28 October 2010

Defending The Wizzard: Short, sweet, and to the point

You know, 140 characters just isn't enough. The twitters are abuzz with twits and twoots about the latest twitroversy over our goaltending twandum. (God damn kids and their lousy skateboards and rap musics...). I've certainly thrown in my two cents to the debate. And, in true Winged Wheel style, I've added an additional bucket full of wheat pennies and fuck words. But to sum it all up, 140 characters doesn't do it justice.

So, before I run off to practice, I want to just make a few things clear. I'm an unapologetic Ozzie apologist. Obviously. Anyone who's had a discussion with me on the topic can tell you as much. But that doesn't mean that I think the guy is the unholy offspring of Marty Brodeur and Terry Sawchuck. He's a Hockeytown staple, and a team guy. He's taken pay cuts to play here, and given us a pretty damn good career. He's got a damn fine trophy case, and I don't give a shit what anyone says, he's HOF material.

I recognize that Oz has struggled of late. Even I can't say that I've been wholly satisfied with his performance. But the Ozzie bashing seems to have a pretty huge blindspot. Before we all get all riled up, proclaiming that Ozzie's just not an NHL goaltender anymore, and that he needs to just take his 35+ contract and retire, leaving us with both his cap hit and Joey "so, you're saying I should stop the shiny round black thing?" MacDonald, lets think about what we're basing this on.

Sure, last year was damn pathetic. Ozzie didn't perform well. At all. But before we go throwing him under the bus, saying that this is a clear sign that he'll never be good again, at least consider the circumstances. Dude was getting starts so few and far between, that I doubt even Mr. Sawchuck himself could have managed to put up great numbers. While Ozzie's play didn't earn him much more than that, it's still hard to discount him as a player all together based on that season.

But hey! We're not just basing our hatred of the guy on one season. His 08-09 performance was abysmal as well.

Tell ya what. If I were to offer you a deal right now. Where I'd promise you a goaltender that keeps us competitive, wins us 26 games and looses only 9, and takes us all the way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals boasting a league best playoff performance, and I tell you all it's going to cost you is $1.4 million... would you take it?

The point is, it's not that long ago that Ozzie was able to put together some real strong performances. It's not that long ago that he was backstopping our team all the way to the end. It's not that long ago that the guy proved that he's still got it as an NHL goaltender. And he doesn't cost that much.

Ozzie's not the starter. The way Howard is showing up, I doubt he ever will be again. Sure, his best days are likely behind him - but he's not the throwaway that some claim him to be. I still believe that he's got some NHL in him, and that he can be one hell of a backup for us. Lets just give him the chance.

I'm not sold that he'll always be our best option in net. Nor and I particularly confident that he'll return to 07-08 form. But I've got faith in the Wizzard, that he's still got that talent and ability. That this is truly a mental issue, and like the blue collar trueblood Hockeytown sonofabitch that he is, he'll work through it. Till then, I'll still be here in his corner. Waiting and hoping. That's what a true fan does. You don't have to think he's going to win the Vezina... but you damn well not turn your back on him. When he gets the call, you damn well better root for him to stop the pucks, and not just sit with your thumb up your ass, hoping for the other team to light the lamp because you want to feel smarter than everyone else. Getting behind your team means getting behind your 3 ring goaltender when he gets the call.

You don't need to have confidence. You just need to have hope.

You know, or this:

Ozzie gets the call tonight. Personally, I'll be rooting for the Wings. I'll be rooting for the Wizzard.

27 October 2010

Chicago: (Where the wind) Blows Hard

Hot damn I've been busy lately. Hence the whole not commenting on hockey thing.

But this was too good to pass up.

First, a hearty stick tap to the Wings. 5 wins, one charity point, and one regulation loss. That's a far cry from our start to the 2009-2010 season. Sure, so far our play has been far from perfect. We still need to get that third line to show up and start clicking, and we've had some defensive problems COUGHdougjanikCOUGH. But you know... I'm gonna go ahead and take that as a good thing.

The fact is, we're near the top of the league in points earned so far, and we've got plenty of room for improvement. On top of that, we've got the best coach in the game; a guy who has proven he has the ability to make that improvement happen. He's not working alone, either. He's got two good friends: talent, and depth.

