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One rink to rule them all…

June 2nd, 2014

You shook me like I’ve never been. Now show me how to live again.

Montreal, QC The morning after the Habs’ epic Game 5 victory over the Rangers was not a pleasant one for me, but none of them are these days. It’s safe to say I’ve been hungover every single day that I’ve been back in Canada, and since today is my birthday, it’s going to get much worse before it gets better. Anyway, it was hard not to, you know, go hard after the insanity that was the fifth game in the Eastern Conference Final. So, it wasn’t totally unheard of that I couldn’t quite recall all the details of the night before, as I slowly made my way through the hotel lobby to seek sanctuary in a welcoming Deville Dinerbar poutine. However, when I got downstairs all the hotel staff members excitedly ran up to me to ask me how I liked the game. At first I thought this was just part of the wave of excitement that had swept the city after what transpired at the Bell Centre the night before, but then the pangs of embarrassment began to hit me – I didn’t remember telling ANYONE that I was heading to the game the night before! Which made me wonder just how the staff had learned of this, and more importantly WHAT ELSE they had learned about me in the aftermath of Game 5! Was there a noise complaint or something?!?! ;)

Nothing quite like starting your day with an unexpected walk of shame, eh?! However, I suppose if there was ever a time to forgive a girl for being her old, scandalous road warrior self, a do-or-die victory for the home crowd was definitely that time. I mean, it was impossible not to get swept up in the emotions that were running high all over the streets of Montreal. It may have been a Tuesday, but the people were flooding the town, and partying all night long, as if it was the most epic Saturday night in the history of Saturday nights! Riot police were stationed on every corner, and there was more than one occasion where firetruck sirens could be heard in the distance. This WAS Montreal, after all. They have a history of rioting even when they win! Yep, electricity was definitely in the air that night, so yeah, cut a girl some slack, already!

Last year, after I finally completed my NHL tour, I declared that my favourite rink of them all (atmosphere wise) was Winnipeg. It’s true, Winnipeg during the regular season is totally unmatched, and I’m sure someday they will get to show the hockey world just how insane they can be, if they were to experience a deep Stanley Cup playoff run. Of course, for the typical Ontarian, who has maybe visited Buffalo, Toronto, Detroit, Ottawa, and Montreal, Montreal is always the obvious favourite – even for the most devout Leafs fan. To me, the Bell Centre was always a pain in the ass that I tried to avoid. I’m not sure why, really, but perhaps my Toronto upbringing ensured that I despised all things Montreal both hockey-related and non, and I was just totally incapable of appreciating the Bell Centre due to the bad blood that has always existed between our two cities. But, I developed a newfound respect for Habs fans during game 5, and now I have to change my vote for favourite game day experience.

I saw things in the stands that I’ve never seen before. In my section, for example, a chant of, “Fuck you, Rangers!” had broken out. I guess some parental types had expressed their concern for their children’s virgin ears to Bell Centre security. But when the security guy went to deal with the situation, the naughties simply said, “But they are Ranger fans!” while pointing to the six or so blue shirts that were occupying the seats a few rows in front of them. The security guard suddenly understood, patted the guys on the back, and walked away as the chants continued with his blessing. And I loved it!

After the game, I nearly got killed, as speaking English automatically meant that I was from New York. Now, to be fair, I had been busting out the French earlier in the day, but my hangover headache was intensified by the insane noise levels at the game, so by the time a drunk and happy Habs fan had grabbed me on the street corner, and started saying God-knows-what, all I could manage was, “Nope! Just no!” To which he responded, “YOU ARE A RANGERS FAN!” Which then got the attention of other Habs fans, and soon I had five guys surrounding me saying, “YOU ARE!!!!!!???????” I tried to explain that I was not, in fact, a Rangers fan. I consider myself an NHL fan above all else, after all. But they didn’t buy it, and told me that the worst thing of all was that I was too afraid to admit it, “JUST SAY IT! SAY THAT YOU ARE A RANGERS FAN!!!”

Oddly enough, later in the night I would discover that claiming to be from New York was actually safer than telling the truth and admitting I was actually from Toronto. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case, since the Leafs suck and all, and you might expect that the people of Montreal would rather gloat than hate. Nope. New York may have been the headache of the week, but Toronto will always be the one true enemy!

Anyway, the final component to change my opinion of the Montreal game experience occurred in the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere between the shots, the good times, and a sneak attack from one of the world famous Montreal strippers, who came out of nowhere, and decided I needed a hug and that my “new friend” needed to be informed that he wasn’t good enough for me (it wasn’t true, of course, but I enjoyed that she said it anyway!), I started to think about what would happen in my town, if they Leafs were ever to get back to the Conference Finals. I was too young to be out on the town the last time the Leafs made it that far! I started combing the streets of Toronto in my mind, trying to imagine where the fun would be hiding. And, sadly, I just couldn’t imagine a night like the night I was having there in Montreal. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe after 4 years abroad, I’m just out of touch with my city. But whether I’m wrong or whether I’m right, one thing will not change. Montreal has earned itself the Psycho Lady Hockey stamp of approval for ultimate game day experience! Make sure you check out the Bell Centre next season, if you haven’t already!

