Thursday, December 31, 2009

Party Over Oops Out of Time

Well, this concludes the Blueland Chronicle's famous military campaign of the 00's. See you in the next decade.

Also: Tonight, while you're out vomiting all over your fellow man, or perhaps getting drunk and eating delicious chili and watching the World Juniors, try to take some time to look up to the sky and see a once-in-a-blue-moon event: a blue moon!*

*If you live in the Far East, that is, in which case it's probably the futuristic New Decade already.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Malfunctioning Pneumatic Donkey Punch

I remember when this season was full of hope and promise. I tried to catch the spirit of this game in a live-blog, which you can read here. Or just scroll down to the next post.

Screw It, Let's Just Cold Live Blog This Ball Gag of a Game

- As I start this here live-blog (or, as I prefer to think of it, this "love-blog"), I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge that the Thrashers are losing 3 to fucking 0 at the end of the 1st Period. Matt McConnell is all like, "Well they're fragile" and Darren Eliot is getting progressively drunker. John Anderson has projectile vomited all over the place and Olympian Ondrej Pavelec (through not much fault of his own) has been chucked from the game in favor of Moose Hedberg. We're well on our way to losing 6 in a row. This is straight-up bullshit, dude.

- Before the 3rd Boston goal Big Shooter and I were talking about how awesome Pavel Kubina is. He's perhaps the only great man on the team, aside from Enstrom, Moose, and Kovalchuk. And the rest of them at the beginning of the season. How did this team become so bad? Oh hey Thrashers on the power play woooooooo

- Kovy with a hellacious one-timer that just cold bounces off this one dude and misses the net. Boston nearly scores short-handed but Moose is like NOOOOOOO.

- 1st period ends. Let the John Anderson blitzkrieg begin.

- How about that Team Canada, hmmmmm? Does Duncan Keith's chemistry with Brent Seabrook mean that he can't play with forgotten men like Jay Bouwmeester or Mike Green? Who is Patrice Bergeron anyway? Oh, a member of the team that's currently dining on our anguish. Darren Eliot looking sharp.

- I think I'm going to make a documentary called "My Team Canada," all about how I'm not certain about Brent Seabrook being an Olympian. It will be a harrowing portrait of human relationships and attachments.

- Still intermission. I wonder what kind of objects are being thrown/punched/burned alive in the visitors' locker room over at TD Garden. To entertain ourselves, here's a picture of a woman and a journalist dog:

- OOOOOH 2nd period.

- That Thrashers power play was an ill-bred swamp cur.

- Now, normally the Thrashers just suck all the time. But this season, they started off pretty well, then started to suck. Normally, when teams are reasonably good but go through a rough patch, they do something fairly radical to shake things up. Some teams fire coaches. Some teams fire entire front offices. Some teams, like the Columbus Blue Jackets, make a trade. The Thrashers have decided that the extra spark the boys needed was benching Todd White.

- Needless to say it isn't working. So far. Whoa hey Bruins power play, because of Colby "Marian Hossa" Armstrong.

- Two Thrashers, who I think were Evander Kane and Rich Peverley, had a damn fine short-handed chance but it didn't work.

- Sweet Jesus, another penalty. This time it's Nik "Yuri Andropov" Antropov.

- Boston penalty, 4 on 4, you all know what this means. What does it mean? Thorburn and the Party had a good chance but, etc.

- Oh I get it. The Thorburn-Reasoner shorthanded bid LED TO Chara's penalty. Funny how hockey works.

- Great big 3-on-1 play for Boston, which leads Christoph Schubert to be all "uh oh" and take a penalty. We will be on the penalty kill forever.

- Moose is, as ever, solid. It's criminal lunacy that he wasn't selected for Team Sweden. I mean, who is Jonas Gustavsson anyway?

- What a save. What a save.

- Thrashers just cold murdered that penalty. Kovalchuk and Antropov are out and about. WHAT WILL HAPPEN? It's a bizarre mystery.

- Some surly Bruin had a breakaway but was stopped by one of Moose's patented way-out-of-the-net Moose-checks.

- Idea for a National Geographic documentary: "Defensive Responsibility: What Is It and Where Does It Live?"

- Another one? ANOTHER ATLANTA PENALTY? Pavel Kubina to the box, Bruins to the power play, me to hopelessness.

- Well, they are killing it so far.


- Is this the natural final state of the Thrashers before their inevitable entropic heat death? Kovalchuk playing awesomely (though not, alas, in this game) and everyone else mouldering? I mean, really? There's a terrible feeling of decline and fall in the air.

- End of 2nd period. Oh woe, woe betide.

- Presented without comment:

- So, Jeremy Morin, what's the deal with him, hmm? I interviewed him back in the day, but everyone (including our own Big Shooter) says the poor man can't skate. How does this happen?

- Just to clarify: when I interviewed him I didn't ask him about his skating.

- Because that might have been rude. But journalists are supposed to be a bit rude. What ever happened to the days of the whiskey-soaked, tobacco-inhaling journalist chasing down some scathing exposé or hell-raising, muck-raking story that might put him (I use this pronoun because back in the day almost all journos were teh Men) at risk, but he's all "Oh I don't care, I'm a journalist?" I'm looking at YOU, "Fast" Willy Tiller!

- Blake Wheeler, a former Santiago Swine. Who are the Santiago Swine, you ask? They are 1) only the greatest team in Blueland Chronicle Fantasy League history, and 2) one of the teams that will come into the NHL when it expands to Latin America.

