Friday, 31 May 2013

Happy Anniversary, Kerry Fraser!

NOTE: This blog is a repost from an original contribution the The Hockey Writers. To view the original post, please click here.
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In case you haven’t noticed by the slew of blogs discussing the 1992-93 playoffs, this week marks the 20th anniversary of Kerry Fraser’s blown call—a missed high-stick courtesy of Wayne Gretzky that bloodied Doug Gilmour. 

The infraction should have given the Leafs a player play on which they (as their faithful fans attest each May) would surely have scored to clinch the series. Afterward, the cup—their first cup since 1967—would have been theirs.

Sadly, this was not to be.

Instead, the Kings prevailed, leaving Leafs fans to berate Kerry Fraser every May 27.

Since almost every angle of this story has been covered, I’m focusing on a less discussed topic. If you want a thorough analysis of what happened that fateful night in May, check out posts on the subject by Sean McIndoe (a.k.a. Down Goes Brown).

If, however, you’d like to find out about the aftermath, then this post is for you.

Fraser has stated that he has had to carry that game with him as figurative baggage over the last twenty years. He doesn't hold on to the memory himself; rather, bitter fans force him to bear their disappoint for life. 
In light of these comments, I thought I’d offer a list of ways in which the memory of that incident might be haunting Fraser and how he might deal with the burden of that memory.

1. Attempting to get absolution

Immediately following the blown call, Fraser acted like any of us would and sought to absolve himself of his heinous trespass by seeking absolution from the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. 

Unfortunately, the oracle informed him that while the classical hero Orestes could be forgiven for matricide, Fraser's offence was beyond the power of gods or men to forgive. Immediately afterward, a plague of Furies rose from the underworld to torment the forsaken ref from that day onward.

If you'd like to know what exactly "Furies" are, check out my previous post on the awesomest team in the CWHL: The Toronto Furies!

2. Scarring himself for life as an act of penance

An anonymous Bazooka Joe comic informed me that, immediately following the blown call, Fraser went into a black mood and was irreconcilable for weeks. During that time, he apparently decided to give himself jailhouse-style tattoos as a reminder of his crime against the Leafs and, by extension, humanity itself. He usually covers these tats with makeup, but I've put together an artistic rendition of what they might look like.

He has a high stick inked under each eye that missed the obvious call on Gretzky for the stick infraction.

 3. Joining a support group

Having hit rock bottom in the 1993 offseason, Fraser eventually decided to seek help so that he could return to officiating in the next season.Since that summer, Fraser has attended a support group for people who have blown big moments in the history of sport. He's sponsored by Bill Buckner who is also the founder of the group. Here's a pamphlet advertising the organization.

Buckner chose this phone number because, even if he forgets everything else that happened to him in life, no one will fail to remind him that he handed--or gloved--the 1986 World Series to the Mets.


4. Making amends

As part of his 12-step program with BB, Fraser has to make amends for having hurt people by his actions. On the top of his list is being forgiven by Wendel Clark, who led the Leafs to a glorious comeback in that fateful Game 6 by tying the game with a hat trick. That accomplishment, however, was ultimately rendered moot by Fraser's poor officiating.  

To honour Clark's achievement and express remorse for diminishing its significance, Fraser throws vagrant hats that he's collected during the year on Wendel Clark's lawn every 27th of May. Of course, Fraser, acting on survival instincts, doesn't dare alert Clark that he's anywhere near his property, so the anonymous hat-bombings have been fruitless thus far in terms of making amends.


Incidentally, If there’s one thing Wendel Clark hates, it’s when the annual anonymous hat-drop hinders his morning croquet match.
5. Avoiding Dion Phaneuf

While Fraser tries to make amends with Clark, he tries to avoid Dion Phaneuf at all costs. Apparently, an apparition of Doug Gilmour appears before Phaneuf at night to remind him that the "time is out of joint," meaning that the Leafs should have won the cup in 1993. The apparition tells Phaneuf that he must avenge this loss and right history by winning a cup for the Leafs that year.

Unfortunately, the apparition's plan has so far backfired horribly. Instead of rallying the team to undertake a long cup run, Phaneuf stages plays that implicate Fraser (who is usually seated in the audience) with having killed the hopes and dreams of Leafs Nation. Thankfully for viewers at home, the NHL schedules this annual pageant during commercial breaks at the seldom-watched NHL Awards.

