pretty much the Pacific Division’s answer to Kari Lehtonen!
Your shittiest player: John Scott. This is a useless plug that even the Buffalo Sabres wanted nothing to do with anymore. He is literally the worst player in the entire NHL. This makes no sense whatsoever. I bet Doug Wilson was just sitting in his office one day, thinking WELL LAST YEAR WAS BAD, BUT ALL OUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED NOW FOR WE HAVE JOHN SCOTT! *dusts hands together as house behind him crumbles to bits*
John Scott is below “below replacement level.” He’s basically a moving cinderblock that assaults people.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Sharks are in all honesty the third best team in the league behind LA and Chicago, so it’s hilarious to watch management go hilariously insane over a playoff meltdown. They signed Scott, extended Mike Brown, and may consider trading Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. ENOUGH OF THESE GUYS NOT WINNING IN THE PLAYOFFS WE NEED HEART N SOUL N GRIT HURR DURR. To be fair to Sharks management, a foolproof way to not choke in the postseason is to try and make your team bad enough to ensure they don’t make the postseason.
Also, their jerseys now look like teal pajamas, but they just breathe better, y’know?
Why you might not suck: Their roster, as is, is still top 3 in the entire league. I mean, they’re always great on paper, so it doesn’t much matter, but at least they tried to keep the hope alive!
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs. Well, not just missed the playoffs; missed them in a spectacular blaze of dwindling glory. This team was the unbelievable train wreck version of the Canucks that 29 other fanbases waited so long for! Highlights included: losing roughly 100 straight games in January; their coach actually trying to kill a guy between periods; giving up a third-period touchdown to the ISLANDERS; and, finally succeeding in alienating Roberto Luongo not even a year after committing to him as a long-term starter. Miley Cyrus had a better year.
John Tortorella is now gone. As is Mike “Meat Sweats” Gillis, much to the applause of the same Canucks fans that were totally trying to convince you that he was the best GM ever three years ago. That was only ever true if the role of a GM is to look real drunk and whine about tampering and conspiracies.
Your coach: Willie Desjardins. I mean, he looks more like a leader of the provincial NDP than a hockey coach, but sure I guess. His resume includes being good in the AHL. I find it funny when teams hire successful AHL coaches thinking they’ve caught lightning in a bottle when it rarely pans out. Here is a list of recently great coaches hired directly from the AHL: Bruce Boudreau, Dan Bylsma. That’s it. The Canucks being the Canucks, they could have actually hired Bylsma but chose Bylsma Lite instead. SAME GREAT AHL TASTE; ONLY ONE-THIRD THE CALORIES.
Your starting goalie: Ryan Miller, who signed with the Canucks this year. Let’s take this opportunity to relive Ryan Miller’s highlight reel in Vancouver, shall we?
Your shittiest player: Alex Burrows. Here is a list of all the things that Alex Burrows is good at:
- Scoring goals deflected off him by the Sedins.
- Yapping in sometimes incomprehensible Franglais.
- Losing fights to Phil Kessel.
Canucks fans continue to insist Alex Burrows is a SUPER PEST. No, he’s just an embarrassment. Also inexplicably on the Canucks first line because the team has just given up on ever actually finding a talented winger for the Sedins. Remember Taylor Pyatt, you guys? Anson Carter?! Alex Burrows is the worst.
Why you suck in five sentences: This is the only fanbase where people brag about losing the Stanley Cup Final because it’s literally all they have. I live in BC; despite insisting they’re the Best Fans™, when April rolls around in a year the Canucks actually suck, NO ONE PAYS ATTENTION TO HOCKEY ANYMORE. Oilers fans may suck too, but at least they continue to care after their team is eliminated in mid-December.
Hockey-wise, the Sedins are only getting older while their offense slowly dies, and the Canucks no longer have any depth because Ryan Kesler is gone and their entire third line now plays for Toronto. Just look at the names in that bottom six; you don’t even see names that obscure at any of BC’s 800 yearly hipster summer music festivals.
Why you might not suck: With stable goaltending, new coaching, and a potential recovery year for some players, they could take advantage of a weak division and clinch a wildcard spot. Then they’d get thumped by a team from California JUST LIKE THE OLDEN DAYS OF OUGHT TWELVE THIRTEEN, YOU GUYS.
Your 2013-14 season: Lost in the Conference Final, despite having roughly 73.8 chances to win that Game 7. The Blackhawks are now responsible for us having to endure another postseason of people in LA pretending to care about hockey. Thanks for nothing.
Your coach: Joel Quenneville, king of the angry officiating outburst. Here is a GIF of Joel Quenneville grabbing his balls.
Your starting goalie: Corey Crawford. Last year, we got “Average Crow,” who was just okay. This was different from “Insane Vezina Crow” in 2012-13, or “Catastrophic Train Wreck Crow” in 2011-12. I have no idea what Crow we’re going to get this year. He’s wildly and unpredictably all over the map. He’s the Eli Manning of hockey, less one ring and any facial expression whatsoever.
Your shittiest player: Hey, remember Kris Versteeg? Well now he’s back, in Pog form! Versteeg is not 2010 Versteeg anymore. He had his worst career year in Chicago. He contributed less in 15 playoffs games with the Blackhawks than he did in seven with the Florida goddamn Panthers. He’s basically being paid for two more years to be a healthy scratch, which is fine because he strikes me as someone who likes the stature of being a Blackhawk more than actually playing hockey. Still leads the league in mouthguard dangling and Macklemore resemblance, however.
Why you suck in five sentences: Deep down, while you respect Chicago for their skill, it’s hard to actually like the team. Their best defenseman leads the league in borderline assault. Their captain makes Jay Cutler seem comparably personable and capable of emotion. Their best player is working on being more boring after spending every summer on a huge bender. Also, literally everyone stopped caring about “Chelsea Dagger” once it was no longer used to troll Canucks fans.
Why you might not suck: Signed Brad Richards to a not awful deal. Probably a favourite to win the Stanley Cup, which inevitably means Andrew Shaw will be a Toronto Maple Leaf by this time next season.
Your 2013-14 season: First round exit after an insane 112-point season. This suddenly after three seasons of being all kinds of terrible. Thank you Based PDO Gods!
Your coach: Patrick Roy. The coaching GENIUS for deciding to pull his goalie down a goal with roughly half the third period remaining. I don’t think he deserved the Jack Adams, but I’m all for feeding into the illusion that he is a good NHL coach because goddammit, he is entertaining. Under a year of Roy, Colorado will be guaranteed at least three bench clearing, coach-instigated brawls. I think he may actually shove his Stanley Cup rings in his ears when opposing coaches yell at him. Wouldn’t that be fun? You want that kind of crazy in the NHL for a long time. The NHL doesn’t have enough crazy.
Your starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov. Nominated for a Vezina in the same year he beat his wife; or as it’s better known, the “Chris Brown Special.” If he keeps on this career trajectory, we’re 3-4 years away from him getting into a barfight with a rival goalie. Which goalie do you think that’ll be? Is it gonna be Tuukka Rask? OH PLEASE LET IT BE TUUKKA RASK! There might be a flamethrower involved. Someone would get pummelled with a stop sign. It would be insanity.
Your shittiest player: Danny Briere. Why pay a 36-year old $4M to put up awful (and rapidly declining) third line numbers when you could just pester Old Man Hejduk to unretire for half the price? Worst of all, the Avs actually traded a living, breathing NHL hockey player to acquire Briere. This is a guy that was too pricey for the Flyers! That’s like being the dumbest Kardashian, or the drunkest Ford brother.
Why you suck in five sentences: Not only did Colorado make the playoffs on some insane shooting luck and goaltending from Varlamov, but they lost a number of good players. Paul Stastny, P.A. Parenteau, J.S. Giguere- gone, and replaced by Jarome Iginla, Briere, and Reto Berra. Note that none of these players are centres, which means that the Avs will be counting on a 1-2 punch of Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly, until they run him out of town as they’ve actively been trying to do. They entrust all personnel decisions to former players because “HEY GUYS, REMEMBER 1996?!” while continuing to pretend Greg Sherman does something at his desk other than lose at Tetris all day.
Also, their new motto is #AvsAllOver, because their social media is presumably run by Jenna Jameson.
Why you might not suck: They did put up 112 points last year. I’m not saying it’s at all repeatable, but hey, if they pulled it off once….
Your 2013-14 season: Lost in the first round to the Ducks. THE DUCKS. That’s just sad. Other teams in the West lost way more embarrassingly in the first round, like the Sharks and Blues. But they at least blew it to GOOD teams. Dallas came minutes from forcing a Game 7 and blew it to THE DUCKS. That’s like your grandma beating you at Mario Kart because she’s just mashing buttons through her cataracts and hits you with the red shell. There’s no dignity left in this team.
Your coach: Lindy Ruff. I was actually shocked to hear that Ruff relies on technology and data to help with his coaching. The thought of Lindy Ruff even using a computer doesn’t process in my mind. I feel like he spent the first half hour wondering why it wasn’t turned on because it was unplugged.
Your starting goalie: Kari Lehtonen. By the way, Lehtonen’s career playoff SV%? .874. Against the 2007 Rangers and THE DUCKS. Even though he can be good during the season, it can’t fill you with too much confidence that his playoff alter ego is Vesa Toskala.
Your shittiest player: Anders Lindback. Speaking of all-time disappointment playoff goalies, here’s the guy who went 0-for-4 in the playoffs last year! It still eludes me how someone as big as Lindback can be such an awful goalie. YOU’RE A GIANT. Surely you could deflect a puck off one of your sequoia tree limbs just by pure dumb luck…..and, nope. It’s in the net again.
Why you suck in five sentences: I think we already covered the part where they lost to THE DUCKS?
Dallas is the ultimate “thing you do when nothing else is on” team. Despite their first playoff appearance in six years, they’re still last in attendance. Literally every time you watch a Stars home game, all you see are: (a) empty seats; and, (b) well-endowed cheerleaders in skin-tight green dresses. Their arena is the Hooters of the NHL, in that the mediocre product it’s actually trying to sell is a completely secondary focus because no one in Dallas really cares about anything other than high school football and getting morbidly obese.
Why you might not suck: Their centres for the 2014-15 season: Tyler Seguin; Jason Spezza; Shawn Horcoff; Cody Eakin. For all its faults, that team is more stacked down the middle than a triple stuf Oreo.
Your 2013-14 season: Second round exit, which is actually kinda fitting. The second round of the playoffs is usually the most boring round. It lacks the meaningful intrigue of the Cup Final or conference finals, while also lacking the 12 hours straight per day of playoff hockey that the first round has to offer. The second round is completely uninteresting. It’s the Minnesota Wild of the playoffs.
