Saturday, August 30, 2008
First, though, a small point. In the article I wrote about beach volleyball uniforms, I linked three risqé pictures. From those pictures, I have gotten close to 100 hits. I'm not sure how I feel about that... while on the one hand it's awesome that I'm getting so many hits, it kind of cheeses me off that all those people are entirely missing the point of the article. Dammit.
Anyways, the past few days have been pretty busy in the world of sports.
First - professional sport. The Sens traded Andrej Mezaros to the Lightning for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and San Jose's 2009 first round draft pick (let's hope the Sharks tank*).
Second - new uniforms. Queen's updated it's look and have gone for more uniformity, if you will, across all its sports. Adidas is making the gear - I really hope they sell caps with the new Queen's logo because I will buy that in a second. Here's a slideshow where it goes through all the uniforms for Queen's sports. Oh, and we're now called the Queen's Gaels. To be honest I like all the changes - Golden Gaels sounded fruity to everyone not at Queen's... so yeah I like it.
Third - Queen's sports. Men's Rugby beat Dartmouth 19-0 today to kick off an annual preseason tournament. They will meet West Point tomorrow, a game I'll be covering. Not a chance of a liveblog but I'll probably throw up a summary post-game sometime. Men's basketball continued their mingling with Americans when they beat South Alabama in 102-94 in triple OT in Ottawa today.
* My obligatory pun.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Small updates on the life of Amrit:
1) I found a wine I like*, it's made with Niagara grapes and disgusts my father. Damn.
2) German farmers eat damn good lunches. Knockwurst, pork shank, smoked ham shank and a dumpling with gravy. Oh, and sauerkraut. Lots of sauerkraut. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer. This is the site's website
3) Making wine is complex, as is beer (but that was a self-guided tour, so less complex).
4) There is nothing in life more comforting than drinking, sitting on a patio staring out over a lake with a beautiful hilly scenery behind it, writing newspaper articles and drinking yourself off your face.
5) Port's not too shabby. Shame about it being Portuguese though.
6) The American service industry is shit, it's actually really irritating how badly waiters/esses, hosts/esses and tour guides treat people. Then they expect a tip. I gave one a tip: "Lick my balls and I'll give you a quarter." Okay... no I didn't, but how awesome would it have been if I did? In reality I scoffed and walked away.
7) I have a new hat. The Arizona hat was no replacement for the Michigan one. We'll see how this new one serves me.
8) Queen's is unveiling the new streamlined style for all it's new uniforms on Wednesday at 5pm, at the Ambassador Hotel East Ball Room. Wear something fancy and head on over if you're interested (That has nothing to do with me, but I'm struggling to come up with stuff here).
9) I continue to believe that in lists under 5, there should only be three points. In lists over 5, they should be in multiples
10) I really, really don't. That point earns two entries because I feel so strongly about it.
* See the bottom of the Whites, where the bottle is $6.99
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
A few years ago, I created a Facebook group called "I Don't Know Why I Love You, But I Do - England Supporters' Support Group". I have long since left that group because, well, it was shit, but the feeling lives on. It's tough to be an England supporter - we know our team should be one of, if not the, best in the world, but we delve in mediocrity like it's our job! They're great for their clubs, but when it comes to representing the Queen and her Three Lions, they flail about like a group of schoolgirls on ecstasy. Hell, all the way back it's been the same. Even the Cup we won in '66 was won on a very dodgy 3rd goal in extra time.
End point - it's tough to watch our boys. Penalties, lacklustre performances, excuses, you name it. Fabio Capello was supposed to reign in a new era, and to a certain extent, he has. Capello plays a defensive style of football, depending on counter-attacks. I'm a little disappointed with yesterday though, 2-2 against the Czech's with a Turkish goal from Joe Cole to make the draw at the death.
Maybe this is the shit performance they need to realize that they're playing shit football and need to step it up. Here's hoping, anyway, because I don't know what I'll do if they don't make World Cup South Africa after missing out on EURO. In the group we're in, we should be able to lock down a spot in the finals without too much trouble, save the Croats. But, if England play at the level and ability of which we all know they're capable, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility to see some hardware at the end of summer in two years time.
