Thursday, April 30, 2009

Your Czar is Now 2nd in Scoring at the IIHF World Championship Tournament

Kovalchuk again

Martin St. Louis will be his final victim. Unless Niko Kapanen catches up.

2nd Round of the Playoffs Begins Today

Get it?


The Orcas are emerging.

This ought to be a good series. I predict Luongo and his comrades win it in 6.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More on Enstrom Injury, AJC Death Spiral, and Something to Do Post-Hockey on Friday Night

- The diagnosis: facial fractures and missing teeth. But he's going to be fine!

He underwent surgery Tuesday, Waddell said in a statement.

“It’s not too bad,” Waddell said. “(Goalie) Johan Hedberg talked to Enstrom’s dad, and he hoped he would be able fly home in a couple of days.”


- I assume some of you have seen the AJC's new design, so uncannily similar to a thin, demented Day-Glo version of the Guardian. The Chronicle has been covering the AJC's decline quite a bit recently, and new-Thrashers-beat-writer-but-not-really Chris Vivlamore's latest blog post is yet another fun symptom:

What are your thoughts on tonight’s Ducks-Sharks Game 6?


Let’s talk the draft today.

It's your blog, dude.

My interview requests of owner Bruce Levenson have been declined, so we’ll keep working the phones and get to other issues facing the team at a later date.

Christ. Does everyone realize the Falconer just scored (already completed, actually) interviews with Waddell and Thrashers scouting overlord Dan Marr? Just saying.*

I must admit, I have to get up to speed on the draft. I know John Tavares and Victor Hedman.


Until I get a chance to talk to Don Waddell and pick his brain about draft philosophy, etc., let’s just play general manager for the fun of it.

I can do that.

Anyone else think they go with an offensive player at No. 4? Got Zach Bogosian last year, that’s a big piece of defense. It’s no secret that the Thrashers need/want help for Ilya Kovalchuk.

The great thing about beat writers is that they can unearth all kinds of inside information and offer unique, interesting insights that you won't find anywhere else.

Here is my list of contenders in order:

Oh God just stop.

I don't mean to be a rude bastard (which I, alas, kinda am) but I think this is an early confirmation of my fears that Chris Vivlamore--a guy with a huge workload and tons of responsibilities apart from covering the Thrashers--isn't exactly going to deliver the goods as far as interviews, hockey knowledge, or detailed reports from morning skates, practices, and road trips. Not his fault, of course, but it's becoming more and more apparent that the AJC is running out of room when it comes to serious reporting on the Thrashers. For example: his report on Enstrom's injury wasn't a product of him speaking to Waddell; he simply read Kevin Allen in USA Today and quoted what he wrote. Almost like a blogger!

All this is just as well, I suppose, because--as the Falconer and James Mirtle have noted--the paper's readership numbers are in free-fall.

Just one more note on this AJC/interviewing business. The Thrashers' owners are as secretive as Waddell (whatever else you may think of him) is candid and available, and it doesn't surprise me that Bruce Levenson is declining interviews. The Atlanta Spirit has always been clueless about public relations. But this state of affairs is also partially the AJC's fault. Other NHL beat writers find ways to talk to team CEOs and owners: just yesterday David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News called up the Sharks CEO and asked him (of all things) whether GM Doug Wilson will be keeping his job. I can't imagine that level of access and aggressiveness at the AJC, and I think it has as much to do with the AJC's own timidity and lack of interest as it does with the Atlanta Spirit's secrecy.

For more Chronicle chronicles of this dying behemoth, click here and here. Especially that second link, because it features a photo of my trophy-winning Landseer, Boatswain. Did you know we take tea together every afternoon and peruse The Economist? We've developed a sign language system whereby he uses his tail and paws to read me the Bagehot columns. He's so smart!


- So we all know the first game of the Boston vs. Carolina series will be on the TV machine Friday night. But eventually (unless it goes into overtime) it will end, and you'll say to yourself, "Now what? It IS Friday night, after all."

Well fella, you're in luck! LUCK, I tell ya! Those of you who live in the Atlanta area, anyway. Why don't you watch the Hockey at the Midway Pub in East Atlanta, a FINE venue for the Hockey-watching and beer-sampling, and when the game ends migrate a few steps down the street to the 592 to watch a Very Important Musical Event, as reported by Creative Loafing:

Life after Chainstereo has proven to be a productive time for the four fresh faces of CARNIVORES. After months of promises, they finally make good on their first LP/CD since reinventing themselves, All Night Dead U.S.A. (Double Phantom Records). The group's sound is a clutter of lo-fi tropicalia, lounge, psychedelic indie-rock dirges and death-afflicted collages that harness an array of influences touching on everything from the Pixies and the Replacements to Animal Collective and Abe Vigoda. For the record release party, fellow locals the Living Rooms, Balkans and the Louder Than Dreams DJs open the show. $7. 9 p.m. 529, 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769.