Your coach: Bond supervillain extraordinaire Mike Yeo. When Yeo isn’t at the rink, he’s stockpiling nuclear warheads in his basement to spearhead his treacherous plan for world domination. MILQUETOAST HOCKEY BY DAY, CREATING GLOBAL ANARCHY BY NIGHT! I can’t really blame the guy for having a time-consuming hobby, though. The most interesting things in Minnesota are a giant mall, lutefisk, and incest. Not necessarily in that order, either.
Your starting goalie: Does this team really have a “starting” goalie? Technically it’s Niklas Backstrom, but that shouldn’t last long unless the Wild can secure a couple layers of regulation-sized bubble wrap. Beyond that, you’ve got Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper. Shit. Reminder: this team was so desperate, they traded actual things for Ilya Bryzgalov last year. Minnesota’s goaltending is Russian Roulette, only every chamber has a bullet.
Your shittiest player: Matt Cooke.
*Matt Cooke stands on pulpit*
“OH FORGIVE ME, FOR I SINNED, BUT OH LORD, I HAVE REFORMED MY WAYS! I AM A CHANGED MAN! I SHALL NOT CHEAPSHOT NO MORE, LORD IN HEAVEN!”
*chorus in Wild jerseys sing in the background*
“FOR HE HAS CHANGED, HE HAS CHANGED, HE HAS CHAAAAANGED”
“AMEN! CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH, MINNESOTA?!”
*violently knees Tyson Barrie; Wild chorus fall silent*
“Uh…..oops? Hockey play?”
*walks off pulpit deep into the pits of hell*
Why you suck in five sentences: Aside from Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin, the rest of that blueline is basically a bunch of sock puppets and Jared Spurgeon, who I think used to be in Creed. Their goaltending blows and their top six boasts two ex-Sabres, which really screams “winning tradition.”
The only time anyone pays attention to the Wild is when their fanbase throws a temper tantrum about not getting an outdoor game because their second NHL team represents the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey”: “WE GOT 1,000 LAKES OF ICE UP HERE! WE SELL OUT EVERY EDINA DIV I U/16 GAME!” Wild fans haven’t figured out the reason they get zero national exposure is because only Wild fans can watch this team for longer than 10 seconds. I’ve seen enough Wild games to honestly say I’d rather my TV was irreversibly stuck on Two Broke Girls for an entire week.
Why you might not suck: They have made the postseason two straight years, and won a series last year. That ties the longest playoff streak in Wild history! If they keep it up, maybe Chicago will let them sit at the Central Division adult table next Thanksgiving!
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs while scoring 7 goals all season, all of which were scored by Shea Weber’s beard.
Your coach: Peter Laviolette. You can expect a major systems change ahead in Nashville now that the Preds are being coached by someone capable of lateral head movement.
Your starting goalie: Pekka Rinne. At least this is assuming that Rinne can stay healthy for an entire season. Otherwise, y’all are stuck with Carter Hutton again, most notable for having what is probably the most Amish name in pro sports.
Your shittiest player: At $4.2M to sit in a cast for most of the season, iiiiiiit’s…..Mr. Carrie Underwood himself! Holy shit; that’s Tyler Bozak money to put up….well, Tyler Bozak points, I guess. At least Fisher should have plenty of time this season to devote to his new side hobby: hobbling around downtown Nashville wearing a sandwich board of Biblical quotes, telling young women they’ll go to hell if they don’t give their reproductive organs to Christ.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Predators have no first line talent, which they attempted to solve by acquiring a bunch of second line players. They acquired Mike Ribeiro, who managed to get into trouble in Phoenix, the big box store and retirement home of the United States. They also signed Olli Jokinen, which is a great move if it’s 2007. Finally, they traded for James Neal, because if you can’t beat all the teams in the Central that are better than you, you might as well just knee all their star players in the head. Neal, by the way, spent the last three seasons playing with with Evgeni Malkin, which is totally the same thing as playing with Jokinen, Ribeiro, Derek Roy, or Craig Smith.
Why you might not suck: If Rinne manages to stay healthy, they’ve pretty much got the best goaltending in the division. They could feasibly just rely on Weber to score 300 point shots because no one on the opposing team has a death wish.
ST. LOUIS BLUES:
Your 2013-14 season: First round exit. And not just any first round exit. After spending roughly 99.9% of the year at the top of the division, the Blues managed to choke their way out of the lead and into a playoff series with Chicago. Then, they choked their way out of a 2-0 series lead to lose in six games. In the process, they also managed to make Ryan Miller find a city he hated more than Buffalo, which is just no easy task.
Your coach: Ken Hitchcock. But he’s only, like, 60% of the dick he used to be. The last time he was fired, he went on a magical spirit quest where he spoke to Jesus and BECAME REBORN AS A TRUE PLAYERS’ COACH! HAIL BYLSMA!
Your starting goalie: Brian Elliott…..again. This after the Blues showing a true vote of confidence in Elliott by trading for Ryan Miller. Man, talk about your all-time awkward moments. That’s like dumping your ex for another girl, then crawling back to her after the new relationship fails catastrophically. It’s okay though, Brian. The Blues didn’t mean to say all those awful things about you. They just want you to know that they loved you all along and that they’ve changed and are totally hitting the gym and eating right and stuff.
Just kidding; you’re totally getting dumped again for Jake Allen by midseason.
Your shittiest player: Steve Ott. Holy shit! Not only did the Blues trade for Ott, they went out and gave him a two-year extension! Thankfully, Ott brings multiple intangibles, such as: (1) being terrible; (2) licking visors; (3) showing LEADERSHIP in being captain of one of the worst teams to ever exist; and, (4) “accidental” dirty hits. None of these things actually contribute to winning anything, which makes St. Louis a prime Ott destination.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Blues are a perfect symbol of St. Louis, in that people stop there on their way to somewhere better. They tend to be a fertile training ground for good hockey players to eventually go win a Cup elsewhere. Their most notable moment in franchise history was making the playoffs 26 straight seasons, despite not being anything close to an actual contender in about 27 of those years.
People in St. Louis pretend to care about the Blues, but they really don’t. The Blues are St. Louis’ fourth favourite thing to root for, well behind the Cardinals, meth, and institutionalized racism.
Why you might not suck: If the NHL were to adopt an EPL-style format and just give the Cup to the regular season champion, the Blues might actually have a shot at winning something.
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs. This team couldn’t even get a playoff spot the two years it played in the worst division in NHL history. Did anyone honestly expect they’d have a chance while being forced to play actual hockey teams? They went from falling off their training wheel bike and scraping their knee to competing in the Tour de France.
Your coach: Paul Maurice. The sad thing is that by Winnipeg standards, hiring Maurice was an upgrade simply because Claude Noel couldn’t coach an ECHL team out of a paper bag. By Winnipeg standards, their mosquitoes aren’t “that big,” either. Winnipeg standards suck. Paul Maurice sucks. Here is a list of every accomplishment on Paul Maurice’s coaching resume:
-Made the Stanley Cup Final (and lost badly) in 2002 because Fuck Arturs Irbe (yes, I’m still bitter about that Conference Final; go fuck yourself).
-Did literally nothing else in two stints in Carolina.
-Stood behind Leafs bench with clipboard, looking super important and stuff, 2006-2008.
-Wins the “Least Timeouts Taken Even Though It Looks Like Your Team Kinda Needs One; Holy Shit Dude” Award every year.
-56 games of Andy “Cement Legs” Wozniewski because shut up; that’s why!
Your starting goalie: Ondrej Pavelec. In 2012, the Jets decided to commit five years to Pavelec despite his career best season being .914 in 2011. Spoiler alert: he’s been nowhere near that close since. Last year, he put up a .901, which I’m certain is lower than his blood alcohol level on any given offseason. Nonetheless, Jets management still decides that he’s the franchise goaltender. Pavelec is the worst goaltender by a lot in a division not exactly renowned for goaltending, but the Jets continue to be trapped in a loveless marriage with him until 2017. The Winnipeg Jets are bringing a broken plastic spork to a knife fight.
Your shittiest player: ALSO Ondrej Pavelec! Boy, this was an easy line to write!
Why you suck in five sentences: Jets fans are like the guy who steadfastly drinks Labatt Blue; deep down, he knows as well as anyone else that it’s awful pisswater. Not only does he keep drinking it, he will loyally defend to the death that is the BEST BEER EVER and you are some asshole to think otherwise. Labatt Man has pretty much been the Jets business model since their 2012 reincarnation.
This fanbase boos every opposing star player because they have none, while actively trying to run its most skilled player out of town because of vague “character issues” that they promise have nothing to do with him being black. Meanwhile, their aforementioned terrible white goalie gets convicted of a DUI, and no one cares, presumably because: (a) he’s white; and, (b) he would need some actual hockey skill to have character issues to detract from.
Why you might not suck: Beyond the top 3 teams in this division, it’s kind of a car crash. If- BIG IF- Winnipeg got itself an actual goaltender, it might be able to luck its way into a wildcard spot. It won’t happen, but it would be fun to imagine because what is there to do in Winnipeg except imagine?
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs. Since 2002, they’ve had three playoff appearances, each ending up in at least the Conference Finals. It’s almost as if they just give up on themselves unless they’re convinced they could luck their way into winning a minimum of two playoff series.
Your coach: Bill Peters. Leave it to the goddamn Canes to choose a coach that nobody has ever heard of before. Wikipedia tells me he was an assistant coach in Detroit which makes perfect sense. Assistant coaches in Detroit no longer actually need to be good or relevant. They basically just get hired on the title alone. “You worked under Mike Babcock? WOW! SUCH LEADERSHIP! MANY HISTORY! SO CUPS! VERY RED WINGS!”
Your starting goalie: Cam Ward. At least when he’s healthy, which isn’t often because he’s made of some sort of fiberglass compound. In any event, Ward being their best goaltender means they’re fucked. Cam Ward is pretty much the dictionary definition of “average goalie.” And don’t give me that shit about him winning a Conn Smythe in a postseason we all just agreed to kinda forget ever happened. His crowning achievement that year was being Not Martin Gerber, which is a relatively low bar for MVP status. That’s like bragging about graduating with distinction from DeVry.
Your shittiest player: This roster has a lot of weird stuff happening on it, but paying Jordan Staal $6M through 2023 makes next to no sense. They basically gave him a whole fuck ton of money and term in the hopes he could be a second line centre, but his numbers have gotten even more third liney since leaving Pittsburgh. That’s about as financially sound a play as betting your life savings at the track on a three-legged horse.
Why you suck in five sentences: They signed Jay McClement and Tim Gleason, because signing awful players that even the Leafs didn’t want has been a super effective strategy in the past. Of course, bringing back Gleason from his brief exile in Toronto also maintains the team strategy of “bring back every mediocre retread from the past we can possibly think of.” All things considered, I’m half surprised they haven’t signed Bates Battaglia to be captain. It’s amazing how they keep trying the same strategies repeatedly despite being pretty bad for well over a decade. I wonder why that would be.
