Monday, November 12, 2007

The Greater One


Post #19 Topic: Why The NHL is Better Than Your Favorite Sport

Today marks the induction into the NHL hall of fame for four great athletes of our time, who together comprise what critics who have been alive longer than I have declare is “the best hall of fame induction class” ever. Of the four players inducted, I know a decent amount about two, and a lot more about the others; first the former.

Al Macinnis had a rifle of a shot. I couldn’t tell you much about his defensive prowess but even as a young kid (during Al’s hey-day), I remember the damage he could cause on his gun from the blue line. 7 times in his career did Macinnis score 20 or more goals, a feat deserving of praise even for some of the NHL’s most respected forwards and centers. In 1991 Macinnis had over 100 pts, which is likewise deserving of significant praise. Add onto that a Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP), a Norris (best d-man), and a Stanley cup championship and you see why Macinnis is considered an important part of this group.

Change of plans, I will save my Ron Francis discussion for last as it is primary to the actual point of this post which my 9 dedicated readers have probably all abandoned reading by now in favor of the other notes below.

For Scott Stevens I will not even refer to wikipedia or espn. As a Ranger fan, my dreams have been haunted by Scott Stevens for years. Stevens was simply one of the most feared predators (not the scrubs from Nashville) to ever lay foot on the ice. He played dirty, he played smart and most of all, he played solid defense. The way the speed players would avoid him (Bure, Bondra to name two) on the ice was indicative of just how feared he was in the NHL. Stevens is pretty much credited with ending the once dominant reign of Eric Lindros. Originally drafted by the Capitals and then signed by the Blues, Stevens was traded to the Devils for 19 year old sniper Brendan Shanahan, in what 20 years later has to be considered one of the most talent-laden transactions in the history of SPORT.

Mark Messier; The Captain; The general of broadway; The moose; The greatest leader of my era in any professional sport; The man who is almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the Stanley Cup back to Broadway after a 54 year absence. The man who retired a Ranger and was then subsequently retired by the Rangers, his number 11 in the rafters until the teams start running out of numbers and need to bring some numbers back down which will be funny and terribly ironic. Messier being traded to the Rangers in 1992 was the reason that I truly became a Ranger fan, an effect that has lingered to this day and will subsequently cause me to flunk law school and become hot dog salesman, which is what I really wanted to do but wasn’t ready for such a fierce commitment after 4 grueling hangovers/years at Syracuse. Mark, when you read this… I thank you.

I saved Ron Francis for last because of a debate I got into this weekend. Before I discuss him I’d like to note that Wayne Gretzky, is the single most accomplished athlete of our time. The difference between his talent level and the next best player EVER, far surpasses equal comparisons in any other sport. Tiger Woods is good, but does not have double the amount of majors as the next best person in his sport… He doesn’t even have the most. Jordan has 6 rings but his numbers compare modestly at best to some of the best Lakers of all time (Kareem, George Mikan (Minneapolis lakers), Wilt and Magic). He’s better than any QB in football, since Brett Farve only recently broke all Marino’s records.

Gretzky had more assists in his career than any other player ever had points. Yes Wayne played with greats like Robitaille, Kurri, and Nick Kypreos (obscure joke), but look at those player’s production after losing Wayne and you can immediately see just how powerful his game was. Wayne scored over 200 points three times… a statistical accomplishment that could only be described as absurd. In 1985 when Wayne has 215 points, the next best performer was Mario Lemeiux with 143, nearly 75 points less. 3rd and 4th? The other two guys on Wayne’s line (one of them his standard DEFENSEMAN. In comparison, to reach similar statistical dominance, When Karl Malone averaged 30 pts a game, Jordan would have had to average 45 to equal Wayne’s dominance.

Which finally brings me to Ron Francis, the NHL’s 2nd all time career assist getter. With more helpers than Yzerman, Lemeuix, Messier and Howe, Francis’s 1229 is both impressive and deserving of the accolades with which he was most recently bestowed (from the sport who owns bragging rights to the world’s most honored and respected championship trophy, and know he did not play women’s water polo). Oh BTW ( the great one had 1963 assists. Yes you did indeed just shit your pants. (I happen to strongly dislike Wayne, for reasons which I will withhold till my next post, and yes I call him Wayne and he calls me Daddy).