Another unexpected side effect is that Phaneuf doesn't offer any motivation in the dressing room anymore. Instead, he just stares at a skull and philosophizes on how  death takes those who do and do not win cups alike: to him, the true face of humanity is a naked, anonymous skull.

These dressing-room digressions have likely led to reporters saying that Phaneuf shouldn't wear the "C" anymore.


You can tell when Phaneuf is having a "Hamlet moment" on the ice as he acts like a pylon in the d-zone while contemplating whether 'tis nobler of the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous cup droughts.

6. Taking some "Kerry time"

In response to Phaneuf's annual dramatic lambasting of him, Fraser often holes himself up in his dressing room at TSN's studios. His contract allows for his frequent absences from the network's panels through a "Kerry time" clause, which stipulates that he can retreat into his dressing room at any time for as long as he wants. 

This type of timeout usually involves Fraser putting on his best Uggs or Crocs (depending on the season), making origami cranes out of the official NHL rule book, and listening to an endless loop of Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt."

 Network pages sent to collect Fraser from his make-shift dressing room are often turned away by this sign.

7. Creating a memorial

This year, Fraser has finally accepted that the memory of his missed call will never die. So, instead of fighting against a collective's grudge against him, he's decided to mourn with Leafs nation by staging an annual memorial outside of the LA Forum (the site of the Leafs greatest misfortune aside from that OT loss in the 2013 playoffs).

Fans are welcomed to join Fraser in his observance of that dark day by contributing decorations that mark the 27th of May as an National Day of Mourning for Leafs Nation.  


The Legend of Zelda: Link Takes the Rink! Friday Photo Contest 4

It`s time once again for a Friday Photo contest!

Last week`s picture garnered a lot of attention from people who had suppressed the memory of Casey Jones' premeditated murder of the Shredder. Most contributions were of the "tell me that didn't actually happen!" variety.

Nevertheless, there was one caption that seemed to capture the picture best. Thanks to Judith Hoag for providing the winning caption, which reminds us that Casey Jones wasn't just a lackadaisical murderer but a chauvinist creep to boot!

Ref: Sorry Jones, you're too much man on the ice. Now go off to the penalty box.
Jones: Lead the way, toots.
Ref: Toots?
Jones: Babe? Sweetcakes? Ah--princess! You wanna throw me a clue here?


Now here's this week's caption-worthy photo!

Suggested caption: "Hyrule? More like I rule!"

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Brief Special Announcement and Special Thanks

There's been a lull at the blog recently because I've just taken up the invitation to contribute posts to The Hockey Writers!

I want to thank everyone who regularly or casually checks out this site. Your support and encouragement has helped me tremendously as I've worked toward the goal of convincing a website that actually makes money to feature my work.

Pardon me for gushing here, but it's not every day that I get to live out dreams that I mused over when I was 13. Sure, I haven't developed mutant powers at the onset of adolescence as I had hoped, so I never did get an invitation to join the X-Men.

But getting the chance to focus on writing (my back-up plan back then) still offers some cause for celebration! (However, I'm still not entirely giving up on my dream of developing superpowers no matter what my guidance counselors and financial-aid officers have said to the contrary in the past.)

   I hoped to combine the powers and abilities of Wolverine AND Archangel. It could still happen....

Anyway, if you haven't already, please check out my first post on www.thehockeywriters.com. I'll repost my material from that site on this blog at a later date.

Also, I will continue to post new material on this blog (albeit with less frequency than I did before). I'll put together a posting schedule shortly.

Again, thanks for reading! I hope that you'll continue to do so!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bozie Beast: On re-signing Tyler Bozak

Other bloggers have offered great analyses of whether or not the Leafs should re-sign pending UFA Tyler Bozak, who has played the last few seasons as the Leafs' (de facto) first-line centre. If you want to read more about this debate, I recommend that you check out articles by Cam Charron and Jeff Veillette from theleafsnation.com.

To offer something completely different, I'm not going to try to persuade you into agreeing that the Leafs should or should not make a new deal with Bozak. Instead, I'm offering a dramatic pre-enactment of how I imagine the main push of contract negotiations will go.

In my imaginings, serious contract talks will contain the same levels of profanity, coercion, intimidation, and aggravated assault as in the (not-an-adult-film-despite-its-title) movie Sexy Beast (2000), so I'm going to use quotes, screen caps, and gifs from that movie in the following dramatization.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, Sexy Beast stars an absolutely terrifying, very un-Gandhi-like Ben Kingsley as a mobster who pressures his former associate Gal (played by Ray Winstone) to come out of retirement for one last job.

