Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Germans -- a Highly Efficient People... Even at Losing in Hockey

How yinz doing, jags? Chuck Kowalski is back in action after a hiatus enduring significantly longer than any of Todd Graham's tenures as head coach at any university stupid enough to hire him. Yes, even Pitt, though that should come as no surprise, considering they once foresaw Tino Sunseri -- you know, the less talented of the bunch -- as the stalwart quarterback of the future. 

Anyhow, I don't think any of yinz can blame me for skipping out on updates after what a shitty year or so of sports we've had. The Pens lose to the Flyers as Zybanek Michalek spent most of the series staring at life partner Paul Martin's presumably firm backside, which he can only view now under the warm desert sun via sexting, as Ray Shero wisened up and sent that fucker packing. 

Then, as if that weren't enough, the Pirates shit a block bigger than the square empty vacuum of flesh that cocksucker Todd Graham calls a head, even blowing a margin of 15, 16, 17 -- who really gives a fuck -- games above .500 to finish a season that might have been deemed salvageable had they not been in a position to win the fucking division. Maybe the addition of Russell Martin will be so minutely better than that smelly fuck Barajas clutching his nuts at the plate while thinking too much about taking a siesta that the team can get to 19 or 20 games above .500 before completely going down on the season faster than a two-bit hooker on an investment banker.

To make matters worst of all, a bunch of fucking millionaires/billionaires decided to throw a fucking hissy fit over how to split up our fucking money, effectively erasing a season of hockey and plunging me into an inconsolable bout with LQHD, i.e., Lack of Quality Hockey Disorder (I swear it's in the DMS-IV, but I could've dreamed that in an intoxicated stupor). It got to the point that I had to seek medical help after screaming at Robert Lang for not one-timing an open shot from the circle on the power play.

If there were any glimpse of hope to take from the period of my hibernation -- snugged away in a semi-cold room, drinking beer, yelling obscenities at hipsters, and screaming at Hans Jonsson for clearing the net like a goddamn drag queen -- it may have been that Ray Shero made the necessary move of trading Jordan Staal for considerable value during the NHL Draft. Of course, we will have to live in regret of the 934 goals and 6 assists he'll get playing next to his brother, but I'm sure we will manage (another irony alert, for you dense fucks out there).

Slowly but surely pulling me out of my slump, however, has been the World Junior Hockey Tournament, where a bunch of kids who aren't rich, spoiled, self-centered handjob artists play for the sake for their country... and in some cases, to get selected as the next member of the overpaid, egotistical handjob dojo developed between the NHL players and owners.  Luckily, they get to do so in Ufa fucking Russia where weather reaching 20 degrees Fahrenheit is a reason to cheer and not hurl yourself off the roof of Ufa's glorious 26-story skyscraper.

At any rate, particularly moving is the effort put forth by Germany, who, in two defeats so far, have displayed an impressive commitment to missing scoring chances, leaving mind-numbingly large open areas of ice for the opposing team, and playing a brand of efficiently terrible hockey. One had to take note during the team's 9-3 ass-pounding from Canada, but couldn't help think: Germany isn't good enough to lose this badly. It must be a fluke!

Well, let it be said that one should never underestimate the ability for Germans to perform as a well-oiled machine.

The Germans have shown a knack for acting in swift, calculated, well-orchestrated unison ever since they invaded the country of my forefathers in 1939, overtaking the family pierogi shop despite my ancestors' best attempts to ward them off by chucking nearby wooden spoons and pretending like they weren't there when the Germans knocked politely at the door. With such firm family ties, I had no doubt the Germans could replicate their efficient stretch of dreadful hockey.

And the Germans did not fail to impress, decisively gifting the Americans a goal just seconds into the game, as they set the course for an 8-0 flogging from Team USA.

Notice the careful positioning of the German goalie to cover absolutely no major portion of the net and give the Americans a quick one-goal lead.
Better yet, Team USA is represented by three Pittsburgh-area players, so yinz keep an eye out and a mouth open for Duquense Pilsner as da boys from da Burgh put those Russian and Canadian fucks in there place.

So be ready yinz -- it's on... you know, again.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Yes, Virginia, Santa Clause Is Dead -- Why the Trade Deadline Blew This Year, Trade Reactions

As time ticks away until the deadline passes, and Pierre McGuire drones on about some stupid bullshit, yinz can't help but think, as I do, that this trade deadline day has been one of the most disappointing excuses to drink in recent memory. As somebody who will crack one open to celebrate the invention of the cotton gin for Karstens' sake, that's saying something.

This bitching and moaning is coming from Chuck K as a hockey fan, not a Penguins fan looking for Shero to pull off some improbable Jedi mind trick moves that ship out the team's most cumbersome contracts and least vital players for Jesus H. Christ.

So the question remains, what the hell happened? The deadline this year was like opening up your presents on Christmas, wonderfully presented in recycled beer case cardboard, only to find a steaming pile of shit. Well, there's a number of reasons, so let's go over them now.

The NHL has fewer freewheeling, cowboy general managers

At one point in time, NHL organizations made trades and signed deals like Brett Favre threw the football: chucking it aimlessly down the field with complete disregard to the risk and potential long-term effects on the game and team.

Just like these nausea-inducing heaves, the aftermath of these blockbusters was either a resounding success or an utter implosion that altered the landscape of the game.

This era was full of Craig Patrick types, ready on a whim to throw down several key parts in a deal for another bunch of players in the hope that it would do some good shit for your team.

Nowadays, though, "war rooms" are packed with scouts, assistant managers, and Karstens knows what other personnel, who together examine, scrutinize, and ultimately decide the fate of every potential move. Between "cap specialists," extensive video, and just the general duress these guys are exposed to, it's easy to see why deals are much more calculated than they have been in the past.

The cap, for better or worse, has altered the game

The salary cap has been a blessing for some teams, as they are more capable of competing now that the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, etc. of the league are unable to throw their money in accordance with the Brett Favre simile from the previous section.

This consequence holds equally as true, one would think, for the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least when it involved getting their ass out of the league basement. Now, though, they can comfortably charge every fan a gazillion fucking dollars a game to visit their new money cow of an arena -- which still features bat-shit goofy design, by the way -- and buy a few snacks.

That whole debacle aside, the cap is what it is, and where teams in the past have made even more overt salary-related deals, they now have some more limits when it comes to picking up other team's stars.

League parity and that stupid fucking point for a shootout loss

Despite being a professional sports league, the NHL has, since its 2004-2005 lockout, been the place where everybody gets a cookie and medal, even if your team played like insufferable shit.

Gary Bettman still goes on television and publicly masturbates to the shootout, running his tongue up its proverbial wang because he was and is at the helm when some fucking rocket scientist came up with it.

Honestly, I find real hockey to be more thrilling than a shootout, so I'm not sure why we can't just play 10 minutes of some 4-on-4 hockey and bring back the tie. There's so much ice and so many rushes, it's hard to stop to take a breath, and somebody will find the back of the net.