It sure would be tough to back a team that didn't have all that awesome-sauce going for them.

  • Enter stage left: Racist caricature representing your favorite divisional punching bag.

Oh yes. Sure, Chicago has managed to put together the same 11 points the Wings have in the standings. Of course, they did so with an extra three games. And the best part, is that,  unlike the Wings, they've been pretty much performing as good or better than you could reasonably expect. Hossa and Sharp have been on FIRE. That's not the kind of thing that will generally last an entire season. Also - and bear in mind, this is all hearsay - apparently, Marty Turco made a couple of saves over the past 10 games. That's not standard, and isn't likely to keep up.

Now, I didn't come out of hiding under a pile of responsibility to point out that the Hawks have had a mediocre start. That's not a surprise. No, I'm here today because the Winged Wheel has obtained another beautiful piece of information to throw on the giant pile of suck that is the Chicago Blackhawks franchise. And this time, unlike so many times in the past, this is all legit. No fabrication or photoshop necessary.

Guess who's a Blackhawks fan?


Surprise!

Now look, this isn't a political blog. I - much like the above pictured stack of rancid smegma - have no interest in talking about anything of substance. I'm not here to talk policy, philosophy, or the relative worth of melting down your jewelry and investing in underground bunkers. But really, whatever your politics, I have a firm longstanding belief that the amount of analogies about Nazis you make is inversely proportional to your worth as a human being.

Am I surprised that the world's biggest piece of shit waste of functional human organs happens to cheer for the league's biggest piece of shit waste of a functional sheet of ice? Nope. Am I amused?

  • Yer darn tootin'.
Now, I should be fair. While compelling, this is not conclusive proof that the antichrist is a Blackhawks fan. The above picture comes from an advertisement in which Glenn Beck talks about the impending apocalypse - surely brought about by black, gay muslims. Perhaps he's sporting his Hawks hat as a fitting metaphoric reminder of what happens when something is so poorly managed that it collapses in on itself, bringing it to such a state of catastrophe that it can never return to normal. Perhaps Mr. Beck decided that his "Rome is Burning" message is better punctuated with a reminder of a complete and utter apocalyptic collapse. 

Or perhaps Glenn just wants us all to know that when he wants to relax on a Saturday night after a long day of drowning puppies and punching nuns for being poor, he kicks back with an ice cold goblet of dolphin blood and watches a true American hero from Buffalo take the ice. 


Either way - Fuck Chicago. Fuck them in their shiny purple asses.

P.S. I promise I'll get back to writing about the Wings soon... these damn breaks between games are making it rather tough to invent compelling storylines for which I can photoshop juvenile images and gratuitously spew the fuck word. 


Go Wings.

10 October 2010

Spoiling The Party: Don't worry, maybe you'll get another shot in 50 years

The Pomp.

The Circumstance.

The Boredom.

It's amazing the Blackhawks still can't manage to make a buck, and are solidly in the red as an organization. Because really, they know how to fire up a crowd with an explosive, exciting, and exhilarating party. For their Banner Raising ceremony last night, they followed a classic formula:

  • First, start with the music. Pick an artist. A band known to create fast paced, fist-pumping music. You know, the type of band you'd hear on Jock Jams 4. Sure, how about U2! 
  • Ok, now find the slowest song in that artist's catalogue. This will really build the anticipation, letting the crowd know, something big is to come. Just spitballing here, but "With or Without You" seems apropos.
  • Now - and this is important - remove the vocals. That's right, this is going to be an instrumental rock fest. You know what though? Guitars just aren't explosive enough. I mean, who's ever heard a guitar and thought, "fuck yeah, lets play some hockey!" So, remove the original track, and have the whole song performed instrumentally by a string quartet. Nothing says "party like a motherfucking rock star" like some strings. 
  • You should make your ceremony as much like a funeral as possible. The slow, somber music reminiscing about waiting for someone who is gone. Dim the lights and create a dark atmosphere. If there's a banner involved, be sure to have people carry it slowly like pallbearers.
  • Many people make the classic mistake of being concise and making their ceremony short and sweet. Don't fucking do that. Drag that bitch out. In fact, make it last about 175% longer than anyone could possibly expect. The key here is slow, and long. 
And boy howdy did they deliver.