Why you might not suck: Once every few years, they do somehow make the playoffs and go deep. Basic math suggests that maybe it could even happen this year!
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS:
Your 2013-14 season: First round exit. They even won a couple of games this year! WOOHOO FIRE THE CANNON! *cannon fires through rows of empty seats; hits Jackets fan in the beer gut*
Your coach: Todd Richards. As an aside, look at the list of coaches in this division; I don’t think you could come up with a more bland, forgettable group of people. Todd Richards sounds like the name of a guy who works at Nationwide, not in Nationwide Arena. “Yes, Mr. Dubinsky, you are good at shutting down Crosby, but the real question here is: do you have a life insurance policy that meets your needs?”
Your starting goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky. I have nothing to contribute, so here’s a compilation of Jay Onrait yelling “BOBROVSKY.”
YOU’RE A LOOSE CANNON BOBROVSKY! (Get it? Because they have a cannon in Columbus? Okay, I’ll stop now.)
Your shittiest player: In terms of quality, probably Boone Jenner. I’d be convinced he’s related to the Kardashians if the word “cheap” didn’t refer to so many of his alleged hockey plays. In terms of contract, Nathan Horton. He’s a decent player and all, but you really shouldn’t commit to that kind of term with such an injury-prone guy. Horton could get a Grade III concussion from a pillow fight.
Why you suck in five sentences: Everyone just thinks that #LUMBUS is just the most likeable team in the NHL, when in reality they are just too insignificant to hate. Sure, the Kings said they were cool, but to them, Columbus is that nerdy kid they pretend to befriend so he can do all of his homework. His “homework”, by the way, is consistently giving the Kings good players for nothing so they can go win a bunch of Cups.
By the way, despite the rare postseason appearance, Columbus was third last in average arena capacity; the PANTHERS filled more seats than that. The Blue Jackets are that thing people in Central Ohio only pay attention to between Buckeye-related benders.
Why you might not suck: They’ve basically accumulated two good second lines worth of talent, plus Ryan Johansen is pretty good. Plus, the fact they don’t play defense doesn’t really matter much anymore now that they’re in the Eastern Conference.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS:
Your 2013-14 season: Another year of missing the playoffs, despite being a darling of the stats community for such INSANE Corsis and Fenwicks. Problem is that, with all the shot attempts they get, they are not very good at having any offensive prowess to convert this into actual goals. The Devils are that guy at the bar who knows all the right things to say to a girl, then vomits all over himself before he can seal the deal.
Your coach: Peter DeBoer. I wouldn’t trust that to be the case for too long, because Lou Lamiorello. This is the man that once fired Claude Julien with three games left in the season because 2nd in the East wasn’t good enough. You have no idea what he’s going to do to a guy like DeBoer. Lou would probably fire a sick orphan for coughing in his presence.
Your starting goalie: Cory Schneider. It may shock you to discover that Cory Schneider has actually never been an outright starting goalie in the NHL yet. Is he a good starting goalie? Well he damn well better be, because ol’ Lou has given him a 7 year, $6M commitment to be one. Cory Schneider is basically getting pre-2009 Brodeur money because he isn’t post-2009 Brodeur.
Your shittiest player: Travis Zajac, who is making $5.75M until 2021 to put up numbers like a second/third line tweener. The Devils went and gave money and term to a guy who hasn’t even cracked 20 goals or 50 points since 2009-10 because they literally have no other options. After losing Parise and Kovalchuk, this is all they have left for “first line” talent. Every other alternative is old and broken, overpaid, or both.
Also, they’re paying almost $5 million to Ryane Clowe to basically just be a Newfie David Clarkson. So, y’know, there’s that.
Why you suck in five sentences: This roster reads like a “Who’s Who” of players you forgot were even still in the NHL. They have way too much money tied up in geezers and spare parts to acquire anything that can actually help them score goals, which is probably why they lose roughly eleventy million shootouts per year. Case in point: today I learned that Dainius Zubrus still exists!
They did sign Mike Cammalleri until he’s 37 to, I dunno, bounce the puck off other people and into the net? He played for Calgary, so I guess he has unbeatable experience with having marble statues for wingers.
Why you might not suck: Now that the Devils have finally decided to permanently end the “Martin Brodeur Past-His-Prime Legend Tour” to the tune of 40 godawful guaranteed starts per year, they may actually be able to get competent goaltending year round. That goes a long way in the Metro; have you seen the other goalies in this division?! Beyond Lundqvist and Bobrovsky, goalie graveyard would be a generous term. I would trust a corpse to put up better stats than the entire Flyers depth chart.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS:
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs right after their first playoff appearance in six years that you totally forgot even happened. The Islanders will make the first round as the 8 seed every few years and you’re still skeptical that it actually occurred. I stay up some nights wondering whether that last postseason appearance was just some crazy fever dream I had. What is reality, even?
Your coach: Jack Capuano. I’m convinced he still has a job only because that’s the most Long Island name that ever Long Islanded. In fact, it’s not just the name. Have you seen the guy? He looks like every New York police chief in every 80s movie ever. “YA BETTER NOT FUCK THIS UP OR IT’LL BE YER HEAD, TAVARES!”
Your starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak. He should put up decent numbers, but isn’t it kind of alarming that no team has ever committed to him as a starting goalie? Every team he’s played for has platooned him as a 1/1A guy at best. His goaltending career is the equivalent of a girl being used by a guy as a booty call that will hum and haw over actually making any definitive commitment. “Yeah, Jaro, I mean…we like you, but we’re not sure if we like like you yet. You know? Now call a cab and get the fuck out of here.”
Your shittiest player: Matt Carkner. Like, geez, that guy is still in the NHL? What does he even do around here? He’s basically paid to punch people in the face, and remembering virtually every fight against Colton Orr ever, he can’t even do that very well.
Why you suck in five sentences: It’s pretty sad when your franchise was once run by a fraud who could not afford to run the team, and he may still be the best owner you’ve ever had. Meanwhile, the current owner is picking up the team and moving it 20 minutes away from where most of its fans are congregated, to an arena that’s terribly configured for hockey in an area of New York that has next to no actual hockey fans. This is the ownership that was convinced a 15-year megadeal for a goalie fresh off a .900 season was a great idea; hell, they’re still paying Alexei Yashin to not play for them. Overall, the team has done nothing of real relevance since the early 1980s. They’re basically the NHL equivalent of Alf, or Reaganomics.
Why you might not suck: The Isles have the makings of a very good second line now, which is actually quite a helpful improvement to their previous offensive strategy of “Guys, just give the puck to John Tavares and let him figure this shit out.”
NEW YORK RANGERS:
Your 2013-14 season: Eastern Conference sacrificial lamb. Technically, the correct title of that is “champion,” but they don’t really seem like a champion of anything. It’s hard to call a team that lost the most lopsided Cup Final in seven years a champion, especially with how it got there. The Rangers struggled to beat a bad Flyers team and an underwhelming, top-heavy Penguins team in seven games. Then they beat the Habs in six, while still making a goaltender with 10 NHL games under his belt look like Patrick Roy. That’s the most underwhelming road to getting your dick kicked in by a much superior team in the Final I’ve seen, and there have been a lot of those kinds of teams in the East.
Your coach: Alain Vigneault. The Rangers probably won the Great Coach Swap of 2013, if only because AV didn’t try to assault an opposing coach. Still, that lingering Canuck stench of failure really came in handy when it was time to lose where it mattered the most. His ROLL FOUR LINES strategy should go great now that he’s reunited with Tanner Glass.
Your starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist. Not half bad; only among the league leaders in SV%, shutouts, and general handsomeness. Can we just all be honest and admit King Henrik is the only reason this team made the Final last season? It was just embarrassing to watch him put up video game numbers while people in the Department of Hot Takes™ said “WELL I THINK THIS HERE RANGERS TEAM HAS REALLY RALLIED AROUND MARTY ST. LOUIS’ DEAD MOTHER TO WIN SOME HOCKEY GAMES.” Thankfully the Rangers didn’t win, because I was worried it’d be the first time a Conn Smythe was awarded posthumously to someone who never actually played in the NHL.
Your shittiest player: Tanner Glass is being paid $1.45M for the next three years to be Brian Boyle. Tanner Glass is not Brian Boyle. Tanner Glass is a Coke machine with a career high of 16 points, which is two less than Boyle had in a down year last season. Sather might as well have just paid a hooker $1M to punch him in the face and steal his wallet; it’d probably have close to the same result.
Why you suck in five sentences: Even when the Rangers have a good year, they continue to do dumb things. They lost Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, and bought out Brad Richards, replacing all three with things you would pick out of the bargain bin at your local car wash. Players they acquired this summer: Glass; Lee Stempniak; Matthew Lombardi; Dan Boyle; Mike Kostka; Matt Hunwick. That is the saddest cast of retreads since Grown Ups 2. Why pay Matt Lombardi $800,000 when you can get something close to that at Value Village for $7.50?
Why you might not suck: According to the NHL rules, somebody technically has to win this division. I mean, if it were up to me, I’d just make this division go sit in a corner and think about what it’s done, but NBC wouldn’t like that very much.
Your 2013-14 season: First round exit. Quite honestly, I still don’t know how this team even made the playoffs last year. Hmm….*looks at rest of Eastern Conference*……oh; that’s how.
Your coach: Craig Berube. I keep forgetting that this guy is even a coach. I only really know two things about him: (1) he was involved in the Doug Gilmour trade; (2) he yelled a racist epithet at a black player. I just assumed he died two years after his career ended by headbutting a hotel mirror in a cocaine-fuelled rage. Honest mistake, really.
Your starting goalie: Steve Mason. Steve “you’re paying this guy $4.1M for the next three years” Mason. He’s been godawful in four of his six seasons as an NHL goaltender. He had a career season of .917 last year. He has good flashes, but deep down, every Flyers fan knows that he will return to his natural state of “tire fire.” He’s the Ryan Fitzpatrick of goaltenders, minus the Harvard education.
Your shittiest player: You might think I’m going to say Mason. You might think I’ll go with Mark Streit, RJ Umberger, or Vinny Lecavalier. All good guesses, but all wrong. Those would be horrendous contracts for a lot of teams, but this is the Flyers we’re talking about. The Philadelphia Flyers are basically a “CASH 4 GOLD” dispensary of awful, awful NHL contracts.
By the way, the correct answer was Andrew MacDonald. He’s making $5M a year for….well, I’m not sure what, exactly.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Flyers net has the stability of Italian government. It’s amusing to watch their fans talk themselves into Steve Mason after one good season, just like they did with Ilya Bryzgalov in 2011, or Michael Leighton in 2010, or Robert Esche in 2004, or Roman Cechmanek in 2001, or Brian Boucher in 2000. I hope for Mason to totally collapse this year, if only because I think we’re one bust away from Ron Hextall activating himself to the roster.
