On Rioting

Queen Elizabeth Theater on the right

(image source: yfrogniamhsays)

The building on the right is the Queen Elizabeth Theater.  I was lucky enough to work there for five weeks last summer.  It didn’t have burning cars and rioters outside when I was there.  Wicked the musical is playing there now.  Here is an account of what it was like for a theater-goer when the riot was going on, from the Globe and Mail:

Heather Bourke was attending a performance of Wicked at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre with her husband, right next to where the riots began. Ms. Bourke, 32, is 5-1/2 months pregnant, and the mother of a two-year-old boy.

The play started a minute or two after the game ended. It was quite calm. No one was concerned. At intermission the curtain went down and someone came on the p.a. and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, due to a situation outside, please remain inside the building.’ Everyone just froze.

Then everyone went to the windows and stared out. It was unbelievable. Right in front of us: cars on fire, people being beaten up all around us, every direction you looked – smoke. When I went back to my seat, I noticed that I was trembling a little bit. I’ve never felt the baby kick so much in my life. I think the baby was in distress because of my hormones.

After the play was over, we were told to remain seated while Vancouver Police worked out a safe way for us to leave. Everyone was pulling out cells and getting updates. We had no idea what was happening. It’s kind of scary when you don’t know how bad it is. Before we left, we got specific directions: You must turn right, do not turn left. A man sitting beside us with an 11-year-old daughter asked how we were getting home. He drove us right to our door.

When we would leave the theater via stage door, which is on the far side of the building, we would turn right, which would take us directly into the rioters in that photo.  We would take another right, which would put us onto the street with the burning car in that photo.

Walking Home in Vancouver

At that intersection, with the burning car, we would often take a left, and walk through the plaza of the CBC.

CBC on the Left

(Source: twitpic/@chriswalts)

That’s the CBC on the left.  We would walk by because I was always amazed that we worked right next door to it.  I wanted nothing more, during our stay in Vancouver, than to get a tour of that building, especially the radio studios.  It turns out, they don’t offer tours.  There’s a coffee shack at the far end of the building (from our perspective) that poured a damn fine cup of coffee, always made to order.  It was some of the freshest coffee I have ever had.

We would turn right on to Robson, walking past the library, and sometimes stop at the liquor store on the corner of Robson and Homer to puck up some beer, perhaps some Growers Peach, or my favorite Canadian beer, Thirsty Beaver from the Tree Brewing Company. Then down to Richards Street, sometimes diverting to the Red Card, a sports bar with some tasty pizza.

Red Card

(Red Card photo courtesy of Ryan Classic / @ryanclassic)

Or, even better, we would divert over to Granville for some five-pin bowling.  Five-pin bowling is a very Canadian type of bowling, a mashup of Candlepin and Duckpin from New England, and the standard 10-pin that ESPN seems to be enamored with.

The Lane The Pins

 

Ryan Classic Bowls My Lovely Assistant

(My lovely assistant on the right is Alix from The Humming Giraffe@alixiswright)

From our balcony at our apartment, we could see Granville Street.  The occasional drunk fool would stop in the alley our balcony overlooked to relieve his bladder, and you could hear the noise on the streets from the party crowd.  You could see the Comfort Inn and it’s attached bar, Doolins, from our balcony as well.

Comfort Inn and Doolins

(source: twitpic@chrissychrzan)

If you were to walk straight past that car, down the street two blocks, you would be at my apartment at the time, my temporary home.   This guy is having a rough go of it right next to my building.  And this ass wasn’t there when I was around.  There wasn’t tear gas or fires.  There was just a great city, with fun people, that I want to go back to.

You can imagine how the riots make me feel.  Every picture I saw, I wondered if I had run into those people.  I looked to see if I had been in any of the places that were being looted (Chapters, yep. Crepes, yep. Coffee shop, yep).  I felt sad to see a beautiful city like Vancouver destroy itself, for people to turn against their own.  The people who will suffer most from this are the business owners and workers who have to rebuild.  And all from an attack from it’s own citizens.  The pointlessness is deep.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  And the way I feel must pale in comparison to the way the people who live there feel.

Vancouver is at worst an expensive place to be.  But so much about the city is charming and wonderful.  Taking the mail run on a sea plane, or bicycling near the water.  Getting on a ferry to see what is around, or standing next to the bridge you may have seen in the closing credits of the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.  Playing street hockey for charity, or even trying atrocious ketchup potato chips.  Walking along Canada Place and watching the planes land in the water.  There was so much to Vancouver, and so much more to see.