- If Marty Reasoner and James van Riemsdyk had a kid it would be named "James van Reasonerdyk." It would be a lesbian.


- I'm not sure why I'm thinking of James van Riemsdyk.

- Thrashers were on the power play a while ago, for Comedy.

- This Thrashers season is like being led on by a charming, intelligent, and attractive girl and then not only blown off, but blown off and thrown in front of a steamroller, and not only a steamroller but a fast one with hydraulics.

- Slava Kozlov, remember him? His hand appears to be hurt.

- Why am I even watching this game, much less love-blogging it? Whoa hey it looks like the Thrashers are going to end this malfunctioning pneumatic donkey punch of a game on a pretend power play.

- Aaaaaaaand that just about does it for Thrashers hockey in the 00s. A fitting finishing touch to a decade of shame.

Game Day: Boston Bruins

Maybe the Thrashers will get lucky and catch Boston looking forward to the Winter Classic. A blow-out would do nicely to turn things around.

Lucic is out, but Savard has been on a tear. Maybe Timmy Thomas will be nervous about Friday's Team USA announcement and will let in a few softies.

I'm really reaching here, folks. Five losses in a row have drained me of enthusiasm.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Re-Conquest of Mathieu Schneider Begins Today

You all know what this means. The Thrashers must now re-acquire Mathieu Schneider and call up Chris Chelios from the Chicago Wolves so that the two of them can play together on the oldest defensive pairing in hockey history, one with a combined age of 87. Come on now DW, let's do this one right. The Thrashers need to be remembered for something.

Also: I'm beginning to wonder if Zach Bogosian has been playing so forgettably lately ON PURPOSE, so he can get sent down to Chicago to play with his hero. Is this possible? Surely it must be.

5 In a Row

I can't get behind this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh For God's Sake

The Internet could be a very good sensation-novelist if it put its mind to it and learned some self-discipline. Right now it's saying that today's ultra-monumental "Milan Jurcina and Chris Clark go to Columbus/Jason Chimera (what a name) goes to Washington" event REALLY means that Washington is clearing cap space (a little over $2 million) for renting Kovalchuk.

Also, Roman Abramovitch is going to buy the entire NHL.


Why the laughing? Because comical former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay "Richard Branson" Feaster has inserted his two cents into the raging "Why does Ilya Kovalchuk allow his agent to terrorize the city of Atlanta?"/"Is Don Waddell as hapless as he sometimes appears to be?" debate, via this morning's edition of The Hockey News.

Basically Feaster says that when he was managing the Lightning the primary goal was to make a run for the playoffs every year, end of story, bottom line, consequences be damned. As the Romans liked to say, "Fiat justitia ruat caelum." He never traded good UFA players for valuable assets, and as a result the Lightning made the playoffs like four times and even won a Stanley Cup. Also, Pavel Kubina and Ruslan Fedotenko and Nikolai Khabibulin (whose agent was and is a certain Jay Grossman) left forever.

Feaster adopts a "learn from my mistakes" attitude in the article, admonishing Waddell to go ahead and trade Kovalchuk, so that the Thrashers don't end up like the Lightning and make the post-season several seasons in a row and win the Stanley Cup. THIS IS VERY CURIOUS.

Obviously Feaster has a point, especially when you consider what a botched nut-burning failed terrorist attack the Lightning are today (not that the Thrashers are, at the moment, much better). Then again the Lightning might be in such a sorry state partially because they fired Jay Feaster. But then again...

Basically, your editor has no fucking clue what's going to happen with Kovalchuk or with the Thrashers' chances of making the playoffs, and he has no wisdom to offer on what the sensible thing to do with Kovy might be. Neither, probably, does Jay Feaster. I figure it's more prudent to just give up hope now and wait for a glorious post-apocalyptic playoff run in 2012, but I hardly think it's out of the question this season...

What do you think?


(pictured above: your Chronicle staff, preparing for the Winter Classic)

Just give the ol' Chronicle a little time to crank things back up again. We'll be back in full force in the New Year, with bigger and better Ten Gallon Dick.

Also: Man, do the Thrashers suck, or what?

P.S. Oh yeah we play the Devils tonight or something.

P.P.S. Kovy and Max are on Team Russia, and Toby is on Team Sweden, so today we are all special Olympians, etc.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Who Laughs This Way...

Sweet baby Jesus, I realize I've been neglecting you kind people, but you're all probably spending awkward time with your families right now anyway, so hooray!

Sorry I didn't have time to get to Ten Gallon Dick this week. He will, I assure you, reappear next week when the festivities die down.

At any rate, Merry Christmas to all! We love and appreciate the fact that, for whatever reason, you keep coming back to read this thing. Hope all's well this Eve.

And now here's song-and-dance man Bob Dylan to welcome the reindeer:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Morin Makes USA Squad

Jeremy Morin has officially made it on the USA WJC team. Watch him pot some goals for the Red White and Blue starting December 26 on the NHL Network. He's going to be a heck of a player for Atlanta someday playing on a top line with Evander Kane.

In other news, the Thrashers posted a 12 Days of Hockey video on the official website. Despite the presence of my two favorite Blue Crew members and some grammy-worthy singing, I felt like we could do better. So here's my 12 days of Thrashers Christmas. Feel free to sing.

