28 May 2010

Giving Back: Helping Chicago, one bandwagoner at a time

Boy, it sure is a good thing there's plenty of time between the Conference Finals and the Cup Finals. I'd hate for the Hawks and Flyers to not get enough rest. It's one of the things I love about hockey, and the NHL in particular: they're always so consistent. Every year, between the time the final two teams are decided, and the time they take the ice, there's a ton of time for recuperation and rest. Enough time to really watch tape, develop strategy, and take to the ice completely and totally prepared. Every. Single. Year.

What? Oh, right. I forgot.

Last year it was so damn important to keep building on ratings momentum from the Conference Finals that we really had to be sure to get right to it. Just a couple of days, and here we go. Oh, and be sure to schedule those games back to back. Wouldn't want to miss that all important Neilson rating Sunday!

Fuck this league.

Well hey, might as well make myself feel better right? And what better way to do so than at the expense of one of the few things I hate more than the management of the league I love to watch so much: Blackhawk Fans.

If you don't remember, after the Wings lost I threw up an ad on Craigslist offering my services to Bandwagoners, through my Blackhawks Bandwagoner Assistance Program. Well, I promised to follow up, and I figured I'd share a few of the responses these gems of humans beings managed to send my way. They really seemed in need of the services I offered, but unfortunately, none of them had the stones to reply back. Too bad, I really thought I had the opportunity to make this world a better place by teaching just a few fair-weather pricks what "icing" is.

Without Further Ado:

Blackhawk Bandwagoner Assistance Program: 
The Responses

  • May 10, 2010 8:21:22 AM CDT
"Your still feeling the pain from the game 7 loss last year against the penguins!!!!!!! 
And for this year well you just got beat by a way better team!!!!! 
Go Hawks!!"
This seems to be the norm with the MENSA candidates that call themselves Hawks fans. They're not so good with the whole "English Language" thing. Judging by these responses, the Chicago education system has apparently failed a large portion of the community. Someone should call Dick Daley and let him know city funds would probably be better put to use in classrooms rather than to drape racist sweaters over every friggin' structure and statue in the city.

  • May 10, 2010 11:18:19 AM CDT - "Jim"
"Hey is this offer still on the table? If so i would love to employ your services. I'm a slow learner so i may need at least 2 hours. I would like to go over things like, 1) Why the redwings are out of the playoffs, 2) A breakdown of game 7 of last years Stanley Cup finals, 3) How it felt, as a redwings fan, to watch Sid the Kid raise the cup over his head at The Joe, 4) and finally, get your predictions on who will knock out the redwings next year. Hope to hear from you soon. 
Kudos to Jim. His response was actually moderately clever. I figured I'd get a few of these, considering I willingly decided to taunt a team headed to the conference finals immediately after my team lost. Anyway, my response:
Hi Jim!
Absolutely! I'm glad that you are interested in my services. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. It certainly does seem that you are need of help, as your response seems to indicate either that you have a strong affinity for the Pittsburgh Penguins, or that you think that Sidney Crosby plays for the Blackhawks. I'm not sure I'll be able to fully bring you into the light in only two hours, though. Could I interest you in my special "Blackhawks Victory Package"? You get three hours for only $84! I  named it after the ratio of Hawks championships to years they've been playing; 3:84!
Just so you know, I've already billed you for this response. Also, I round up, so be sure to send me $50 as soon as you can. Thank you!
I look forward to helping with your crippling problem.
 Even though the Hawks were still playing, the first few emails I got were really heavy on the "Haha, you lost to the Penguins by a goal in a series you beat us to get to." Not really their best option, if you ask me. Again, Mr. Daley, perhaps you should start redirecting those funds a bit faster than usual.

  • May 12, 2010 11:11:44 PM CDT; "You are as the french-candians would say, Le Douche"
"your winded speech on hockey was one of the funniest things i've ever read. not because you're funny... but because you think you're funny.  have fun watching the worlds since your team is out.
D. Feeney"
    Ok, I decided to redact this winner's first name here, because who couldn't resist emailing Mr. Feeney? Feen-ah! Fee-hee-hee-hee-NAH! ...Ahem.
    Hi Mr. Feeney,
      I'm glad that you are interested in my services! Would you like to pay me in cash or credit? I must warn you however, if you pay by cash I may not be able to make change. I feel it is necessary to be up front about this in case you feel the need to beat the living shit out of me for shorting you a few cents in the spirit of your great team.
        Looking forward to hearing from you and helping you with your problem!
        Zing indeed.

        •  May 20, 2010 6:51:39 AM CDT
        "Hiya," wrote me with possibly one of the best thought out responses I've ever read. His tact and gift for logical persuasion were truly stunning. After reading his response - NO - his manifesto on internet poise and class, my life was truly altered. I fear that I shall never be the same; I have been changed forever, truly in the same way one may be altered after first reading the works of Shakespeare, or having first heard a Beatles Album. Without further ado, "Hiya" wrote:
        Tsk, tsk. You know there's something wrong with you when even Sarah Palin would find your ignorance upsetting. But look! In addition to bigoted pejoritive, "Hiya" included not one, but fourteen exclamation points! That's how you know he truly has conviction in his principles. My response:
        Ah, yes. The juvenile anger and frustration of a perennial underdog mixed with the bigotry and ignorance of someone who lives with their head buried up their asses. A true mark of a bandwagoner in need of assistance. 
        I'm no doctor, but I think it's best for all involved if you rush into my program. It's clearly an emergency. Don't believe me? Look at all those exclamation points you used. Quite serious indeed.
        Cash or credit? 