Kimmo Timonen, notable for being their only defenseman capable of playing actual defense, may be hurt, but at least they now have Michael Del Zotto! Resorting to MDZ is the hockey equivalent of riding a scooter to work because you have too many DUIs, a feeling that many people in Philly probably know all too well.
Why you might not suck: Their captain is one of the better hockey players in the NHL when he isn’t busy trying to pull an invisible Gummy Venus DeMilo off a police officer’s backside.
Your 2013-14 season: An embarrassing second round exit. Slightly in between their embarrassing first round exits and embarrassing conference final exits. The recurring constant here is that the Pens can only be eliminated from the playoffs with their dignity as intact as Rob Ford after an all-night crack-a-thon.
Your coach: Mike Johnston. Hey, here’s a good idea! You keep losing, so turf the guy with a Jack Adams and Cup ring to his name! At least they hired a guy who was a Proven Winner™ in junior. And like all proven winners, he spent a year being suspended from his job for his team receiving illicit perks. By the way, here is a recent list of championship junior coaches that have gone on to NHL jobs: Bill Peters and Gerald Gallant. That’s some….esteemed….company.
Your starting goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins are committed to their franchise goaltender, whose goaltending style is eerily reminiscent of Miley Cyrus’ life. Also, the words “can’t stop” and “won’t stop” could pretty much be written about Fleury’s five hole. Most notable last year for managing to go an entire postseason without doing anything stupid, though six games against Columbus sure can’t hurt.
Your shittiest player: Robert Bortuzzo. Plays defense, if “defense” means hitting people with the puck in the head. Also, that name, man. MY SON IS ALSO NAMED BORTUZZO.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Penguins have apparently tied up so much money in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang that it literally can’t afford actual hockey players to fill out its bottom six. This team is so desperate for that depth, it traded a top six player in James Neal for third liners in Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. You could shut this team down by having five guys swarm Crosby or Malkin, then watch as an unmanned Pascal Dupuis whiffs it into the goalie’s chest.
Also, Penguins fans are convinced their team is some sort of god-given centre of the hockey universe because they lucked into the best player of this generation, which is only slightly better than the time in the 1980s that they tanked to do the same. In any event, when this team doesn’t boast a Top 2 player in the NHL, it declares bankruptcy like a bodily function and considers voluntarily moving to Kansas City.
Why you might not suck: You might have heard of these Crosby and Malkin guys they have….
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs. There are people who will blame this on Alex Ovechkin having roughly one zillion points last year, but being a minus-trillion. These people are the hockey equivalent of that relative who forwards you racist Obama jokes.
Your coach: Barry Trotz, who is coming to coach Ovechkin after 15 years in Nashville. That’s something like dating a porn star after being in a long-term relationship with a devout evangelical Christian. Of course, he should be worried that Ovechkin is an ABSOLUTE COACH KILLER that got the last coach fired, which has nothing at all to do with Adam Oates and George McPhee being not very good at their jobs.
Your starting goalie: Braden Holtby. Has anyone in the world actually remembered that Holtby is even a goalie since about 2012? I haven’t heard his name come up much lately. I just assumed he went to Australia on a walkabout or something.
Your shittiest player: Brooks Orpik. Man, the Caps really went for it and signed Orpik to a $5.5M, five-year deal?! But Orpik is a defensive defenseman….in theory. In theory, communism works, the Middle East crisis is solvable, and the Sharks could win a Stanley Cup. Orpik is “defensive” in that he doesn’t score. Or ever even get the puck. But he SKATES BACKWARD AND HITS AND STUFF. Well, I guess that probably passes for defense in Washington.
Why you suck in five sentences: It’d be safe to say the window has closed on the Washington Capitals being a contender, but that presupposes “perennial second round exit” was ever a window to begin with. Washington was more like a picture of a window that someone drew on the wall with a crayon. It’s like a guy who lives in a nice house and drives a fancy car, and you think “man, this guy is LOADED.” Then you go in his house and realize it is completely empty and he is sleeping on an air mattress, which is pretty much the Mike Green of furniture.
Anyways, that will now be looked on fondly by Caps fans as the “good ol’ days” now.
Why you might not suck: If Ovechkin scores about 600 goals and Holtby stands on his head, they might- might- be the third best team in this division.
Your 2013-14 season: Second round loss. TO THE HABS. Then Milan Lucic threatened to physically harm people that weren’t drunk Canucks fans. What a weird year.
Your coach: Claude Julien, the perennial Bill Dauterive doppelganger of NHL coaches. It’s a shame the Jack Adams isn’t awarded to the best coach at making derpfaces when arguing penalties or ol’ Clode would have that shit on lock.
Your starting goalie: Tuukka Rask. Sure, he just won a Vezina, but deep down you know that one day, he will snap. Sure, today, it’s just a minor incident with an innocent milk crate or a bench door. Gonna be allllll fun and games until the Bruins trainer wonders how to remove Rask’s impaled goalie stick from Niklas Svedberg’s brain. Your best hope is that new front office wunderkind JFJ trades him for Andrew Raycroft again before that happens.
Your shittiest player: Chris Kelly. Did you know that Chris Kelly still plays for the Bruins and is making $3M a season for reasons that I’m sure made sense at the time? I definitely did not. He had 18 points last year.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Bruins are an aging roster filling much of their renowned depth with AHLers. Chara is now 37, and will be playing big minutes that certainly seem sustainable at that age. They’re losing 30 goals of Jarome Iginla and replacing it with…..well, I’m not sure what exactly. Their window is going to start closing, which will be hilarious to watch with the insuffrable Boston media going insane. AH THAT CHAAHRA HAS NO HAHT TO BE CAPN TRADE THAAAT BUM WHY DID WE GET RIDDA SHAWN THAWNTON REEEAL HAHT N SOHL GUY THEAH.
Why you might not suck: A gritty fourth liner will do something heroic with a bad injury, which will spawn even more awful LeBron memes. The Bruins will then win the Cup while no one in hockey notices because they’re all too busy screaming into a pillow.
Your 2013-14 season: Finished dead last in the entire league by a large margin, posting the worst point total in post-lockout history. They had 52 points. 52! Seriously; an expansion team made up entirely of drunk KHLers probably could’ve done better than that. Also managed to lose out on the No. 1 pick despite their troubles. Other than that it went pretty well, though.
Your coach: Ted Nolan. Seriously? How desperate do you have to be as a franchise to bring back the guy you unceremoniously fired sixteen years ago? It’s even funnier because Nolan isn’t as good as Sabres fans like to believe he is. He took a team with a Vezina-winning Hall of Fame goaltender to the second round of the playoffs. Pierre McGuire probably could’ve gotten at least one round out of that team. The 1996-97 Sabres is basically Nolan’s “99 Luftballons.” He will undeservedly take that to the bank forever.
Your starting goalie: Manas Hackroth. Or Jhott Enett. I’m not sure which. Oh wait, I forgot that Michal Neuvirth even exists because doesn’t everyone?
Your shittiest player: SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM! This was 100x easier when they had John Scott skating the odd shift in between fights, trying not to shit his pants while attempting to skate from centre ice to the blueline. But now he’s gone, presumably because the Sharks GM thought huffing paint on a Wednesday morning would be a good life choice. That said, the Sabres are spending almost $10M on Tyler Myers and Andrej Meszaros because LOL. They actually bought out Christian Ehrhoff and spent ALL THAT MONEY AND MORE to pay Meszaros. Also, honourable mention to Josh Gorges, who they brought in from Montreal because new UFA signing Brian Gionta wanted familiar arms to cry into, I guess.
Why you suck in five sentences: There are other awful teams out there, but they have redeeming qualities like a big, passionate fanbase (Leafs; Oilers; Flames) or nice weather and low taxes (Panthers; Hurricanes; Coyotes). What makes the Sabres truly awful is there is literally nothing at all redeeming about them. They play awful hockey in a frigid big box store of a city where the Olive Garden is considered nightlife. The most attractive people in their stadium on any given night all drove down from Southern Ontario for cheap hockey and shopping. Their AHL affiliate is in Rochester because otherwise call-ups would probably refuse to report.
Why you might not suck: Hypothetically speaking, if there was some massive accident that killed every player at the All-Star Game, Buffalo would be the only team completely unaffected by it. They could probably pull off about 11th in the East if that happened.
DETROIT RED WINGS:
Your 2013-14 season: Just managed a wildcard spot largely in part due to Toronto’s annual implosion, then were knocked out in five quick and painless games to the Bruins. Remember how everyone thought that Detroit would run train on the East because they were coming from such a better conference after decades of whining how tough the Western travel schedule was on them? That plan sure went well.
Your coach: Mike Babcock. He took a team largely made up of AHLers and got them in the playoffs, so he’s indisputably a good coach. What’s shitty is that HBO showed us that he’s somehow the most exciting personality associated with this team. Seriously, the guy is a head coach and has a voice you’d think was ripped off a Great White North SCTV sketch, and THIS IS THE MOST PERSONABLE GUY YOU CAN FIND? God, this team is boring.
Your starting goalie: Jimmy Howard. It’s not even so much that Howard is bad; it’s that you know he will shatter his knee roughly seventeen times this year, leaving about 40 starts to Jonas Gustavsson, who put up a career season of .907 last year. Good luck attempting to make the playoffs on the back of an awful goalie that resembles a tweaky meth addict, Detroit.
Your shittiest player: Stephen Weiss is getting paid $4.9 million to put up fourth line numbers, which he can’t even do over a full season because he keeps hurting himself. This is a guy that the Florida Panthers wouldn’t even offer a contract to even after ten seasons with the team. When Dale Tallon isn’t willing to give you an insane payday, that’s probably a good sign you should run very far in the opposite direction.
Why you suck in five sentences: I could opt for the low-hanging fruit that Detroit as a city is falling apart while Red Wings ownership milks them for all the money they don’t have, but I won’t. The truth is for a franchise with so much recent success, I have never seen such a butthurt fanbase. Red Wings fans are so humourless that the last time I called their fanbase humourless, one of their fans threatened to fight me. There’s not even a punchline for that; it actually happened.
In short, fuck your team, fuck your fanbase, fuck your owner, and fuck his cardboard pizzas.
Why you might not suck: One of their most promising prospects got a DUI while wearing a teletubby costume. I can’t argue that. That is just awesome.
Your 2013-14 season: Bottom feeder, missed the playoffs by a lot. Same as it always was. But really, if we’re honest, the low point of the Panthers season was that Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas were teammates for ONLY ONE DAY. WHY MUST YOU TEASE LIKE THIS, BASED HOCKEY GODS?
Your coach: Uhhh….ummm….hold on……*flips pages*…..I should know this……Gerard Gallant! Most renowned for a 56-76-10 record in Columbus. Should be good, though.