I'm sorry, but you literally HAVE to go to this. How can you deprive yourself of the opportunity to watch these beautiful music-making orphans in action? Just look at them!

Your editor is in possession of an advance copy of
All Night Dead U.S.A. and let me tell you it's exceptional. These zoo children need your patronage!

*The first part of the Falconer's interview with Don Waddell is up. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Cosmonaut Comes Through

Have we ever mentioned that we think Sergei Fedorov looks like he belongs in space? Did you know we actually believe this?!

Well now you do. Amazing series, what a dramatic comeback by the Caps, etc.

Did you know that the Washington Capitals were Big Shooter's favorite team in the pre-Thrashers era? In fact, he's probably celebrating right now, wearing naught but his Dale Hunter jersey.

Holy shit did you just see what happened in that New Jersey-Carolina game? Boston vs. Carolina. Pittsburgh vs. Washington. Hold on to your swine flu.

More News from Berne

- The Czar is now 3rd in scoring with 3 goals and 3 assists in 3 games wooooooo. Russia's most recent game, a 4-2 win over Switzerland, saw Kovy making his presence felt on every goal except the closing empty-netter: one sweet goal, and two excellent passes for assists. Nice job, Your Excellency, beating the Swiss on their home ice and all.

- France just pulled off an upset victory over Germany by playing the trap. Amazing stuff because they actually play hockey in Germany. I shouldn't make fun though, being a hockey fan in the South and all. I wonder if Christian Ehrhoff is soon to join his compatriots, now that his Ultra-Fail performance against Anaheim is over.

- Jagr and the Czechs doing quite well.

- Canada beat Slovakia with 5 power play goals. And 2 at even strength; Martin St. Louis and Shea Weber both had 4 points apiece. Not even goal-scoring dynamo (seriously) Marcel Hossa could stop them.

"After two tough games we thought we should have won," Boris Valabik said, "it was tough to face such a good team..."

- Finland continues to be awesome. Pekka Rinne has allowed something like 1 goal so far. 

- Want to have fun? Watch the recap of the USA blowing out Austria. Captain Dustin Brown is playing like a BMF. Can I officially petition USA Hockey to make him captain next winter in Vancouver?

The Irish announcer's reaction to Hainsey's awesome set-up on the last goal: "Austria doesn't know what the hell happened there."

What to Do?

Well, everything officially sucks now.

So how does one spend one's time after their favorite team (once again) misses the playoffs and their 2nd favorite team (once again) dramatically chokes in the playoffs?

Why, head down to Mexico and become a pig farmer, that's what! Yes, that's what I'll do. Wish me luck.

There are other options though:

I hope to God that's fake.

Actually, the playoffs don't suck at dang old ALL! I'm looking forward to the Chicago-Vancouver series, though I suppose I'm cheering for the Bruins now. Git r done.

Seriously though, I am moving to Mexico to become a pig farmer.

UPDATE: Ha, the poor disturbed young man deleted it! It MUST be real!

Almost Like Watching the Thrashers

I get it now. The San Jose Sharks and the Atlanta Thrashers have switched bodies. It's the only way to explain the Thrashers' stellar play in the second half of this past season and the Sharks' recent move to Clusterfuck City. Drew Remenda and Randy Hahn sounded like they were in the throes of deep despair the entire third period.

Thornton for Todd White?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Toby Enstrom Injured by Belligerent Latvians, Wall

Never could trust 'em. Walls, that is.

Our Toby had to leave tonight's Sweden-Latvia game because, well, because:

At 51:04, there was a long stoppage of play after Sweden's Tobias Enström injured his face after he got slammed into the boards in the corner by Martins Karsums. He left the game, leaving Sweden with just four defencemen since Kenny Jonsson quit the game after the first period, due to a hip injury.

Damn. Sweden managed to carry the game to a shootout, then lost, the end.

Hopefully this is nothing serious. But I hear Switzerland is CHOCK FULL of healthful, restorative spas.

UPDATE: Just saw the video. More alarming than funny. Why don't you take a look?

Christ. I think that qualifies as a Really Dangerous Hit. Poor guy...anyone know where we can send get-well-soon cards?

Musical Matters, Again

The Chronicle's secret Thrashers message board operatives tell me there's been a lot of discussion over there lately about the Thrashers' skate-out music, the possibility of finding a good song to play when they skate out, etc.

Might as well throw in my Eskimo pence.

