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.
I could honestly make a ‘Why Your Division Sucks’ piece for this division, because the NHL made it so goddamn easy. Metropolitan Division? METROPOLITAN?! Come on. Are we honestly to believe the only THRIVING CITIES are in one division, and include the wonderful venues of Newark, Raleigh, and Columbus? Those are three places that I am definitely aware have airports and probably a Chili’s or two, but I wouldn’t quite call them real life grown up cities. Nobody wants to go to Newark, not even people from Newark. Just be honest with yourselves and call it ‘Gets Handjibbers from NBC’ Division while you’re at it. Also, it reminds me of the ‘Metropolis Zone’ from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 which was the MOST ANNOYING FUCKING LEVEL ever, although the music was pretty good for early 90s video game standards.
In a throwback to the divisional structure of the pre-Bettman era, why not name the division after one of the great legends of the game? Jagr Division is an homage to the Devils’ newest acquisition, who will now be playing for his record fifth team in this division. Okay, so technically, he’s tied with Arron Asham, but who the fuck would ever name anything after Arron Asham? We’re all in agreement, then: JAGR DIVISION IT IS!
Now, here’s why your Jagr Division team sucks:
This would be the new Canadian jersey if Canadians had poor taste in national emblems.
WHY THEY SUCK: Carolina Hurricanes: Irrelevant Since 2006. Last season, it almost seemed like the Hurricanes were poised to make a breakthrough. By mid-March, with the season half done, the Hurricanes looked poised to win the Southeast Division, an achievement which is roughly as illustrious as sleeping with Amanda Bynes or eating an entire wheel of cheese in one sitting. It’s not so much something that people will be impressed with as they look at you with a cocked eyebrow and say, “Uhh….that’s…..nice?”Anyways, with the postseason in sight for the first time in four seasons, they fell short but gave it a lot of heart, dedication, and……ehhhhh, I’m just fucking with you. They brutally collapsed and finished the season 4-16-3.
People blame an injury to Cam Ward for the fact the Hurricanes went completely down the shitter last season. These people are idiots. Cam Ward put up a .908, which hardly screams Vezina-level performance. Hell, Dan Ellis- one of his replacements- wasn’t much worse at .906. The caliber of goaltending hardly changed before or after Ward. The fact of the matter is the Hurricanes were just a not very good team that benefitted from a weak division, then ultimately collapsed.
If you think it gets better this year, you haven’t been paying attention. The Canes are easily the eighth-best team in this division. They no longer have the likes of Tampa Bay, Florida, and Winnipeg to beat up on anymore, though their 4-8-1 record against those teams last season indicates they couldn’t even do that right. Now, they have to play 4-5 games a season against the likes of the Penguins and Rangers, as well as bad teams in the Flyers and Devils that are still probably better than them. They also get stuck still playing in the same division as the Capitals, the only Southeast team worth a damn. Carolina couldn’t win a kiddie jog with a head start; not a chance they can win a marathon this year.
It really doesn’t help their offseason was pretty disastrous. With the core of their offense effectively settled in the Staal brothers, Alex Semin, Jeff Skinner, and Jiri Tlusty (who should totally be able to shoot 20% again this season), you’d think they would make a splash on D. Well, they did, if you count signing Andrej Sekera and Mike Komisarek as a ‘splash.’ Also, they signed Nathan Gerbe for depth. When your marquee moves in free agency are to sign two guys Buffalo didn’t want anymore and Mike Komisarek, you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The worst part about the Hurricanes is they’re as shitty as their predecessor team, minus any trace of redeeming qualities. The Hartford Whalers were at least a likeable team. They played in a mall, had Brass Bonanza and cool green jerseys. They were the little guy trapped between the Boston and New York behemoths that you couldn’t help but pull for, regardless of how bad they were. Carolina doesn’t even have that going for them. Their fanbase is largely made up of fat redneck tailgaters looking for something to do with their time between ACC basketball games and NASCAR races. Their logo either looks like a failed energy drink logo or a clam eating a tampon. Their city, while big, is somewhere most people drive on the way to somewhere better. And, yes, the Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006, by which I mean they sat back, watched Buffalo and Edmonton lose the Hunger Games, and just happened to be in the right place in the right time. Their one playoff appearance in the last seven years in the weakest division in NHL history is really pretty impressive, though. You know that mom-and-pop store that got bulldozed for a big box retail giant, except its really mediocre, hires shitty staff at minimum wage, has things missing off the shelves, and sells shit that breaks too easily? The Carolina Hurricanes are that store. They’re the worst kind of suck.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS:
This is the most Ohio thing that’s ever Ohio-ed.
WHY THEY SUCK: It’s all on BOBROVSKY! If there’s one thing that’s a permanent fixture in the Columbus Blue Jackets identity, it’s having one player stand out among a collective pile of shit. Prior to his trade, that was Rick Nash. Last season, more conveniently, it was Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky put up a .932, won 21 games (perhaps singlehandedly for Columbus), and was only the best goalie the Jackets have had in franchise history. That’s the good news.
The bad news, however, is that you just know there’s no way that BOBROVSKY is pulling it off again. Look at that SV% again: .932. That’s not even just excellent, that’s stratospheric! The best starting goaltender in 2011-12 was a .930, and that was Henrik Lundqvist, who isn’t exactly a comparable standard in either goaltending or handsomeness. Lundqvist was tied with Mike Smith, who should be able to tell you just how sustainable that kind of performance is on a year-to-year basis. Columbus being in a division with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Tavares, and Giroux- none of whom they faced last season- definitely can’t help either. The other problem is even with Bob putting up those numbers, Columbus still finished ninth. They got the best goaltending they could’ve possibly asked for and still missed the playoffs. Honestly, how bad does a team have to be for that to happen? That’s like getting liposuction but still somehow being fat afterwards.
Things are at least looking up offensively! Er…maybe. They acquired Marian Gaborik who should likely EXPLODE because it’s a contract year, though they may lack the resources to keep him around after this year. They’ve signed Nathan Horton until 2020, which is great, because it’s not like he has a pretty bad history missing big chunks of time with concussions or anything. He looked great in Boston alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic, though; I’m sure playing with the likes of R.J. Umberger and Artem Anisimov will totally be a comparable experience. I probably shouldn’t remind you that this team has so much depth at centre and left wing that Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky are probably first-liners here. But hey, they also added pieces in….uh…Blake Comeau, and….ummm…..uh….Jack Skille. So there’s that?
As for the D, well they have six defensemen under contract, and I’m honestly being generous when I use the term ‘defensemen.’ Jack Johnson is stuck here until 2018, which is great because I could have just written that phrase over and over and called it a day with this section. They have Tim Erixon and Dalton Prout, neither of whom I’m actually sure you’ve ever heard of. James Wisniewski is still being paid way too much money to take on way too much responsibility as a 1D because Columbus really doesn’t have anyone else. You ever go to a McDonald’s and the manager looks stressed and hurried because he wasn’t really management material but three people above him quit so the franchise had no choice? That’s James Wisniewski’s existence.
The Blue Jackets took a great leap forward to relevance, but it was largely thanks to Bobrovsky. It’ll be a long one next season when the division lights him up as his SV% drops, while getting no help from D and paying wheelbarrows of money for Horton to sit in a quiet room. Some teams have windows to win a Cup; Columbus has windows to make the playoffs. Their first was in 2009, which they capitalized on by making it and not winning a game. Their second window was last year, and they couldn’t even make it. Make no mistake, their next window won’t be open for a while.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS:
Ed Belfour says ‘You’re doing it wrong!’ while polishing off a quart of moonshine.
