By Chad Huebner
Well, it’s been almost a month since you last heard from me. I could come up with some Hunter S. Thompson-like excuse and say I was tracking deer in the upper reaches of Montana with my good friend and poker partner, Alec Baldwin, who still owes me $500 from the time he threw up in my Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons, the unscrupulous cur.
Actually, I was in a hyperbaric chamber due to a diving accident off the Maldives, watching the presidential debates from a TV placed outside the window, frothing and foaming at the mouth whenever McCain showed up on screen. I also wrote down a few random notes about what I’ve seen in hockey lately. . . careful to clean up the drool on the manuscripts, of course.
. . . Clearly the ‘Hawks have a couple of enforcers in Adam Burish and Colin Fraser; maybe even a trio, if Ben Eager can catch up to the rest of the group. But, just once, I’d like to see some of the headline guys wade into a fistfight, just to see what they’re made of. Johnny Toews could probably hold his own based on his size, but what about mighty-mite Patrick Kane? Can you imagine him grappling the likes of Zdeno Chara? It’d be like that giant from “Big Fish” tangling with Mini Me. . .
. . . Watching the ‘Hawks the last couple of games, I notice they’re exhibiting one of the best attributes in hockey: puck possession. It doesn’t take a Tim McCarver-level of genius to figure out that if you keep the puck away from the other team, they can’t score, but puck possession goes beyond this. It means taking about 70-80 percent of the faceoffs. It means crisp, clean passes: “right on the tape” as the hockey nuts like to say. It means setting up the power play with patience, trying to get everyone into position and not just passing the puck around the box like a hot potato. Conversely, it also means taking shot after shot, even if the shots aren’t there because the puck isn’t behaving. It adds up to outscoring the other team, which is just as good as winning (oops, I think I went Yogi Berra on that one). .
. . . The Dallas Stars just went through the road trip many a team has gone through in that they played the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders all in one week, and I realized something: hockey doesn’t have a catchy name for this unique three-team stop. In the NBA, when a team plays the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs on a road trip, they call it the “Texas Triangle.” What’s a good name for the Rangers-Devils-Islanders swing? The “Turnpike Triangle”? Nahhh, sounds too borrowed from the NBA. The “Interstate IHOP?” I’m coming up empty on this one, if anyone else can do better, let me know. . .
. . . Have I mentioned how good it is to have every ‘Hawks game on TV? Only about 1,152 times so far. . .
. . . One day, when I’m on my deathbed (hopefully king-size, because my feet hang over on anything smaller than a double), I will take these views to my grave: I hate the Red Wings, I still think the ‘Hawks gave away Chelly to Detroit way too soon for way too little in return, and that Amp Energy Drink is the only thing that keeps me awake anymore. You know what? If you happen to be at my funeral, and you happen to have a can of that stuff with you, pour the contents down my throat, and I just might go Lazarus in the casket. . .
. . . And that’ll probably be the only time in your life you hear the phrase “Lazarus in the casket. . .
. . . For the 2,453rd time, I don’t like giving a point to teams who make it to overtime. But what I hate more than that is when announcers tell us a team who, say has a record of 4-0-1, is “undefeated.” That last number means they lost in overtime or a shootout, so how can you say they’re “undefeated?” “Unbeaten in regulation,” maybe, though this also sounds shaky, as in “We’re good in regulation, but if we go to an extra period, we’ll potentially fall apart!” I just think this whole OT/SO business was so the NHL could get the standings back to looking like when they had the W-L-T standings, and not that Pick 4 gobbledygook the minors use. . .
. . . I witnessed possibly the worse combination of color in unis when I saw highlights of the Buffalo Sabres playing in Minnesota against the Wild. The blue and gold versus the Christmas colors. . . auuughh, what an eyesore, even on HD! Knowing our luck, this’ll be the Stanley Cup Final matchup. . .
. . . That didn’t sound too Harry Blackstone, did it?. . .
. . . Back to Burish. He reminds me of that crazy guy in the Sons of Anarchy. You know the one. Burish would look like him, provided he grew a little fuzz on that small chin of his. Burish looks like he’s going to do something really insane one of these days. He’s the type of guy who’d rather get hit than be hit in a fight, the guy who would bleed profusely from one side of his face and still smile at his opponent. Oh, wait a minute, that was Matthew Barnaby, wasn’t it?. . .
. . . I just saw Troy Brouwer score his first NHL goal. I’ve seen Kris Versteeg, another ‘Hawks rookie, still lead the team in assists after a month of play. And I also think of Johnny Toews, who has to be on top of the list of Best Players Who Haven’t Scored a Goal This Season Yet (and not for a Lack of Effort). His time will come, and then everyone better watch out. . .
. . . Yes, the ‘Hawks have two goalies capable of being starters, but they also have a glut of goalie talent at the minor-league level. The ‘Bulin Wall is going to be a free agent next year anyway, why not see what needy teams (like Dallas and the Islanders) would be willing to give up to get him? Then the ‘Hawks can bring up Corey Crawford from Rockford. He’s looked great this year, and he didn’t do too badly in late-season call-ups for the ‘Hawks last year. . .
. . . There isn’t just one Hockeytown, it’s wherever you make it. . .
. . . Just because I haven’t written a lot about hockey lately doesn’t mean I don’t follow things very closely. For example, I was reading something on NHL.com about Tim Thomas being the first goalie to post back-to-back shutouts since Craig Anderson did it last year. And then I thought “Didn’t that guy play for the ‘Hawks?” And I clicked on his name, and saw he was 1-1-1 this year for the Florida Panthers. And then I thought “Well, how are the Panthers doing this year?” And the short answer to that is not very well, but I see that Cory Stillman leads the team in scoring. And then I thought “Didn’t he play for the Carolina Hurricanes during their Stanley Cup win?” And so it goes and so it goes and so it go go goes. . .
. . . AARRRRGGHHH!!!!! MCCAIN!!!!! WHY CAN’T YOU SMILE LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!!!! ARRRGHHH!!! OOOO!!! ARRWOOOOO!!!!!!. . .
(Doctor’s note: It is here where Mr. Huebner’s scribblings must come to an end. Clearly, all this watching of the 2008 Presidential campaign, coupled with his perverse interest in the Panthers, is not helping his treatment in the hyperbaric chamber. I’ve been instructed to hand this column in to all of his “handlers”, and to strongly demand that Mr. Baldwin pay the money in fives and twenties.)
Remember; e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for anything on your mind. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.