I hear that some people have suggested Mastodon. Your Chronicle editor isn't the metal fan he was at 13, but he respects innovative, imaginative, intelligent music of any kind, and that certainly describes Mastodon. Plus they're local and rumored to be Thrash fans, so hooray! I wouldn't be against a Mastodon skate-out song. A brief note: their latest album is apparently a concept record about Czarist Russia, and there's a 10-minute-plus song on it titled--you guessed it--"The Czar."

Meanwhile, might I also suggest another song by another popular and critically-lauded Atlanta musical act?

It's famous, freaky, and fun. And extremely high energy. I see no downside. There's even a mention of a "net" somewhere in there.

Another candidate for skate-out:

Jump Into The Fire - LCD Soundsystem

And now some suggestions for other moments during the game.

When one of our players receives a penalty, why not play this song, by yet another great local band?

Bad Kids - The Black Lips

I've wished for a long time that right after an intense fight, just as the pugilists are falling to the ice, the arena would play the opening of this song:

TKO - Le Tigre

And goals? I'm a huge fan of Blur, and I love the fact that the arena folks play "Song 2" after most goals, even if it is one of Blur's least interesting songs. For an occasional change of pace, might I suggest these locals be played when one of our boys buries the puck?

Broken Mirrors In The Mud - The Selmanaires

Can you IMAGINE the crowd sing-alongs?

Okay, the inevitable question: what do you think would be a great skate-out (or fight, or penalty, or goal) song?

Chomp Chomp Chomp

Reuniting the Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi line worked in the last game: all three scored goals. Shocking.

Putting the just-back-from-injury Torrey Mitchell with Jeremy Roenick and Jonathan Cheechoo was a stroke of genius. Not really, but it's a solid third line.

Nabokov needs to play his very best tonight.

Just one win, and we've got a 3-3 series.

No 80's pop classic inspiration today. Instead, we're going to share some footage the Chronicle just obtained from its SoCal operative: Chris Pronger's inspirational speech at today's morning skate in Anaheim. Ever noticed how he kind of looks like Samuel L. Jackson?

Meanwhile, famed troubadour Devin Setoguchi sings of sunlight and mountain flowers to impress some girl:

Intensity, sir, intensity!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

News of the World

Is it just me, or is international hockey more exciting than NHL playoff hockey?

I hesitate to choose between the two, but it looks like all our boys are playing well in Switzerland.

- The USA (starring Zach Bogosian, Ron Hainsey, and Colin Stuart) beat Latvia 4-2 in their first game of the tournament. Jack Johnson scored two goals, Patrick O'Sullivan had one, not sure whether Hainsey or Bogo appeared on the score sheet. You can, however, look at all World Championship statistics here. UPDATE: It turns out that Ronald SASG Hainsey has earned himself 1 assist in 1 game.

- Russia re-enacted the Battle of Stalingrad and destroyed the Germans 5-0. The Czar had a classic Czar goal. Watch the video recap. As I type, the Russians are beating France 7-2. I know: Did some sniper named Sebastien distract Bryzgalov by blowing Gauloises smoke into his mask? Amazing.

- Canada is unstoppable. But then again, their opponents so far have been Belarus and Hungary, who they just beat 9-0. Colby Armstrong has one assist, last time I checked.

- Slovakia (starring Boris Valabik) has won one (thanks to a goal-scoring outburst by Marcel Hossa) and lost one. To Belarus.

- Finland (starring Anssi Salmela) has been awesome so far. Pekka Rinne is awfully good.

You can follow all the fun at the IIHF website and via the excellent coverage at Universal Sports. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Explanation! Crypto-Zoology Unmasks Source of Erik Christensen Suckage

Good afternoon, Chroniclites.

I wish I could say this is a Chronicle exclusive, but I have a most interesting piece of reading for you, this time from that Bloomingdale's to our Zara, the Falconer.

Remember shootout behemoth and tragic head-case Erik Christensen? The guy that lived with the Thrashers for a while then got traded to Anaheim, where he now inexplicably has a job centering Teemu Selanne on the Ducks' second line? The guy that the Chronicle, because we were possessed by Peasant-Demons of Naivete, believed at one time might be a legitimate first-line center for Kovalchuk?

Well, science has determined why he can't shoot the puck into the net, ever. His poor play with the Thrashers has to do with the crazy ownership situation here in Atlanta! Why didn't I think of this when wondering why he couldn't finish on those magnificent passes from Ilya Kovalchuk?! The detrimental effects of the Atlanta Spirit's legal drama are far-reaching, apparently: it's also the reason why he didn't play well in Pittsburgh and isn't playing well now in Anaheim.

Please, Atlanta Spirit. Sort this out. Think of Erik Christensen!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Washington Still Alive

And now for something completely awesome:

Wyshynski and MacLean, Face to Face (Sort Of)

We've waited too long for this.

