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Pepe Lepew On May - 28 - 2010

For KQuark. Something a little lighter for a Friday

1) Playoff beards!
2) No sound in sports like the puck off the pipe!
3) When a hockey player scores … TEAM HUG!
4) There are no free throws in hockey.
5) “Upper body injury” is usually a sprained knee.
6) The greatest trophy in sport.
7) Everyone’s talking about Blackhawks and Flyers in the NHL. In the NBA, everyone is talking about … LeBron.
8. More ethnic diversity in hockey …. [OK, I made that one up, but Dustin Byfuglien is black, at least.]

9) You’re actually allowed to knock the other guys down … within reason.
10) And most of all, no four guys standing around at the three-point line watching their teammate dribble!

Saturday is the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks haven’t won since 1961 (I wasn’t even a hint of a twinkle in my dad’s eye yet), and the Flyers haven’t won since 1975.

I wish more people understood the game, learned to appreciate it, but I’ve also come to accept that it will probably always be a “cult” sport, and that the NBA Finals will be a much more watched event, especially if it’s the Lakers and Celtics … again.

One of my earliest memories as a kid was watching Bobby Orr leap in the air after scoring the Cup-winning goal in 1970. In the late 80s, when Gretzky came to the L.A. Kings, I was living in a ski resort town in the Sierra Nevada, and the entire town went mad for the Kings. It was amazing, watching the bars packed with people catching the Kings’ game that night. The game seemed poised to really take off and challenge the NBA for winter supremacy.

But, then hockey screwed itself time and again. First of all, the league allowed interference and the neutral zone trap to utterly destroy the sport. The neutral zone trap was a defence so stifling to the game that the owners actually locked out the players … and as part of the settlement deal to end the lockout, they actually negotiated rewriting the rules of the game to take the teeth out of the neutral zone trap (Honest, I think the only people who really liked neutral zone traps were coaches). I can’t think of another lockout or strike in any sport that entailed actually rewriting the rules of the sport.

After the lockout came a shitty TV contract with Versus. Versus actually does a damn good job covering hockey, but you have to pay about $70 or $80 a month to get a cable or satellite tier with Versus. NBC covers a few games, but I’m not a fan of their coverage. At least Brett Hull is off the NBC broadcasts.

Then, came Gary Bettman’s utterly disastrous “Southern Strategy,” his plan to grow the sport in the American South. It’s been an abject failure. Teams in Florida, Tampa, Carolina, Atlanta, Phoenix and Nashville play to half-empty arenas and get horrendous TV ratings — and that’s 20 percent of the league. Phoenix is in receivership and rumours are rampant every year all those other teams will be moving. Tampa won the Stanley Cup one year and lost millions doing it. Carolina had some modest financial success for a while, but they’ve come back down to Earth. The sport just isn’t catching on enough in the South to be commercially viable. Bettman refuses to admit his approach has failed and will not allow teams to move up north, to cities like Winnipeg, Hamilton and Quebec City. 20 percent of the teams in the league are dragging the entire NHL down financially. The NBA figured out 25 years ago you can’t allow sick franchises to drag the whole league down and did something about it with increased revenue sharing, etc.

I actually was a huge basketball fan as a teen. I’ll never forget those great Celtic-Laker series … that you had to watch at 11:30 p.m. on CBS on tape delay. I loved the Pistons-Celtics rivalry and the 76ers-Celtics rivalry. But those days, the game was about transition, which team could get out and run. That’s why the Lakers were so good. So athletic and creative. I think the three-point line killed the game for me. Too much standing around for me, four guys watching the guy with the ball, waiting for a kickout. I can’t get excited about it. I haven’t been able to since Jordan retired. For me personally, the NBA is sinking to the interest level of golf or NASCAR.

Still, us real fans have stuck with it through thick and thin. There is no moment as stirring to me as when the winning players skate around with the Stanley Cup. The pageantry of the moment. The tradition. I remember when the Avs won the cup with Ray Bourque, having a bunch of friends over for a barbecue and women who had never watched a hockey game in their lives crying their eyes out when Bourque raised the cup.


Categories: News & Politics

56 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    Congratulations to the Blackhawks for a game well played and away from home!

    It was quite the exciting game going into OT and really, we didn’t see the winning puck until they did the replay!

    There were a couple bad calls against the Blackhawks -- the icing call was so wrong -- but they came back and won the Stanley Cup!

    Now, here’s a few questions.

    What are they going to do once the Cup gets too big for them all to hoist in the air and carry around?

    Do you think that they will have to bring in another Cup?

    How much does the Cup weigh now, do you know?

    Is it true that the Cup started off rather small compared to today and they’ve had to add layers for all the names?

    Whose name is engraved the most times?