Like I said before... it took Spain 44 years, why not us too?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
As you all know, summer is the time for lists. My listing has been lacking this summer, as this was my first blogging summer and I somehow managed to come up with non-list things to write.
But, the lists have certainly been a-plenty. Puck Daddy has had various people connected to the hockey world write about 5 ways they'd change the NHL. Sherry over at Scarlett Ice wrote a list of 100 things about herself. Hell, even The Hockey News put out a list this summer which barely had anything to do with hockey..
But then they made a real list, ranking the top 50 NHLers*.
Now we get into a rambling anecdote.
Michael Woods, of The view from the Woods, was born August 15, 1988, weighing about 3lbs and closing in on 5'11" tall (skinny little bastard, wasn't he!?!?). When he reached the age of 10, he was 12'2" tall, and decided to rank his own top 50 NHLers, because he decided THN shouldn't have all the fun. Now, he's 17'48", and he's written his 10th installment of the Woods Top 50, and posted it over at his blog. I'd strongly suggest heading over and taking a look. He'll be comparing his list to THN's list a little later on, I'll link it when it happens.
* You have to buy the real list, so thank goodness for people putting it on the interwebs!**
** Turns out this is last year's list. I'm too lazy to find an illegal copy of the 2008 list, but oh well, I'm sure Mike will come across it sooner rather than later
Monday, August 18, 2008
Don’t get me wrong, I would be overjoyed if Canada were to win a medal in this event, but it is a water-downed event where none of the teams are fielding their best team squad possible. It’s like the Spengler Cup: it’s great if we win, but you know the competition is not the stiffest. Plus, while watching the Spengler Cup, you always find yourself saying things like “Hnat Domenichelli? I thought he was dead.” There are better competitions around, and until the IOC figures out a way to attract the best talent, it should be suspended from the Olympic Games.
For what it is worth, I think softball should continue to be an Olympic sport, despite the fact that no one can touch the Americans (they have allowed 2 runs in the last 2 Olympics). The parity beyond the Americans is great, and throwing the sport to the curb would not give other nations an incentive to get better.
Just a quick follow-up on Scott Richmond. He has been sent back down to the AAA Syracuse Chiefs after Brian Tallet came off the DL. This could very well have been his only shot at making the Major Leagues. He would have to have been mighty impressive to have stayed (see: Litsch, Jesse) with the Jays. He may not have gone to the Olympics, but he could very well get a shot at making Team
Peter Milway is a third-year Politics student at Queen's University, and author of The Seventh Inning Stretch
Spurs only goal came courtesy of one Rob Huth. Lillywhite faithful might not recognize the name, mostly because it was an own goal. So, in 90 minutes of play, on a team with Giovani dos Santos, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and the incredible (during the pre-season) Darren Bent, we couldn't muster a goal. Against Boro.
But I'm not worried. No sir, not even a little bit. For you see, Spurs are always shit at the start of the season. Really, I wish they put our Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal fixtures at the start of each season, because we'd get the tough'uns and probable losses out of the way in the period of time when we've unceremoniously lost to Sunderland and Bolton.
What I don't understand, though, is why Ramos was being a cunt. This is the time of year when we need to show Berbatov that he not only has a place in the team, but the team needs him. The side sure needed him yesterday, Bent had no control on any of the balls delivered in to him, did nothing with anything he did manage to cleanly receive, and essentially played the role of the useless bastard for 90 minutes. In the kind of attacking 4-5-1 formation Juande Ramos has us in right now, Berbatov would be absolutely perfect up front. He's the missing piece to make the formation work against non-preseason teams!
Now stuff like this worries me quite a bit, seeing as we don't really have anyone to step into his place. This time last year we had Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov, Jermaine Defoe and Darren Bent as our strikers. There were too many of them for fuck's sake!!! As things are now, it's entirely possible that, by the end of the week, we'll only have Darren Bent left. In the slightly edited words of Stanley Adams, "What a difference, a year made."