WHY THEY SUCK: LOLvalchuk. Hey, remember that Russian superstar the Devils had? Ilya Kovalchuk? Yeah, you know that guy Devils ownership put a gun to Lou Lamiorello’s head to sign only to nearly break the salary cap in the process? The guy on their books for fifteen years who hamstrung the Devils cap so badly that guys like Zach Parise and David Clarkson were left with little choice but to leave the team? Well, he decided he’d rather go earn buttloads of money tax-free in Russia, but of course waited until after those two guys who were about 90% of their non-Kovalchuk offense were gone to do it.
How do the Devils look without Kovalchuk? Well, they were shooting less than 7% at even strength even with him in the lineup last season. Without him, their general game plan was to rack up about 45 shots a game- roughly three of which were maybe legitimate scoring chances- and maybe get one goal out of it. The Devils offensive system is basically Jason Blake minus the speed. Even with a shiny new goaltender in Cory Schneider, they’re probably boned if he allows even 2 goals a game. And let’s not even talk about if New Jersey decides to go with Brodeur over him since their beloved Marty is a lot like expired milk: well past his best before date and getting chunkier by the day.
This shouldn’t be surprising given a cursory look at the Devils roster. Their offense consists of Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique (who had a season that’d prorate to 30 points in 2013), and…nobody. Their grand acquisition was to replace Kovalchuk with the aging corpse of Jaromir Jagr. If nothing else, Jagr’s postseason in Boston should fit in well with the Devils’ ‘shoot a lot but don’t actually score goals’ system. Meanwhile, they comically gave almost $5 million to Ryane Clowe, who took almost three months last year to even score a goal. Michael Ryder is respectable depth; the problem is on this Devils team, he’s hardly depth. New Jersey is a pit of nothingness that apparently can only get Newfies and old people to work there. They’re the fucking Fort McMurray of the NHL.
That’s also only their top six; their depth players are…well, let’s just be honest. They have no depth players. Rostislav Olesz is being paid $1 million, and is so terrible, the Hawks didn’t even want anything to do with him after losing half their bottom six in June. Steve Bernier’s only noteworthy accomplishment since 2007 was taking a comically stupid penalty that handed the Stanley Cup to the LA Kings. Stephen Gionta is totally the Sean Pronger of his family. Krystofer Barch is a useless goon who is more productive drunkenly ranting on Twitter than he is doing anything hockey-related.
The one hilarious thing that will come out of all this is that Lou Lamiorello will look less like the BRILLIANT HOCKEY MIND the world makes him out to be and more like a crazy old man. He fancies himself to be hockey’s George Steinbrenner, except for the part where his team is broke as fuck. He creates dumb rules against things like facial hair, third jerseys, and jersey numbers over 40 because OLD TIME TRADITIONAL HOCKEY is important to a franchise that’s had three different homes and didn’t exist in its current incarnation until 1982. Sure, he’s won three Cups thanks to Martin Brodeur and the most painstakingly boring style of hockey ever. Brodeur’s old, the trap is gone, and what has he done lately? That Kovalchuk contract sure turned out well, and just about everything he’s done since has been an unmitigated disaster. Sure, he fleeced Vancouver for Schneider, but Mike Gillis is a whiny, drooly baby who couldn’t deal with his goaltending problem, so that really isn’t much of an achievement. There may not be any executive who has flew under the radar by resting on the laurels of the past for an entire decade the way Lou has; he’s made an art of looking good amidst the bunch of shit he shoveled onto this roster.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS:
Um, Tavares? Shouldn’t you be taking warmups.
WHY THEY SUCK: Yawn. I’ll say one thing Islanders fans will agree with me about: John Tavares was robbed. He deserved the Hart Trophy last season. Unlike Crosby or Ovechkin, Tavares has absolutely nothing to work with on his roster. The Islanders actually made one of their 2-3 playoff appearances a decade last season basically because John Tavares willed them to. You may disagree, but who else is there? Matt Moulson? Do you think it’s a coincidence Matt Moulson went from an AHLer with 29 career NHL games to a consistent 30-goal scorer once he was stapled to Tavares’ side? It should be pretty hilarious when Moulson gets a massive payday in 2014 from a team that can afford to pay him only to realize, uhhhh wait, this guy isn’t really that great at all. Hell, Brad Boyes got 12 more points last year than in a full 2011-12 season and had almost as many assists as Tavares did goals. Hmm, interesting. I mean Tavares’ line was only responsible for 40% of the Islanders goals last season, but go ahead and tell me how deep they are.
What else is there on this team? This team is paying Cal Clutterbuck $2.75M a season despite barely being able to pay their own bills. It’s also worth noting their eighth-highest paid forward is Alexei Yashin, who hasn’t actually played for the team since 2007 but is on their payroll until 2015. Their D is hilariously top-heavy; I’m not sure many opposing offenses are really going to fear the wrath of Brian Strait and Matt ‘Colton Orr’s punching bag’ Carkner. Any success the Islanders have is also completely in spite of their goaltender. Their starting goalie is a disgruntled 38-year old who put up a fairly average 2013 season, only to be the worse goalie in a playoff series involving Marc-Andre Fleury. Seriously, it’s a bit pathetic when the opposition is nice enough to play Fleury against you for four games, and the best you can manage is a 2-2 draw.
It also bears mentioning the best Tavares can do by himself is get this team into 8th. Because the best anyone can do is get this team into 8th. Seriously; in the last twenty years, they’ve finished higher than 8th once, all while not winning a single playoff series. They’ve only even won four playoff games in the last ten years. Making the playoffs and losing in six games that weren’t all *that* close will honestly be a high point for the franchise’s recent history. That said, most of their fanbase is also made up of sad-sack Mets and Jets fans, so the Islanders are still colloquially known in JIM circles as ‘the team that actually has hope.’
Of course, their financial problems should all be over once they move to Brooklyn two years from now, right? Yeah, moving to an area with a bunch of hipsters and inner-city folks, both of whom are totally known for their appreciation of hockey. And while they’re busy playing the role of the Brooklyn Nets’ less popular little brother, it’s worth noting almost half the arena won’t even have adequate seating while the scoreboard will be positioned way off-centre. And you thought getting people to support the New York metro area’s third favourite team in their fourth favourite sport was gonna be tricky in a rich, white suburb!
The Islanders are basically the forgotten child of New York. They lack the mass appeal and popularity of the Rangers, but also the recent success of the Devils. They’re a throwback to an era in which you could host 10,000 fans in a shinny rink and still make bank, and similarly have not been relevant since the days of the Reagan administration. Their shitty lot in life makes their fans some of the most thin-skinned, insecure people in the world because cheering for depressingly shitty teams is a powerful thing when mixed with New York attitude. EVERYTHING is a conspiracy. The problem with the tinfoil hat attitude of Islanders fans is that it presupposes one simple thing: that anyone actually bothers to think about their team at all. I’m pretty sure by June, everyone had totally forgotten the Islanders even made the playoffs last season.
On ice, they’re a one-man show. Off ice, they’re a disaster. They’re that forty-something guy who peaked in high school but now smokes pot in his mom’s basement thinking about how great things were back in the day and how everything is rigged against them, maaaaan. They’re also broke as fuck and have to rely on their much more successful brothers to subsidize their life. They get laid once every few years, but it’s short and unfulfilling. In a couple years, they’ll even move out and go find a roach-infested closet of an apartment with a creepy Russian roommate to call their own! What else could you say about a team that can’t even afford to make the cap floor and has two ex-owners (including one con artist) that are currently rotting in prison? Not much at all.