It’s a city that the locals are in love with.  That love runs deep, and you know it when you talk the the people who live there.  I wish Denver had that kind of love.  I hope it’s getting there.  I’d love to help get it there.

The riots can’t be simply explained away by talking about a few bad elements.  If you look in the pictures, you see all kinds of people, instigators, onlookers, encouragers, and yes, hockey fans.  They cheered, they cried, they tore apart their own city, and posed for pictures while doing it.  There were all kinds of people, and they came together first for a hockey team, and then to rip their own homes apart.  There is no explanation for it.  There is no covering it up with a few excuses, or that only a bunch of anarchists and thugs are responsible.  There were all kinds of people there.  And yes, even some true fans caught up in the moment.

You get a sense of how the reasonable fans feel now, their embarrassment over the actions of the rioters pour out on the web.  They keep apologizing, and trying to explain things.  But they shouldn’t have to.  We all know it wasn’t the majority of Vancouverites that turned downtown into a DMZ.  We don’t hold them accountable.  They feel the need explain it because they care.

In the end, it leaves a scar on the city.  They will clean up the mess, and they will rebuild.  A few stores will close down, burdened by the financial strain.  People will move on.  But they won’t forget.  They will walk by the rebuilt areas and remember what happened.  They will see the broken glass, smell the tear gas, and feel the heat from the fires.  And just like me, they will want to remember Vancouver as it was.

Game 7: Over and Out

My feelings about game 7 are a little bit tempered by the rioting that went on in Vancouver.  I will put up a separate post about that later.  For now, my thoughts are with my friends in Vancouver, like @ryanclassic, @alixiswright, and @alanah1.  I feel bad that they can’t celebrate a Cup win, and that they have to endure the aftermath on the streets.

___________________________

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/Tapeleg/status/76069193568624640"]

I tweeted that June 1st.  Hey, they don’t call it blind faith for nothing.  And that’s all I really had, faith.  It wasn’t knowledge, it wasn’t expertise, it was faith in the face of the evidence against, and defiance.  I knew the Canucks could win it, but I never believed the Bruins would lose it.

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll do it again, because it fits.  I was in Boston a little over a year ago, during the Olympics and regular season, and the talk of Bruins fans kept to leaning toward how the Bs had made a huge mistake signing Tim Thomas for as long as they had.  The consensus seemed to be that he was washed up, and the contract was a huge burden.  I told those fans to wait.  I told them you didn’t go from being a Vezina winner to washed up in one year.  Something was wrong, and it was obvious.  Thomas had hip surgery in the offseason, and came back.  A career year, and no real end in sight.

Smilling Tim Thomas

I was a sort of bandwagon fan for the Bruins throughout the playoffs.  I’d been looking for an Eastern Conference team for a long time, and kept coming back to the Bruins.  I tried to make it the Capitals, but that never really fit.  I spent eight months in Boston during the lockout, and learned to love that city (I really like Vancouver, but for all it’s beauty, it loves to take all my money).  Since the Avalanche never had a remote shot at the playoffs (when you hear fans bragging about having the second overall draft pick…), I was free to pick and choose who I wanted to win each round.   I have my own biases (as does every fan of the game), so there were a few teams that would never make it into my favorites, most notably Detroit and Vancouver.  My choices round-by-round were:

Round 1
Bruins
Capitals
Tampa Bay
Buffalo

Chicago
Nashville
Phoenix
San Jose

Round 2
Bruins
Tampa Bay

San Jose
Nashville

Round 3
Bruins
San Jose

Finals
Bruins

In the end, the thing I really wanted to see was Tim Thomas raise the Cup.  If there was a guy in the playoffs who deserved it most, it was Thomas.  While Roberto Luongo won a game or two for his team, he also was the reason they lost at times.  Thomas never lost a game for his team.  You could argue the wrap around goal scored on him eleven seconds into overtime in game two was his fault, as he was way out of position, but there were several things that went wrong on that play.  And in their losses, Thomas deserved more than he got from his teammates.  He got it in games six and seven.