The movie is perhaps most famous for preempting Donnie Darko with a far more nightmarish bunny.

Where's your automatic weapon, Frank from Donnie Darko?

Okay, I hope that's enough preamble. Here's the main event, titled The Departed 2: The High Cost of Free Agency.

Dramatis Personae

Tyler Bozak: A pending UFA enjoying his summer of leisure before the General Manager of his team barges into his home and begins hostile negotiations. Role played by Ray Winstone.

Dave Nonis: A maniacal GM who uses various psychological and physical forms of abuse to pressure his personnel  into agreeing to his contract terms. Role played by Ben Kingsley.

Deedee: Bozak's pool boy (who bears a striking resemblance to Bozak himself).

The Scene: Tyler Bozak's summer residence.

Scene 1: By Tyler Bozak's  pool. Some time in June. Morning. 

The scene begins with a closeup of Bozak as he lounges the days away poolside in the warm climes of his native Regina, Saskatchewan.


Tyler Bozak: Man, it's hot. Searing hot. I'm basically peameal bacon at this point--sizzling away in the frying pan. Who could even think of hockey at a time like this? I'd melt through the ice if they put me in the rink right now. Hockey--who needs it on a day like today?


Tyler Bozak: Deedee, are there any messages for me?

Deedee: (Attending the pool while looking like Tyler Bozak): Yes, Dave Nonis says that he's coming by to discuss your contract.


Bozak: Dave? He's coming here in person? Did he say why he's not discussing things with my agent?

Deedee: Dave said that contract talks broke down shortly after he put your agent in the hospital. He said that the two of you can work things out without an agent.

Bozak: When's he coming?

Deedee: This afternoon, and he plans to stay here until the contract extension is finalized.

Scene 2: That afternoon. Nonis and Bozak discuss a new contract poolside.


Nonis: Why won't you play 3rd or 4th line centre so that we can promote Kadri or Colborne? Why don't you want to see young players--young like you used to be--promoted and given a chance? Why do you think we should push them out of the organization for you?

Bozak: I'm not pushing anybody out. It's just . . . . Look, I'd be useless on those lines.

Nonis: Useless? In what way?

Bozak: In every effing way!

Nonis: (Feigning surprise) Why are you swearing? I'm not swearing. (Warmly) Talk to me, Bozie. I'm a good listener.

Bozak: What can I say, Dave? I've said it all: longer term, more money, top-line minutes.

Nonis: (Seething but composed) Shut up. (Pause). Sit down.

Pause. Bozak sits.

Nonis: (Speaking pleasantly as though nothing has happened) We're at 2 million. I may go two-and-a-half, maybe even three. It all depends on the usual cap issues. But it's not about the money with you and me is it, Bozie? It's the charge; it's the bolt; it's the sheer joy of playing in the NHL. Amirite?

Bozak: Yes, but . . . 

Nonis: But, what?




Scene 3: That night. Nonis and Bozak walk around the grounds of Bozak's prairie home.

Bozak: It's not that I want to walk, Dave. But with your terms, I'd rather test free agency for a deal that makes sense.


Dave: Quite frankly, your attitude appalls me. It's not what you're saying. It's all this stuff you're not saying. Insinnuendos. Testing the free-agent market? You louse. You got some effing neck, ain't you? Looking for a deal that makes sense? You're revolting on me!

Bozak: No, I just want to get paid like other top-line centres, which is what the Leafs have trained me to be. If I can't find that money in Toronto, then I'll look elsewhere.

Nonis puts Bozak in a headlock.


Nonis: (Shouting) What, you think this is the Wheel of Fortune? You think you can take your dough from us and eff off? Leave the table? "Thanks Dave, see you Dave, off to sunny Regina now Dave, eff off Dave." Lying in your pool like peameal bacon laughing at me? You think I'm going to have that? 

Pause. Bozak continues to struggle in a headlock.

Nonis: (Speaking in a restrained manner while he grapples Bozak): All right, I'll make it easy for you. Are you gonna sign the contract? (Bozak tries to respond "no" but the headlock is too tight.) It's not a difficult question, are you gonna sign, yes or no? (Bozak again tries to speak.) Fine, we'll talk about it in the morning when you're calm enough to speak properly.

Scene 4: The next morning in Bozak's kitchen.

Nonis: Tell me what you want?

Bozak: I want a long-term extension and 5 million per year.