        • May 20, 2010 8:08:52 AM CDT
        "Todd" sent me a great response, 2,000 words long. Well, not really. He actually didn't use a single word, but attached two pictures, as follows:

        Clever. I truly hope "Todd" paid good money to purchase that jersey and have it custom made. My response:
        Thank you for working so hard to prove my point.
        Oh, by the way... interesting definition of "sucks." I mean, more Cups in the last 13 years than your team has in its entire 84 year history... seems odd that you would aspire to "suck." But then again, you've yet to experience the transforming power of my Bandwagoner Assistance Program.

        • May 20, 2010 6:37:08 PM CDT - "Joey"
        "yea it would have to be a detroit fan that thinks he is way smarter than the average chicago Moe! Im sry u have to provide services to pay for your ticket ! Maybe u should try backpage you would have better luck! sorry your team didnt make it know u have to suck our blood to feel a stanley cup win ! wow ! Detroit Sucks! Detroit Sucks!
        Ur gonna Provide services get some knee pads!"
        What is it about email that causes people to stop using actual words? Srsly, bro. ITZ wak! My response:
        Hi Joey,
        I can see you are really in need of my help! Tell you what... I'll toss in your first lesson for free! When taunting fans of other teams, it's usually good to be consistent. That is, it's unadvised to call someone out for thinking he is smarter than you, and then proceed to prove that fan's point. You see, your point would be much better taken if you could properly spell or capitalize simple  words such as "Yeah," "Chicago," "I'm," "sorry," "you," "Sorry," "didn't," "now," "you," "Stanley Cup," "Wow," "You're," "going," "to,"  and "provide." Further, coherent sentences really help your cause toward this end.
        Additionally, it's difficult to have much credibility when attacking an opponent when you declare something like "Detroit Sucks!" For example, if Detroit sucks, then what does that make a team that has been it's bitch for so long? 
        I hope that you find this lesson particularly beneficial. If you would like more information about hockey, and how to transform your life from a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, shit-kicking, dipshit bandwagoner to first class hockey fan, please let me know!
        Great hearing from you! 
         And finally:

        • May 21, 2010 8:15:48 AM CDT
        Your posting has been flagged for removal.
        Indeed. Wouldn't want to offend the good people of Craigslist, or distract them from searching for stolen goods or cheap hookers.

        This city is a-buzz with the Blackhawks now. Restaurants who have never had an interest in hockey at all are flying Hawks flags. I've seen far more Hawks sweaters now that the weather is warm than throughout the entire winter (you know... that time of the year when hockey is mostly played.) And all that apparel fits exactly the type of fans adorning them: Brand Spanking New. It's a good time to be a purveyor of Hawks goods... all those "fans" who abandoned the team for so long need to pick up new swag so they can prove to their myspace friends how cool they are.

        Yawn. Go Flyers. (ugh... that's hard to stomach)

        ...is it October yet?

        26 May 2010

        The 19 Stages of Grief: Farewell Captain... again.

        You know what Larry Aurie? I've had about enough of this.

        First you tear through our roster, creating enough injuries so that we are in legitimate danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 19 years. Then you think it's fun to watch teams like the LA Kings, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Colorado Avalanche outperform us for the majority of the year. Then, happy days! We're heatlhy! We're on fire! We're unstoppable! And look! Were' just one step away from the Western Conference finals for the fourth straight year! The only thing in our way? The authors of "Choking Like David Carradine in a Bangkok Hotel Room Closet For Dummies" themselves: The San Jose Sharks. Then, out of nowhere, they manage to string together 4 good games. Really the only 4 they played all playoffs. Just so happened to come against us. Thanks Larry.

        So what are we left with now? The friggin' Blackhawks and the Flyers in the Cup Finals. Really? Seriously? It couldn't have been any other Western conference team, Larry? You just had to twist that knife as hard as you could. You pick the team in the West we'd all least like to see win, and hand them the Flyers. A team who's purpose seems to be allowing a Central Division team that's on an epically long Cup Drought to steam roll them in the finals. Super.

        Well, whatever. Hockey is hockey. We've still got Hockeytown, right? The house that Stevie built. The Dynasty. The soul and spirit of Hockeytown will never die.
        Yzerman, who turned 45 earlier this month, is taking over running the Tampa Bay Lightning the team announced this afternoon.
        Link - via Freep 

        Well, fuck me.

        Uncle. I give. I surrender. Whatever it takes Larry. Just knock it off. The Curse of Larry Aurie needs to be over. Slighted for not having #6 hanging from the rafters as it should, Larry's decided his rampage must continue on. Like Sherman marching to the sea, he leaves nothing but scorched earth on the hearts and souls of the Hockeytown faithful in his path. Enough. I'm off to Appomattox because this shit's gotta stop. (Zing! TWO Civil War Jokes!)

