Sunday, January 30, 2011

NHL All-Star Weekend

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the NHL All-Star Game. Over the past couple years, it just honestly hasn’t done it for me like it did when I was younger, and apparently, I wasn’t the only NHL fan who felt this way. After taking last year off of the All-Star festivities because of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics, I’ll admit that I kind of missed the All-Star game and its processes, flaws and all.

So this year, the NHL decided to try to fix the All-Star selection and organization process. Instead of the typical East VS West style they’ve used for years, team rosters are selected via the All-Star team captains who are selected. Starting players are still voted for by fans (a process which still remains as broken as ever), and the selected team captains (in this case, the captains of each team are Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and future hall-of-famer Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom)“draft” from the pool of players picked by the league to participate. A risky gamble definitely, but somehow, someway, it all kind of works…to a degree. Now that All-Star weekend has come and gone, let’s go through all three stages of the weekend All-Star process: the Draft, the Skills Competition, and finally, the All-Star game itself.


The All-Star game fantasy draft found Team Staal and Team Lidstrom select from the thirty-some odd players, among them being superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and more besides. The whole Draft evening was in a nutshell, kind of boring to be honest. The whole process was just drawn out, and the shitty commentating from the usual lineup of announcers that Versus supplies us with didn’t help matters either. Even the players looked bored. Case in point, Ovechkin and goaltender Cam Ward, both seated next to each other and obviously texting each other some comical things judging by the smiles on their faces. Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien looked like he was going to fall asleep at any moment. Flyers star Danny Briere looked like the chair he was sitting in was quite uncomfortable or he was going to shit his pants. The real highlight of the whole night however was seeing Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel get picked last by Team Lidstrom, which amounted to being “the All-Star that no one really gave a shit about”. It came out afterwards that the NHL awarded Kessel money to give to his cancer charity and a new car for receiving the dubious honor, but all in all, the Draft was a bore. Hopefully the NHL manages to improve the process down the road.


The Skills Competition is something that I always look forward to seeing and generally enjoy, this year being no exception…for the most part. What made this year’s edition so enjoyable to watch wasn’t the players per se’, but instead the gaffes made by the arena announcer calling out the players and some of the effects crew as well. Most notably was Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis get announced as being from the Florida Panthers, and Chicago Blackhawks winger (and former Flyer) Patrick Sharp come out to a Columbus Blue Jackets logo being portrayed under his name. Now that would have been a funny prank, to make Sharp think he just got traded to the Jackets by doing this, and just tell him that “we forgot to tell you”. That could have been classic.

Anyway, the Skills Competition itself was fun, thanks pretty much to the players who participated. From Montreal Canadiens rookie defenseman P.K. Subban borrowing Carolina Hurricanes rookie forward Jeff Skinner’s jersey to wear so he wouldn’t get booed, to Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas falling on his ass during a rink-race with ‘Canes goalie Cam Ward, to Alex Ovechkin breaking sticks left and right (and subsequently ganking Kris Letang’s during the Hardest Shot segment), without even meaning to! These guys made the whole night worth watching, and they generally had fun throughout for the most part, particularly the rookies who took part, even though a handful of them (most notable being Edmonton Oilers rookie phenom Taylor Hall and Panthers winger Evgeny Dadonov) looked like they were miles away.

And one last thing here too, I don’t want to sound like I kiss Ovechkin’s ass too much, but what all he did during this game is just one of the many reasons I love this guy so much more than his fellow superstar forward, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. Crosby is extremely talented, and did not participate this year due to a concussion (in fact, Crosby has only once participated in an All-Star game, every other time he’s been selected he’s been injured) and even lobbied against the new format of the All-Star game as well. The fact is however, is that Crosby never looks like he’s having fun out there on the ice; at least not like Ovechkin does. True, Crosby has more hardware and accolades than Ovechkin does for the time being, but Ovie has the personality that many NHL players today sadly lack.

And oh yeah, former badass great Jeremy Roenick asking the Thrashers’ Byfuglien (who just so happens to be one of the few African-American players in the league) to “spit out some raps” was equal parts awkward and hilarious.


The first thing I noticed before the game even started was that the audio was out of synch, and it was painful (and wasn’t fully fixed until BEFORE THE THIRD FUCKING PERIOD!). What made things even more painful to watch however was the staged moment before the puck drop between a bunch of little kids all wearing the jerseys of former hockey greats like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. This was softened however thanks to appearances from Hurricanes greats Ron Francis and Rod Brind’Amour; two of the absolute best players to ever play for the franchise. And oh yeah, 3 Doors Down performed during the first intermission…I know I mentioned the word “painful” before, but I think applying it to this aspect is the best use I’ve made of the word yet. I could make better music using my ass hole and a jug.