Nonis: 2 years, 2 million per.

Bozak: No.

Nonis: Yes, 2 years.

Bozak: No.

Nonis: Yes, 2 million per.

Bozak: No.


Nonis: (Barking like a mad dog) Yes, yes, yes, yes!

Bozak: No.

This exchange repeats until that evening.

Scene 5: After talks in the kitchen break off, Nonis agrees to go out for the evening to let things cool down. Bozak is entertaining friends in his home when Nonis suddenly crashes the gathering to make one final push to re-sign Bozak.

Bozak: Look, Dave, I was thinking of re-signing for less before you showed up, but now I plan to leave the Leafs no matter how much you'll pay me.

Nonis (Throwing down his coat): Not this time, Bozie. Not this time. Not this effing time.


Nonis (Shouting belligerently while pacing): No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! No! No no no no no no no no no no no no no! No! Not this effing time! No effing way, no effing way, no effing way! (Nonis repeats this line that night until Bozak's guests leave the next morning despite their fears for Bozak's safety.

Epilogue: The rest of the summer is dragged out by Nonis committing various, repeated acts of domestic destruction until Bozak signs, or Nonis is sent to prison for wrongfully and forcibly confining himself to Bozak's home.


Monday, 27 May 2013

How Henrik Lundqvist Sank the Rangers

Despite having high-quality players at each position, the New York Rangers struggled during the regular season and similarly under-performed during the playoffs.

With the team out of contention, it's time for commentators to lay the blame on a single member of the organization as the catalyst for his corps' catastrophe. I lay the blame on Henrik Lundqvist.

I'm not faulting King Henrik for his on-ice performance, his attitude in the dressing room, his ability to keep in shape, his relations with the media, or his pursuit of hobbies such as modelling and answering that age-old question, "What would the Burger King mascot look like in a rock band?" (The answer is: "He would look awesome.")

No, I'm blaming Kaiser Henrik for spreading glitter herpes throughout the team via his infected helmet.

Is it just Konig Henrik or do Swedes in general consider glitter integral to the Statue of Liberty's message about taking in the tired, poor, huddled (and drab) masses yearning to be sparkly? (To see Lundqvist's many glam helmets, check out the mask gallery at daveart.com). 

If you're unfamiliar with the term, "glitter herpes" is a arts-and-crafts phenomenon in which people find that glitter used on different projects (even ones completed years ago) reappears in new projects as well as throughout the crafty person's home and on his or her person. Like its STI namesake, glitter herpes sometimes remains dormant for long periods of time between outbreaks.

In case you're unconvinced, here's photographic evidence that shows how invasive glitter herpes can be.

Pictured: Brian Boyle's and Derick Brassard's jerseys are barely intelligible due to the spread of glitter in the Rangers locker room.

While glitter herpes shares no serious health concerns with its STI equivalent, it does cause problems for hockey players playing with it.

Some speculate that John Tortorella  was angry all year because he could never get the glitter out of his hair. His condition has been referred to by other teams as "pixie dandruff."

As you can see, the vision of Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash has been obscured by the spread of glitter on each player's visor. This impairment directly resulted in key goals against the Rangers during the playoffs.

To give you a better idea of the detriment that glitter has posed to the team, please review the following pictures.

Here's how we at home and the Bruins in TD Garden saw a pivotal goal in the series.


And now, here's what that same picture looks like through a visor coated in glitter.

Given the interference from Dee Snider, Mariah Carey, Lucky from Lucky Charms cereal, Tinkerbell, Bootsy Collins, and a unicorn, poor Henricus Rex didn't have a chance to make this save.

Had the austere colour of the puck not helped Henrik Caesar see shots amid the ambient glitter of the rink in Madison Square Gardens, the Rangers wouldn't have been able to eke out that single win at home against Boston.  

Even so, the officials at MSG had to use dozens of pucks per game as each one quickly became too glitzy to use in competition. Indeed, the sheer amount of glitter swirling around the arena often halted play by compounding into disco balls that bounced around the ice like tumbleweed.

The only positive to take from the playoff losses due to glitter herpes is that the phenomenon has given the Rangers material with which to choose (finally) a team mascot that reflects the team's identity as a group known for playing "glam rock 'em, sock 'em hockey."

To make this unconventional mascot more palatable, I've deferred to tradition by basing it on a bear. The NYR bear will have a menagerie of backing beasts accompanying him. Tentative name: Teddy Stardust and the Saucer-Passers from Mars. 