"On the 12th day of Christmas,
the Thrashers gave to me

Twelve Moose a-saving
Eleven Kanes forechecking
Ten years of hockey
Nine Martys partying
Eight Blue Crew pin-ups
Seven Boults a-punching
Six Pevs dispensing
Five Maxim dekes
Four shootout wins
Three Heatley Boos
Two dropping gloves
And a contract signed by Kovy."

Merry Christmas, happy Chanakuh, or a festive fabricated holiday to everybody.

Game Day: Boston Bruins

How much more fun would their games be if they were the Boston 'Brew'ins? And yes, I know the Samuel Adams Brewery would have been more appropriate, but Guinness had a major fire this week, so they need some love.

With the Boston B's not living up to the expectations they built last season, this is an important matchup for positioning in the conference standings. This will be the 36th game of the season for each team. Going into tonight's contest, Atlanta has one more win than Boston, but the Bruins are one point ahead in the standings.

In the month of December, Atlanta has been stuck in neutral, going 4-6-1 while the Bruins have done marginally better at 4-3-2. This would be a good game for one of these teams to snap out of their holiday haze and start playing some hockey.

Expect Boris Valabik (if he's in the lineup) to try to make a statement by dropping the gloves against his idol Zdeno Chara. Expect Andy Brickley's Boston accent to annoy the hell out of you. And pray to God that the these commercials left with the Phil Kessel Run:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Conspiracy Theory

Not saying that I believe this, but the thought occurred to me so I figured I'd share it.

In his statements yesterday, DW said that part of the difficulty in reaching an agreement with Kovalchuk is that he is concerned over the constant rumors that the team could be moved. He wants to sign a long term deal to play in Atlanta, but not if his contract moves with the team to the frozen tundra.

Obviously Canadians want our team out of the South and plugged into Beavertopia, but in the meantime I'm sure they would all be very happy just to see our marquee player stolen away by a team located in a colder climate.

Could recent rumors from anonymous bloggers citing anonymous sources be an attempt to destabilize the Kovy contract talks? We started hearing some positive things from DW and Kovy a few weeks ago, then woke up to Eklund and "NHLSecrets" twitter posts claiming that the Thrashers will be calling Quebec City home within five years, despite all that we know about the ties keeping the team in Atlanta and all other more viable relocation candidates out there.

Again, I am not saying that this is certainly the case. I am just saying that it has been a factor, and one that is convenient for folks who want a chance at signing Kovalchuk on the open market. In fact, it becomes a cyclical monster if these rumors derail a potential contract, Kovy leaves, attendance plummets, and the owners do decide to explore relocation options.

Important Christmas Announcements

I know I promised some more "Ten Gallon Dick" today, but various errands and gift-wrapping operations that have to do with the upcoming pagan holiday will stall our hero until tomorrow. December 23rd always was the best time for a Ten Gallon Dick Christmas special, don't you think?

Christmas and Kovalchuk

So, according to Vivs, the official word is contract talks have hit a "snag". Looks like the Kovy camp wants a long term deal with the same dollar amount every year, and the Thrashers want a sliding scale, much like other long term contracts you see these days. If this is the case, I hope Waddell holds his ground and I would think in Jan the Kovy camp would back off. I think. I hate this, all of it.

I hope they can look past this and come to an agreement. After all, it's Christmas, and the holiday season often makes even the biggest of enemies come together:

This is my last post before Christmas. I sincerely hope all of you have the best Christmas ever and that it is spent with the ones you love. Please also do not forget the reason we celebrate CHRISTmas. That's what it's all about.

This here blog has been a blast over the years (coming up on 2 years believe it or not!) and our readers are what make it so fun. Keep up the great work, folks. Merry Christmas and God Bless!

-Big Shooter

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ah! Quel grand mystère! La bataille finale contre les Canadiens de Montréal

Good King Wenceslas last looked out
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shown the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.

Hither, page, and stand by me.
If thou know it telling:
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes fountain.

Bring me flesh, and bring me wine.
Bring me pine logs hither.
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear the thither.
Page and monarch, forth they went,
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather.

For what happens next, tune in to "Ten Gallon Dick" tomorrow. And as Sonny Perdue once said, "Go Thrashers."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Gloom Mounts

Everyone knows that Jay Grossman met with Don Waddell yesterday. RDS, seemingly independent of that SovSport report but basing the claim on some nameless "source sûre," is reporting that talks have broken down. The report says that Kovalchuk and Grossman are demanding the league maximum, and that DW (rightly) doesn't want to spend that kind of money.

Obviously I hope the contract talks don't go off the rails because of simple greed (actually, strike that; settling for nothing but the league max would be an example of laughable, ultra-tacky, over-the-top greed that should embarrass all concerned), but we have no way of knowing whether this anonymously-sourced report is true or not. Nobody knows anything, except: It's boring to speculate at this point. Whatever happens, it's insane that talks have taken this long.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

GAME DAY: New Jersey Devils

Yes, it's the Devils. We beat them last time 4-2, as you all know, but since then they've become the best team in the league and are basically playing unbelievably (but believably, what with that team they've got and all). They're particularly good on the road.

Martin Brodeur needs just one more shutout to break Terry Sawchuk's record, so let's hope he doesn't start tonight. I think it's unlikely, as he played last night against the Senators.

This is winnable, but ain't nothin' never gonna be easy.

In other news, Ondrej Pavelec has a new helmet. It's cool enough, but for some reason the Fabulous Fox Theater from his old helmet has been replaced with the boring old gold-domed capital building.