A few nights ago the CBC acknowledged some of the higher-end hockey bloggers by inviting them onto Hockey Night in Canada. Tom Benjamin, Paul Kukla, and Greg Wyshynski to be exact. Watch and enjoy.

Benjamin has a wonderful dry wit. Wyshynski has a killer suit. MOAR PUCK DADDY ON HNIC PLLZ.

Sharks Into Thrashers? Maybe?

One wonders just what Doug Wilson is going to do to his roster after this, the most gigantic and embarrassing post-season failure in a history rife with gigantic and embarrassing post-season failures. Surely he'll try to trade some of his players.

I'm not saying he'd be dumb enough to trade Joe Thornton, even though he's been appalling all throughout this series, and I doubt Patrick Marleau (who seems to be, as many have noticed, playing hurt) will go, but surely some of the Sharks roster is going to be sold off for players that might, hopefully, play with some hunger and enthusiasm in the post-season.

What does this mean for the Thrashers? Exelby for Milan Michalek, HEEEENNNNGH? Jonathan Cheechoo will certainly go.

UPDATE: Just a thought. There's always been speculation that during Hossagate Doug Wilson offered to send Jonathan Cheechoo to Atlanta, in return for that Hossa fella, and possibly Johan Hedberg as well. How different would things be for the Sharks and for the Thrashers if Waddell had pulled the trigger? Really, I'm asking; I don't know.


Apparently the Sharks have murdered their awesomeness and buried it somewhere in Death Valley. Hockey sucks.

And I ain't got no railroad fare.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Important Atlanta Sports Franchise Relocates, Civilization Collapses

How did I miss this?

The Atlanta Steam of the Lingerie Football League has officially been relocated to Charlotte.
They were unable to find a find a venue, which is just shocking following the cancellation of the last two Lingerie Bowls. From what I was able to gather, The Arena in Gwinnett and the Georgia Dome turned them down.

I haz a sad. As with hockey in Atlanta, I'm sure we'll have to wait fifteen years or so for another Lingerie Football League team, but will be able to enjoy a quality minor league lingerie football team during the interim.

...And Make Her Do a High Headstand

It sounds like last night was one of the most exciting of the playoffs so far, with Calgary's dramatic high-scoring win over Chicago and Boston's final humiliation of Montreal (featuring two goals, no less, from former Hab Michael Ryder, who your editor wanted the Thrashers to sign last summer). It's shame I didn't see any of it, as Monsieur Catalogues and I had to attend a black-tie function at the Belgian consulate. The only hockey action I saw was the third period of the Washington-New York game; Lundqvist is an impressive fellow.

I am miffed I missed the Chris Drury goal, though.

The Caps vs. Rangers series puts your editor in a strange position: I like the Caps a lot more than I like the Rangers, but truth be told I really don't want the Caps to push through to the second round. I have a complex about Ovie advancing in the playoffs before Kovy does. If the Russian schedule runs properly, Nabokov should win the Stanley Cup first (this year, let's hope), then Kovalchuk, then Ovechkin, and then maybe that Malkin fellow, someday.

So tonight the Sharks have to prove, on Duck Ice, that they can, uh, win and stuff. Here's hoping they tie the series. The captain and the offensive D came up big in the last game; tonight Thornton, Setoguchi, and possibly JR (though the circumstances may not be sufficiently dramatic just yet) MUST score. But I'm predicting the hero tonight will be Joe Pavelski.

For pre-game inspiration, let's turn to another 80's classic. The last one seemed to work.

Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days

A bit elegiac, to be sure, but THESE are the Sharks' dance hall days. Come on boys, get cool on craze, whatever the hell that means.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bon Nuit, Canadiens

It is time that this miserable, failed 100 year experiment with ice hockey in eastern Canada to come to an end. If the utter failure of any Quebecois or Ontarian club to win a playoff game this year wasn’t evidence enough that hockey cannot flourish north of Buffalo and east of Alberta, then may I present the following: class-less French Canadian fans who boo the Star Spangled Banner (and ravage their own city after losses); the utter inability of the most recent incarnation of the Ottawa Senators to win a Stanley Cup; and Toronto’s silver drought that has lasted since 1967- a time when Tim Horton was known for something other than fried pastry and blueberry muffins.

In addition to organizational failures, eastern Canadian teams have recently become festering pools of questionable morality. Reference Montreal’s incessant unsportsmanlike diving, the Neanderthal-like Tie Domi of Toronto, that guy in Ottawa who once killed a young Atlanta Thrasher, and Daniel Alfredson’s mustache.

