Last night, I did something I have never done before. No, not that. I've done that plenty. Sometimes even with another person, thank you. No, what I've never done before was this: I stopped watching a Senators game of my own volition. Sure, I've missed plenty of games for various reasons since that glorious night in October '92 (who the hell schedules their wedding on a game night? A PLAYOFF game night?!?! My cousin! THAT'S who!), but this was the first time I turned off a game on purpose. Following the leafs' goal to make it 5-0, I simply stood up, handed the remote to Beloved with a peck on the cheek and a resigned "well, that's that then" before moving into the Man Cave to resume my Rookie of The Year/Lock For The Hall of Fame career in the Be A Pro mode on my spiffy new copy of NHL11 (Thanks Santa Little Bro!).
Well, that may not quite be an accurate portrayal of what happened.
The moment Schenn's goal hit the back of the net, a blood red cloud descended over my vision. The Cee-Bee-Cee showed me all of those fucking smug, drunken, idiot fucking fuckity fucking fucksticks polluting SBP with their 93 Doug Fucking Gilmour leaf jerseys and backwards fucking ball caps dancing and pointing and laughing to the point where, had I been at the game, I would have immediately and quite happily started WWIII just for the chance of caving in one of their fucking smug, backward baseball cap wearing, drunken, idiot fucking fuckity fucking fuckstick faces. Bob Cole (OH WHY CAN'T YOU JUST FUCKING DIE ALREADY?!?!) had his fifth leafgasm in twenty minutes and I threw the remote across the room with a roar as a startled Beloved looked up from her needle point. "FUCK THIS!!", I cried. "FUCK THIS TEAM!!". Then I stomped out of the living room and into the Man Cave to resume my Rookie of The Year/Lock For The Hall of Fame career in the Be A Pro mode on my spiffy new copy of NHL11. Alcohol may have been a factor.
As I tried to scrub away the stink of shame and embarrassment in the shower this morning, my mind turned to the inevitable onslaught of "Oh Woe Is We, The Sens Will Miss The Playoffs!!" stories in my morning papers. "So what?", I asked my bottle of shampoo which on occasion doubles as a microphone. "At this point, who gives a shit if we make the playoffs? It's not like we'll win anything, even if we do get in". My shampoo was in complete agreement. Then we broke into a killer rendition of Freebird.
But that got me thinking on what it would take to someday, maybe, eventually win something, given the current state of affairs at 1000 Palladium Drive. Which, in turn, got me thinking about whether we, as fans are ready to nut up and accept what that would necessarily entail. And I have to admit kids, I found no comfort in my conclusions.
Jump as I deride our collective suck handling ability...
One of the things that, in the past, has made The Nation so deliciously mockable is their slavish devotion to all things Blue and White. MLSE could sign nineteen albino midgets, two retarded gerbils and put the dessicated corpse of Turk Broda between the pipes and the ACC would still sell out, the interwebs would still be full of troglodyte mouthbreathers posting YUZSUCKSLEAFSRULZ!!11! and the merch would still fly off the shelves. You know it, I know it, and more importantly, MLSE knows it. The fact that they're not willing to trade off anyone over the age of 24 for picks and prospects in order to rebuild properly just cements their Legacy of Evil. It's also one of the reasons we hate them so very, very much.
Now imagine you're The Euge. Sure, strolling about a Barbadian paradise trailed by a phalanx of palm frond and peeled grape wielding sycophants would be pretty sweet (that's how I envision all of my billionaire lifestyles), but you're also the owner of a hockey team whose fan base has proven to be populated for the most part (if we're being brutally honest here) by notoriously fickle front runners. You don't have the luxury of captive lemmings the way MLSE does. What do you do?
Do you instruct your minions to blow it up, sell off everyone not named Alfredsson, pour a pile of money into scouting and restock the talent pool, fully aware that for the next three to five years you'll hemorrhage cash as you stare at huge swaths of empty 300 level seats, or do you...say...agree to sign a bunch of fading former stars in the hopes that sprinkling enough hungry kids and fourth liners around the lineup will at least keep the team just competitive enough to keep the lights on and turnstiles spinning because nothing in the history of your team has shown that the fans will abide a loser for any length of time for any reason?
