15 May 2011

Grievances: Martin Luther's got nothing on me

Well... it's about that time.

We lost. I grieved. Then there were three more damn games to drag me back in. More grief. Huzzah.

However, immediately after Wednesday's disappointment just wasn't the right time to start the bitchfest. After all, the team who didn't show up for the first three games turned around, picked up the pace, and made a series out of it. Instead of continuing the biggest roll-over this team has seen in an absurdly long time, our team gave the fans something to watch. During that resurgence, we got some of the best hockey I've ever seen.  So, before I start this little sulky diatribe, let me make clear: I sure appreciate that late effort. The Wings almost did what seemed impossible. They almost made history. They almost cleared a direct path to 12, because there's no damn way any of those other teams would be standing in the way of a rejuvinated Wings team.

But therein lies the problem.
  • "Almost"
Make no mistake - the Red Wings should have won that series. Even though they took the series to 7 games, rallying from a 0-3 deficit, this team underperformed. Since mid-November, that's been the case. Yeah, yeah, I know. 20 consecutive playoff appearances. 11 consecutive years of putting up over 100 points in the regular season. A division championship. By most metrics, this was a pretty damn good year. Most metrics.

But damnit, this is Hockeytown. Two years of being booted in the Western Conference semi-finals just isn't good enough. Call me spoiled, call me unappreciative. Call me collect and ask if my refrigerator's running. No matter - the benchmarks for success set for this team are based on the talent on the roster, not on how the rest of the league performs. All of the above successes may be enough to make a Blue Jackets fan cum in his pants, but here in Detroit it's underachieving.

Should the world's best poker player be satisfied that they won a couple of hands and then walked away empty handed? Should the world's best fisherman be OK with hooking an undersized guppy? Should a world-renowned arson be alright with lighting a match and blowing it out?

Fuck no. You don't get to be internationally recognized as an arsonist by settling. You emulate Sherman, march to the sea, and burn that motherfucker down.

Unfortunately, the Wings stopped after striking one match. They started off OK, but fizzled out well short of burning everything in their path to the foundation. Hence: the disappointment.


The Winged Wheels List of Shit We're Pissed off At and/or About
  • Jiri "Hey dickwad, you're supposed to be our scoring depth" Hudler
Apparently, the Jiri Hudler Motivational Song just wasn't strong enough. Sure, Happy was able to turn his season from a 6 point pace to something a bit better. In the middle of the season, dude actually helped out a bit. Hell, when he was on that line with Cleary and Dats, he was downright dangerous. But again, in Hockeytown, towing the line in the regular season just isn't enough. It comes down to post-season success. It's why I'm, more or less, totally OK with the fact that Marian Hossa doesn't don the Winged Wheel. Sure, he was outstanding in the regular season. Sure, he filled that hole of the extra sniper/30 goal scorer that this team seems to desperately need. But when it came down to the time to actually show up when it mattered, the dude went away.  This season, Happy didn't even fill the category of being altogether useful in the regular season. His entire purpose was to provide us with fodder to joke about and to take up valuable cap space. Then, came the post-season.

10 games. THREE FUCKING POINTS. One goal. 

Oh, but maybe he contributed elsewhere. Played defensively responsible Red Wings hockey and didn't do anything to single handedly severely handicap our ability to advance, right?


In Game 7, Happy decided to jump into the play, finally, by getting physical. After watching San Jose beat us in the checking game for most of the series, Hudler took a cue and stepped up. Unfortunately, his time in Russia must have exposed him to some weird ass radiation that made him color blind. Rather than using the body against a shark, Hudler decided to do the only logical thing his drug addled, syphilitic Czech brain could figure out: 

Fuck Dan Cleary's shit up.

In what would be a blatant violation of Rule 48, had Cleary been playing for the other fucking team, Happy took initiative by blindsiding him. Right in the dome. Cleary hit the ice and didn't return, as he had just suffered his first career concussion.

That's right. Not only did Hudler take a damn good role-playing, hard-working, relatively productive player out of the most important game these guys have played since June of 09, he potentially seriously affected the rest of his career. Good job Happy. Now take off that jersey and don't ever fucking put it on again.

By the way, the Winged Wheel was able to get this exclusive picture of Professor Zap Him in the Dick himself, taken shortly after the loss:

Fuck off, Goat.
  • Sitting Back Like A Pushover
There was a dramatic difference between the way this team played in Games 1-3, and the way they played thereafter. The best illustration thereof came at the end of Game 6. Like they did frequently throughout these playoffs, in facing a loss, the Sharks started acting like horrendous bitches. They all crashed Jimmy, piling on top of him, clearly attempting to rattle at best, injure at worst, our best player not named Norris.

