The Humanoids: As The Puck Drops

It’s a late and abbreviated edition of The Humanoids this week. We’ve been busy with anything and everything Olympics related. While I admit that I was cynical coming to the Games, I’ve gotten swept up in Olympic fever and am prepping for the semi-final between our heroic Canadians and the dastardly Slovaks. They would be less dastardly and more dangerous if they were still Czechoslovakia but they broke up so it’s better for the rest of the hockey world. Anyway, most of today’s subjects are somehow related to Olympic hockey. Even the two that aren’t are sports folks because it’s a good week to be a sports fan… Unless you watch NBC.

NBC
Back to the well once more, eh? The Peacock and NBC Sports uber-genius Dick Ebersol have managed to out do themselves twice in the span of less than a week when it comes to Olympic hockey. First, they put the Canada-USA game on MSNBC. One could only assume that they figured the masses would watch figure skating instead on the mothership. They were right but could have been so wrong. An average of 8.2 million viewers tuned into the premium cable channel which was just 30,000 short of the all-time record (2008 Election Coverage). It was the most viewed hockey game on cable in US history. The number would have jumped to at least 10 or 12 million on network TV. But the real kicker is what happens Sunday afternoon. The men’s hockey final has basically been given Sunday for itself. Not much else is happening besides the big game that VANOC hopes Canada will be in. So what is NBC doing with it? They were going to show the game on a three-hour delay on the West Coast. That mean somebody in Seattle could drive north to Vancouver, watch the game, drive back, and watch themselves on TV watching the end of the game. How did that make sense to anyone? That must be why Dick Ebersol makes millions of dollars and why I’m blogging out of my parents’ basement. It wasn’t until the US qualified for the Gold Medal Game that NBC switched stances and decided to show the game live everywhere. I can’t remember but I bet they did the exact same thing in 2002 when the US played for gold against Canada. That would make Ebersol nothing if not consistent. Actually, he is a complete and utter moron. He sure has that going for him.

NHL
Perhaps lost in all the folks marvelling at the wonder that is Olympic hockey is the fact that we may not see hockey of this calibre at the Olympics any time soon. The NHL has yet to commit to playing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. There are a lot of conflicting forces at play when the NHL head office, its owners, and the Players’ Association sit down to talk about this. First, that two week-plus break for the Olympic tournament doesn’t do the league any good. It’s like a mini-lockout. The plus side is, though, that they get more exposure from playing in the Olympics than from playing those two weeks of the regular season. The problem with that is that there is no documented proof that fans who discover the game of hockey are willing to follow it back to the NHL, especially in the middle of the season. I think the biggest issue of them all is the geography of the 2014 Games. It’s in Russia. They have the KHL which is busy scooping up NHL players that think they can make more money in a tax-free and salary cap-less system. Add to the fact that the NHL only wanted to be in the Olympics to get more exposure from the Salt Lake and Vancouver Games and they’d be hard pressed to find an incentive to go to Sochi. Then toss in Alexander Ovechkin’s threat to walk out on the Caps to play for Russia at home and you have the makings of hockey’s Cold War. Ain’t it funny how Bettman always gets himself in catastrophically epic messes like this one.

Team Russia Hockey
Speaking of those pesky Russians, they kinda lost The War to Settle the Score against Canada. Well, by kinda lost, I mean it was an absolute drubbing. Evgeni Nabakov was the only real defensive presence that the Ruskies had and he pulled off a playoff performance of Nabakov-ian proportion. I mean, when the last time anyone has seen Nabakov steal a playoff game? His noteworthy efforts with the season on the line are few and far between. And people blame Marleau and Thornton for the Sharks sucking in the playoffs. Maybe they should look at the man in the crease. And to think that Vesa Toskala gave that man a run for his money. Of course, the rest of the team sucked too. The blueliners could best be described as Efense because there was no D. And the forwards… Well, that Ovechkin guy (is that his name?) who wanted so badly to beat Canada in their own territory showed that killer instinct that Russians have when the chips are down. Actually, maybe Mike Milbury had a point when he said the Russians played a Eurotrash game. European players are clean to the ref’s face and have a reputation for being “backstabbers” when the refs aren’t looking. Take a look at the Semin and Boyle incident. Semin should have been beaten to a pulp but it’s international hockey so everyone has to play nice. Wait ’til they all get back to their day jobs…

Women’s Hockey
Any mention of women’s hockey today must begin with “Go Canada go!” before actually saying anything worth mentioning. Canada’s women’s team picked up their third straight Olympic gold last night. This was the first one on home ice and tied Canada with those dastardly Americans (who they beat to win the gold) atop the Gold Medal Count. While the game itself was close the whole way, you certainly can’t say that about the rest of the tournament. Canada and the USA decimated their opposition en route to the finals. That’s probably why most folks are talking about pulling women’s hockey from the Olympics. The thinking is that it can’t be good for the sport to see the same two teams run 1-2 and the same two run 3-4 (Sweden and Finland) all the time. But if you look below the top two, there is some competitive play. The bottom six teams of the eight-team tournament were all reasonably competitive with each other. Sure, the big fish blew them out of the water but the fact remains that the “lesser” teams are starting to catch up to the Swedes and Fins. On any given day, any team can win so it won’t come as much of a shock when someone topples Sweden or Finland and sets their sights on the Big Two. It’s a matter of time before the gap is closed. It’s just a matter of the IOC holding on for a couple more Olympiad before pulling the plug.