Thomas was the clear Conn Smythe winner even before game seven.  I remember being at game seven in 2003 as the New Jersey Devils beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup – which was where I learned to dislike the Devils – and watching losing goalie JS Giguere collect the Conn Smythe.  You could see how sad he was as he took his shinny trophy back to the room where his teammates sat in defeat.  It’s a great honor, but nothing like the trophy your entire team worked so hard for.  It affected Giguere and his game the next season.  He was a goalie that has always brought his emotions to the game, both positive and negative.  I didn’t want to see the same thing happen to Thomas.  Thomas always seems like calm and collected guy, until you piss him off.  I have been a huge fan of Thomas for a while, and want to see his continued success.  And even though it will never happen, he sure would look good in an Avalanche jersey. :)

Quick hits:

- Roberto Luongo is going to get blamed and called a choker.  He will, again, be called overrated.  Luongo was a great goalie through most of the playoffs.  He has a few bad games every so often, but he always springs back.  That he got scored on three times in the final game doesn’t make him a choker, it makes him human.  He has his faults, not the least of which is hubris, but he is still a good goalie.  If it weren’t for him, the Canucks would never have gotten as far as they did.  He won them games, and he lost them games.  But he won them a lot more than he lost.

- I took in the game last night at SoBo 151, Denver’s Czech hockey bar, and had a blast.  Wearing my Bruins colored Johnstown Cheifs jersey brought a few fans over to talk hockey and hang out.  Brian Engblom was there, fans of both teams were represented, and the mood was generally jovial.  The Canucks fan next to me was tense for most of the game, but wound up chatting more as the game wore down.  When the Canucks raised their sticks to the fans, the crowd, including the Bruins fans, applauded the team.  I shook a few hands and offered condolences to the Canucks fans in attendance.  The only indication of any animosity was the bottom line on the NBC broadcast, saying that rioting had started in Vancouver.  It’s what hockey should be like.

- Good for Coach Vigneault pulling Luongo near the end down by three goals.  Even if it looked like the game was over, he didn’t give up.  You have to give him credit for that.

- The handshake that happened on the ice was great, and is a wonderful tradition in hockey.  But the handshake on social media sites like twitter was just a good.  Fans that had been thrust together on opposite sides of the game were patting each other on the backs, congratulating and sympathizing, burying hatchets, and generally getting along for the first time in two weeks.

- The Canucks oscillated between looking beaten and being on the verge of taking over the game.  There were several times the Bruins let them back into the game, and they made some good plays along the way.  What took the Canucks back out of the game, over and over?  I really don’t know.

At the end of the season, it’s almost like there should be poetry.  Maybe I’ll try a crack at that tomorrow.  For the moment, wow, what a season.  October can’t come soon enough.

I am still collecting my thoughts on the rioting.  I’ll probably post about it later.

________________________________________

The Stanley Cup Dead Blog Challenge rolls on for some of us, while others have completed the first part that they committed to.  To those who made it to June 15th, congratulations. You should be proud of your work, and hopefully will continue to write, if not post, daily.  You have a good block of work that you can build on, and keeping with it is the best thing you can do for your writing and your blog.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Me, and several others, are continuing on until at least July 1st.

Up Here

On this flight, there is no sign of the tension below. Thousands of feet above the world, the only sports represented here are the University of Wyoming wrestling team, and my lacrosse jersey. You wouldn’t know that the greatest trophy in sports was going to be handed out tonight. I’m on an Air Canada flight to America. How fitting. But here, there is nothing.

There was always this promise of air travel, that it would take you from your life at home, and transport you somewhere else, away from your troubles and concerns. I’ve taken a lot of flights over the last decade and more, to places across the United States and Canada. The travel, it was a function, and most of it was fun. Now, it’s a burden. But today, it feels serene. It feels different.

I don’t fly as often as a hockey player must. Every away game means at least one flight. I used to fly at least every other week. I remember a few years ago walking up to the Au Bon Pain in the Atlanta airport, and finding the familiarity comforting. That’s a sign, isn’t it?

But here, on this flight, the tension is washed away. I can watch Johnny Depp play a ridiculous lizard on a small screen in the seat back in front of me. I can type away at my little tablet, and listen to the radio. And game seven? It doesn’t exist. For a moment, I had forgotten that it was even going to be played.