If there is one thing I have learned from the comments section on over the years, it is that cities whose teams have poor records don’t deserve to have NHL hockey. How anyone could miss the fact that the on-ice performance of highly paid professional athletes is directly related to how much the people living in their immediate vicinity deserve to watch hockey in person is far beyond me.

The league has a clear solution to these lingering issues. Give these franchises a shot in the arm by relocating them to more deserving markets in Houston, Kansas City, and Las Vegas.

Look at what such a move did for the lowly Quebec Nordiques. No more bilingual PA announcements, no more fleur-de-lis on the jersey, no more queens on the currency, and voila! Stanley Cup! This obviously had everything to do with how much Denverites deserved an NHL franchise than Quebecois, and nothing what-so-ever to do with Peter Forsberg, Super Joe Sack-Itch, Valeri Kaminski, St. Patrick, Adam Foote, Mike Keane, Stephane Yelle, and Claude Lemieux.

So I propose we allow the 09-10 season to be the swan’s song for eastern Canadian hockey. After bidding adieu to the great white north-east, allow the Canadiens to feel a little sun on their backs in the worthy metropolis of Houston, where the Aeros have served adoring fans for decades. Dig the Senators out of their malaise in Ottawa and draw inspiration from the twisters of Tornado Alley in Kansas City. Most important of all, let us grant the wish of every frustrated Maple Leaf fan by raking their team out of the backwater town of Toronto and piling them among the lights of Las Vegas. What better encouragement than for the lowly Leafs players to be able to walk out of the locker room and right past the Vegas oddsmakers’ display boards announcing astronomical payouts for an unlikely Leaf Cup?

Stanley Cup Final berths in recent years by both Alberta teams and the current first round domination exhibited by Vancouver show that western Canadians have properly embraced our fine sport and deserve to keep their franchises. But Mr. Bettman, I think we can all agree that the other three teams in Beaver-land need to add some blue to their red and white flag.

More on the Situation at Our Crumbling Local Newspaper

Normally, your editor relies on British weekly The Economist for news about the world, usually over afternoon tea, one hand holding the magazine and the other hooking a Derby Porcelain tea cup and occasionally setting it down on a Derby Porcelain saucer so I can better pet my noble Landseer, Boatswain.

Pictured above: Boatswain

But when I want to know stuff pertaining to my hometown (Thrashers news, the occasional write-up about some art show or Salman Rushdie lecture at Emory, etc.), I peruse the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The AJC isn't what it once was, sadly. The paper that gave the world Cynthia Tucker and Mike Lukovitch (good things, in my opinion, though I realize many of you would disagree) has dumbed down its content over the years, even though it retains those two Pulitzer-winners and a man who surely deserves the Pulitzer, our friend Rawhide.

The AJC's recent moves have confirmed that it intends only to dumb itself down further, which will surely only alienate the people who should be its core demographic. Its core demographic being, as a commentator at Creative Loafing puts it, "people who READ, people with a certain curiosity about the world, people who are willing to read a publication which sometimes tells them things they don’t want to hear." Indeed.

- The entire editorial board, apparently, has been taken over by the paper's executives (the paper's editorials were too liberal, went the age-old complaint) and star writers like Tucker have been kicked out of town.

- Meanwhile, its already-depleting arts coverage is likely to be non-existent from now on: several art and music critics accepted the same buy-out as Mike Knobler. The book reviews were eliminated a long time ago, and all staff-written film reviews have been replaced with wire copy.

- A not-terribly-popular sport like hockey will no longer have its own beat writer; the guy covering the Thrashers now, Chris Vivlamore, is simply the editor of the Pro Sports section taking on an additional responsibility.

The spectacle of various editors taking on broader, if not deeper, writing responsibilities is only one symptom of the AJC's sad decline. It's this bottom-line/lowest-common-denominator thinking, the tactic of making the paper's style, tone, and coverage bland and watered-down and "more acceptable," that has wrecked the AJC. Far more than, as I've seen many people allege (including on the Thrashers message board) a Maoist editorial board or the hideous offense of covering issues that involve black people in a majority-black city.

I guarantee you the majority of the hockey coverage, like the majority of the arts coverage at present, will very soon be replaced with wire copy. The "new" Thrashers beat writer is a side show. I'm sure he's a fine writer and he'll do a professional job, but it's not like the Thrashers REALLY have a beat writer anymore.

Just saying. Let's boogie!

Erykah Badu - The Cell - Erykah Badu


The meaning of this post is cryptic, I realize. Pay no attention; just keep playing online Lingo and assume that we're engaging in an arcane numerological ritual. 

Now That's More Like It

Winning games, I mean. Not even Erik Christensen could stop the Sharks last night.