We'll see what happens, and I'm not counting my chickens just yet... but there's trouble a-brewin', I tells ya! Let's add on to the ominous-ness with the fact that Ottawa has just recieved a tornado warning*. A FUCKING TORNADO WARNING! IN OTTAWA!!. I recognize that this won't mean a bloody thing to a lot of my readers (apparently I have more than 3!!!), but yeah, ominous-ness.
* I couldn't find a more updated story than that... but yeah, tornado warnings.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Ara Abrahamian, a name you've never heard before (unless you're an avid Swedish Greco-Roman wrestling fan... in which case you've got a national identity crisis going), but a name that will live on in Olympic infamy. According to the CBC, he was upset with the judging in his quarterfinal match, which he lost, then won bronze. During the medal ceremony, he got his medal, put it on the podium, and fucked off while they were handing out other medals.
I'm not Swedish (though I love Sweden hockey* and supermodels**), but as a fan of sport I'm ashamed by this, and feel he should be to. There's something to be said for holding your head up, recognizing that you're the third-best Greco-Roman wrestler in the world, and move on. A bad refereeing decision should never warrant swearing and aggressive gesticulating, and should never, ever require other teammates restraining a competitor from injuring a referee (unless your name is Curtis Joseph, apparently).
Okay, joking aside though, absolutely shameful comments and actions by Mr. Abrahamian. He's threatened to quit the sport, I say go for it. With an attitude like that he'd be no great loss to the Olympics.
* Not glory-chasing, I've always loved Sweden hockey
** Couldn't find a decent family-friendly picture, sorry folks... it won't take much to find a picture yourself though
1) Canada's medal count at the Olympics is currently zero. Week two is where we shine though. Note our rowers blowing through the heats like nobody's business. Baseball, fast-pitch and women's footie. Here we go Canada.
2) Premier League starts up again this weekend - thank the Almighty Jebus for that one. Tottenham's got to pick it up this year... but for the lack of strikers. I still don't want Arshavin, but it scares me that the starting XV (subs included) are so good... because it means something terrible has to happen.
Now for our feature presentation.
Something I've noticed more in this Olympics than any of those past is a real lack of sportsmanship. Ukraine and Russia had a featherweight boxing till a couple of days ago, and I was shocked at what I saw on the canvas. Clear baiting from the Ukrainian boxer, little shoves to the head after the round bell went, and after the loss the Russian boxer refused to shake his opponent's hand. Yes, they dislike one another, fine. But the childish displays from both competitors should leave them feeling ashamed of themselves.
Now we get into some Canadian content - Sherraine Schalm the fencer. First, a little background.
She was training with the Hungarians because Canada couldn't provide her with adequate training facilities. The Hungarians asked her to leave their training facilities leading up to the Olympics because, well, she was a competitor. If I was coaching a team, and a member of an opponent's team was training with us, I wouldn't want them around leading up to a tournament either!
During her round-of-16 clash with Hungarian fencer Ildiko Mincza-Nebald, every point Schalm won was followed up by an exuberant fist pump and a "YIIIIEAGH!!!" or a "BOOYAH!" or a "WHO'S YOUR DADDY!" (or a simple self-congratulatory scream). Every point loss was followed up my a deep growl or an angry fist-pump. One point that she lost she wrapped her opponent up boxer-style, which was called roughing. I don't now whether or not that constitutes roughing, mind, but for a sport where the contact is meant to be made my swords I can't imagine that body-contact is approved. When she eventually lost, she stormed away from the piste, failing to salute or shake hands with the winner, and threw a more-than-classy "fuck you all!" at the Hungarian cheering section.