Your starting goalie: Luongo. After years of being the scapegoat of fans for having the worst contract on the team and faltering in the postseason, I get the feeling he will be right at home with the Panthers where he will have to worry about literally none of those things.
Your shittiest player: I wanna say it’s Dave Bolland at $5.5M, but I also want to say it’s Shawn Thornton at $1.2M. Tiebreaker has to go to Bolland, simply because he is somehow Florida’s second highest paid player. He will probably blow out his knee 20 games into the season and never play again, but still be on the payroll because the Panthers would need state funding to buy him out.
Why you suck in five sentences: The Panthers haven’t even won a playoff series since 1996, back when that guy who is presumably Ed Jovanovski’s dad played for this team. Nobody actually cares about the Panthers, because Miami is not a sports city; it’s a bandwagon city. The favourite sport of Miami-area residents is cocaine. This makes the Panthers have to do things like sign 3rd/4th liners to horrendous contracts just to make the cap floor. Their team actually embodies the state of Florida, in that it’s mostly old people, swamp things, and promising young people that will likely move their career somewhere better.
Why you might not suck: They signed a whole bunch of random UFA scraps to bad contracts, which worked for them in 2011-12. All they need now is to lose about 20 shootouts and have their entire division otherwise implode and they should be set to make a playoff appearance.
Your 2013-14 season: Eastern Conference Finalist. Enjoy it because it was ALL A LIE. They swept a Tampa Bay team without a goaltender, and beat the Bruins because they couldn’t score on roughly eleventy billion shots. It’ll be funny when they’re back to being a first round exit at best this year and people will wonder what happened. FEELS LIKE ’93 YOU GUYS.
Your coach: Michel Therrien. The saving grace of having to sit through the Canadiens insuffrably whining their way through three rounds was knowing that the prize I got at the end of it was Montreal deciding they want three more years of this guy. It’s kinda like when you went to the dentist as a kid and they gave you an awesome free toy just for letting someone probe your teeth for an hour.
Your starting goalie: Carey Price. At least for now. Just wait until Price has about three bad games in a row, like any goalie in a small sample size does. Fans will be making bilingual demands that he be replaced by Dustin Tokarski immediately. I could see Price finishing the season in Colorado because that’s what the Habs do to the goalies they actually like. You don’t wanna know what happens to the ones they don’t. I assume Andre Racicot is chained up in some basement in Outremont living off of table scraps.
Your shittiest player: Brandon Prust. He’s two tiers of shitty! One tier is that Montreal somehow pays him $2.5 million to do sweet fuck all. The other tier is that he is a whiny, yappy, cheapshotting fuck. He is literally one French surname from truly embodying the spirit of the Montreal Canadiens.
Why you suck in five sentences: First, let me congratulate the Montreal Canadiens on successfully making it one playoff run without actually flipping over a cop car and/or lighting it on fire! Conference final appearances every so often is about the best this team can hope for, but it doesn’t stop their fanbase from being a bunch of entitled pissants. Their Cup drought would now be legal drinking age everywhere in North America, yet they bring up how many Cups they’ve won and mock other Cup droughts as if that actually means anything anymore. They also trot out fragile old men for half hour ceremonies to relive a past that everyone stopped giving a shit about somewhere around the time of the Vietnam War. The Habs are hockey’s equivalent of the balding, insecure man who buys a big truck and hits on teenagers, which is also pretty much Carey Price’s post-NHL life path.
Why you might not suck: Have you looked at the rest of this division? I mean, really looked at it? How on earth do you think the Habs made it that far last year to begin with?!
Your 2013-14 season: Missed the playoffs. Amazing how that happens when you don’t get insanely good goaltending or a 35-goal season from Milan frickin’ Michalek. At least the cost per point was low?
Your coach: Lovable Wilford Brimley impersonator Paul MacLean. Can we just be clear about one thing? You know when MacLean did that thing in the 2013 playoffs where he pretended not to know the names of players on the Habs and Sens fans loved it? Yeah, Pat Quinn did it first. To the Sens. And Sens fans HATED it. Just thought I’d remind you all of that now.
Your starting goalie: Craig Anderson. Good to know that Ottawa’s entire playoff fate basically rests on one 33-year old goalie putting up video game stats. Call me crazy, but I really don’t think a career .915 goaltender is gonna put up better numbers than Dominik Hasek in the Dead Puck Era, which is basically what this team requires just to get a chance at getting to the first round to have their dicks kicked in.
Your shittiest player: Chris Neil. Maybe not even shitty in a skill sense, just that Chris Neil is a shitty human being and waste of existence. He is literal human trash. Fuck Chris Neil forever.
Why you suck in five sentences: Hey, remember how Sens fans used to LOVE Eugene Melnyk? I remember the heyday when they would lord it over our heads like “Yeah man; we’ve got an owner who totally cares about winning!” Well, I guess you meant to say he cares about winning until all his money tied up in failed pharmaceutical companies and forensic investigators disappears. This team plays in a giant parking lot that isn’t even remotely close to civilization, and it’s the third favourite team of people in its own city! The only impressive thing about the Ottawa Senators is they’ve managed to be the most irrelevant Canadian franchise in a league that has a team IN WINNIPEG.
Why you might not suck: Maybe Ottawa just says “fuck it,” stops playing a system, and just gives Erik Karlsson the puck and lets him do Erik Karlsson Things with it. They might- MIGHT- be a bubble team then. Also, they only make the playoffs when literally no one expects them to, so this is a good start.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING:
Your 2013-14 season: Made the playoffs just to be the only team there to not actually win a single game. If the postseason were an elementary school track meet, the Lightning would have been that slow, fat kid who gets a participation ribbon.
Your coach: Jon Cooper. HEY DID YOU KNOW THAT JON COOPER USED TO BE A LAWYER? NO?! WELL I’M ONLY GOING TO REMIND YOU 638 MORE TIMES THIS YEAR SO TRY TO REMEMBER.
Your starting goalie: Ben Bishop. I’d make a joke about him being a good goalie purely because of size, but Anders Lindback has already thoroughly discredited that theory. Now I’ve got nothing. He’ll probably have a good season, but the Lightning really really need him to have a good season because their other option is Evgeni Nabokov. Seriously; what is it with this team and old, hilariously past their prime goalies? Is it demographic appeal?
Your shittiest player: Wait, you guys paid Ryan Callahan a $5.8M/year deal? FIVE POINT EIGHT?! For Ryan Callahan? That contract is impressively bad enough that it even surpasses paying Brenden Morrow any sum of money to be awful. I mean, seriously, I get that your front office wanted to feel like it got *something* in return for being forced to trade away the aging whiny corpse of Marty St. Louis, but that didn’t mean you had to go Full Tallon on this one. You never go Full Tallon.
Why you suck in five sentences: Despite actually being the most promising team in the division, the Lightning have this hilarious insecurity complex. Not the players; not the fanbase; the actual team. I don’t think there’s any sane, rational human on earth who honestly believes Steven Stamkos will leave for Toronto when he’s a UFA except people who work for the Lightning. The far-fetching rumours are great, if only because watching Lightning social media guys squirm and likely send Stamkos 20 texts a day being all “HEY OL’ STEVERINO WE’RE COOL RIGHT?” makes for some solid offseason fun.
Also their mascot is a bug, which has nothing to do with anything, but annoys me for some reason.
Why you might not suck:
Sam Gagner is a pretty good acquisition, you guys… [crumples up paper; starts over]
Based on the offseason, it looks as though the Lightning are going to attempt a concept novel to recent franchise history. Some NHL teams have been known to call this “actually playing defense.” Doing that in this division is basically like knowing your multiplication tables in an Alabama high school math class. You’ll pass with flying colours.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS:
Your 2013-14 season: Do we have to? Can we not?
The Leafs parlayed a hot start to the season into a 10-4 record in October. Everyone declared Randy Carlyle the Coaching Genius of the Year™. “CORSI HOCKEY LEAGUE” jokes were made. Cake was served. The Leafs then went on to win four games in regulation in November and December. Seriously; FOUR. Despite this, the Leafs had a torrid January and February and needed to basically show up to the rink without shitting themselves to make the playoffs. Naturally, they lost 12 of their last 14 games in regulation to finish 12th of 16 teams in a godawful Eastern Conference. Instead of admitting they were a mediocre team with good pieces but a godawful system, the Leafs instead blame “heart” and “compete level.” The Leafs are a Betamax team in a BluRay league.
Your coach: Randy Carlyle….*record scratch*. Wait, what? ACTUALLY?! But….the collapses, and….blown leads…and….HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?! Well, at least they showed real ACCOUNTABILITY and CULTURE CHANGE by firing all of the assistant coaches. At least now Leaf fans can look forward to a fresh new cast of people that will ensure Carlyle’s toast doesn’t take any more nasty spills.
Your starting goalie: Jonathan Bernier. You have to assume he’s the definite starter since the Leafs are currently in the process of running the primary reason for their only playoff appearance in a decade out of town. That said, he’s fresh off injury, so it will be the first time every grown man in the GTA will be collectively praying for one man’s groin to stay strong.
Your shittiest player: David Clarkson made $5.25M to score 11 points. That’s almost $500,000 per point. The most hilarious thing is watching Leaf fans attempting to still defend the indisputable worst contract in hockey by saying “OH YEAH, HE’LL GET BETTER THE NEXT SIX YEARS BECAUSE GRIT HEART MIMICO.” Your reminder these are the same people that wanted to run Grabovski and now Phaneuf out of town for being overpaid despite, y’know, actually being good at hockey.
Why you suck in five sentences: Every year since 2013, I look at the roster on paper and think “Hmm, not bad; not a contender, but a bubble team at least.” And every year, the team performs far worse on the ice because they have a coach who doesn’t understand how systems, usage, or deployment work. Why play the Kessel line down 2-1 in the third when you can have whoever Sami Pahlsson 2.0 is this year protect that one goal deficit? This could be a playoff team if the strict rules of Randypuck ever mandated that they were allowed to leave their own zone for more than a 10-second Kessel breakaway. Instead, they will plummet when Jonathan Bernier dies of exhaustion because he faced more shots in one game than in a full year as the Kings’ backup.
Why you might not suck: The Sabres, Panthers, and Senators exist; plus, I’d trust literally any of these Leaf centres to get overrused for 20 minutes a night over Jay Fucking McClement. Also, Kyle Dubas was just hired, which lends credence to the theory that Brendan Shanahan may not be as insane as the front office people MLSE are paying him buckets of cash to babysit.
We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of the Montreal Canadiens.
Nous sommes réunis ici aujourd’hui pour pleurer la perte des Canadiens de Montréal.
A truly great and storied franchise.
Un groupe de plongeurs de pleurnicher.
The greatest team in hockey, and even all of professional sports.
Une bande de connards hauts et puissants.
A bunch of sore winners who destroy their city because they won a playoff series.
Le joyau de la couronne de la LNH.