Patrick Marleau came through big in last night's game. Trading for Dan Boyle and signing Rob Blake last summer looks more like an excellent move now than it did even in the regular season. Nabby was shaky at the beginning though; no matter, I suppose, since he made some key saves later in the game. It was a great game all around: fast, intense, physical, and nerve-racking.

For analysis, I recommend you point your browsers towards the hockey blogosphere's leading cartoonist.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Holy Hell the AJC Has Hired a New Thrashers Beat Writer

(Well, not really. Read the updates below)

This is getting confusing. I probably won't change the name in the blogroll until...ever, maybe.

Anyway. Guy's name is, oh just click the link.


The AJC didn't hire anyone. The scenario was something a bit more like this:

AJC SENIOR SPORTS EDITOR: (opening door of office and looking into the hallway) You!


AJC SENIOR SPORTS EDITOR: Yeah, you. Who are you?

CHRIS VIVLAMORE: Um, Chris Vivlamore. I've been here six years; I'm the Pro Sports Editor.

AJC SENIOR SPORTS EDITOR: Well, now you're also the Thrashers beat writer. You're gonna be a star, kid.

UPDATE CITY: Where do we go for the bigger picture? Creative Loafing, of course. From the cover story in this week's issue:

Whatever your opinion of the AJC’s virtues, the newspaper going forward can’t escape being a diminished version of its former self. The question is: What kind of news coverage can Atlanta still expect from its daily newspaper?
That’s difficult to answer in part because many AJC staffers don’t yet fully understand their new job descriptions. And, if recent history is any guide, each new reorg is a work in progress, subject to weeks of fine-tuning and additional staff changes.


The newspaper has also overhauled its entire beat structure — again — in order to give most reporters much broader responsibilities. So broad, in some cases, that it’s difficult to imagine how the job could be done without entire coverage areas falling through the cracks. Whereas, a few years back, the AJC had various reporters each assigned to particular state agencies, the paper now has two reporters covering nearly the whole of state government — one on a daily basis and the other for the Sunday edition.

Replace the words "state agencies" with "local sports teams" and you get some idea of why the Professional Sports Editor is taking over Thrashers beat duty. Lack of the monies has forced the AJC to cut its coverage, plain and simple.

3 Tales from the West Coast

- Mike Chen on the evolution of Brian Engblom's hair. It's a detailed history, with pictures. I would call his present arrangement a sublimated mullet. Very zen.

- Elsewhere in California: Battle of Cali Kings blogger Rudy Kelly has a roommate, and he wants to tell you about this time Mr. Rudy inexpertly handled some young lady, "twice," in Mexico.

- A fellow at the San Jose Mercury News wonders whether the Sharks are way, way too chilled out to play playoff hockey.

Marleau and Joe Thornton certainly haven’t dominated play in Games 1 and 2. Nobody is getting mad or trying to fire up the room, that I can tell. Fans are mad, but not storm-the-arena mad. Things are relatively comfortable, still, in the Shark Universe.

It’s the Bay Area. It’s hockey. Only the 49ers and Raiders get the the high heat.

But I happen to believe, to the great discontent of most of the teams in the area, that good teams are made better by the toughest scrutiny–and bad teams are exposed more quickly by the best, harshest, most accurate criticism.


Kovalchuk Declared Czar of Russia, Requests Help

Via Ben Wright, we've learned that Ilya Kovalchuk has been named Captain of the 2009 Russian national team. Hopefully this is a preview of a captaincy in the 2010 Olympics.

Kovy hasn't forgotten his colony in the NHL, of course. Apparently he recently went to a Hawks-Lakers game with Atlanta Spirit feller Michael Gearon and told him point-blank the Thrashers need to hire some help.

 With ownership openly saying that Kovalchuk has asked for something they are opening themselves up to plenty of criticism if they don't follow through. It should be an interesting summer.


Kazakhstan greatest country in the world/ All other countries are run by little girls/ Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium...

Yes, it's that time again. Time to talk about a bunch of drunken idiots booing some poor nation's official theme song: in this case, Montreal fans booing the Star-Spangled Banner (for those who came in late, the U.S. national anthem) last night when the Boston Bruins rolled into town.

Mirtle apologizes for a few dumb compatriots here. Wyshynski is well worth reading, and I can't add anything to what he says because I agree with pretty much all of it, but hell, let's try. A few quick thoughts on booing the national anthem:

1. Sports fandom has always been a cousin of nationalism. They're both species of tribalism, which is a natural and understandable human impulse that can get expressed in ugly ways. Love of country and love of team can manifest themselves in all sorts of ways, of course, from emotions of pride to hatred of others to the occasional bout of mindless violence. The nation-fan examples of this are too numerous to mention; European soccer hooliganism and, uh, rioting Montreal mobs are clear enough examples of sports fans going beserk in the name of their teams.