She then had her interview with Scott Russell, and that's where the fun really began. "[Losing is] like being kicked in the nuts repeatedly, that's how bad it feels. You feel like you want to curl up and die," said Schalm. I wouldn't mind so much if it had stopped there, but no. My main issue is where she talked about the roughing penalty she took... I can't find the direct quote but it was something along the lines of 'Sorry I roughed up their delicate Hungarian like that, I guess it's the Canadian in me' (I'm at work so tracking down the YouTube clip of the interview is currently a no-go).
At any rate, I don't mind so much an athlete speaking clearly, frankly or even brashly in an interview. In fact, it's kind of what I hope for during an interview. Nothing gives better quotes or sound bites than "I really shat the bed on that play", "that defenceman was a real cunt" (kudos to Amrit, who was the subject of that interview about 8 years ago), anything along those lines. But there's a point of ridiculous, in that athletes don't seem to accept the fact that there will be negative repercussions to giving interviews like that, and acting in an unsportsmanlike manner on the field/ice/whatever of play.
Schalm justified her comments by point out that, had a hockey player made the comments she made, we [the Canadian people] would have bee fine with it. I'm sorry, but no we wouldn't. Case and point, Tom Barrasso dropping the F-Bomb (couldn't find the real article, see point 2) on Hockey Night in Canada after losing to the Leafs in Game 1 of the playoffs. There was significant lash-back from his comments then, and there would be if a hockey player swore on camera since. When Jonathon Roy flipped off the entire crowd in Chicoutimi, he had to apologize for his actions (beyond beating the tar out of a player who didn't want to fight).
Case and point, unsportsmanship in hockey is frowned upon, as it is in every other professional sport. Spitting in football will get you sent off, penalties on dirty play in gridiron football make it a surprisingly civil game (for the type of game it is), not calling a burnt rock in curling will more or less end your career as honour and sportsmanship are valued highly. Her argument there doesn't hold water.
What we must recognize is that, yes, she is allowed to have emotion. She is allowed to have feeling. Hell's bells, she's allowed to be human. No one's faulting her for that, not even for a second. That said, what she (and other Olympians) must understand is that they are representing more than themselves, they are representing their countries. Not as politicians, but as people. And if you act in a dishonourable, unsportsmanlike manner, you'll hear about it. She shouldn't necessarily be ashamed for her interview, because she got caught at a bad time and spoke out of emotion. She should, on the other hand, be ashamed for the way she acted on the piste.
To me, the Olympics has been about sportsmanship. The commons gathering for a celebration of sport and all that. Being humble in victory, being gracious in defeat. There's certainly a lot to be said for having the competitive edge in you, and there's no harm in that winning killer instinct, but save it for the back rooms. Personally, I think winning is enough, the showboating is excessive, and the sour-grapes losing just makes the athlete seem more than disappointed, discouraged or disheartened. Acting in the way she did after the loss makes her seem pathetic, and I don't want the name "Canada" tagged on to her antics. Better luck next time, but better sportsmanship too.
Schalm's blog entry apologizing for...herself.
CBC article published immediately after the bout... incredibly uninformative but I did use it for simple information such as... well... the name of her opponent.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The sport itself is pretty exciting, in truth. Two person volleyball + sand = lots of dives, amazing saves, huge kills, plus the added difficulty of being on essentially a moving floor.
What I don't understand is the uniforms. Honestly, how legitimate is a sport when the required uniforms for the athletes are smaller than those of the cheerleaders (yes... this is an Olympic sport with cheerleaders...)?
Something tells me it's so that we can get pictures like this, this and this. Which is really, really sad. These are athletes who have worked bloody hard to establish themselves into a very difficult sport, and the IOC (and the FIVB) are flaunting them like common sex objects. When you look up "Olympics beach volleyball" on Google, most of the pictures you'll find are verging on soft-core pornography. The idea seems to be "come for the tits and ass, stay for the sports on show".
The whole thing smacks of Sepp Blatter's 'brilliant' idea to increase ladies' football's popularity.
I'm no feminist, in the same way that I'm not really an activist in any stretch of the imagination (minus the drinking and driving thing, but that's another story for another day). That said, I believe basic respect and courtesy lead the way to go. Now, truth be told I have absolutely no idea whether the players themselves want to wear bikinis or not while competing - but the entire concept seems to be a cheap ploy to increase the fan-base of the sport.
