I don't like turning tragedies into rallying cries. I'm absolutely torn up, as we all are, about the loss of 43 people aboard the flight that was carrying Lokomotiv to their first game of the season. It hurts the hockey world - and it should upset people in general, regardless of if they're fans or not - to see 43 people die in a heartbeat.
The only thing I can say is that my thoughts and prayers are with Lokomotiv, their families, and their friends.
Former Thrashers assistant coach Brad McCrimmon and former St. Louis Blue Pavol Demitra were on board. It's been confirmed that both men were among those killed.
Rest in peace. This offseason's been a terrible one for hockey and its fans, and I'm pretty sure that everyone agrees that we'd love to see it end. It's a shame that we can't push rewind and change the past, because these past four months could never have happened and I'd be ok.
Hey, remember when the concept of the circular logo was cool? You know, when Minnesota did it?
And then other teams looked at it and thought, "Hey, a circle looked good on blue when it was Buffalo's logo. Let's try it!"
And St. Louis:
And then, um... a team that didn't really rely on blue much in their color scheme, the Florida Panthers:
The Blue Jackets' jumped on the circle/blue logo bandwagon with a logo (and jersey) that actually worked well:
Now the Winnipeg Jets're jumping on the bandwagon of circle + blue = success.
It doesn't. Guys, really. St. Louis' and Columbus' are the only two circular logos on blue jerseys (aside from Buffalo's) that work. Jets just look like a northern version of the Blue Jackets, which is funny - I always considered the Blue Jackets the northern version of the Thrashers. That's a happy coincidence.
These burgers aren't just for Labor Day. Oh, no no no. These are perfection for hockey tailgates, too. Sure, in some locales tailgates are better done in the pre-season or during post-season play, when the frost either hasn't shown up or has slipped away. No one wants to make ribs and burgers in twenty degree below zero temperature - not even Green Bay Packers fans (I'm assuming).
Helpful hint: I know everyone likes to either be healthy or pretend to be healthy, but don't ever use all lean beef in making burgers. Unless you enjoy eating hockey puck shaped lumps of sawdust, cut your beef with something with some fat in it.
These make about 4 servings.
The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau, in the wake of the passing of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and and Wade Belak, wrote an outstanding piece on the humanity of hockey players. It’s unfortunate to me that articles such as that have to come out after the deaths of three of the game’s most notable enforcers and colorful characters.
I’ve always held the point of view that these guys are just doing their job. Athletes, musicians, actors and actresses, authors... they’re all doing their jobs. Maybe that’s an unglamorous way of looking at things. Maybe that’s dull. Maybe it sucks the mystique and the envy that people have when they look at these guys right out of their careers. Who cares? Think about it. They get paid to create a product, no different from someone who works in a PR firm, an auto factory, or a McDonald’s. Their product is entertainment. That’s what we pay them for.
It’s odd, because it’s a sport - people break down stats. People obsess over standings. People live and breathe for their teams - but it’s just entertainment. Unfortunately, entertainment has the reputation of being the “easy” product to create; therefore, entertainers get ragged on for leading the easy life. They get paid millions of dollars! They get things purchased for them! Anything that they want is ready to go! Right thee n front of them is the chance to buy a house and a car that many of us can only dream of, and never have to worry about their bank accounts for as long as they work. How wonderful. It must give them a free pass from life’s worries, right?
Only in the minds of fans. Being a hockey player - being that guy whose face is on a card that you pull out of a pack of Upper Deck hockey cards, or the name that people fight over during fantasy hockey drafts - it depersonalizes you. It makes you a commodity, and a commodity can’t have any problems. It can’t have any emotions, or have interests off the ice. They can’t make mistakes, they can’t have private lives, they can’t have private problems. Commodities can’t do that, and when they do, it offends people. “How dare they be upset about _____?” people cry. “They have money!” The same people who say might say “you can’t take it with you” or “money can’t buy happiness” are saying that money can cure all of life’s ills. Apparently money isn’t worth anything only if you don’t have massive amounts. I guess that’s a coping mechanism for some.
Money only improves your perception of life in so much as it gets you over the poverty line. Generally speaking, in surveys, the quality of life as perceived by individuals remains about the same regardless of how much money they have (Myers Psychology, 8th Edition, 2006 - Chapter 13). People tend to be content, because they adjust towards the mean of what they have. People suffering from psychological problems, however, don’t adjust at all. Neurotransmitters don’t realize how much money they have. The serotonin in their brain doesn’t have access to their bank account.