2. Anyone who identifies an NHL team with a nation-state is a fucking moron. Teams in the NHL, the last time I checked, play for cities and not countries, unless you count those eccentric state-representing teams like the Minnesota Wild, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Florida Panthers. Suspiciously, all three of these "state" teams play in major cities. More importantly, the NHL is one of the most international professional sports leagues in the world. Every team is a mongrel mix of Canadians, Americans, Russians, Swedes, Czechs, Finns, Slovaks, Swiss Misses, and even the occasional Frenchman or German or Austrian. No team, thank God, is a pure race. As many have already noted, the Montreal fans were booing the anthem of their own Mike Komisarek, Mathieu Schneider, and Christopher Higgins.

3. That said, it's not as if the booing Montreal hordes were booing America itself, and there was pretty much zero political content in their booing. They were booing the American national anthem for the simplest reason imaginable: they identify it with the opposing team. The Boston Bruins = Boston = America = The Star-Spangled Banner. The boos have nothing to do with, say, NAFTA or Guantanamo Bay; they had to do with Marc Savard, a Canadian, and Zdeno Chara, a Slovak.

4. Fans of team sports have a predisposition to thinking in such stupid, simple black-and-white terms. Investing your emotions, time, money, and loyalty with a group of people who wear matching uniforms and fight against enemies in different uniforms lends itself to this kind of thing.

5. Fans of team sports also have a predisposition to worship of brutality and violence, if not always to actual brutality and violence. The world of sports fandom is a world where it's perfectly acceptable to scream obscenities at players and officials and fans of the opposing team, wish death on them, occasionally start fights with them, etc. I've done it myself. Well, not the fighting thing. But I know how easy it is to get carried away in mob-type fury. 

6. THEREFORE, fans of team sports should always be on their guard against this stuff. Booing someone's national anthem is only the mildest form of the hysteria that can be brought on by sports fanaticism. 

7. I honestly don't understand why the national anthem is played before any sporting event that's not the Olympics or an international tournament of some sort. Especially in a league as cosmopolitan (as in "international," not "this hotel bar is very cosmopolitan") as the NHL.

8. I do enjoy the anthems before the games, though, partly because of the comfort of tradition and partly because both the US and Canadian anthems (unlike so many others) are actually fine songs. I'm always glad to hear O Canada when the Canadian teams come to Atlanta.

9. So basically part of me likes hearing the anthems before the game and another part of me thinks it's completely ludicrous outside the Olympics or the World Cup.

10. A sports arena is one of the few places where you can enjoy the pleasures of cost-free verbal abuse AND witness (and cheer on) fun, stimulating ACTUAL violence. Not video-game or movie violence, but the thing itself. 

And, um, people are throwing a hissy fit because some fuckwits in Montreal booed the Star-Spangled Banner. Right. 

Shootin' at the Walls of Heartache, BANG BANG!

Alright then, SJ Sharks. Last night you probably saw the Capitals score all those goal things and prevent the Rangers from doing the same. They achieved this with a rookie Russian just so happens that YOU, the Sharks of San Yosef, have a Russian goalie too, who was also once an impressive Russian rookie goalie. Nabokov has gotten only more impressive over his career, but he needs to be even better tonight. Better, even, than Alpine fortress Jonas Hiller. 

What you need is a shutout. Against the Ducks, that is.

Also, a suggestion (who am I to offer suggestions to Todd McLellan, an important coach of the Hockey who looks like he spends summers hopping freight trains and playing his banjo for runaways and escaped convicts? Why, Blueland Chronicle editor Mortimer J. Peacock, that's who!): take Christian Ehrhoff off the power play; put Rob Blake in. 

Another piece of advice. People keep going on about the success of splitting Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi so as to create three scoring lines. In what way is this successful? I mean, scoring lines that don't score are interesting, maybe, when you're hanging out at burlesque shows and avant-garde circuses, but this isn't art school dammit. This is the playoffs! I like the Roenick-Thornton-Cheechoo combination as much as the next man, but I'm not sure how wise it is to separate the speed and finesse of Marleau from the physicality and passing ability of Thornton.

Oh Christ this is tedious, isn't it? Is there anything worse than some douche-hat on the Internet making proclamations about how sports teams should organize their affairs? 

Let's just end this with some inspiration, shall we? Get it done tonight, Sharkpeople, get it done. Shoot at the walls of heartache!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can You COUNT, Suckaaas?*

- 12 power plays. The San Jose Sharks have been indulged with 12 power plays, so far, in real life, during this playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.

They've scored on 0 of them.