I don't really know where I'm going with this, I could probably come up with something wittier or more biting to say, but the whole thing really irritates me. In my opinion, women jumping around in bikinis takes a lot away from what is a really impressive, entertaining and highly-skilled sport.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Breathtaking is the only way to describe them. Truly, truly outstanding. I'm so impressed by how they were put together. The art, the meaning behind the dance, the choreography - I won't ruin it for those who haven't seen them yet... but I'm so impressed. Good dancing Jehovah. Not to mention the beauty in the pundits keeping their mouths shut and allowing the ceremonies take place by themselves!
Then came the parade of athletes, one of my favourite parts of the Opening Ceremonies. Greece first, as always. Then Yemen came out... then Guinea. What? Ron McLean and Peter Mansbridge later explained that the teams were coming out in "Chinese alphabetical order". Which didn't make sense to me for two reasons.... firstly - I thought it was either Mandarin or Cantonese? Secondly - I didn't think there was a given order to either language's alphabet. Thirdly - I didn't think there was an alphabet. Sorry for my ignorance - if someone could explain that to me it would be spectacular.
The CBC managed to get a mobile phone into the Canadian athletic group, and it's incredible to hear the athletes' impressions immediately during the march, absolutely fantastic. This is what the Games are about for me, the athletes representing themselves and their countries on the world stage, they fucking love it. Good for you guys!
On the downside, Peter Mansbridge can't seem to keep the politics to himself. Every couple of country he goes into a bit of a tirade about how China is politically questionable. For future, leave out Mansbridge, or teach him to talk when appropriate. He managed to singlehandedly overshadow the entrance of multiple countries, whose athletes had to put so much in to get to the Olympics! Ron McLean's corniness managed to save Mansbridge's seriousness.
Anyways, spectacular Opening Ceremonies, and save Peter Manbridge, spectacular parade. Bring on the Games!!!!!
Eric Rosdobutko is a third year engineering student at Queen's University. When he saw my dream team, he was taken aback. Hurt and shocked, one might say. So he made his own team. For the record, I say my team possesses more scoring ability than his, and I'd also venture that my goaltending is better, so in a game between TeamAmrit™ and TeamEric™ I'd predict the score to be about 12-7 for my boys.
This is my response to Amrit’s suspect all-time team. This is not my choice for my dream team, as is obvious by the fact that I’m missing the best five NHL players ever. This is what I consider to be the best possible team composed of players that Amrit did not include for his team. It is worth noting that the players on this team of “leftovers” would compose most of my own dream team even if every player was available.
Also, if these two teams were to play, I would predict victory for my team. Something like: 14-12. With a couple hundred minutes of penalties. Awesome!
The best goalie to ever play. Won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, (that’s four more than Luongo has won) and almost four decades after his retirement (well, actually his death) he still owns the NHL record for shutouts.
Almost unbeatable during his brief career, Dryden, unlike most of the best goalies of all-time, had the temperament to be a back-up goaltender.
Denis Potvin - Eddie Shore
Both excellent two-way players who were the premier defensemen of their respective eras. Shore was the first premier offensive defenseman to play the game. He won four Hart Trophies (still the record for defensemen) and was one of the toughest SOB’s to ever play the game. Potvin was the catalyst of the Islanders’ dynasty of the early 80’s and arguably the best hip-checker of all-time. A scary duo.
Doug Harvey - Scott Niedermayer
Another pair of two-way forces. Widely considered to be the second-best defenseman in NHL history, Harvey played the game more like a quarterback than a defenseman, dictating the pace of the game with his vision and passing skills. Niedermayer is a magical skater who just wins. Everything. Literally. He also has a calm demeanor to counteract the fiery Harvey.
Larry Robinson - Paul Coffey
Paul Coffey is one of the best offensive players to play hockey at any position. Robinson was a big, defensive defenseman who never missed the playoffs in 20 seasons in the NHL.
