Thursday, May 30, 2013

Movie Review: The Last Gladiators

Chris Nilan Last Gladiators Montreal Canadiens
Like a soldier returning home from war, the fight may be over for retired NHL enforcers, but adjusting to a normal life isn't easy.

The Last Gladiators, a documentary by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney, focuses on Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, one of the most popular, and most feared enforcers of the 1980s.

Over his 13-year career spent in Montreal, New York, and Boston, Nilan accumulated 3,043 penalty minutes, 110 goals, one Stanley Cup, and a lifetime's worth of scars, thanks in large part to 251 on-ice fights.

"In some respects, I wish he never played hockey," his father Henry is filmed saying through tears.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Officials: The Comedy Series that Upholds Hockey's Laws of Anarchy

After the failure of MVP, Power Play, and Rent-A-Goalie, it might seem like TV shows about hockey are destined for failure. But with The Officials, Greg Rosen is out to prove Hockey Night in Canada doesn't have to be the only successful hockey series.

"Four years since writing the 22-minute pilot episode in my crappy student apartment I think I finally put something together that hockey fans will nod in agreement and feel like is a series for them—for us."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hockey Night in Punta Cana

punta cana beach
The Leafs made the playoffs for the first time in nine years and I almost missed it.

With how the series came crashing down catastrophically at the end, maybe that would have been for the best. But even after enduring insanely improbable heartbreak, the Leafs at least had a chance. And after nearly a decade lost in the bleak wilderness of apathy, I wouldn't trade this season, ending and all, for another lottery finish.

I almost missed the most relevant Leafs hockey in nine years because I was invited to a destination wedding in Punta Cana that inconveniently coincided with games 3-6.

Tip for anyone thinking about getting married: Book it before or after the playoffs, even if you're an Oilers fan and the chances of your wedding interfering with the playoffs is nil (Hey! I can make fun of other teams that don't make the playoffs now and it feels great). Otherwise, make accommodations for your insane hockey friends. For example, I went to a Stag and Doe on the night of Game 2 and one of the groomsmen brought his satellite dish from home and hooked it up so no one had to miss the game (or, more likely, the Stag and Doe). If you're having your wedding this might interfere with things like speeches, but just crank up the volume during intermission and it'll be like Don Cherry is giving you a personal wedding toast. "Keep your stick on the ice, even in the bedroom."

Bringing a satellite dish to Punta Cana probably wasn't going to happen, not that I was worried when I was first invited. I've had my plane tickets booked since last Autumn, well before the NHL lockout even ended, so I initially didn't think my trip south would be anything other than blissful. I wasn't overly optimistic about Toronto's chances heading into the season either, so even when the lockout ended I didn't think a trip in early May would be an issue. There are 10-year-old children who didn't even know the Leafs were allowed to play hockey in May. But as the season crept along, and the Leafs continued to pile on wins, I began to slowly realize that this trip was going to prove challenging.

For normal people, taking a trip to an all-inclusive resort with beautiful sunny weather would wash away any thoughts about a hockey game. Unfortunately, as a Leafs fan, I'm far from normal, and I was in a slight panic. Where was I going to watch the game? Was there an ESPN5 that would at least show some highlights, albeit after three hours of football and basketball coverage? How could I argue with bartenders about the merits of Jake Gardiner over Mike Kostka if I couldn't speak a lick of Spanish (other than "dos cervezas por favor").

After a win in Game 2, it became even more imperative that I watch this series. It was actually going to be a series, not a one-sided beating like many predicted. Luckily, there was a good contingent of Leafs fans going to the wedding, so I wouldn't be alone on my quest to find hockey.

And a quest it was. Here is how my (possibly hazy) memory recalls the week.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Eternal Sunshine of the Sportsless Mind

bruins leafs overtime playoffs

"how happy is the sportless vestal's lot
the world forgetting, by the world forgot
eternal sunshine of the sportless mind
each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned"

- adapted from "Eloisa to Abelard," by Alexander Pope

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why Do People Hate Glenn Healy?

glenn healy cbc sucks annoying
People hate Pierre McGuire. His most redeeming quality is looking like The Master of Disguise dressed as a turtle. Yes, that is a terrible movie and an old enough reference that probably three people thought it was funny. Yes, that is his most redeeming quality.

When I attempted to answer the time-tested question, "Why do people hate Pierre McGuire?" the response was overwhelming. People just don't like him, and they Google their hatred for him a lot.

Mercifully, Pierre McGuire was hired by NBC in 2011, so his presence (at least in Canada, sorry America, you're stuck with him) is minimal. However, his void as the most annoying on-air Canadian personality was filled almost immediately—like a decapitated hydra—by Glenn Healy.

People end up here quite frequently by Googling their hatred for Healy, as well.  So, why do people hate Glen Healy? Let me count the ways.

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