Hopefully Henrik Roi, after spending the summer thinking over how his helmet mishap has ruined his team's chances, will return in the fall with a less-contagious and more intimidating helmet. If he still wants something elaborate to the point of ostentation, he might consider wearing a model of a a dragon-headed Viking longship on his head!

Friday, 24 May 2013

T-U-R-T-L-E Power: Friday Photo Contest 3

After an unprecedented number of suggestions for last week's caption contest, I spent hours considering each contribution before deciding the winner.

The competition was close, but, in the end, I felt that Stanley Ipkiss' suggestion managed to encapsulate the picture's poignant sociopolitical commentary on how masculinity has been besieged by sociopolitical criticisms that demand it to justify its existence in the 21st century's culture of post-masculine manliness.

It also gently satirizes how history has become functionally unnecessary in society today because our ability to span vast expanses of time with the simple click of a hyperlink has made the past ever-present.

Here's Stanley's caption.


Tim Thomas: I'm gonna take you apart.
Carey Price: Well, I hope you can enjoy the victory with one friggin' eye!

Here's this week's caption-worthy picture.

Suggested Caption
Ref: I don't care if the Shredder slashed you first; you get two minutes for killing him.
Casey Jones: Oops.
Ref: Not cool, Jones. NHL 24/7 is supposed to feature the teams, not a snuff film.

Seriously, what's the deal with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)? How are we supposed to accept that the heroes' reckless violence and disregard for human life have saved a legion of New York youths from corrupt father figures? Casey Jones beats one mercilessly with a golf club, and then straight up tries to murder the other one (after the turtles have knocked him off of a rooftop and into a garbage truck) by hitting the switch on the truck's garbage compactor? #RoleModel

Perhaps the movie's saving grace is the incorporation of hockey terms into its PSA against petty crime.

Casey Jones: Now that was a crime, you purse-grabbing pukes. And this (brandishes hockey stick) is the penalty.

He knocks them down.

Casey Jones: Two minutes for slashing. (Knocks them down again) Two minutes for hooking. (Knocks them down again) and let's not forget my personal favorite: two minutes for high sticking.

Raphael (intervening): How about a five-minute game misconduct for roughing, pal?

Raph's right: we can't punish hoodlums for petty theft by beating them with a hockey stick because justice. 

Still, I bet the NHL would see a marked decline in penalties if the refs calling them re-enacted the offence on the offender with brute force rather than making sissy hand gestures. 







Thursday, 23 May 2013

Memorial Cup 2013: Your Guide to Taunts, Jeers, and Psyches for Each CHL Team!


This guide is for casual onlookers and emerging diehard fans of CHL hockey. To help prepare for being poor sports at games or watching from home, I've prepared some background info that can be used to talk-down each team competing for the Memorial Cup this week. I've also included some suggested taunts, jeers, and psyches for each team.

Let me preface this post further with a note on terminology.

I'm using "taunt" to refer to things chanted or sung by crowds in unison to demoralize an opposing team. By "jeer," I mean individual expressions of hostility that might be repeated during the game but not in a group fashion. The "psyche outs are designed to break a team's concentration (see the movie BASEketball for further clarification).

1. Portland Winterhawks

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the Winterhawks games are perhaps the most boring event that takes place in a city that is committed to weirdness.

To live up to their unofficial motto "Keep Portland Weird," the city offers attractions such as a museum of velvet paintings, a form of street-racing that involves shopping carts and encourages mayhem, and something called the "24-Hour Church of Elvis," which I don't at all understand. Indeed, I suspect that the Wikipedia editors gave up on their attempts to define this attraction and have simply called the "church" an exhibit at a museum/gallery.

As the photo below suggests, the Winterhawks' official mascot is vague racism. The team named this member of their organization "Tom-a-Hawk." The name might be an an attempt to smokescreen any perceived inappropriateness of the mascot in a similar manner that a sketch on Dave Chappelle's Show gave the "N-bomb" as the surname of a white, suburban family in order to get a series of racial slurs and stereotypes past the network's censors.

Much like the "paradox of the heap," this mascot seems culturally inappropriate, and yet I can't point to the specific element(s) that make it so.

Taunts: 

As the only CHL finalist located in America, it'd be easy for fans of opposing teams to rally around a nationalistic chant such as "No Way, USA" (tempo: clap clap clapclapclap).