NEW YORK RANGERS:
Fuck this shit; I want a trade to Columbus, too.
WHY THEY SUCK: They can’t score worth a shit. Ever since the lockout, the Rangers identity has had three basic components: (a) barely being able to score goals; (b) overpaying for marquee free agents; (c) a franchise goaltender that is good enough to temporarily make you forget about A or B until stuff matters. Last season was the biggest exposure of such weakness, as new acquisition Rick Nash was literally the only non-Lundqvist player on the team that didn’t totally suck. Hell, I know Nash was used to carrying an entire offense on his back in his Columbus days, but I figured he wanted a trade to get away from that. Of course, Glen Sather responded to this by trading away a guy in Marian Gaborik who can score goals for reasons that are quite unclear. He then went on to chew on an unlit cigar and throw more money at Brad Richards.
Of course, their greatest offseason fix to this problem was to fire coach John Tortorella. No, the Rangers could not score because the room had tuned him out! Surely the Rangers will score more under new coach Alain Vigneault, a man with a proven track record of getting the most out of his offense as evidenced by the 1.5 goals/game his Canucks scored in the postseason since the 2011 Cup Final. At least AV will be nice to the media, by which I mean he’ll communicate in 2+ syllables and only fantasize about decapitating Larry Brooks with a chainsaw in private, like the rest of us upstanding citizens.
What else did the Rangers do to improve scoring this past year? Well, they’re still paying Richards north of $6 million to put up 60 points a season until 2020, so there’s that. They also signed such prominent offensive juggernauts as Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore. That line of Carl Hagelin-Derrick Brassard-Derek Dorsett rounding out their top six sure looks intimidating!
The fact is that the Rangers will still be a half-decent team in the regular season because: (a) Vigneault is infamous for blowing his team’s scant offensive load in 82 games or less, and; (b) their competition in the division save for Pittsburgh is hilariously bad. The fact they have four terrible teams in their division means, and its unlikely anyone would beat them out for second place. So they’re a playoff lock. But once they get there, they can expect a usual weak-willed offensive effort with Lundqvist stealing them a few games en route to an utterly forgettable first or second-round exit.
The worst part of all about the Rangers is, despite NBC shoving them down our throats because it’s the No. 1 team in the No. 1 US market, they’re horrendously boring to watch. Their identity largely consists of mediocre offensive production, collapsing in the defensive zone, and letting their all-star goalie do 99% of the work. I’ve seen more enthralling things from paint drying. They’re so boring, they actually made me root for the Bruins in the second round just because I didn’t want to watch any more Rangers hockey. At least the other big market US teams have high-flying offense, great franchise players, an interesting identity, comically bad goaltending, or any combo of the above. The Rangers are neither good nor bad enough to be remotely interesting in spite of their exposure. They’re the equivalent of someone trying to sell you vanilla ice cream in Baskin Robbins.
The funniest part? The Rangers are going to be in a world of cap hurt come 2014. Just six of their players are under contract beyond this season; they have 12 UFAs, including Henrik Lundqvist. And since he’s gonna get paaaaaaid, it is easy to see quite a good chunk of their team leaving. The question is then what will they replace it with. Knowing Sather, he’ll hilariously overpay for some unworthy UFA until 2025, and the Rangers will continue the cycle of ineptitude being so bailed out by Lundqvist, you’d think they were Bear Sterns.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltending, 1985-present
WHY THEY SUCK: Paul Holmgren is still a thing. It takes a special kind of GM to trade away your two franchise players to have cap room to sign a goaltender to a long-term deal, trade away your other goalie for peanuts, then watch that goalie win a Vezina with his new team while that same team trades you their broken goalie they could finally replace with said goalie you gave them. Finally, you buy out your starter, pay him until 2027 to stay as far away from the team as possible, and hand the starting reins to said broken goalie. Remember that scene in South Park where Scott Tenorman agrees to give Cartman his money back after being swindled for pubes, but then Cartman just ends up with the pubes again after complex negotiations? That scene ultimately sums up EVERY DAY OF PAUL HOLMGREN’S LIFE.
You’d think the first warning sign of a GM would be that he’s the only person in the entire NHL to have ever given Pierre McGuire a head coaching job. That’s just awful. That’s like being the only restaurant in town to give customers E. Coli. NOBODY WOULD HIRE THAT CHEF. Fortunately, when your owner is a decrepit old man who is a stakeholder in Comcast, he may just be that stupid.
You would think when your D has been falling apart since the retirement of Chris Pronger, you’d go ahead and do something about that. Instead, Holmgren actually seems to believe the perfect complement to the rapidly aging Kimmo Timonen is the…..also rapidly aging Mark Streit! Streit is being paid $5.25M until he’s 40 to do…..I’m not sure what exactly. They also seem to be under the impression that their future Chris Pronger is in Luke Schenn. When you are billing Luke Schenn as the next ANYTHING, you’re in trouble; just ask the 2009 Leafs.
Of course, Holmgren thought there were bigger priorities out there. Priorities like signing Vincent Lecavalier to be their third-highest paid player for the next five years to basically be a glorified second liner. Then they decided to find a backup goalie in Ray Emery, who will totally be just as good behind their old and mediocre D as he was behind Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The Flyers were top 10 in scoring last season, but allowed the 8th most goals in the NHL. Clearly overpaying for 20 goals and getting a backup goalie are gonna be what turns the corner for the Flyers!
The sad thing is after a disastrous season, there was speculation of the Flyers axing coach Peter Laviolette, which would be comically bad if it happened. All Laviolette has done in his lifetime is make the Islanders briefly relevant and get the Hurricanes the only Stanley Cup they’ll ever win. He can’t help the fact his GM is giving him a roster with Steve Mason, Luke Schenn, and Bruno Gervais among others and expecting pucks to stay out of the net. He’s a coach, not a miracle worker. That said, Philadelphia sports fans need a coach to antagonize now that Andy Reid is gone, so it wouldn’t shock me if they end up booing him louder than Santa Claus or anti-cancer PSAs.
Even more hilarious is with all this money being spent on absolutely nothing relevant, the Flyers find themselves $2M over the cap, which means something will have to give before training camp starts. I’m sure we can all trust Homer to do the right thing, if by ‘right thing,’ you mean ‘hilariously bad move that will give every other fan carte blanche to laugh at the Flyers for years.’ I’d honestly put more trust in Randy Carlyle to design helmets. As Alfred said in The Dark Knight, “some men just want to watch the world burn.” Those men work in Flyers management.
Your 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins playoff review!
WHY THEY SUCK: They’re consistently good, but never good enough. Last year was the year we really thought the Pittsburgh Penguins would build a Cup dynasty for the ages. At the deadline, the Pens picked up Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, and Douglas Murray, and were really supposed to make a run for it. This, of course, seemed to disregard the fact that Morrow is well past his best days, Murray has been hot garbage since about 2009, and Iginla hadn’t been in the playoffs since the NHL postseason was apparently prohibited by the Alberta government in 2010.
Of course, the end result was obvious; after a first round bye where I’m told the New York Islanders were nice enough to help them practice, the Penguins throttled the Ottawa Senators in the second round to make everyone think this was the year. Then, they completely laid an egg against the Boston Bruins. They didn’t just lose the series, they lost every game. They didn’t just lose every game; they scored as many goals on the Bruins in four games as Cody Franson did in one. I guess that’s the longhand way of saying it didn’t go so well.