In the first few games, the Wings reaction to that kind of spineless action would have been to watch while Jimmy defends himself. The closest they would have come to reacting appropriately would be to wait until a ref looked at them and then slash the offender in a way that allowed them to dive to the ice and feign injury. At the end of Game 6, they were finally playing like a damn team. They dropped gloves and stood up for the guy they left hung out to dry for so damn long. 

The part that pisses me off? Why did it take to the end of game 6. Everyone ended up making a big deal about the diving and the intentional snow showers being blasted into Howard's face by those bitches in teal. You know how that wouldn't have been a problem? If in Game 1, Abdelkader, Ericsson, Bertuzzi, fuck - even dipshit Hudler would have grabbed the first diver/showerer and broken his damn jaw. If the refs aren't going to police the game, its time to do it your damn selves. I understand the concept behind avoiding retaliation, and getting payback on the power play. But when the officials are calling the game in such a way that rewards the diving and doesn't penalize the unsportsmanlike play, relying on the man advantage is kind of fucking stupid. Especially when your power play has a wicked case of whiskey dick.

I can't help but think that this series could have been a lot different if one friggin player would have shown one ounce of initiative in Game 1, and would have stood up for his team. Why the fuck do we have a 6'3" defenseman if he's not going to bother to be worth a damn?

Which brings me to:
  • Jonathan "Off to Toronto With You" Ericsson
Recent reports have indicated that Big E has decided to be a Big Dick. In a move that has me wishing Stevie would have stuck around and taken over a bit earlier, E was offered a multi-year deal with the Wings valued around $2m a year. Ericsson, in a shrewd career move, turned it down.

Wait - what?

He turned it down? What the fuck? Wait... how much. Who the? HOW?

So... Kenny Holland, easily the best GM in sports, offered ERICSSON a deal that not only keeps him around for another year, but for several? And he wanted to pay him more than the league minimum?? What the hell world are we living in? What exactly was Kenny watching?

Was he really that excited about the several games where E decided to fill in for the gaping hole Lebda left in our blue line by jumping the rush every chance he got? Did his irresponsible pinching give Kenny a chubbie? (Ha, that sounds funny) What the fuck...

This is, by far, the most frightening thing to come out of all of this. Ericsson was, by far, our worst defenseman all year. He played one good game, which was luckily game 6. But apart from that, he has no purpose wearing the Winged Wheel. Hearing that Holland offered such an absurd deal is terrifying. It seems to indicate he's starting to lose is damn mind. Either that or he lost a bet to Glenn Sather. 

Nothing is scarier than losing faith in the brain trust... which brings me to
  • Babcock
Oh. There'll be a bigger post on this issue. Suffice it to say, it is the Winged Wheel's official position that Babcock needs to go. I'm over it. No more above ground pools full of fake tits and Jack Adams trophies. Why? How about a few reasons:
  • Playing prevent defense for an entire period with a one goal lead against arguably the most potent and deep offense in the league, is objectively speaking, fucking stupid.
  • Doing the above after it failed one year earlier, is objectively speaking, really fucking stupid.
  • Doing it more than once in the same damn series, where it fails repeatedly - ABSURDLY fucking stupid.
  • Jonathan Ericsson and Ruslan "Ah shit, you mean I have to keep playing in the playoffs?" Salei on the Penalty Kill???
  • When the other team are playing like dicks and nobody's calling anything - it's time to let them off their leashes.
  • I don't care how much faith you have in your outstanding goaltender, it doesn't work to play them every single game over and over and over and over during the regular season. 
  • There is absolutely no reason a team with Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Kronwall, and Brad Stuart on the blue line, and Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Kris Draper, Drew Miller, and Patrick Eaves at forward should struggle at defense as much as this team has. NO reason.
  • The PK has sucked since 2008-09. How has that not been addressed?
  • With the kind of start this team had this season, it's simply not OK to finish with only one more point than we had last year - where the entire roster was demolished with injury.
  • When an entire team clearly stops performing to its potential - it's a coaching thing.
I'm not saying Babs is a bad coach. Far from it. His resume is a clear indication that he's one of the best in the league. However, there are some serious indications that he's lost this team. They've underperformed and haven't been very defensively responsible since we won the 08 Cup. Something needs to change.

