NHL Grab Bag: Everything Is Terrible and Everyone Is the WorstRichard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images
Welcome to a weekly grab bag of thoughts and observations from the past few days and/or decades of hockey.
This Week’s Three Stars of Comedy
Recognizing the three NHL personalities from around the league who produced the most comedic fodder for fans.
As someone who jumps six feet in the air if I think I see a spider in my peripheral, I’d say Rask actually deals with it pretty well.
The frustrating thing is the lack of actual impact. He was wide open, but the Detroit fan just underthrew it. I didn’t even know Matthew Stafford liked hockey.
The second star: Jeremy Roenick vs. Craig Berube
This one’s actually from years ago, but J.R. just told the story this week. It’s worth reading the whole thing and I won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say Craig Berube is the greatest.
The first star: Daniel Carcillo vs. Flyer fans
I love everything about this GIF:
And sure, Giroux jersey guy is the star here, with strong support from “turns and smiles at the camera” guy. But let’s not overlook the dude in the green shirt who stands up, gives the glass a single bang, and then sits back down. He’s like, “All right, here we go … [BANG] … OK, that should take care of it.” Lazy people all around the world salute you, green shirt guy.
What Is the Hockey World Pretending to Be Outraged About Now?
Nothing makes hockey folks happier than being outraged about something relatively unimportant. We’ll pick one topic fans are complaining about and try to figure out if it’s justified.
The issue: Everything.
The outrage: All-consuming.
Is it justified? Let’s run down the list: Ron MacLean hates French people. Everyone hates Matt Cooke. Everyone who isn’t a Boston fan hates Milan Lucic. The Dallas Stars did something mean to Ryan Getzlaf. The Chicago Blackhawks said something mean to David Backes. Someone made a mean shirt about it.
And all of that is just from the playoffs. But don’t worry if your team didn’t make it; you can still throw a temper tantrum because the wrong guy got the third nomination for one of the NHL awards.
All of which means this is probably a good time for three important reminders:
1. NHL players are all jerks. Every single one of them. They are the worst people you can possibly imagine. I don’t mean when they’re off the ice — many of them are probably perfectly nice guys then. But on the ice, they’re beyond horrible, and in the playoffs, they get worse. Stop being surprised by this.
2. Related to point no. 1: If you use the word “classy” in any argument about hockey, you’re an idiot.
3. Most important: It’s only the second week of the playoffs. We’ve got a long way to go, people. Pace yourself. Pick your battles. This is a marathon of whining, indignity, and victimhood, not a sprint. Let’s all make sure we still have something left in the transparently fake outrage tank by May.
Obscure Former Player of the Week
NHL history is filled with legendary players whose stories are passed down from generation to generation. This is not one of them.
This week’s obscure former player actually had a reasonably successful career. He was a first-round pick, played in the NHL for 10 years, and even made an All-Star team. But he’s best remembered as the owner of one of the oddest postseason résumés in NHL history. Let’s talk about Sergei Krivokrasov.
Krivokrasov was taken by the Blackhawks with the 12th overall pick of the 1992 draft and played a few games that season as an 18-year-old. He was a full-time player by 1994 and ended up spending parts of six seasons with the Hawks, before being shipped off to the expansion Predators in 1998. He scored a team-leading 25 goals in the Preds’ inaugural season, which is where that All-Star pick comes in. That was his only full season in Nashville, and he spent the rest of his career bouncing around Calgary, Minnesota, and Anaheim before continuing his career in Russia in 2002.
All told, Krivokrasov finished with 450 games and 195 points in the regular season. That’s not great, but it’s better than his career playoff stats: just a measly two points in 21 games, all with Chicago. But he made those two points count: Both came on overtime goals against the Colorado Avalanche. The first was this goal in 1996, and he’d repeat the feat a season later. I’m not sure how many players are in the “every career playoff point was an OT winner” club, but Sergei Krivokrasov is a charter member.
The Week’s Most Depressing CapGeek Page
In which we select one page on CapGeek.com and stare at it while a single tear rolls down our cheek.