Howie Morenz - Jean Beliveau - Mike Bossy
My own French Connection line. Morenz was a phenomenal skater and the best player in the NHL before the Original Six Era. Mike Bossy was the best pure scorer to ever play, averaging 57 goals per season before retiring too early due to back problems. Distributing the puck to these snipers is Beliveau, who was also quite the goal-scorer himself, but I will use his size, strength and toughness (not to mention sublime passing skills) in a playmaking role. And if these three are on the ice for a powerplay, the puck is going to go in. Guaranteed
Mark Messier - Marcel Dionne - Guy Lafleur
The second and fifth highest scorers of all time, (Messier and Dionne) along with the dynamic Flower. Messier is the best second-liner in history. Dionne accomplished so much while playing on bad teams. Lafleur was the best player on the best team of all-time (1977 Canadians). All three guys on this line could skate, pass and shoot, and like the first line, there’s a little bit of toughness, too. Pucks would be going in left, right and centre with this line.
Bob Gainey - Steve Yzerman - Doug Gilmour
The checking line. Bob Gainey is widely considered to be the best defensive forward to ever play. The line also boasts two outstanding two-way players from the 90’s who would do anything to win, including assuming a defensive role on their team. Before committing himself to defense, Yzerman was also an elite offensive player. And Gilmour – well, there needed to be someone from the Leafs on this team.
Ted Lindsay - Stan Mikita - Brett Hull
The role-players line. Role players? But these guys are all scorers! Well that’s true, but you can never have enough scoring. Also, Lindsay and Mikita were both feared fighters (until Mikita gave up fighting to become a Lady Byng winner) Brett Hull would make a fine agitator. Like the third line, it is important that these guys are committed to winning and don’t let egos get in the way. Lindsay sacrificed the last years of his career to form the NHLPA. Brett Hull was an important contributor to the Red Wings’ Cup win in 2002 despite playing on the third line. Another priceless aspect that is brought by this line is innovation. Mikita introduced the curved stick, and creative thinking would be needed on a team like this to bring together all the different eras and styles of play.
The hardest guy to cut from this team, Kelly would be the man brought in to replace an injury. Besides being an extraordinarily talented two-way player, he could play any position. He won four Stanley Cups with Detroit as a defenseman and another four with Toronto as a forward. Oh yeah, dude could fight too. (Amrit's note - putting in a Rover is B/S, but I had two backup goalies so I can't say shit).
Upcoming feature - another friend of mine is putting his own dream team together, and I will be posting it here when he's done.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Just to clear up some confusion - my selections are based on immediate talent. I've chosen each player based on his prime, not his consistency. I've also based my selections almost entirely on individual skill and character, not team achievements.
So, here we go, my new and improved team. Most of my lines will stay essentially the same, I'll provide explanations for the ones that change drastically.
Line 1: Bobby Hull - Wayne Gretzky - Gordie Howe
Line 2: Luc Robitaille - Mario Lemieux - Maurice Richard
Line 3: John LeClair - Peter Forsberg - Cam Neely
Would anyone like to step up against this line? Really? Pretty epic third line. Though it could be construed as something of an insult to put these guys on a third line, they're all heavy handed scorers. Essentially, they can play pretty decent two-way hockey, and can stop pretty much anyone before they get to the defense. These three would make an amazing shut-down line, and could pop in a goal or two essentially on demand.
Line 4: John Ferguson Sr. - Phil Esposito - Wayne Cashman
Two of the toughest players in the NHL, and Espo. These guys would be awesome to watch. Ferguson, who played with the Habs to protect Jean Beliveau, was a beast. Espo was a greasy bastard who set up in front of goal and beat the shit out of anyone within a 5m radius. Lastly, Cashman, who went into the corners with a crowd and came out alone. They would be amazing in short shifts to give the scoring lines a break, but the fact that they can all put the puck in the net gives this team all kinds of depth.
