30 July 2010

The Modano Mess: Hysteria in Hockeytown

Also known by its non alliterative (read: non-douchey) title:
  • "Everyone just calm the fuck down about Mike Modano."
I've written here before I fell off the face of the Internet, stating that I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Modano slap on a Winged Wheel and skate for Detroit next season. Sure enough, days later, Kenny Holland was talking about his interest in the former Stars star, and Mikey Mo was visiting Hockeytown about his future. Excitement began to stir a bit. Personally, I was rather worried. If Modano happened to sign in Detroit, then I would have potentially written something mildly insightful, and it would likely be a sign of the impending apocalypse.

That aside, the prospect of the Greatest American Forward to have played the game taking the ice for the Wings was pretty exciting. Many people agreed, and some differed. And then, Mike did the unthinkable.
  • He didn't immediately cream himself at the prospect of playing for a new team in the first time in his career at the age of 40.
Panic ensued. Riots assembled. People gathered their brooms and officially declared shenanigans. In short: everyone lost their shit.

Color me confused. Now, I fully recognize the extent of the hypocrisy I'm exhibiting here in chiding Wings fans for overreacting about something Wings related. The very concept sends my stomach-encompassing hockey-ulcer into hysterics. But really: did absolutely anyone expect an instant decision from the guy?

Modano is 40 years old. He's coming off a season where he battled injuries and saw limited ice time. He's played his entire career with one franchise. At the end of last season, absolutely everyone simply assumed the guy was going to hang his skates up for good. Then, at the beginning of free agency there was a little bit of talk about him coming to Detroit. Now, nobody can understand why he wouldn't immediately sign a contract.

Modano has said that he's going to make a decision some time after 05 August, when he'll resume skating. He wants to see how he feels; see if he still has the energy and the drive to play for a full season of hockey. To me, that seems pretty reasonable. It's not like he's tying up the team, causing us to risk losing players, or miss out on other opportunities. It's not like waiting on Modano costs us an opportunity to offer Kovalchuk a 106 year contract for $8 billion or something. It just means we have less to yammer about during this pain in the ass hockeyless nightmare known as summer.

I guess what I'm saying is, there's other shit to worry about. You know, like

"The Winged Wheel's List of Other Shit to Worry About"

  • The Fisher-Underwood Wedding. I mean, come on! This holy union of two universal superstars is as life-altering as anything will ever be. Just like those who were around will never forget where they were when they heard that JFK was shot, I cannot imagine anyone alive today will forget the Fisherwood wedding. I imagine some day sitting my grandchildren down to tell them the story of  the blonde with nice tits and the hockey player that people have only heard about because he's married to the blonde with nice tits. It's as romantic and timeless as the story of Cinderella and Prince Charming, Woody Allen and his creepy daughter-wife, or Mel Gibson and unfiltered racism. Matches made in heaven.
  • The World Cup. I know that it's over now, but at the time, caring about soccer became a requisite activity. It doesn't matter now mind-numbingly boring it is, or the fact that it's a Title 9 sport only truly cherished in the third world. If you didn't make it part of your daily life to miss work to watch  two countries - who's main exports consisted of disease and mail order brides - battle it out for several hours while the sound of a swarm of angry mutant bees permeated your entire being, slowly trying to convince you to grab a weapon and go on a rampage... then you were a shitty citizen of Earth.  Even the tried and true excuse of "Oh, I'm sorry... I thought this were 'Merica" doesn't get you out of pretending to love something so excruciating once every four years. 
  • Preparing to take down the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions. It's going to be a tall order to ensure that Chicago doesn't manage to repeat their Cup winning performance next season. In order to regain their division crowns, the Wings are going to have to focus, preparing to take down all three of their forwards. Ha, yeah. Nevermind.
  • The long term effects of all the drugs taken at the Zetterberg wedding. Not long ago, Z tied the knot. Apparently, he and everyone invited celebrated by dropping a silly amount of acid, and dressing up like it was 1932 and they were all going to pile into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and take a nice jaunt to the beach. We should be concerned, because a large contingent of Wings' players were in attendance, clearly under the influence of powerful hallucinogens. Take Homer for example:
  • Whether or not Aaron Downey will make the team. After a year hiatus, Downey has been invited to training camp. He really wants to make the big club. In related news, I really want to beat Lou Farigno in an arm wrestling competition while a choir of elves sing praises about me in pig latin and Whinny Cooper gives me a full-body oil massage without using her hands. Dreams.
  • What the hell you are all going to do with yourselves while I'm in Canada doing nothing but drinking ice cold Alexander Keiths. Almost immediately after I publish this post, I'm off for a week in the Canadian wilderness. I'm sure as soon as I've crossed the border and lose cell phone reception and internet capabilities Antti Niemi will receive a $60 billion and free hj's for life arbitration award, Modano will sign with the Wings, and Gary Bettman will be hit by a plane. But alas, I will not be able to share it with those of you with the stomach to handle my drivel until I return. Hey, maybe J Rock will finally write something (nudge, nudge). 
Hopefully, this list will help keep your minds off of Mikey Mo's decision to do something rational for a little while, and you'll be able to focus on what is really important: laughing at Chicago's collapse. See you all in a week.