Tonight, after the Cup is handed out, as one set of fans become insufferable for one reason, and the other set of fans become insufferable for another, we will go on. Lebron James was kind enough to remind us that after the games, we common folk will still have our personal problems, and we can go back to our small lives. Which I think we will all be a little better off for.

I’m leaving behind, in Toronto, a temporary home. I never got the feeling I had the last time I was there. I never felt like I could make room in my life for that city. Much has changed there, and the direction it’s gone, either positive or negative, is arguable. It’s a matter of taste. As great as parts of the city are, there are parts I can do without. Every city is like that, but Toronto wore both on it’s sleeve this time.

I’m happy to be watching the game in Denver tonight. I talked about the new Canucks jerseys you saw everywhere in Toronto. It’s a different kind of bandwagon fan in Canada right now. I hate the term bandwagon, but I’m struggling to come up with a different term. The fans who just want to see Vancouver win to see the Cup in Canada. And really, am I any different, hoping for a Bruins win? I have more invested in being against Vancouver, but I’ve liked the Bruins for a while now, and Tim Thomas is…. well, he’s Tim Thomas.

Up here, 35,000 feet above Colorado, it doesn’t feel like game seven. It doesn’t register that fans – and friends – in distant places don’t like each other because of things they are wildly out of their control. Up here, you wouldn’t even know that the hopes and dreams of the players, things they have worked for their entire lives, will be summed up in one game, only a few hours long, and only a few hours away.

I can’t wait until we touch down.

__________________________

I wrote this post on my flight to Denver, and edited and posted it from Denver International Airport.

Game 6: Can I Get a Hey Now

My plans for the night were initially to watch game six with an aquaintance here in Toronto.  I wasn’t looking forward to watching the game in Canada, as I figured it would be fraught with the classic signs of the Canucks fans already tasting silver: the call of the Lou for every save made, complaining that the refs were against the Canucks (which is a suckers argument), and hockey entitlement like you wouldn’t believe.  I put the call out to twitter, asking where I should watch the game, and was invited out by Thomas Drance.  He warned me that he was a major Canucks homer, and he was right.  But it was I cheering him up later on, as the game turned against the Canucks.  Still, I had a great time, and would hang out with him again.  Thanks, Tom!

NOTES FROM THE GAME:

- The media kept asking the players before the game what it was like to have the Cup in the building.  And all of the players blew it off, saying it didn’t matter.  Still, the media pressed.  And you have to wonder, what are they looking for?  I’m guessing a better story than the one they have.  It’s more exciting to write about the players having the jitters.  The classic storyline of the childhood dream of winning it all in game seven will be the next one pressed on the players.  But if they aren’t buying what the media is selling, then quit trying to force an answer out of them.  I’m convinced that half of the reason for some of the jerky quotes is just to give the media something so they will leave the players alone.

-Yesterday, I said this:

I thought about what I would do in the situation the refs are in, and concluded that I would put the first pair of over-actors in the box for two each, and warn the benches that there will be no tolerance for diving or post-whistle antics.

And I didn’t see the refs go to the benches, but this happened:

Penalty

After this, I saw one fake head-snap.  The diving went down, the douche factor went down, and the play was clean enough.  I didn’t really think Henrik Sedin warranted a diving penalty, but the message was sent.

- Yes, I said the douche factor went down.  But man, Johnny Boychuk, what were you thinking?  I don’t for a moment think that Boychuck meant to injure Mason Raymond, and the check he finished (which he didn’t have to finish, nor make in the first place) didn’t look that hard.  Still, that is no excuse for taking a guy into the boards in an awkward position, and putting more into the check than the simple collision.  That’s how it looked to me, that he shoved harder than he needed to, and Raymond was in a vulnerable position.  It happened fast, and there wasn’t much Raymond could do, after being taken off balance by Boychuk putting his stick between Raymond’s legs and spinning him around.  The fault on this one, even though the outcome didn’t seem like it would be as bad as it is (compression fracture in a vertebrae), is completely on Johnny Boychuk.  The speed of the game, the hitting, all of it adds to the risk of these kinds of injuries.  But Boychuk should be more responsible.

- The Bruins fans were taken to task for chanting at Raymond that he was faking his injury.

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/bruce_arthur/status/80617394623619072"]

Considering the way the rest of this series played out, and that the play itself didn’t look terribly destructive, I don’t think this was maliciously taunting a player with an obvious injury.  And when you think about how most people watch hockey, they were probably focusing on the puck, which wasn’t near the hit.  Many of the people at the Garden didn’t even see the hit happen in real time.  I doubt it’s anything more than unfortunate circumstances combined with the poor taste of a few.

