Here you go, Gentle Reader — our musings during a mellow night of hockey on VS, the only channel that can make a four-point night from Sid Crosby seem boring:
— Is this the year? Is this the year the Devils get the #1 pick overall? (We should point out that we think this is a great ad campaign. It manages to showcase players that aren’t Sid, so all those crankypantses out there who say this never happens can just put a sock in it, and it also presents a really great balance of serious and fun. Good stuff, NHL! Now if only you’d get cracking on our wishes to see more behind the scenes stuff.)
— VS clearly isn’t working hard enough to get us to memorize who all its color guys are. When Doc makes a reference to a player being minor-league teammates with Andy Brickley, Pookie says, “Heh, I almost just found myself asking, ‘Who’s Andy Brickley?'” Boomer responds, “Well, who is Andy Brickley?”
— Sid is interviewed during the intermission. Schnookie decides he sounds like he’s trying to do his best Super-Coop impression. “Well, Chris, I’ve learned a lot since dinner…” We’re also not pleased that Sid has ditched his clearly beloved sweat-stained perfectly-broken-in baseball hat for some heeee-diously ugly form-fitting trucker hat. Sid, we don’t care if Maxie and CheeseTed said it was cool. It isn’t.
— It sounds like VS is experimenting with shaking maracas next to their ambient microphones tonight.
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It is far too early in the season to be handing out report cards (if it isn’t, we’d be really scared about Mirtle’s projection of 57 points for the Devils), but if we can’t hand out report cards, we at least need to have a parent-teacher conference with Mr. and Mrs. Devils. We have some concerns and hope that by addressing them now the Devils can pull themselves together before they spiral into in-house suspension territory. Here at IPB Academy, we believe parent-teacher conferences are informal discussions that don’t need the stress of actual numbers brought into the equation. There will be time enough for stats, wins and losses when report card time rolls around. So with the halls bedecked with the players’ construction paper artwork, we invited Mr. and Mrs. Devils to the classroom for a little chat:
IPB: Thanks for coming in today to talk with us, Mr. and Mrs. Devils.
Mr. & Mrs. D: [Settling uncomfortably into child-sized chairs] Should we be concerned about our child?
IPB: [Laughing in a combination of nervousness and condescension] Well, “concerned” is a very strong word, but… yes. Yes you should be.
Mrs. D: [Clutches pearls] Oh no! I knew we should never have moved! All the travel, all the uncertainty, all the unfamiliar surroundings! [Spins on Mr. D] This is all your fault!
Mr. D: My fault? But our old house was about to be condemned! We had no choice! And weren’t you the one complaining just last week about how the rats chewed through the sofa?!
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As you’ve probably heard already, Gentle Reader, the Devils opened their new arena on Saturday night. Being the hard-nosed journalist-types we are, we opted to stay home and watch it from the comfort of our couch, but we can imagine what sorts of fancy bells and whistles The Rock is sporting. Sure, everyone’s been reporting on the things like the various swanky lounges, the 732 flat-screen TVs, the cinderblock pillar-free home dressing room and the easily accessed public transportation, but what IPB is here to help you discover is the things no one is talking about. Here’s a look at some of the less publicized amenities the Devils and staffers will enjoy in their new home:
1. A 20-man hot tub; The Ralph Engelstad Arena no longer holds standard for multi-man hot tubs with its 12-man tub. This new one in The Rock blew Zach Parise’s mind.
2. A foeces-free all-you-can-eat oyster bar that finally lets Patrik Elias indulge his greatest passion in a food-safe and Hepatitis-free environment. On paper this seems like it should be a marked improvement over the foeces-ridden oyster bar at Continental Airlines Arena that was catered by Crazy Ivan’s Sheremetyevo Airport Foecal Oyster Shack, but in practice, Elias has been demonstrably petulant about the change.
3. 732 whiteboards, all with titillating behind-the-scenes information on them such as “Bus is at 5:15”. The whiteboards are strategically placed so that there isn’t a single spot in the arena where a person can stand without being able to clearly read at least one.
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In honor of tonight’s big home opener, we’re getting an hour long pregame extravaganza.
Ken Daneyko cannot stop raving about the murals at the new arena. This is understandable, as they’re a really nice touch to celebrate the Devils and to really hammer home that the arena is all about Jersey pride (a cause we can really get behind). However, we can’t help but snicker at his insistence that the reason the murals are so great is that “they really look like the people! I mean, that really looks like Larry Robinson! It looks just like him! That’s incredible! The artists should really be commended!” This reminds us of one of the many Nora Roberts books that featured a romantic hero who was an artist. The heroine looks at one his paintings of flowers on the side of the road in Ireland and says, “I’ve never been to Ireland but now that I’ve seen that painting I feel like I have! And isn’t that the point of Art?” Uh, no. But we’re glad Dano loves the paintings.