This is the same team that ranked something like 3rd in power play scoring during the regular season. What the hemhawing fuck is the deal?

Is Jonas Hiller this good? Something to ponder.

- Wouldn't it be hilarious, but in a bad way, if both the Sharks and the Caps get blown out of the water in the first round?

- Your Chronicle editor is so bored with the Thrashers not making the playoffs that he can't muster any excitement over the fact that our entire roster is playing for various countries in the World Championship in Switzerland.

- I want Evander Kane to come to Atlanta. Let's have a look at Evander Kane and Analyze His Play and Determine Things About Him.

Okay, he runs into people and does that thing where you ram people off the puck and into the boards. Presumably he inherits the puck after this ice murder and proceeds to find it a new home in the goalie's net.

We NEED this guy in Atlanta. He'd probably be the most physical scoring forward in ATL history even at the age of 14, or however old he is.


UPDATE: Oh hai Puck Daddy has things to say about Sharks misery too. Something about the power play. I wonder if the problem with the Sharks isn't the fact that Patrick Marleau, fine as he is, isn't a Cyrus. They need a Cyrus. 

Playoff Game Day


Caps need this one BAD.


B's look to be on cruise control in this one. vs

A repeat, but I didn't think anyone would mind.


Your editor is fast-descending into a brimming cloaca of Angry Sad. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh. Oh Yes. Ha. HAAAAA YEAAAAAAH. I Live My Life Like There's No Tomorroooow...

That Pens-Flyers game fucking owned. During the overtime, when the Flyers were defending their goal against a 5-on-3 Pens power play, I thought to myself (charitably but uncharacteristically): "Mike Richards is my fucking hero for taking a Sergei Gonchar (or whoever) slapshot to the balls, Braydon Coburn likewise."

I was so impressed with the 3-person heroics of Richards, Coburn, and Kimmo Timmonen that I barely noticed when Bill Guerin scored the game-winner. Man, Bill Guerin. Gotta love it when the crumbling old-ass veteran scores the clutch goal. I love playoff the Hockey. Dinosaurs still have a place in such an event, for Victories.

Please listen to this. You'll never regret it.


Eminent Sharks blogger Mike Chen is trying to keep a cool head about his team's bad start. Earl Sleek is probably drawing a gloat-filled cartoon, probably featuring a duck taunting a shark behind one of those underwater cages.

Monsieur Catalogues and I watched the Bruins-Habs game deep in the recesses of the Decatur Taco Mac; shortly before Chara scored the game-winning goal with a massive slapshot, Monsieur said, "Man, I'd like to see Chara score a goal with one of those massive slapshots." Bruins fans should address all thank-you notes to
Monsieur Catalogues
Chateau de Vinyle
123 Rue de Pantalon Serré
Atlanta, GA

How about that Flames-Hawks game? Martin Havlat was certainly impressive, but did you see that Mike Cammalleri goal? Do you realize, Thrasher fans, that both of these young men are UFAs? Cammalleri and Havlat. Both of them. Just saying.

There is more to life than the playoffs though, like sexy high-speed trains hell yeah!

If we go the whole hog with this thing we can make it a North America-wide rail network, so you can easily go see a hockey game in Vancouver or Edmonton or Montreal and wake up the next morning in Oaxaca or New Orleans! Wooooo

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Am For Reeeeeal

Well that was certainly an interesting start to the playoffs, wasn't it? I must say the Rangers victory on Caps home ice took me by surprise.

Meanwhile, I hope any of our readers who went to the big Tea Party last night found their way home safely, whether you took that wicked public transit thing MARTA or drove on one or more of our heavily-subsidized-by-government-tyranny roads. Jeebus knows using MARTA or roads to get to and from a Hannitizing Teabagging Party is the best way to stick it to those tax-and-spend libtards!

Now then. On to the playoff games tonight. Your editor is fidgeting nervously about the Ducks-Sharks game, but first we must examine what should be an exciting revival of a good old-fashioned rivalry:


Don Cherry will be going crazy tonight.



This will be an interesting one. The Red Wings are bitchin', but Chris Osgood is a wet blanket and might screw it all up. Then again, the Jackets have nothing like the Red Wings' firepower...then again, Ken Hitchcock will just force his team to play the trap and shut down Datsyuk and co. like nobody's business. Not to mention Steve Mason, etc.

Another entertaining match-up should be


Sweet Jesus.

Blackhawks are more talented, but the Flames are big and mean and built for the post-season.

And finally:


The Sharks' recent play has been less than inspiring, and the Ducks were absolutely phenomenal down the stretch. Nonetheless, the Sharks are way deeper and more talented. Mark my words: this will be a memorable, hate-filled 7-game series.

What The World Is Waiting For - The Stone Roses