Fuck it, though -- let's cater to that segment of the population that prefers the shootout and keep it. So be it. All you have to do is get rid of the pity point for losing the damn thing. I know Gary Bettman wants to keep sales up in markets with poor teams by keeping them in the playoff race longer, but doesn't this gimmick just water down the results of the NHL anyhow?

I mean, if you really wanted to make the shootout suspenseful, then why not only reward the winner? Seems even more compelling than dishing out three points in the standings because neither team was good enough to beat one another beforehand.

To sum it up, I'm getting at this: that god-forsaken extra point keeps teams in the playoff hunt longer even though they probably shouldn't be; being in the hunt means that teams won't be as willing to move assets or make more meaningful moves; having fewer sellers means that the price goes up significantly for available players; and the dreadful combination of these factors renders the deadline day utterly fucking boring.

The NHL will almost certainly refrain from altering its current product, though. How, then, do we remedy these problems with the deadline day, without making huge changes to the league's approach to the game itself? Quite simply, I would say. The trade deadline can be spruced up with any or preferably all of these tweaks.

1. Put all GMs and their staff in a building together akin to the NHL draft.

2. Ditch pussy sponsors like Tim Horton's coffee (TSN's choice) and instead get financial support from various companies that produce booze -- the cheaper the booze, the better. The NHL Network has a great start, represented at times by "The Kraken." The league could up the ante, though, by mixing in other grand beverage enhancers, such as 151, Everclear, or homemade moonshine.

3. Include a clause in the sponsorship contract that requires the management of all teams to down a preset quantity of the provided alcohol, the amount of which is correlated to the number of staff members working.

4. As a precaution, to ensure that binge drinking is not simply pushed off onto younger and/or less influential individuals, league officials will administer a breathalyzer test for all general managers every hour, on the hour, starting at 9 a.m., with an absolute minimum blood alcohol level of .08 during the first test and an increase of .01 every hour, resulting in a minimum of .14 by the deadline's arrival.

5. In the case that two general managers have a deal squared away, but there is a disagreement regarding the trade's complimentary details, including draft picks, minor-league players, or NHL players amassing fewer than ten minutes per game, the general managers can select any member of their staff to engage in a hardcore, no-holds-barred wrestling match with a member of the other team's staff. The number of wrestlers involved from each team should correspond to the number of pieces in question.

6. Once an hour, Stone Cold Steve Austin gives two random persons from any American team on the deadline floor the middle finger and a Stunner. For Canadian teams, Bret Hart places only one person in the Sharpshooter. On a side note, this punishment is one potential penalty for general managers not meeting the prerequisite level of hourly intoxication.

7. Marc Crawford gets his hair cut on live television; this is more for his benefit than ours.

8. More Alyonka Larionov. I don't care when, where, or how. Just start putting her out there for everyone to see.

So, those are my recommendations for improving the trade deadline. What yinz think? Regardless, I'll get into some updates later on teams that did well and not so well.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Starting the Season Off on the Drunk Foot: Pirates President Coonelly Gets More Housed Than I Do... Then Decides to Drive

Hope yinz rabid sports fans out there are doing well -- unless, of course, yinz like the Patriots, Capitals, Flyers, Ravens, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Brewers, Browns, Bengals, Rangers, or the Sri Lankan women's national basketball team (buncha jags, they are).

Regardless, I'm sure some of yinz have already busted out the flask in preparation for the upcoming baseball season. Spring training has already begun, with the league's collection of obese assholes having started their intensive workouts of jogging a lap and keeping the subsequent vomiting to a minimum.

With Clint Hurdle at the helm, Chuck K is confident (I use that word with about as much audacity as Pabst does with their "blue ribbon" schtick) that the Pirates can compete for second-to-last in the division this year, rather than its long-time position as the worst group of misfit fucks around. Even if they don't, it's an excuse to go drink in good weather and curse at people.

Whatever the outcome, baseball season is not just for Pirates fans to binge drink while they watch a bunch of overpaid assholes miss routine grounders, strike out 43 times a game, and tear a rotator cuff at the first sign of improvement. No, even management can get involved in looking for the answers to its problems at the bottom of a durable plastic bottle that cost $10.99 at the state store.

For those of yinz wondering what the hell I'm going on about, Pirates president Frank Coonelly is going up against DUI charges in court, proving that being a part of pro sports does not absolve you from following the law -- unless you are really good and win a lot, e.g., Hines Ward. Coonelly blew a potent .16 after being pulled over, so the only thing I want to know now is whether he wants to catch a game and throw a few back (we'll take a cab).

If anything, this twist makes the year more exciting, as I anticipate a wealth of haphazard, ill-conceived roster moves and publicity stunts inspired by Coonelly's (hopefully) constant state of excessive inebriation. So, join in, Bucco fans! Crack one open and drink one for your pal Frank, who, despite being paid millions of dollars, apparently can't stand another season of the Pirates either.

I did some research, though, and we should've seen this coming all along. Look at the photos carefully, now. Til next time, jags and jagettes.


That's "Ten High" -- that's some mean shit, so yinz know he ain't fucking around.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Taking One Too Many Pucks to the Head Evidently Makes You a Practiced Political Scientist

In case yinz jags haven't kept up on this story, Tim Thomas didn't show up to the White House when the Bruins visited to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory. Since then, Thomas has been a lightning rod for media attention regarding his political views and continues to use Facebook -- genius idea, that one -- to disseminate his political thoughts.

Things have picked up so much, in fact, that he is even releasing a publication. Luckily, as sports jag numero uno, I have a leak for you right here.

I Won a Major Sports Award: So Listen to the Goofy Shit I Have to Say by Tim Thomas -- coming to bookstores and partisan hack talk shows near you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Shero We Trust: My Faith in Our Nation Diverted to Pens General Manager Until February 28 -- or Longer, Depending How Things Go Around Here

Well, jags and jagettes, disappointment may lay heavy in our hearts, as the Penguins eight-game winning streak came to an unfortunate and, even worse, pedestrian (by action standards) end after the Pens' 1-0 loss to Toronto on the Friday before this post began. I'm sure Paul Martin and Zybanek Michalek were thrilled, though, to find a Village People lookalike in Leafs go-to dickhead Mike Brown, who can star in their upcoming homoerotic production.

That all said, as the hockey season pushes onward, that momentous day of frantic bargaining and bartering, hustling and bustling, and buying and selling draws closer. I speak of none other than the NHL trade deadline, due to arrive 3:00 p.m. on February 27, no doubt with its plethora of depth moves, player swaps, salary dumps, and blockbusters, as well as nauseating amounts of Pierre McGuire talking and his polished heading blinding viewers.

I think any jag with a half-functioning brain -- mine is at about 60% or so, thanks to years of alcohol glory -- will agree that Ray Shero has, all told, done well with trades, particularly at the deadline.

You don't have to go far into his tenure to see the beers of his brewing (that's a yinzer idiom for "fruits of one's labor"). In 2006, Shero's first year, Pittsburgh became the only destination Chuck Norris would never dare visit due to the arrival of Gary Roberts, a pivotal leader and physical component to their return to the playoffs in 2006-2007 and run to the finals the following year.