    And is it true that the Stanley Cup goes to every member of the winning team?

    Is it for 24 hours that they get the Cup?

    If so, they are going to fly that Cup to the team members in other countries?
    (I think we heard that last night about it being flown to Finland)

    Who started the growing of the beard thing and is there a reason that that was started?

    And is OT for hockey still sudden death?

    And is the 22 year old Blackhawk MVP winner the youngest captain of a hockey team?

    BTW, it’s been a long time that a team that we’ve been rooting for actually won!


    Good job, Blackhawks!!!!!

  2. WLA says:

    “At least Brett Hull is off the NBC broadcasts.”


  3. WLA says:

    PEPE! I loved reading this. I am a huge Tragically Hip fan, as well. Saw them in Detroit and was surrounded by Canucks with flags. :-)

    I will be going to Chicago on Thursday night and will be watching the Friday game somewhere downtown! That will be a blast, I’m sure!

    I really miss playing. :-(

    Game on!

  4. KQ says:

    Last night’s game was a Stanley Cup epoch in many ways. Lots of hits, shots, great saves and a few huge goals including a great shot. Antti Niemi was just not going to give up another goal during a ferocious onslaught from Philly. I’m really happy Hoss got off the schnide. He is a great player and the only player to ever get my local team the Thrashers in the playoffs.

  5. LiseLives says:

    I tend to like red & white uniforms more than blue & white :mrgreen:

    Hey ! I just needed any kind of sporty entree to be able to say hello to the sports fans here whom I haven’t seen in a while : Hello, KQ ! 😉

  6. Questinia says:

    Can I get any of you guys some salsa, chips and brewkies? Going into the kitchen so no bother.

  7. javaz says:

    5 to 5?

    Aye Carumba!

    What a high scoring game!

    • PepeLepew says:

      The Flyers’ third-string goalie …. played like a third-string goalie. 😆

      • javaz says:

        My husband said that the defense from both teams had the night off!

        BTW, I am rooting for the Blackhawks for the simple reason that I have a sweatshirt with the Indian logo!

        Since the Coyotes and Wings are out, it’s picking the Blackhawks or flipping a coin.

        • PepeLepew says:

          I love the Blackhawks logo, but it does carry some controversy. Some people claim it is an insult to Indians. Personally, it doesn’t bother me — I think it is a respectful homage — and I’m Metis. However, I can understand the logic of the people it bothers.

          The logo that really bugs the crap out of me is the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo.

          • KQ says:

            I like the new logo with the multi-coloured feathers much better. Though it seems like the native chief’s face gets darker and darker every year for some reason. Hell the current logo is darker than the president.

          • Khirad says:

            We’ve had this discussion before, and the primary issue comes down to another dominant ethnic group using a subjugated one as a mascot. As far as images go, it’s the call of First Nations and American Indians, but I don’t find it as offensive a racist caricature as Chief Wahoo.

            Did you see the class action lawsuit story by the way?


            • KQ says:

              To me the most offensive native logo is the Cleveland Indian’s logo. With the caricature of a native with big buck teeth. It reminds me of the old racist looking Sambo cartoon images or even the Nazi Jewish images.

              The most racist name to me is the Redskins for obvious reasons.

            • KQ says:

              Exactly I forgot about that cartoon.

              I think the most respectful names are the names of tribes like Blackhawks, Seminoles or other positive names like the Atlanta Braves. The positive nature connotations of the names and images are what’s most important to me personally.

            • Khirad says:

              Yes, exactly, those are what it reminds me of and why I categorically designate it as racist.

              Or, how about the Indian in old Warner Brother’s cartoons? (if I’m remembering right)

        • Khirad says:

          I guess I will too, their logo looks oh so familiar to me:


          • PepeLepew says:

            Yup, I was gonna say, the WinterHawks basically copied it.

            • Khirad says:

              They got special permission to use the logo. It comes directly from the Blackhawks with a minor change here and there. Wiki:

              the jerseys originally worn by the first Winterhawks team were a used set of Chicago jerseys obtained through connections between the owners of the two teams. In early photos, the old Chicago jerseys are identifiable by the letter C with crossed tomahawks on the shoulder crest. The Winterhawks eventually changed the C to a P.

  8. choicelady says:

    Thanks Pepe!

    I love hockey! Of course, I always thought the “group hug” sent you to the penalty box with a bloody nose and ripped shirt. That must be our ethnic diversity issue? All in your point of view?

    I think save for baseball that has its own beauty, hockey is the only sport that is constantly entertaining. It’s always edge-of-the-seat fun. I loved the Blackhawks (hometown) and Bruins (adopted hometown) and agonized over the Sabre (third place to live, lousy team) but the game is always interesting, no matter what. I am glad, though, that I was NOT at the game when the Sabres’ Malarchuk got his throat cut from a blade. Some things are NOT exciting.

