There are a lot of questions surrounding the Devils these days, but none more pressing than “how is it that a team of professionals can be this confused about how to play hockey?” Gentle Reader, it won’t surprise you that we, being the intrepid reporters we are, have gotten to the bottom of this story and discovered the reason the Devils are so fucking fucked up right now. It starts, as all things do this season for us, with the Flyers. Bear with us, Gentle Reader — this is going somewhere.
Apparently Flyers head coach John Stevens is somewhat renowned for his creative, unorthodox, and totally cheesy approach to instructing and motivating his hockey charges. And at least once (possibly twice — it was hard to say based on the article we found this in) he has employed this amazingly brilliant team-building tactic with professional hockey players:
Stevens held a team meeting at his Washington Township, N.J., home and instructed each player to bring an ingredient. Eggs, flour, sugar, frosting – they were going to bake a team cake.
The idea, as Stevens said the other day, “is that all the ingredients by themselves aren’t that appealing. But when you mix them with some fire you come up with a better product in the end. That’s kind of who you are.”
(Philadelphia Daily News – Thursday, May 8, 2008)
How awesome is that? We can just see how that would play out… The big guys would be there with their cool-kid ingredients, Richards with the flour, Carter with the sugar, Hartnell with the eggs — no, that’s a disaster waiting to happen… Hartnell with the butter, Knuble with the eggs, Biron with the vanilla, Lupul with the baking soda, Coburn with the salt, and so on and so on. Each guy would solemnly add his unappealing-on-its-own ingredient, contributing to the once-it-gets-mixed-with-fire-it’s-delicious dessert treat, and then, when it’s all done, Riley Cote would be like, “Cool cake, Coach! This was a really great team exercise. But, um… when do I get to put in my ingredient? You told me to bring raisins.” And Coach Stevens would say, “Well, Riley, that’s an important part of this exercise, to show that some unappealing ingredients don’t belong in a cake.” And Cote would be like, “Uhhh… Are you trying to tell me something?” And then Danny Carcillo would pipe up, “I brought what you told me to bring and we haven’t used it yet, either. It’s, um,” and then he’d read the label from the bottle he’s holding, “T-U-R-P-E-N-T-I-N-E. When do we add that?” And Stevens would sigh, “That’s to teach us all that some unappealing things aren’t ingredients at all.” And Carcillo would be like, “*Crickets chirping*”. It would rock.
We have NO DOUBT that the Devils have decided to take a crack at the “Let’s Bake A Cake Together” trick themselves recently, perhaps a “Let’s Bake A Cake Together To Celebrate Marty’s 552nd Win” exercise, even. Clearly Sutter has decided he can’t trust his veteran players to be able to do their jobs with pride and self-respect, and instead has to resort to the creative, unorthodox, and totally cheesy. In any event, this is the cake they made.
SANDRA LEE’S KWANZAA CAKE
For those of you who are at work and can’t watch videos or something, here’s what the recipe the Devils are working from is all about.
1 (10 to 12-ounce) purchased angel food cake
1 container (16 ounce) vanilla frosting
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (21-ounce) container apple filling or topping
1 (1.7-ounce) package corn nuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup popped popcorn
Special Equipment: Kwanzaa candles
Using a serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place bottom cake layer, cut side up, on a serving platter. Mix frosting, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon in large bowl until combined. Spread about 1/4 of the frosting over top of cake layer on platter. Top with second cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake to coat completely. Spoon apple pie filling into hole in center of cake. Place candles atop cake. Sprinkle top of cake with some corn nuts, pumpkin seeds, and popcorn. Sprinkle remaining corn nuts and pumpkin seeds around base of cake.
Zach and Travis are tasked to bring several angel food cakes, so there would be enough finished product to go around. Patty, Paulie and Langer draw frosting. Madden, Greene and Rolston are assigned to bring the cocoa powder. Sutter tells Whitey and Iron Boar to bring vanilla. Rupp and Oduya are told to bring the cinnamon. Zubrus, Gio and Holik are instructed to get the pie filling. Havelid and Shanahan are assigned corn nuts. Mottau and Clarkson draw pumpkin seeds. Marty and Weeks are told to bring the popcorn. And Pando is assigned to bring the turpentine.