Friday, December 18, 2009

To Get You In The Christmas Spirit

Now then. Plenty of talk about about the Kovalchuk situation going on these days. Just so I don't drive myself crazy, I'm going to put that behind me until the 26th so I can properly enjoy the Christmas season. We'd like to wish all of our Chronicle readers the very best Christmas that any of you have ever had.

And to help get in the Christmas spirit, there is always the Muppets:

Concern Sports Columnist is Concerned

Apparently today is one of the days on Jeff Schultz's "5 hockey articles a year" plan, and he's written a dandy, all about the increasingly crazy-making Kovalchuk situation.

There was a report this week in a Russian sports newspaper that negotiations between the Thrashers and Kovalchuk now are at an impasse, that he asked for a 10-year contract at the maximum salary allowed by the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement (20 percent of the salary cap, the equivalent of $11.3 million per season) and the team balked.

Now, I know two things about unsourced reports on contract negotiations: 1) You often can’t believe them, especially when they’re in Russian newspapers; 2) Talks can change with one phone call. I’ve also learned that the most honest guy tends to be the player. I once covered a protracted negotiation and quickly discovered that both the general manager and the player’s agent were lying to me about their proposals. Fortunately, the player was telling me the truth.

OK, so Jeff Schultz has written to tell us that he knows what's going to happen with Kovalchuk because
1) he's heard tell of that article in SovSport and perhaps even used Google Translate to look at some version of it.
2) he knows the SovSport article is very likely bullshit, as Russian papers, the Russian KHL, and even the Russian government (if you think I'm exaggerating I'd be happy to discuss the particulars of this some other time) have a vested interest in Kovalchuk not signing in Atlanta.
3) Don Waddell is saying the same things he's been saying forever.

He doesn't know any more about the situation than any other Earth-dwelling human apart from Kovalchuk and Waddell and Jay Grossman, but he implies throughout the piece that Kovalchuk definitely won't re-sign.

Now, I'm not saying that Kovalchuk will re-sign. I'm not saying he won't re-sign. Alas, I can't read the dude's mind. I get more anxious about it as the days wear on, and I think Waddell is making himself look ridiculous by constantly moving the goalposts ("we'll have a deal by the start of the year" becomes "we won't be talking about this at Christmas," etc.).

All I'm saying is that you get the sports columnists you deserve. Have a nice day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Because Somebody Has to Clean Up This One-Horse Town...

(photo: Aaron)

Big Shooter's 2010 USA Hockey Roster

OK, kids. Here it is. I have thought long and hard about this. Anyone who knows me understands what USA Hockey means to me. Trust me, I have spent way too much time analyzing my pretend roster. Without further ado, here goes:

Parise Statsny Kane

Ryan Pavelski Kessel

Malone Kesler Langenbrunner

Brown Drury Rolston

Subs: Gionta/Cole/Connolly

This team is very young. Probably the surprises here are Langenbrunner and Rolston. Both are older, but having good years. We need the leadership in my opinion. Anybody see Cole play in '06? By far our best player. He is hurt now, but I'll take a gamble on him. Not a fan of Gomez at all. Drury is only in there because of past heroics. I almost left him off, but he is in because of the "just in case" factor. There is a very real chance he doesn't make the actual team. He has fallen quite a long way.

Rafalski Eric Johnson

Martin Suter

Komisarek Bogosian

Subs: Whitney/Orpik

Clearly, things change if Martin is still hurt come Feb. He is expected back, so he makes my team. I worry about our fire-power compared to other teams. I also struggled with Komisarek. He is on this team purely for the "gut feeling" I have. I don't buy the hogwash about Bogosian being too young. He is good, and he can score. Anybody seen him skate with the puck? I think he will be left off the real team, and that could end up being a huge mistake. If you are wondering, as much as I hate to say it, Hainsey was way down my list.




Ryan Miller is the key to our tournament. He is good enough to steal games for us against better teams. I almost had Quick as the third goalie, but in the end I guess it doesn't really matter.

So, there you have it folks. I still think my '06 roster was better than the one Waddell put together. You know, when the only team we beat in the entire Olympics was Kazakhstan. We have a much better shot this go around. I predict we get a medal. And when you get to the medal round we all know anything can happen.

Simply can't wait.

GAME DAY: Dallas Stars

If you read the preview for tonight's Stars vs. Thrashers game, you'll find this quote from a player:

"We have no consistency. We'd love to get a little streak going here. We still have six or seven games in December to turn it around."

One of your Atlanta Thrashers, right? No, wahahaha, FOOLED YOU, it's really Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

Basically the 09-10 Stars and the 09-10 Thrashers have a few things in common. Marc Crawford's hair isn't one of these.

We win tonight, we ascend to 5th place in the whole tarnation'd Eastern Conference. A fact.

Hmm? You want a game day photo or video? How about this one, of minor NHL internet star Alyonka Larionov (if you have eyes you don't need me to do the obligatory "OH YES SIR SHE'S SMOKIN'! YOWZER!" thing) and her sister (ditto) singing a festive Christmas song that exhorts us to remember the poor and the frost-bitten in the midst of our seasonal orgies.

You've already seen this posted at a thousand other blogs, but what is the hockey blogosphere if not a place where you can post and re-post random quotations, pictures, and videos from every other hockey website in existence, in between long stretches of banality and random anecdotes?

The video is much better with the YouTube sound turned completely off and some other song playing on iTunes or LaLa, like, I don't know, "Please Stop Dancing" by the Magnetic Fields.

