Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hey, Now You're an All-Star

Some All-Star thoughts coming up but first! I just saw this entry on Jerry Sullivan's blog. It's all about blogging and it's pretty interesting. I recommend clicking over there and reading it - it's not very long - but he talks about wanting to be a better blogger and how it's probably the future of his job. Here's my favorite part:

Blogging only makes it clear that most people are just as smart as I am. It's just that I have a forum. But it's a little humbling to know hundreds of people actually click on to see what I have to say -- if only to confirm their belief that I'm a nitwit.

I don't know, maybe it's just me but that's kind of sweet and self-deprecating. I have to admit, I've come around on Jerry Sullivan a lot over the last few months. I was just telling a friend the other day that while I rarely listen to WGR and don't know anything about football, any time I happen to come across Sully on the radio, I'll stop and listen for a bit because I find his crankiness endlessly entertaining. And then he mentioned in a chat that he used to watch Gilmore Girls with his daughters and that it choked him up when Rory decided to go to Yale like her grandfather.

I think the old grump is growing on me a bit.

Let me balance out saying something nice about a TBN columnist by making fun of one. Did you catch this gem in Bucky Gleason's story on Thomas Vanek?

The fact Vanek will become the first Austrian to play in the All-Star Game is merely a bonus, chocolate sprinkles atop the whipped cream atop the pudding atop the sweetest crust ever made.

Maybe it's just me but that is almost hilarious in its awfulness. I'm going to make that a part of my header. TOP SHELF: THE CHOCOLATE ATOP THE WHIPPED CREAM ATOP THE PUDDING ATOP THE SWEETEST CRUST OF THE BUFFALO BLOGOSPHERE.

Okay, on to the All-Star game:

- Way back when I was a wee child, I happened across the NHL Skills Competition. This was years before I was regularly watching hockey, years before I met Mark. I turned on the channel just in time to see Ray Bourque go 4 for 4 in the accuracy shooting and I was in awe. In awe that anyone could hit a puck that hard much less place it in a certain spot much less do it four times in a row without missing. That didn't immediately translate into becoming a hockey fan but even now I clearly remember it so it's one of the little things that stuck in the back of my brain without me realizing it. I've written before about how my fondness for Ron Francis started laying the groundwork for me someday being a hockey fan. Well, I think Ray Bourque and the accuracy shooting did the same thing.

- One of the things that bothers me the most about Versus is that they come into games with an established storyline and when that storyline doesn't pan out quite right, they can't go with the flow. We've seen it time and time again in games against Pittsburgh. Even when Sidney Crosby has no goals, no shots and is a -2, he's the story they came in with, he's the story they go out with. They can't shift from "Sidney Crosby is great!" to "Sidney Crosby is great, here's how the Sabres are shutting him down." The get stuck on "Sidney Crosby is great!"

The storyline for the Skills Competition was clearly "Alexander Ovechkin will be the star of the night!" And I thought he really, really wasn't. I thought he was one of the worst competitors in the shootout competition and the "funny" hat and glasses didn't change the fact that once he dropped the second stick, the shot itself was really lame. And then he missed on his first attempt in the elimination shootout. I thought it was, quite frankly, a little embarrassing listening to Versus try to make him the center of the night. They almost completely ignored every shooter in the trick shot competition because they were too busy reminding us that Ovechkin was X number of shooters away. Every interview was some variation on, "So what do YOU think of Ovechkin?"

Listen, I understand that Ovechkin is an exciting talent and full of personality. He's an easy sale to any casual fans or newbies who might happen to be turning in. But to almost completely ignore everyone else in his favor does a disservice to both the other players and the league as a whole. One of my favorite things about All-Star weekend is that I almost always end up keying into either someone we don't see that often or someone I've never really paid that much attention to. Let some of the guys who don't usually get to shine, shine too. Why would you give viewers the impression that there's only one guy in the entire league worth talking about?

Then again, what do I know? Ovechkin did win the trick shot competition even though almost everyone was better than him.

- You know what? I love Zdeno Chara. I know we're supposed to hate him and boo him and all that, but I can't do it. He always comes across as a really sweet, intelligent guy. He's just a BFG. I think it was super cool of him to turn the hardest shot competition into a charity event and everyone who contributed - the other participants, the NHL, the NHLPA - should be applauded. How cute was he in his little tassled Right to Play hat?

"I is the only nice and jumbly Giant in Giant Country!

- I was glad to see Thomas Vanek score on his first attempt in the shootout elimination. I'm pretty sure I even caught a little smile. We called the around the world move, as I'm sure many Sabres fans did, but I have to admit, we thought he'd miss. He looked a little more like the shootout Vanek we know and love on his second attempt.

I've heard some complaints that the elimination shootout was too long and it probably was but it didn't bother me at all. I wasn't that focused on it so that probably helped. I thought having a player mic'd up for it helped a lot too and Marc Savard did a really nice job. Usually a goalie clearly letting his teammate score and move on to the next round would've bothered me but Savard was so cute about it that I didn't really care at all. In fact, I ended up thinking it was kind of funny.

- Speaking of mic'd up, while Savard was great on Saturday night, he was a little more of a bust during the game itself. It was probably a mistake to not mic up a goalie. Marty Turco and Manny Legace were both hilariously entertaining in the previous two All-Star Games and part of the fun was that they freely chatted during actual play which I'm assuming is much harder for a player who's actually skating to pull off. I don't know, maybe there wasn't a chatty goalie on the rosters this year. (How awesome would Marty Biron be for that? Versus wouldn't even have to hire announcers for the night. I'd love Marty to make the All-Star squad one year just to hear what he'd come up with.)