    Thanks for the tribute to a sport that gets too little respect. I realize that when fights break out every 3 minutes, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but when it’s being played well -- and it usually is -- it’s endlessly fascinating and brilliant to watch. Wow.

    And it has SO little respect that charities can generally get a hockey celebrity to their fund raisers almost FREE.

    And Bobby Orr and I share a birthday. Not the year but the day. Who can ask for more?

    • KQ says:

      Fighting will always be part of the game. In many ways it stops dirty players from trying to hurt players on the ice.

      The Broad Street Bullies (the Dave “Sgt.” Schultz 75′ and 76′ Fliers) caricature of hockey really started to end 30 years ago around when Gretzky and all the European players game in the league. Last nights game was a great example of how the sport has changed. It was a hard fought game but Philly was not penalized once. That was the first time a team was not penalized in a final game since 1953. The refs missed a call or two but the point was it was far from the dirty game they played in the 70’s that prompted the parody “Slap Shot”.

      Most serious injuries occur like you pointed out by accident when someone gets cut by a skate.

      • PepeLepew says:

        You’re right. Every team carries one or two fighters just to keep the other teams honest.

        You know what’s funny about fighting. I have had so many conversations with people who know absolutely nothing about hockey who say they hate hockey because the fighting gets worse every year … when in reality, there is NOWHERE near as much fighting and gooning as there was 20 or 30 years ago. 30 years ago, it was quite literally sick.

        Honestly, the fighting to me is not that big of a deal. Fights usually happen in the first 10 minutes of the game. It’s almost always something that has carried over from some previous game. It’s usually two guys who wail on each other for 30 seconds until someone falls down, then it’s over and they go back to playing hockey. You rarely see anyone actually get hurt. At worst you see a bloody nose. I find that aspect of the game funny, to be honest.

      • Khirad says:

        I always wondered about that. How many times does that happen with a cut skate? I think I’ve seen maybe one happen.

        • PepeLepew says:

          The skates scare the hell out of me. I’ve never been cut, but I’ve seen people cut.

          Actually, in the NHL, with so many stupid players refusing to wear visors (about 50 percent don’t wear visors, they should be mandatory, IMO), I think you see more guys hurt by pucks and sticks than skates. Have you ever heard of Brian Berard? Got his eye taken out by an errant stick. I was actually watching that game on CBC. It was hideous.

          • KQ says:

            Visors and ear protectors should be mandatory period. Take it out of the players hands because I think many players would not mind playing with visors but it’s a Canadian macho peer pressure thing. All players now coming up are use to cages and masks so their is no excuse about comfort.

            I would prefer a full face shield like LaPeirre (sp) is wearing now but I know they are not ready for that yet. What I don’t understand is how OSHA and CCOHS (which has tougher standards for Canadian workers) requires certain safety equipment on the job where workforce danger are present with workers who have to wear all kinds of protective equipment but a game with a projectile flying around close to 100 mph does not need eye protection at the very least.

            Ankle and foot guards should be mandatory too.

            Hockey to me is probably the worst sport at protecting their players.

            It’s going to take a tragedy like Dale Earnhart dying with his little road runner helmet for hockey to get it right.

            I think they should device removable visors for players who do want to fight though.

    • KQ says:

      Well congrats to your hometown for winning game one 6-5.

  9. Khirad says:

    Hehe, you’re totally asking for war! 😉

    I have to say a good NCAA game and the Lakers and Suns 4th quarter was pretty exciting for me. If only it weren’t for Artest… oh, and there were hugs. Ever see that study that showed the NBA teams that hug more score more? Who comes up with these studies?

    If anything, Steve Nash is bringing a little hockey to the NBA. He gets his nose broken and he just pops it back in place back down the court. But I swear, it’s just not that I’m a Suns fan. I’m so sick of Kobe and the Lakers (no offense). I’ll never no what it’s like to root for the Lakers, Yankees or USC football team. And I kinda don’t know how I could vote for anyone but the underdog.

    I like the three-pointer. It beats a lot of guys just hangin’ out in the key. It spread the game out, makes it more fluid, changes tactics -- forces defending the whole half court also allowing fakes and a quick drive ot the hoop, and gave guys like me a forte. I was pretty good at sinking them. Won a contest at basketball camp even. I dunno, it’d be like going back to the granny shot or taking away the jump shot.

    I guess I grew up with the Blazers and Sonics (RIP). There are no NHL teams in the Northwest save for the Canucks. I have yet to understand that. Went to a couple Winterhawks games, and went to one Coyotes game. It was notable for all the local college girls with Canadian accents. Nobody really cares. The Southern strategy makes no sense to me, either.