Of course, this is the same result of the hype machine drummed out by TSN and NBC every season since their 2009 Cup win. Some MONUMENTAL CHANGE is coming and the Pens are going ALL THE WAY FOR REAL THIS TIME! In 2011, James Neal and Matt Niskanen where the final pieces of the puzzle…..and then they lost in the first round to Tampa Bay and noted supervillain Guy Boucher, who had a coaching system that was publicly humiliated by the Philadelphia Flyers on national TV. This, of course, was a step up from 2012, the year of Healthy Crosby™, where the Pens were themselves publicly humiliated by the Philadelphia Flyers on national TV. It’ll inevitably happen again this year, when the Penguins go 40-15 through the trade deadline, pick up all the significant pieces, and lose in the first round to that hockey-playing chimp from the Disney movies.
You see, championship teams have depth; the Penguins have shit. All of their money is so invariably tied up in their core that their bottom six reads like a list of Delta Theta Tau pledges. Tanner Glass? Dustin Jeffrey? Beau Bennett? These are honest-to-god pieces of what is supposed to be an actual championship team?! You know you’re seriously fucked when your depth looks bad when they got rid of Matt Cooke.
This hasn’t even touched the most serious problem plaguing the Penguins: management’s stubborn insistence that Marc-Andre Fleury is actually worthy of being a franchise goaltender. The Penguins have one more season of a 37-year old Tomas Vokoun, who they’ll likely play about 20 games next year and let walk to free agency. Then, they’ll be stuck with a $5M goalie who can do…..well, not much of anything. The list of ways that Marc-Andre Fleury sucks is endless. I could lob jokes about his poor play at him all day, but they’d be likely to bounce off his pad, go through his five hole and into the back of the net. Long story short: the Pittsburgh Penguins have significant amounts of money tied up in awful, awful goaltending and somehow expect results from it.
This, of course, doesn’t matter, because they have a fanbase that believes it’s capable of winning a championship every year. That would be because most of their fans didn’t care about the Penguins until they lucked their way into two generational talents and thus do not understand this whole adversity thing. All of a sudden, Sidney Crosby made the terrible team that fans in Pittsburgh almost let walk to Kansas City for nothing become the NEXT NEW HOT SPORTS THING. If you know a Pens fan, you should show them Sudden Death, and watch them wonder if their beloved Penguins were based on the team in the movie. Of course, their media has the gall to unironically call them the ‘hockey mecca’ because apparently only paying attention when you have superstars on your team makes you oh so important. Pittsburgh fans are frontrunners that need something to do once the Steelers are out; they’re the Indianapolis Colts fans of hockey, with about the same track record of team success and municipal squalor.
I could go on about other things, such as how Evgeni Malkin has the temper of a five-year old who spilled his ice cream and takes comically dumb penalties for it. Or how they benefit from getting chintzy penalty calls if someone even so much as sneezes near Crosby. Or how their defense is the most hilariously overrated in the league since the 1980s Oilers, because apparently allowing less goals than your opponent when you’re capable of netting 5 goals a game is somehow a brilliant defensive scheme. The bottom line is you’re deluding yourself if you think the Penguins are a championship team. Sure, they’ll have a good season, and everyone will convince themselves this is the YEAR OF REDEMPTION for the Penguins. And they’ll blow it. Again. In a fashion even more cruel and hilarious than the last one.
Still the best GIF of 2013.
WHY THEY SUCK: They can’t hide behind a shitty division anymore. Ah yes, the Washington Capitals. What a story they were last season, right? A slow start looked to be the end of the road for the team, only to come ROARING back to win the Southeast Division crown and their rightful spot as 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. It was quite the storyline; Alex Ovechkin got a shiny Hart Trophy for it and everything!
I mean, sure, 27-18-3 seems impressive and all, until you remember the Capitals were actually 7-13-1 against playoff teams last year. They also played in a division where the second best team finished 9th in the conference. This was, after all, the Southeast Division, where no more than two teams ever made the playoffs in any given season. They basically punched their ticket to the postseason by beating up on the inferior. The Capitals playoff berth was the equivalent of winning a bar fight against an 85-year old man with one arm; there’s really nothing to be happy about. Once they actually got to the postseason, they did their usual disappearing act and blew 2-0 and 3-2 series leads to the Rangers before getting spanked 5-0 in Game 7. THE RANGERS. How awful do you have to be in the postseason to lose a series to the Rangers AND let them score 5 goals on you?!
Now, the Capitals no longer have the weak to prey on. They’re forced to play in a real division that includes some teams that are actually good. Their window- if they ever had one- to make it past the second round has completely shut. It’s now almost guaranteed any such road would have to go through the Penguins and Rangers, who only happen to be responsible for three of their last five playoff demises. Of course, that’s if they make it at all, since their horrendous record against playoff teams should bode well in a division with three teams who made it that far last year versus, y’know, zero.
The Capitals have their 1-2 punch of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom- collectively good in the postseason for 2 goals, 5 points, 1 hilarious GIF (above) and 2 awkwardly bad Geico commercials- but not a whole lot beyond that. The rest of their roster wouldn’t crack the top six on a championship team. They traded their best prospect for 2.5 years of Martin Erat. A staggering lack of depth, of course, shouldn’t matter much when you have a coach that plays an all-star like Ovechkin with such respectable talent as Jay Beagle. I’m excitedly awaiting Oates’ next winning combo of Backstrom with Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr. They’re the only team that could possibly look worse off for getting rid of Mike Ribeiro.
You’d think a team that can just never get it done in the postseason would take some personal responsibility for their actions. Or, y’know, their star player can just go cry to the media about how mean and biased the refs were acting. Huh, that’s funny; says here Washington had far and away the best powerplay in the NHL in the 2013 regular season, but were only 9th in scoring at even strength. Also funny: Ovechkin’s lone playoff goal was on the powerplay. OH NO THE REFS DIDN’T CALL ENOUGH PENALTIES SO WE COULD WIN GAMES ON POWERPLAY GOALS BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY WAY I SCORE IN THE PLAYOFFS BLOO BLOO. Better make sure the Waaaambulance is on speed dial if Ovi is stuck with Beagle at evens again this year.
People compare the Capitals’ dismal playoff performance to the Sharks, but that just isn’t accurate. The Sharks underachieve in the postseason, but everyone expects it to the point that they’ve gone full circle to a plucky underdog. You WANT the Sharks to pull it off this time against all odds. Also, the Sharks have actually made it past the second round recently, but that’s neither here nor there. The Capitals, on the other hand, are continually overhyped and overrated to the point where nobody in their right mind would want to pull for them. Their fanbase are….well, I can’t call them frontrunners since that implies they’ve hitched their wagon to someone at the front, but they’re pretty fair weather. All and all, should be pretty fun to see how the acclimatize to sitting at the adult table of NHL divisions for a change (spoiler: probably not so good).
There is nothing that I enjoy more than discussing hockey in a completely objective, level-headed manner.
Haha, just kidding. There’s nothing I really enjoy more than being a complete asshole to every fanbase possible. That’s why I liked writing the Why Your Team Sucks previews. I intend to come into this season armed with even better material because, well, it feels as though every team has provided me with it.
Also, I don’t care what the NHL is going to name its divisions. I’m naming them what I want to, starting with the aptly-nicknamed Flortheast Division.
This will never not be funny.
WHY THEY SUCK: ‘
Patriots Bruins Way': Question: when your top player at a position is leaving the team to get a fresh start, and another quality player at that position also will not be returning, what do you do?