All that aside though, the All-Star game in itself was entertaining enough to watch, and despite not featuring such things as big hits, dirty penalties, and guys beating the shit out of each other; in other words, all the things that make hockey great. But that’s the thing about the NHL All-Star game, you know already that you’re not going to get any of that, and that’s why so many NHL purists would love to see the whole thing done away with. I can sympathize with them to a point, but as a fan more so than anything else, I think that it’s something that should NEVER be done away with, but is still in need of some serious tinkering regardless. After all, there’s just about always room for improvement in just about anything, and the All-Star game is no different.

Speaking of room for improvement, I can’t write about this anymore without mentioning the NHL Guardian Project. 30 super heroes crafted by legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, all based on the 30 NHL teams. It was an idea that actually intrigued me when I first heard about it, because I’m a nerd first and an NHL fan second. But I can honestly say that these 30 superheroes are so damn lame, and are created based on the literal meanings and definitions of what the team names stand for. The “Bruin”, which is a giant bear, or the “Hurricane”, or the “Avalanche”…all this from the guy who years ago co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, the Fantastic Four, the original X-Men, Daredevil, and more besides. And the presentation of these “Guardians”? Christ almighty…I’m having a hemorrhage just thinking about it, and I think it may have lead to me pissing blood…

Anyway, now onto the fucking game! The game itself was what one would come to expect from an NHL All-Star game. Lots of offense, zilch on defense, and everybody just having a bit of fun, except for the goalies of course. Seeing Blackhawks sniper Patrick Sharp walk away with the All-Star MVP is cool, considering that this guy NEVER got a chance with the Flyers and was frequently shipped back and forth between the NHL and AHL, until he was traded to the Blackhawks for practically a bag of pucks. Now he’s a Cup champion, having a career year, and is an All-Star MVP. Team Lidstrom may have beaten Team Staal, and the game itself turned out to be pretty nail biting towards the end.

All in all, despite its assortment of flaws, annoyances, and general grievances (3 Doors Down sucks more than a desperate and coke-deprived Lindsey Lohan), this year’s edition of the NHL All-Star game was an entertaining endeavor. It’s good to see all these big-name players get together for one big bash and not take it too seriously, and just forget for one game about the conference races and playoff pushes, and that’s what it’s really all about in a nutshell. With all that being said though, the playoffs aren’t all that far away, and before you know it, someone will be raising that big beautiful bitch that is known as the Stanley Cup.

It’s a celebration bitches, enjoy yourselves.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Big 4: Do a Fucking American Tour!





These four acts birthed the thrash music genre in the 80s, forever being linked together as being “The Big 4”. All more or less hailing from the southern California area, The Big 4 took inspiration from such classic acts as Black Sabbath and KISS before them, and crafted some of the most unbelievably memorable metal music in the history of the music industry. Flash forward to today, and the impact that these four bands have had on the genre still resonates, maybe now more than ever.

That’s why when news that all four groups were getting together for a European festival tour sent shockwaves throughout the metal community. Then, just a day or two ago, it was hinted that there would be a major announcement coming about re-uniting here in the States. Immediately upon hearing this, I nearly shit my pants in excitement. The thought that maybe they’d be going out on a full-blown American tour would be too good to pass up to say it lightly, and then the news came…

They’re playing one show in Indio, California at Empire Polo Field.

What the fuck?

Let’s get a few things straight first of all. There may be more shows on the horizon that spread throughout the rest of the country. Also, even if there is only one show, I can understand performing it in California, based on the fact that all four bands call the state their home and that’s where they first achieved some fame and really got noticed. That being said, I can understand these guys playing there, maybe kind of going back to their roots, to where it all began. Then again, if The Big 4 doesn’t kick off a full-blown American tour, I’ll instead be shitting my pants in disappointment.

Say what you will about Metallica, it’s all been said plenty of times before. They sold out. They sued Napster. They’re only in it for the money any more. All of that is fairly true, but the reality of the situation is this: Metallica made metal music mainstream, which is nothing short of an amazing feat. I’ve seen them twice in my life, and no matter what I or anyone else may think of them, I dare anyone to tell me that they don’t get chills driven down their spines when they belt out “Fade to Black”. These guys still have the talent and the will to deliver powerful, head-banging music that still puts any recent metal band to hit the big time to shame.