Plus, the last time that the Wings didn't make the Conference finals for two consecutive years - the coach was Dave Lewis and he was on his way out.

Either way... this has been rather depressing. There's still hockey being played, though two of the teams are full of enough chokers, dipshits and floppers that they shouldn't even be in the playoffs, let alone contending for a Cup. Fuck the Western Conference Finals.

Ah well... at least we will have 19 in the fight.

Go Yzerbolts!

...is it October yet?

09 May 2011

A Quick Aside: Bigotry, ignorance, and the shame of supporting Sean Avery

OK so this is weird.

After game 3, I pretty much went through the catharsis that usually follows a Wings elimination from the playoffs. Foul language was used, objects were kicked, beer was drank. Lather, rinse, repeat. Afterward, the Wings started turning it on a bit more, and found a way to win a couple of games. Nevertheless, the aforementioned catharsis is neither healthy nor fun, so I am doing my best to temper my expectations and not get drawn back in emotionally. Call me a lousy fan, call me weak - I'm just not sure I can undergo such trauma twice in one post season.

So now, I'm in the ever strange position of being mostly mentally resigned from the pursuit of 12 this June, but still donning the world's most disgusting, patchy, Irish neckbeard in honor of the Winged Wheel. I'm watching playoff hockey, and not throwing things through walls, or screaming at the television until I'm blue in the face.


On top of that, J-Rock, who hadn't posted since early August 2010, without prodding posted here twice. In one day.

Again - weird.

Also in that category - I am currently finding myself supporting a guy like Sean Avery. A guy that if you asked me what I thought about him a couple of weeks ago, I'd probably use some not-very-nice words and suggest a few melodramatic random acts of violence. That's just the kind of guy I am.

Now, before I continue, this isn't really the type of issue I generally discuss here. Taking things seriously and talking about things that actually matter in the real world, as opposed to saying fuck a lot and over dedicating myself to a game, is not exactly my forte. I'm almost as out of place as Brett Lebda on the blue line. But, I have important things that need to be procrastinated, and this is an issue that I think is not only important, but fundamental to our society being able to progressively cointinue to pull its big stupid head out of its ass, so, here we go.

As you are likely aware, Avery has made a bit of press for himself lately by openly supporting something that should be pretty damn obvious to all of us by now, but sadly, is often not. Sean's joined a campaign to publicly support marriage equality. Now, this is the type of thing that really shouldn't capture headlines. Honestly, it would be nice to live in a world where reading that story in a newspaper would be akin to the front page of the Freep noting "Pavel Datsyuk Officially Pro-Puppies, Kitties, and Chocolate Chip Cookies" or DetNews heralding "Mike Babcock to Press: I'm Against Genocide." No brainers.

But, unfortunately, there's still a bit of a stigma to officially endorsing something so obviously right. That stigma showed itself this afternoon, when the Big Shot, Industry Leading, Superstar Agency that represents such dynamic and all-world talent like Chris Neil and the Panther's Scott Timmins (I know... try not to lose too much of your shit over that kind of star power) known as Uptown Sports sent out a tweet reading as follows:
@UptownSports Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender "marriage".[sic] Legal or not, it will always be wrong. 

First, one must ask themselves - what the fuck is a C-level agent even bothering commenting on an issue like this for? What purpose, other than illustrating one's own extreme ignorance, does it actually serve?

But more importantly, how exactly is it that we still live in a society where not only do people continue to think in this fashion, but they feel justified in expressing those thoughts as objective opinions that are just as valid as the alternative argument?

Some have defended Uptown Sports decision to spout something that ignorant in that very way. "It's the other side of the coin. If Sean Avery can say he believes in marriage equality, then why can't Agent McFailure say he doesn't." In fact, the genius responsible for the message, Todd "likely 2 weeks from being exposed ordering young boys on criagslist" Reynolds, defended himself. He followed up on the official twitter account, indicating that his beliefs aren't hatred, bigotry, or intolerance and that he believes we are all equal.

No. No, that's not all.

"BUT," Mr. Reynolds says, "I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman."

Well... that makes sense. He said he didn't hate people. It's kind of like saying "Just to be clear, I don't ever fucking use foul god damn language, because I fucking think it's super fucking disrespectful and classless as shit. Damn. Also, piss."