The following year, I was forced for the very first time to shit a brick and shout an array of flagrant language without the influence of alcohol. Seeing that the team looked poised to make that next step, Shero shipped off perennial underachiever Erik Christensen, local favorite Colby Armstrong, never-will-be Angelo Esposito -- who, of course, is still making $65,000 a year as an AHL filler -- and a first-round pick to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis.

Sure, that treasonous fuck Hossa bailed on the Pens during free agency, but nevertheless, Shero was able to evaluate the team properly and push them to the finals with a blockbuster deal that, in the long run, cost the Penguins nothing significant.

Besides, Dupuis is still a valuable contributor to the club, and Hossa simply set himself up for perfectly poetic misery as he got to watch Crosby and company heave the Cup at Joe Louis. Anybody who still believes the Pens got 'fleeced' and not the other way around can wander Atlanta looking for a hockey game until somebody points to Winnipeg on a map -- which, knowing this country, will probably take a couple hours and several careful scannings of Wikipedia before the discovery that it's not in Europe -- because this move only hastened the already looming possibility of the team moving away.

Benedict Arnold turned on Washington and the revolutionaries and got to watch them capture victory. His Slovakian compatriot, Benedict Hossa, met similar fate in the summer of 2009.

Let's get over our tendency to focus on just the big deals, though. Let's not forget some of the other influential moves that helped the Pens win it all.

Behemoth defenseman Hal Gill, a personal favorite for answering the question "'Pop' or 'Soda'?" with "Beer," provided another tough veteran presence that helped to solidify the Pens penalty kill. On top of that, he gave them an actual intimidating force unlike Zybanek Michalek who brings a welcome mat on the ice with him to invite the other team's forwards in front of the Penguins' net.

Still not convinced? Well, that's probably because you're a stupid contrarian prick who has a handle bar mustache, wears tight jeans, and ironically sports a baseball hat despite lacking even the strength to get the ball from the pitcher's mound to first. Maybe you'll have more success patronizing and condescending to it.

If you insist, however, that you aren't an insufferable fuck who plays bongo drums for some avant-garde folk band and spends the bulk of his or her time complaining about city drivers despite your propensity for disregarding all known traffic laws on your bike (yeah, you're supposed to stop at those red things; that's probably why your bike is totaled and your frail, protein-deficient body will be encased in plaster for the next sixth months), then I have some more for you.

Namely, two more great acquisitions made by Shero: Chris Kunitz and Billy Guerin. Kunitz's hard-nosed work in the corners and relentless forecheck opened up ice for Crosby and let the skill do the work. Today, he is filling in the same role on Evgeni Malkin's line, brining a physical piece to the unit that Malkin has lacked since Ryan Malone was absurdly overpaid -- in term, at least, if not in salary as well -- to lie in the hot Florida sun and get hurt a couple times a year. This keep only goes to show shrewdness in Shero re-signing him, too.

Billy Guerin, meanwhile, brought leadership qualities as well as a crafty and refined skill set that the Penguins desperately needed, all for a fifth-round pick. Besides the pure class he displayed that endeared him to the city -- hell, he only played here for two years when you think about it -- he continues to make his mark within the organization as a scout, staying close to the game and helping the Penguins find and integrate new talent.

So, I think this resume most certainly speaks for itself.

Naturally, there have been some minor fizzles as well on this road of great success. That lumbering oaf Alex Ponikarovsky never did jell in the Penguins' system, for instance, nor could he score a fucking goal to save his life, which may explain his short-lived time with the team.

Kovalev's return to Pittsburgh, expected by fans to propel him back into 2000-like form, turned out to be like throwing $2.00 of regular unleaded in a Geo Metro. That said, just as with the gas, the trade cost the Pens little and until an extensive shitting of the bed, it seemed as if the team would yet again find themselves in the second round of the playoffs.

Keep in mind, however, that, during both these seasons, there was a general consensus that the Penguins were not as strong as contender as they had been in year's past. The trade deadline is just as much about what moves a GM decides against, and Shero, in this jag's opinion, evaluated the market well to minimize potential long-term damage to the team.

And lastly, before I run out of American Light here (the economy has hit me hard, too, ok!?), let me discuss briefly the cases still to be decided, revolving around two players: Eric Tangradi and James Neal.

Kunitz's play has sort of rendered Tangradi's value a bit moot in hindsight, but at the time, getting him was a major piece of the deal that sent Whitney out to Anaheim. So far, things have been tough sledding for Tangradi at the NHL level. His performance has steadily improved in the AHL, but as with many young forwards here, it looks unlikely that he will ever get the shot he needs without even more extensive injuries to complimentary players. So we'll see where it goes from here.

The other deal is the trade that saw Goligoski head out to Dallas with Neal and Niskanen coming in return.

After a shaky start, Matt Niskanen has been a regular in the lineup and seems to have better adjusted to the Pens' system. Depending on price and term, he may be a player that gets locked up by Shero -- all depending, of course, on what Shero does, or can do, with those second-pairing cap leeches Martin and Michalek. Throw Despres and Lovejoy into the mix, and you have quite a battle for those bottom four spots in the back. Despres, I imagine, will work his way up to the second pairing, so I could see Niskanen sticking around with the thought that he'd be a long-term fifth or sixth defenseman.

Then, you have of course the prized possession of the trade, James Neal. After a very slow start as a Penguin, Neal has caught fire this season -- playing with the best player in the NHL, by no coincidence -- and put up nearly 30 goals, already eclipsing his career high in a season. Really, at this point, there isn't much to argue against Neal; he's scoring like a machine now that he's playing with somebody who can make space and feed him the puck. At this pace, he'll reach a little more than 40 goals, doing better than even I thought he would (I saw him at about 30-35, given that he's still young; granted he could still finish at level, but let's hope not).

Some larger questions still loom, however. First, can Shero re-sign him, and for how much? Furthermore, will he continue to produce in the playoffs as he has in the regular season? Bottom line is, the Pens want the Cup. Nothing else is acceptable at this juncture. So we'll have to play the waiting game, but the loss of Goligoski certainly seemed miniscule right now with what Neal is bringing to the team.

Ok, finally, let's get into the Penguins' needs at the deadline.

What else could these fuckers possibly want?

Great question, rhetorical self, as any team's deadline approach is always dictated by their playoff hopes and shortcomings. Chuck K, your prognosticator of all sports happenings, sees the Pens looking to add in three potential areas:

1) Complimentary Irritants

Listen, far be it from me to knock Cal O'Reilly. He's a professional hockey player; that fucking owns like Maiden live. He's agile, quick, a hard worker, and actually has a dose of skill to make use of those physical qualities.

On the other hand, Chris Conner was all those things, too, though a bit smaller. My point is, the Penguins, I imagine, will likely stay quiet -- relatively speaking -- during this year's frenzy. If they are going to add pieces, big or small, then they need to start cutting the team out of the same cloth as they did in 2007-2009. That is to say, they have to get back to that Shero staple: being "a tough team to play against."

