About Last Night: Welcome Back, Hockey

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In case yinz were busy getting to Pittsburgh to … wait, yinz? Who the hell are yinz? Anyway, here’s what you may have missed in sports on Tuesday:

  • Oh my goodness, hockey’s back? Hockey’s back! And with it came a barrage of goals from defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which beat Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, 6-4, in its season opener. “Ten goals?” yelled 58-year-old Blackhawks fan Gary Habermeyer. “What the hell is this garbage? Polo? What happened to hockey?” When his son-in-law Dan Nielson tried to explain that there were a number of offseason rule changes put in place by the NHL to increase scoring, Habermeyer slammed down the legs of his Barcalounger and shoved a finger in Nielson’s face. “I’ll tell you what the problem is,” Habermeyer shot back. “It’s your generation. A bunch of showboaters. No one willing to do the hard work. No one willing to play defense. Patrick Kane? That’s just a child wearing skates carrying around a big stick. When things get hard he’ll just shut down the government. Not like Bobby Hull. Now there was a real man. Don’t look at your phone when we’re having a heart-to heart conversation!” But Nielson didn’t look up from his phone, as he was texting his wife, Bridget, to say that she owed him more than one for spending the evening bonding with her father, and also to ask what Patrick Kane had to do with the government shutdown.
  • Pittsburgh’s battery of Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin made sure the Pirates’ first postseason trip in 21 years would not be a one-game affair, as they topped the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2, in the NL wild-card playoff. “I just keep thinking, What could I have done differently?” said Reds manager Dusty Baker after the game. Baker then took a moment to think back over the events of the game, during which he managed to use seven pitchers without deploying superstar closer Aroldis Chapman, before adding, “And the answer is nothing.”
  • The Montreal Canadiens lost enforcer George Parros to a concussion suffered when he hit his head on the ice during a fight, before losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-3, in their season opener. When asked what precipitated his conflict with the ice, Parros said, “Goddamn ice has been giving us trouble for 20 years, and I had enough. Should I have led with my head? No, but I got him as good as he got me,” a fact that was later confirmed by despondent Zamboni driver Jean Glace.
  • Oklahoma Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will miss the first four to six weeks of the upcoming NBA season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Thunder general manager Sam Presti lamented the surgery, saying, “With our franchise’s revenue streams, this will put a serious drain on our resources,” before calling Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak to ask if he had any use for a Serge Ibaka–type player in exchange for a line of credit.
  • Mesut Ozil scored his first goal for Arsenal as the Gunners eased to a surprisingly dominant 2-0 win over Napoli in Champions League play. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who was maligned for the team’s inactivity through much of the offseason but whose team now sits atop both the Premier League standings and their Champions League group, lit up a Gauloise after the match and mused, “They say perfection is unachievable on this plane, to which I respond, yes and no. No because only God is perfect, and yes because there is no God.” Wenger then took a long drag off of his cigarette, before exhaling a smoke ring in the shape of Wales and adding, “So when I try to tell you if Aaron Ramsey had a good match, I must first ask whether you are foolish enough to believe in God. If you say ‘Yes,’ I say ‘Yes, good match.’ But if you say ‘No, I do not believe in God,’ I say ‘Aaron Ramsey is footballing perfection.'”
  • The athletic programs for the nation’s service academies are in crisis, as the government shutdown may force Army, Navy, and Air Force to cancel their football games this weekend. “Things are hard for Patrick Kane right now,” said Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban when asked about the upcoming schedule, “so we all have to make sacrifices.”
  • The Baltimore Ravens made a move to bolster their stagnant rushing attack, acquiring left tackle Eugene Monroe from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a package of draft picks. When asked why his team made the move, weakening their already historically bad offense, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell explained, “Who’s to say the goal isn’t to score the fewest points? I mean, it’s not like there’s some sort of rulebook that says what’s right and what’s wrong, man.” When told that in fact there definitely is a rule book that explains what’s right and what’s wrong, Caldwell looked off into the distance and asked, “Well, have you ever looked at a map upside down and thought there’s no north in space?” before letting a single tear trickle down his cheek.
  • In an interview promoting NBA 2K14, Michael Jordan said he believes that he would have been able to beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one when he was in his prime. When asked about James’s physical prowess, Jordan slammed down the legs of his Barcalounger and pointed at the cover of the game, which features James, shouting back, “You know what his problem is? It’s his generation. A bunch of showboaters. No one willing to do the hard work. No one willing to play defense. LeBron James? That’s just a child wearing a headband, walking softly up and down the court. When things get hard he’ll just switch teams. Not like Larry Bird. Now there was a real man. Friend, don’t look at your phone when we’re having a heart-to-heart!” And in that moment the interviewer’s heart sank, as he simultaneously realized that Jordan thought they were friends, and that Jordan thought the camera he was using was a phone.

Filed Under: About Last Night, Arsenal, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Blackhawks, Cincinnati Reds, Jacksonville Jaguars, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Pittsburgh Pirates, Russell Westbrook, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals

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Spike Friedman is a contributing writer for Grantland and makes theater with the Satori Group in Seattle, Washington.

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