This week’s most depressing CapGeek page can be found here.
You’re looking at the “Published Rosters” section of the site’s Armchair GM feature. That’s the tool that lets users play around with their favorite team’s roster — adding players, buying guys out, promoting and demoting, signing free agents, and just generally doing whatever they want as long as they can fit it all under the cap. When they’re done, they can choose to make their finished roster available for public viewing.
And the results are heartbreaking. First of all, as you’d expect, the list is made up almost entirely of non-playoff teams, because those are the fans with time on their hands right now. And as you click through, it becomes increasingly apparent that everyone who uses this tool is drunk on hope. It’s just nothing but beautiful dreamers, sharing their unbridled optimism for the future with the world. And it’s awful, because you just know reality is going to come along and brutally crush them.
Check out this Toronto roster, in which the Leafs have acquired Shea Weber and Matt Duchene while using a compliance buyout (which they don’t have) on David Clarkson (who is not eligible). This Canucks fan traded Alex “coming off a five-goal season” Burrows for P.K. Subban. This Devils fan managed to sign just about every free agent, which apparently convinced Martin Brodeur to stick around for just over minimum wage. This Senators fan thinks his team will spend money.
These poor, delusional heroes. I want to hug all of them.
Hockey Playoff Pool Owner We All Hate This Week
You’re in a hockey pool, right? If so, this person is in the pool with you, and you hate them right now.
This week’s playoff pool owner we all hate is the guy who doesn’t understand how these things work and wound up picking players from roughly 12 different teams.
Anyone with experience in playoff pools (by which I mean ones where you draft teams, because “pick any players you want” pools are for little babies) knows the basic strategy. You load up on a few teams, maybe four at the absolute most, and hope they go as far as possible. You’d rather have a third-liner from a finals team than the star player on a first-round exit. Quantity over quality. That’s the plan.
And the plan all goes to hell pretty much immediately, since after the top two or three picks, everyone is scrambling. Because you get stuck picking ninth — you somehow always get stuck picking ninth — you end up stockpiling Blue Jackets and Stars. You hate your team by Round 3. You consider just getting up and walking out by Round 5. You vow to never do one of these stupid pools again. That’s the fun of it.
Except for that one guy who doesn’t understand the strategy, and just takes the best player available in every round. Everyone hates him at the draft, because he keeps taking players they need. And everyone really hates him right now, because he’s in first place by a mile. It won’t stay that way; he’s guaranteed to finish close to last place. But for now he’s walking around feeling good about himself. He’s happy. Nobody’s supposed to be happy. It’s a playoff pool. Everyone should be miserable at all times.
This guy is the worst.
Awesome and/or Horrific Old YouTube Clip of the Week
In addition to being a great source of adorable pets and functionally illiterate commenters, YouTube is a gold mine for old hockey clips. Each week we find one and break it down in way too much detail.
When we look back on this past week, we’ll probably remember two things: The Montreal Canadiens won their series, and pretty much every other game went into overtime.
So let’s merge those two themes together by traveling back to May 1, 1992, as the Habs host the Hartford Whalers in Game 7 of their opening-round series. After 85 minutes of hockey, we’re still tied. Next goal wins, and we’re about to see it.
• This clip is called by Bob Cole, so turn your speakers up. I said speakers, not headphones. I don’t care if you’re at work, just do it. If they fire you for cranking up Bob Cole, it’s a terrible company and you don’t really want to work there.
• The play starts with a pretty standard dump-in by Patrice Brisebois. He was a solid player who played 16 seasons in Montreal, but man, was there a crueler nickname for a defenseman than “Breeze By” Brisebois? Between him and “Red Light” Racicot, I guess what we’ve learned is “never have three bad shifts in a row if you play for Montreal.”
• Whalers goalie Frank Pietrangelo plays it to a defenseman behind the net. It really has nothing to do with the goal, but I did enjoy the brief moment at the 15-second mark when it’s apparent that Pietrangelo has absolutely no idea where the puck went and starts looking around frantically. Always fun to see in double overtime.