        The key here though is that, at least for now, Hockeytown is losing its greatest hero. Barry Sanders, Ty Cobb? Nothing. Though its blaspehmous, when it comes to Detroit Heroes, The Captain takes it all. All the greats pale in comparison to the kid who put this franchise on his shoulders and carried it to a Dynasty. Steve Yzerman has made his mark on this organ-i-zation, on this franchise, and on this city, more so than any other.

        And now he's leaving.

        It was one thing when he retired. One of the saddest days of my hockey life. But we all saw it coming then. We saw the pain that our hero skated through, and knew that even though he could press on like he had, it wasn't fair to expect him to do so. We knew that capable hands were in the wings, waiting to take the C - and though Captain Norris would never be the leader Stevie Y was, he'd still do a helluva fine job. And we knew that Stevie wouldn't be far. He wasn't going away forever - he was just going upstairs to continue to make his mark on our beloved franchise.

        And now he's leaving.

        The Captain is off to Tampa Bay. He's off to wear colors other than Red and White. He's off to make his mark on someone else's franchise. He won't be up in the press box with Kenny. He won't be there when you get bleeder seats for the Stanley Cup Finals and you realize after the first goal that you are literally sitting four rows in front of The Captain, making you no longer care about what's happening on the ice and causing you to focus literally all of you energy in basking in the glory of the greatest captain of all time (yeah... I know. Way specific. But, seriously, that was incredibly fucking cool). And while many in Hockeytown will disagree, I'm sure if you ask him, he'll no longer be a Red Wing.

        That hurts.

        I'm sure everyone's heard of the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief. Well, even though I can be happy for Stevie that he's getting the chance he's wanted - the chance to run his own team - I'm still grieving. And I know that many of my fellow Hockeytown Die Hards are grieving pretty hard as well. And for The Captain... 5 stages just isn't enough.

        In the hopes that I can help you cope, I present to you, the Winged Wheel 19 Stages of Grief:

        • 1. Shocked Disbelief: After waking up to several missed text messages telling you not to read the news near sharp objects, you see that there are reports that The Captain has accepted a job in Tampa Bay. You check the date: Not April 1st. You pinch yourself: Not dreaming. You check any glasses you've drank out of in the last 24 hours: Doesn't appear anyone spiked anything with LSD... your brain short circuits.
        • 2. Dazed Realization: Hours later, you wake up in a pool of your own saliva as you've been foaming at the mouth since you passed out. You wonder where you are. Slowly you realize what's happened. 
        • 3. Attempted Relief: Boy is it hard to waterboard yourself. Though, you try. You figure even torture would be a welcome escape from the darkness that has overtaken you.
        • 4. Denial: You march right to the local court house to get the forms to change your name. You are no longer a devoted Red Wings hockey fan who has lived a relatively normal and productive life over the past decade. You are now Hugo Markovanevitch, an ex KGB agent who lives in the woods and eats squirrel three meals a day. 
        • 5. Anger: After the court clerk tells you that you can't just change your name like that, you black out in a rage. You wake up after being tazed by a sheriff as you are screaming for blood with your hands around the clerk's throat.
        • 6. Total Bowel Evacuation: Yeah... being tazed will do that to you.
        • 7. Bargaining: In order to get out of jail, you have to do horrible unspeakable things for the guard. Things that would make Courtney Love blush. Seriously, it's gross.
        • 8. Showering: Yeah... that shame isn't going to wash off. Nice try though.
        • 9. Logical Reasoning: Wow. What a ride. It's tough seeing your idol decide to leave. The guy's been a part of this organization for 27 years. Though he's just a hockey player, you really feel that he's been a major part of your life for a long time. But you know... he wants to run a team. What's the alternative? Canning Kenny Holland? The guy's a genius... we can't do that. And it's Tampa Bay... it's not like he's off to Chicago, Pittsburgh, or... ugh... Colorado. The Captain deserves it. You know.... you should be happy for him. The Captain has given you so much, it's the least you can give back!
        • 10. More Waterboarding: Yeah. Get that logic and reason out of here. You're a hockey fan, damnit.
        • 11. Anger: You know what Kenny? You were offered a promotion. I don't care if you're a GM. I don't care if you're the best in the business. You take the damn promotion because it makes me feel better. And damnit, my feelings should be paramount in ever decision you make.
        • 12. Anger: Fuck you Canada. I knew it. I called it. Damn Olympics. As soon as Stevie was named GM to the Olympic favorites, I knew I had to root against him. We all know he's a genius, and a tremendous asset to any organ-i-zation. But hopefully others really didn't. Olympic Gold changed that. Just as I predicted (awesome... that ONE thing I got right all year), the Olympic performance basically gave Stevie his pick of jobs. As if we needed any other reasons to hate Rosby... that "golden goal" sealed our fate. Fucking scrotum.
        • 13. Drinking: On tap? One garbage can full of piss-warm PBR.
        • 14. Anger: You know what... this is all your fault Todd Bertuzzi! You and your ill-timed penalties and your shitty skating and your inability to handle a pass! This is directly your fault somehow!
        • 15. Smashing: This is the stage where you just smash pretty much anything you can find. Glasses, bottles, lamps, televisions, puppies. You name it. 
        • 16. Third Eye Blinding: I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend. 
        • 17. Stupid-Ass Jokes Stage: This stage usually involves numerous references to some obscure running joke you started months ago and have beaten over and over to death, multiple Civil War references, and illusions to 90's music. This stage helps you pass the time, but it's pretty rough on everyone else around you.
        • 18. Running: For the next 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 6 hours, you run back and forth across America non-stop. It's tough, but you give lots of people pretty cool ideas on the way and you grow a pretty sweet beard.
        • 19. Acceptance: Like the Kübler-Ross stages, the 19 stages of grief ends with acceptance. Though, this can only happen after The Captain Returns. And he will. He'll be back. Hockeytown is Stevie Y. Stevie Y is Hockeytown.
        He'll be back. 