If your answer is ‘give the next best player left on your roster a chance on the top line,’ you are most people. If your answer is ‘trade him because he acts like a 21-year old,’ congratulations on being Peter Chiarelli. Of course, this omits the fact that Tyler Seguin actually is 21 years old, and makes an obscene amount of money that would put him on the right side of the bell curve for earnings of people his age. Hell, at that time in my life, I lived at home and had about $200 in my chequing account; I would’ve wanted to go to bars and make it rain, but that could only be a dream.
But, of course, Seguin wasn’t acting like a True Professional™, so that wouldn’t cut it. Reporters- after the trade, of course- stated that he was under heavier guard during the playoffs than most political prisoners, and that he wore the same outfit three days in a row as if that’s unusual for someone who probably doesn’t know how a washing machine works. And with that, they trade one of their youngest players and crumble their depth at right wing in a way that would make Tim Thomas cry if he wasn’t still locked away in a bunker.
This notion of professionalism, of course, is pretty hilarious when you think about it. Is it professional to treat March, April, and right up to Minute 58 of Game 7 of your first round playoff series the way a high school senior with a Harvard acceptance treats their dwindling months of secondary education? Is it professional to kick and scream because a player rightly exercised his NTC to take a trade to the place he wanted to go and not your team (only to sign him four months later)? Is it professional to lose the Stanley Cup by blowing it on two goals in 17 seconds? Is it professional to do…..well, whatever it is that Brad Marchand does around here? Apparently this is the ‘professionalism’ they wanted to see more of in a 21-year old kid.
Now, they will depend on Loui Eriksson to carry most of the load at RW. Also, they have Jarome Iginla. In a matter of weeks, they go from Horton-Seguin-Jagr to Eriksson-Iginla-random homeless man taken off the street. All because Chiarelli fancies himself to be some sort of Belicheck-lite with dat dere ‘BRUINS WAY,’ folks.
On the defensive side, getting rid of Andrew Ference will be helpful if Dougie Hamilton can manage to not be a total fuckup. Given that the kid looks scared of his own shadow, I don’t see it. I guess Boston is ready to anoint Torey Krug the next big defensive MONSTER, because a five-game sample size against a hapless Rangers team should be a solid indicator. Chara also ain’t getting any younger at 36, and it’s entirely possible an 82-game season will take its toll on him. At least they have eight more years of Tuukka Rask, but you better hope he stays awesome the whole time at $7M per.
Overall, the Bruins will enter this season older and slower than they were last season. But, at least they sure handled that Seguin kid properly. There’s no place on a championship team for a player like th-……oh. Um, never mind, then.
Buffalo Fried Chickenshit: visor-lickin’ good!
WHY THEY SUCK: Darcy Regier still has a job? Darcy Regier still has a job. The ineptitude of Buffalo Sabres management was well-documented in past years. The Sabres rich new owner threw bags of money at the front office to spend in free agency. Remember in Jack and the Beanstalk how Jack was told to get money for a cow, and instead sold it for magic beans because he’s a stupid little dipshit? Well, Darcy Regier’s management of Terry Pegula’s money is arguably one step below ‘magic beans’ stupid. At least the beans produced something tangible; Ville Leino at $4.5M and locking in Christian Ehrhoff until he’s nearly 40? Not so much. Also, if given the chance, Regier would probably have the giant from that beanstalk world play on the fourth line with John Scott.
Speaking of magic beans, I’m pretty sure that’s what Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller- i.e. the only Sabres with any redeeming qualities- will be traded for once Buffalo crashes and burns out of the gate. Sure, they have somewhat promising prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, but Regier hilariously burned a year of his ELC while he was shuttled between the fourth line and press box, then sent him to junior two months too late anyhow. While Grigorenko won’t have Lindy Ruff around to stunt his development anymore, that was only because Regier had to fire his longtime buddy to save his own undeserved job.
Coming back to Leino for a second, anyone with half a brain would assume he’d be the person deserving of a compliance buyout. Of course, guess who doesn’t have half a brain and bought out a guy who had the same stat line as Leino in 2011-12, but made only $1.42M? This is the part where Darcy Regier points at himself and says ‘THIS GUY!’ while trying oh so hard not to drool too much or shit his pants.
The saddest part of all, however- sadder than the fact they have inept management, a cruddy market, and will therefore never attract or draft proper talent- is that they employ noted shitbag Patrick Kaleta. Seriously; in a division with Brad Marchand, Brendan Gallagher, and Chris Neil, Kaleta somehow manages to be the worst human being of all. For a team that was so up in arms about Ryan Miller being run, they sure didn’t seem to mind when Kaleta went all Michael Strahan on divisional goalies. Of course, it’s not like he’ll ever hold himself accountable for his actions either. He’s the hockey equivalent of a hit-and-run, just with 200% more run. Fuck Patrick Kaleta.
In conclusion, the Sabres and Regier will derp their way to last place in February, only to have their annual untimely winning streak kick in long after they’re out of it to ensure a solid 11th-12th place finish, where they can have a mid-range pick of the next young kid’s dreams to crush and ruin. Because it’s Buffalo.
DETROIT RED WINGS:
Detroit: our auto industry is dead, but the calamari industry is THRIVING!
WHY THEY SUCK: They can’t escape the inevitable forever. Finally, the Detroit Red Wings are in the Eastern Conference! Funny that their fans seem to believe the league is conspiring against them, and the NHL responds in kind by giving them exactly what they had been whining about for fifteen years. Never mind moving Toronto east in the last alignment in 1998 made more sense since Toronto is farther east than Detroit. Detroit’s unjust imprisonment in the West was a great oppression akin to South African apartheid or segregation in 1960s America, and should not have been stood for! How awful it must have been to have to travel to faraway time zones like ‘Pacific’ and ‘Mountain,’ and be brought down by it so much that you only made the postseason every single year. Oh, the humanity!
Of course, Detroit has that magical run of twenty-two straight seasons with a playoff appearance. In case you forgot about it, here’s a dozen Red Wings fans to remind you how their team is a Modern Dynasty™ and The Best Franchise in History™. They’ll tell you about how Detroit has won roughly one Cup per 25,000 vacant homes in their lifetime. They’ll tell you how Pavel Datsyuk is the greatest player in hockey; should you disagree, you are worse than Hitler. They’ll tell you how, with the chips stacked against them, they so amazingly made the postseason. Never mind they had to fight Columbus for said spot and barely won; never mind they played an Anaheim Ducks team in the first round that was more lucky than skilled; never mind that they had a 3-1 chokehold on the hated Blackhawks and that the officials (which are part of that league conspiracy, YOU GUYZ!) gave them a free mulligan in Game 7, only to blow the game and series. Never mind, because if you tell a Red Wings fan about this, they will remind you that they’ve made the playoffs every year since Vanilla Ice was a thing.
Here’s the problem, though; not all good things last forever. The last playoff record-holder, the St. Louis Blues, went into the 2005 lockout having made the postseason every year since those things Randy Carlyle calls ‘brain incubators’ were made mandatory; their demise was swift and comical. Ditto the Boston Bruins, who went 30 years straight before crashing and burning with a 61-point campaign in 1996-97. It will happen to Detroit, and boy will it be hilarious when it does.
More importantly, the conditions are pretty much ripe for such a thing to happen. Their core is of the age where they’re all past their best before dates. Datsyuk is 35, Zetterberg 32, Franzen 33. They have three more players in their forward corps over the age of 35, presumably signed to hand out butterscotch candies to the rest of the team. Comparatively, new acquisition Stephen Weiss seems like quite the spring chicken at the age of 30. They also signed Daniel Alfredsson for a victory lap season at 40, since Mike Modano and Borje Salming should be able to tell you how well that works out for you.
