Sunday, November 28, 2010

Responding to the TSN Message Boards

Message boards are a spawning ground for idiocy. There’s something about putting a bunch of anonymous people together in a virtual room that is conducive to general dumbassery.

I usual read and at the end of each article there is the chance for people to chime in with their two cents. Opinions are like assholes in the sense that everyone has one. And the TSN message boards have a lot of assholes with more opinions than they know what to do with.

The articles that generate the most responses are any that involve the Maple Leafs. People bemoan the amount of attention the Leafs get, but everyone loves talking about them. Both people who love the Leafs and those who absolutely despise the Leafs have something to say about the general state of Leafs Nation… always. By Sunday night there were 38 pages of responses to one Leafs game.

Reading these message boards are the worst after the Leafs put together a string of a few loses (or when they go 4-12-2 since their 4-0 start). During these times Leaf fans are usually very reactive and make stupid statements in their hyper-emotional state. Leaf Haters use this time to descend on the struggling club like a pack of wild hyenas.

Sometimes there are actual cogent thoughts that make a ton of sense, but you have to sift through mounds of garbage to find them.

Here are my responses to some of the beauties.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chasing the Great One

From the mid-90s to the lockout in 2004-2005, it wasn’t uncommon for the NHL’s leading goal scorer to score less than 50. It was a little embarrassing. That’s one reason it was so exhilarating when Alex Ovechkin scored 65 goals in 2007-2008. It’s also why everyone is getting so excited about Steven Stamkos this season.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2011 HHoF: The Case for Ed Belfour

ed belfour hall of fame
Here’s the third post in a four-part series examining which players should be selected for the 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class. I’ve already made the case for Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros, and today’s feature will focus on a first-year eligible player that statistically ranks among the greatest goalies in the history of the NHL.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leafs Save Their Season (Possibly My Soul)

kaberle leafs versteeg
The Leafs just saved their season. Facing a daunting eight game losing streak (not to mention 11 losses in the last 12 games) and quickly down 3-0 to the Nashville Predators the Leafs stormed back and scored four power-play goals in the second period to take a surprising 5-4 lead. The Leafs won the game by the same margin, but not before making things interesting. They took a couple of penalties in the third which could have easily broken them. An ice-cold Jonas Gustavsson even had to relieve an injured J.S. Giguere. The Monster made some great saves and the Leafs preserved the win to halt their losing streak at eight.

This certainly saved the Leafs’ season and possibly Ron Wilson’s job. But, more importantly, I think it saved my soul as a Leafs’ fan.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2011 HHoF: The Case for Pavel Bure

pavel bure hall of fame
On Monday, November 8th, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted five new members. The committee ended up selecting only one NHL player, Dino Ciccarelli, who scored over 600 goals in his career, but never won a Stanley Cup or an individual award. In addition to Ciccarelli, the committee inducted long-time Detroit executive Jim Devellano and Daryl ‘Doc’ Seaman, the latter playing an integral part in moving the Flames from Atlanta to Calgary. The Hall also inducted its first female members, finally selecting Cammi Granato and Angela James, which was long overdue.

I am not a fan of Ciccarelli’s induction to the Hall of Fame. Sure, he scored a ton of goals, but most occurred during the 1980s when goaltenders seemingly forgot how to play their position. By 1980 the 50 goal plateau had only been reached 24 times, yet during the 1980s it was reached an astonishing 76 times. The feat was even met by nobodies like Jacques Richard, who exploded for 52 goals in 1980-1981, while never breaking 30 goals or 50 points at any other point in his career. The 80s was full of these guys! Goals were free and Dino cashed in.

Ciccarelli is a good player (you can’t score over 600 goals and 1200 points and be bad), but he isn’t Hall of Fame great. He only led his team in scoring in three seasons. He never won a major award and he never even made the NHL First or Second All-Star team. Furthermore, he never won a Stanley Cup, although he did make the Final twice (with Minnesota in 1981 and Detroit in 1995). I don’t consider this a major failing considering a player could be stuck with bad teams most of his career, but I reserve that clause for the best players of their era – Dino does not fit this distinction.

Over the next few posts I’m going to outline who I believe should make the Hall of Fame in 2011. I already presented the case for Eric Lindros this summer, which, as expected, drew considerable opposition. The following candidate might draw some of the same criticisms that Lindros did, but he wasn’t generally regarded as a dick, so the discussion should at least be civil.

Pavel Bure, known as the Russian Rocket for his blazing speed, is the first in a three-part series of posts (since we’ll count the Lindros post) examining which players the Hockey Hall of Fame needs to assemble for their 2011 induction class.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Raycroft vs. Toskala: The Case of Too Many Goals Against

raycroft toskala leafs suck
After turning back the clock and examining the foulness of the JFJ era in Toronto I inevitably began to think of Andrew Raycroft and Vesa Toskala. How could I not? And anytime you think of either Raycroft or Toskala you have to think about how terrible they were.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of things like this I get mad. I know I shouldn’t. It’s silly to get worked up over sports, but I do. It saves me from getting upset over real things. There’s no hot water in the apartment today? Well, that sucks. But not as much as a .874 SV%.

As I thought about these two pseudo-goalies I began to wonder, which one do I dislike more?

Let’s make the case for each.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Movember!

lanny macdonald leafs moustache
For anyone participating in Movember, here's something to aspire to.

October Recap: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

giguere schenn leafs
The first month of the NHL season is complete and the Leafs have looked equally surprising and predictable. To everyone’s surprise, the Leafs won the first four games of the season, while recently their ability to score has seemingly disappeared, not so surprising.

It’s a long season and it’s always important to remind yourself of both the good and the bad to ensure you don’t get too high or too low.

For example, after the Leafs started the season 4-0, I was very seriously considering betting on them to win the Northeast Division. The odds were good and the Leafs were rolling. Then I told myself they squeaked by against Montreal, held on against an undermanned Pittsburgh team, outplayed a badly undermanned New York team, yet only won on a power-play in overtime, and throttled Ottawa because the Senators are garbage. The reasonable voice inside my head told me the Leafs finished 29th only a year ago and I already predicted they would have to fight all year just to make the playoffs (which they’ll make in case you’re wondering). The rational fan won. The passionate fan was too busy getting drunk and yelling ‘Go Leafs Go!’ to provide a cogent argument.

Let’s take a brief look at the first month of the season and see what’s going right for the Leafs and, unfortunately, what’s going wrong.

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