And for today's "In Praise of..." section, I'd like to praise the enchanting Larionov sisters and just cold watch this mofo again:

Go Thrashers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(Close) Hockey Catastrophes

That game was much harder to take than the blow-out in Toronto.

Weep weep weep.

Blogging Catastrophes

Let's imagine a scenario: you run a hockey blog and decide to write a seasonal post that comically intertwines hockey and Christmas. You decide to spice it up with a picture of something Christmas-and-hockey-related. Where do you find such pictures? Why, you Google "Christmas + hockey" and wait for something Haw Haw to pop up in the Images search.

Daculafan of FanThrashtic did just this a few days ago for the opening post in his ongoing "12 Days of Christmas the Hockey Way" series. I'm ashamed to say I haven't checked FanThrashtic this week until tonight. When I did, I was horrified to realize that both Daculafan and I had used the EXACT SAME COMICAL PICTURE OF SANTA CLAUS WITH A HOCKEY STICK. He in his first "12 Days of Christmas the Hockey Way" post, and I in my annual Christmas gift guide post.

So now you all probably think I'm stealing ideas. What a country! How fucking embarrassing.

Scene 7

(this time Aaron gets credit for his mad photo skills AND for some plot details)

Scene 7

(the scene begins with Maxim Afinogenov coming down the stairs of the Hotel Philips. He passes various pictures on the wall, most of them showing a younger version of hotel owner Jimmy Slates in all sorts of heroic situations: one of him fighting an alligator while holding a knife between his teeth, another one showing him lasso a huge bull, and another where he’s surrounded by saloon girls. Maxim passes through the lobby and comes to the hotel desk, where the current Jimmy Slates is reading a newspaper.)


Is that the town newspaper?


(without looking up) One of ‘em.


(a bit surprised) There’s more than one newspaper in Thrasherville?


Yeah, it’s strange for a small town like ours, but yessir, there are several. Could be the only booming industry in this one-horse town.


Which one is that?


This one? A little sheet called The Thrasherville Gazette. It’s not the best, but its editors are a little bit friendlier to me than the ones at the big daily we got here. That one is called Eyes on Thrasherville Anonymous.


The newspapers here have opinions on hotel owners?


(a bit mysteriously) Some do.


(clearly eager to change the subject) I saw those pictures of you on the wall. Looks like you’ve had all kinds of adventures.


In better days, I did. In better days. (reaches for the sign-in book, which is open at an early page, and presses some kind of button on the fat back part of the book. The sign-in book, we see, has a secret compartment in it. Jimmy Slates pulls from it a bottle of whiskey.)


Ah, you keep whiskey your sign-in book.


(pouring himself a shot) Like a shot?


I suppose I might indulge, yes.

(Jimmy pours a shot for Maxim. Maxim downs it in one gulp, but looks horrified by the taste. He turns toward the large lobby window and looks out onto the street. Night has fallen in Thrasherville.)


Well, that certainly was good. Say, what’s your opinion on the fare on offer at Marty’s Party Saloon? Good, bad, indifferent?


(looking at The Thrasherville Gazette again) I’d say it’s pretty good, but I gotta admit I prefer the grub here at the hotel.


Which way to the dining room, then?

(There is no reply, because Jimmy Slates has suddenly passed out face-down on the newspaper and the sign-in book.)


Mr. Slates? Mr. Slates?

(Maxim lifts up Jimmy’s head and proceeds to slap his face a few times. His cheek is smudged with lettering from The Thrasherville Gazette. Suddenly Ten Gallon Dick appears out of nowhere.)


Alright now, Mr. ‘Finogenov. Just lay ol’ Jimmy’s head back down and let him rest. He does this just about every night, I tell you what.


(gingerly letting Jimmy’s head flop back down) Really? He seems...troubled.


Aw, he ain’t troubled, he’s just Jimmy. Come on now, let’s go get ourselves some grub at Marty’s.

(The two leave the hotel, Maxim looking back at Jimmy several times. The front of Hotel Philips is decorated for the coming Christmas holidays, as are most of the shops and bars along Thrasherville Main Street. Marty’s Party Saloon is no exception. The front is decked with holly and ivy, and candles burn in the windows.)


Very festive.


It sure is, but crime usually goes up ‘round this time of year. More headaches for me, but hopefully you’ll be able to help us with that.

(The two push open the doors into Marty’s. It’s a riot of color and sound. It seems like just about every denizen of Thrasherville is there. There’s a roar of conversation; sparsely-dressed ladies in blue sit at card tables, hang out on the staircase leading to the rooms above, and bring trays of overflowing mugs of beer from the bar to the patrons; a group of shifty-looking young men play darts in a corner. There’s also a piano playing, somewhere.)


(giving the place a good, wary once-over) Come on, Mr. Fins, let’s go see Marty.

(The two walk up to the bar. Ten Gallon puts his hat on the bar, Maxim keeps his on. The bartender, presumably Marty, comes over.)


Two whiskeys, Marty.


Coming right up, Sheriff.


Does this place cause a lot of problems?


Not exactly. Marty’s a decent fella, and he runs this place well. But there’s always some rough fella that decides he’s gonna make trouble for everybody else.


I see.

(Nik and Pavel appear at the bar.)


You boys get a good rest?


Oh yes. A very good rest. The hotel owner seems to be getting a better one right now though.


(polishing some glasses) Fellas, can I help you?