What Mr. Reynolds pea-brain fails to recognize, aside from how to get a client other than Mike Fisher that can actively contribute on a successful hockey team, is that the original message is hate. It's absolutely contradictory to suggest that we're all equal, but some of us are just intrinsically and immutably restricted from having the same rights and privileges as others. The fact is, there's a difference between expressing an opinion and the above message. This isn't like saying, "I like cherry, but I do not like grape," or "I think the United States has vastly underestimated the threat posed by packs of wild roving bears, and we are headed into a dark era, where we will be required to pay homage to our bear overlords by getting tattoos of Geraldo Rivera riding a zebra." Expressing the above "opinion" is an action. It is an action that seeks to maintain the status quo of inequality. It is direct participation in the exclusion and discrimination against gays. Period.

It's not an opinion. It's akin to declaring "I just don't think black people should be drinking from the same water fountains, is all!" It furthers hate and, as such, is an act. It's objective bigotry.

I'm not saying that people are wrong or evil to have that particular spiritual belief, in itself. I fundamentally disagree with it, and I think that most right-thinking people agree. However, everyone's entitled to their own spiritual decisions, and if they'd like to choose to believe in a god that values division over love - fine. Not gonna stop you there. But that whole "I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman" thing? Keep that at your altar. Don't bring that out into the harsh sunlight of reality with you.

Nobody's suggesting that we should go find Mr. Reynold's pastor and force him to officially approve of same-sex nookie. Nobody's suggesting that we ought to make it illegal for to still think like it's the dark ages (when, by the way, dudes still fucked each other). You can have all the religious beliefs you want, but when you turn them into active discrimination by supporting policies of inequality - you are, objectively speaking, a bigot. You are, objectively speaking, practicing hate. It's not a valid opinion, and it's not OK.

Face it: allowing a group of people to have the same rights as the rest of us does not harm you in any way. It is not a zero-sum game; it does not remove any rights that you have, or take away from your quality of life. As Steve Miller would suggest, time keeps on tickin, tickin tickin. Your life will remain unscathed. You may disagree, but that's the nice thing about the society in which we live - you can keep on disagreeing to your hearts content. You just can't take away someone else's rights because you're uncomfortable with it. You'd think we would have learned this lesson by now.

A positive that comes out of this, though? Well, now players that refuse to play in any arena that allows women to wear pants, or for any organization that's ever hired someone who's Muslim or Jewish, have a go-to agent. That's a niche that surely needed to be filled. More importantly, however, the overwhelming majority of responses on the vast series of tubes comprising the interwebs has been right-on. Calling out bigotry to its face, and getting on board with... uh... Sean Avery. Good lord, that's still weird. I have to think that a few years ago, that would not have been the case.

It's a bright glimmer of hope giving us reason to fight through the uphill battle to do what in the past was considered impossible. A reason to not totally give up.

And you're damn right I brought it back around to something germane there. Game 6 at the Joe tomorrow. Anything can happen. I won't go so far as to say I expect it to - but I'll definitely be watching. Get loud, Hockeytown. Go Wings.

10 to 12.

No Shoot? No Shit

I need more shoot? I don't think so. Pavel Datsyuk and his 1 arm somehow defeated the SJ sharks 4-3 tonight. Did this game look familiar?

Well, it should have, except opposite. WE.GOT.OWNED.  Shots? We lost.... chances? We lost.... Effort? eh, that one was a draw... anything that WASN'T goaltending? We lost. I'm excited as anyone that we won the good ol' hockey game, but let's be real here. We've got a lot of room to improve and we got our asses owned. It's nice to win a game we don't have any right even being in. But let's do ourselves a favor and at least have all of us show up next game. 

Mule didn't play in the third for a reason... mother fucker is too hurt to be playing hockey in the first place. It's Mikey Mo or bust in the next game. If we wheel out another busted ass Mule then we better wheel out Bab's head on a stake because that's what i'm gonna be looking for... his being out there is TOTALLY insane.

For Babs this is "rally or bust". Show me you haven't lost this team, win the series and I'll rejoin those of us with unwaivering stupidity/faith. 

08 May 2011

Does everybody know what time it is?

No Tim, it's not Tool Time... go back to making terrible movies and talking about Michigan.

  • Anyhoo...
It's time for the Wings to show me that I'm an idiot for abandoning all hope, an idiot for shaving my sorry excuse for a playoff beard (though I doubt it was half as bad as captnorris5's neck beard- See Below), and an idiot for not buying tickets to game 6.

The Neck Beard in action

It's time for Franzen to either fucking shoot or sit in the press box. And yeah, I get it... his ankle hurts. But last time I checked his ankle doesn't prevent him from shooting... and if it does WTF is he doing in the lineup anyways?

