Monday, January 4, 2010

Talk About A Resolution

I'm having trouble with my New Year's hockey resolution already. Every year I pick something I'd like to improve about life generally, but I also pick something hockey-related I'd like to do or change. Last year it was to read a list of hockey books I'd always *meant* to read but never got around to actually opening. This year, I decided I'm going to be a more tolerant hockey fan. It's a lot harder than it sounds, at least for me. That's because some things are so stupid, they just drive me crazy. Stupidity is the biggest threat to hockey tolerance, let me tell you.

Sometimes though, if you write it down it doesn't seem as annoying. Seeing it there in black and white makes you realize it's just small stuff. So, here are the ten things currently driving me crazy and wrecking my New Year's hockey resolution:

10. Youppi. I hate Youppi. I hate his giant head, his googly eyes, his orangeness and mostly, the fact he wears a Habs sweater. I know a lot of people see Youppi as a pretty innocuous character who makes kids happy and attends charity events. But I see him as the dumbing-down of the Canadiens; the symbol of their descent into the ordinary. Loser teams and expansion teams need mascots to bring fans in. The Habs should be better than that. The fact that they're not reminds us every time we see the big orange furball that they're just one of the pack now...nothing special left.

9. The delay-of-game penalty. I swear every time someone is called for this stupid penalty I age a year. It's the dumbest penalty in hockey. It drives me crazy and makes me drink and swear when the other team scores on a resulting PP.

8. "Cheer Nation." This thing is so very embarrassing and ridiculous. There was absolutely nothing wrong with "Go Canada Go," or "Let's Go Canada." Inventing a "new cheer" for the Vancouver games to get Pepsi's name embedded in our heads more than it is now is silly. But the cheer they've picked is so mortifying I'm not even going to repeat it here. Suffice it to say VANOC learned absolutely nothing from the Canadiens' Centennial of Marketing Hubris. Rule number one: The more you turn the thing into a marketing circus, the better your chance it will all blow up in your face.

7. Ice girls. If a hockey team needs to have half-naked cheerleaders to attract attention, there should not be a hockey team in that town. I have nothing against half-naked cheerleaders as a general rule, but they belong to sports in which being half naked is a reasonable thing. Who gets half-naked at a hockey rink, unless they've ripped off their jersey in jubilation after their team wins the Cup?

6. Giant video scoreboards. I hate how they show the entire game on the scoreboard and half the crowd at the rink is actually watching the action on TV rather than on the ice. If you want to watch on TV, what's the point of being at the game?

5. Head shots. I can't stand how the NHL is allowing players to be hurt, sometimes with lifelong consequences, because it's dithering on rule changes to make the head off-limits. Someone will be killed. Others will end up suffering brain damage that will come back to shorten their lives in later years. Watching players do it and get away with it even after we've seen players incapacitated is just infuriating.

4. Brian Burke. This guy drives me nuts. He's an arrogant, self-centred, childish tool who's allegedly rebuilding a team while sending its best draft picks to the Bruins. Every time he opens his mouth he sends my blood pressure through the roof because people actually fawn over what he's got to say and inflate his head even more. When he carried the Olympic torch, I hoped he'd trip and set himself on fire.

3. RDS and the French agenda. I love RDS. I watch every single Habs game on there, even when they're on elsewhere in English. But it's infuriating to see the commentators rant about the exclusion of Lacavalier and St.Louis from the Canadian Olympic team. Instead of talking about how great it is that all the goalies are from Quebec, they focussed on how insulted the province is by the rejection of the other two. And what was that special trip to Dallas to do a feature on the recently-traded Steve Begin all about? The guy's a fourth-liner who got picked off of waivers. Sure, he served well in his years as a Hab (when he wasn't hurt or taking costly penalties late in games) but where was the special feature on Saku Koivu when he went to Anaheim? And Benoit Brunet's "Guillaume" love was a bit over the top as well. I understand there's a local bias for local players. But when it's as unbalanced as it is on RDS, it's annoying.

2. People who sell autographs. This is what makes players cynical. When a guy hands them three photos and a jersey to sign while they're driving into practice, there's a perfect expectation that those signatures will end up on ebay. It takes the fun out of communicating with fans for players in some cases, and that's not fair to people who would really cherish that autograph.

1. Scott Gomez' contract. His contract is so outrageously awful, I have a hard time thinking about it without it tainting everything about him. I have to tell myself I know he's not his salary. He's a good player with valuable skills who can make the team better. But it's so hard to look beyond the ridiculous money he's making, which will handicap any forward moves the team might want to make. This is the toughest thing I've got to overcome in my quest to be a more tolerant hockey fan, by far.

Okay. So, there are some of the challenges to my hockey tolerance in black and white. Hmmm. It's not really helping me to see it written down. In fact, it's kind of making me mad. Damn you Youppi! And Burke! And what the hell is Gainey going to do with that Gomez contract when it's time to sign Plekanec?!

Sigh. I think there's a book or two on last year's list I haven't read yet. Tolerance is for bigger hockey fans, I think.


Anonymous said...

You know what ? I hate Don Cherry. I never watch hockey on CBC. I can't stand anything that has to do with fashion. Guess what ? The Fashion Network is not part of my cable deal.