...is it October yet?

29 July 2010

The Collapse in Chicago: A Day in the Life of Stan Bowman

Tough summer for the son of the greatest coach of all time. Sure, the Blackhawks won a cup. Sure, they had a fun parade full of people who haven't watched a collective 60 minutes of hockey in their entire lives. Sure, they got to play Chelsea Dagger over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and da da da, da da da, duh da da, duh...

Ahem. They got to play it 'till everyone's brain short-circuited.

But that celebration was mostly short-lived. At least for Stan. Because Stan knew deep down inside, that he had a nightmare in front of him. A cap situation that could only be summarized as a clusterfuck on horse steriods. And Stan didn't have any solutions.

Not surprising really. I mean, the dude got the job because his dad is a super-genius that the franchise wanted to attract and keep around. And it's not like they won the cup off of his ingenuity. The roster that took the ice this year had very little to do with him, and everything to do with Dale Tallon, years and years of bottom feeding, and obvious draft picks. So really, no matter how many times the Chicago faithful (all five of them) repeat to themselves that everything will be OK, and they'll find a way out of cap-hell, there isn't really any reason to have faith, or believe that anything other than an utter collapse is imminent.

Today Antti Niemi goes to salary arbitration. In order to fit under the cap, the Hawks are hoping that he's awarded a contract where he has to pay the team about $5 million a year for a decade. They're really relying on the arbitor demanding that Antti sell his family's yam farm (or whatever the hell they grow in Finland) and sacrifice three of his closest relatives to the Spirit of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Otherwise, they're - to put it scientifically - fucked.

This has been causing Stan a great deal of stress. I mean, considering his team actually can't even afford to pay their Stanley Cup winning goaltender the league minimum, he's got to be worried about the perfect storm in front of him. The guy just won a Stanley Cup, goaltenders with less to brag about are signing multimillion dollar awards, and the backup on the same damn team is pulling down $5.6 million a year. That's just hillarious.

Well, it's less hillarious to Stan. He's not taking it so well. In fact, we here at The Winged Wheel have proof. We've got the insight you just don't get elsewhere. Lucky for you I'm currently stuck in enemy territory, and through covert operations I managed to spy on Stan for a whole day, tracking his every move. And without further ado, I present:

"A Day in the Life of Stan Bowman."