Slayer is a band that people either love or hate, simple as that. Superstar producer Rick Rubin helped the band perfect their brutality and talent for album treatments, perfectly reconstructing the energy and power of their live performances for audio listeners. Though Slayer has seemingly suffered moments of self-parody with their last few albums, the impact that they have had cannot be denied.

Megadeth, fronted and founded by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine as a giant middle finger to his former bandmates, is thrash metal at its near finest to this day. Disregard their late 90s releases, and nearly everything this band has put out has been hard, heavy, and features some of the most pure and brilliant songwriting to see the light of day. That, and the fact that Mustaine was told some years ago that he’d never play guitar again and has since defied that diagnosis to fucking infinity, just illustrates how undying Megadeth is.

Anthrax has never had as much mainstream success as the other three bands that make up The Big 4, but their contributions are incredible regardless. These guys have stuck by their roots, even in the midst of different singers in different eras, but no matter what, Anthrax delivers powerful thrash music, and are one of the few bands I’ve seen live that actually manage to have fun on stage doing what they do. That, and the fact that guitarist/co-founder Scott Ian is a fucking madman helps make Anthrax as entertaining today as they have been throughout their whole existence.

As you can tell, I have a lot of love for The Big 4, even though I'm not nearly the metal head that I was in my youth. Despite that,my love for them is so much that if these guys do decide to do a full-blown American tour and snub the Philadelphia area, I’m willing to catch them in another city and/or state. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime deal to see these guys together and live. Ticket prices will no doubt be ridiculous, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay just to say that I was there. I’ve seen all four of them by themselves throughout the years, and Jesus Christ I even find myself debating internally about making a trip to California in April to be there first hand, so maybe you can understand my excitement about all this.

And oh yeah, if they do end up dicking over the rest of the States, well…you can bet on finding an eventual angry blog down the road written by yours truly.

As soon as I’m done shitting myself that is.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncensored "Bulls VS Blazers" review for Sega-16...motherfucker.

Below is the complete, unedited, and uncensored review for the Genesis sports dirge known as "Bulls VS Blazers & The NBA Playoffs". This is my first review for the Sega Genesis tribute site Sega-16, and hopefully more will be on the way.

Here's the link for the review as it appears on the site (if it doesn't link, just copy & paste it into your browser, because this fucker is being tempremental today): vs Blazers & the NBA Playoffs

And here's the review in all its nasty glory!

Before NBA Live became their annual basketball moneymaker, also known as the same game released every year with little to no updates besides the team rosters, Electronic Arts' EA Sports imprint made some solid basketball sims for the Genesis that directly followed the NBA playoffs of the year before. Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs follows in the footsteps of the previous editions Lakers vs. Celtics and Bulls vs. Lakers. On the surface, there isn't much difference between BvB and those two games which came before it, but nevertheless, this is one enjoyable basketball game, and one of the better basketball games that you'll find in the system's library, which so happens to feature a surprising shit-ton of basketball games.

Picking from one of the sixteen teams that made 1992 playoffs (I remember this upsetting me a bit in my youth for the game not featuring my beloved Sixers, even though NBA Hall of Famer and then Sixer Charles Barkley is featured on one of the game's all-star squads), BvB owns a place in sports video game history by being the first game allowing the player to create their own fantasy team, in which you can have Jordan and Jordan duke it out, or even have a whole team consisting of nothing but duplicate Michael Jordan's or whomever else you desire (or a whole team of Mark Eaton's...yes, freakish Mark fucking Eaton's running all over the nightmare). And yes, if for some reason I haven't driven the point enough already into your skulls, the legendary NBA superstar is here in all his glory, which is an ultra-rarity in itself in the world of basketball video games, let alone ones from the 16-bit era. Certain players are also able to perform their signature dunks, a majority of which look alike to one another, but this is the 16-bit Genesis we're talking about here, so you just have to take what you can get out of it.

BvB features some surprisingly good graphics for its time and some startlingly good sound effects as well. The squeak of player's shoes on the hardwood and the whistle of the officials all sound crisp and clear, with only the voice-overs sounding slightly grainy. Graphically, the character models resemble their real-life counterparts, although after a while you'll notice how there are only so many different head models to use for different players. Despite that though, the game still looks good for its time in terms of 16-bit graphics as the players move fluidly, and most of their signature dunks are well animated enough.