Everyone assembles at the set time in Coach Sutter’s kitchen for the big baking exercise. The first thing everyone notices is that this recipe is chock-a-block with unappealing ingredients, but since no one was told to bring candles, it is very short on fire. Sutter agrees that when the cake is assembled, they’ll grill it. Because as Coach Stevens would say, that’s kind of who the Devils are. Then they set to making the cake. Zach has brought his share of ingredient, because he’s nothing if not dutiful, but Travis, when called upon, has to admit he didn’t bring any cake.
“I watched the video, Coach,” he explains, “That lady didn’t use corn nuts. She said she was using acorns. I made sure we had acorns.”
Sutter tries to keep his temper in check, because this is a nurturing learning exercise and all. “That’s nice, Travis,” he says slowly, “But we already have nuts. Corn nuts. Havelid and Shanny brought them.”
Havelid squirms uncomfortably in the back of the room.
“You brought corn nuts, right Havelid?” Sutter tries not to snarl.
Havelid grimaces, showing his missing teeth (on the top and bottom), then sort of dumbly looks around at everyone else. “I didn’t get them.”
Sutter: “Why not?”
Havelid: “I dunno. I just didn’t.”
Sutter groans inwardly, then asks, “So who was it again who was supposed to bring corn nuts if not Havelid?”
Zach pipes up eagerly, “Shanny! Shanny brought them!” Pause. “Where’s Shanny?”
Sutter sighs, “I gave him a maintenance day today.”
The other guys all start grumbling jealously, except Travis, who happily exclaims, “Good thing I brought the acorns then, you know…”
Sutter looks impatiently at his wristwatch. “Fine. Fuck it. We’ve got one cake and no corn nuts. Whatever. Next step. Frosting. You sad fucks brought icing, right?”
Patty steps forward and proudly hands Sutter a can of frosting. “You bet I did. It’s Funfetti! Super-colorful!”
Zach pipes up urgently, “NO! Coach, the recipe says vanilla frosting! We can’t use Funfetti!”
Glaring at the ceiling, Sutter reluctantly agrees. “Funfetti’s going to make our cake look like ass, Elias. Can’t you follow the simplest of instructions? Fuuuck. Who else brought icing?”
This draws an angrily furrowed brow from Langer, who steps forward and growls, “I did, Coach. And as captain, I am going to step up now and get the job done.” He then pulls a can of vanilla frosting from the grocery bag he’s holding, makes to toss it across the kitchen to his waiting coach, winds up, and throws the can ten feet wide, right out the window and into an open dumpster outside. A long, awkward silence follows, which is finally broken by Langer mumbling, “I’m working hard enough. I mean, I’m doing what I’m supposed to out here…”
Sutter: “Good thing Paulie also brought frosting.”
Paulie looks up from the can he’s been intently digging in for the last half hour. “Yup. It was delicious.”
Sutter: “Pando, go outside and get Langer’s can out of the dumpster.”
Pando grudgingly does as he’s told, but the guys nearest the open window can hear him grumbling the whole time.
“Okay,” Sutter says through clenched teeth, “This is going great. What a fun team-bonding experience we’re having here, right? What’s next?”
Zach chirps, “Cocoa powder, Coach!”
Sutter: “Right. Fucking cocoa powder. Tell me we have fucking cocoa powder here. Greene, I figure you fucked this up somehow, but Madden and Rolston, you guys are vets. I can trust you to do this, right?”
Greene, Rolston and Madden all stand mutely in front of their coach. Very slowly, Greene lifts an extended index finger to silently point to Rolston, who meekly points his own finger at Madden, while Madden is quietly pointing back at Greene.