        By the way... Nick... now's a good time to announce that you are not retiring and that you'll be back for another 3 years. Thanks. 

        ...is it October yet?

        25 May 2010

        The Captain Moves On.

        Bittersweet news out of Tampa today. Stevie Y appears to be leaving Hockeytown to take over as GM of the Lightning.


        That's all I've got for now. Good luck to The Captain.

        20 May 2010

        A Conga Line of Idiocy: Wow, you get paid to do this?

        I'm still here. I promise.

        Finals are done, so hopefully that little hiatus is over for some time. Mea Culpa.

        One of the glorious things I missed while I was off trying to learn everything there is to know about various areas of law in the 24 hours before each exam, was the Penguins fantastic demise. Yeah, I know. The Wings went down in the same round. But the only thing that could have possibly made such a disappointing end to the post-season was a full on flameout by gary's team. That shit helps.

        It wouldn't be a Winged Wheel post without a hearty bowl full of bitching, though. And something I noticed in the various reports following both the Wings' and the Penguins' postseason exits has me relatively miffed. When the Wings went down, everyone - Detroit "writers" included (here's looking at you, Mitch) - declared the END OF THE GREAT AND POWERFUL DYNASTY. Oh yes. A semi-finals exit to the number one seed in the West could only logically lead to the permanent demise of the Red Wings. Armageddon in Hockeytown! The earth has finally opened up and swallowed Detroit whole. The contract that Kenny Holland had with the devil to gaurantee years of success is finally up, and he must now travel to hell to deliver his soul and the souls of all Wings fans to Beelzebub himself. Get used to it, Wings fans. By the way the hockey media tell the story, Detroit will never win another game.

        That's a dramatically different story than what came following the Pens' demise. That story was all about Halak and the absolutely unbeatable Canadiens. The fact that Rosby couldn't manage to get points against the 8 seed? Not his fault. He's the best in the whole damn world! The fact that Fleury couldn't bother stopping the GREAT AND POWERFUL Mike Cammalleri on pretty much any shot fired at him? No biggie. Fluery's the next Sawchuk. Absolute perfection there. The Pens' loss was written up as an anomoly. Nobody predicted that it would be years until the Pens found their way to the Cup Finals again like they did Detroit. Nobody predicted that Pittsburgh's best years are behind them. In fact, the closest anyone came to criticism was usually along the lines of "Meh, it's OK. They're tired. They'll be back next year."

        Yeah, I didn't expect anything different. That's the way the Hockey Media have been selling the sport for years now. Hell, these are the same people that have made Mike "wait... he's a DEFENSEMAN?" Green a Norris finalist for two years running. Logic and reason aren't exactly prerequisites for the job.

        But still... a bit of logic and reason would be nice.

        For example, the Red Wings - that team that is done, pan fried, seared, garnished and served? By all accounts, they had a better season than that other team that's sure to be back next year. Consider, what the Wings battled through all year:
        • A rookie goaltender;
        • The ridiculous number of injuries - 316 man games lost compared to Pittsburgh's 187 - and the key nature of the players involved in those injuries;
        • An objectively more difficult schedule than the Penguins, with much more traveling and a significantly more difficult Conference;
        • The lack of the benefit of daily fellatio from the comissioner - a benefit thid rosby certainly enjoys.
        Despite all of that, the Wings ended the season with one more point in the standings than the Pens. They finished in the same exact stage of the post-season - except their loss was to the #1 seed in the conference... not the #8 seed. 

        So why exactly is it that everyone is declaring that the era of the Red Wings is as dead as David Carradine in a Bangkok Hotel closet, but at the same time making every excuse possible for the Pens. Well, the answer is simple:
        • Because they are stupid.
        See, the Wings aren't going anywhere. They still have their core locked up. It's unlikely Captain Norris will be departing this off-season (fingers cross, fingers crossed, fingers crossed). We've still got the same GM that has been in our organ-i-zation in some shape or form for 27 years, ensuring 19 consecutive post-season appearances. More depth scoring, our only real downfall in the playoffs, will be back next year. And Bear Jesus willing, we wont be replete with injuries every year like we were this year. Unless Larry Aurie decides he's really super hillarious and keeps these shenanigans up, the 2009-10 season should be the anomaly.

