Around View From My Seats, we enjoy great writing almost as much as we enjoy the sport we cover. Each week, there are excellent writers doing their thing all over the hockey blogosphere—so many, in fact, that it’s easy to miss some of the good stuff that gets published each week. Each week throughout the season, we shoot to bring you some of the best writing from around the web. Some will be from the mainstream media and some will be from talented bloggers doing it for the love of the game. Some entries will come from beat writers around North America and still others will come from national writers bringing a “big picture” perspective. We don’t care. We’re just looking for great hockey writing. Everything else can go to hell.
If you find anything that catches your eye and you think should be included, feel free to contact us and we’ll consider it for next week’s installment!
If you only read one article, read the last one…
Without further ado, here is our weekly trip around the hockey blogosphere bringing you some of the best articles that you may have missed.
“And I realized, then, why I like Don Cherry: He is the only hockey personality on television who never lies. There is so much hockey on television, so many men in suits trying to tell us what to believe about the game, and they are almost all professionally lying. There’s the carefully colorless color commentators, who work from franchise-provided fact sheets to present canned narratives in the a fresh-sounding way. There’s the game recappers who narrate highlight in lively tones concealing a total lack of opinion or insight. There’s the local media, who invariably play to the team according to the emotional register traditional in their city (fawning sycophancy in some markets, vicious criticism in others). The insiders, with their mysterious sources who allow them to say only certain things on pain of access-death; the sports networks with their ginned-up rumors and pointless teach-the-controversy panel debates. And the worst of the worst are the NHL personalities themselves, the players who’ve been bullied by years of training into bland clichés so blatantly false they can’t even make eye contact while they’re saying them; the GMs with their completely made-up explanations and insincere evasions. Brian Burke, he’s a big personality and he’s got some strong opinions but I very much doubt the man has ever strung together two completely honest words when speaking about hockey in public. Some of them lie by commission, staring you right in the eye and daring you to call them on it; others by omission, with those knowing glances that whisper I cannot speak all that I know. The state of hockey speech on TV is so poor, so riddled with snark and bullshit, that I have given up hope of ever hearing anyone actually tell it like it is. Don Cherry, at least, tells it like he believes it is. In the absence of truth, the best we can hope for is honesty, and Don Cherry may well be the last honest man in television hockey commentary.”
“The mindset should be different now. It is different, and looking to see failure is the wrong attitude to have heading to the end of 2012. The Islanders are seven points out of the playoffs and still have the potential to go on a winning streak and make a last serious run for the number eight spot. I’ve said a thousand times that I expect the Islanders to finish 10th or 11th and that this season has been a major sign that the rebuild has finally taken a step in the right direction. The mere fact that we are approaching the middle of March and I can type the word “playoffs” into an Islanders blog is a proof that things are changing for this team.”
“This uncertainty of future success, even despite great talent, is likely why people attempt to peer beyond a player’s physical talents and define those intangible characteristics we imagine separate winners from losers. Weisbrod calls it internal fortitude. Others call it swagger. Or confidence. Some guys are winners because they hate to lose. Others seem to inspire their teammates with quiet determination. The list of qualities is often vague and shifting, a subjective, gut instinct that varies from observer to observer. A kind of “I know it when I see it” charisma, bestowed upon and exploited by natural leaders but also pick-up artists and con men in equal measure (although for different purposes).
Whatever that something is, be it a single, inscrutable factor of the Winners persona — or an alchemic combination of attitude, perspective and will power — it is often considered a necessary piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a roster.
After all, winners win. The obvious corollary of which is: losers lose.”
“Like all the standouts competing in the WCHA finals, Drew Shore will face a difficult decision following the season, as the 2009 second round selection of the Florida Panthers mulls his future. With Quentin Shore due to join the Pioneers, Drew Shore’s biggest lure back to DU might be the family legacy. Nick Shore says a day does not go by in which he doesn’t implore his older brother about how special it would be to have three Shore brothers donning DU’s crimson and gold.
“I think if I do come back, which I don’t really know what I’m doing yet, but that would be the biggest reason that I decide to stay,” Drew Shore said. “It would be to play with Quentin and Nick.”
(H/T to Litter Box Cats)
“Was he Sean Avery or “Sean Avery”? He didn’t undo on Runway what he’s accomplished. He can’t. He was part of an important shift in making straight dudes comfortable in a gay cultural neighborhood. It’s possible his comments were edited down to nothing, that being a judge on this show would suck the life out of anybody. But rather than advancing the conversation he helped start, he kept quiet long enough to make you wonder whether all that diplomacy was real. On Runway, he seemed irrelevant.”
“The bottom line is, unless Smith is being personally invited on the ice by Quenneville he shouldn’t be out there. Word is this decision is coming from upstairs. If Bowman and company want Smith running drills then they should change his title and hand him a track suit. In my opinion Management is overstepping their boundaries and disrespecting one of the top coaches in today’s game. It may not be intentional on Smith’s part but as an organization they should be smart enough to make better decisions.”