In reference to the ill-defined "church," spectators might chant "El-vis, El-vis, El-vis" repeatedly to dispirit the Winterhawks by reminding them that whether they win or lose, they still have to return to Portland at some point.

Jeers:

I'll recommend a simple but effective way of ridiculing a team that I picked up on last summer. I went to see the semi-pro Toronto Maple Leafs of the Intercounty Baseball League last season at another team's ballpark. Fans of the home team showed support by jibing the team as though they were the NHL Leafs playing baseball during the offseason.

With that in mind, it seems natural for opponents of the Winterhawks (a team frequently mistaken as an affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks) to follow a similar practice. Obnoxious fans could, for instance, address (in a yelling tone of voice) Winterhawks centre Nicolas Petan as Jonathan Toews, who also wears #19.

Catcalls might include: "Why so serious, Toews?" and "If Toews keeps playing this poorly, they'll send him down to play as a puck in the ECHL next/"

If mocking the Winterhawks for not being the Blackhawks gets old, hecklers could switch to calling players by the names of characters played by Fred Armisen on the show Portlandia, which is set in Portland, Oregon.

Opponents could similarly play on the name of the Winterhawks' star defenceman Seth Jones by yelling, "At least you have something to whine about in your diary, Bridget" if he gets turned into a pylon by another team.


Psyche outs:

In light of Portland's enthusiasm for yarn bombing, fans might distract the Winterhawks' opponents by throwing skeins of yarn on the ice whenever their team scores.

To take things up a notch, they could develop their own version of the Vancouver Canucks' "green men" by having a yarnbombed person mock players in the penalty box.

The "yarn men" would have the advantage of being both more colourful and warmer than their NHL equivalents.

2. Saskatoon Blades

The Saskatoon Blades have the dubious honour of having both the second-longest Memorial-Cup drought (they've never won), and the longest drought between appearances in the final round of the competition (they made their one and only appearance in the final in 1967).

The Blades chose the Yeti as their team's mascot in reference to the fact that cyptozoologists consider a championship-caliber Blades team to be less likely to exist than the fabled "abominable snowman."

Taunts

The Blades were swept in the first round of the WHL playoffs, so they've had to kill time over the last weeks while teams in each CHL league fought it out to earn a spot in the Memorial Cup playoffs that Saskatoon gets to waltz into automatically as the host city.

Fans annoyed with the current playoff format might vent their frustration and deride the team least deserving of its playoff berth by chanting, "de-fault, de-fault, de-fault" when Saskatoon takes the ice.

Based on a purposeful misreading of the team's nickname as referring to units of a common lawn plant, crowds could also chant phrases like, "Mow the grass," "Turf the turf," and "lye the lawn(?)" during games.

Jeers

To pun further on "Blades," hecklers might call players "daywalkers" or shout "Wesley Snipes can't save you now!" in reference to the trilogy of Blade movies. They could also mock the team by quoting Blade's famous line, "Some motherf***ers are always trying to ice skate uphill!"

Psyche outs

Fans might consider donning the team's gladiator helmet (given to the roster's player-of-the-game) and yell quotes from Gladiator or 300 at other teams.

"This is where we hold them. This is where we fight. This is where they die!"

3. The Halifax Mooseheads

Before addressing the team specifically, I'd like to make an appeal to readers: could anyone tell me what the Mooseheads' mascot Hal is supposed to be?

Hal looks like the result of splicing together DNA taken from Teletubbies and Furbies.

Of the competing teams, Halifax is tied with Saskatoon in having no Memorial Cups. The Mooseheads, however, are second to none among playoff teams when it comes to having the fewest alumni playing in the NHL.

Defenders of the team might stress the value of quality over quantity, but saying so will only invite this rebuttal: "You mean 'quality players' like Brad Marchand?"

Taunts 

In fairness, Halifax's rather small list of notable alumni is to be expected since they are the youngest franchise competing for the Memorial Cup this year. In light of that fact, opponents might consider the following taunt,

"Rock-a-bye Mooseheads, in the playoffs,
When your lead's blown, the bleachers will rock;
When your sticks break, you cup dreams will fall,
And down will come Mooseheads, cradles and all!"

Jeers

While the Winterhawks are often mistaken for an affiliate of the Blackhawks, the Mooseheads (or "Nooseheads" as I often mis-type them) are often mistaken for prospective beer leaguers. An appropriate jeer for this team might be, "Beeeeeeer Leeeeeeague."