  • 7:15 am: Chelsea Dagger alarm goes off. Stan blindly reaches up and drops a fist down on the snooze button.
  • 8:25 am: 10 "snoozes" later, Stan throws the alarm clock across the room. Pulls a bottle of Grape Burnetts from under his pillow and takes a 45 second swig.
  • 8:30 am: Stan rolls out of bed, landing on the floor. Drags himself up and to the kitchen where he pours himself a bowl of Rice Krispies and Wild Turkey. Grabs the Tribune, flips to the Sports section to read another thrilling article designed to teach the Chicago masses about the complicated icing rule they haven't been able to figure out yet.
  • 9:00 am: Doorbell rings. Opens to find a gift basket from Atlanta Thrashers's Rick Dudley. Angrily signs and throws it in the corner with decaying flowers he got from the Maple Leafs' Brian Burke.
  • 9:15 am: Hot shower and a good long cry.
  • 9:45 am: OK, now it's a cold shower. Still crying.
  • 10:30 am: Assistant, concerned that he hasn't shown up at the United Center yet, enters to find him shivering in the fetal position of the floor of his still running shower, sobbing uncontrollably. Helps him to his feet, and lets him cry on his shoulder.
  • 11:00 am: Managed to finally get dressed in sweatpants and an "I Heart Dad" tee, Stan calls for a cab because he's still drunk from breakfast.
  • 11:25 am: Finally convinces the company to send a driver after persistent insistance that despite his affiliation with the Blackhawks, he's really not that close to Patrick Kane.
  • 12:00 pm: Arrives at the United Center, passes Huet's agent in the hall. Smiles through grit teeth. Afterward, punches himself in the dick.
  • 12:15 pm: More crying.
  • 12:30 pm: Listens to 29 voicemails full of hysterical laughter from GM's returning calls about their interest in Cristobal Huet or Brian Campbell.
  • 1:00 pm: Assistant enteres office with his usual summer lunch: Three bottles of Tums and a glass full of Whiskey and Nyquil.
  • 1:30 pm: Stands on the roof of the United Center, stares down at the earth below for about an hour.
  • 2:30 pm: Receives a call from IT, confirming that CapGeek.com has been blocked from the United Center servers.
  • 3:00 pm: Meeting with scouting corps going over the affordable prospects. A kid someone found playing street hockey on the south side with a 2 x 4, a tennis ball, and a garbage can seems promising to fill out the fourth line, but his contract demands may be a little high.
  • 3:25 pm: Throws darts at large portrait of Dale Tallon. Eventually charges the picture, throwing punches at the drawing's face. Patrick Kane walks by and offers him advice on his form.
  • 3:45 pm: Checks in on group of top notch accountants and numbers gurus for an update on their  project assignment - reinventing math. Not going well.
  • 4:00 pm: Calls Marian Hossa to see if he has dinner plans. Reluctantly agrees that Tomas Kopecky can come too, and that he gets to pick the restaurant.
  • 5:00 pm: Dinner at Chuck-E-Cheese. After Hossa threatens to quit, Stan agrees to give Kopecky quarters to play the games. The two share a laugh over a joke about Hossa playing after 40.
  • 5:15 pm: Freaks out because he forgot to feed Denis Savard. Calls his assistant to ask him to throw some scraps into the cage he's been kept in since being fired over nothing.
  • 6:00 pm: On his walk home, native Chicagoan approaches him, asking "Don't I know you?" Receives puzzled stare after explaining he's associated with a hockey team. Spends 20 minutes describing hockey.
  • 7:00 pm: Gets home, calls his dad and begs him to find him a different job. Cries.
  • 7:45 pm: Fires up the PS3 to play NHL10. Still can't manage to get through a season without being fired in the Be A GM mode.
  • 9:00 pm: Prayer. Deplores the lord to please not let the sun rise in the morning. 
  • 9:15 pm: Passes out clutching a copy of the pre-lockout CBA, stained with booze and tears
Poor Stan. It can't be easy knowing that your window of opportunity is officially slammed shut and knowing that you are doomed to spend the rest of your career losing to the team your fanbase seems to think "sucks" so hard. Well hey... at least he's got a ring someone else earned for him that he can pawn in a few years.

...is it October yet?

28 July 2010

July Redux: Holy crap it's almost August

Yeah, yeah. I'm alive.

You know, the summer is a real pain in the ass. Granted, overall I'm a fan of much of the weather. And hell, you won't hear a complaint from me about a lighter law school schedule. But really, what the hell am I supposed to do without hockey? It's usually around this time of year that October starts to feel reeeeeeeeaaaaaallllly far away. We're just far enough away from the end of the season that it feels like forever since I've last watched a game. We're also far enough past the Draft and the start of Free Agency that we don't have shit to look forward to except for training camp.