And what about you, Average Joe Fan? If The Bryan stood up tomorrow and decided to stop insulting our intelligence by suddenly declaring the season lost, that Philips, Fish (SOB!!), Kelly, Neiler, Roto Ruutu, Shannon, Elliott, Gonchar (OH HAPPY DAY!), the training staff and the 2007 Prince of Wales Trophy were on the market (picks and prospects only please), and that Snoopy, Kovy, and Kuba (OH BLESSED HAPPY DAY!) would not be re-signed in order to free up cap space, would you still be proud, flag bearing members of Sens Army? Or would the vast majority of you (you know who you are) suddenly develop other interests in things shiny and new (Loogit! Football's back in Ottawa!) until you realize that the Sens are playing Game 7 of the ECF and clamber back aboard the bandwagon, swearing to all who will listen that "I'm always there for my team!" (on a personal note, if you're that guy, I would very much like to punch you squarely in the face. Often and with great force).
I'd like to think that if the light at the end of the tunnel were well enough defined, that if we knew there was "A Plan", we, as a fan base, would willingly subject ourselves to the three, four or five years of bad seasons, bottom dwelling finishes and general suckitude. I'd like to think that. But from what I've seen over the last eighteen years, I'm not so sure. In this one, solitary instance (Beloved), I'd love to be proven wrong.
We Now Pause For Your Tinfoil Hat Club Moment Of The Week:
An odd offshoot of my shower musings (see above) is the increasingly baffling ability of The Bryan to hold onto his job. Forget about the forwards for the moment (no, seriously, forget about them...everyone else in the NHL has), how does a formerly competent and commendable hockey mind saddle his coach with the utter bag of shit that is this year's "defence" and NOT be subjected to a public lynching at the hands of the owner? It would be the easiest thing in the world for The Emperor, after having gauged the mood of the howling mob (nice pitchforks, baybee), to drop the proverbial axe and declare his loyalty to us, his loyal subjects, by holding up his now former GM's (proverbial) severed head. And yet nothing has happened. In fact, The Emperor continues to insist, as he does every year that the Senators will not only make the playoffs, but will "win the Stanley Cup". So...either Eugene is completely insane and off his meds, blessed with the patience of Job (a trait ever so prevalent amongst billionaire former CEOs as is my understanding of such things) OR...there's been a bit more input into front office decisions emanating from Christ Church than any of us know about or that the organization is willing to admit. Eugene Melnyk as the Daniel Snyder of the NHL? Just throwin' it out there.
Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:
It was a fun little gimmick that has inevitably morphed into a bloated corporate circle jerk and now deserves to be quietly murdered in its sleep. I refer, of course, to that craptacular whorefest known as The NHL Winter Classic. This is no longer hockey. It's cramming 70,000 people into a football stadium to watch two teams try to skate in slush. Forgive me for my heresy, but I fail to see how that does anything to "sell the game" to the casual (American) fan. You know those fans, don't you Gary? They're the people complaining that they don't watch hockey because they can't see the puck. I highly doubt giving them free seats in the last row OF A FREAKING FOOTBALL STADIUM will solve that particular minor peccadillo.
Speaking of corporate whores, if you had the misfortune of being a Canadian not living in Ontario last night, you had no choice BUT to be subjected to the Crosby/Ovie Fellatio Festival due to the NHL's decision to push the game back to an 8:00pm start. So for all those leaf fans living in Dildo Newfoundland (actual place) or Buttfuck Saskatchewan (Regina), you can blame MotherCorps' contractual obligations and Gary Bettman's inability to read a fucking weather chart.
Be A Pro Mode of NHL11 is the tits. And really, really addictive. I think I've played seventy games in six days. It used to be middle aged men would re-live their athletic accomplishments, as meager as they usually were, vicariously through their kids. It was the only thing that made seven a.m. games and screaming at twelve year old linesmen worth it. HOW DARE YOU CALL MY SON OFFSIDES! DON'T YOU KNOW HE WILL BE THE NEXT, NEXT, NEXT GRETZKY?!?! YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO YOUR MIDDLE SCHOOL!! Now we do it by yelling at pixelated team mates and high fiving our televisions. That, my friends, is called progress.
As I type this, Team Canada is wrapping up a tidy 4-1 win in the WJHC quarter-finals (take THAT Switzlandia!) and the large Maple Leaf festooned crowd is chanting "WE WANT THE YOU-ESS-AY! WE WANT THE YOU-ESS-AY!" Careful what you wish for, kids. On Friday, I was chanting the same thing about the Leafs. Just sayin'...
Happy New Year everyone! Have a good week and Go Sens.