You can be surrounded by riches and wealth on every level. You can be the monarch of a powerful country. Your body chemistry doesn’t care. The people around you, however, should - and for hockey players, the people around them doesn’t stop at their organization, or the NHL. It’s the fans, too. The sooner the fans realize the perils of psychiatric disorders, the better. To do so, fans have to realize that money isn’t the root of happiness, that being famous - being someone who “should be happy” isn’t enough. They’re people like you and I, with extremely visible and public jobs. We respect and enjoy what they do. Why not respect the individual?no comments
Everyone needs a pasta salad for Labor Day. It's mandatory. Who wants that nasty mayo based store kind, though? You know the stuff. The kind that you take two bites of and then reach for another deviled egg. It's just... blech.
Spruce that pasta salad up a bit, huh? The olive oil based ones are 100x better than the mayo ones, healthier, and generally more diverse. I've made them with cilantro, feta, black olives, green olives, and artichoke hearts, and they're outstanding. But do you want to know the veggie that's more amazing than artichokes in pasta salad? AVOCADO.
Yes, that egg looking thing that makes everything better. Put it on a BLT? Awesome. Salad? Awesome. quac with blue cheese? Yup. Eaten alone with salt and pepper (or even bacon salt)? Perfection. Why not put it into a pasta salad? You'd be daft not to.
Apologies for no photos, but it was gone before I could get to it.
This is adapted from the Maine Summers Coobook, by Linda and Martha Greenlaw.
12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 large avocado pitted, peeled, and chopped
1/2 cup assorted Spanish olives pitted and chopped
One 8 ounce jar pimentos, drained and chopped
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the macaroni according to package directions. Cook until tender, but still firm. Rinse the macaroni under cold water and drain thoroughly. Place in a large bowl and gently mix the avocado, olives, pimentos, and red onion into the macaroni.
Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the oil mixture over the macaroni mixture and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until mealtime. serve cool or at room temperature. Serves 8.
I used 2 avocados and added extra onion and olives. You may need to adjust the olive oil and lime juice according to taste.
No more of this, Teej. No more.
Preseason predictions are about the only thing that anyone can fill the month of August with. It's an NHL dead-zone other than maybe a signing here and there. NHL.com's been running through their "30 Teams in 30 Days," trying to justify why teams have a shot at the Cup. Today was St. Louis' turn in an examination as to why they can go deep in the playoffs. Their playoff chances are exactly the same as every other team's right now - but will they keep it up when the season starts?
I know that repeating the same reason for failure over and over again turns it into an excuse, but NHL.com's pretty spot on when they say that the injuries that happened last year are the reason for the failed season. I covered the problem back in December, and it got worse from there on out. AHL guys getting 20+ games of experience is great for them, but not great for an already young team who is easily susceptible to blows to the ol' psyche.
The trade with Colorado to bring in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk is cited as a reason for hope as well; God knows it gave fans enough reason to hope for a late-season rally last year:
Stewart and Shattenkirk will be on the roster from day one, and while Perron isn't ready to start the season, McDonald and Oshie are healthy and ready to go. General Manager Doug Armstrong spent the summer tinkering with his roster, and only time will tell if he brought in the right pieces to get his team back into the playoffs.
What pieces might those be? Sure, there were a few spare cogs (Brian Elliot will not get STL to the finals. Sorry), but you have to be dense to not realize that NHL.com's specifically referencing Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott. When you compare those two to the losses of Ty Conklin (horrible season last year) Cam Janssen (a heart and soul guy, but not necessary - sorry, CamSmash), and Nathan Oystrick, there is no comparison. The Blues wound up in the winning column there.
They mention that in their first 38 seasons, the Blues missed the playoffs but three times, and have gone on to miss them five of the last six seasons. That's a testament to the difficulties of playing in the Western Conference more so than to the state of the team. The past two seasons they finished just barely out of the picture, thanks to injuries that the team's lack of depth couldn't overcome. That's the rub again this year. Stay healthy, and they fulfill THN's prediction of a 7th place finish. Start getting injured, and the team is in 11th. Everyone knows what the Blues' are capable of, but no one can make an accurate prediction. I like NHL.com's, and I like THN's, but unless the league wants to buy bobble-head helmets like Andy McDonald's for the entire team, and then wrap T.J. Oshie's ankles in bubble wrap, I'm not comfortable throwing myself behind any prediction or declaring any correct. There're just too many "what ifs" to take into consideration before I get my hopes up.
If there's one prediction I can make based on the last two seasons, it's that something'll happen to throw a wrench into the works somewhere. Bank on it.