Defensive Pairing 1: Niklas Lidstrom - Bobby Orr
Defensive Pairing 2: Scott Stevens - Al MacInnis
Defensive Pairing 3: Ray Bourque - Chris Chelios
Starting Goalie: Roberto Luongo
Backup Goalie(s): Patrick Roy/Martin Brodeur
My defensive pairings and goalies stayed the same so I wasn't bothered to put any explanations. Looking at this team compared to my last one, I've gone more for brawn than I have skill... that said there's a lot of skill. I'm not really sure how they'd do in the new NHL, but I'd imagine they'd do pretty well. Maybe not the fourth line, they're all relatively slow... but everyone else would be okay... probably.
Monday, August 4, 2008
So, here it is - Amrit's Ultimate Hockey Team
Line 1: Bobby Hull - Wayne Gretzky - Gordie Howe
Hull and Howe would bring all kinds of strength to the first line. Gretzky's got to be there, his talent in every non-violent facet of the game is undeniable. All three have incredible vision, and the talent to set up and score ridiculous, unnecessary, highlight reel goals. A first line that will break your jaw then score - Brian Burke's dream, perhaps?
Line 2: Luc Robitaille - Mario Lemieux - Maurice Richard
Prolific goalscorers, all three. Luc Robitaille and Mario Lemieux can score in almost any situation, and Maurice Richard is a beast, this would be an incredibly entertaining line to watch.
Line 3: Marcus Naslund - Peter Forsberg - Daniel Alfredsson
Macke, Foppa and Alfie. The line I used to make all the time in the NHL games when playing as Team Sweden. Naslund and Alfie providing all kinds of offensive flair, while Forsberg mixes talent with brute strength. A fearsome line, and another "break your jaw then score a goal" line. Although less jaw-breaking and more goal-scoring from Naslund and Alfie.
Line 4: Frank Mahovlich - Phil Esposito - Valery Kharlamov
This would be such an awesome line to watch, plus there'd be some great drama going on. Kharlamov's position is listed as "forward", so I've decided that he's a RW, in order to make this line work. Espo sets up in front of the net, 'Big M' flying up the left, setting up Espo and taking some fearsome shots, and to finish it off, Kharlamov, whose vision and skill allows him to do essentially anything he wants, at any time, no matter the opposition (unless, of course, Bobby Clarke decides to shatter his ankle...). With the Summit Series drama going on with this line, they'd be a fun bunch - almost like a "Real World - Hockey" reality TV show. Biggest downside - they all shoot left.
Defensive Pairing 1: Niklas Lidstrom - Bobby Orr
Both incredibly calm on the puck, fast and offensively gifted. Oh - and they can flat-out play defense. I honestly can't imagine a better first pair in defense. They'd also be fearsome on the powerplay. And penalty kill... what can't these guys do??
Defensive Pairing 2: Scott Stevens - Al MacInnis
Al MacInnis can shoot the lights out, Scott Stevens can knock your lights out. This would be a great mix of offensive talent and stay-at-home defensive grit. As a forward, this is a DP I'd stay away from. Wouldn't want to get too close to MacInnis when the puck's going to him because, truth be told, I wouldn't want to lose my teeth to a one-timer... and the Scott Stevens point is obvious. But, in short - boom.
Defensive Pairing 3: Ray Bourque - Chris Chelios
Bourque and Chelios have unmatched work ethic and determination. Bourque has won every possible trophy for a defenseman, Chelios is a perfect example of a stay-at-home defenseman who can score. Both are leaders, both are inspirational, both would be perfect for 3rd DP defensemen.
Starting Goalie: Roberto Luongo
This was a tight race, really, really tight - but it comes down to this. My backups (who you will see in a second) were both incredibly successful, with incredible teams in front of them. Luongo has, for all intents and purposes, a shit team in front of him and, unless his wife is giving birth, is completely immersed in almost every game he plays. To him it seems like every start is a Stanley Cup Game 7, and he stands on his head until the final whistle. The only reason Vancouver have been somewhat halfway kinda decent for the past few years is Luongo between the pipes.