“For starters, she’s from New Zealand. But more important, the typical hockey mom probably hasn’t posed for Playboy or the covers of Sports Illustrated and Cosmopolitan or married a rock star, Rod Stewart, who is 24 years her senior.
None of that means a thing in the egalitarian world of junior hockey, though. So on a recent bone-cold Saturday night Hunter is simply Liam Stewart’s mom as she sits, shivering, among the other hockey moms — and dads and siblings — in cavernous Spokane Arena.”
“A steady hand was needed. A like-minded approach was warranted. And amid all the chaos of a team that still doesn’t have an owner almost three years later, a coach that could keep his cool and a sense of calm in the storm was essential.
“Peter is a great person and he has proven he’s a great NHL coach,” Maloney said. “But the more I got to know Dave and the more time I spent with him, it was clear we had a common philosophy on how to build an organization. It became crystal clear to me that Dave was the guy.”
The Coyotes needed a foundation of purpose. They needed building blocks of success and the stability of consistency. And the former NHL grinder who enjoys building motorcycles and crafting homes in his spare time was the right guy to take on a hefty rebuilding project in the desert.”
“This isn’t a new trend. Coverage of the Blues has been lacking for years. I’ve been under the belief you must earn coverage. The Blues needed to right the ship and win some hockey games in order to deserve their spot in the headlines and their place in talk radio. I think it’s safe to say the Blues have done their part. They have become an elite team in the NHL. Now where’s the coverage?”
Some great writing from last week that deserves your attention
“All Wild fans were doing was sitting around, watching games, amazed by the team’s performance, and hoping it would continue. No one predicted the Wild were going to win the Stanley Cup, no one thought the Wild were sure fire winners in any given game. They were quietly enjoying the fun that is watching your favorite team outperform its expectations.
Out of the blue, the “stat guys’” pit bull broke his leash and went on his little bender. Then, and only then, was there any fight at all. Wild fans, and me, just wanted to be left alone. The “stats guys” couldn’t resist the urge to not only rain on the parade…”
“When you’re a parent, you acquire the ability to look at any child and imagine your child in that position — as a disaffected teen, as a kid shunned on the playground, as a kid who stutters, as a kid who is bullied. You learn to shut it out a little, because it is a small way to break your heart.
When Brian or Patrick Burke hear about gay children being bullied, being drummed out of sports, even committing suicide, they can see Brendan.
“Ryan Wood scored a hat trick in the final hockey game of his young life, one in which he had already scored a much bigger goal — beating cancer.”
“Guy Lafleur was one of the greatest players of his generation despite his pack-or-two-a-day habit, say some who played with him. Bowman says that Lafleur regularly smoked a cigarette between periods.
“He’d smoke in the (hotel) room, but always in the bathroom,” says former Colorado Avalanche great Joe Sakic, who shared hotel quarters with Lafleur on the road when the two were teammates on the Quebec Nordiques during the final two seasons (1989-91) of The Flower’s career. “I told him he didn’t have to do that. I mean, I was in awe of him. He could have done whatever he wanted. But he always insisted.”
“For decades, debates centered on whether hockey could survive without fighting. It is viewed by some as a necessary thermostat regulating the heat of a physical game, and by others as a way to draw bigger audiences.
Now the talk is about how long the sport can live with fighting.
That change has perched hockey at one of the most significant crossroads of its long history, as leaders see an opening to extinguish the game’s tradition of intermittent anarchy, particularly among teenage combatants.”
“The scene opens in an airy office with a large wooden table in the middle. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson sits on one end of the table talking into his cellphone and typing on his laptop. Next to him sits senior advisor Craig Patrick. In front of them sit four other employees of the Columbus Blue Jackets who are watching TSN to see the trades that are going down.
Scott Howson: Dougy, how many times do we need to go over this? If you want Nash you need to give us a good deal. We’re not accepting any deals without getting back … uhh. Howson looks over at Patrick distraught and confused. Patrick points to a name on a piece of paper. Howson, looking relieved, nods.”
“To be frank, I can’t remember a team that recently went “all-in” at the deadline that won the Stanley Cup, which is the ultimate goal (not making the playoffs). Tomas Kaberle helped, minimally, but the Bruins were already pretty good when they got him and safely in playoff contention. Unlike this current model of the Capitals, who are struggling to get in. And judging by how the Bruins didn’t even offer Kaberle a new deal this past offseason, I bet you Peter Chiarelli regrets that deal a little bit, considering what he gave up.
Would you rather McPhee broke the bank and rolled out Dmitry Orlov, Cody Eakin, a first round pick, and maybe more to Buffalo in a run after, say, Derek Roy? I wouldn’t. Roy is small, injury prone, and he hasn’t been consistent this year. Plus his contract is up after this season and there is no guarantee that he will re-sign in Washington.”
“Three days later, at 6:30 a.m., the phone rang. Bethann checked the caller ID. New Jersey. Ruslan’s agent, Mark Gandler. There’d been a horrific accident.
“I was right back in that same attorney’s office going over what we had just done two months before, the will, all that stuff,” Bethann says now. “It didn’t even seem real. It still doesn’t seem real. It seems too perfect, you know, how everything unfolded? It’s like we planned on him dying.”