Jan. 25, 2012 - Issue #849: Blind Date
Oilers fans could definitely use one right now
Here's a recap of the past week's Oiler games, adjusted for emotional value (kind of like an emotional Wind Chill). The Oilers lost 1-0 to St Louis. A loss to the Blues feels like just a regular loss. Then the Oilers lost 6-2 at home to Calgary. Losing to the Flames at home, no matter how commonplace it has become, feels like at least three-and-a-half losses. The Battle of Alberta debacle was followed up by a 2-1 Oiler win over the Sharks. Considering how few wins the Oilers have managed of late, any win feels like two wins. A 3-2 shootout loss to Vancouver followed the San Jose win. Losing to the Canucks always feels like crap.
Thoughts too long for the Twitter
• I'm enjoying Jordan Eberle's bank commercials. Time to develop this character; maybe a Man With No Name thing where he rolls into a seedy town and cleans house or a wacky sidekick like Magnus Paajarvi.
• There's a good chance our Jordan Eberle will get the car in the All Star Draft for being picked last. He's from Edmonton and was a late addition to the fold. I hope Eberle does get picked last; look what that did for Phil Kessel.
• NOT seen and overheard at the Obama State of the Union Address: "My Administration had a plan and a vision. But Tim Thomas showed us the error of our ways. Things will change." (Tears up notes and throws them to the ground; walks off in disgust)
• For standing up for his beliefs and refusing to visit the White House, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is like a modern-day Muhammad Ali, minus the integrity, courage, hardship and sacrifice and with more entitlement. He gets a half point for taking a stand, even if I'm not quite sure what he stands for.
• Is Andy Sutton a much more graceful skater than a man his size should be? He's made some slick dekes in the past few weeks.
• I can't wait until Ryan Whitney actually gets back from injury. Whoever is wearing #6 and the "A" is not Ryan Whitney. You might as well put some zombie makeup on him and work on a Walking Dead sponsorship until he's really back to form. It's like watching a career degrade in front of us. DY
Everywhere a sign
Other than concussions, the worst development of the contemporary NHL is the marketing of every spare inch of space or free second of airtime. Board ads—which began to appear in the late '80s, early '90s—gave way to on-ice ads, branded stadiums, rink-encircling LEDs flashing adverts and branded in-game segments. Even the shovels used by the rink rats to clear the ice are branded.
On the broadcast side, things get even worse. Every power play, penalty kill, camera angle, interview segment is part ad—on one network, a terribly distracting computer-generated advert appears behind each net, hovering on the glass. Advertising has become the aural and visual clutter of hockey. Where once the point was the world's most graceful game, now the point is to by your nails at this hardware store, your pharmaceuticals at this drugstore and your TV and Internet from this provider. Hockey itself becomes secondary to moneymaking. (Vue Weekly is no innocent in all this—In the Box was formerly sponsored by a bar.)
In Europe, teams play with ads right on their sweaters, and whole teams can even be bought—witness the "Stena Line Belfast Giants," formerly the "Harp Lager Belfast Giants," whose very name is available year after year to the highest bidder. With its ceaseless drive for revenue streams, how long before the NHL follows suit? How long before we cheer for the Edmonton Pepsi?
The game's composite parts are being cut up, packaged and sold off to the highest bidder: for a game considered a religion throughout most of the country, we sure don't treat hockey with much reverence. BB
Using her powers for evil
As I mentioned last week, I took my six-year-old daughter to the Battle of Alberta. It was a treat seeing the spectacle of NHL hockey through the eyes of a kid experiencing her first game. It wasn't all special Daddy-daughter time though. There was a dark side. She decided a couple years ago to support the Flames (probably just to be contrary) and insisted on wearing her adorable (sarcasm) little pink Flames jersey. Before the game, I took her to ice level to watch Calgary warm up, instructing her to wave at the players as they skated by or give them a cute thumb's-up. Scott Hannan whipped a couple pucks against the glass in front of her, making her jump (you made the list, Hannan) but all-around good guy Lee Stempniak gave her a grin and flipped a puck over to her. She loved getting the puck and Stempniak's stock quickly rose in my books.
Then Stempniak scored a hat trick and an assist to help the dirty Flames bury the Oilers; I had no idea my daughter was a good luck charm. Sorry, fans. She won't let me throw the puck away. I am, however, going to toss a puck at her before my mens' league soccer game this Friday. DY
Oilers Player of the week
Taylor Hall: A skate to the head can't slow this guy down. DY
Devan Dubnyk: I'm not saying, but Doobie has looked like the goalie of the future the last two games. BB
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