Their ‘next generation’ of players is also sorely lacking; who will take the reins? Darren Helm is a third-liner at best. Justin Abdelkader’s biggest assets to the team are blatant headshots and dumb penalties. Is it Drew ‘Wayne Primeau of his family’ Miller? Patrick Eaves? Cory Emmerton? I guess Red Wings fans will probably answer Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist since both our being shoved down our collective throats as the next ‘Datsyuk/Zetterberg’ pairing.
Defensively, the team still looks like a mess with Lidstrom gone. Niklas Kronwall’s version of defense is thunderous hits that are borderline assault. Danny DeKeyser is supposed to be the next Lidstrom (since in great Detroit lore, every prospect is always the next someone!), but it’s hard to tell based on 13 career NHL games. Jimmy Howard really has his work cut out for him, though you better hope he stays healthy, since Jonas Gustavsson managed to look worse than he did in Toronto, which I didn’t realize was a thing that is possible.
The Grim Reaper is staring at the back of the Red Wings, and biding his time until the inevitable happens. The sooner it can happen, the better, since until then, we’re forced listening to this ‘US AGAINST ALL ODDS’ tripe. It’s as if fans are blissfully unaware the world doesn’t just collectively put the Red Wings in the playoffs in preseason rankings the way people put milk and eggs on a grocery list. Of course, even if they do make it, they’ll be a second round exit at best, and come out of it a year older with nothing to show for it.
You stay cool, Florida.
WHY THEY SUCK: Worst at everything. It’s rare that a team could go from the postseason to managing to score the least number of goals while allowing the most in an NHL season, but when it comes to being terrible, damn if the Florida Panthers don’t have some sort of god-given monopoly on it!
For starters, the Panthers are the most irrelevant team in the NHL. Their sole purpose is to effectively breed talent (if you could call it that) for other teams while silently collecting their revenue-sharing cheques and going about their day. This would, of course, be why they’re giving out season tickets for $7/game, plus a free jersey! At this rate of value deflation, 2014 season tickets can be expected to go for about $4.50 a game, plus a free beer and 10-minute handjob from ownership.
Small wonder they’re effectively catering ticket packages to snowbird fans who are now their new intradivisional overlords. Not to mention the fact you can live as far away from Florida as possible to get season tickets, but you’d have an easier time selling a $5,000 beachball on Kijiji than a $5 Panthers ticket. Hockey as a whole forgets about the Florida Panthers unless they happen to be playing your team that night, yet they continue to exist somehow; they’re basically the Two And A Half Men of the NHL.
You can point out most of the people in Florida are racist, toothless hicks or vapid, soulless billionaires. What you can’t do, however, is blame them for not caring in the least about the lowly Panthers. This year, the reigns of starting goaltender go to a guy who has played 32 career NHL games and posted a lowly .901 last season. Their D is basically a car crash; they have $7M tied up in Brian Campbell, while paying over $4M to Ed Jovanovski until he’s 40 because the NHL forced them to spend money they didn’t have to reach the cap floor. Beyond that, their best player in Stephen Weiss got the fuck out of Dodge because he was sick of playing for a broke team in a nice city and thought he’d rather do the opposite. Even though they suffered scores of injuries last season, their line combos will still probably look like Stevie Wonder picked them out of a hat.
And so, another season will go down in the books to complement the ones that preceded it- a sea of bad seasons, but for one playoff appearance where they won a shitty division that no longer exists because they waited until after 60 minutes to lose enough games. And so, they will lose, and waste money they don’t have while leeching from richer and/or more successful teams. Their new motto very well should be: “Florida, Come See The Panthers: They’re Just Like Your Drunk Uncle.”
Apparently biting the guy choking you is a bad thing.
WHY THEY SUCK: Two words: whiny midgets. I guess it’s no surprise that in a fanbase that called 9-1-1 over a Zdeno Chara hit, that the Canadiens players and fanbase alike are made up of a bunch of babies. No, not those Brazilian superbabies, either; just the whiny, crappy kind.
Take a look for a moment at the above photo. You can see that Max Pacioretty basically has Mikhail Grabovski in some kind of bastardized headlock. This incident, of course, is not famous for that, but for speculation that Grabovski bit him (which Grabovski later admitted because, y’know, he couldn’t breathe and shit). Most fanbases would just call it a wash and move on; but not Montreal! No; after Pacioretty was more than eager to shove the bitemarks into the ref’s face multiple times. Habs fans followed suit onto the outrage-o-meter, again carefully omitting the fact that their beloved Patches was tryna choke-a-bitch.
Of course, this isn’t something just reserved to the hated Leafs; in fact, the whining comes out every time the other team is, above all else, beating them up on the scoreboard. This phenomenon repeated itself in a Habs-Senators first round series that was roughly as even as a matchup between a fat kid and a personal pizza. Between a pair of 6-1 blowouts and a blown two-goal lead, the Habs and their fans conducted themselves exactly like you’d expect them to. Despite Lars Eller’s Game 1 injury being the result of a suicide pass from his own teammate, Habs fans went apeshit on Eric Gryba for being too in position, I guess? Perhaps the icing on the cake of the Montreal Way™ was Therrien’s comment that Gionta ‘cried in his arms.’ Yup, sounds about right.
Of course, it should be no surprise Montreal houses the whiniest hockey fans east of Vancouver; they’re fucking spoiled. The team has won 24 Cups in its existence, a fact that no Canadiens fan will ever let you forget despite the fact many of them were either not born or far too young to actually remember the last one. They have so many half-hour home pre-game ceremonies that next year’s headliners are likely to include the guy who cleaned jockstraps during the 1986 Cup run, and the 1957 Montreal Forum concessions staff. When you bring a kid into a rich family and give him everything he ever wants, he’ll throw a tantrum when the world doesn’t cater hand and foot to him. Montreal is basically the spoiled tantrum-throwing kid of the NHL.
As for the team? Some decent pieces like PK Subban and Carey Price, but godawful depth, and they rode a decently high S% and goaltending to the division title. Well, that and the far superior Bruins deciding to take the months of March and April off because lulz. Their D is pretty top-heavy, and they’re as strong on the wings as a penguin. No, not the Penguins; a penguin. They’re paying Daniel Briere $4M a season, which is hilarious because he’s 35 and in decline. It’s even more hilarious because, in typical Habs fashion, they’ve spent seven years being angry at Briere for not deigning to sign with Montreal in 2007. Hometown star doesn’t sign with team, then signs with them when he’s too old? Ohhhh man, does this ever have ‘Lindros-to-Toronto’ written all over it! Oh, they also traded actual warm-bodied hockey players for George Parros, because apparently the Randy Carlyle Way is just that infectious. To dumb teams, anyways.
Boston shook up their roster, but is pretty strong. Ottawa and Detroit improved. Toronto self-immolated but might be able to ride strong goaltending and Phil Kessel existing. Montreal just kinda shuffled off awkwardly into the corner; that is, until the next pregame ceremony in the fall.
This is literally the most noteworthy moment in Sens history. That isn’t even a joke.
WHY THEY SUCK: You can’t win a championship on crazy alone. On the surface, it wouldn’t seem like there’s much to write about the Ottawa Senators. Their team made the playoffs twice in a row, against pretty much all odds. They did so last year with half their roster injured at one time or another. Their
resident Wilford Brimley impersonator coach seems like a likeable guy, and pretty good at his job what with his Jack Adams title and all. They also seemed to make all the right offseason moves, trading for a solid young winger in his prime in Bobby Ryan and acquiring depth winger Clarke MacArthur, all costing them relatively little.