• The puck comes out to Russ Courtnall, who is facing in the wrong direction and covered by three Hartford players. No problem. He spins, fires, and somehow beats Pietrangelo for the series winner. The Forum goes ballistic.
• Man, that is an all-time “sad goalie” reaction by Pietrangelo. Just disconsolate. Poor guy had just played the game of his life, making 53 saves while dueling Patrick Roy, and it ends like that. You just want to go down there and give him a nice big hug to help him feel OK WHO THREW A STICK AT FRANK PIETRANGELO?
• Seriously, where did that come from? I don’t see any players back there. Did a Montreal Canadiens fan fire a stick at Pietrangelo? If so, from how far up? Why did they bring their own stick to the game? Is this better or worse than the time a Leafs fan threw a crutch at Kelly Hrudey? I have a lot of questions about this.
• Nice work on the matching sweaters, Canadiens bench staff. I wonder if they tried to get Pat Burns to wear one. I would like to have witnessed that conversation.
• A fun thing to watch for in this video: Every time they cut to a shot of Burns on the Canadiens bench, there’s more people behind him. I think the bench population doubles every time. We’re four or five shots away from all 20,000 fans standing two feet behind Burns.
• Yes, Shayne Corson and Gilbert Dionne are enjoying the moment. They just got the assists on a Game 7 OT winner. Don’t act like you wouldn’t too.
• Settle down on the swish pans, CBC camera guy. There are lots of people here, and they’re cheering. Got it. Please stop before I have to break out the Gravol.
• And now we’re into the handshake line. Am I the only one who tries to read way too much into every handshake line interaction? That guy’s a good sport. Those two hate each other. That guy talks too much, he’s probably annoying. That guy’s not sad enough about losing, must be a terrible leader. My dream is that we someday get the NFL’s All-22 footage, but for NHL handshake lines. I’d spend hours psychoanalyzing each one.
• Hey look, it’s Young John LeClair and Young Lyle Odelein, both of whom are in their early twenties and not dressed for this game. Looking dapper, boys. Work that gum, Johnny.
• And now it’s time for one of Canada’s most cherished hockey traditions: Bob Cole randomly making up dialogue and assigning it to whoever’s on the screen. “All in a night’s work … aw yeah.” Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say that Pat Burns never said “aw yeah” in his life.
• And there’s Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, randomly grabbing guys to hug them. He somehow looks even younger than LeClair and Odelein, even though he’s 33, in what would turn out to be his last NHL season, and has spent the last 10 years getting repeatedly punched in the face.
• Honestly, I think the players are more excited about hugging Chris Nilan than they are about advancing to the second round. Early-’90s tough guys were the best.
• “Let us not forget, and let us salute, the gutsy performance of the Hartford Whalers.” Well said, Bob. Cheer up, Whalers fans. There’s better days ahead.
[Checks Hartford Whalers’ team history page on Wikipedia.]
• Nope, my mistake. This is the last playoff game in the history of the team, which would hang on for five more years before leaving town for good.
• Wow, those last few lines got depressing. Everyone join me over here for a few minutes to cheer up.
• Harry Neale mentions that “Courtnall Brother West” scored a hat trick last night. That would be Russ’s brother Geoff, who had a hat trick for Vancouver in a Game 7 of their own. That gave the Canucks all the offense they needed in a 5-0 win over the Jets. It also gives me an excuse to link to this awesome photo.
• And that’s it for the clip. We cut to the final score, as a siren blares in the background, likely because Montreal fans are in the process of setting the arena on fire.
In what may or may not turn out to be foreshadowing of this year’s postseason, the Canadiens went on to face the Bruins in Round 2, where the Habs were swept. This game ended up being the final win for Pat Burns in Montreal, as he was replaced by Jacques Demers for the 1992-93 season. The Canadiens probably would have responded well to that change, but we’ll never know because the 1993 playoffs were canceled.