And, P.S., you’re gonna wanna stay thirsty for that one!

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The Hockey Frienemies

May 22nd, 2014

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?

Ignorance is a hockey fan’s best friend. Not ignorance when it comes to what’s happening on the ice, although maybe it is for those of us in Toronto, but rather ignorance about what is happening in the personal lives of our favourite hometown heroes. We’ve all heard the stories, and if you haven’t, you’re lucky. You know, gang bangs, over doses mysteriously veiled as injuries, and despicable offseason recreation. As a coping mechanism, we’ve tried to put it out of our minds. Instead we let the stats do the talking, and take the players at their word (or tweet) when they claim that they are all “good guys.” We focus on the community service or the pucks they toss to the kiddies in the stands, and try not to notice every time they validate the rumours by posting douched-out photos of themselves with identical hoards of the kind of girls that don’t seem to amount to much more than 3 holes on 2 legs. No, hockey players definitely don’t need any help looking bad, but you may be surprised to learn that the people who make the players look the worst are the people who are the closest to them. I refer to these collective individuals as the Douche Crew or D-Crew for short.

When you meet a D-Crew member chances are all he can talk about are his buddies in the show or his close personal girl friends who have successfully fucked entire NHL teams. Cocaine, prostitution, and asshollery towards women are among the D-Crew’s favourite topics of conversation. I’ve often wondered why the players’ friends are the people who seem to care the least about their reputations. At first I theorized that the D-Crew attempts to tarnish their images as a form of cock-blocking. So, in the off chance that at some point you are in the same room with him and his NHL friends (and the right combination of music and alcohol had put you in the mood for some lovin’), then there would be no chance in hell that you would ever take one of them home with you over him. I thought this because, according to the D-Crew, hockey players treat women like this in bed:

1. The only time they dive is when they are trying to draw a penalty.
2. They are unwilling to last longer than 5 minutes because they only care about getting theirs.
3. They will pay you off to keep quiet and go away.

Sounds like a great time, huh ladies?

Anyway, the sad thing is that this particular theory seems a bit farfetched, and the reality makes me depressed about the state of our world. The truth of the matter seems to be that the D-Crew is actually living vicariously through the players, and the sleazier the players are the better life is for them. In the words of Sean Avery, they want their sloppy seconds, or I suppose, the girls that the players didn’t want at all. And we can’t forget that standing in close proximity to the spotlight is pretty damn flattering. They believe real living is getting as fucked up as possible, and that all women are the aforementioned tri-holes with a price tag. I wonder if they also view their mothers, sisters, daughters, and nieces in this light.

Here’s a recent argument to support this hypothesis. Since coming back to Canada, I’ve been trying to get out of my antisocial oasis and restore my faith in humanity by getting out as much as possible. Unfortunately, then this happened:

D-Crew Member: I heard about you and [Enter Player’s Name Here]. Why didn’t you nail him?

Me: I wasn’t attracted to him.

DCM: So?

Me: What do you mean so?

DCM: That shouldn’t matter.

Me: Uhh…well it does…

DCM: Why?

Me: Because I’m not attracted to him. I like to sleep with people I’m attracted to…???

DCM: But you could have been well compensated. You could have been set for life!

Me: Are you talking about prostitution now?

No matter what I said he didn’t believe me. He couldn’t get his mind around a woman who didn’t want to be paid off for sexual favours especially if they involved NHL players. I don’t think I’ve experienced such a stalemate in my entire life. I kept thinking about all the places I’ve been in the past 9 months: Saudi, Bahrain, UAE, Sweden, Turkey, France, The Netherlands, Egypt, USA, and Canada 2x. I went on more trips in those 9 months than many people will do in their lifetime! It doesn’t get better than that! And I was (and am) horrified by the fact that there are people out there who think that no matter how good my life is, I still somehow need to debase myself in order to leech off of an NHL player, or anyone for that matter, just because I am a woman and we are all the same. What can an NHL player give me that I can’t give myself? More shoes, perhaps? Because, as you already read, they “purposely suck in bed” according to the D-Crew, so they can’t even give me that!

Anyway, ignore this unstructured rant. I’m “writing” to try to make sense of this whole thing. My happiness in hockey is always tied to focusing as little as possible on the underbelly of the game, and frankly I’ve been shaken up again due to my last encounter with the D-Crew. I wasn’t even back in the country for 3 days before the D-Crew ruined all the progress I had made to come out of my antisocial oasis. Now, as I watch the playoffs, I can’t help but both loathe and pity all the guys on the ice. Because if life and love for them is really as the Douche Crew describes it, then that is one of the most tragic things I’ve ever heard, and I’d give them all a hug if I could, as long as they promised not to get too handsy.

As for the D-Crew, well, they may be the saddest characters of all. They are always in the shadow of their NHL friends, and that seems to have messed them up quite a bit. I remember another unfortunate time I had encountered a D-Crew member. He actually propositioned me by offering to wear his friend’s jersey in bed. I said no, obviously, but I wonder how many girls actually viewed this guy as a “stepping stone” and went for it. Anyway, I still don’t know what to believe in this whole thing, but one thing is painfully true for NHL players – with friends like these, they definitely don’t need enemies.

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