They give us a shot panning across the new dressing room which shows off how the Devils, like the rest of the league, have the team logo woven into the rug at the center of the room. However, unlike the rest of the league, the logo is miniscule. We suppose this is because the players are constantly walking across it, as part of their petulant coach-killing routines. Lou figured the smaller the logo, the less chance someone would stomp across in a fit of pique. When interviewed about what’s good about the new dressing room compared to the dank pit back at CAA, Zach responds, “Well, it doesn’t have the big concrete block in the middle of it!” Schnookie suggests that Zach hated that block because it would take Boxworthy ages to make his way across the room.
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Whew! We just barely get ourselves settled in front of the TV in time for the start of tonight’s Gomez-a-rama, and as Steve, Doc and Chico discuss how much Devils fans dislike Gomer now for his slag-facedness (uh, no, they don’t use that term, but they infer it), Pookie says happily, “Oh! Maybe the Rangers fans will boo him tonight!” Here’s hoping.
The pregame discussion then turns from Gomer (Chico very dryly says that while expectations were high for Gomer in Jersey, they’re now “a million times higher”) to Pando and Brylin, and Doc slyly editorializes in his segue that there are some players on the Devils “who have had opportunities to leave… but chose to remain.” Chico then piles on by telling us how there are some players (*cough, cough*) who underachieve, but Pandolfo and Brylin have never been accused of doing that. Huh. Who are they backhandedly referring to right here? (And seriously, Doc and Chico – tell us how you really feel.)
Dano doesn’t give us a ton of faith in Marty when he informs us he watched skatearound, and Marty looked “mentally prepared.” That’s fine, Dano, but did he seem physically prepared?
19:03 Doc and Chico chit-chat a bit about how the Rangers haven’t been scoring and chortling about whether they’ll be able to break their shutout streak (which, come on – the Devils are giving up about 18 goals a game), and no sooner are those words spoken than Rachunek tosses a pass up to Oduya and Greene who are dawdling in a too-many-men kind of change, Shanahan pounces on the puck, and Marty makes no effort to stop Nigel Dawes. 1-0 Rangers, but considering we expected the Rangers to score within 20 seconds of the start of the game, it’s better than we thought it would be by now.
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We’re kind of adrift here in the opening month of the season, starting to get a feel for which teams we might care about and which ones we’ll ignore until suddenly confronted with having to write a Western Conference Final preview in May, but for the most part, this is the time of year for passively letting the hockey wash over us. But while we might not be thinking very hard or even very much these days, we are still thinking, and this is a sampling of the hard-hitting hockey issues that have been on our minds lately:
1. Could it be that Lou has finally found a strategy for ending the rampant coach-killing in NJ? Tom Gulliti reported a few days ago that Sutter informed the press that Sheldon Brookbank would be in the line-up on Thursday. Gulliti, along with the rest of us, assumed, “Woo-hoo! Oduya’s finally getting benched!” Then what should get reported? Mottau’s the one sitting. You realize what this means, Gentle Reader; this means Oduya’s still in the line-up. There is only one explanation for this. Sutter is player-killing. He’s going to drive all the skaters insane. Fans should be patient with this plan; it might take a while to break them all, but once they are — each and every one — beaten and broken by Sutter’s insistance on playing an AHL-level defensemen at Number-1-NHL-D-Man minutes, they will all be ready to live and love and learn. To win. We hope.
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So we promised a diary of “Sidney Crosby: Revealed”, so here it is!
— This whole thing kicks off ignominiously, with a placard that reads, “In the Toughest Sport on ICE…” What’s with the all-caps for “ICE”? It reminds Pookie of a blog she found today, The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.
— Interspersed with all the dramatic shots of Sid trying not to look dopey standing next to a big block of dummy ice is the title screen “What would it be like to redefine a sport?” Dramatic shot of Sid again. “Ask him.” We didn’t have to watch this all the way through to know Sid wasn’t going to tell us what it’s like. What surprised us was that VS didn’t really bother asking. But we digress…
— Oh, Al Trautwig narration, how you make us think we’re watching Olympic cross-country skiing.
— Al intones seriously that Sid is so awesome, so fantabulous, so much better than expectations (true enough), but then he says that “In his own words, through his own eyes,” Sid will now share his life story. Pookie says in her Sid voice, “I was born a poor black man…”
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