Wait, I think I just said the French part in English and the English part in French.
Well, never mind.
Today, we mourn the loss of the Habs. In particular, the loss of the potential comedic value we could have had from the Habs winning the Cup and the relatively taller Gary Bettman attempting to hold it over Brian Gionta’s head while he jumps up trying to reach it.
This is otherwise not a day of mourning, but for celebrating the life and times of the Canadiens. And for 29 NHL teams, celebrating that Michel Therrien just got some job security and will not be coaching their team any time soon.
This was the greatest season of Montreal Canadiens hockey since 2010, when they made it to the conference final in their centennial year. Actually, it was technically their second centennial year. The first one ended with two of their players being connected to the Belarussian mob, barely making the playoffs over the Florida Panthers (!!!) on a tiebreaker, being swept by the hated Bruins, and Bronx cheering their future
only reason they actually even make the playoffs star goaltender. Suffice to say, they felt entitled to a do-over, because the Habs and entitlement go together like Carey Price and a high school kegger.
The Habs 2010 run was a great thing for us all, predominantly because had it not happened, they would probably now have more 100th anniversaries than middle aged women have 29th birthdays and we would never have rid ourselves of the “barber pole” jerseys.
But, I’m on a tangent. On to 2014.
Alas, les Habitants fell but two short wins away from being the ’96 Panthers or ’12 Devils “happy to be there because the two good teams in the East somehow imploded” team of the Stanley Cup Finals that gives a Western Conference team generally as much trouble as a mosquito in a flyswatter factory. But their solid run showed the promise of great skill in this team.
Heh. Just kidding. They got insane goaltending and were lucky as fuck. Strangely, despite some Habs fans almost blowing up Twitter at the apoplectic outrage that the hated “definitely not a rival” Leafs just made the playoffs that way last season, there sure was not a whole lot of those complaints this year.
First, the Habs had the good fortune to play in the Atlantic Division, which featured the following teams:
- The Toronto Maple Leafs, who play a well known system under coach Randy Carlyle called “what happens when you turn your team’s settings down reaaaaaaaally low on NHL 14.”
- The Ottawa Senators, who barely can afford to pay their bills, let alone pay off the Goalie Regression Gods to stay away from them for yet another year.
- The Florida Panthers, who LOL.
- The Buffalo Sabres, who were the worst team in post-2005 NHL history and at one point actually had Steve Ott as their captain. I don’t even have a punchline for this.
Then, the Habs drew the upstart Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, who despite boasting one of the top three players in the league, have the defensive coverage of silly putty. The Habs romped their way to a first round sweep, in large part due to an injury to Lightning starter Ben Bishop that Habs fans suddenly agreed a month later never to speak of again.
Of course, the series was not without controversy. The Habs won Game 3 after the Forum Ghosts ostensibly gave them a phantom call nullifying the Lightning go-ahead goal and an unpenalized attempted murder of Steven Stamkos. The officiating seemed to have the objectivity of an election in Pyeongyang. Of course, that still didn’t stop Habs fans whining about a bad call in that game, because Habs fans are like that student that badgers their teacher to bump their “C” grade up to an “A” then complain that it isn’t an “A+”.
Next, the Habs drew the hated Boston Bruins, which was less remembered for the actual hockey games than it was for all the OUTRAGE at those MEAN OL’ BRUINS.
Take those 17,000, but actually 288, mean, racist Bruins fans tweeting a derogatory term at PK Subban. What a hashtag classless fanbase they are! Don’t those idiots know the classy way to display their overt racism is to rub shoe polish all over their faces?
Or how about that outrage towards Shawn Thornton? He displayed some serious hashtag classlessness by…..uh, it says here he squirted water at somebody? That’s it? That’s all? That’s not even the dumbest thing a Bruin has done with a water bottle!
And finally, the outrage towards Milan Lucic’s eerie threats to kill Alexei Emelin and Dale Weise next season. Honestly, I was first and foremost surprised that Lucic even knew words beyond primal screaming and “Do you know who I am?” What’s important here is that the Habs didn’t respond by sending Max Pacioretty to suffocate Lucic by putting him in a tight headlock, because we’ve seen how well that turns out.
Also, there were many complaints about allegedly dirty hits on Habs players by the Bruins, which Habs fans vowed never to speak of again around Game 3 of the next series for some reason.
And on to the conference finals the Habs went! The team of destiny was surely on its rightful place to the Stanley Cup Final that it hasn’t actually participated in for over twenty years!
But first, the Rangers.
It didn’t take long for the usual outrage to mount in this series after Chris Kreider was tripped at a pretty high speed and fell skate first into Carey Price’s leg. The Habs, of course, understood that this was an unfortunate accident….well, until they didn’t. Of course, Habs fans continue to make excuses for how sticking your knee out at a goalie’s head is somehow an accident, so it is entirely possible accident means a completely opposite word in French or something.
The Habs then decided to call up Dustin Tokarski and simultaneously bitch about how they would lose a series just because they didn’t have their starter, because the only thing worse than that fanbase’s knowledge of physics is their sense of irony.
Therrien’s whining would continue after the Rangers hashtag classlessly sent their coaches to observe the Habs practice, which is against some sort of gentleman’s rule that nobody has honestly heard of. But what is truly amazing is that, in a series against a coach who spent seven years in the Vancouver Canucks organization, Therrien somehow managed to be the whiny baby of the two. Bravo, good sir.
Of course, Habs fans will roll their eyes at most of this, and I can probably expect numerous responses of “1967,” since it’s roughly one of the few things their fanbase can say aside from “BOOOOOO” or “OLE,” and probably the only permutation of numbers aside from “911” that they actually know. Not to mention that “1967” is the standard response to Leaf fans any time they deign to criticize the beloved Habs with remarks such as “Phil Kessel is better than anyone on your team,” “Montreal is entirely dependent on goaltending and will never win a Cup,” or “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t be torching that cop car.”
The 1967 jokes, of course, omit the reality the Habs Cup drought has now hit 21 years, which is hilarious when you watch college-age kids brag about 24 Cups as if that’s been a regular occurrence since Jimmy Carter was president. Of course, you really can’t blame them when the team is still somewhere around the mid-70’s in their “Half Hour Ceremony Honouring Obscure Old Dudes” series.
So, goodbye to you, Montreal.
Goodbye, Thomas Vanek. Shame the Habs could not find a place for a 27-goal scorer on their top three lines at all. It’s unfortunate you’re taking so much heat for this; it would’ve been so, so different if only your name was Vaneque! At least you’ll always have Minnesota sending wheelbarrows of money to your house this summer.
Goodbye, Brandon Prust……
….*waits 10 Mississippi’s*……
….sorry; you made it clear you like to get your shots in really late, so I figured I’d do likewise.
Goodbye, Rene Bourque. You’re a mediocre player, but you scored a hat trick and you sound French, so I look forward to you being the No. 1 searched name on the Capgeek buyout calculator after the Habs extend you.
Goodbye, PK Subban. Thank you in advance for wreaking a train of havoc on Montreal’s cap situation for years to come.
Goodbye, Daniel Briere. You inspire me to work really hard so that one day I can graduate from whatever upstairs medical college it is that you went to.
Goodbye, Max Pacioretty. I thought you were pretty funny in Rat Race.
Goodbye, Brian Gionta. May you find someone’s arms to cry in.
Goodbye, Carey Price. The Habs will probably double down on Tokarski based on a 5 game sample size now, so you should probably just book your flight to Denver while it’s still cheap.
And to the rest: au revoir, shitheads.
In this installment of ‘Why Your Team Sucks’, we fly from the east coast, over all the shit that doesn’t matter (otherwise known as Conference III) to the west coast. The faraway lands of BC, Alberta, California, Arizona, and Washington State (coming in 2015, probably!). And the best part about realignment is how there aren’t any CST teams in the Pacific Division anymore. Yeah, Dallas, I’m looking at you; that just really annoyed me for some reason.
Here’s why your Pacific Division team sucks:
Yeah, I’ll get the double cheeseburger, large fries…uh, better make that a Diet Coke….
WHY THEY SUCK: They’re a luck-driven fraud. The Anaheim Ducks were the surprise story in the West in 2012-13. After a terrible year where they ended up firing their coach, noted idiot Randy Carlyle, midseason (that’s good) and missing the playoffs by a lot (that’s bad), the Ducks vaulted all the way to 2nd in the Western Conference. They went from the consensus last place pick in the Pacific Division to actually winning the whole damn thing. Man, this must really bode well for the Ducks going forward, right?
WRONG. The Ducks are what happens when dumb trailer trash wins the lottery and moves to an affluent suburb. Sure, they may have struck it rich, but it was by pure luck, and they’re almost certain to squander their fortune on beef jerky and Busch Light. It’s worth noting in the last four seasons, the Ducks have made two playoff appearances. Both were total flukes. In 2011, the Ducks basically rode Corey Perry getting 57 bajillion points from March onward to a pretty weak first round exit. In 2013, they won their division by shooting roughly 10% at even strength. Hell, it was higher than that for most of the season, and that got them a 22-3-4 start out the gate. That’s fucking nuts. That’s a winning percentage you’d expect from the ’86 Oilers; do you really think the Anaheim Ducks are capable of that? Of course not, because once their shooting tailed off, they finished the season a pretty unremarkable 7-9-2. I’d wager ‘unremarkable bubble team’ is roughly a more accurate depiction of the Ducks than the best team that ever lived.
Which is fine, since they did what literally everyone expected them to do and bowed out of the first round to a real team. In fact, that the worst thing the Ducks did last year; because of their stupid second place finish, we were subjected to TWO WEEKS of fucking Red Wings fans being all ‘WE ARE THE GLORIOUS UNDERDOGS.’ Bullshit. Everyone and their grandma picked the Wings to win that series; the Ducks have to have been the most unspectacular second seed to have ever existed, and this is a team that shared a division with the ’06 Dallas Stars.
But they can’t rely on lucky shooting to vault them to the top again. Nope; not this time. For one thing, they finally proved they were TOTALLY SERIOUS about trading Bobby Ryan and sent him to Ottawa. Don’t worry, though. They replaced with Dustin Penner, which is more or less like thinking silly putty is an effective food substitute. I give it about 6 weeks into the season before he’s sidelined a month with an Aunt Jemima-related infliction. It seems like Teemu Selanne, who kicks 20-something ass at 42, probably won’t be back this season. They managed to lock up Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to long-term extensions, which should bode well when they can’t even afford to sign the half of their forwards that are free agents in 2014. By then, their bottom three lines will literally just be nine Glad bags of sand. Their main lynchpins on D are Sheldon Souray and Francois Beauchemin, and neither are getting any younger. Cam Fowler is probably one of the more unremarkable $4 million players in the league, and will likely still be the only redeeming quality of this defense in a year or two.