Backup Goalie(s): Patrick Roy/Martin Brodeur
I can't choose between the two of them. Both are exceptional goaltenders, but the reason they're backups is because all their success came with incredible teams. There's no question that these are both elite goaltenders, but every Cup and award either goalie has won, they had an incredible team in front of them. New Jersey is built around defense, and has been for years. The shots that wind up getting to goal are almost never shots that should score, and Roy would've had to be a monkey not to be successful on teams like early-90s Habs and late-90s Avs.
Anyways, that's my dream team, shit-talk it all you like (those three readers of mine are kinda harsh...). Feel free to make a dream-team too, they're a lot of fun and a great time-waster.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Politics ruins the Olympics. It's an unfortunate truth, but it does. At the end of the day, the Olympics aren't about me, they aren't about you, they aren't about journalists, they aren't about Tibet and the aren't about Sudan. They aren't about capitalism, they aren't about communism. They aren't about civil rights in America, they aren't about human rights in China. The Olympics are about the athletes, and we should have the decency and respect to let them have it.
It makes me sad that this Olympics probably won't be remembered for the heroics that will be on display in one week's time. The stories that come out of it will be about all the protests surrounding the torch relay, the internet being censored, the air quality (and pollution in general), Falun Gong, Tibet, Darfur and the evil Chinese Olympics mascots. Then, of course, there's the calls for boycott from bloggers, celebrities, politicians and former-athletes alike. You even get bullshit pictures like this (I'll link it, but no way in hell am I letting it and my page touch).
The thing is - the IOC really put everyone in this position. It's terribly unfortunate, but it was a sign of hope, and it failed. I'm not really sure what they were expecting, were they hoping that, in the seven years between awarding the Olympics and the arrival of the Olympics, China would completely change it's image, standards and ways? It was never going to happen, and it doesn't take a genius to figure that out. Not to get into the political argument of whether a democracy would actually work in China (hell, it barely works in India), but just to point out that China and democracy have never gone together. If you look at Russia, they've had 'democracy' for over a decade now, and the entire concept is a little buggered up because they've never really had it before. So I'm not entirely sure what the IOC expected to happen in China.
But now's the time to put everything aside. We recognize that the Olympics will have politics flying around it, but it's not the place of the athletes to stand up for the loud and angry. The Olympics are for them, and no one else. They're there to represent themselves, and their countries, and to showcase their athletic talent. Lifetimes of work, practice and effort have gone into getting them to this point. The BBC has a great series called Against the Odds where they profile athletes who have overcome great hurdles (not real hurdles, well, maybe in a few cases, real hurdles) to get to these Olympics, and it's not for us or anyone else to take that away from them.
We recall the Moscow Olympics where 62 capitalist countries (powers and those in their sphere of influence) pulled out because of, for all intents and purposes, Communist USSR hosting. We recall the boycott taking place, but we don't recall who won anything. Medals may have been handed out, but they can't really be considered achievements because about half the world's countries had no one competing. It also ruined what was potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity for the athletes who would have been representing those 62 countries to capture some glory.
So, with the Olympics about a week away, it's high time for us to shut up, sit down, and watch the sports on display. It's the one time every four years where I actually give a rat's arse about most of these sports, and I won't have loud-and-angries ruin it for me. This is about the competitors, the athletes, the coaches doing what they love in their country's name.
Athletes are athletes, let them be athletes. If you have a problem, send a letter to your MP, or your senator, or whoever represents you. It's not the place of the athlete to represent their governments, it's their place to represent the competitive spirit of their country. They fought hard to get this point, and we need to support them and cheer them on as they go for golds in their respective sports. Let's try not to let politics get in the way.
Related articles (there are many, but these are my favourites)
- A BBC article where Hu Jintao calls for mutual respect, and for politics not to overshadow the Games
- The Point/Counterpoint between Bucholtz and myself in the August issue of The Journal where we argue the issue Should politics have a place in the Olympics?