And yet, in spite of this, they manage to still be a bunch of whiny sucks.
Yes, while most fans would be appreciative of the fact that they’ve got an improving roster and a coach who can still do a lot with just a little talent, Sens fans largely spent the offseason mourning the loss of their beloved patron saint Daniel Alfredsson. See, rather than return to the Sens for one more regressing season, he decided to sign up for a forgettable year with the Red Wings that’s apparently a mandatory pre-retirement protocol in the NHL now. And this, of course, is all that Sens fans can focus on.
This shouldn’t be a surprise considering this fanbase churns their insecurities into an obsessive personality. They treat their favourite players like cult leaders, although instead of drinking cyanide-infused Kool Aid, they tweet shit like #lalala without even having a clue what the fuck it means. They shove things down your throat like ‘HEY BRO LOOK AT THIS KASPARS DAUGAVINS SHOOTOUT ATTEMPT 400 MORE TIMES’ because it’s the only way the folks at the NHL’s grown ups table will notice them. They not only stole that whole #Pesky[Team] meme from the Dallas Stars, but they beat it into the ground in a way that’d make a dead horse jealous.
And the butthurt; you can’t forget the butthurt. Any time it becomes abundantly clear that many people in Ottawa deign to cheer for the (obsessively) hated Leafs over them, they kick and scream like a child who didn’t get the toy they wanted in their Happy Meal until someone magically makes those mean ol’ Leafs jerseys pretend to go away forever. They’re so butthurt, they actually wrote their own eulogy to counter their Puck Daddy eulogy because ‘it wasn’t funny.’ Generally, pointing out how butthurt someone is to their face isn’t funny, because butthurt people don’t laugh about a whole lot.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone how crazy these people are; look at who runs their team! Apparently Eugene Melnyk earmarked so much of his money for losing investments and forensic investigations that he forgot to keep some left over to pay his franchise leader. Be mad at this wingnut, not Daniel Alfredsson for deciding to leave. Seriously, when a player looks at your team’s finances and says ‘fuck this, I’m going to Detroit!’ you’re fucked. That’s a lot like someone saying that Paul Bernardo would make a better babysitter than you. At least he should make some money from forking the arena naming rights over to Canadian Tire. It’s a perfect partnership; like Canadian Tire, the Senators are located in the middle of nowhere, have a parking lot three sizes too big, and their money is worth jack shit.
The sad thing is, looking at this first paragraph again, this team could be oh so likeable. They have some likeable players, a likeable coach, a competent
Daffy Duck impersonator GM. Yet, due to crazy, borderline insolvent ownership and a fanbase that just can’t help but overcompensate for some serious insecurities, they’ll always be that Canadian team that’s kinda sorta there. They’re annoying and Canadians only know they exist because their fans won’t shut up and we’re legally obligated to talk about them. The Ottawa Senators: the Hedley of the NHL.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING:
Meanwhile, the Shamwow guy pretends to have heard of the Florida Panthers…
WHY THEY SUCK: Tampa Bay Stamkoses. You wouldn’t think that a team that has what is probably the second-best player in all of hockey could be mired in a Florida-esque swamp of perpetual sucktitude; you wouldn’t, but that’s what’s happening. It doesn’t help that Tampa Bay is probably playing the wrong sport to be a one-trick pony; LeBron James and his two rings could probably tell you just how well that shtick works in basketball.
What do you do when your team gives up the fifth-most goals per game? Simple; you build yourself a goaltending tandem that’s predominant skill isn’t so much ‘being good’ as it is ‘being big enough to ensure some pucks kinda sorta have a difficult time getting through, maybe.’ This team traded for a goalie of the future, only to have him suck enough that they had to overpay a legitimately decent prospect in Cory Conacher to acquire Ottawa’s goalie overflow in Ben Bishop. Bishop, their new new goalie of the future has played 45 games with a career .913, which should totally instill some confidence in net going forward, right? He also continued to play with the Senators logo on his mask even after being traded to the Lightning, which is totally irrelevant, but was still pretty annoying.
That their broken goaltending tandem that actually cost them players and draft picks might not totally suck, of course, is presupposed on the silly notion that their defense is capable of doing anything useful. Aside from Victor Hedman, the Lightning D only comes in three different models: overpaid ($5.5 million of Matt Carle); old as balls (Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo); and, obscure replacement level (at best) players (Keith Aulie, Radko Gudas). We would also have accepted a fourth category for Gudas under ‘players that shouldn’t have quit their day job as a Bond villain.’
Sure, their offense has Stamkos, and an up-and-coming rookie in Jonathan Drouin. Sure, Martin St. Louis may not completely act like he’s 35 just yet. That said, every forward aside from those three reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of forgettable disappointments. BJ Crombeen is a one-dimensional goon, minus the part where you’re actually supposed to be good at fighting; he’s basically Ryan Hollweg with a cooler name. They have $9.5 million tied up in Valteri Filppula and Ryan Malone. Look at the rest of their forwards; good chance you’ve barely heard of any of these guys in your life. I won’t say it’s an obscure list of losers, but Major League manager Lou Brown thinks there’s probably ‘three or four potential all-stars’ in that crop.
The existence of Stamkos (and, perhaps, Drouin) mask a lot of the fatal flaws of the team. Steve Yzerman is effectively proving why Detroit wouldn’t let him near their front office. Hell, the fact their uniform looks like a Korean knockoff Leafs jersey with the Flash logo superimposed on it is pretty much the least of their problems right now.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS:
He’s that sad looking man in the press box, Randy.
WHY THEY SUCK: Comically inept management, comically idiotic fans. The good news: the Toronto Maple Leafs actually made the playoffs! The bad news: they managed to do it while being run by the most idiotic GM-Coach tandem fathomable. In all reality, you could get a better result from Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ characters in Dumb and Dumber than these guys. Oh, and look, Dave Nonis got a 5-year extension from ownership, so it may well be Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest from Tim ‘Plan the Parade’ Leiweke.
After a season where your defense gives up the most shots in the league, and you make the postseason based on great goaltending and a fairly high shooting percentage, what should your offseason priority be? Defense? Nah, just pick up some nobody named TJ Brennan; you’re cool, bro! First, you gotta re-sign both your useless goons so you have someone to play those tough fourth line minutes, all three-and-a-half of them! Clearly your plan should be to trade assets for ‘insurance’ on your starting goaltender who had the best statistical season in recent Leafs history. Then, instead of buying out a third-pairing defensemen making $3.875M, you should get rid of your best two-way centre for nothing, and use the proceeds to sign a third-line winger who was marginally better at best than the one you let walk for $2M more.
Oh, and sign Tyler Bozak. Fuck Tyler Bozak. Tyler Bozak is the goddamn Jonas Hoglund of this generation’s Leafs team. He is a first-line black hole where dreams go to die, and he makes me long for Kyle Wellwood as far as perennially disappointing top six centres who wear #42 go. But hey, teenage girls love him; teenage girls also love Justin Bieber, so maybe the Leafs should sign him, too! But at least they kept Kessel happy with his bestest buddy on the team because he’s totally not a professional, and the NHL is clearly a league where every game ends in a tie and you all get orange slices after the game.