The basketball mechanics are solid, and the game is easy enough for newcomers to pick up and play without too much of a steep learning curve. One thing that is noticeable (and current-gen developers should take note of this) is that the game actually gets more challenging the deeper you progress in the playoffs. The NBA finals are no cakewalk here, and if you win the title here, trust me when I say that you've earned it. BvB doesn't feature a battery-backed save feature (which wasn't just yet a staple in sports video games cartridges, because God knows that could have made things so much less cumbersome in the long run), so a password system is implemented in order to save your playoff progress. Thankfully, the game's password system is short and sweet like a pornstar midget (yeah I said it), unlike a number of other password-featured games of the time which feature more cumbersome and flat out annoying codes to enter.

When you take everything that BvB offers, you'll soon realize just how ahead of its time this game was in its day. Calling this game a sim is the right term to use, as it just lacks that feel of an arcade-like endeavor. The opponent AI is beatable, but it just doesn't lay down and let you pass and shoot all over it either, which is something else that EA would do well by looking back into their past for inspiration with all the recent fuck-ups that have popped up of late (or can be plainly put as that the game was so bad and EA knew it), resulting in shelving its latest NBA game (NBA Elite) before this past holiday season. That in itself is really saying something about EA here. The publisher has always been known as profit before quality in terms of a majority of their games, and the fact that they didn't even want to release what was practically a finished product just shows you right there how much of a total piece of dogshit we were saved from ever sticking in our consoles.

Whew! Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there for a second. Anyway, the gameplay of BvB may come off as kind of slow and sluggish for those who are unaccustomed to this sort of thing. Those more familiar with free-flowing arcade-type basketball games like NBA Jam or NBA Street will find little to enjoy here, but for those who grew up with this game, you know damn well what you're getting here. All things considered, this was truly the game-changing beginning for basketball videogames, even though it was at this point the third installment in EA's then-annual series.

All in all, just like the two games that came before it, Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs laid the groundwork for EA's NBA Live franchise, and for a number of other basketball titles to follow as well. BvB is a worthwhile (and generally pretty cheap, even complete with case and instruction manual) pick up for your Genesis collection if you desire some vintage basketball action that delivers the goods. If you want the whole regular season & playoffs with all the teams involved though you're shit out of luck here and you'll want to look elsewhere. Still though, you could do a lot worse in terms of Genesis hoops than Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs, so try not to be a dumbass about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The best damn hockey names in the NHL today

As you've more than likely realized by now, I'm a huge hockey fan, always have been and always will be. That being said, if it's one thing I've often noticed in hockey, more so than any other sport, is that hockey players tend to have some just plain awesome sounding names. Sometimes they've been a little laughable (Joe Nieuwendyk...come on, just say it without snickering) and more often than not they've been more difficult to pronounce than they should (Guilliame Latendresse...yeah, say that three times fast), but there's just something about some hockey player's names that you can't helo but adore.

Below I've compiled a list of current NHL players who have the best damn names in the league. The list has been put together in no particular order (organized by team order actually), just for the fact that besides good 'ol Cal Clutterbuck (just say that name in your head...okay, now imagine him checking the shit out of someone, looking down at them and saying "you just got Clutterbucked"), it's just hard to pick a hands-down favorite. Enjoy!

Teemu Selanne - Anaheim Ducks

Dustin Byfuglien - Atlanta Thrashers

Johnny Oduya - Atlanta Thrashers

Adam McQuaid - Boston Bruins (put a "Mc" before any name and it automatically sounds awesome)

Jeff Skinner - Carolina Hurricanes

Rob Klinkhammer - Chicago Blackhawks

Kevin Shattenkirk - Colorado Avalanche (a combination of William Shatner and Captain Kirk? Hmmmm.....)

Fedor Tyutin - Columbus Blue Jackets

Jamie Langenbrunner - Dallas Stars

Karlis Skrastins - Dallas Stars

Justin Abdelkader - Detroit Red Wings

Magnus Paajarvi - Edmonton Oilers

Keaton Ellerby - Florida Panthers

Bryan McCabe - Florida Panthers (see Adam McQuaid)

Jack Johnson - Los Angeles Kings (not because of the musician, just because it sounds cool)

Ryan Smyth - Los Angeles Kings (just for the spelling of his last name alone)

Michal Handzus - Los Angeles Kings (when he played for the Flyers, every time he got the puck, fans would yell "ZEUS"! to my knowledge, they still do)

Cal Clutterbuck - Minnesota Wild (the grand-daddy of 'em all!)