Gill, Ruutu, Roberts, Talbot, Cooke before those fuckheads in the media demonized him -- their time on the ice signified that that next shift was going to be a miserable, frustrating experience for the opposing team. You fuck with us, we'll put your ass prematurely in your grave.

The current Penguins squad lacks this ingredient. Adams, Vitale, Park, O'Reilly, etc. all contribute to a skilled group, but technical ability and good team play still needs to be tempered with a firm kick in the taint for the other side.

Boston didn't win the cup last year shying away from contact, and neither should the Pens. Plus, if you go into a playoff series against cheap shot artists like that spineless motherfucker P.K. Subban, along with that whole collection of Habs assholes, then you'll need to be ready to administer on-ice justice where necessary. As Jordan Staal's skate incident taught us, the refs won't care or be competent enough to do it themselves.

This piece, I would argue, is not only what I would like to see most, but also appears most possible to come to fruition by February 27.

2) Another Scoring Winger

This demand is always popular amongst Penguins fans, a natural consequence of having two incredible and one very good center. The problem is, additional scoring is something sought all around the NHL from free agency to the deadline, so the market is almost always running at a premium.

Having seen Shero's approach in the past, he won't mortgage any major pieces to the future for a scoring complement, especially in a rental deal, simply because the Penguins are not in that needy of a position. Getting Hossa was amidst different circumstances, with the team's top wingers being Malone, Sykora, Armstrong, and a cone that somebody pushed down the ice.

As usual, if this route is taken, look for the Penguins to add a more established veteran or perhaps a known, though reasonable, commodity that may be underachieving some in the given year. For instance, no Bobby Ryan, no Jeff Carter, no Hemsky, etc. I'll get into individual targets later.

3) Defensive Stalwart

I am usually on board with the Penguins' management and their approach. I am still not convinced, however, on the NHL's evolution, as propelled in large part by the Penguins, that is eliminating the "stay at home" defenseman. I'm not saying that, in today's game, the team can rely on somebody utterly inept with the puck. That said, I think NHL teams still benefit from having a mindful, dedicated, and hopefully physical defender in their lineup.

As much as you could argue that Michalek, Martin, Lovejoy, Niskanen and Engelland have all those qualities, I'm hard-pressed to putting their defensive skills on par with Scuderi and even Mark Eaton in some cases. Though far from flashy, those two were able to keep opponents at bay with great stick work, blocked shots, and solid gaps.

On the current roster, Engelland indeed brings a physical game, which supports his cause, and the Michalek and Martin duo can move the puck better, but it doesn't excuse their damn-near constant mental gaffes and inability to muscle the Cal O'Reillys of the world away from the crease -- or, for the love of fuck, stick check them even.

Despres, I would argue, is actually the best option for the team, especially long term, to infuse the team's back with a much-needed dose of simplicity and, as Pierre would drool on about, "hockey sense."

Regardless how it shakes out, I don't see the Penguins working this angle. Maybe Shero will read this post, though, and change his mind. But I ain't gonna bet a case on it.

Whom can they go after?

Alright -- time to go over some jags yinz could potentially, though probably won't, see in a Pens uniform come March. With the exception of Allen, all of these players have been connected to the Penguins in some way via the wildly speculative media. Allen I added as an interesting look, though, to reiterate, he is perhaps the most unlikely candidate on this list to join the team.

1) Travis Moen
Age: 29; 47GP - 9G - 7A - 16P; -3

2) Dominic Moore
Age: 31; 52GP - 4G - 15A - 19P; -10

3) Hal Gill
Age: 36; 49GP - 1G - 7A - 8P; -9

Knowing what happened last time the Penguins brought in hockey's equivalent of "Big Show," some fans and media jags have been clamoring about a possible return for the towering defenseman.

At Gill's age, though, the three years or so that have passed could have substantial effects on his ability. He hasn't been particularly popular around Montreal as the season has gone on, either. Regularly logging 25-30+ shifts a game earlier in the year, Gill has seen his time cut by Randy Cunneyworth.

There can be a lot more factors at play here, though, than the potential decline in Gill's performance. A new coach, a different direction, a lost season -- these could all be reasons for a veteran to get less time on the ice, particularly when the team has Kaberle, Georges, and that cock-grasping ass nugget Subban to put out there.

The thing that actually makes Gill more practical of an option for the Penguins, if they would pursue defensive help, is that his age and expiring contract would likely let the Penguins acquire him at a lower cost than other such players on the market.

Much as the team did with Guerin, Kovalev, etc. in the past, conditional deals could be put into place to align the assets sent to the Canadiens with Gill's contribution to the team. Varying conditions, including how far the Penguins make it and how many games Gill plays, could limit what the team loses if he ends up sitting in the press box or they meet an early end to the season, especially considering that he would play with the Penguins for only that year.

4) Bryan Allen
Age 31; 55GP - 0G - 7A - 7P; Even

Here's a guy who draws interest from Chuck K because he plays the game much like Gill, but without the added age and decline in his game -- of any significance, anyway.

At 31, Allen may be looking to cash in just one more time before hanging up the skates, so it's really hard to say what his long-term plans are. His current cap hit is $2.9 million, which the Pens could easily afford when prorated for how far into the season it would be.

As I already said, the Penguins insist upon swift defensemen who are steady with the puck. Accordingly, I don't think they'll look to replace anybody on the blue line with a player of Allen's caliber. At the same time, should they have a change in heart, I don't think Allen would be an unreasonable consideration. It would require some movement elsewhere and depend upon the market for Allen, because a third-pair defensemen will not earn close to $3 million on this roster, but it would be comparable to the money Gill pulled in after his trade here (particularly given the climb in the cap and some inflation).

Regardless, you have to appreciate the game Allen plays when the playoffs roll around. The NHL may strive to generate offensive by any means necessary, but when teams are drudging their way through the 90th game of the season, they know how victory is achieved: running the other team into the motherfucking ground and putting them through the goddamn boards. At 6'5" and 226 pounds, logging about 20 minutes a night, Bryan Allen is exactly the kind of player who can make the big block, damage Hartnell's brain more than it must be already, and tough out every last second in a big game. Too bad he'll end up elsewhere.

And perhaps it's not a bad move in the long run, I suppose. I really like Despres, especially if he can harness his size a bit more and apply it on the ice. He's the long-term fit for the Penguins in the top four, potentially ending up on the top unit alongside a guy like Letang. If he gets better and can work his way back into the lineup, the defense could be better off than expected, though they're still gonna play those rocket scientists on the second pairing.

Intriguing Name to Throw Out There to Attract Viewers and Give Something for People to Bitch About, But Will Almost Certainly Never Come Close to Donning a Penguins Uniform

Sam Gagner
Age: 22; 47GP - 13G - 23A - 36P

Well, this whole nuance about Gagner was much more interesting before the prick decided to register eight points in a single fucking game, and then six more over the next three, skyrocketing his total -- for yinz non-mathletes there -- from 22 points to 36 on the season.