- What a drop pass by Peverly on the Lucic goal.  It surprised me was how fast it happened.  I don’t think I was the only one.

- Ference scores a goal? Ference?  If that doesn’t tell you the Canucks were snakebitten tonight, nothing does.

- Cory Schneider didn’t have a chance on the goal scored against him in the first.  I’m not sure anyone was going to pick up Ryder in front of the net.  There was nothing Schneider could do on the deflection, though he probably would have stopped the shot if it hadn’t been tipped..

- Hanson celebrating before the whistle was bad enough.  But the puck went past him on the rebound.  That has to be embarrassing for him.  This is why you play to the whistle.

- Everyone got their free penalties tonight.  Neither team got all the calls they probably could have gotten, or even deserved.  They both got their chances, and the calls that were made were valid.

- I didn’t know that Patrick Roy has the best save percentage of a finals series.  Thanks, TSN.  Tim Thomas, third.  The things you get from the broadcast networks when they treat hockey fans as though they understand what’s going on.

- Alain Vigneault has the easiest decision with who to start in goal for game seven, even though that decision could hang him out to dry.  You have to go with Luongo, in my opinion.  He is the guy who got you to this place, on both sides of the coin.  He has lost games for you (and no one else has contributed to those losses as much as he), and he has won games for you.  This isn’t a coin flip.  This is what you do.  Schneider looked great in goal in this series when he has come in, but it isn’t his net right now.

___________________________________________

Game 7.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for this.  I fly home in the morning on Wednesday, unless there are more problems with Air Canada than just a simple strike, and then plan on watching the game at SoBo 151.  See you there.

Why Milbury Has A Job

Last night, I got home from work and turned on the Tony Awards. Yes, that’s right. I rarely watch the Tonys, but there was no hockey on, basketball holds no interest for me, and I am a theater person. It also helped that Neil Patrick Harris was hosting, and Sutton Foster was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (and won!). I was privileged to tour with her 11 years ago, and she is an incredible person. You can find all the Tony award winners here.

But this is a hockey blog, and a deal is a deal. One a day. Here is what I was thinking about.

__________________________________

Larry Brooks almost completely nails it in his write-up of Mike Milbury’s taunts towards Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Almost 100%.

Listen, we’ve all heard this sad song before from Mike Milbury, the ugly American who apparently thinks it is insightful hockey commentary to mock the manhood and masculinity of Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Of course, Milbury was once coached by Don Cherry, the jingoistic Canadian who has spent decades polluting the air by defaming athletes whose first language is something other than English.

Dead on. It’s the Milbury way, and it has it’s roots in what Don Cherry spews every week on the CBC. Remember he works for NESN, the network Bruins games are broadcast on in Boston. He knows who his audience usually is, and who cuts the checks. He was just doing what he always does, playing to the usual audience.

This is the part that Brooks gets wrong:

So the question is, what on earth is wrong with the North American television network executives who make the decisions to hire these people to spew their ignorance?

Brooks should know where it comes from, and he probably does. It comes from the audience, and it comes from the ratings.

Think back to the regular season, and the intermission reports on NBC. On one side of the table, Mike Milbury. On the other side, America’s other hockey talking head, Pierre McGuire. And the excitement of the day was seeing what one person – usually Milbury – was going to call the other. There wasn’t much analysis that you couldn’t get elsewhere, but it was a grudge match. Two people who deserved the barbs and anger they leveled at each other.

Audiences couldn’t wait. They were practically in ecstasy when the first intermission rolled around. After the back and forth dullness of a Versus intermission, NBC was showing flair and guts by putting on this spectacle. NBC knew exactly what they were doing. They were hiring two people who didn’t mind slinging a little mud while tossing in a little hockey.

Like I said, you could get the same kind of analysis online, from a number of sources. If you’re reading my little blog, you probably already find it on other blogs. What you don’t get is the theatrics. It’s the theatrics that people would tune in for, and it’s the theatrics that people want. They want to see the blowhard talk to the jerk, and on a weekly basis, you got exactly that. Read a blog, listen to a podcast, and you will get many different angles on the topic, many of them more considered, more informed, and more interesting that the few minutes you would get from an NBC intermission report.

