Thursday, October 05, 2006

The height of Mugsey Bogues, complexion of a...

"Hockey Puck." To give you an idea of the seriousness with which I restate that Phife line, let me inform you that one of my best friends growing up was a black guy who knew who knew the names of the top ten plus minus leaders in the NHL. I also knew a Haitian immigrant who was on Milan Hejduk's jock in like 1998. Shit is somehow real like that in Pittsburgh. Yes, I am part of that rare and misunderstood subspecies of homo sapiens, the American hockey fan. There once was a time where, in my naivite I thought that most people liked hockey, and that's why the world tolerated John Buccigross. It turns out that nobody gives a fuck.

I have 11 pairs of Flyers tickets this year, and I can barely give away the second seat. I can't stand the Flyers, but, having played hockey in college and playing absolutely none now, there's a big void in my winters. Not to mention the fact that I don't have double expanded super digital cable, which I understand is the only way to actually watch hockey anymore. I guess I'll just root for the visitors and see if I can pick up a good case for suing the pants of a Philadelphia fan (see below).
As some of you may know, yesterday, apart from being Wednesday, was also notable in that the NHL season started anew. Since I have very little interest in customer satisfaction, I am planning on periodically commenting about hockey in this space.* If you don't like it, remember that hockey is Canada's national sport, and Canada is a place full of nice people who eat delicious breakfasts with maple syrup and bacon and, uh, don't have a government full of fucking morons who are up to their ears in unwinnable wars and... you just have to figure that there's something they get that we don't. I'm suggesting it's hockey.**

I used to have a knowledge of hockey that was on par with my handle on the NFL and my encyclopedic knowledge of useless baseball facts. However, a number of factors have combined to decrease my attentiveness to the game in recent years, not the least of which was the lockout. For starters, there are a jillion teams in the league now and the teams you used to be able to dismiss are good. I had always been able to ignore these bad teams in warm weather cities (read: cartoon-assed Disney teams with names like the "Predators" wtf?) but now they demand attention and I have no clue who half their players are. Also, the lockout turned over the league's personnel substantially. Players moved from here to there, lots of players retired. To compound the confusion, my squad, the Penguins, has been a revolving door of young players. Once you've become familiar with any of them, they're gone.

After I left Pittsburgh, the Pens cemented themselves as the league's durable, absorbent doormat. Fortunately, the Penguins (unlike the Pirates) have always been reasonably well managed, despite their poverty. Under the new bargaining agreement, hopefully they will be able to avoid the small market boom-bust that they managed to skirt for much of their respectable, if not dominant 1990s. By all accounts they have drafted well in recent years and they have committed to a building strategy that avoids trying to please season ticket holders with short term gains on the backs of overpaid, retread veterans. No, dammit, we're gonna lose like hell until we win some!! (Remember, this is what they did in the 80s, when Craig Patrick was in his prime, and it worked.)So, I am going to use this blog to give me a reason to both A) periodically entertain you with hockey info you don't care about and B)get reacquainted with my old friend the (new) NHL. Things should be exciting for the Pens, new GM, a boatload of future-star number 1 picks (Malkin is going to be off the chain) and, as of today, a new Canadian owner!

P.S. Hey guy, peep Off Wing Opinion for the best hockey weblogging, eh?
* Thank me that I'm not calling these comments "Whoadie got skates"
** Please conveniently disregard the fact that Russians also really like hockey.