Of course, all this signing of useless players totally won’t create a giant cap crunch when it comes time to re-sign the players who actually contributed to your team. Now the Leafs are apparently contemplating a trade for Cody Franson. Since, y’know, getting rid of our highest-scoring blueliner who can comfortably play top 4 minutes and fits well on the powerplay is just the ticket to improving our defense! That should go over well, considering his replacement options are a legitimately overpaid 6D with concussion problems (John-Michael Liles), a guy who hasn’t played in the NHL since 2009 (Paul Ranger), a prospect clearly not yet ready for a full-time gig in the NHL (Morgan Rielly), or someone who just flat out sucks (Korbinian Holzer). Yeah, this should probably fix everything and totally not make it worse; GET ‘ER DONE, NONIS! HASHTAG TML TALK HASHTAG LOVE THIS TEAM!
Basically, this team made the playoffs with unsustainably bad defensive play and puck possession. It had the opportunity to address this, but instead doubled down on the stupidity and somehow will probably make its D worse in the process. The worst part is that long-suffering Leaf fans should be outraged this idiocy happened, but most are instead creaming their collective pants because David Clarkson liked Wendel Clark as a kid or some shit like that. The team’s fanbase seems to pride itself on being the second incarnation of the Charlestown Chiefs than actually winning hockey games. Luckily, such morons will probably get their wish if this team finishes seventh in the division, only because a team made up entirely of garbage bags of wet leaves could probably do better than Buffalo. You get what you overpay for, I guess.
This is a GIF of his actual skating speed, by the way.
#5: Andy Wozniewski
TENURE ON CBA-ERA LEAFS: 2006-08.
STAT LINE: 63 GP, 2G, 9A, 11P, +4 (i.e. proof that +/- is a terrible stat)
REASON FOR RANKING:
Andy Wozniewski was a favourite third-pairing defensemen of then-coach Paul Maurice for reasons that never quite made sense to anyone. No one’s really sure how he ended up on the Leafs without being left in the woods by the team bus on a road trip. Theories on why this might be include that he either was Maurice’s lawyer’s brother’s son’s former roommate, or that he had compromising photos of the coach either with a live boy or dead girl. The debate on this matter still rages on.
One thing that remains certain, however, is that he was unfit to be a defenseman in the NHL. To call Wozniewski a pylon would be an insult to pylons everywhere. In their defense, you have to drive around them, so they do a good job of stopping you. I’d refer to Wozniewski as ‘glacial,’ but even then, I’m doing a major disservice to just how fast glaciers are. So I’ll leave it at this: Ryan O’Byrne could beat him in a footrace wearing lead skates. Yeah. That slow.
As a completely slow, useless defensemen, Woz had two patented defensive moves: (1) skate consistently 3-5 strides behind even the slowest NHL forwards; (2) take a stupid penalty hooking the guy with the puck because #1 is a thing that is happening. No, really; in 2007-08, he had 54 PIM in 48 games. That’s 27 minor penalties, at least 25 of which were just from hooking a guy’s leg because he was that slow. You remember how wonderful the Leafs penalty kill was during this era, so I don’t need to tell you what happens next.
Also, in researching this piece, I realize he was so terrible, he made a Score analyst say this on the air. Andy Wozniewski: that shitty.
WHERE IS HE NOW?
In a move reminiscent to Randy Carlyle with Korbinian Holzer, Maurice finally realized Wozniewski was too shitty to play at the NHL level after only giving him 48 games to figure it out in 2007-08. He finished the season with the Marlies, where he played 33 games (plus 19 in the AHL playoffs) before the Leafs organization cut ties. He bounced around the AHL for two more seasons, getting brief cups of coffee with the Blues in 2008-09 and Bruins in 2009-10. Still an active player, having spent the last three years with the Swiss club EV Zug.
This is how we all feel watching you be GM, you ugly, fat imbecile.
Dear Toronto Maple Leafs,
I know most of your front office probably isn’t at the forefront of literacy, so if you’d rather stop reading now and go about your day of being idiotic meatheads, I’ll give you the executive summary: I fucking quit.
If you’re still reading, you may want to know why. As a Leaf fan, I have been through a fair amount of pain and suffering. I watched this team prepare for a post-lockout game stressing speed and youth by assembling the slowest, oldest teams possible, and make dumb trades that were largely responsible for this team missing the playoffs for nine years. NINE YEARS. For most of my formative life, I didn’t have a team in the postseason to cheer for. But, at every turn, I took it.
When the Leafs traded a promising prospect in Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs then doubled down on their goaltending situation by trading much-needed draft picks for Vesa Toskala, the only goaltender in NHL history to probably have worse stats than an empty net, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs traded two of their promising homegrown players in Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak, perhaps the worst trade the club has made in one of the worst seasons it’s had in my lifetime, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs went 0-7-1 to start the 2009-10, with no promise or hope for the present or the future, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs gave us all the hope and promise of the playoffs, only to collapse in the worst way possible and take it right out from under us, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs hired a coach who benched one of the best defensemen on the team for most of the season, paired the No. 1 defenseman with two AHL-level plugs for half the year, and gave two-thirds of their 4th line spots to useless goons, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs decided to re-sign a useless player in Colton Orr because apparently goons matter, I sucked it up.
When the Leafs decided to show a complete lack of faith in James Reimer despite him being the sole reason they made the postseason, I sucked it up.
In sports fandom, your team will shit the bed on occasion, so you have to turn the other cheek. That’s a part of sports. The problem is that this team is such a colossal fuckup that I am out of cheeks to turn.
This was supposed to be a time of optimism and hope. On paper, not since the 2004-05 lockout had the Leafs put together such a great roster. Sure, minor adjustments needed to be made, but this looked like a team that could compete with the best in the league on a nightly basis. Of course, that was before I realized just how badly Randy Carlyle was going to fuck up at his one basic job and not play the best roster nightly.
I said during the Bernier trade that I lost faith in Nonis to understand the needs of this team, and had no confidence in him to understand what the Leafs needed going forward. The buyout of Mikhail Grabovski makes it clear to me that Nonis not only has his priorities wrong, but that he has no idea what he’s doing whatsoever. It appears he would rather spend his days pandering to the HFBoards crowd than actually do his job in a professional manner.
So, it’s become clear to me: either this buffoon gets fired yesterday, or I’m done with this team. Since I know the former won’t happen, I’ll just save you the trouble and say ‘fuck you, I quit.’ Every day that Nonis holds the GM position of the Toronto Maple Leafs is a day that I am no longer a fan of this team. When the glorious day comes that ownership comes to its senses, maybe I will come back. 4:00 PM PT start times are quite the commitment, and you’ve managed to make it not worth it for me. I’ve been through hell and back with this team, and yet I want no more.
Over the last year, even in the shadow of the Leafs doing well, I’ve noticed a divide in the Leafs fanbase. One side prioritized working on the problems that actually persisted in the organization, while the other seemed to fetishize grit and toughness while claiming the statistically-best goaltending we’ve had in 20 years was ‘weak’. One prioritized winning hockey games, stressing both the process and results, while the other stressed intangibles by relying on the results without looking at the process. In this time, it has become abundantly clear to me that this town ain’t big enough for the both of us. A fanbase divided against itself cannot stand.
Nonis has sent his message loud and clear. This team belongs to the latter; as such, I feel there is no place for me in this fanbase going forward. The dumbasses can have their team, and I will take my ball and go home. I will be sure to rub the salt in the wound further, however, when this team inevitably finishes out of the playoffs because, hey, apparently standing pat on D while buying out your best two-way centre isn’t a very good idea.
In conclusion: eat shit.
A Leafs Fan, 1998-2013