Mike Cammalleri - Montreal Canadiens

P.K. Subban - Montreal Canadiens

Shea Weber - Nashville Predators

Travis Zajac - New Jersey Devils

Zenon Konopka - New York Islanders

Bruno Gervais - New York Islanders

Wojtek Wolski - New York Rangers

Michael Del Zotto - New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist - New York Rangers

Mats Zuccarello - New York Rangers

Jarkko Ruutu - Ottawa Senators

Filip Kuba - Ottawa Senators

Kimmo Timonen - Philadelphia Flyers

Scottie Upshall - Phoenix Coyotes

Vernon Fiddler - Phoenix Coyotes

Paul "Biz Nasty" Bissonnette - Phoenix Coyotes

Deryk Engelland - Pittsburgh Penguins

Logan Couture - San Jose Sharks

Antero Nittymaki - San Jose Sharks

Carlo Colaiacovo - St. Louis Blues

BJ Crombeen - St. Louis Blues

Steven Stamkos - Tampa Bay Lightning

Martin St. Louis - Tampa Bay Lightning

Clarke MacArthur - Toronto Maple Leafs

Carl Gunnarsson - Toronto Maple Leafs

Manny Malhotra - Vancouver Canucks

Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Canucks

...and that's pretty much it. Any ones I missed? Discuss!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fuck the Westboro Baptist Church

If you've never heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, you should consider yourself lucky.

Based out of Topeka, Kansas; the WBC is a cult-like religious group led by Fred Phelps, whose propaganda includes slander against homosexuals and just about anyone and everyone else who doesn't fall into line with him. To make a long description short, the WBC are a step or two away from giving suicide bombers a run for their money in terms of religious extremism.

Having their members, and children, walk around carrying signs of what God supposedly hates is one thing, but this crew of jackoffs also takes the time to protest and picket the funerals of police, military, and even late metal singer Ronnie James Dio. Their logic for doing so? Because God is angry with everyone due to homosexuality. Yup...take the time to take that all in. I never thought I'd say this, but these idiots make Pat Robertson look like Albert fucking Einstein.

Their method is deceptively simple: enrage enough people to illicit a physical beatdown, then sue their asses. It's pretty much the only way that the WBC has stayed in business and kept their compound in Topeka up and running, and they've gotten quite good at it. But if it's one thing that really brings my fucking piss to a boil with these pricks, it's the fact that they have the gall to attempt to protest and picket the funerals of the various victims of the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Victims that include 9-year old Christina Taylor Green, who the WBC claim was killed due to "our disobedience to God".

Now I'll say right off the bat that I am an atheist, and that I do not believe in any form of higher power whatsoever. That being said, what I understand what the idea of "God" is that of an all-powerful, omnipotent, and FORGIVING being. The "God" that Phelps and the rest of his WBC assholes claim to represent sounds like a straight up evil prick. Granted the Old Testament God can be described as being a bit of a prick as well compared to the one found in the New Testament, but nowhere near the sort that the WBC claim to march and speak for.

I also want to take the time to address the fact on these pricks right to protest whatever they want. I wholeheartedly believe in First Amendment rights, but the WBC offers the most foul representation of such that it's just plain fucking sickening. The WBC hide behind the First Amendment, and preach the bullshit that they preach for little more than getting media play and the hope that they can reach out to other sad and depraved like-minded individuals to join their ranks. Give it another few years, and we'll hear in the news about them all drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in an effort to get closer to God or catch a mystical comet or some other bullshit. That is, if God doesn't hate Kool-Aid, and personally, I don't want to worship any God that hates the holy nectar that is said Kool-Aid.

I may sound like I'm beating a dead horse by this point, but these guys are cowards to boot too. My senior year in college at Temple University, the WBC was scheduled to appear to protest the campus productions of "The Laramie Project" and "Rent". When news of this struck campus, a massive (and I mean massive) counter-protest took place, prompting the WBC to not even show the fuck up. Cowards who hide behind and abuse the First Amendment who are almost on a Hitler-esque level. Cowards who show up to local Catholic schools here in Northeast Philadelphia and get sent running in the opposite direction when even the police here tell them to go fuck themselves.