Beer of whatever kind.


The same.


Any of you up for a game of Faro?


I am.




(shouting over the bar) Marty, bring the beers to my usual table. We’re gonna play some Faro.


Anything you say, Sheriff.

(Ten Gallon, Maxim, Nik, and Pavel find a table near the piano player. The piano player is unshaven, and plays with a bottle of wine on the top of his piano. One of the blue-wearing girls sits on the piano stool with him, smoking a cigarette and humming along with his melodies. Ten Gallon starts arranging the cards.)


(to the piano player, while sorting the cards) How is it, Ronnie?


(without interrupting his playing) Pretty good. Got a lotta people here tonight, so best be at my best.


Play us some of that Franz Liszt.


Shoot, I’m gonna some ten-gallon songs tonight.

(The two share a laugh. Marty personally delivers the beer to Nik and Pavel. Mayor Waddell comes in and sits down at our heroes’ table.)


The saviors of Thrasherville! Deal me in, Sheriff.


I have to say this town doesn’t seem that dangerous so far. Economically lagging, perhaps, but not crime-ridden.


(still dealing cards, the brim of his hat obscuring his face) Let’s hope it’s a quiet night.

(Deputy Colby and Little Little enter the bar. Little Little spots Ten Gallon and starts walking towards his table, but the Deputy grabs his arm and shakes his head to say no. They sit at the bar, with their backs to it so Colby can watch the suspicious newcomers.)


You fellas are going to help this town out quite a bit, I can tell already. Why, in just one year we’ll be as flourishing and thriving as Sharkville or Penguinland.


Seems like a tall order, Mr. Mayor.

(at that instant, there’s a scream from the other side of the saloon. Ten Gallon stands up immediately. Deputy Colby and Little Little grab their guns. Ten Gallon sees that the shifty-looking, dart-playing young men are behaving ungallantly towards one of Marty’s blue crew. The largest of them has her in his grip and won’t let go. Ten Gallon walks over to them and grabs one of the youngins by the shoulder.)


Alright boys, that’s enough. Leave the lady alone.


Yeah, leave her alone!


Say, I recognize you boys. You’re that group that came over Wolftown, thinkin’ you were gonna make it big here in Thrasherville. (looking at each one as he identifies them) You’re Tim Stapleton. And you’re Spencer Machacek. And you’re Josh Gratton. Well boys, you gotta learn to pick on someone your own size. Unhand that lady, now.


I hate you Thrasherville Police varmints. I come over and prove myself, but you still won’t let me have a job in your force.


Nothing I can do about it, son. Chief Kovalchuk made the final decision.


I hit two bull’s eyes in one day! Doesn’t that prove I’m a damn good shot?


Not really.


And what about me? Ain’t I cop material?


Maybe in the minor leagues.

(Stapleton roars his disapproval and breaks a whiskey bottle on a table. He holds the jagged bottle edge up to Ten Gallon Dick’s neck.)


You best mind your own business, lawdog.


Yeah, mind your own business.


Put the bottle down! (lifting his gun)


(laughs) I don’t think so, peckerhead. What are you gonna do with that gun, anyway?


(slowly, and through gritted teeth) You son of a bitch.

(Stapleton continues to point the jagged bottle at Ten Gallon Dick. Gratton has let the girl go, but he’s drawn his gun and points it at Little Little.)


I think you fellas don’t know what you’re missin’ in studs like us. And I think it’s time for you to find out. I think I just might try some target practice right now, on this overrated Little Little dickmuffin. (cocks pistol, the entire bar gaps)


Not now you ain’t.

(Ten Gallon kicks the gun from Gratton’s hand. Stapleton lunges for Ten Gallon’s jugular but TGD has already moved out of the way. Stapleton falls over a table. Deputy Colby grabs Gratton’s gun from the floor and holds it up to the sinister minor-leaguer. Machacek just stands there.)


Jealousy’s the most corrosive of emotions, cock-faces. Marty, get me a rope!

(Bartender Marty disappears behind the bar and finds a rope. He tosses it to Ten Gallon. Ten Gallon, Deputy Colby, and Little Little find a rope and tie the three resentful minor-leaguers together. They drag them to a corner and stuff handkerchiefs in their mouths.)


You gentlemen just sit here for a while until you learn to act civilized towards the ladies and everyone else. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got a game a’ cards to finish.

(The young men from Wolftown make muffled curses. Ten Gallon, Deputy Colby, and Little Little walk away. The saloon erupts in applause.)


Aw shucks.


This gives me a chance to talk about my bravery with the Blue Crew!

(Little and Colby head for the bar. Ten Gallon re-takes his seat at the Faro table with Nik, Pavel, Maxim, and Mayor Waddell.)


This is a strange little town.

(Back at the bar, Little Little and Deputy Colby are discussing their exploits with Marty and the Blue Crew)


And then he was gonna shoot me!


I think I’m gonna dispose of these varmints. Boults, Thor, get over here!

(Two large gents, clearly Marty’s goons, appear out of nowhere.)


What the hell do I pay you boys for? You’re s’posed to be the bouncers here. You’re s’sposed to keep order and prevent nonsense like that from happ’nin.


Sorry, boss.


Yeah, sorry. I was distracted by Ronnie’s music.


Wont’ happen again.


I’m sure it won’t. Now make yourselves useful and get on over there and drag those tied-together-good-for-nothin’s outta my saloon!