If you listen very closely, you can hear the clot that Sutter is about to throw. But he manages to maintain a stoic facade as he snarls, “Fine. Fuck that. I hate chocolate anyway. Cinnamon then. Please tell me we have cinnamon.”
Rupp steps forward enthusiastically, “Of course I brought cinnamon! You tell me what to do, Coach, and I do it. I, um, didn’t have a lot in my house, but I brought what I could.”
Oduya beams as he produces from his pocket a little spice jar as well. “I brought all of my cinnamon, too.”
Zach leaps up and snatches the jars from both guys, and eagerly measures it out. “Uh oh, Coach,” he quavers, then whispers tearfully, “Neither one of them brought enough. We only have 1/4 teaspoon here and we need a full teaspoon!”
Sutter slumps onto a chair and runs his hands through what little hair he’s got left. “Well that’s just tickety-boo. Who wanted this to be cinnamony anyway? We’ve got vanilla to make up for that.” Without looking up, he waves one hand defeatedly, “Whitey, Sal, give Zach the vanilla.”
The Iron Boar looks sheepish. “I, um, don’t have it,” he says softly.
Sutter is just silent.
Iron Boar continues sadly, “I was on the PK, and everything was going fine, and then all of a sudden… I was just throwing the vanilla over the glass. I couldn’t help myself. I just love throwing things over the glass.” Pause. “Sorry.”
Whitey rolls his eyes and hands over a tiny bottle to Zach. “I brought mine,” he rasps.
Zach looks at the label at the bottle, then his gaze, wide-eyed, sad, and tearful, shifts up to look at Sutter. “Uh oh,” he swallows hard. “Did you say your eye still makes it tough for you to read, Whitey?”
Whitey shrugs, “Sometimes.”
Zach wordlessly hands the bottle to Sutter, who reads it aloud, “Sardine Extract”.
The guys groan nervously.
Sutter suddenly gets a happy glint in his eyes. “Well, we finally have an ingredient here. Add the extract Zach.”
Zach looks horrified. “But… but… without vanilla, it won’t have that homemade taste!”
“Zach,” Sutter snarls, “Add the extract.” With shaking hands, Zach does exactly that.
Several happy moments follow as the team cuts and frosts the cake. It’s like craft time for little kids, but tiptoeing around the high-grade explosives that is Coach Sutter. When their little cake is assembled and iced, everyone stands at attention again, ready for the next round of ingredients.
“Okay,” Sutter looks at the recipe, “Where’s the apple pie filling?”
Holik defiantly declares, “I don’t like apple pie so I didn’t bring any.”
Gio and Zubrus hastily try to cover for him, and they say nearly in unison, “Don’t worry — I brought mine!”
But Sutter just smiles happily at Holik, “That’s my boy. Don’t ever change, Bobby. I love that spirit of yours.”
Burning holes through the back of Holik’s disobeying head, Zach heaps a few spoonfuls of pie filling into the center of the cake, then snaps primly, “Clarkie and Motts, you guys have the pumpkin seeds?”
Mottau just shrugs, “At this point you didn’t really think I would, did you?” and Clarkson insists on applying the seeds to the cake himself. Needless to say, this involves him running around behind the cake, trying and failing to cut a tight corner, wiping out, and tossing the seeds everywhere but on the cake.
Sutter sits in place, staring in disbelief. “What in the fucking fuck?” he mutters to himself. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have a team like this. Never.”
“Don’t worry, Coach,” says Marty, “It’s not like we had any popcorn either. I ate it all on the drive over.”
Sutter just stares into space.
Travis then pipes up happily, “Well, I’ve got the acorns. Maybe if I put them on the cake now, it’ll look good…” He puts them on the cake, and it doesn’t.
Pando then speaks up, “Well, I’ve got the turpentine. I’m sure it would make the cake look great, especially when we grill it, but you know what? I’m not sharing.”
Sutter: “This is the last time I ever take John Stevens’s advice when we’re at a coaching workshop.”
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