January, 2009

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Pre-game ceremonies ruin my life.

I was originally going to write about Nationwide Arena tonight, but as I tuned into Hockey Night in Canada, I was chagrined to learn that it was Doug Gilmour night at the ACC. Well, that’s a lie. I didn’t learn that the Killer was being honoured tonight, I had heard about it, but it had slipped my mind. Otherwise, I would have watched the Stars in HD instead. And that has nothing to do with personal reasons either. Quite simply, pre-game ceremonies are the worst thing ever.

There was a time in my life where tickets to the Leafs’ home opener was a coveted thing. I was a stupid child, as so many children are, and thought that those few extra minutes of ceremonial drivel were well worth the struggle of acquiring the tickets. As I grew up so, too, did the ceremonies. They became glitzier, more elaborate, and much, much longer. However, as I matured, I began to notice the negative effects these gimmicks had on the game.

Pre-game ceremonies suck the life right out of the building. A couple specific games stand out in my mind. Five years ago, both Gary Roberts and Tom Fitzgerald celebrated their 1000th NHL game on the SAME night (January 13th, 2004). That was a long night. The Leafs were playing the Flames, and seeing as Roberts is a former Flame, the Calgary organization also felt the need to honour him in their own way, thereby delaying the puck drop even more. The game was slow and the crowd was completely hushed. Not that quietness is an uncommon trait in the Toronto fan caricature, but on this night the Air Canada Centre was unseasonably silent. At one point, I heard a guy ask, “Why is everyone so quiet?” The strange thing about this was that he was sitting on the other side of the ice. It was THAT quiet! My date that night was completely ruined!

It’s not just the fans that are emotionally drained by this sentimental, Precious Moments-esque vomit, the energy and competitive edge seems to be lacking from team play as well. I suppose it’s hard to feel animosity toward your opponents after having your heart strings pulled by the crafty Game Ops department. Plus, chances are there are some childhood fans on the opposing squad that are buying right into the special presentation video synchronized to the likes of Barbera Streisand.

Another notable is Tie Domi’s 1000th pre-game spectacular on March 3rd, 2006. The Leafs organization is now a couple years older, plus they had that entire Lock Out season to do nothing BUT brainstorm new ways to put on a show. This was the LONGEST pre-game ceremony I have EVER seen. It began like any other milestone presentation: a couple announcements, a video montage, and the presentation of a keepsake commemorating Domi’s 1000th game. But there was one horrific difference – they gave him a mic! And he talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, and talked some more. He said things like, “I consider you all my friends,” which sparked much sarcasm around the rink that night. Apparently, Domi is a bit of an a-hole and won’t sign anything that isn’t NHLPA approved. Anyway, I don’t know how long his “speech” went on for exactly, but it felt like years.

Of course, in the cases of these 1000th game milestone nights, I was lucky to be at the rink instead of watching from home. Had I been home I would have had to endure both the ceremony AND sappy TV spots like only CBC knows how to do. I was not so lucky tonight. I sat through a lot of painful crud like tours of Dougie’s house in Kingston, and his cottage, and his new office as Head Coach of the Kingston Frontenacs – fuuuun. However, I couldn’t flip the channel. I was glued to the screen by some strange sensation that can only be described as a giddy dry heave.

MLSE proved once again to be on a never-ending quest to improve their ceremonies, as tonight there was another first. Not only did they give Gilmour a mic, they also dressed up every single one of the players in his #93 captain’s jersey. I’m not sure what effect this ceremony had on the quality of the game (I was too busy putting my aunt’s kids to bed), but I saw many a starry-eyed Maple Leafs staring up at the jumbotron reminiscing on their pee wee happy days where they considered Dougie their hero – awwww. Last I saw, it was 3-1 Leafs over Pens going into the third. Unfortunately, then the St. Louis/Philly game came on…and it was in HD…so you know…priorities.

In other news, Curtis Joseph is still a DILF! That is all.

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Angry hockey wives and my aversion to Louis Vuitton.