Got a chance to download the NHL12 demo last night... little mini-NHL video game Christmas, as it were. The franchise's hit the point where it's not about innovation anymore; it's about tweaks to things that already work. The game itself just feels and looks more polished than NHL11, which is saying something, considering how sharp NHL11 is. The uniforms are more detailed, the cut-aways to the crowd are better after a goal - they cut after an away goal to the away fans - and the highlight packages featuring one player's play in that game is stealing a page from every broadcast playbook.
That's what sets this year's game apart from last year's, at least as far as looks goes. It's like playing a broadcast. The ticker at the top under the score scrolls info on players when they're hurt, when they get a penalty - more than just when they score. The pause screens don't just show the game's general stats. It shows the hits, shots, and goals, a la Gamecenter Live - making going back and playing a replay of a play much easier.
The GCL influence is also felt in Be A Pro mode, where the action pops up on a cut screen, if you choose to not sit on the bench and watch the game. You can choose to sim to your next shift; the fast-forwarding of the clock necessiattes the happenings of the game while your pro's waiting to tick by to keep you up to speed.
I fiddled around with the HUT - it seemed to be very similar to how it's been in the past, just cleaner. I still have a hell of a time getting the chemistry to work out on my lines, but that's probably a personal problem and a lack of good players more so than just issues with the game.
The full menu is up, taunting you with game modes that you can't play yet. Also taunting you are the Legends themselves, reminding you why you get excited about games like this to begin with:
What, no Blues jersey?
There's enough game play to entertain and to show you how to play, though for first timers the lack of the tutorial might be tough. There's not a lot of new gameplay features (like board battles and such) so perhaps EA figured that there's no reason for it. That'll probably lead to a lot of frustrated first timers screaming profanities in the playoff circle - or throughout the whole game, if you don't realize you can change the skill settings for newbies.
Several people on Twitter last night played for a while and made it their life goal to get Tim Thomas to fight - one person did. No broken glass on huge hits yet for me, but I did try unsuccessfully to goad Roberto Luongo into a battle, and it didn't work. I did get a Zdeno Chara/Daniel Sedin fight, which sadly I didn't photograph for posterity's sake quickly enough.
All in all, it's worth plunking down the $60 for the upgrade. You can pay around $25 for EA Sports Season Ticket, which means you get discounts on in-game purchases such as HUT packs and pro uopgrades. It also means you can download and play the full version three days before the game comes out. Or, you can preorder the game from some places and get free equipment and whatnot for your pros. It's your call.
Of course, you can subsidize your purchase by selling NHL11 back to Gamestop or someplace like that, but personally I'll be holding onto my copy so I can play as the Thrashers if I want to torture myself. That, and my pro is a legend and my HUT is actually not crap. Oh, and STL is halfway to Cup number four.
Speaking of the Blues, this year's menu rep is Alex Pietrangelo, in a photo that too me a while of staring at to figure out. What a terrible shot (Iginla's is worse):
I am not Laura.
Do they make cologne in bottles big enough to cover an entire franchise? If so, someone please send a couple of vats to Dave Checketts, so he can try to cover up the scent of desperation as he seeks a buyer for the St. Louis Blues. Checketts' search for a new owner is starting to remind me of one particularly awful week where, after having been dumped, I was then shot down three times in four days looking for dates, each time with progressively less attractive girls.
They could smell me coming, the odor of NEED emanating even through telephone lines. So I feel for Checketts, who not only NEEDS a buyer, but NEEDS a buyer at a certain price. If you have ever tried selling anything of large value, like a house, you should know what a futile exercise that is.
I go to Johnnie MacCracken's pub a lot. Those who follow me on Twitter know this, and those who know me peronally realize that if I have a bad day, I will probably be at the pub in downtown Marietta, GA. I spent lots - like occasional 12 hour days - there during the Thrashers' re-location drama. Nothing makes me feel better than their outstanding beer menu. Killkenny, Belhaven, Magners (cider's lethal, BTW - don't let anyone tell you otherwise), O'Hara's... it's amazing. The food there is also out of this world. For as much as the atmosphere and great waitresses/bartenders encourage you to drink, you have to have something good to soak up the beer.
While I'm partial to their Irish Breakfast to absorb stuff, I do realize that blood sausage isn't everyone's bag. Other than eggs, rashers of bacon, and sausage to eat before having a drink or two, what works well? Dough. And what's the ubiquitous dough you get at a hockey game? PRETZELS. We'd fight over the soft ones in the Thrashers' press box, and on the concourse nothing was better than a Wetzel's Pretzel. I might legit miss that as much as my team. MacCracken's has hand made soft pretzels as well, but with a twist - with saurkraut and spicy mustard. Wouldn't it be awesome to serve these on Saturday nights when friends are over to watch a game? Of course it would be.