Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Home Stretch

This is the first time I've ever been out of a hockey pool before the final round. Hard to believe, but there it is on the standings page of the Online Pools website. A little green line through my name. Done. Finished. Hangin' 'em up for another season.

And in the spirit of Chris Chelios, I'm not lining up to shake hands. Real players do not feign acceptance of a cruel fate. We do not go gentle in that good night. Nope, we go into the locker room and break things.

I blame my downfall on the Nashville Predators, my hillbilly heart winning out over my prairie rink rat head when I was making my picks.

I was in Nashville the day the NHL announced they were coming to town. Sitting in a local diner minding my own business and reading the sports page as the short order cook wandered over. "Yer Canadjun ain'tcha?" Yup. "This hockey's what they played in ROLLERBALL, right?" I assured him it was.

It was an uphill battle for the Preds in a town that had barely heard of hockey, but Nashville, a city that feels more like a small town than any US city I've been in, liked them from the start.

There was an inspired marketing campaign with country stars like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Amy Grant smiling over copy soliciting season tickets, their front teeth blacked out.

And Canadian hockey players cut quite a swath through the Southern star firmament. By my count, a half dozen country stars and starlets ended up marrying guys from Canada whose music collection consisted of Nickleback and...(uh) Nickleback.

The news tonight is that Jim Balsillie, CEO of the evil Crackberry empire has bought the Predators and may move them to Kitchener. Much as I'd love to see another Canadian team, I'm hoping the Predators stay where they are. It's not just the symbolic triumph of the ultimate icon of the power cabal over working class values. We may have rabid fans here, but consider how rabid you must be to pull on a hockey jersey in a town that wears nothing without rhinestones and only says "Puck" when its got a cheekful of Redman.

Americans are beginning to get hockey. Not the ones who work at NBC or apparently in the NHL's head office, but the ones who are starting to watch their kids play -- not to mention the kids themselves.

You only have to once see the glow on the face of an 8 year old coming off the ice, having stepped on it knowing he can never be Albert Pujols or Michael Jordan, to understand the thrill of finding a game where scrawny little white guys can be heroes. Expect several stars to come out for the Anaheim-Ottawa series too and not just ex-pats or those who need to be seen.

I especially want to spot a mad-pulp-bastard in the Anaheim stands wearing a Senators jersey with a severed head. Don't let me down, Cunningham! You can pay off the ticket debt with all the swag you've got coming in about 10 days.

And most importantly -- GO DUCKS!!!! Please do not let the Cup end up in Ottawa! Us Leaf fans will never overcome the humiliation.

The Standings as we head into the final round.

1 Bill Cunningham 148
2 Dave Moses 134
3 Mark Askwith 127
4 Michael Foster 125
5 Micah Reid 114
5 Denis McGrath 114
7 Will Dixon 111
7 Juniper 111
9 John Whaley 106
9 Larry Raskin 106
11 Jim Henshaw 103
12 Mark Farrell 89


wcdixon said...

Or at least let's see Giguere get a couple of early shutouts for Askwith just to make it interesting...

Juniper said...

... anyone wanting to set up a side bet?

I say Askwith takes it handly. He's got all the Anaheim players. [sigh] And I have only a couple of the same guys as he.

Ante starts at $20?

Mef said...

I think I'm losing points somehow.

and thanks for heads up on the joss whedon post.


mark said...

What a strange pool this has been!
Cunningham has been The King this spring, looking like a genius for 3 rounds.

Anaheim and Buffalo just didn't seem to score for me, while Ottawa had a trio that just plain dominated our pool.

Going into this round I thought I had a slight chance to catch Cunningham. I'd need the Trio to be shut down, and JSG had to come up big with a least one, and probably two shutouts (something he has been unable to accomplish this playoffs... until last night.

This morning, I have new hope that juniper is right. I have a solid shot, but I think Ottawa will fight back on their home rink, the trio will re-ignite for a few more points. I think if JSG does not get another shutout I'll fall short...

Damn this has been fun, and it has added to my list of reasons why I cannot write...