As long as there have been hockey players, there have been hockey wives and the entire female population to make them feel threatened. Female hockey fans and puck bunnies alike have been continuously accosted by these murderous hounds for no apparent reason other than the fact that they possess the same anatomy.

Hockey wives and girlfriends (WAGs) are at the root of the negative publicity surrounding hockey players. We all know that the players never have the chance to see the ugly/real side of their WAG’s personality, or at least we hope they don’t, because if they do, well, what does that say about them!? For some reason these women feel the need to spend their time wandering around the arena harassing paying customers that are there to support their pay cheques…I mean husbands. I wonder what the head honchos of the National league clubs would have to say to that bit of truth. Perhaps, in the interest of customer service, they’d lock the doors to the wives lounge and keep the beasts in their cage until the games are over.

I have dealt with WAG conflicts since my high school days in the OHL. Back then the girlfriends were no different than the puck bunnies that would follow you around and try to figure out if you had a better chance with such and such player than they did. But let’s not dwell too much on these girls. They were, after all, still children, and deserve a second chance. Besides, about 90% of their prized possessions didn’t make it anywhere worth mentioning, which in retrospect makes their anger all the more humorous.

It is at the NHL level that this behaviour becomes both shocking and pathetic. A couple seasons ago, we were sitting in the players’ seats, and the wives were a stones throw away from us and about a row or two in front of us. For some reason, these “women” felt that it was their duty to stare threateningly back at us (constantly) and whisper in panic amongst themselves. At dinner, later that night, the show continued. The WAGs decided to put on a slut parade. They were grinding up against each other (right in front of the table) while staring at us (the girls, not the men) in the same menacing way as they did at the rink. Were they challenging us to a dance off?! One of the crazier WAGs actually made a big scene and forced her man to leave because he was sitting next to me. What is it that these guys see in these girls? Is it their fake boobs, fake tans, fake personalities or is it the culminating trifecta resulting in full blown stupid blonde syndrome that gets them hot and bothered? I’ll never know.

Another memorable incident occurred in Detroit at a Red Wings/Predators match up. I was confronted by a group of five or six WAGs as I went up to the main concourse during one of the intermissions. This special group of prized pigs felt it was in their best interest to stalk me while “criticizing” everything about my appearance. The interesting thing about their criticism was that it wasn’t actually negative – it was only intended in that way. They said things about my hair and clothes being too nice. The players will see me and make fun of me for that, apparently. So, I’m not allowed to go to a hockey game unless I spill mustard all over myself and put a bag over my head? That’s nice. This was the night of the infamous, “She looks like a GIRLFRIEND!” remark. According to them, I was trying to look like I “knew someone” but I didn’t actually know anyone…whatever that is supposed to mean. Here I am directly contributing to their husbands’ careers, WITHOUT the luxury of having my millionaire husband’s disposable income, and I can’t buy my Dippin’ Dots in peace?! This is outrageous. In fact, now I’m starting to question why I go to hockey games at all. I don’t want to contribute to the advancement of these heinous bimbos reign of terror.

And it’s not JUST at the arena that the WAGs feel threatened – it’s EVERYWHERE! During one of my trips to Philadelphia last season, I crossed paths with a WAG while I was walking around downtown. This time the players are not around or within viewing distance of me, and she was still set off. Every woman is a potential threat – even when the men-folk aren’t around? That’s healthy.

Maybe we are too harsh in looking down upon the hockey WAGs. Perhaps, there is a reason for their constant anger and aggressiveness. Perhaps their relationships are somewhat abusive and they make themselves crazy wondering what their men are doing behind their backs. Even so, I personally find it difficult to respect the men in this league that are happy to go home to Mrs. Hyde every night. But that’s just me. Of course, not all WAGs are like this, but most seem to be.

After being continuously stalked, harassed, and abused by the Louis Vuitton toting hockey WAGs of leagues across the continent, the label has been completely cheapened in my eyes – it costs a lot of money to look that trashy! Now I automatically associate Louis V. with alcoholism, peroxide, sunless tanning, moron mouth, and implants. Not that it really matters – I’m of the Burberry persuasion. Louis Vuitton is for pitbulls. Burberry is for ladies.

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