Psyche outs

Ardent Haligonians might pair themselves up and dress as moose and flying squirrels in order to stand behind the enemy's bench and quote lines (revised to suit the occasion) from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

One such exchange would be,


Rocky: Bullwinkle, do you know what an A-Bomb is?
Bullwinkle:  Sure, "a bomb" is what some people call Portland's team.
Rocky: I don't think that's very funny.
Bullwinkle: Sure it is. Have you ever seen Portland (making air quotes) "play" hockey? 


4. The London Knights

Full disclosure: I'm going easy on the Knights, but it's not because they are my favourite CHL team. No, the real reason is that I fear Dale Hunter.

The Knights were originally named the London Nationals in homage to a seldom-discussed and horribly-unsuccessful movement to cede London, ON from confederation. The team was renamed to reflect the city's longstanding (but as-yet-unconfirmed) claim to house the Holy Grail.

The pride of London play at the Budweiser Gardens where I'm told Surly (formerly of the 7 Duffs who performed at Duff Gardens) works security.



The Knights mascot is named "Sir Scores-a-Lot," which is also the nickname given to Sir Lancelot by King Arthur's other knights of the Round Table.

Taunts

From attending Leafs games, I've determined that opposing fans love to chant numbers that allude to embarrassing moments in a franchise's history such as the last year in which the Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

Building on this time-honoured tradition, sworn enemies of the Knights might chant "three-sixty-three" in reference to the team holding the worst regular season record in OHL history: they went 3-60-3 during the 1995-96 season. What's worse is that the team somehow didn't makethe postseason, which is an unfamiliar experience for today's Knights fans.

Jeers

Mockers need not say anything. All they need to do to shame the Knights is hold up a picture of Knightro.


This ungodly logo represents a dark time in the history of chivalry that far surpasses the breaking of King Arthur's court and the legendary king's demise at the hands of his incestuously begotten son, Mordred. Yes, the logo is (without hyperbole) simply that bad.

If fans really want something to yell at the Knights, they can shout out, "He shoots; he squires!" whenever a player misses the net and gives up an odd-man rush the other way as a result.

Psyche outs

Drawing on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Knights fanatics might derail another team's concentration by shouting "ni" repeatedly at intense moments. They could also diminish the significance of a devastating hit by saying, "'Tis but a scratch," or taunt another team's star player by shouting, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries."


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

If I were Dan Bylsma....Redecorating the Penguins Dressing Room

In the pursuit of balanced but ridiculous coverage of the Sens-Pens series, I've prepared some posters to motivate the Penguins and their fans (especially after the demoralizing experience of seeing those pro-Sens posters yesterday).

This may be the last poster blog for a while as I may go permanently cross-eyed from staring at MS Paint files for extended periods of time (especially while erasing almost as many swastikas as I did when receiving textbooks at the start of each semester in high school).

Here are six ways in which the Pens might use posters to pump up their team and its fan base.

1. Make the playoffs a nationalistic cause



Building on the ridiculous yearly narrative that is journalistic discussion of which team is "Canada's team" (spoiler alert: I'm voting for the Pens as they have the scorers of the "golden goal" on the team"), I thought it's time for America to embrace one team as their own. 

Never mind that the faceless Canadian menace that is about to stomp on New York is probably stepping off from Sidney Crosby's native Nova Scotia: the Pens are unquestionably America's team because sports! 

This poster has the added benefit of cultivating imaginings of the Rangers' homeland getting trampled. Sure, the Pens will rally around the Rangers and their sometimes-used alternate logo of the Statue of Liberty but not before their divisional rival has first been thoroughly trounced.

One possible danger surrounding this poster is that if its message is taken too far, the US Senate might reopen its committee on un-American activities and detain much of Pittsburgh's roster with trials reminiscent of McCarthyism.

2. Use nationalistic sentiments to fuel team toughness

Once the playoffs have been redefined as a nationalistic crusade against the faceless, city-stomping scourge from Canada, the Penguins can incorporate other nationalistic symbols into their idealizations of the postseason. For instance, no American propaganda-poster series would be complete without an allusion to Uncle Sam.


This poster helps to promote hockey in America (perhaps the least popular of the four major-league sports in the States) by equating it with the stars and stripes.

I chose this poster over the typical representation of Uncle Sam (i.e. the "I Want You" image) because this depiction of America's national character is through with talking. He's dropped the ridiculous top hat, set aside his jacket with tails, and rolled up his sleeves to do some serious head punching.