Team Canada Women’s Hockey Team
Riddle me this, boy (or girl – We don’t discriminate around these parts. We’re Canadian after all.) wonder. Why would a team have to apologize for a celebration. The IOC was none too pleased that Team Canada’s gold medal winning party left the locker room and ended up on the rink. The women, still in their jerseys and equipment skated back onto the ice with beers and cigars in hand. Sure, some of the women on the team may not quite been of legal drinking age but considering the circumstances, that’s really not a big worry. Do you think any of them were driving home anyway? Anyway, the IOC felt that it was wholly inappropriate that the winning team (of Canadians, to boot) should apologize for their behaviour. So Hockey Canada did the smart thing and issued an “if you were offended” apology. That’s a nice way of saying “That’s right. We kicked your Yankee asses and are partying up. If you don’t like it, then you can kiss our country’s Great White Northern ass.” The women’s team and Hockey Canada shouldn’t have to apologize for their party. Hell, the rest of the country was partying too. The only thing that offends me about this is the IOC getting offended. What an uptight bunch of pricks. The funny thing is that I felt that Tiger Woods didn’t need to apologize publically either because it was only his family that deserved an apology so what do I know?

Tiger Woods
Speaking of his Tiger-ness, he’s back in the news. After last Friday’s “apology” (which he should really apologize for. He wasted everyone’s time with a pointless 13 minute statement.), everyone’s taken shots at him. His mistresses wanted their own apology because he ruined their lives by dragging them into this mess. Like I said last week, they could have said no to him and the money they’re making by coming forward and telling their stories. (But where would the fun be in doing the right/smart thing?) Now, Howard Stern is trying to cash in on the Tiger mess by holding a Tiger Woods Mistress Pageant. I guess the winner would be Miss Not Mrs. Tiger Woods. Maybe Miss Elin’s Replacement? Miss Road Beef? Miss Tigress? Anyway, only four of the eighteen or so alleged mistresses are going to participate in the pageant. I wonder if they’re doing this because they feel upset that Tiger dragged them into this mess or for the rumoured $100,000 prize purse for the pageant. Now upset is Gatorade. Friday they said that they didn’t feel that Tiger had a role in their future marketing efforts so they dropped him. That’s marketing code for “He fucked up and there’s no way that the shareholders would approve of us plastering a man whore’s face on the side of our bottles.” Gatorade is planning on continuing support for the Tiger Woods Foundation which I believe provides a home for forlorn porn stars. A noble cause if ever there was one.

ESPN
Well, if we’re going to talk about scandals, I may as well mention the fun week they’re having up in Bristol. Well, some of the fun was in Bristol while some was in Washington. The week started with Tony Kornheiser getting suspended for speaking ill of Hannah Storm’s cougarish wardrobe that included a short plaid skirt and knee-high boots. Can anyone really blame him for that? It’s kinda like having Jennifer Hedger on SportsCentre, it doesn’t do anything for the credibility of other female workers at ESPN and other sports networks. What Tony said was the truth in a roundabout sort of way. The only problem was that he took a veiled shot at Chris Berman who is off limits from mocking by any person, especially since his contract is expiring soon. If Tony thought his week was bad, it wasn’t anything like Scott Van Pelt’s week. The SC anchor had not one but two YouTube moments. First, Captain Janks, who is a prank caller most often associated with Howard Stern, called SC and was interviewed by Van Pelt while pretending to be released NFL running back Brian Westbrook. He tipped off SVP by mentioning worshipping Howard Stern’s prostate. Then SVP was quoted as muttering “Fuck I gotta…” on last night’s SC. You can’t really tell on YouTube but I’ll take folks’ word for it. A generally bad week all around in Bristol. At least there wasn’t a sex scandal this time. Give Deadspin a couple of days to work on that one.

One thought on “The Humanoids: As The Puck Drops

  1. Well, i really say that i watched at some of great encounters the past week. Although i must say that it isnt said our neighbours shall win easy from the USA. Once again Canada won with some luck tonight from Slovakia. The US will be winning sunday with 6-2! Another thing: Yo Crosby! Put a smile at your face man!

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