(Boults and Thor walk over to the darts corner, pick up the Stapleton-Machacek-Gratton trio, and drag them outside)

(Back at the Faro table, Pavel seems to be winning. Ronnie the piano player takes a break from his playing and takes a seat.)


How do you keep winning?


I have, let’s say, experience with this game.


Experience with magic powers, maybe.


One could say that.


Ha ha, a magic Czech! I hear there’s---well, I read a book once all about magic in Prague. It said something about---




Why, yes.


And the golem?


Yessir, that too, and uh---


I know all about those things.

(Ronnie takes a swig from his wine bottle.)

Game Day: Florida Panthers

Two wins in a row. Take this one and it's what the kids call a "streak."

Like we've said before, you need to win these games against the non-playoff teams. Especially the ones in your own division. Keep the momentum rolling and keep the Czar happy. That is the theme of December.

I'll leave today's tribute section to one of my esteemed colleagues as I have to get to this thing called "work."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Your Annual Chronicle Guide to Christmas Gifts for Fans of the Hockey! Part I

To be honest, I'd still highly recommend all of the stuff we recommended last year (see here, here, and here). But there are always new hockey items to introduce to our decaying global market (which is comically just as bad now as it was a year ago). Here are some of them.

Another Donald Duck Hockey Figurine!

Why, hello there, angry duck! We recommended a Donald Duck hockey figurine last year, but this one is much more menacing and aggressive. You can use the likes of this to add macho vibes to your emasculated Bed, Bath, and Beyond-furnished apartment. It's well known that Donald likes the Hockey, so you could also treat your nearest and dearest to a viewing of the not-strictly-Christmas-but-hey-it's-a-winter-classic The Hockey Champ.

What else?

Why, it's Wayne Gretzky's wine collection!

Bourdeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, northern California, southern Australia, the part of Chile between the Andes and the coast, and now Niagara, Ontario. The greatest hockey player of all time, I've just learned, has his own winery in good old Niagara, just across the falls from that other place. No. 99 Esates, he calls it, for mysterious reasons. He seems to have all kinds of stuff on offer, and between you and me I think I'll be ordering a bottle of the 2006 Shiraz Cabernet for Big Shooter.

Having trouble finding someone to drop the puck at your beer league or street hockey games? Try this:

It's always difficult to 1) find an impartial official to actually drop the thing, and 2) drop it without giving one of the centers some kind of edge. Well, mesdames and sirs, an enterprising Rear Admiral has found a purpose for all of the U.S. military's bitchin' bomb-defusing robots when our various exciting wars come to an end: digitally-programmed, ultra-precise referees. Red Wings fans will complain about their calls. Get ahead of the curve and buy one for your league now!

And finally, a bunch of hockey-themed books that I'm just cold stealing from Joe Pelletier's invaluable website Hockey Book Reviews.

Do you like autobiographies? Your editor must admit he doesn't have a whole lot of time for them, though there are always exceptions: Goethe, Stendhal, Ben Sonnenberg...actually I'm full of shit; there are a ton of interesting autobiographies. I like lurid Hollywood ones especially. ANYWAY, do you have any interest in reading about the life and times of Bruce Boudreau? Thought not, but if you know anyone who does you can give them his autobiography, all about his rise from minor league player then coach to coach of (arguably) the best team in the NHL. Disappointingly, the book is said to be "PG-13."

And then there's Canadian journalist Stephen Brunt's Gretzky's Tears, which everyone has been raving about since it came out. This one, I must say, I'd be much more interested to read. It's about the big Gretzky trade, when Peter Pocklington shipped #99 from Edmonton to Niagara, to make wine.

Odes to great athletes have been a feature of poetry from Pindar to Marianne Moore. With that in mind, several people who should know have advised you and me to check out Randall Maggs' book Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems. It's a cycle of poems all about, as you might imagine, the great Terry Sawchuk. I have to admit that I'm not as knowledgeable as I could be about current Canadian poetry, so I'd never heard of Randall Maggs before this book appeared. But these lines, which paint a picture of the goalie (all goalies, not just Sawchuk) as a lonely, solitary figure with a monk-like devotion to his work---strike me as pretty damn good indeed:

Denied the leap and dash up the ice,
what goalies know is side to side, an inwardness of monk
and cell. They scrape. They sweep. Their eyes are elsewhere
as they contemplate their narrow place. Like saints, they pray for nothing,
which brings grace. Off-days, what they want is space. They sit apart
in bars. They know the length of streets in twenty cities.

More later.

Scene 6

(photo: BWA Aaron)

Scene 6

(Ten Gallon is leading his posse down the platform at the Thrasherville Train Station.)


(pulling out a worn unattached pocket-watch) Should be on time.


They’re always late these days. I remember the last time I came down here from Saskatoon, hell sheriff, I remember it took---

(The deputy is interrupted by the shrill whistle and chugging wheels of the arriving train. Station attendant yells out, “12:20 from Leafburg!” The train steams in and eventually comes to a stop. The doors open.)


Lotta people from Leafburg get off at Thrasherville?


Not many. The three fellas we’re pickin’ up should be easy enough to notice.

(Ten Gallon speaks the truth. The only human souls that step off the 12:20 from Leafburg are our friends from the previous scenes: Maxim, Pavel, and Nik. Needless to say, Nik is accompanied by Misha the Coyote. All of them look around warily. Nik is still smoking a cigarette; Pavel looks guarded and severe; Max looks slightly confused.)