So what does this all mean? Why is the NHL so darn good? Why should you go out and leave the business in the front but the party in the back? Why should you get your plaid and your shotgun and go duck hunting? Why should you end every comment for which you need approval by saying eh? Because Hockey is back and better than ever. Nevermind that the Rangers, the measuring stick for hockey’s success, are experiencing a ratings boost over 85%, the reason to watch hockey is none other than Sidney Crosby.

I don’t care if you don’t like the Penguins. I don’t care if you think Malkin is better, or Ovechkin more valuable, or Lundqvist more of a story, or Phaneuf more of a “once in a lifetime type d-man” or the Kings the rebirth of West Coast Hockey or the Devils miserable. Sidney Crosby is the single reason that anyone who likes sports should watch hockey.

If a basketball team was going to win 73 games you would watch.

It a football team could once again go undefeated (without cheating and/or being from OUTSIDE BOSTON), you would watch.

If Federer were going for his 7th consecutive major you would watch.

If Tiger picked up a real sport and was nearly as good at it, you would most likely watch that as well.


As an 17 year old rookie on the worst team IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, Sid had over 100 pts. Last year, as an 18 year old, he became the youngest NORTH AMERICAN ATHLETE TO EVER WIN A SCORING TITLE… INCLUDING WAYNE GRETZKY, the newly anointed 2nd most dominant athlete of our time (in fact, Wayne was quoted as saying that the only person he ever believed could break his amazing records was Sidney.. when Sidney was only 18). That year he also won the MVP, the Art Ross (scoring title), and the Lester B. Pearson (best player in the regular season as determined by members of the NHLPA – the players).

People forget the kind of hype that Eric Lindros got when he came out. Both the Rangers and Flyers completed trades that nearly emptied their rosters to get him from the team the drafted him, the Nordiques. Eventually the Flyers won that sweepstakes, as well as many games until Eric’s career was cancelled faster than Viva Laughlin (I think that was cancelled). As much hype as Lindros got, it was nowhere near that drawn by Sid. When Sid was 14, in 2001, he was already the consensus number one overall pick for 2005.

The scary part about him is that he isn’t even full-grown yet, and already he’s next to impossible to knock off the puck. Even more amazing, at 6 foot, 200 lbs, Crosby can sneak through defenders like Theo Fluery, blast slap-shots like Al Iafrate, and take punishing hits like (my personal preference out of many possible comparisons) Petr Prucha. Crosby will only continue to get better, aided by the fact that his team is getting exponentially better. NEWSFLASH: all of the young guys that the Pens surrounded Crosby with, with the hopes that Sid would make them better have no fulfilled management’s philosophy. And with more youth coming through the system (Kris Letang, potential Norris candidate) to name one, and two more ALL-STAR CALIBER 20 year olds currently on the roster (Malkin who would be a shoe in for an MVP if not for Sid, and Jordan Staal who as an 18 year old lead the league in Short-handed goals), Sid is not going to get the same attention he has been these past few years. Translation: more open looks, more open teammates, more open lanes and less open seats.

Make that far less open seats. People are starting to catch on to just how good he can be. He’s now got his own clothing line, several hefty endorsements, had had his jersey stolen by airport employees three times, and I heard he’s got his own dirty live webcam coming out in February (joke).

So as Ozzy would say, if you’re not watching hockey “youre going off the rails on a crazy train.” And the best part is that Sid is only one of a number of bright spots around the league. So turn to channel 378 (VS network), turn off the volume (worst announcers in sports), and settle down with a Molson, some fries w/gravy and guaranteed healthcare and turn on some hockey, the world’s best game.

Other Notes

She says she got a man but I aint worried. I’m just gonna have to rob that man like Horry.

I’d like to give credit to one of the most under-acclaimed trios in the history of music. On Jimmy Buffet’s cheeseburger in paradise, the three chicks that sing the paradise echo part are really on key and really emphasize just how delicious that cheeseburger that Jimmy is thinking about really is.

I saw Michael Clayton, it should have been called George Clooney.

The next time you hear someone use the word “right up my alley” hit them. This is the single most absurd phrase in the American dictionary (yes the dictionary has phrases, the new one at least, you must have the old one) and really must be removed. All I know is that if I have an alley, I certainly don’t want any of you recommending what I should put up it.


Leila said...

Eric was an excellent player. I already knew that he's built a great career , but I got very impressed when I watched this video today with his career stats about games, goals, assists and points Did you know that he scored almost 1000 points? His retirement is a pity, we will miss his talent in NHL.

can't beat my meat said...

Eric Lindros was, and still is, a homo