Based on their selection, I figure they spent a long time struggling between the song they chose, and that shitty Celine Dion song from Titanic. I have to say, though. "With or Without You" was particularly fitting. As in, "sorry 80% of our Stanely Cup winning roster, but we've gotta raise this banner With, or Without You. Well, I guess just without you. Enjoy sunny GA."

Now folks, it wasn't just the absolute fucking monotony of it that made it tough to watch. The Hawks have been division rivals for years. A fellow member of the class of 1926, the Wings and Hawks have been clashing for over eight decades. Throughout that time, the Wings have pretty much always had the upper hand. And though that really hasn't changed, those bastards adorning the absurdly racist characature took what is rightfully ours. They managed to squeak out their first championship in 49 years.

And we had to watch them solidify it. We were there, as they placed that banner in the rafters of the United Center, along with many, many others. Of course, those other banners almost all belonged to the Bulls, but still. It was tough to watch.

Folks, I'm not one to subject you to horrific imagery. Some blogs may attempt to get press by showing shocking images of grotesque and terrifying scenes. Not me. I like to protect your precious eyes from such abominations. Example?

The last thing I'd want to show you is some mutton chopped son of a bitch undeservedly adorning The Captain's storied 19 lifting our Chalice. So, instead, you'd get an image like this:


I know, some of you may find that this is still too close. This image still leaves you to imagine what could be behind that censored bar like a fourteen year old discovering himself while watching Girls Gone Wild infomercials at 1 in the morning in his parent's basement. So, there's a solution for that too:


See? That's not dangerous. The imagination isn't going to fill in something traumatic because of the excellent backstory. In the previous picture, you're likely to think, "hey wait a tick, he sure seems happy, and he's holding something over his head on some ice! I think I know what's going on here... and I don't much like it. I don't much like it at all." Well, here, you avoid those old timey thoughts. Sure he's happy... look at the size of that fish!

Would you care to see another photo that will make you happy?


Whoa! An ambush? Not cool.

No. In fact, quite the opposite. This picture here should warm the cockles of your heart. While you should cringe when seeing the uncensored version of the pictures above, when you gaze upon this beauty each and every cockle you have should be toasty as shit.

Why?

It's all about timing.

Those pictures above? They came from last June, after the blind dog managed to find a bone. It's a tough thing to see, and even tougher to process. But that last picture? That came last night.

That's right. What you see right there is a captain, hoisting the Stanley Cup, during the 2010-11 season. And he can't even hide behind the idea that it was the first game of their season, so technically the cup was theirs 'till puck drop. Because as I'm sure you're aware, after last night's show, the Hawks are 0-1-1 - meaning at the time Johnny "Fingers And" Toews lifted that storied trophy above his head it wasn't his.

If that's not a clear way to piss off the Hockey Gods, I don't know what is.

Just based on their management, the Hawks were already doomed to go another 49 years without another Cup. Now? Holy shit who knows. All I know is that, as we've clearly experienced, those Hockey Gods are some temperamental bitches. Their wrath does not come easy, and they are neither merciful, nor kind.

Let it rain down upon Chicago. Let it fucking pour.

Way to ruin the party last night boys. Enjoy it - soak it up. You only get to laugh at Turco 5 more times this season.

Still on pace for 164 points.

Lets. Go. Wings.

09 October 2010

Off to the Races: And that's how you start a season

So you know how it feels when you're out in the heat, working hard, and getting increasingly thirsty? And how it feels when you then suddenly come across a giant pool of fresh drinking water?

Or how about how you feel after breaking a long fast, taking that first bite into a delicious meal?

Or when you've been really jonesing for some blow, and you just shove your face right in a pile of sweet columbian bam-bam?
  • Wings 4.
  • Ducks 0.
And that, my friends, was a game. There's a lot of really good things to take away from last night. Examples? 
  • Howard took the ice to make one statement: "What the fuck is a sophomore slump?" 
  • Currently, the Wings are on pace for a record breaking 164 point season.
  • Ken Kal is clairvoyant. Dude publicly predicted Modano's home opener goal. And it came on his first shot in the Winged Wheel. Not too shabby.
  • Mickey says Mule's gonna pot 50.
  • Speaking of Mickey,  he's in peak mid-season form. "Well a how-do-ya-do for Christmas too!" Sweet Bear Jesus, I missed that man.
  • And Datsyuk...