But it might not be as titillating. It might not have the drama. And NBC, or any sports broadcasting network, wants you to have a reason to stick around for the few minutes of content they are going to show you between commercials at the breaks. If titillation and drama do the job, hire two guys who kick each other in the groin. It works for America’s Funniest Home Videos, and it will work between periods of an NHL game.

Present that argument to Larry Brooks, and I bet he would agree. People tune in to the Brooks / Tortorella show for the exact same reason.

________________________________________

For those of you doing the Dead Blog Challenge, a quick note: The important part of the challenge isn’t that you write your best stuff ever. It’s that you write, and that you post. Take pride in the fact that you are posting. That’s something worth crowing about. You guys inspire me to keep going. Thanks.

Can’t Argue Much With That

Last week, I took Tom Benjamin to task for his commentary on the Nathan Horton hit. But he nails it when it comes to the Lapierre / Chara idiocity:

1) I don’t like the “embellishments” any more than anybody else. Not only are they bush, they are proving to be counter-productive costing far more calls than they have gained.

On the other hand, the after the whistle pokes, spears and slashes are every bit as bush. Lapierre looked ridiculous after taking the jab of the stick from Chara, but why is the jab okay?

Absolutely. As much as we (and I include myself in this), take Lapierre to task for his over-acting, Chara still gave him an intentional jab to with his stick after the whistle. Even though the damage was negligible, and certainly not to the level that Lapierre tried to display, Chara still should have just kept his stick to himself. If Lapierre had simple run into his stick, fine. But Chara did push his stick into an opponent after the play. It wasn’t spearing, but it wasn’t cool. The after the whistle stuff should end now. Play a hockey game. I don’t think game six will be much different from the previous five, but there is always hope.

I did think this was a little funny:

The Bruins think Henrik’s right ankle is sore so they all give him a little whack every chance they get. Not hard enough to be worth a penalty but hard enough to notice.

How soon we forget Joe Thornton’s shoulder. I’m sure the after the whistle punishment he got was simply… heck, I can’t even make up anything here. The Canucks targeted Thornton and his shoulder, and everyone knows it. The CBC knew it, the players knew it, and the fans knew it. But it’s a distant memory at this point.

Diving may show a lack of respect, but the officials have earned every bit of that disrespect.

Oh please. I thought about what I would do in the situation the refs are in, and concluded that I would put the first pair of over-actors in the box for two each, and warn the benches that there will be no tolerance for diving or post-whistle antics. Set the tone and send the message right away, and keep to the standard. Don’t give up, and the players will get the message quickly.

I think the officiating has been fine these playoffs. We all know it’s a hard job, and the NHL has the best refs in the world. It’s easy to believe the coaches and GMs when they talk about lopsided penalty numbers, but sometimes, you earn what you get. And if you spend any time in the box, your team isn’t going to be happy. Such is the nature of being down a man. It’s a punishment for a reason.

Getting Ready For The Blow

There is a remote possibility, a smidgen of a chance, that the Vancouver Canucks could win the Stanley Cup this year.

It chills me to the bone, just to think about it.  Which, you know, it probably shouldn’t.  I’ll get into that tomorrow.

Since the lockout ended, only one Stanley Cup has gone to the team to make it to the Finals that I didn’t want to see win.  That was 2008, when Detroit took it.  The next year, the Penguins won the Cup, and I was relieved.  I didn’t care for the Penguins to win necessarily, but it was better than another win by Detroit.

And then there were the Olympics, when Sidney Crosby scored the overtime game winning goal to take the gold medal.  I just stared at the TV and thought, “anyone other than Crosby.”

And here we sit, with the Canucks one win away from a Stanley Cup.  For the most part, they have earned their fifteen wins.  They have had their adversity, and they have fought back from some terrible games.  They worked hard after they fell apart, and every Cup winning team in history has had to do that.  There are too many games to be played and won to make this an easy task.

And yet, how they may win it all is going to be a tough pill to swallow.

(note: I had a video of the stick jab from Chara, and acting job from Lapierre from YouTube, but it must have been taken down.  So I have this tweet instead)

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/kurtenblog/status/79354330360193024"]

Fans of the Canucks will tell you that this isn’t what the team is made of.  They want to feel that their team is more honorable than this.  And some of their team is. I don’t blame the team for picking up a guy who dives repeatedly.   I don’t blame the guy who dives for trying, since it’s worked in the past.  But I don’t have to like it, and as fans, we don’t have to keep our mouths shut.