        That's right. This is still the team where a 102 point season is underachieving. The Pens went par for the course. This was a normal season for them. No giant hiccups, no freak occurrences. They're looking at a similar situation as the Wings in the danger of their number one D-man leaving during the offseason as Gonchar is a free agent. Unlikely - but so is the prospect of Lidstrom retiring while he's still the best in the league (yeah, I said it, Fuck you Hockey Writers). I guess what I'm saying is that if you are going to be a fucking idiot - at least be consistent about it. If you really think that a 100+ point season and a semifinals exit is a guarantee of mediocrity for years to come, apply that across the board.

        Of course, that would stand in stark contrast to the veritable conga line of hockey writers leading directly to Rosby's nutsack.

        Whatever. I guess I can at least rest easy with the knowledge that 1) this shit isn't ever going to change, and 2) the Wings will be around for years to come, continually shutting these idiots up.

        ...is it October yet?

        11 May 2010

        Hey Mitch: Shove it.

        Let me preface this. Mitch Albom has written some of the best articles I've ever read. His article for Sports Illustrated, "The Courage of Detroit": Beautiful. Exceptional. Outstanding.

        But Mitch has strayed from hockey. Sure, he hammers out the occasional piece for the Freep here and there. However, those usually only show up when the season is just beginning or during the playoffs. Mitch just can't be bothered with those pesky, boring, non-flashy 82 games in between. Yeah, he'll lay down some text for those shiny posters after a championship - but a game in December? Psh, leave that to the poors.

        Well, our postseason is over. Unfortunately it didn't end with one of those flashy poster pieces that Mitch so loves. Instead, he's forced to write about a semifinals loss. Poor Mitch.

        DETROIT -- In Hockeytown, when the team wins, it feels like destiny, and when it loses, destiny took a breather, sure to be back next year, ready for a kiss, right?

        Well, at the risk of having my head taken off, don't be so sure. In the aftermath of the Red Wings' second-round departure from the playoffs, we have been hearing a lot of "Hey, injuries made it a weird year" and "Hey, those were one-goal losses against San Jose" and "Hey, the rest will do the Wings good." ...
        Sure, injuries made it a weird year. But when the Wings got healthy, they won 16 of their last 21 games and were "the team nobody wants to play in the playoffs," remember?
        What happened next? They lost seven of 12. And only one frontline guy, Brad Stuart, in the final game, was seriously hurt. So how are injuries an excuse?
        First, here's a common theme among Detroit writers over the past couple of days that has me batshit crazy. "Well, at the risk of having my head taken off." Yes. You are the be-all-end-all wise, objective sports-writer. Here to put us peons in our place. We, the mass of mouthbreathing knuckledraggers who simply couldn't understand the ins and outs of a hockey game. How could we? We are not one of the CHOSEN, selected from the masses for superior intellect and an unparalleled gift of prose to preach to the drooling hoard. How could we understand? We don't have the opportunity to watch every fifteenth game (you know... when it's convenient) from the pressbox, among the stonefaced elites.

        Heavy is the head, though. When the unfortunate happens, when the team into which they have such unique insight crashes and burns - they have to break the news. Now, they saw it coming, of course. Because they were just so damn objective and insightful, they knew everything that would happen well before it did. Wait. Wait wait. Don't go looking in the archives. Just trust them. They knew. But now, they have a duty. An obligation to break the news: the Wings are no longer in the playoffs. No easy task, as us barbaric peons are a tempermental bunch. Risking life and limb, they slowly explain to us that the Wings have been beaten, and no excuses are acceptable.

        Not even just excuses. No criticisms of anything other than your team. Officiating? Don't even bring it up. The elite - the chosen - have been bullied by the great and powerful national elite. They don't want to look bad. It doesn't matter that the officiating was a complete and utter joke. It doesn't matter if you preface every single criticism with "Listen, I'm not taking anything way from the Sharks, they were the better team, the Wings didn't play hard enough and Joe Thornton has a HUGE penis, BUT..." If you say just one little thing, you are a whiner who just cannot accept that your team could be beat, and damnit - you're making those writers look bad!

        Columnists, radio personalities, and now even authors with insight into who you'll meet in heaven have been throwing the gauntlet over the past few days. Asking -no- DEMANDING that Wings fans stop making them look bad by commenting at all about the officiating. They've allowed Mr. Puck Daddy to get in their heads and push them around. The message from them all: no complaints. It doesn't matter how much you qualify those complaints with a recognition that in the end the loss is still on the Wings. Don't you dare complain, otherwise you're just a plain old ignorant, idiotic, bitching and moaning poor sport.


        I'm sorry, but fuck you. The officiating sucked. It's worth getting upset about, and it's worth commenting on. I'm not blaming the series on the refs. They didn't decide shit. It was between the team in teal and the team in red. Teal found the way to win. But they did it in a series that saw some of the most ridiculous officiating in decades. That incompetence undermines the league and the sport. As a fan, I've got a right to be pissed. So, to those who choose to classify any complaint I have as an excuse? Fuck you. Quote that in the freep.