- If I'm Vincent Lecavalier, the relentless attention he got all weekend is reason number one I never, ever sign in Montreal.

- Every year at this time I remember that I think Ilya Kovalchuk is a total cutie. In between All-Star games I forget. Guess that's what playing in Atlanta will get ya.

- As all the announcers pointed out, all the skills competition stuff stinks for the goalies. Their role is basically to go out and get shelled. They need their own competition, something they compete in against other goalies. We thought about it for a while and finally decided the Fastest Skater should become Fastest Goalie, one lap around the rink. Any better ideas out there?

- In closing, while I'm trying not to inundate you guys with pictures of my dog, a few people have asked for updated photos. Here are just a couple:

This is quite possibly my favorite picture I've taken of anything ever.

Marlowe at 12 weeks.


Anne said...

- If I'm Vincent Lecavalier, the relentless attention he got all weekend is reason number one I never, ever sign in Montreal.

Ha, exactly. I didn't really think of that during the festivities, but now that you mention it, he probably likes Tampa because he has 10,000x the anonymity he could ever have in Montreal. He'll probably move to Montreal when he's 40 and his epic contract with Tampa expires.

Marlowe is so cute!! I miss having a puppy, my puppies are old. But there's something to be said for old friends, haha.

Cari said...

He's just a BFG.

Heather, you have no idea that you just made my day!! Basically, that was one of my favorites books growing up, and my mother and I always, always, always refer to Chara as the BFG!! Finally, we're not the only ones!

Caroline said...

The BFG! I loveddd that book. :)

Jennifer said...

I didn't like Ovechkin at first, but he's grown on me. He is one player that appears to have fun on the ice. Everything he does out there is fun. After all, hockey is a game and the players should enjoy themselves.

Marlowe is adorable. My puppy is now 7 months old and as big as a refrigerator. Not the little "lap puppy" that he was when we brought him home.

Your brother John said...

A time will come with that beast when you will be able to leave NOTHING on the counter.
The counter is Marlowe's domain.
Aubie can just barely reach something on the edge of the counter. That meat would be hers. But Marlowe will own the counter.
Just when I thought you were making up names with "Ovechkin," you let loose with "Zdeno Chara."

Heather B. said...

John, if I'm being honest, I set up the photo. The meat wasn't really that close to the edge. I moved it there because I thought it made for a funnier photo. We were lucky for the first few weeks but in the last week Marlowe seems to have realized, "Hey, when I stand on my back legs I'm really, really tall!"

Anne, I love, love, love Marlowe but I have to admit there are days when I've told Mark, "Next time remind me to adopt an older dog." I guess the grass is always greener :P

Cari and Caroline, I'm so glad to find other BFG fans. I've dropped that reference on a few people and I'm always horrified when they don't know what I'm talking about. Honestly, people! Books! Roald Dahl! Look into them!

Jennifer, I don't have a problem with players enjoying themselves (although I personally am usually not into the flashy, flaunting types) I just didn't think Ovechkin was that remarkable Saturday night and Versus continued to make it all about him. I will admit however that Ovechkin is not my personal cup o' tea.

Anonymous said...

Goalie skills competition...

4-on-1. Players on each side of the faceoff circle or maybe in the slot. Two players line up at the blue line in between the first two, like thus:

2 3
1 4


Each player has five pucks and they cannot skate. Shot rotation goes 1 then 2 then 3 then 4. They cannot shoot until the previous shot is either blocked or in. Finally, each goalie gets 30 seconds or 20 shots, whichever happens first.

Tiebreaker is just like the regular season - a shootout. But with a twist! The goalie gets to pick who shoots. :-)

amy said...

I'm glad you included a link to what a BFG is. That's sooooo not where I was going with it (Big Freakin Guy is what I was thinking.)

And Marlowe is absolutely adorable.

Jennifer said...

I was thinking "Big F'ing Goon"!

Lee Andrew said...

If the goalies have to skate with all their padding on then I'm all for a race.

Why doesn't baseball have a fastest runner race already?

I've never read the BFG but I like Roald Dahl. Did you know James and the Giant Peach was actually banned from a couple of schools in Virginia?

Katebits said...

Maybe it's just me but that is almost hilarious in its awfulness. I'm going to make that a part of my header. TOP SHELF: THE CHOCOLATE ATOP THE WHIPPED CREAM ATOP THE PUDDING ATOP THE SWEETEST CRUST OF THE BUFFALO BLOGOSPHERE.


I think this sentence says a lot about Bucky's eating habits. I mean, I'm in no position to judge those who enjoy a delicious dessert from time to time, but that's kind of a funny dessert.

I think the more obvious "sundae" would have served his metaphor better. Anything other than, "It's the cherry on top" is a little TMBuckyI, in my opinion. :P

Heather B. said...

Lee, I assure you I have no interest in watching goalies skate unless they're in full gear.

Roald Dahl is hated by many, many stupid, unfeeling adults who've lost touch with both their sense of humor and their memories of being a kid so I'm not surprised. His books often contain grown-ups who are evil and nasty to the children and some people aren't down with that because goodness knows, children can't tell the difference between fiction and reality. Did I mention I think that's stupid?