This play was brought up in the press conference after (thanks to Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass for the transcript):

Q. Max, looked like you were mortally wounded when you had that encounter with Zdeno Chara. I wondered how you were able to carry on after that. Describe the emotion of being one win away from the Stanley Cup.

MAXIM LAPIERRE: I think we know it’s going to be the biggest game of our life in Boston, and Boston is going to be ready. We’re going to have to be ready for a challenge.

The question offered him a way not to acknowledge the first part, the part that called him out on his antics. Which is too bad, because he needs to answer for it.  And no, not in the violent, police-the-ice way.  He needs to defend what he does.  He needs to justify it in the open.  And if he wins a Cup, he won’t have to.  His Cup ring will be all the answer he needs.

Of course, he isn’t the only one on the Canucks to do it.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/bruce_arthur/status/79362715008774144"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/donlagreca/status/79352833333407745"]

If the refs aren’t buying, then why do they keep doing it?  Because it works often enough.  And if it doesn’t work, if the ref doesn’t take the bait and calls an unsportsmanlike against the diver, it is usually cancelled out with a call on the other team, like a trip or a highstick.  This is where fans become angry, asking why the diving call isn’t the only one.  If the player faked the call, then why are you calling the first penalty?  And sometimes it makes sense.  The problem is that the diver isn’t punished.  He didn’t get his free penalty, but he also didn’t hurt his team.  A little four on four is no price to pay when a full two-minute power play could be the payoff.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/joeyerdonpht/status/79370968069451776"]

If I were the training staff, I would bone up on my whiplash treatment.  It’s embarrassing to watch.  Remember how hockey players are lauded as being the nicest people and different from other athletes?  Can we get over that now?  Can we quit this lie?

I have to swallow the fact that the Canucks could, possibly, maybe win the Stanley Cup.  And if it happens, it’s going to make me sick for a bit. But I will get over it, the fan gloating will go on for a long time, and a new hockey season will begin.  Not soon enough.

Five Things the Canucks Talked to the League About

5) Zdeno Chara is too tall. How will our shorter players be able to punch him in the face while he is being held from behind?

4) Patrice Bergeron still has all his fingers. How is that possible?

3) Why are reporters allowed to ask so many questions after the game? If we aren’t going to answer them, they shouldn’t be asking in the first place.

2) Bobby Orr shouldn’t be allowed in the Garden. He is retired. That isn’t fair.

1) Tim Thomas’s excessive stopping of many pucks.

Reportedly, the Canucks also demanded that every goal after five that the Bruins scored in game three should be credited to Vancouver. Even Gary Bettman couldn’t figure that one out.

Game 4: No Comment?

OK, early day at work this morning, so there weren’t any SCFblog links from yesterday.  I’ll try to get some up today.

I only got to see some of the game, so I only have a few things:

- Someone needs to explain that tripping call on Marchand.  A guy is coming in to clean Marchand’s clock along the boards, and Marchand ducks.  They call tripping.  The CBC said clipping, which was silly.  It wasn’t the safest play, but you can’t defend yourself against a check?  I didn’t like Marchand hauling down Ballard by the head, but that wasn’t nearly as bad as the CBC made it out to be.

- Lapierre looks incredulous no matter what he does.  He has a face made for theater.  Expressive.

- The CBC showed the crowd at Rogers Arena in Vancouver cheering when Luongo was pulled for Schneider.  It’s hard to feel for a fan base when that kind of thing happens.  I hate it when Avs fans do it, and I hate it when any fans do it to their team.  I know the fans are frustrated, but that’s pretty harsh. Sure, it isn’t every fan of the Canucks, and by now, it shouldn’t have to be qualified like that.  When you give him the big “Luuuuuu” one minute for a save, then applaud him being pulled the next, what does that say?

- I said it before, and I will say it again: It is never a series until it goes to the other team’s barn.

- TSN showed a replay of the Tim Thomas slash on Burrows.  They didn’t roll the tape back enough to show the stick checks Thomas was getting.  Meh.  This is a little closer to reality.

- Alain Vigneault is in denial.  His post-game pressers sound like he’s talking about another game.  Like cricket.