        Ahem. Back to it:
        ...Neither is the new economy in hockey, which has leveled the playing field. Marian Hossa is still alive in the playoffs - but for the Blackhawks. Mikael Samuelsson already has more playoff goals than anyone on the Wings - but for Vancouver.

        You can't hoard your stars the way Detroit used to. And now comes a heavy decision with Nicklas Lidstrom. If he leaves, the Wings lose their captain, the anchor of their defense and their locker room. If he stays, they spend at least $6 million to $7 million of their salary cap on a guy who is 40.
        Whoa. Whoa whoa fucking whoa, Mitch. Let me stop you right there. You seem to be suggesting that Captain Norris himself wouldn't be worth the money he'd pull if he decides (fingers crossed) to stick it out for another year or two. See, that opinion is objectively fucking asinine. Only a moron, or someone who simply hasn't watched any hockey this year, could come to the conclusion that it could possibly be a detriment to have the best defensive player to ever lace them up on their team. Boy. It sure would be tough to spend that amount on a guy who's 40. Nevermind the fact that there isn't a coach on the planet that on a one-year basis would choose any defenseman currently playing over Nick Lidstrom.
        ...Listen, I am not saying the Wings can't do it. They're a great franchise. But we shouldn't consider it some kind of automatic. My first thought when the Wings began to falter this year was this: They should have won Game 6 last June. Detroit was on the precipice of back-to-back Cups, with a 3-2 lead on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. If ever birthright needed to assert itself, it was that night. Grab it when you can.
        Was it? Was that your first thought? Well... when was that? Oh yeah, you said when they began to falter. Would that be early in the season, when Larry Aurie was busy knucklefucking our lineup? I'm guessing no. I'm guessing that Mitch tuned out right after his pre-season previews, and tuned right back in the next time I can find a meaningful column from him on the Freep - when the Wings were facing elimination to the Yotes. Then he stepped out, with the same attitude about him: "You disgusting fans. You just think you deserve this, huh? Well, I'm smarter than you, and I'm telling you nothing is guaranteed."

        Look. Like I've said - Mitch can write a helluva column. He has the ability to be one of the absolute best out there. Bar none. Maybe I'm just picking on him because he's the most recent in the line of Detroit sports writers to condescendingly wag their fingers at us "fans" (you know, the people that put up with their drivel and keep them employed) for ever having the audacity to complain, or want our team to win! Maybe I'm picking on him in the same way that I absolutely hate, hate, hate everything Metallica put out after 1991. They've proven it before, and I know they've got it in them to put out something earthshattering. That mediocre run of the mill bullshit just isn't going to fly.

        Or maybe I'm picking on him because I'm just one of those knuckledragging mouthbreathers he was so worried would "tear off his head" and I'm sour over the early offseason.

        By the way, here's the link to Mitch's piece. It's apparently not up at Freep yet. Stick tap to the Emperor over at Kukla's Korner for the pointer. 

        UPDATE: Here's the Freep link to this drivel.

        ...is it October yet?

        10 May 2010

        Giving Back: Ah yes, there's that salty, cruel disposition we're famous for

        So, yesterday after the loss, I was down. Dejected, saddened, depressed. Though, oddly, I was able to deal with it. I didn't break anything. I didn't permanently damage any personal relationships. Hell, I only said fuck once in an entire post.

        Well, enough of that feel-good nonsense. Today, I sat, pondering the depressing fate of my beloved team. While doing so, I came to the conclusion that I'd need something to keep me occupied during the all-too-early offseason.

        Well, what better than bringing out some big brass balls and publicly mocking a team that's still alive and kicking?

        I present to you, a new Winged Wheel feature:
        • Fucking With Fuckers.
        Ok... I'll need to think of a better name... suggestions are appreciated. Nevertheless, here's our first installment.
        • Blackhawk Bandwagoners Assistance Program
        Just in case the wonderful people over at Craigslist manage to take this down anytime soon (you know, in case they decide it's somehow more offensive than a myriad of sexual solicitations by underage transvestites), here's a screenshot:

        I'll keep you lovely readers updated as the responses pour in. I'm sure there will be some gems.

        ...is it October yet?

        09 May 2010

        A Hearty Stick Tap: I'll go back to complaining later

        I'm taking this surprisingly well.

        It's not that I'm not upset. It's not that I don't care. Bear Jesus knows, I do.

        But I haven't broken anything. I'm not still fuming. I'm not wondering how the hell I'm supposed to watch the rest of these playoffs without comitting violent felonies. I'm not frantically googling the home addresses of the officials on the ice throughout this series.

        I'm just, being.

        I guess tonight is not the night for the rants and raves that have been the backbone and foundation of The Winged Wheel since its inception. Tonight, I just want to put out a hearty stick tap to the greatest team in sports. They had a hell of a season. They battled through serious adversity and overcame. A rookie goaltender stood on his head despite all predictions otherwise. Larry Aurie marched to the sea, leaving behind scorched earth and a heaping bounty on the trainers' tables. New faces were brought in, and I'll be damned if Kenny Holland didn't work his magic and pull out some major gems from nowhere. There were rookie phenoms, sophomore slumps, veteran resurgences, and Todd Bertuzzi.