Needless to say, I wouldn't piss on Fred Phelps and his cronies to put out a fire.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why HBO and the NHL need to unite again

Last time around I talked about the Winter Classic, and how NBC practically fucked the whole thing up due to their "creative" choices in camera work. One thing that I neglected to mention was the amazing four-part documentary that led up to the annual NHL mega-event, "24/7: Penguins/Capitals". If you missed out on this four hour long special and you're an NHL fan, you've been done a great disservice.

Anyway, what "24/7" managed to do was give viewers an inside view on the locker room interactions, day-to-day team affairs, and portraits of various players on both the Penguins and Capitals, leading up to the Winter Classic. It was profane, it was surprisingly graphic, and it was undoubtedly honest as well, as the series began with the Penguins sitting high atop the standings and superstar Sidney Crosby in the middle of a massive points-streak, while Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals were mirred in a big losing streak. By the time the documentary came to an end, viewers were given an on-ice view of the action on the rink, and it was just simply brilliant.

What I'm trying to get at here is that this is something that the NHL and HBO both need to do again. In press interviews or intermission reports, NHL players more often than not come off as humble, relatively polite, and have little in the way of personality, but as "24/7" showed us, that just isn't quite the case. The on-ice mayhem and shit talking, combined with the behind-the-scenes developments of the respective teams made for compulsive television watching. So much so that the ratings for this edition of "24/7" was a ratings juggernaut for HBO, coinciding with the ratings smash that this year's Winter Classic wound up being as well.

This is a sure-fire way to draw new fans into the sport of hockey and the NHL itself all at the same time. By providing these intimate looks at the players, teams, coaches, and even the fucking refs (who surprisingly came off as some just plain cool sons of bitches), one can learn just what the sport really is all about, and just how truly special a sport it is.

NHL athletes have more passion for their sport than any other brand of athlete in any other sport in the world today.

Don't believe me? Take a look at that picture (above) of Capitals center Matt Hendricks again.

That's what I thought.

Come on HBO, work some more magic with the NHL again, and soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fucking up the Winter Classic

The NHL Winter Classic has become the “event” that it was set out to be when originally conceived by the executives of the National Hockey League some time ago, and both the League and the fans alike are the better for it. What’s more exciting than the idea of watching hockey players grind it out against the elements? Absolutely nothing, this is hockey the way it was meant to be…

…you know, minus the shitty camera work that is.

Saturday night’s edition of the now yearly New Year’s Day event found NBC putting to use a similar camerawork style akin to that of what they do for their NFL games. The end result of this “creative” take on hockey is nothing more than a shitstorm of frustration for NHL fans. Corner battles for the puck were practically incomprehensible to watch, as was keeping track of the puck itself. I remember years back when the NHL was on FOX, a colored trail was used to help viewers keep track of where the puck bounced and flew on the ice (no, I can’t remember what the hell it was called exactly, and I’m too damned tired to look it up on fucking Wikipedia too, so blow me), and even that wouldn’t have worked out well here.

On one hand, I applaud NBC and the NHL for wanting to spice things up to draw in more viewers, because the NHL really does need them. Granted that ratings are the highest they’ve been for the League in quite some time, and the League as a whole is doing better than they have years before the lockout (both of them) ever loomed, but for some reason the sport just doesn’t have the viewership of the NFL, NBA, or MLB. That being said, with lockouts and labor issues looming for both the NFL and NBA, apparently ESPN is looking to give the NHL another shot since giving them up after the last lockout concluded. Let’s hope so, and then we may actually have some great play-by-play commentary again.

Speaking of the commentary, I like Doc Emrick as much as the next hockey fan, but other announcers and analysts on the NBC/VERSUS roster like Eddie Olczyk, Mike Milbury, and Darren Pang (God I hate him so much, always have) are so horrible and nerve-grating that I pine for the days of ESPN-flavored hockey. Could anyone call a better game than Gary Thorne? Fuck no! To this day, he’s still the first guy that pops in my head when thinking about calling a hockey game play-by-play, and I sure fucking hope to Christ that if/when ESPN takes another shot at the NHL, he’s the main man to go to.

Keep in mind that I know hockey doesn’t offer the same kind of universal appeal that watching a bunch of ‘roided up dudes in jocks wrassle around a field grabbing each other to get a hold of a dead pig has, so this may or may not have any kind of relevance to you whatsoever. If it doesn’t…well, suck my ass then ya bunch of pricks.

Uncle Nick needs another shot of motor oil…