The Ducks turned luck into an unsustainably good record and a pretty lame duck playoff appearance. There’s just no way it happens again. Their fans (what few they have) should probably just go back to watching USC football and reruns of The OC. This’ll probably get ugly.
Your first star for the night….
WHY THEY SUCK: Ahahahaha. The good news is that with the trade of franchise hero Jarome Iginla, Flames fans can finally let go of the last lingering shred of hope they had for their team to be competent. Any sane franchise, of course, would’ve realized this fact three years ago once the team finally stopped making the postseason after an endless succession of first-round exits. The Flames’ window ostensibly shut in 2004, and it took nine years for literally anybody in the city of Calgary to figure this out. Anything closely resembling reality was just too much for the Calgarian superiority complex to fathom. If you’re from Calgary, everything in the city is perfect and can do no wrong, including (perhaps especially) the Flames. Calgary is probably the only city more uniroincally arrogant than Toronto, which can probably be explained by the fact most of Calgary is just displaced Ontarians looking for a payday in the energy sector. You could scrape a dead possum off the highway, put it in a Flames jersey, pose it in a photograph next to Naheed Nenshi, and Calgarians would declare it the best possum ever, and dedicate a whole POSSUM DAY to a piece of roadkill. Which is cool, because the Calgary Flames are basically just roadkill on ice.
If your team finished three points out of last in the conference, it’s pretty hard to make it much worse, and yet the Flames did just that. Miikka Kiprusoff, who played like hot garbage last year, will be replaced at starter by Karri Ramo, who has a career .895 in 48 games and hasn’t played in the NHL since 2009. They also managed to unload their most defensively responsible blueliner for Shane O’Brien, who will likely play about 10 games then be a healthy scratch until he drinks himself half to death at the Roxy on their first trip to Vancouver and misses the rest of the season. They also traded Alex Tanguay for the even worse but somehow more overpaid David Jones. They have $11.5 million tied up in Jones, Jiri Hudler, and Matt Stajan, which might actually be their first line if Mike Cammalleri gets injured. Their third line will probably consist of Lee Stempniak and Curtis Glencross, both of whom you forgot existed, and Blair Jones, who you probably didn’t know existed. With this roster, you would think this team is trying to tank for the first overall pick, and then you remember Jay Feaster is running this team and he really is just that stupid. This is what happens when you hire a guy who can’t even figure out how the fuck offer sheets work.
I’ve barely talked about their defense, because there isn’t much to talk about. Their first pair is Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano, which is a sentence no self-respecting team should ever have to utter. Two of T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Chris Butler, and O’Brien will be second-pairing defensemen. Their defense that allowed 29 shots a game last season has somehow probably gotten worse. There’s really no way that this team won’t allow about 4 goals a game next year. They could probably use a real 1D, but ask them about the one they traded away three years ago- the only remaining piece of which Calgary still has being Matt Stajan- and they’ll vehemently deny it. At least they’ll kinda sorta admit they got hosed now, but only with the addendum the guy they shipped away wasn’t ‘good in the room’ or something. That Dennis Wideman, though. GREAT GUY IN THE ROOM AND WORKS HARD N’ STUFF, I’m sure.
The sad thing is, in spite of how awful this team is on paper, and that all roads seem to lead to the Flames being the consensus choice to tank for the No. 1 draft pick, you just know in the back of your head they will somehow fuck that up, too. They’ll be basically eliminated from the postseason by Christmas, but you just know at some point in March, Cammalleri will start scoring lots of goals, one of Ramo and MacDonald will get hot, and they have an easy enough schedule to start stringing together some wins. In the end, they’ll do just enough to finish something like fourth or fifth-last. Of course, if you’ve looked at the Flames draft choices lately, you know they’ll probably just blow the pick on some no-name three rounds early because GRIT, so maybe it’s better they don’t get first overall. It’s like taking away scissors from the kid who sniffs paste; it’s just the right thing to do.
At this rate, the Flames should probably just be thankful there isn’t relegation, because I’d say there’s probably two or three AHL rosters that could beat them. Hell, if they played their WHL arena co-tenants, I’d take the Hitmen in that game 11 times out of 10. As a Leafs fan, I would feel their pain having been through a lot of this myself, but after seeing Calgary spend years thumbing their noses at us, it’s just hilarious to see them hit rock bottom in an eerily similar way. If you like schaudenfraude, you’ll love the 2013-14 Calgary Flames!
It also looks like the face of a pitching wedge, which is equally fitting.
WHY YOUR TEAM SUCKS: Next year is always a year away, guys. Every team’s fans have a different way of dealing with perpetual failure. Habs fans burn their city down, Leafs fans drink themselves into a stupor and yell at each other, Canucks fans pretend their team doesn’t exist, Jets fans give themselves five more years of Ondrej Pavelec. Oilers fans, however, are a different breed. Never has a team so awful have fans act so blindly optimistic for a distant future we’re not entirely sure exists. We’re talking about a team that lived its last glory day in 1990. Good in the 1980s, pretty terrible since; the Oilers are basically the Kansas City Royals of hockey, and yet people actually get hopeful about them.
ALL THOSE NO. 1 PICKS YOU GUYS! Well yes, it takes a special kind of suck to be bad enough to be given a first overall pick three years in a row. I don’t really know how that’s a good thing; it’s pretty much like being given a two-minute head start for a 100m dash. To be fair, they have some pretty good players in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In fact, those are the only players on the Oilers roster remotely decent at puck possession on what was the worst possession team last year, but they also all play on the same line. They do have Nail Yakupov, who can reasonably be expected to take a sophomore slump, especially since you can’t really expect a 19-year old kid to shoot 21% again. The Oilers are going to be a one-line team, which is totally great because it’s not like any half-decent team doesn’t have the tools necessary to shut down one line.
NEW COACH YOU GUYS! Yeah, Dallas Eakins has a pretty spectacular track record in the AHL. But getting optimistic about a guy before he’s even coached an NHL game? AHL success doesn’t instantly equal NHL success. For every Bruce Boudreau or Dan Bylsma out there, there’s a Guy Boucher, Glen Gulutzan, or Davis Payne. Of course, you can’t blame Oilers fans for being excited about a new coach since it’s become a yearly tradition in Edmonton. This is their fifth head coach in six years, and precisely none of the predecessors have gone on to a head coaching job in the NHL afterwards. Holy shit, the Oilers go through coaches like a teenage boy with unrestricted internet access goes through tube socks. If anyone’s gonna fuck up what seems like good coaching, you know it’ll be Edmonton. On the bright side, Eakins has a penchant for fitness, which makes it good news that Theo Peckham is gone. I’d have expected him to slap a ‘FAT’ sticker on Peckham’s ass in training camp after he couldn’t even do a push-up.
MOAR D YOU GUYS! Fans seem pumped on Andrew Ference providing some of that VETERAN LEADERSHIP because apparently intangibles are a solid substitute for never watching him play. He could easily slot in as first pair D on the Oilers, which is hilarious because most Bruins fans would tell you he doesn’t even belong on the second pair. They have four more years of Ladislav Smid, and…wait, Denis Grebeshkov is back? When the hell did that happen? Oilers fans can be reasonably assured all of their D is better than Ryan Whitney, but that really isn’t much of an accomplishment at all. They’re lucky Devan Dubnyk is a pretty good goalie, but no one will ever notice since he’s effectively standing behind a group of subway turnstiles in net.
MOAR DEPTH! What? Acquiring David Perron for another 40-something points? He’d be a decent second-liner, but hasn’t even played more than 57 games a season in the last three years. He is quite possibly Quebec’s answer to Tim Connolly. Signing Boyd Gordon for $3M? Are the Oilers that desperate for a fourth-line centre who can actually hold on to the fucking puck? The guy’s career season is 29 points and that was six years ago. Ryan Smyth is old as balls; Mike Brown is another Ben Eager minus the part about being a terrible human being; Ryan Jones wouldn’t crack another NHL roster, but Oilers fans love him because he works hard and tweets funny stuff or something.
NEW ARENA! Yeah, enjoy dropping half your paycheques into a hole to pay for that for the next two decades, Edmonton! Your owner played you like a fiddle by bluffing to move the team, and your city council totally fell for it. I understand the need for a downtown arena, since the neighbourhood Rexall Place is in is only really a nice location if you want to get stabbed or buy meth. But it’s hilarious that a billionaire drugstore owner is making everyone pay for it, and acted like a petulant child threatening to take his ball and leave if he didn’t get his way.
Edmonton gets an ‘A’ for unbridled optimism, but an ‘F’ for on-ice effort. This fanbase effectively keeps itself alive by a combination of reminding itself of nostalgia for its past relevance and a future that might not happen. There are currently Edmontonians graduating from university that weren’t even born the last time the Oilers won a Cup, but that won’t stop them from lording their five rings over your head. Meanwhile, every year there is some reason we should expect a breakout year; guess you need something to believe in when you’re stuck with six months of winter and a shitty hockey team.
LOS ANGELES KINGS:
Long live the Burger King!
WHY THEY SUCK: It isn’t 2012 anymore. Congratulations again to the Los Angeles Kings for their one moment of shining success in 46 years of existence, and inspiring people in LA to once again care about hockey for the first time since the early 90s. I mean, sure, most of the city’s reaction a day after winning the Cup was like “Oh, that’s cool I guess. Who’d the Lakers get this year?,” but it was inspiring well it lasted. Yes indeed, America’s second-biggest city and most traffic-congested butthole and its vapid, soulless residents could truly rally behind such stars as Brad Doty and their beloved purple-and-black, which is why the Maloofs shouldn’t relocate them to Seattle. It was the best thing to happen to the Kings since Kerry Fraser contracted temporary blindness in a 1993 postseason game, at which point Gretzky getting away with murder enabled God Mode in a way that would make OJ Simpson jealous. That, however, didn’t end as well, since they lost the Cup in 5, losing 4 games as straight as Marty McSorley’s stick wasn’t.
The 2013 season was a more forgettable relative of 2012- the Brent Gretzky of LA Kings history, if you will. They stumbled out of the gate during their Stanley Cup hangover, which is usually metaphorical unless your team has Jeff Carter and Mike Richards on it. They ultimately made the playoffs, but it was a pretty underwhelming run. They nearly lost to St. Louis in the first round before beating them in a Barret Jackman staring contest. Sure, they beat San Jose in the second round, but: (a) it took seven games, and; (b) literally anyone can beat the San Jose Sharks in May. That’s like bragging about hooking up with the drunkest girl at a party, which Drew Doughty might actually do, I’m not sure. Once they faced a real team in the Chicago Blackhawks, they were quickly embarrassed and sent packing.
Sure, you can expect the Kings to be good again, but look at their division. They’ve been gifted two Alberta teams and a declining Canucks squad to beat up on. The Ducks are going to regress from a lucky year, the Sharks are just getting older and collecting cobwebs, and the Coyotes are just kinda there. That alone can just get them through the first two rounds of the playoffs again. Once they face Chicago again, or any number of beasts in the East, they’re effectively done for.