Holy shit, Datsyuk.


 Look at this silly bitch smile. Not pictured: me pissing myself.

Gordie. Howe. Hattrick. 

But really? The best part of last night? Taking down the fucking Ducks. You know, somehow they're a team that allows me to forget how much I hate them in between match ups. I'm not really sure exactly how. Perhaps its because in the last couple of seasons, they haven't bothered to win anything. That usually takes the sting out of most rivalries. 

But really? Fuck the Ducks. Right in their shiny purple Disney asses. Hard.

They showed their true colors last night. No, not the disgusting teal and yellow inspired by a shitty children's movie. I'm talking about the douchebag variety. As soon as things started going downhill for them (puck drop), they decided it was time to goon it up. After every delayed penalty, without fail, the entire roster of shitty human beings would start their little sideshow. Their "captain" spent the whole night trying to lure Homer into a fight. They displayed zero self control, zero discipline, and zero class.

I'm not surprised.

That's just the way this Ducks team is. It's the way they are, and the way they will be. And, you know, that's just fine. Because every time we face this gang of goons, we get to repeat last night. Plenty of time on the Belle Tire Power Play. Plenty of time ignoring their shenanigans, and focusing on lighting the lamp. Plenty of time winning.

So that was fun. But now the fun is over, and it's time to ruin a little ceremony. A ceremony that comes to Chicago only once every 50 years. A ceremony that isn't going to happen again any time soon. As the Hawks raise their pathetic fourth banner in 84 years, the Wings will chuckle. Our vets will look to the rafters at the United Center, see all four banners, and then laugh at the idea that they have as many rings as Red Wings as the Hawks franchise has in history. Then the puck will drop.

Time to spoil a party for some Bandwagoners.




Lets. Go. Wings.

08 October 2010

At Long Last: Take a cool drink, the drought is over

It's October, bitches.

Fresh Michigan honey crisp apples. Oktoberfest beers. Temperatures in the high 60's as the leaves begin to change. College football finally stops that BCS bullshit where douchebag AD's pad their win columns by playing as many obvious mis-matches as possible. NFL is in full swing.

And who gives a shit?

All of that autumn glory pales in comparison to the real reason that October is better than unicorn sex. At barns across the league the ice has been laid and painted. The skates are laced up, the sticks are prepped. The rubber is about the hit the ice.

Hockey's back.

Now, technically Hockey was back yesterday. But really, other than a few good laughs at Marty "Well, at least he's not making $6m" Turco, I couldn't care less. Real hockey begins tonight. Tonight, begins the March to 12.

It's not going to be quick. There are 82 games between now and April in the D. There will be bumps along the way. Hell, Ericsson is bound to be sure that's the case. There may be injuries, setbacks, slumps, and doubts. The pundits will declare that we're too old, too past our prime. They'll question our goaltending, challenging whether our backstops are enough to get it done.

In other words, they'll say the exact same shit they've been saying for the past decade while we've won numerous division titles and put up 100+ point seasons.

Color me not worried about it.

In fact, color me damn excited. All signs point to fuck yes. When the Wings take the ice tonight, they'll be doing so with more rest than they've had in years. They'll be doing it with the best Defenseman to play the game. They'll be doing it with the best coach in the league (need proof? here). They'll be doing it with the best two-way forwards in the game, in the prime of their careers. They'll be doing it a mule with intact knees. And they'll be doing it with the deepest forward corps of any team, including a third line featuring Happy, Newfie, and the most prolific American-born goal scorer of all time.

They'll be doing it with one goal.

  • #12
Sure, teams will try and stand in our way. We play in a tough division. Nashville's got a solid defensive corps and superb goaltending. Columbus boasts the dynamic power forward Rick Nash and a goaltender looking to rebound from a sophomore slump. Chicago's got... um... well they've still got pizza...

Hockey's back. And so are we. Puck drops tonight in the motor city, for another epic chapter in Red Wings history. Thus begins the March to 12.

Lets. Go. Wings.