Monday, March 30, 2009

Brooks Orprik

In hockey, as in life, you will encounter souls so insufferable, it's easy to wonder how they have survived. More often than not, these individuals have spent a few years of their life residing along a stretch of Commonwealth Avenue in and around Boston, Massachusetts.

It's been about a week since I've had my most recent run in with one of these miscreants. His name: Brooks Orpik. His goal: pissin' me off.

So, it all began innocently enough when Mumbai and I wanted to do something special for our 25th birthdays, which are exactly a week apart. We decided, totally rationally, that a trip to Pittsburgh to take in Pens-Flyers was a must. The game was an experience in itself; but, I'm not going to waste my energies on that. Alas, I'd like to focus solely on the Orprik.

After some quality autograph signing by some upstanding Penguins, out strolled Brooksy. I don't think it was coincidence that he was one of the last players to leave. You know he looooooooooves the attention. So, as I'm politely standing around for #44 to work his way down the line, Mumbai joked about how Orpik went to BC and how I, on principle, shouldn't get his autograph. However, my jersey was getting up there with the signatures, and I could use him, even if he was an Eagle. At the time though, Orpik was more than an ear shot away and could have in NO way heard our childish rumblings.

This is where it gets interesting... So, several minutes pass and Orpik finally made his way to me. I gracefully handed out my jersey for him to sign.. and.. he passed right over! He signed for the guy next to me on the left, and then came back and signed for some kid on my right. Then he signed my jersey? NO! Instead, he passed me again and signed for some chick down the line. Awkwardly, the middle aged man next to me (whom, by the way, knew way more about Sidney Crosby's whereabouts than any middle aged man should) asked if Orpik had signed for me. I, even more awkwardly, chuckled out an 'um.. no.' Orpik, now, begrudgingly scooped up my jersey.

To make the situation lighter, I joked. 'Is it because you know I'm a Terrier. ::pause:: 'Cuz, ya know, BC sucks!' At this point, Orpik puts Sharpie to jersey and scribes a 'B'. Then. He pauses. Stops dead in his tracks. The pause felt like an eternity. What was he going to do?! My mind, it raced. My palms! They sweated! Was it going to scribble over my jersey, ruining all my creeping?!? Was he going to, Eruzione forbid, write 'BU SUCKS!'.

However, the professional in him reigned supreme and he graciously signed his name before scowling and eerily chirping out 'Yea, ha ha, BC sucks'.

I felt awful and violated and will never look at Orpik the same way. Yes, I was honored that he spent the time to sign autographs. Others didn't even do that (Malkin.. I mean you!). But, honestly, he could have made light of the situation and joked with me. Hell, BC is the reigning NCAA champion, it's not like he didn't have material.

What Mumbai and I didn't know at the time of this encounter was that Orpik's little brother, Andrew, is a member of the current BC squad. The same squad that had, earlier that weekend, been booted from the NCAA tournament courtesy of my Boston University Terriers. Big old 'OOPS' on our part.

But. Yes. The event, as a whole, was unique and something I'd much not want to endure again. If only Orpik could spend a little time with Scott Hartnell. It's just a game.

You can never forget that.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Strong Side/Weak Side

Here at Sugar & Ice we love a good hockey joke. Which is why we squealed with delight when we saw The Onion had a new, Martin Brodeur themed Strong Side/Weak Side up. It rivals the Sidney Crosby mock-up for comedic genius. And with too much time on my hands this afternoon (and a mountain of work that I just couldn't face)....I set about creating my own version for everyone's favorite rookie goaltender, Steve Mason.

(Forgive the poor photo editing skills/the floating hand and stick...)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Edit: (Don) Cherry Pie

Sigh. Unfortunately, the Caps proved me wrong. At the end of their second turrrrrible game in a row, Federov scored with about 2 minutes left to make it a slightly less embarrassing 5 - 2 loss. I'll let the WaPo take it from there...

After Fedorov scored, he threw his arms up in the air, then fell over while hugging Ovechkin and Morrisonn. "I was really disgusted when we scored our second goal and we were all excited about it," Boudreau said. "I turned to [assistant coach] Dean [Evason] and said, 'What are we doing?' We just made it 5-2 and we're jumping on each other like we won an overtime game. It was pretty embarrassing. If I was on the Carolina bench, I would have been going, 'Look at these idiots.' "

I couldn't agree more. I'm all for celebrating with flair and aplomb, but you have to know the right time. It rubbed me the wrong way, even though after looking at replays, I think Federov actually fell accidentally. It doesn't matter though, that's not the kind of goal that needs a hugging scrum at center ice. Just high-five the bench and get back to the game.