This is the part of the post where I'd say something like "Well... thank Bear Jesus for Baseball." Yeah, that's probably not going to happen here. Mostly because Larry Aurie decided that his vendetta against Mike Illitch needs to extend beyond just attacking the Wings' roster. Now, the Toledo Mudhens are taking the field at Comerica and the sports world continues to be a miserable, torturous, gut-wrenching hellscape with no sign of salvation in sight. Hooray. Hooray indeed.

That being said, it's not like things worth commenting upon just haven't happened in the hockey world since I last took up valuable bandwidth with inappropriate drivel. So, why not, here's what we missed.

  • Free Agent Day
Boy, I'm sure the internet just didn't know what to do with its collective self without my comments on such dynamite player movements like Jody Shelly to the Flyers, or Jonathan Matsumoto to the Hurricanes. Thrilling. Though, there were a few gems.  Like Glen "Holy Fuck I Can't Be Fired No Matter How Hard I Try" Sather signing Derek Boogard to a 6.6 milliohahahahHAHAHAHAHA. Ahem. $6.6 million contraHAHA. One more try.

$6.6 million dollars of refuckulous.

Seriously, how does that guy have a job? Gives me hope... gives me hope...

Speaking of refuckulous contracts:
  • The Brett LebdHAhaha fiasco
That's right folks. One of our favorite whipping boys here at The Winged Wheel will be turning pucks over and getting caught jumping the rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only that, but he'll be paid almost $1.5 million dollars a year to do it. At the time, there were lots of "experts" that called this a great move, indicating two things. 1) Apparently it doesn't matter if your most recent "playoff experience" includes envying Chris Osgood's responsibilities manning the faceoff chart, and 2) "Experts" are fucking idiots.

The key here: that shitbird is no longer a Wing. That's something we can all be happy about.
  • The Chicago BlackHAHAHAwks
Oh yeah. No way I'm going to stop adding laughter to words, no matter how old and tired it gets.

Anyway, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks. How will they manage their salary cap and still have the minimum number of players to take the ice? Will they be able to afford the 16 billion dollars Anti Niemi gets awarded in arbitration? Will it be as funny in 2058 that they'll still be advertising "2010 Stanley Cup Champions" on their playoff tickets as it was in 2009 when they were advertising their 1961 win?

Can someone please pass the fork? They're done.

They've lost players left and right. Then there was that whole hillarious Hjmarladhdadqqqlbntson (sp?) situation, where San Jose offered the guy a contract with a hit of over $4 million dollars, forcing the cash strapped Blackhawks to let their promising defenseman go...

Oh wait. Nope. Just as it looked as maybe (MAYBE) the Hawks would be able to peice together a team without loosing every single ounce of their core, they matched it. Hillarious.

That means the Hawks currently have -400,000 to sign at least a forward, a defenseman, and Anti Niemi. Hey, maybe someone will take one for the team and pay to play.

I cannot wait for 24 September.

  • Bob Probert Inducted to the Legion of the Hockey Gods
No reason to insert laughter into this one because it's damn tragic. In fact, this deserves much more than a blurb on a "Fuck me, I haven't updated in a while" post. But the sad fact is that for the moment, this will have to do. 

Personally, my exposure to Probert the Wing was limited to a few years. Though I distinctly recall some of my first hockey memories being excited about one of the bruise brothers dropping the gloves. Maybe the fact that some of my first hockey fights included one of the best to ever throw down helped shaped my whole-hearted belief that fighting is not only good for the game, its downright key.

Add the fact that Probie spent his best years protecting the Greatest Captain to Ever Play the Game. That in itself earns the man a seat of honor in the litany of Wings Greats.


Probie, you went too early. But now that you've joined the Legion, can you do us a favor? You've taken blows for the Wings before, and we're asking you to help out again. Keep an eye out for any of those coke-riddled Hockey Gods that decided to shit all over us last season, and when you see 'em? Do what you do best.

RIP Probie.

That's not everything, but I'll throw in my two cents about some of the other issues in another post. Baby steps.

...is it October yet?