Nobody forces you to put up with RDS. If a French network does not have a "French" agenda, who in hell will ? The Trawna's Sports Network(s) ? The Playboy channel ? CBC's Newsworld ?

J.T. said...

@Anon: I'm with you on Cherry. He's a tool.

As for the French agenda...why does *any* network need one? What happened to impartiality? I understand the urge to give the homeboys some love...sure, why not, when they're doing well? But the grasping at any kind of chance at all to promote them is a bit much. As I said, I'm really grateful to have RDS available for every game. I just wish they'd be a little bit more realistic than they are when it comes to the local guys. It's their one flaw...kind of like listening to Don Cherry promote guys from Kingston as the greatest hockey players ever.

Anonymous said...

about that cheer...
thank you for expressing my sentiment.
what the hell wold have been wrong with CA-NA-DA?
it's so simple it could be a dog's name!

spyro367 said...

Even as a french-canadian I think you are right, french media are overdoing it with the french agenda and it's getting annoying.

(especially when the fans wants a french player even if a better overall english player is available)

Shan said...

I agree with everything wholeheartedly...

EXCEPT YOUPPI! I feel such an affection toward him. Look at that face. I like that he was an adopted orphan and not a Habs' invention though.

Shan said...

Don Cherry has a lot more wrong with him than his Kingston krush.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that you are so "immersed" in the English culture that you are in no position to notice how much TSN, CTV, CBC (I wouldn't know about other English network) also have a "Canadian" or an English agenda ?

Btw, who's impartial in the world of sports ? Pierre McGuire ? Bob Cole ? Harry Neale. Don "the Clown" ? Ron "the Straightman" ?

J.T. said...

@anon: Believe me, I know full well the biases of the other networks. Although I don't notice it as being so much of an "English" bias as it is a "Toronto" bias. Nauseating indeed. Who's impartial? I think Bob McKenzie's pretty impartial generally. I like his views. The rest of them tend to lean one way or the other.

@shan: Okay, I'll give you the Youppi orphan point. It'd be ten times worse if the Habs had invented him. The adoption gives the team a little more credibility.

Raphaƫl P. said...

I agree with Annon's first post. RDS, beyond hockey, has the obligation to promote french as it's the sole french sports media. However I believe they should go about this task not by promoting stories about irrelevant third and fourth liners but more by hiring people who can speak the damn language properly.

Furthermore, I agree with Annon's second point about english sport medias having a "canadian" agenda, as with RDS, I think this is to be expected and logical with their target audience. What I find sad is the fact that often they equate this agenda with anti-french rethoric.

I do not believe finally that picking St-Louis over Morrow was an impartial and logical hockey move that's unrelated to the fact that most if not all of "Canada's" hockey olympic brass is from the ROC. Especially considering Quebec's unquestionable contribution to the sport. Even when going stricly on a talent instead of proportionality in representation basis (a method that can be questionable for a pro-hockey team but not for a olympic team) the choice of Morrow over St-Louis does not make sens.

dusty said...

Impartiality is not a human attribute in general let alone in sports. I have the NHL Center Ice package and as a hockey fan I watch and enjoy all the teams although I much prefer the Habs as a life long fan. I admire all the players who dedicate their talents to win at all costs and provide us with great entertainment. We all have our favorites and that makes us fans. What I have come to realize is this. I don't hate the Flames, Sens etc, what I hate are their play by play announcers. The only ones I like are Howie on the Island and Sam in MSG. Both favour their teams but appreciate the opposition. All the rest are just crap. Wish I could get the RDS feed more often because all the english guys are clearly and openly anti Montreal. The english feed on CJAD is just plain horrible so that is not an option.
As far as Don Cherry goes, I hope he goes soon. And Youppi is useless. Buy out his contract or demote him to Hamilton.
Thanks J.T. love your blog.

Anonymous said...

As much as Raphael agrees with my thoughts, I also agree 100% with his additional thoughts on the matter. The problem with quality French broadcasters is IMHO the same as with English broadcasters. There is not enough qualified people to fulfill the number of seats available. So networks feel obligated to hire just about any yahoos who shows up with the minimum of competence. For every Pierre McGuire, there's a Dave Morissette. For every Don The Clown, there's a Jacques Demers. For every P. J. Stock, there's even a P. J. Stock....

Anonymous said...

First thing first, happy new year Mister J.T.!

Then, as a gift to a fan who like to read a good sports book, could please indulge me with your list of hockey books I'd always *meant* to read?

'Cause I have 15 of the top 20 sports book ever written but only one is about hockey (The Game, of course). I could really use some pointers...

Thanks in advance.


J.T. said...

@Max: Thanks for your comments, and it's Ms.J.T. ;) Happy New Year to you too!

As for the books, if you look in my blog archive, back in June of 2008, I did two lists. One of the best Habs-related books, and another one of the best hockey books, generally. They're under the title Beach Books... I hope you find something there you'll like.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Ms J.T. and sorry for the blunder.

(Hopefully, I didn't say you were pregnant when you weren't, so I guess all is not lost. But still, the Harlequin wager should have tipped me. Darn!)