    It seems to be a cultural thing, but broader than Lacrosse. There really was just never a hockey culture wherever I’ve lived. Of course, when I go to Canada, a dead giveaway that I’m American is when I ask for the basketball game score. 😆

    I guess the real fight would be whether the Stanley Cup is better than the World Cup.

    Oh, totally, Stanley Cup has to be the best

    • KQ says:

      Now just from a aesthetics stand point the NBA is boring to me because it’s too easy to score. So in most games only the last few minutes matter.

      While F

      • PepeLepew says:

        Seriously, my biggest gripe with soccer is all the diving, the players writhing on the ground going, “oh, dear, I was savagely kicked, oh, the pain, the humanity…” then five minutes later, THEY’RE OK! Too much acting for me! It’s like a whole sport full of Manu Ginoblis.

        Another thing I like about hockey is that it’s an unsportsmanlike penalty and a fine from the league if you dive!

        • KQ says:

          I was going to mention the diving but even without it the sport is too slow.

          Soccer is a fabulous sport to play though. I liked playing it much more than football in HS. I would recommend it over football to any parent.

      • Khirad says:

        Well, that is true, you only really have to watch the fourth quarter.

        And now, with the Lakers and Celtics… I don’t care anymore. Especially since the East just doesn’t stack up to the West in basketball, and Kobe is invincible. Seriously. There is nothing you can do. I have to admit, the shots he pulls off are magic. You can build momentum, and he’ll just deflate you every time in the most clutch circumstance, every time. It might be heresy, but I think in a couple years he’ll eclipse Jordan minus the flashy dunk.

        The Suns and Lakers series was also entertaining because the point guard which subs for Nash is Dragic. LA would always send in Vujacic. They’re both Slovenian and have real hard feelings from the home country.

        Now, if only Basketball were more like hockey in this regard. Let ’em get it out of their system! 😆

        That’s another problem. I really can’t name but a few hockey players. When I saw everyone in DC with their Caps jerseys, I hadn’t a clue who any of them were. Of course, I couldn’t name a Wizards player, either.

        I might just add where I touched upon that Portland is a smallish to medium sized city and the only pro game in town was the Blazers. I came of age during the Drexler years, even saw him once at a restaurant. That’s where basketball was instilled into me. It’s like a cult in that city. It’s serious (no matter all the travails). But, if it’s not a hometown team, I really can’t get into it. That goes for about any sport, except maybe the Super Bowl where I hope for a team I hate to root against.

        On the free throws though, perhaps a power play scenario would be interesting -- but -- not have the same effect due to high volume scoring.

        As for soccer. You just get used to it. It’s like you adjust to the rhythm. It’s about strategy, breaking down the defense. And especially with the Germans, Swedes and Dutch -- it’s methodical. You can see the cogs turning, the formations adjusting. In Carlin’s war analogy, soccer is like good ol’ 17th-18th century tactics. You have your infantry, artillery, cavalry. It’s about so much more than the

  10. KQ says:

    Oh yeah and I had tears in my eyes for another reason the year Bourque won the Stanley Cup. It was at the expense of my Devils winning their 4th in 10 years. 👿

  11. KQ says:

    Bravo Pepe excellent 10 Commandments of why the Stanley Cup Final is better than the NBA Fina.

    Now the Golden Rule:

    Hockey is not a sport for hockey fanatics, it’s a religion.

    I remember the great wars between the Bruins and Broad Street Bullies (the Flyers in the 70’s) but the biggest thing that got me into hockey were two fold. First hockey was the only sport my school in upstate NY was any good at and that’s when I fell in love with live hockey. Even though I was a good skater I was a terrible intramural hockey player because I started way too late (we had no hockey in high school so I played soccer than football).

    Second my real love for the NHL game started in college as well because most of the people I went to school with were from LI and that’s when the Islanders had their series of Stanley Cup trophy’s I’m sure you remember.

    Then was the coup de gras. Hockey came to my home state of NJ with the Devils. Since NJ was always the bastard stepchild of sports between NY and PA it was easy to fall in love with the fast rising franchise. On top of that the second company I worked for had season tickets to the Devils right next to the game cameras on center ice which were great seats. Before I left NJ I must have went to about 50 games and one of our splurges is the NHL center ice package. We still go to Thrashers games when we can, especially if the Devils are in town. Of course it helps that the Devils have been a perennial winner in the NHL and have won three Stanley Cups with great clutch players like Scott Stevens, Marin Brodeur, Captain Kirk Muller, Slava Fetisov, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayor, Bill Guerin, Kenny Danyko, Claude Lemieux, Scott Gomez, John Madden, well you get the idea.

    I love the NFL game too but hockey is my religion.

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