The Caps have played like the CRAPitals twice in a row now, against SE opponents they should be beating. Last night should have been just as crucial to the Caps as it was to Carolina. If we had won, we could have kept pace with the Devils and basically put an end to Carolina. Too bad...

Monday, March 2, 2009

(Don) Cherry Pie

This will be covered to death in the next few days, but as the resident Ovechkin-devotee, I thought I’d weight in on the Don Cherry on Ovechkin controversy (even at the risk of alienating Nash Brown, who says it’s bad for our “marriage” to talk about the Ovie/Crosby divide.)

Because I am just that cool, I happened to be snoozing on my couch Saturday night when Cherry went on his Coach’s Corner rant against Ovechkin. My first instinct was to heckle my television, which I did with a few choice curse words. But I didn’t dwell too much on it because, well, it was Don Cherry. In my mind, that’s like getting riled up when listening to Bill O’Reilly. After reading PuckDaddy’s thoughts on the matter, however, I attempted to force myself to be objective, put the Ovie love on hold, and take a look at things from the other side.

Listening to Cherry, he’s talking about two totally separate things.

  1. Oveckin’s “over the top” goal celebrations.
  2. "He’s got a free ride, he runs at guys, does this stuff. I am predicting somebody’s gonna get him and somebody’s gonna get him good.” I’ve heard this a lot lately, and I guess people are picking up where Canada’s golden child left it after last week’s game when he said Ovechkin is “hitting to hurt guys in the head.”

First, the goal celebrations. Cherry is old school and he doesn’t like wild goal celebrations. Ok, that’s his opinion. Maybe Ovie is the poster child for this because he scores more than anyone else, thus giving him more chances to celebrate. But Sidney with me. And for the people who say it detracts from the team – I challenge you to find a player who is more excited when his teammates score. has launched himself against the glass too. Malkin goes down on one knee and does the fist-pump. And why shouldn’t they? These are young guys getting paid millions to play the game they love. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see this devolve into the crazy, choreographed NFL end-zone dances. But anyone who has the privilege of watching Ovechkin day-in and day-out can tell that he’s just excited and HAPPY he scored. He doesn’t do it on every goal, he doesn’t taunt goalies or d-men, he just speeds over to his teammates and celebrates with them and the fans. And for the people who say it detracts from the team? I'd challenge you to find a player more excited for his teammates when they score. Ovechkin isn’t a showboat, nor is he a selfish player. He’s a goofy kid with a wealth of talent who isn’t afraid to show how much he loves what he’s doing. He’s a new kind of Russian, which may be what has Cherry confused. (Also, can I note that when the 1980 US hockey team beat the Soviets, people were so thrilled see the kids whooping it up. People didn't like Soviet hockey because they were dour and mechanical and didn't look like they were having fun...)

On to the second, more serious part. These allegations that Ovechkin “runs at people” and “hits to hurt.” I’m still not sold on this, and I think any player claiming publicly that someone is hitting high and dirty without proof is unfair and a little dangerous. Maybe my fandom is clouding my judgment here, but I’m not convinced. Ovie is a monster and he hits hard. Yes, in some of the earlier games against Malkin, he went after him just to go after him, which was stupid and uncalled for. But it’s not like Ovechkin doesn’t get run at night after night. I’m not saying that makes it ok to leave your feet or board someone. And yeah, Ovechkin has done that. But he gets called and that’s how it should be. And it’s not like he’s the only one who gets carried away and crosses the line. (See Crosby.) I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying he’s not Steve Ott, so RELAX a little.

I guess I just feel like Ovechkin doesn’t get a fair shake (I know, it sounds ridic, but….) He’s the most exciting player in the league (we could argue forever over who has more talent between him, Crosby and Malkin, and aren’t we lucky we’re watching hockey while three greats grow up and into the game?!) If he were Canadian, he’d be lauded for being the full-package of goal scoring prowess and checking grit. But he’s Russian, so he can’t win. (And I guess the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agrees slightlyThe thing about this is, if Ovechkin's name was Alan Olberbacher and he was from Moosejaw instead of Moscow, Cherry isn't nearly offended by it. And something Cherry and others who get huffy over this stuff tend to forget about this game is that it's entertainment.)

At its heart, this is not another chapter in the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry. It’s a testament to how xenophobic and closed-minded Cherry is. He’s a little like my grandfather, but the difference is that my grandfather doesn’t get to broadcast his outdated and, well, let’s be honest, wrong, opinions to the world twice a week.