Despite this surge, Gagner still seems to be trailing the expectations scouts, and surely the Oilers, had when he was drafted sixth overall in 2007. After an up-and-down rookie year that saw flashes of brilliant skill -- just search for any "Gagner shootout" videos to see his incredible go-to move -- Gagner seemed to have plateaued, registering 41, 41 again, and 42 points during the next three campaigns.

This season was progressing onward no differently, with Gagner on pace to tally only 42 points in 82 games (which he would not have reached due to injury) before his hot streak and the ensuing statistical anomaly. Given the accelerated development of high-end talents like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and this year's first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it was conceivable -- again, pay attention to the title of this section -- that Gagner could be moved to bring in assets elsewhere for the Oilers.

If you look back at the scoring winger portion of this goddamn perpetual post, the Penguins make their way into this conversation as a cap-tight team that does not want to meet the demands for the market's most-coveted forwards. Accordingly, if they are going to look for some help putting the puck in the net, then they would have to consider players who, for whatever reason, have some reduced value.

As a restricted free agent this summer, the Oilers will have a number of choices to make regarding their future -- all the more so as Hall and Eberle's entry-level contracts are set to expire after next season. With the right circumstances, I could have seen the Penguins looking into Gagne, and giving him a chance in a Tyler Kennedy-like role, in which he could make more use of his skill.

I was originally going to counter my own argument by mentioning that he seems to gravitate more to playmaking than scoring, but it's been rendered moot, anyway, by his latest explosion of points.

No, NHL GMs aren't dumb -- for the most part, that is -- but that doesn't mean that the stat line doesn't play a role in trades. Gagner's breakout will also make his case greater for the Oilers to keep him, meaning the cost will rise accordingly to convince the team to part ways with him. Let's not forget as well Gagner's 'signability,' as his contract would eat up space made, at the very least, by Sullivan, Asham, and MacIntyre's departure. These factors, when compounded, really make this an unlikely, though interesting, scenario.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Alright, Somebody Seriously Needs to Figure This Shit Out

Ok, my loyal jag minions, Chuck K desperately needs your assistance. Now, typically, I let the ebb and flow of my dozen or so regular visitors run its course with minimal scrutiny regarding where people are finding my blog.

What's more, I have come to learn over time that you are bound to have a share of people come across your site by virtue of serendipity alone, meaning they will even be from other countries and continents.

Writing regularly about a sport with such deep international roots as hockey, I expected to get visitors, for instance, from Russia. But as time has passed, I have gotten a barrage of views here and there from the Ukraine, all stemming from this site: http://troll-face-ru.blogspot.com/

In most cases like these, I would not give a flying fuck. Spending a brief minute looking at this site, though, I get immediately infuriated because I have no clue what the FUCK is going on. It's a bunch of bizarre, crudely-drawn comics with these absurd faces, accompanied by text all in Russian, I would guess. It harks back to some strange post-modern Lenin-era art from the Soviet Union, but for all I know, it's probably a bunch of useless shit.

Well, using the power of Google, I have indeed confirmed that it is a bunch of random useless shit. That still doesn't explain, though, why the hell Ukranians who are intrigued by strange, primitive internet art are visiting my website.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm on to You, Jamie Benn: I Know You Are Actually Fulton Reed

Hey yinz -- hope yinz have been able to take the long lull in sports action this week, as every professional sport except for baseball trots out a parade of its highest-paid assholes to entertain you with a meaningless display of excessive offense.

Despite the lack of excitement and sports-induced beer comas, the NHL skills competition did uncover a startling revelation. Namely, former Team USA junior player Fulton Reed has finally grown up -- needing about two decades to age approximately five years, for some strange reason -- and taken on the life of Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn.

If you recall, Reed was a member of the American squad in the 1994 Junior Goodwill Games. His physical play was pivotal in the USA's preliminary round victories versus Trinidad and Tobago, Italy, and Germany (as much of a challenge as Latvia in this year's World Juniors), before facing off against perennial powerhouse Iceland with intimidating forward and, I can only assume, current drug addict Gunner Stahl. 

Reed in a season prior to his selection to the U.S. NTDP (national team development program)

Beyond a towering physical presence, Reed was also feared for his powerful and accurate shot -- so powerful, in fact, that once propelled an opposing goalie into the net during the Goodwill Games. After a brief stint of academy hockey, however, he soon fell out of sport, presumably distraught over the departure of NTDP teammate Dean Portman, who was evidently taught that it is appropriate to wear a cutoff shirt for hockey. Later in life, Portman had his arms amputated due to frostbite and has never played hockey since.

Reed, thinking he could hide his true identity as he re-entered the hockey world, was simply too relaxed last night, as it became certain beyond a shadow of doubt that he is, in very fact, none other than Jamie Benn.

Most striking is, of course, the obvious physical traits of Reed's. In the picture below, notice "Jamie's" round, boyish face and that slicked back black hair that he has been sporting since his days under coach Gordon Bombay. Reed had shortened it earlier in his career -- to elude suspicions, no doubt -- but surely could not resist his trademark hair any longer.


If that weren't enough, though, Reed went a step farther even and participated in this year's accuracy competition. Known for, to paraphrase, being able to hit four shots out of five with his blistering release, Reed took this skill to the ice in Ottawa, handily winning the accuracy competition.

Now, of course, yinz can make your petty arguments. "Reed would be too old," yinz will whine. "He doesn't look like him." "You have a serious drinking problem, Mr. Kowalski." The list goes on.

Bottom line is, though, if these Caribbean and South American baseball players can play in the Little League World Series at the tender age of 27, despite their well-developed physique, thick facial hair, and the motorcycle they drive home after the game, then why the hell can't Fulton Reed be back among us?

Oh, wait. Wait. Just found it. Turns out he ended up being this guy. Looks like a douchebag.

False alarm everyone. Until next time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

From Bourgeoisie to Proletariat: Shanahan Coherent Enough After Apparent Lobotomy to Suspend No Good Fuck Ovechkin... Oh and Joe Paterno Died

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels once postulated, in brief, that the proletariat, downtrodden souls oppressed by the man-made constructs of capital and corruption, would rise up, free themselves from their proprietary shackles, and levy justice upon the bourgeoisie -- a collection of hedonist cosmopolitans, who, like missionaries of evil, spread their filth around the world, preying on broken spirits and weak wills with the dangling carrot of ascent on the social ladder. At least that’s what my history tutor was spouting about when I was using his computer to download Van Halen tracks and fake celebrity pornography. That kid never did shut the hell up.

Anyhow, this long-winded metaphor that only came up because I was listening to Eruption is fitting for today’s joyous occasion. Namely, that playoff absentee Alex Ovechkin, the showboating attention whore akin to the bourgeois vampires, was finally brought to actual – and at the same time, poetic – justice by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, suspended three games for his hit on Zybanek Michalek, who, if you had read my previous post on him, was likely eyeing up bunk buddy Paul Martin going into the corner boards.