For one thing, fuck Jonathan Quick. Is there a more overrated goaltender in the NHL right now? He was able to ride the laurels of being immortal in 2012 that everyone quickly seemed to forget he put up a .902 in 2013. Seriously, a .902. For starting goalie SV%, he was nestled comfortably between Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Bryzgalov. Seriously, Ondrej fucking Pavelec had a better year. Sure, he put up better than .930 in the postseason, but so did five other goalies. But, everyone is still going to peg him as the consensus starter for the US team and perennial Vezina goaltender for life regardless of how good or shitty he does. He can ride that one remarkable playoffs to never having to play well again. He’s the ’85 Chicago Bears of goaltenders.
Not much has changed with the Kings roster. Dustin Penner has been replaced by Matt Frattin for a fraction of the cost because the Leafs GM is an idiot. And Ben Scrivens will go from wearing a ballcap and riding the pine behind a pretty underappreciated goalie to doing so for the exact opposite. That’s really about it. They lost Rob Scuderi, but can probably replace him with Willie Mitchell provided he doesn’t sneeze and break every bone in his body since there is probably no one else in the NHL being held together by more duct tape. This will probably yield a predictable result in Tinseltown: no Cup, no one cares.
Mike Smith, in his usual form.
WHY THEY SUCK: I can’t decide if they’re worse on or off the ice. A lot of teams can be great on the ice but poorly managed; the Devils won three Stanley Cups despite being broke as fuck most of the time. Other teams can be huge draws, but offer an absolutely terrible on-ice product; look no further than the Leafs. The sad thing about the Phoenix Coyotes is they really offer neither. They’re a generally terrible team that play in a market where they bleed money and nobody wants to watch them. They basically have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
The Coyotes are a curious case. They do big boy things like extend Oliver Ekman-Larsson until well after the franchise inevitably relocates for $5.5M per, or sign UFA Mike Ribeiro (!!) for the same price. Yet, they needed to be owned by the NHL for four years because literally nobody wanted to buy them. They are a sinkhole of money that never does better than third-last in overall attendance, and averaging 14,000 fans a game is a good year. Meanwhile, the City of Glendale actually keeps paying for this shit because apparently having a hockey team around that nobody watches is more important than properly funding things like a police force or road maintenance. The lone redeeming quality is that tickets, a beer, and a hotdog cost roughly about as much as a house in Detroit. The Coyotes are the ugly redheaded stepchild of the NHL, and only exist because Glendale elected people who could somehow fuck up at Sim City without trying.
On the ice, they’re even more of a nightmare. In seventeen years in Arizona, they’ve managed to make the playoffs less than half of that. They’ve had just four playoff appearances in the last thirteen seasons. They’ve only won a playoff series twice in their existence, both in 2012. That, by the way, was only because Mike Smith played unsustainably well for an entire year. Notice that, with an almost identical roster, the team bellyflopped when Smith was merely average. When your team being good is entirely contingent on Mike Smith of all people being a .930 or better, that basically means you have no hope whatsoever.
Since the Coyotes can afford to only pay so much salary, and hilariously blew money on Ribeiro, they’re a pretty top heavy team. The rest of their roster is essentially made up of bit parts their former teams didn’t really want anymore: Antoine Vermette, Radim Vrbata, David Moss, Kyle Chipchura, Brandon Yip, Rusty Klesla, Derek Morris. The Coyotes are basically a Value Village for third-liner retreads.
The good news is that Phoenix won’t be totally hopeless this year. Moving into a division with three Canadian teams means more revenue when all their fans show up for games, as opposed to the usual crowd of 7,000 just there for $2 beer and free A/C. Moreover, the very existence of the Flames and Oilers means Phoenix has a fighting chance at putting together a respectable record. That said, they’re still in for a forgettable season of no real success, wasting away another year. You know those loveless marriages where the person really doesn’t even like their spouse, but is afraid of what might go wrong if they were to leave? That’s basically the Coyotes’ existence in Glendale. They’re fucked.
SAN JOSE SHARKS:
I think this is a Raffi Torres headshot we can all get behind.
WHY THEY SUCK: Different year, same shit. The San Jose Sharks really are the Groundhog Day of the NHL. Every year, they put together a respectable regular season, maybe win a playoff series or two, usually against pretty underwhelming teams, then get walloped before even having the chance to really compete for the Cup. They have two Conference Final appearances to their name, of which they sport a solid 1-8 record. Fans of Western contenders should probably root for the Sharks to make the Conference Final, since it would ensure their team a bye to the Cup Final should they get there.
This year will be the end of an era for the Sharks. Their old-as-balls core of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dan Boyle are all up for UFA in 2014. Now that Detroit has packed their tinfoil hats and moved east, they are the oldest team in the West, and it’s likely two or more of those guys won’t be back next season. No worry, though! They have some promising younger guys….like Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns, who by next season will be 30 and 29, respectively. Sure, that’s not ‘tying an onion to your belt’ old like the Sharks have now, but the Sharks do have two guys likely past their peaks signed to pretty long-term deals. That’s like being a chubby guy pointing to the morbidly obese man on a scooter at Walmart , and saying “SEE? I’M NOT FAT!” They do have a solid future franchise player in Logan Couture, a decent young blueliner in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and…..uh, well, I’m not quite sure what else.
The worst part is the one thing the Sharks had going for them was at least being likeable, and now they’re trying to piss that away, too! This is the plucky underdog team that won all our hearts by making Canuck fans cry last spring, and pissed off Red Wings fans twice before that; what’s not to love? Well, a lot when you sign players who are pieces of shit. It was bad enough when they signed Adam Burish in 2012. It got even worse when they picked up noted shitbag Raffi Torres at the deadline. Their biggest offseason acquisition is Tyler Kennedy, who may actually be ManBearPig. Also, I’m pretty sure Kennedy has just been a ghost since Luke Schenn ended him in 2009. Deep down, when you root for the Sharks to do anything good, you know you’ll be rooting for those guys and….it just feels so, so wrong. They may as well just bring back Dany Heatley and Ben Eager while they’re at it.
Don’t get me wrong, the Sharks will have a decent year. Their division got a lot easier, and the Ducks will crash to earth. They’re basically fighting with LA for the division title. Also, having a bunch of old guys in a contract year means one of them is bound to have a crazy good season that will hilariously fetch them too much money and term in free agency. In the end, you know the result will be the same; being a good, but not great team, that will eventually get its ass beat up in the postseason.
The linesman was not all that appreciative of Kesler’s Shakespeare performance.
WHY YOUR TEAM SUCKS: Same whiny losers, just one year older. You may say the Canucks’ window is still open, but there’s two glaring inaccuracies there. First, I wouldn’t call it a window, because windows can be pretty big. I’d like to think of it more like a mail slot, since nothing substantive could possibly fit through it. Second, and more importantly, the Canucks’ mail slot was only really open in 2011, and was shut promptly by Tim Thomas before he rode off into the night in a minuteman uniform among the post-apocalyptic wreckage of what used to be downtown Vancouver. Basically, it was kinda like Mad Max, but really douchey and not at all cool. Sparknotes version: the Canucks had one shot at glory, blew it hysterically, and have since been relegated to playoff also-ran status, which will surely be their ceiling this season.
The Canucks are basically the Red Wings of a few years ago, minus being able to win anything. They thrived by beating up on a completely incompetent division which was adequately hiding just how old as balls they are. Their prize ponies, the Sedin twins, are 32 this season and their regular season offense is in the beginning stages of falling off a cliff. I’d calculate the same for the postseason, but dividing by 0 is impossible. Their starting goalie is 34 and really doesn’t want to be here after fans and management tried to run him out of town until realizing no one would take his contract. Their youngest core player is 27. They actually have nobody even remotely promising under the age of 25, which should probably bode well for the future.
Even worse for them, Vancouver no longer gets to beat up on an easy division. Realignment shipped out Minnesota and Colorado for three California teams that are all probably better than the Canucks. Los Angeles and San Jose have feasted on the corpse of the post-2011 Canucks like buzzards, while Anaheim played the Canucks pretty hard last season, too. The rest of the division isn’t much of a joke, either; Edmonton, while still shitty, is young and trending upward. Phoenix could play stiflingly boring hockey en route to another playoff appearance, as it did 2009-2011. The Canucks days as a contender are over; they’ll likely either finish fourth and 4-and-out to a California team, or get the 5th place crossover and do the same to the Blackhawks.
Of course, most teams’ fanbases would accept this with a modicum of personal responsibility. But no, not the Canucks! Canucks fans are like that obese guy who sues McDonald’s for making him fat because all he does is sit around and eat Big Macs. Everything is someone else’s fault. Lose 4-0 to the Sharks? Well, the refs wanted the Sharks to win! They, of course, have little evidence to back this up aside from the Sharks getting more powerplays in a small four-game sample. But that isn’t really surprising since the culture of whining about officiating is totally engrained in Canucks culture. 2011 saw their GM, coach, and PR team all simultaneously whine about reffing despite the fact they dove their way through three rounds. If you don’t think Canucks fans are perpetual whiners, ask yourself this: what other team has ERECTED A STATUE of a coach bitching about reffing?! Exactly.
The irony in all this is that the 2011 Canucks were pretty similar to the current Washington Capitals: take a dive, get a call, score on the PP. Pretty much their entire gameplan was to set it up to have the Sedins score on the fucking powerplay because god forbid they have to enter the defensive zone ever. Once their reputation was solidified by embarrassing themselves with incessant diving, the calls dried up. And so did their ability to ever score goals. But hey, that totally must be the fault of the refs, YOU GUYZ!
Under normal circumstances, the Canucks would be totally pointless and boring to watch this year in this division. The Kings are better, the Sharks the more loveable playoff losers, the Oilers more young and exciting, the Flames more hilariously awful. They would be, that is, were it not for their coach. That’s right, guys; John Tortorella is here to right the ship! The defensive-mindingest, shot-blockingest, net-collapsingest coach is here to save a team that has trouble scoring goals, because that worked so well in New York. Honestly, Vancouver and New York switched coaches despite having the exact same problems! It’s like an episode of Wife Swap where the two husbands married identical twins. Torts’ main difference is he wants to encourage the Sedins to block shots and kill penalties, which should go about as well as you would expect it to. By December, we’ll see Daniel on the fourth line, while Henrik gets press box duty. That said, he’ll be comedic relief resulting in endless tinfoil hat and feigned outrage columns from the Vancouver media. I mean, not that they wouldn’t happen anyways, they’ll just be funnier.
The Vancouver Canucks are older, worse, but still whinier, and with an even more hilarious coach who won’t actually fix anything. Hold on to your towels, guys; dis gon’ get goooooood.