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Archive for August, 2007

The 68th in our 118-part series.

Schadenfreude

Obviously the primary focus of fandom is wanting to see your own team win. You invest your time, your money and your emotional well-being in following the fortunes of your favorite organization, and in return you’d really like to see a championship. Or a playoff appearance. Or an indication, at least, that those things might be not too far off on the horizon. Or the first-overall draft pick. Or, well, something. But a lot of the time things just don’t play out that way for us as fans. It’s not unusual to find just small satisfaction from your team, and some terrible years you find yourself with nothing to cheer about at all, other than maybe the promise of your lousy GM getting fired in a fireworks-filled off-season. In such situations the wise hockey fan finds themselves falling back on the secondary focus of fandom: deriving boundless joy from the suffering of another team and their fanbase.
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The 67th in our 118-part series.

Sergei Brylin

It doesn’t seem fair to write a post about Pando and Madden without giving some love to Sergei Brylin. It seems like our unsung trio has been slowly but surely sung. Madden had his day in the sun when he won the Selke, and PandoNation has grown in such numbers that he came close to winning it this past year. That means that Sarge’s sung year must surely be upon us. There’s lots to celebrate when it comes to our snack-sized three-time Cup winner. Seriously, he’s the interchangeable-est part on a team that prides itself on interchangeable parts. No matter where the coaches ask him to go, Sarge is there, putting in yoeman’s work and never complaining. Need a fill-in on the top line? He’s your man. Need a wee guy to put in a few hard-driving fourth-line minutes? Ask Sarge. Want a stalwart to stand in with Pando and Madden on the checking line? He’ll do it well. Left wing, right wing, center, he doesn’t care. He just plugs himself into whatever spot needs him, and carries on.
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The 66th in our 118-part series.

Pando & Madden

We know, we know — we’ve already written a Reason We Love Hockey about Pando, but this one is different. This is about the singular, monolithic unit, Pando and Madden. For the last gazillion years those two guys have been attached at the hip, as linemates and, most importantly, as PK partners. It’s hard to even say one of their names without the other rolling off your tongue. At this point it’s hard to imagine they don’t read each other’s minds, so well-established and effective is their partnership. Of course, they are also so single-minded in their sense of purpose; it’s always fun to see or hear post-game reaction from them when the Devils win, but the opponent’s top line scored. Pando and Madden are defense-first perfectionists, and while they always say the right things about being happy for the two points in the standings, neither of them can ever hide how miffed they are at not having done their job to the best of their combined abilities. They can end up sounding like an old married couple, completely in sync with each other’s moods and constantly able to anticipate what the other guy is going to do on the ice.
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The 65th in our 118-part series.

Brian Gionta

There was a very brief period in our lives as hockey fans when we paid even the slightest bit of attention to college hockey (then we realized if we ever learned what the Pairwise system was our brains would explode) and that brief period happened to be when Brian Gionta was a senior at BC. Our biggest impression of the guy was that he was a Punk with a capital P. Cocky as all get-out and quick with a high stick and accompanying smirk when the other guy got called for it. We were confident that if a miracle occurred and he ended up on the big team, he’d surely have that punkiness beat out of him, replaced with Kool Aid-induced businesslike fair play. How little we knew of Brian Gionta, eh? Six years later he’s a key part of the top line, setting team records for goals, drinking the Kool-Aid to the point where he’s coming to camp without a contract — and yet, he’s just as much a punk. How else do you explain the fact that he’s 3 apples tall and yet he’s the only Devil who knows how to crash the net? (Wait, there are other explanations for that?) Every fourth or fifth shift from him seems to end in him giving the ref a stern look until a guy from the other team is carted off to the box to serve a penalty he didn’t commit, an event marked by Gio flashing his teammates his signature self-satisfied grin. But somehow this doesn’t turn into a Sean Avery love-him-on-your-team/hate-him-on-another situation, because Gio never mouths off or shows up the other team — he just plays like a guy who learned to be an NHLer in a dressing room run by Scott Stevens. Gio’s also one of the many Devils who plays best when he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Here’s hoping the need to prove he can produce on a Gomez-less top line is chip enough for our Little Ball of Punk to find his way back to the team-leading goal scoring territory.

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If you’re interested in joining the IPB Irregular Fantasy Hockey League, read more!
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The 64th in our 118-part series.

Alexander Ovechkin

We both studied Russian in high school, and we both went on month-long “exchange” trips to Moscow (in which we hung out with a group of our American classmates and never spoke a word of Russian because our host school was an English-language specialty school where the Kindergarteners literally spoke better English than we did) when we were teenagers. While on our respective visits abroad, we both encountered examples of that most wonderful type of person: the crazy Russian exchange student. The crazy Russian exchange student is most often a guy, most often is 16 or 17, and is probably most closely translated to the American archetype of the “Class Clown”, but a lot is lost in that translation (things like his goofy accent, playful and creative approach to vocabulary, and typically Russian mindset). The best example we have of the crazy Russian exchange student is a tale Schnookie brings from her visit to one cathedral or another (they really all do run together). This particular cathedral was the resting place of many of the Tsars, and the group tour wended past their sarcophagi as the handful of American and Russian students just shuffled along dutifully while trying to pay attention to the tour guide. Suddenly Schnookie realized the kid behind her in line, Dima, certifed crazy Russian exchange student, was very quietly knocking on the tops of all the sarcophagi. And along with the knocking, he was saying repeatedly, just loud enough for the people immediately ahead of and behind him in line to hear, “Wake up, asshole.” Perhaps it was because Schnookie was 15 and homesick and traveling overseas for the first time in her life, but she found this utterly hysterical.
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The 63rd in our 118-part series.

Colby Armstrong and Max Talbot

Once upon a time, the Devils had a player who had a sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to appear spunky and goofy in the occasional interview. When interviewed for a taste test of the Wheaties that featured an Olympic Marty Brodeur on the box, Brad Bombadir answered Stan’s queries by dribbling milk and chewed up cereal down his chin while giggling uncontrollably. Not surprisingly, he was shipped out to Minnesota where he is now a spunky, goofy sideline reporter. Devils players since have learned the lesson. So we must look elsewhere to fill our spunk and goof needs. About mid-way through last season we found the mythical Fountain of Spunky Goofiness in Pittsburgh, where Colby Armstrong and Max Talbot run rampant over Penguins pre-, during- and post- game interviews, as well as on the incomparable Inside Penguins Hockey, a half-hour, weekly showcase for their insanity.
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