I wonder why the US (in times of war) doesn't use the angry, thunder-bolt design for the red stripes instead of the orderly and boring straight stripes. In this context, the intimidating red streaks suggest that it's time for Americans to brawl out some old-time hockey.  

This poster may, however, blow up in everyone's face as the Sens are more than willing to oblige the Pens in fights--an area in which the Sens most certainly will dominate and humiliate the Pens, causing Americans to disown the team.

3. Strengthen your grasp on victory

Yesterday I focused on the notion that the Sens are the underdogs in this match up. Today, I'm going to emphasize that the Pens are favoured (sidenote: this post won't be so pro-America that I omit any un-American uses of "u") to win in the second round of the postseason.

This poster reminds the Pens that they have a solid grasp on the series, and they just need to clamp down and extend that lead to break their opponent.


Of course, this poster might backfire as it seems contrary to the conventional playoff wisdom that teams need to avoid gripping the stick too tightly in white-knuckle games. If during tonight's game we see a record number of sticks broken and shots sent miles wide of the net, I'll remove this poster. 

4. Tighten mouths as part of the team's overall defence

Building on yesterday's theme that careless talk about player injuries might tip off the opposition, I prepared the following (perhaps Orwellian) poster for the Pens and their fans.


In the original poster, a minimalist image of Hitler appears all over the walls behind the two chatty women. Apparently during the Second World War, people embraced a form of paranoia that implies that Hitler was omnipresent!

Drawing on that theme, I've designed this poster with the menacing faces of Paul MacLean eavesdropping on two hockey wives enjoying a traditional Pennsylvanian tea service and discussing their husbands various vulnerabilities. 

The downside to this poster is that it might make Crosby's superstitious disposition reach critical mass. If that happens, the Pens captain will probably go into seclusion after seeing MacLean's face everywhere except the safe confines of his home theatre wherein he watches the "golden goal" repeatedly. We'll only hear rumours about the reclusive star as he wastes away clad in Kleenex boxes and whatever he's able to muster in terms of unkempt facial hair.  

5. Rally the fans (especially their wallets)

While it seems like a distant memory given the franchise's recent rise in popularity, it wasn't so long ago that the Penguins' future was uncertain on account of financial hardships. Even with a roster more glitzy than a glam metal band's rhinestone Be-Dazzler'd codpieces, there is always danger that Pittsburgh's financial woes will return. 

To help ensure that fans don't get disaffected by poor performances in the playoffs (such as last year against the Flyers) or complacent with the team's success, the Penguins organization might consider drafting posters such as this tto encourage fans to partake in the team's triumphs over its enemy. 

(Full credit to Chris Neil for spitting water through his gap-toothed grimace: I couldn't MS Paint a look so absurd!)

One drawback to this poster is that it might fuel the Sens' aura of indestructibility. They've been crushed by injuries throughout the year and bounced back. Neil's defiance in the poster above seems both fully cognizant of this fact and confident that the Sens will rebound from his loss. Hence the moniker "pesky."

6. Essentialize the match up as a contest between good and evil

In many intractable conflicts, each side resorts to depicting the enemy as an inhuman, vicious monster that has ensnared an emblem of all that is good. These tactics often shore up support for and give meaning to the conflict. 

Such is the aim of this romantic re-imagining of the Sens-Pens conflict.


In this scene reminiscent of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the Penguins' captain is a knight-errant battling with the serpentine, Sens-headed captor of the cup. 

Leafs fans will probably object to this poster suggesting that the Sens once possessed the cup, but such concerns of realism need to be put aside in order to allow my artistic license to drive the point home: the cup will greet the conquering Penguins as liberators.

Of course, everything that I've used to describe this poster will work in its disfavour. When facing a tough team like the Sens, it's probably best not to fuel their scorn and feelings of physical superiority by representing your team's leader as a whimsical hero from a romance epic. 

Moreover, the Sens might regard this representation of themselves as a fearsome foe to be complimentary--even if it implies that the first Senator to hoist the cup did so with his invertebrate trunk.


7. Emphasize how much fun the team will have when it's all said and won

Nothing can motivate a team and its fans more than imagining how much fun it is to win.

With that in mind, this poster offers a glimpse of how a Penguin such as Kris Letang might spend his day with the Stanley Cup if the team prevails in the playoffs.


The only downside here that that cup celebrations hereafter might seem lacklustre compared to the awesomeness of this form of reveling!