Tuesday, May 25, 2010

World Championships schmampionships.

Did anyone else not give two flying who-haws about the IIHF World Hockey Championships this year?

I mean, really, It's not something I make an effort to make sure I'm in front of the television for in any year. It was fun when it was in Halifax, but when Canada lost, well, I wasn't heartbroken. The tournament is just not something I can get into. I can't be alone here. It's sort of this odd collection of semi-good players whose teams didn't make the playoffs. Also, I'd rather watch the playoffs. The World Championships is kind of like the Spengler Cup at World Junior time. It's sorta just there in the background.

I'm especially blah about the tournament in an Olympic year. It's too soon. The women don't play a world championship in Olympic years. Why do the men? It just seems bizarre.

Who was Canada's goaltender this year anyway? (No seriously, I'm asking.) Google tells me: Chris Mason. Good lord. 

So you see where I'm going with this. This isn't the collection of the best players in the world. There are definitely some of the best players. But it just can't compare to the Olympics or the World Juniors, where it's the best players facing the best players - and there's no doubt over who the true champions are.

This is why I was truly baffled by the IIHF scolding players who don't answer the call to play at the World Championships. 

"Why is a 22-year-old Sidney Crosby tired when a 34-year-old Ryan Smyth is answering the bell for his country despite having represented Canada at the Worlds already on eight occasions?" wrote Szymon Szemberg, the IIHF's director of communications in an article titled 'Saying no to your country'.

Okay. Let's keep going. 

"Players who say no to representing their country at the World Championship without a legitimate reason turn their backs not only on the team and its fans but also to the system which developed them and made them rich and famous," wrote Szemberg. "They should pay back, but they don't."

Pay back eh. And they owe the IIHF what? These players thrilled the world at the Olympics just months ago. Boo hoo your tournament isn't very good. Don't take it out on your players.

**ring ring**

"Oh hey, IIHF President Rene Fasel? Yah. Gary Bettman here. Whatsup. Listen. Bud. I just wanted to point out that our players' contracts don't end until June 30. Yup that's right they're still under NHL contract until June 30. We could tell them they can't play in the tournament. Just saying."

I'm a fan. I don't feel unpaid because Sidney Crosby wants some time off. As a fan I would rather him rest up, and stay healthy so I can see him for 82 games next NHL season with a long playoffs.

Besides, the kid scored the golden goal.

Championships schmampionships.

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx or find her on her blog National Passtime

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Biggest Playoff Surprises.

 1. Montreal Canadiens 

 Montreal Gazette

As a Habs fan you always hope. So, in round 1 it was: "Hey they beat Washington in the regular season".... "The Habs play to their opponents level... "If they had've gotten it together against the Leafs and Hurricanes they'd be much higher than the 8th seed" 

Then they did it. They shut down Ovie. They came back from a 3-1 series deficit. They won Game 7. On the road. Luck? Who cares. 

Next opponent. Penguins. 

Okay we're doomed. 

So this is where the real surprise is. After Sidney Crosby absolutely dismantled the Ottawa Senators and left Jason Spezza destined to be on a highlight reel forever sadly chasing Crosby around the net before he passes it off to Letang for a goal.... the Habs (mainly Sidney Crosby's new backpack Hal Gill) held the kid to just 1 goal.

And so the Habs, who must hold the most exciting 8-6 record ever are off to round 3.

2. To find out that other people are annoyed by that little girl in the East Side Mario's ad. 

Every year, for anyone who watches playoffs night in and night out, there's that one commercial that just grinds your gears. It's on at least 8 times during every game. In years previous I can think of the Pizza Delight - Grill your own bread commercial with that annoying little kid telling his dad how to put butter on bread. (And I know several people just groaned and thought 'why did you remind me')

But i was surprised to know that my disdain for the East Side Marios commercial and my particular disdain for the uncoordinated little girl who is dancing poorly is shared. 

Several of my friends share the hate for the little dancing girl and can mimic the uncoordinated jig to a tee. I've also come across several online forums bitching about the ad. Too funny. 

3. San Jose 

Seriously, these guys finish first (or very high in the standings) every year. Every year some poor sap is sitting at his hockey pool draft and says "this is the year for San Jose"... and then they lose in the first round. 

So, yes, I am surprised to see that they are off to the conference championships. I still don't have a lot of confidence in them. But who knows, maybe they'll surprise a little further.

4. Boston

This story is just crazy. Boston couldn't score a goal to save their life down the stretch. Their team to be falling apart at the seams. They were injured. They were a far cry from the Boston Bruins who finished first in the Eastern Conference last season. They just squeaked into the playoffs. 

Then the playoffs started. 

And they turned it on. They had a 3-0 lead on Phillie and they've squandered it so the surprise may be over soon. But it's still a surprise that they were able to pick off the #2 seed. 

5. Phoenix

Oh wait, this isn't a surprise. Even though they make the playoffs they still can't get fans in the seats. The saga continues.

Jennifer Casey was born and raised in Halifax. She loves all sports but tries to stick to writing about hockey for sanity purposes. You can follow her on twitter @jenncaseyhfx or find her on her blog National Passtime