That them? (pointing to our Euro trio and the coyote)


Oughta be. Go introduce yourself, Deputy.


Ah, sir, do I gotta?


Reckon we’ll all say hello.

(Our heroes start moseying on over. Maxim has already made eye contact with Ten Gallon when suddenly the offscreen voice of the Mayor of Thrasherville, a certain Mr. Waddell, calls out, “Ah, fellas, uh, happy to see you’ve made it.” Our six characters all turn towards the other side of the platform, where Mayor Waddell is stepping down from a stagecoach and walking towards the three Europeans eagerly. He shakes all their hands before Ten Gallon Dick approaches him.)


Mr. Mayor.


Sheriff Peverley.


I thought we was the ones s’sposed to pick up these empyreans.




Folks from over there, you know.


Well, uh, the-uh, the-uh reason I came today is I needed you boys to be bodyguards to these newcomers to our fine town. Alas, um, we all know, uh, all know the streets of Thrasherville aren’t as safe as they could be, and well, these newcomers will be important additions.


I don’t follow.


What I’m saying is you boys might need to look after these men. Accompany them to saloons and such. Don’t want any harm to come to ‘em, and uh---


What makes them so important?

(At this point Nik steps forward and decides to interject.)


(removes fur hat and bows slightly) Hello, Sheriff. My name is Nikolai Antropov; I come from a hinterland that borders Russia; I have come to Thrasherville from Leafburg because I want to help your town flourish. Your Mayor tells me that the ranching on the outskirts of town isn’t all it could be. I know something about ranching. And in these hard times, I think Thrasherville could use my help.

(Pavel extends his hand to Ten Gallon)


I, too, was asked here by Mayor Waddell. I ran a very successful prospecting business in the Southeast a few years ago, then a moderately successful one in Leafburg. Your Mayor has provided---how shall I say this without sounding immodest?---incentives to come to Thrasherville and mine for gold and silver.


(to Maxim) And I suppose you’re here to sell fireworks?


Ha, no, not at all, Policeman, sir. I had heard about an opening in your police force, a job position. I am endeavoring to fill it.


(spits out a jet of black tobacco and glowers at Ten Gallon Dick) What’s this goofy empyrean talkin’ ‘bout? I ain’t never heard of no job opening in the police!


Shut your yap Deputy. We need a detective in this force. Someone to help solve some of the more mysterious killings ‘round here. Law and order in this town just ain’t been the same since Chief of Police Kovy had to go away.


Ah, yes. I look forward to working with him. When he gets back, of course.

(Deputy Colby is visibly frustrated to have a new colleague.)


Where are our manners, after all? This is my deputy, Colby Armstrong. Little Bryan Little over there, and I’m Dick Peverley, but everyone calls me Ten Gallon.


Why is that?

(awkward silence)


(obviously trying to break the tension) Because he wears a ten gallon hat most of the time, obviously. Ha ha! Come boys, to the stagecoach. I intend for our guests to spend their first night here in Thrasherville at the opulent Philips. Luxury for prospectors and lawmen and, ah, ranchers. Yes indeed.


(to Deputy Colby and Little Little) You boys best take my horse. I’m riding with the mayor and the empyreans. I got a few things to discuss with our new detective.

(Deputy Colby shakes his head resentfully but says nothing. He and Little Little walk off the platform, mount their horses, and the deputy takes the reins of Ten Gallon’s horse. They trot off in the direction of the police station. Mayor Waddell, Nik, Pavel, Max, Misha the Coyote, and Ten Gallon all pile into the stagecoach)


Whose coyote?


Mine, I suppose. Though he’s more of a friend than a pet. Fallen on hard times. Hoping we can both make some money out of this ranching thing.


Int’restin’.I have a big yellow labrador myself, though I tell you what I got all kinds of respect for them desert canines.


What is yellow dog’s name?


Bear. ‘Cause he looks like a yellow bear, if it were a dog. (looks a bit distant all of a sudden) I love that dog.


You know, Lord Byron wrote an elegy for his Newfoundland.


(removes hat) Boatswain was the dog’s name, wasn’t it?


Clearly you are an educated man, Sheriff Peverley.


(quoting from memory)

“...Beauty without vanity

Strength without insolence

Courage without ferocity

And all the virtues of man without his vices.”


Well, here we are at Hotel Philips! Enjoy your stay fellas. I have, ah, other business to attend to just now. I want to discuss business tonight at Marty’s Saloon, but for now, I have, uh, I have to be off.

(Ten Gallon, Max, Pavel, Nik, and Misha the Coyote all step down from the stagecoach. They collect their not-very-bulky luggage and drag it into the Hotel Philips. They encounter an excitable man at the desk. This would be the proprietor of the Hotel Philips: one Jimmy Slates.)


Ah, our important newcomers. I’ll see you to your rooms at once.


(to Ten Gallon, as the bellhops try to get everyone’s luggage sorted out and Nik pours some more tobacco into Misha’s pipe) So you had something to talk about with me?


I did, but now that I think about it, it can wait ‘til tonight at the saloon. We’ll discuss it then. I figure you fellas are tired from your trip. Just come over to Marty’s across the street, tonight around, say, 9 o’clock. You can get yourself some good dinner either there or here before then.


You are a very obliging and generous host, Sheriff Peverley.


Aw, hell. I ain’t obligin’ no one. I just got a job to do.


Scene 7 will take place in Marty's Party Saloon, so brace yourselves.