While Shanahan is probably too brain-dead to realize it, in between assisted scoops of mush he gets at the nursing home after the Holiday Inn Express raised its rates, he did in fact bring equality to a previously grave injustice in the NHL. This inequity is far from foreign to the sports world, though, and often goes by the name "star treatment."

For years, Ovechkin has peppered his array of fair, rattling hits with a series of knee-on-knee strikes, rocket-propelled charges, and Soviet-style ICBMs to the heads of opponents. For whatever reason, it has taken half a decade to ever penalize him for it. Now, I'll be in one fashion or another a homer bastard until I die, hopefully drowning in a pool of Iron City, during a stunt I perform in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie, or just being roundhouse kick by Van Damme for keying his car. That said, I'm not celebrating Ovechkin's suspension in its own right, but rather its inherent downgrade in his social status around the league, falling from demigod to normal player.

Whether good or bad, I would not be surprised to discover that Ovechkin's suspension emerged in part from his decline in production. Once a 50+ goal, 100+ point lock, Ovechkin's antics -- setting his stick "on fire," jumping excessively for every garbage goal, and ducking defensive responsibility, so that he can lazily float up ice in the hope that Nickolas Backstrom will bust his ass hard enough to win and send the puck up -- have all grown weary in Washington, whether under the helm of a man who commits atrocities against his waistline (Bruce Boudreau) or another who would cut the throat of his own grandmother with his skate if it meant a competitive advantage in the family pond hockey game (Dale Hunter). Conversely, though simultaneously, fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin has done nothing but explode on the ice, as I had predicted, and is dominating in every facet of the game. Let us look back:

"In case yinz jags forgot, though, we still have this other phenom by the name of Evgeni Malkin. And just like my buddy Ronnie when I can't make it on time to the case race, Malkin doesn't just have it covered, he's winning that race all by his-goddamn-self -- even if he's exhausted and belligerent afterwards.

I see the Russian machine adding to his already impressive trophy collection with the Art Ross and (fuck it, I'm goin for it) the Rocket Richard."

While the season is far from over, I felt the need to just point that out. Back to the topic at hand, I don't think Shanahan even has the mental capacity at this point to do it on purpose, but I am not shocked in the least to see a potential link between Ovechkin's less stellar play and his being subject to the rules that everybody else has to follow. In the meantime, enjoy this photo of how things have seemed to progress to this point.
I'm entertained, and quite frankly, that's all that fucking matters about now.
Other Happenings in Sports

Even though ESPN can fill you in -- ad naseum, no doubt -- on what else is going on in the sports world, I suppose it's my civic duty to, at the very least, go on inane tirades or make thoughtless, insensitive comments about them. With that in mind, let's get a move on; the beer in my fridge ain't gonna drink itself.

I Don't Want the Terrorists to Win, But... *Sigh*

Well, the stage is set for the 2012 Super Bowl and the only solace to be had is the absence of Bible-thumping Tim Tebow, who can spend the spring and summer throwing footballs through a tire in his backyard or whatever country boy, montage-worthy methods he can conjure up to learn to pass.

Unlike Varsity Blues, though, it won't end with Joshua Jackson triumphing or a disgraced Jon Voight being cast out of his own locker room -- it will most likely involve a 2012 draft pick or free agent being much more capable at running a modern NFL offense and displacing Tebow as the starter. I suppose it will give him more time to blow up abortion clinics, coerce indigenous peoples to convert to Christianity, or whatever he does to occupy his free time.

Getting back to the catastrophe at hand, this year's Super Bowl, rather than featuring moving storylines, has a slew of despicable antagonists upon whom fans can practice amateur voodoo or wish debilitating injury. Before exploring these characters more deeply, though, let us first look at what got us to this miserable outcome.

Whereas most winners and champions can attribute their success to focus and execution, this year's Super Bowl contenders serendipitously tumbled into the championship game by virtue of their opponents' own ineptitude in some football-related facet(s).

The Ravens -- not once, but twice -- botched critical plays, their play-calling notwithstanding, that would have either propelled them into the Super Bowl or at least forced overtime. I presume that Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff have already evacuated the Baltimore area, or have hired private security to keep Ray Lewis from murdering them with a prison shank in the middle of the night. The result was inevitable, I would argue, as wannabe 70's homosexual porn star Joe Flacco had played too well for proper karmic alignment, meaning that the Ravens had to find another means of failure.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, there was certainly no worries about quarterbacks playing beyond their ability, as Alex Smith proceeded to put forth an abysmal performance that included completing fewer than half of his passes. Kyle Williams capped off this run of incompetence by botching a punt return in overtime to set up slightly less choke-prone Lawrence Tynes to hit the winning field goal.

Unfortunately, these antitheses of "clutch" have left us with football's great sociopath and cheater (Bill Belichick), and his deadbeat dad quarterback and consummate asshole (Brady), up against another psycho (Brandon Jacobs -- don't forget his throwing a helmet at a fan out of steroid-driven impulse) and the likely breast-fed until he was 12 whiner (Eli Manning), who refused to play for Saints because he is a bitch. So, our only hope is for The Dark Knight Rises script to come to life and just pull down these particular jagoffs in the process.

In the end, though, I guess it's good knowing that neither of the a-bit-too-competitive-for-their-own-good Harbaugh brothers has a shot at winning the Super Bowl this year. What's more, I'm sure the family will enjoy the childish expression of their aggression as they wrestle, fistfight, and hurl obscenities at one another over whether the ball should be spotted before or after the ceramic pot of tulips in the next family football game.

Joe Paterno Is Dead, But I'm Pretty Sure You Knew That By Now

Listen, if yinz want a visual and audio scrapbook of the man's life, then drool at SportsCenter for the next month. I'm not going to get into extensive details. I'll just do what I always do -- give yinz straight, unfiltered shit from my brain here, or what is still working in it, anyway.

He was either really influential, needs to carry responsibility, or not -- I don't give a fuck; just make up your mind.

Now, this point is not applicable to everybody, but in the national media's case, lots of the press want to take two mutually exclusive viewpoints and mesh them together like some sort of genetically-engineered abomination.

It's quite simple, really. Choose between the following options. He was not as influential as people made it seem, his legacy isn't as grand as it's made out to be, and fine, he was victimized in the whole child abuse scandal that surrounded him in his last month or so among us. Or he was a significant person in the lives of many students and athletes, left an indelible mark on the university, but as such a figure, should have acted more swiftly, carefully, and thoroughly to see that an individual poisoning the university and harming children was brought to justice.

It's not that the latter is meant to be demonizing, but you can't be a role model and nationally-renowned figure who just "passes along" the info that somebody is abusing children. Quite honestly, given his comments about his actions in hindsight, I like to think he'd agree.

