By Chad Huebner
Without too much of an overblown introduction, this is when I do my take on certain hockey topics of the day.
Dallas Stars’ Sean Avery is indefinitely suspended by the NHL due to comments he made about his ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, who is currently dating Calgary Flames’ Dion Phaneuf.
My Take: So if you nearly take some guy’s head clean off, it’s a two-minute, maybe a four-minute penalty, but if you talk smack about an ex-girlfriend, you get suspended?
Let’s just start with this point before delving into what Sean said to the press. There’s been an increased concern in the number of head-collisions players are making with the boards. Mind you, it’s an increased concern but nothing much has been done about this potentially lethal situation. And yet, one player goes off about someone’s girlfriend, and the NHL is all over this? What the hell is going on? (Said phrase will be repeated later on in this column.) Who cares what he said? Who cares about Sean Avery? Most of what he’s done to be known as a pest is verbal anyway, except for that stick-waving crap in front of Martin Brodeur during last year’s playoffs of course. Aside from that, why is the NHL even bothering with this? I guess they figure the next bad thing Avery says or does, no matter how minor, is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
With that said, Avery crossed the line when he called Elisha Cuthbert “sloppy seconds”. The ex-“24” star and “Girl Next Door” hottie is not that, let me tell you (though I do question her judgment for being with Avery in the first place).
I did like Matthew Barnaby’s suggestion of letting Avery play his very next game, which would have been against the Flames in Calgary. Who wouldn’t want to pay some serious scratch to see Phaneuf (who is a bit of, umm, a physical guy, to say the least) take this guy down once and for all.
The Carolina Hurricanes fired head coach Peter Laviolette, who led the ‘Canes to their one-and-only Stanley Cup win two years ago. They have rehired Paul Maurice, who was the ‘Canes head coach until 2004, when Laviolette took over.
My Take: To paraphrase The Who, the new boss is the old boss? How is this going to help a team that, while it was treading water as an eighth seed so far this young season, get any better? Maurice didn’t actually help the Maple Leafs out too much when he was their head coach until before this season, so how is he going to help a bunch of players-most of whom never played under him, the few that did were probably more than glad he left? It’s a puzzling move by a well-respected GM in Jim Rutherford (who’s also part owner of the team) who drafted guys like Eric Staal and Cam Ward and has held the GM post for 15 years, the second-longest current tenure in the NHL. Why not promote Ron Francis-perhaps the best Hartford Whaler/Carolina Hurricane player ever-who’s worked for the ‘Canes since 2006 and has been the Assistant GM since 2007? Hopefully, Maurice can learn from his recent failures, or otherwise this could lead to the decline of a once respected franchise, one that has found a nice in the unlikeliest of states in basketball-crazy North Carolina.
Now it’s on to the part in this column where I compare certain ‘Hawks players to some of my favorite holiday (and that’s including both Thanksgiving and Christmas) dishes.
Trust me, it’ll make more sense as you keep reading. And I’m by far and away not the only one to compare athletes to inanimate objects, or songs, or even movie quotes. I think this food-to-athlete market is still a somewhat untapped source, and I plan to drain it dry.
Turkey white meat: There was a credo I always lived by when it came to eating turkey for Thanksgiving: dark meat at the table, white meat for leftovers. The white meat was always too dry, sometimes even gummy, to be enjoyed at the table; you needed to use it as sandwich meat. Well, in recent years my folks have come across some turkeys that have such succulent, tender white meat that I sometimes skip the dark meat altogether. This is also how I feel about Patrick Sharp. When he came over to the ‘Hawks in a trade with the Flyers, I just figured him for being a mid-level forward, possibly able to back up the big-time scorers, but not much more. But his play over the last two seasons has evolved into a tasty treat that can always be enjoyed no matter the occasion. He has laid the foundation for a high-scoring offense that has been taken over quite nicely by a couple of you-know-whos.
Pumpkin pie with the fancy icing: It always looks good, but once you have a bite of it, you think something’s missing here, something should make this better. Sadly, this is how I feel about Patrick Kane. I know, the numbers don’t lie, but when I watch him with the puck, and he does all those fancy moves, I expect him to come through on goals a little more. Instead, all the dipsy-dos just enable the opposition to swarm him and take the puck away. Maybe cut down on this, take away the fancy icing, and concentrate more on the substance, which is to shoot, shoot, SHOOOOOOOOOT!!!!!!!
Pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing and white chocolate flakes: This dessert turns the traditional pumpkin pie on its ear. Sounds like it’s too rich of a dessert, but it’s actually quite light, making it a hit of the holiday season. This is where substance and style are equal, just like Johnny Toews. We all figured he would be good for the ‘Hawks, but he has the potential of being on of the ‘Hawks greats when all is said and done. We’re more than thankful the organ-I-zation drafted him, and are looking forward to enjoying his growth as a superstar for many years to come.
Mashed potatoes and gravy: Two things that go together, need to be together, and are always a good combo. Just like Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. These guys were made for each other on the blueline, something the ‘Hawks sorely lacked this past decade. They’ve played together so long, you don’t dare separate the two. I just wish Keith had a good nickname like “Seabs”. “Dunc”, perhaps?
Hash brown potato casserole: This was one of those dishes my mom tried one Christmas, and my first thought when I saw it was “What the hell is this?” It looked terrible and I thought probably had some horrible-tasting stuff, like onions or something. Then, of course, just like Mikey in the Life cereal commercials, I tried it, and I liked it, I really, really liked it! In fact, I had so many helpings, I almost didn’t finish the traditional Christmas duck. Almost. This is how I viewed Cam Barker when he started making call ups not too long ago. He didn’t look impressive or intimidating as a defenseman, and all the mistakes he made had me wondering what the hell did the ‘Hawks see in him. But I still gave him his chances, and you what? He’s grown on me. Perhaps that time spent with the Wonderful and Magnificent Rockford IceHogs did some good. You also have to admire a guy that still lived in the Chicagoland area while playing for the IceHogs, which meant a 90-plus mile commute one way between the cities nearly every day. He’s rounded into a valuable addition on the blueline, and being paired with Brian Campbell can only improve his game.
Egg nog: Too much of a good thing can sometimes be too much. . . and can make you sick, too. Having a couple of glasses of egg nog sounds like a great thing to have during the holidays, but after a few hours of this thick, gluey substance sloshing around in your stomach, you’re laying on the couch feeling like you want to die. Adam Burish is a guy that is better suited for the occasional big fight, but not for a long string of penalties. He’s an enforcer, and just needs to pick his battles when his team needs an emotional boost. Not that he’s doing much of anything right now with a broken toe. Hopefully not O.D.ing on the Nog, but he seems crazy enough to do it.
Real cranberry sauce, not the canned crap: It’s that dish that isn’t quite a dessert, but rather something to be eaten during dinner. It offers a nice contrast to the rest of the dishes with it’s tartness, and something I’ve come to accept and try to enjoy for now. That’s also my feeling about “The ‘Bulin Wall”. Call me a cynic, but doesn’t it seem odd he’s playing the best netminding he’s ever played with the ‘Hawks in the midst of all these trade rumors? When he first came to the team for such a hefty price tag, his play “soured” on me. But while he was healthy this year, his play has certainly pleased me, but I figure it’ll only last until the trade deadline. I just feel it.
Baskin Robbins Peppermint Ice Cream: This is the Loch Ness of all holiday sweets and treats in my opinion: very, very hard to find, but once you have, ohhhh boyyyy. I think it’s because of the ribbon of peppermint that goes through the entire flavor. Anyway, try finding this flavor sometime, won’t you? Okay, when you’re done with your near-fruitless search, and you actually find a place that carries this flavor, let me know, ‘cause I want some, too. Picking up Kris Versteeg from the Boston Bruins has turned out to be the find for the ‘Hawks this season. He adds another dimension to an already pretty strong offense, all in his first season at the NHL level. Now that the ‘Hawks have found such a great flavor, let’s hope they hold onto him for all he’s worth, because it’s so hard to find someone of his caliber again.
(I once walked into a Baskin Robbins in October, and asked if they had Peppermint Ice Cream. They said no because it’s not in season. Not in season? What difference does that make? Look, if it’s the middle of summer, wouldn’t you want a cool, minty ice cream on a terribly hot day? Why not just make all the holiday flavors available all year long? Sure my cholesterol count would be in the 300s, but it would be sooooo worth it.)
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