It's time for a forward to become the leading goal scorer. Don't get me wrong, I love that Lids has put up 4 goals in the playoffs. Not loving that none of our forwards have scored more than 3.... totally unacceptable. Speaking of forwards not scoring............

It's time for Filppula to realize that it's not OK for him to not score or make plays. Your time for development is done, it's time you step up to the mainstream and start producing up to your supposed potential. Time for our friend Happy to get zapped in the dick, or just go back to Russia if you'd like, or die, you know... just pick one but either way this whole "forgetting what to do with the puck" thing is getting really fucking annoying.

Finally, it's time for the Wings to instill at least a shimmer of hope into this series by pulling out a HUGE win in SJ. Here's to a Game 6 at the Joe.

04 May 2011

Cliches and Melodrama: Time to rally

Do or die. It's now or never. Time to put up, or shut up.

Tonight we see what this team is truly made of. Games one and two? They were gross. But we lost each by a margin of only one goal. One bounce changed, one shot different, and this is a different series.

Make no mistake. We're facing an uphill climb. But tonight is the night we have the opportunity to show each and every one of the so-called "experts" the value behind veteran leadership. For every lazy writer or ignorant analyst that year-in and year-out criticizes the Red Wings for being too old, too grey, too battle weary - tonight is the night Hockeytown gets to show them exactly why that age and experience is necessary to achieve sustained excellence. Maybe now and again a team full of teenagers and early draft picks can luck their way to success (like a certain team on the other end of Michigan Ave), but to pull off something truly impressive - it takes what the Wings have. That veteran leadership? That wealth of experience? Those fists, heavy with rings? That's what can make the difference in a close series like this.

That's what can overcome all the cheapshots, all the diving, and all of the Californian "work ethic" that's been on display on the West Coast. Is it surprising that the team from an area where success is defined as being the best at playing dress up and pretend attracts the type of play we see from these Sharks? Is anyone shocked to witness the embellishments and cheap plays away from the action from a team that hails from the state that champions blow-hards over hard-work?

They may be flashy. They may be favorites. But here in Detroit?

  • We couldn't give less of a shit.
In stark contrast, Detroit honors the down-trodden, the beaten. We boo the self-entitled little snobs that have never worked a day in their lives right off stage at the Fox because our values are the same that will win us this series. Overcoming adversity. Triumphing over the odds. Picking ourselves up by the bootstraps because you can be damn sure that nobody else is going to do it for us. Those are the values that built the Motor City, and those are the values that will continue to build this dynasty.

We all know that this Wings team is capable of. We've seen it in flashes. I expect we'll see it tonight. Kris Draper's back in the action, ready to put those values to work. Outhustling. Outworking. Outcaring.

It's what ended the drought in 97. It's what put the Cup in Vladdy's lap in 98. It (and a ton of money) is what cemented Stevie and Scottie's legacy in 02. And it's what showed Gary that there's nothing he can do to stop us in 08.

It's what we've got, and what the Sharks clearly don't. They demonstrate it in every little cross-check when the refs aren't looking. They shower it in Howards face every time they take the extra couple strides and stop extra hard in the blue paint. They put it on display with every embellishment, every dive, every theatrical performance.

Do they have talent? Sure.

Do they have heart?

Not even close to what drives the Motor City.

Chase them back to the left coast tonight, Hockeytown. Scream and yell like there's no tomorrow. Lose your shit like it's going out of style. Show the fans from HP Pavilion what a playoff atmosphere really is. Give it your all.

12 to 12. Bring on the fucking fishies.

03 May 2011

TP:60 Episode 17: Wherein vulgarity and playoff anxiety abounds

Last night I had the privilege to jump on TP:60 with Hollis, Discher, and Petrella from The Production Line and Mike Serven, proprieter of @mserven and @redwingsfeed on the twitters, and voice-sexer extraordinaire.

  • Take a listen to the shenanigans here: TP:60 Episode 17, or download the podcast through whatever podcast subscription service you know and love.
Things got a bit weird at times, as is inevitable when dealing with man-children, and perhaps even a bit depressing when talking about the Wings' recent struggles against the little bitches in teal. If we get too down on the team and you need a bit of a pick-me-up, just keep repeating to yourself: "bin Laden got shot in the dome... bin Laden got shot in the dome..."

Either that or wait 2 minutes for the next dick joke.

12 to 12. Tired of writing that. Lets change that number, Wings.
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