You know, I think that's enough for me. Have a good one, jags.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Gonna Be A Long Day: Drinking Before, During, And After Steelers Game; Angry, Irrational Rant About Penguins

Listen, jags, I'm sure yinz are all getting prepped for the big wild card game today against the Denver Broncos, readying your instruments of blasphemy directed at Tim Tebow and his suffocating love of God, not to mention the irony that the world's holiest athlete plays a game that tacitly consents excessive violence and profanity for millions of dollars while both Christian and non-Christian children are starving around the world -- not that he really cares for the latter.

Accordingly, my thoughts, words, and general equilibrium are already on a crash course with booze-induced chaos, a disaster that has proven the undoing of men much mightier than I. Nevertheless, I voyage courageously onward in my slaying of Iron, disregard for my own well-being, and marathons of unabated rage due to goings-on in Pittsburgh sports. So, before I have veered so hopelessly off course that I am forced to abandon my consciousness for a tidy spot on a tiled floor, let us discuss, as I have at great length recently, about the Penguins.

Let's start with this: what the flying fuck. My expression punctuated, by choice, with a period because it no longer suffices to pose questions. I want some fucking answers, and for want of these answers, I'll instead start taking heads.

To begin, though, I never wade into the murky, delusional waters of conspiracy in professional sports. Do they or have they existed? Of course. More often than not, however, they are feeble-minded rationalizations of losses. That said, I am led to think that whatever floats around in the sky or governs our existence has a distinct dislike for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps Tim Tebow knows something?

Whatever the case, the Penguins locker room has once again become a hockey infirmary, in which anyone wearing the Penguins (figurative) fatigues has somehow been mortally wounded. It's actually fucking ridiculous at this point. Here is the most comprehensive list of current Penguins injuries:

1. Sidney Crosby -- Concussion-like symptoms; out indefinitely

2. Kris Letang -- Concussion; out indefinitely

3. Zybanek Michalek -- Requires surgery to replace gravel in skull with actual human brain; mentally out indefinitely

4. James Neal -- Broken foot; out indefinitely

5. Jordan Staal -- Knee injury; out 4-6 weeks

6. Marc-Andre Fleury -- Head stuck up ass; out until the prune juice does its thing

7. Robert Bortuzzo -- Concussion; out indefinitely

8. Dustin Jeffrey -- Still returning from ACL surgery; close to returning

9. Paul Martin -- Sore ass from getting fucked in it so hard by opposing forwards; out until sex reassignment surgery

So that's the list of wounded hockey players -- a term liberally used for the likes of Michalek and Martin -- and explains in part the Penguins shit shows of late.

As I apparently have an affinity for making lists, probably because counting is one of the basest human functions that I'm still capable of, let's now review the observable reasons, beyond injuries, that are dismantling the Penguins.

They Put Up Less of a Fight than Roethlisberger's Victims

Rey Shero once built Penguin teams, and the coach obliged, under one simple principle: be "hard to play against." The current rendition of the Penguins contradicts this maxim in every way possible, it would seem.

Hardly anybody inhabits the "dirty" parts of ice where the vast majority of goals in the NHL are scored -- in front of the goal, in the slot, getting cross-checked, slashed, beat the fuck up, just to score that goal. Chris Kunitz is one of the few remaining players on the roster who shows even a hint of being willing to go fuck somebody up around the net and have it reciprocated in the process. Of course, it doesn't make much of a fucking difference when your "scoring threats" are taking shots from the half wall 78 times a game.

Matt Cooke has been turned into a poster boy for the NHL's punishment movement and, though he is in fact a skilled player, he is limited by the fact that even a strange look will get him suspended for eternity and chastised by local and national media as a ruthless hockey megalomaniac with no equal.

You know what, since we are careening down this road anyhow, fuck the media, too, for painting him as some supervillain with a soul made of pure evil. After his hit against the Rangers that led to his lengthy suspension, some media pundits, columnists, cocksuckers, whatever called him out, saying that he needs to "learn his lesson," "change his ways," and brought up his wife who was sick at the time.

Are you fucking serious? Yinz act like he tells his kids to stab their peers to get ahead, that mercilessly beating somebody is ethically sound, or that him getting suspended was somehow an affront against his wife. The most irresponsible, haphazard disgrace of "journalism" I have ever seen.

Anyway, back to the pussy play of the Pens, you remember guys in years past stirring up shit to the team's advantage -- Jarkko Ruutu, Mike Rupp, hell even Hal Gill. Now, everyone is taking the Georges Laraque method and trying to play well beyond their abilities. Hit some fuckers and get to the fucking net.

Paul Martin and Zybanek Michalek Are Too Busy Mutually Pleasuring One Another

Two summers ago, the Pens continued to build a team that thrived on fluid puck movement and defensive involvement in the attack. Well, two players signed from that free agency, Michalek and Martin, are certainly getting offensive, by which I mean, of course, that their play has been so painfully objectionable this season that I -- I, of all people -- take it as a gesture of extreme disrespect.

While these two defensive no-shows aimlessly pass the puck to the other team and play some tough defense that includes such tactics as letting players stand alone in the slot and discussing intriguing bedside literature with opposing forwards until they score another goal, the Penguins are drowning in their overall defensive ineptitude. Yes, looking at the box score, you can say the goalie came up big and that we are outshooting teams, but the truth is this: other teams are getting 20 shots right in front of our fucking net and, half the time, Fleury isn't in the net because he passed it to them.

These two perpetual minuses are sucking each other off, as the Penguins are eating their combined $9 million in salary. You know who the Penguins could get for that money -- fucking anybody in the NHL except Ovechkin whom I don't fucking want anyhow. At this point, they might as well have paid Rob fucking Scuderi that kinda cash because at least he has an inkling of how the hell to play some goddamn defense, even if he can't shoot a hockey puck to save his life.

So, what do the Pens do? Not the slightest of a clue. You don't want to overreact. Even if you did, you can't afford to buy them out; the team would carry significant dead weight counting against the salary cap. Nobody would want them in trade for anything beyond a bag of pucks -- you know, those things the other teams win and put in our net while Martin and Michalek are shooting hardcore guy-on-guy porn at center ice.

At this point, I'd sit one of them each night in the press box until they realize that their sexual endeavors should be kept off the ice -- or not during a game, at least -- and may actually do what they are paid for. Whom would I call up? Simon Despres is the first player that may run through fans' minds, but I would say no. No need to rush him to salvage what is quickly digressing into a clusterfuck of a season. Instead, I would let Despres keep getting top minutes and pull up a player like Brian Strait.

I really do like Strait, so I mean no disrespect when I say that his ceiling is not particularly high. He will never light up the scoreboard, rile fear in the hearts of opponents with crushing hits, or even eat up top minutes. But, just like Rob "The Piece" Scuderi -- who, funny enough, is often used as a way to describe Strait's style of play -- he can play some fucking defense. He can be useful on the penalty kill, keep the play simple, and get it out of the zone.

Do you remember Scuderi for a great breakout pass that won the cup? No. But you should remember him putting his body on the line and blocking a Johan Franzen shot, amongst others, to maintain a Penguins lead in Game 6 of the 2009 Finals. The last time I remember Michalek with his body down on the ice -- beside, of course, his falling over after the opening faceoff against Winnipeg, leading to the opening goal -- was against Tampa Bay in the playoffs when the puck still magically went into the net. For the love of Karstens, somebody figure something out.