________________________

So who starts game five for Vancouver? I think Luongo.  He’s bounced back before, and I think he will look better back home.  After the last start for Schneider, would Coach AV put his confidence in his backup?  I don’t think I would.

Game five is going to be electric.  For all the talk of the Bruins being done, they are right back in this thing.  Tim Thomas bailed the team out in the first game, and he’s been excellent in games three and four.  The Bruins needed good goaltending in these home games, rather than great goaltending.  In game 2, Tim Thomas deserved better from his team.  In games three and four, he got it.

_________________________

I turned off comments on the blog for a bit.  Sorry, but that’s the way it goes.  For your bonus content, check out this post by Derek Powazek about comments.

I got a comment on my post yesterday that threw me off for a bit.  It was a little snarky, a little passive – aggressive, and not worth dealing with.  It pissed me off.  Don’t bother looking for it, because I deleted it.  I was mad for most of the day.  And frankly, I don’t need to be angry over comments on my blog.

As much as we want hockey blogging to be about community, sometimes that community a pain in the butt.  I don’t need to defend  every opinion I have, or every word I write.  The more energy I spend on those comments, on clarifying and placating, the less energy I have for writing.  I want to have a conversation about hockey, but being dragged through the dirt isn’t a conversation.  I have my opinion, you have yours.

Stephen King talks about having an ideal reader, that person you focus on and write for as your audience.  For him, it’s his wife.  For me, I have two idea readers.  Both of them are people I respect, and people who are much better hockey writers than I am.  Neither of them leave comments here.  And at the same time, no offense here, but I don’t write for comments.  I write what I think, and I write what I feel.  If comments are going to take away from the writing, then they are gone.

Part of why I stopped writing was that I was too worried about what people felt.  Read that Powazek post; he says exactly how I feel.  Worrying about what people think about the writing is part of what kills your voice.  And I am no longer willing to do that.

If you need to get ahold of me, you can do so in the comment form up above, or hit me up on Twitter (@tapeleg).  At some point, I will turn comments back on, but not today.

Seeing What You Want

Hockey fans, and especially those with access to the internet, seem to see things their way.  Video evidence, laws of physics, and consensus from multiple sources can not divert some people from their cause.  Penalties that never happened, injuries and hits that were completely innocent.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  Can you guess what’s next?

But this?  This is just wacky.  From Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner:

It was a very late hit but it isn’t hard to make the case that Rome wasn’t the one to initiate contact. All he really did was hold his ground, stop and brace himself. Horton accelerated into him and provided almost all the force in the collision. Horton cannot skate from the centre line to the Canuck blueline without once looking to his right. Had he done so, he would cut to the inside and blow past a flatfooted Rome.

I think it’s impossible for all but the most dedicated to make that argument.  A step after a pass is accelerating?  Rome simple braced? What exactly did Rome brace against, as he left his feet to deliver a shoulder to chin check?  This is just insanity.  Blaming the victim never goes out of style.  Tom is a contrarian by nature in his columns.  He’s also very smart.  But he is one of only a few seeing this hit in this manner.  Good thing, because if you keep blaming the victim, things are going to get even more dangerous out there.

Luckily for everyone involved – including Rome himself – the league saw things the other way, and suspended Rome for 4 games, with any carry-over from the Finals being served next season.  It seems like just punishment.  The Bruins are losing a guy who’s been a factor in their playoff run, and the Canucks are losing a replaceable defenseman.  It’s as good as it’s going to get for the Bruins.

None of this is to say that the Canucks are the worst team ever, full of evil-doers and baby-killers.  This happens all over the league.  It’s not just a problem with one team, and 29 angels are watching in disgust.  But history isn’t on the Canucks side.  I don’t think this is the character of the Canucks, regardless of what has gone before.  I doubt there is a culture of violence and disregard for other players in the club.  But from the post-game press conferences I’ve seen after this series, there does seem to be a culture of denial and a lack of realistic assessment.  Coach speak and guarding your words is one thing.  This takes things to a whole other level.

If you want to see how bad this kind of thing can get from the fans, check out Ryan Classic’s post from last night, showing how one person on twitter can take ugly to other realms.  Be warned, it’s not even close to Safe For Work.

All of this said, here is what I said on Twitter last night, and I stand by it today.  Enough already.

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/tapeleg/status/77903807593447424"]