        And that's just the product on the ice. Nevermind Herm to Hockeytown, the explosion of Wings blogs, and who could forget the earth-shattering birth of The Winged Wheel.

        So, for now, I put my patented bitching on hold. A huge stick tap to the Wings for a great season. A bigger stick tap to anyone who has bothered reading this drivel over the past months. More to come regularly over the summer (ugh... summer). In the name of Bear Jesus, the Liquor Christ, and Steve Yzerman:
        • Go Wings!
        (Wow, I made it through an entire post without saying it! Not only that but I did it the night the Wings were eliminated! I need to write this shit down.)

        ...is it fucking October yet.... (Ah, shit, there it is.)

        06 May 2010

        I Believe.

        That is all.

        05 May 2010

        Mistaken: It's not really about the 60 minute game

        After the loss last night, there's been quite a bit of anger heaved around. Lord knows I'm in that mix. However, there seems to be a trend amongst most that argue that the Wings simply didn't play a 60 minute game. That somehow, they stopped trying after the first two periods because they had a two goal lead.

        I disagree.

        I put it on Babs. I think that blame lies squarely on his shoulders because I'm confident that it was his directive after the second intermission to step back, save energy, and play the trap. I don't think it's a matter of our players getting tired. I don't think it's a matter of our players not caring. I think it's a matter of our players following directions.

        Everything changed in the beginning of the third. The Wings came out sitting back, waiting for the Sharks to attack. Instead of carrying the puck into the Sharks zone they gained center ice, dumped it, and would occasionally send a one man forecheck in. They set up to play the trap, with the hopes that the Sharks couldn't get past their defense.
        • Yeah. That worked out well.
        Pure and simple, the third period collapse was not a matter of a bad work ethic. It wasn't a matter of poor conditioning. The fact that that was an OT was a direct result of bad coaching.

        Yeah. I said it. I know, Babs is usually without reproach. Most often he's blindly considered one of the best in the league. He's got a hell of a record and a stellar career so far. But changing up the gameplan because you're up by two goals, sitting back and waiting for one of the (if not THE) deepest offenses in the league to come at you, is objectively stupid. It's bad coaching.

        The Wings have been outplayed by the Sharks in only two scenarios thus far:
        • When they're down a man... or two.
        • When they sit back and wait for it.
        See, one of the Wings greatest assets is that we've got a two way bench. Our forwards can play defensively, and our defensemen can play offensively. Consider how some of the best offensive chances we had last night came as a result of Lids jumping up when it was responsible to do so and putting real pressure on the Sharks' D. That shit doesn't happen when you're just sitting back. The Sharks, on the other hand, seem to have a weakness in that their offense is mostly one-way. So... when you knock them off their game, and you force them to play both ways... good things happen.

        When you don't? Last night happens.

        As I mentioned in my post-game rant last night (and thank God for it, without that venting I may have burned a few blocks to the ground) there was plenty of individual blame to go around. Ericsson for pulling a Lebda, Bertuzzi for being bad at the sport of hockey, Howard for shitting all over the golden opportunity handed to him despite the fact that there's a 3 ring hall of fame caliber goaltender riding the pine... However, the biggest blame goes to Babcock.

        He has been out-coached by young Todd this series.. Thoroughly. Before, during, and after the games. His decision making has been downright mind-boggling.

        It's not a matter of not playing a full 60 with heart and energy. It's a matter of playing 40 well, and then playing the other 20 based on a flawed game-plan. Maybe you go to the trap with 20 to play and only a two goal lead against an offense with less firepower. But no way do you do it last night. Not with what was on the line. It wasn't laziness, it was stupidity.

        Thanks, Babs.

        Now get your shit together, and lets go make history.

        04 May 2010

        Wanted: Dead or alive, get him off this team.

        OT. Ericsson jumps the rush. With forwards who don't traditionally score. He gets way, way, way too deep and leaves his partner alone. In other words: He Lebdas.

        That goal? HIS FAULT.


        Dear everyone who simply laughed at me like I was an idiot to even suggest that Ericsson could be potential trade bait before the deadline:
        • Fuck yourselves.
        Turns out, the kid sucks. Sure, he wasn't alone. But that last goal: HIS fault. Nothing anyone on the ice could have done to stop it. He decided to not play defense... despite the fact that he's a fucking DEFENSEMAN. He decided he wanted to see that flashing red light, and didn't think about his team, his season, or the fans. He didn't do his job and as a direct result: we lost.

        Does he have potential? Sure. That's a good reason to trade him. That is, before he flushes it away any more. Sophomore slump? Fine. Put someone else in. Get him off the fucking ice because he's a liability. He's been a liability this entire season, and ESPECIALLY so this series against the Sharks.

        Though, admittedly, the loss wasn't all his fault. Lets share some of this blame, shall we?