Fleury Is Too Busy Taping It

Defensive shortcomings, whether caused by incompetent coverage or your defensemen being preoccupied with their bareback gay porn shoot, can be overcome if your goaltender is capable of picking up the slack. Marc-Andre Fleury, however, has instead chosen to pitch in on the set of Martin and Michalek's homosexual fetish film -- named something to the effect of, "Penetrating Deep in My Defensive Zone," I imagine.

I can only assume that, while directing, producing, or casting the picture, he saw a series of terrible things that cannot be 'unseen,' thus compelling him to throw the puck in any direction other than his defenders for fear of where they might stick it on or in their sexual partner.

Long-winded tirade about pornography aside, Fleury has fallen back into his obligatory (at least) one extended lull where he is prone to absurd mental gaffes and stupid plays that even my feeble great grandmother could intercept. Simply put, if your goalie can't step up when your team is down, then it's just more bad news.

The Team N... Oh for fuck sake, really?! A throw?! In overtime?! God fucking dammit. There goes the case of Iron. And now to open the Imperial.


Alright, jags. Fuck this. Get ripped after that one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh Canada -- Cry Me a Fuckin River

Hey, jags, hope yinz are enjoying the return to the daily grind. I know I ain't, but I suppose the renewed flow of income lets me upgrade back to Iron City instead of PBR and Duquesne Pilsner.

Anyhow, yinz need not worry; I got some Steelers coverage in the works for yinz about the wild card game Sunday and Tebow, who likely couldn't win a prize in the football toss game at the church fair.

Before that, though, yinz know I like to provide some hockey insight on events that don't exactly get a lot of press time on ESPN because they're busy, you know, talking about the most recent attempted murder case for Ndamukong Suh, the results from the last vet visit for Drew Brees's house cat, and a voyeur camera coverage of every room in Brett Favre's house.

The most recent such event is the World Junior Championships going on right now in Calgary, Alberta, full of frothing fans of Team Canada who, I presume, will gladly start more fires and perhaps flood Interpol with complaints about the international refereeing if their team doesn't win.

In case yinz weren't aware, Team USA is being represented by three -- in one case, near -- southwestern Pennsylvania players, Brandon Saad (Blackhawks first-round pick), J.T. Miller (Rangers first-round pick), and John Gibson (Ducks second-round pick). Now, given the team's results, I don't know if that's a poor reflection on the state of hockey in Pittsburgh or what.

Team USA underachieved greatly, suffering losses to the Finns and Czechs after beating the Danes worse than Mike Milbury does inattentive, underachieving, or maybe even ugly youth hockey players -- you pick the motive on that one. Those two losses jettisoned them out of the medal round and, instead, landed them a date with Latvia.

As a member of the former Soviet bloc, the Latvian team is kinda like a brod with really attractive sisters. Russia and Slovakia are almost always smoking hot from year to year, so you feel pretty confident meeting up with Latvia despite her blurry, oddly-positioned, Myspace-style photos. When it's all said and done, though, you pay for the Primanti's Cheesesteak, drop her off, and never call her back.

The USA's rendezvous with Latvia ended as I imagine most dates there do: with the richer, more powerful of the two (i.e., Team USA) -- or more, as Latvians strike me as people who would regularly engage in orgies -- brutally victimizing the weaker to his or her fulfillment. The 12-2 beatdown should be no consolation, though, as Team USA was apparently good enough to play a close game with Canada in their 3-2 loss, but can't beat the same countries that had their collective ass pounded by our neighbors to the north.

A Latvian player -- who fucking knows what his name is -- gets in proper position as Emerson Etem prepares to assert himself as a player for a first-world country with only semi-corrupt politician and some semblance of effective health care.

The only solace for Chuck K, besides self-medicating with a damn near factory line of Iron, was the semifinal match-up between Russia and Canada.

As usual, Canada came into the tournament with that bratty sense of entitlement that they carry into every hockey competition. What they didn't foresee, however, was a Russian team ready to stomp their conceited ass into the goddamn ice.

Led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, who pretty much ran train on the entire tournament field last year, and Nail Yakupov, who will be drafted first overall in Pittsburgh this summer and should be by virtue of his name alone, the Russians sped out to a 6-1 lead. Though the Russian team had to take its compulsory break in giving a shit, letting the Canadians get back to a 6-5 deficit, they pulled out the win and kicked those fucks into the bronze game.

Really? Well, somebody forgot to tell the Ruskies, you arrogant pricks.

In case yinz aren't familiar with the hockey prospect scene, Evgeny Kuznetsov is going to be the next great Russian to excel abroad, only to eat up salary space and underperform at the NHL level for, but of course, the Washington Capitals.

Nail Yakupov, meanwhile, has got some legit potential, I think. He plays in the OHL, meaning he's willing to adjust to the North American game and is less likely to escape to Russia when he doesn't get his way like immensely talented yet whiny bitches Alexander Radulov (ran from Nashville to beat inferior talent in the KHL) and Nikita Filatov, another international goal-scoring phenom who is now back in Russia, presumably living in his mom's basement.

On top of that, he's a scrappy son of a bitch, as was evident in his complete lack of fear in taking on bigger Canadian players who tried to run him out of frustration -- because he was, you know, too busy being really good. He's got a legit work ethic -- he doesn't look like Alvarez aimlessly diving at a ball down the line -- and, to cap it all off, he's got hands of fucking (black and) gold. Oh, and c'mon, his fucking name is Nail.

You'll hear this guy's name echoing through the Consol Energy Center this summer, and I will likely cheer if I'm not chugging a beer at that time. I mean, the guy is called Nail -- like a friggin Iron Maiden guitarist.
I mean, I could stop there with coverage and end at Canada's demise in their quest for the gold, which you would think they had already won upon the tournament's first drop of the puck. What I really want to point out, though, is how fucking ignorant some of these assholes are. Christ, I would take people yelling "Shoot!" ad naseum over these shitheads.

Namely, you know that Team Canada supporters are still going on about the refereeing, but it's their team's own damn fault that they had to surmount a five-goal disadvantage in the third. The most egregious of these mistakes was with about five minutes left in the second, when a Russian player hit Boone Jenner and drew blood. About to win a five-minute major penalty for Team Canada, meaning they had five minutes to score as many goals as possible, Boone Jenner acted as stupid as his ridiculous fucking name and speared a Russian player. By the look on his face, he thought apparently that being from Canada completely absolved him from the rulebook and behaving like an ass clown.

So, to paraphrase Justin Timberlake, whom I sure Boone Jenner listens to with great joy every day: cry me a fucking river, Canada, as you sulk your way back to whatever tundra or permafrost you came from.

By the way, this tournament has only gone to show that every Swedish person has a name ending in -sson, -berg, or -strom. It's kinda absurd, really. I mean, what, are they all cousins?
But I thought this was Canada's game?