        • Babcock
        First and foremost. Fuck the idea that shit rolls down hill. Even if that's the case, I'll catapult it right back up there. You sir, are to blame for that third period fuck up. Maybe they got tired because their shifts weren't short enough. Sure. Your fault. Or maybe, just maybe, your little idea of taking your two goal lead and just playing a trap, putting ZERO offensive pressure on a highly skilled offense... is objectively fucking stupid. It doesn't ever work; leads are consistently blown. So, in short, Mike Babcock - go fuck the business end of a pineapple.
        • Bertuzzi
        Get out. You and E. Just get out. You've been shit all season, except for that one streaky month that seemed to buy you all the capital in the world. I've never seen a player have the kinds of opportinities you end up with on the ice and then consistently, EVERY FUCKING TIME, just piss them away. I was all for you when the idea was you being a 3d or 4th line forward. Right now? On line 1B? You're shit. Absolute shit. (By the way, Travis, I'm mad enough right now that if you even try to fucking stick up for the guy I will end you. Seriously. It will be the fucking end.)

        • Manny Legace... er... Jim Howard.
        Yeah. He's a rookie. Cut him some slack. Fine. You can stay. But you sucked ass. Two of those goals were on YOU. The other was a nasty redirect, but you still should have been bigger in that net. As long as I'm tossing shit around, you deserve your heaping handful. Oz may have been shit this year, but we could ride the guy through the playoffs, consistently. You sir? Nope. Not even close. You're pulling a Legace... you just waited until the second round to do it.

        Beyond pissed. Beyond upset. Not acceptable by any means. No excuses. Even less hope.


        The March to 12: Todd, Todd, Todd... for shame.

        Wow. I am a terrible playoff blogger. With a combination of traveling, finals, and my sheer inability to think about playoff hockey without potentially suffering a massive aneurysm, my production has plummeted. Hell, J Rock has outperformed me recently. Ouch. (Ha!)

        With that mea culpa out of the way, I'd like to take a second to address what has happened here so far. he Wings are currently in a battle against the San Jose Sharks; a team that is a perennial regular-season powerhouse and a usual playoff flop. A team who's number we've had all year, despite all of the injuries Larry Aurie bestowed upon our Red Wings this season. A team that plays a very similar style.

        Well... until recently.

        You see, after years of looking up to Babcock, working at his side, our old pal Todd gained a lot of insight. He learned the details of a defensively responsible puck-possession system. He gained a team of his own, and tried to instill within the members thereof a dedication to that system. However, he soon found that the student had yet to become the master. After a disappointing playoffs last year, a tough regular season against the Wings this year, Toddy knew that he needed to change up his gameplan a bit in order to beat his sempai's squad.

        And changeup he did.

        The Winged Wheel has obtained an exclusive image of Todd working the scenes behind the bench. Amazingly, the camera crew at Versus managed to miss this tremendous photo opportunity. Surprising, considering they spend only about 15% of the game actually following the puck. Neither the national nor local media have picked up on this game-changer young Todd has thrown into the mix. But we here at the Winged Wheel have obtained a key insight into his gameplan. Without further ado:

        That's right. You're eyes are not decieving you. Coach McLellan has added the dive flag to his repritoire of tools (Ha, tools). And boy howdy was he using his new toy in full force during games one and two.

        Honestly, have you ever seen a team dive this much without reproach? Have you ever witnessed such embellishments without so much as a warning? Every single time a Wing came even close to a Shark, there went the Shark, followed shortly by a whistle.

        The combination of cowardly coaching and horrendous officiating has been a thorn in the Wings' side thus far. Considering the number of power play goals the Sharks have tallied thus far, these factors have certainly been key to the numbers the Wings now have in the loss column. But you know what?
        • Fuck it.
        Fuck it because we're the Red Wings. Fuck it because we've faced such obstacles before, and we sure as shit will face them again. Fuck it because we're the NHL's reigning dynasty, and we'll be damned if something like being on the PK for an entire third of a hockey game get in our way. It's time to step up.


        Good news: we've done it all season. When our backs have been to the wall we've pushed back and found a way. When we were hanging around the 10th seed around the Olympic break, we decided to come back as the hottest team in the league to secure the 5 spot. When we were facing a game seven elimination on the road, we bounced back and put together the most dominant performance of this playoffs. Now, we've got to hit back and take four of the next five.

        To do it? It won't be easy. There are keys to the game that need to be solved in order for Uncle Mike to step up and slap Toddyboy in the face with a bucket of superiority. Obviously better performance in faceoffs is key. It's kind of hard to beat a puck-possession team with a puck-possession game if you can't get possession of the puck. It would also help if Jonny E would stop pulling Lebdas and spending all his time behind the other team's net. It might be good for Kronwall to remember it's the postseason as well. I have never seen a Wing have a worse playoffs than Kronners is currently having. If he's injured, it would be better to drop in Meech, Kindl, or... shudder... Lebda. The guy isn't helping at all, and he's consistently making Stuart cover his ass.

        Further the Wings need to...

        Paging Johan Franzen. Paging Johan Franzen. Will Mr. Franzen please report to the slot. Mr. Franzen, you are requested in the slot. Please get your pansy ass off the boards and crash the net already. As a reminder: this is the playoffs. Mr. Franzen, please report to the slot.

        Ahem, excuse me.  Sorry for the interruption. What was it that I was going to say would help the Wings out? Hm. Must have slipped my mind.

        Must win, bitches. Bring out the tin-foil, and lets let em have it in Hockeytown.
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