Blog 1 - Tuesday, April 14
Thar She Blows!
[DISCLAIMER: Like every hockey obsessive, I've got issues with the NHL all season long. Those issues pale in comparison to our biggest fundamental disagreement: can I swear in my Playoff Blogs?
I realize swearing doesn't make you look cool (except to kids), and that it only serves as evidence that I'm undereducated and common. It can also make you stupid-wealthy.
Look, I curse. Lots. It's how I earn. It's who I am. But swearing doesn't define me. It's just something I do when I'm lazy. And look at that pic above. See that moon face? It should be quite obvious that I'm always lazy.
Naturally, the good folks at NHL.com would prefer I keep my ramblings "tv safe". I said, "Look, I want everyone to be able to enjoy my stuff - not just transvestite hookers." After that confusion was cleared up, I made my impassioned plea for what I call "the option to include frank asides and thesis-strengthening expressions that might be considered off-color by some." They saw through that approach, too.
So, with thanks to my friend Marc Bernardin, and with the help of hockey legend and all-around super nice guy Wayne Gretzky
(a fella who never cursed on the ice; never), I present you with our compromise: anytime I work myself up into a lather about the Devs, so much so that I lose my head and include potentially offensive terminology? I will then swap said terminology for the kindler, gentler, more family-friendly and NHL-approved term "Gretzky" (or a derivative/conjugation of Mr. Gretzky's names) instead.
Thanks for your indulgence. With your help and understanding, I'll conquer this terrible disease of the mouth and mind once and for all, and finally support my favorite team with the maturity and decorum sports fans are known for. /DISCLAIMER]
This year, I rented a box at the Rock for all the home games of the playoffs.
I know what you're thinking: "Listen to this fat [Gretzky] braggin' about all the money he's got! Big man, with the pregnant-lady gut and the [Gretzin'] arm flab! Hey, Fatty -- you're gonna die alone, you morbidly obese [Great One]!"
Look, I'd think the same thing. But this luxury suite rental isn't about being flashy or rich and gross; it's about financial restitution. Considering I've only ever paid to see them in action just once in my life, it was high time I shelled out a small fortune to the Devils.
"What'd you say, you fat, [Wayne-er]?" you demand. "You call yourself a Devils fan and you've only been to one game?!"
No - I'd only ever paid to see the Devils once: many years back, pre-"Clerks", when Walt Flanagan and I drove up to the Meadowlands to scalp tickets for a Devils/Flyers game ($35 apiece for second tier seats, 1989/90 dollars). And yet, I've been to hundreds of games since the organization opted to go with the NJ Devils over the NJ Mosquitoes. How?
Throughout my high school career, my Mom worked for a General Practitioner who moonlighted as the Devils' team doctor when the franchise kicked open its East Rutherford doors. Things were very different back then, as the fledgling Devils struggled to fill their rink (step away from the irony button, buddy). This meant the good Doctor always had spare tickets to give away (as well as sticks, pucks, lots of Yuletide-colored insignias). And later in life, right about the time the Doc moved on, my first flick got picked up for theatrical distribution - which meant getting tickets would never be a problem, as I could always do the ol' "I'm Mildly Famous and I demand free things be given unto me!"
I'd done the quasi-celeb-leech thing long enough, calling or emailing EVP/COO Chris Modrzynski for free tickets anytime I was near enough to Jersey to hit a game. But while that was okay to do once in awhile during the regular season, the idea of asking for freebies during the playoffs felt... dirty. It forced me to ask myself "How big a fan are you?"
I did some soul-searching, as well as some math; and when I did the math, I realized that if my devotion to this club and the Jersey jersey were to be measured in dollars and cents, I'd look like a tourist; a "benny," at best.
So I responded by forking over some serious scratch to Jersey's Team by signing up for a luxury suite. Indulgent, yes; but I figured a) what am I doing in the movie biz if I'm not gonna embrace excess once in awhile? b) with a box, I could bring a bunch of friends and family to every game, and c) nobody could ever say I don't put my money where my mouth is as far as my Devils devotion goes. What better way to show the team you're behind them than by dropping your entire retirement fund into their collection plate. And I was happy to do it.
Until they were matched-up with the Hurricanes.
Make no mistake about it: I'm not conflicted about this series in the slightest. I sold my soul to the Devils years ago. I don't care that Carolina bested us in three out of four meetings this year: the Devils will crush the 'Canes. We all know the Devils want it more. Look at the character they showed when they lost their lynchpin early in the season: the entire club rallied to compensate for far too many Marty-less months, and ran the Red up to the top of the Division. No, the Devils will tame the storm that's moving up the coast from Carolina toward the Garden State, giving us sunny skies for the rest of the playoffs. It's manifest destiny at this point.
But indulge me a moment to share with you the bittersweet poignancy this match-up holds for a non-skinny fan of shinny...
I can't root against the Hurricanes because they're the Hartford Whalers, for 's sake.
What kind of black-hearted, hateful [Nadrofsky Steelers] could ever cheerfully root against the Whale? We're talking about the (first) team that brought Gordie Howe
out of retirement! This is a team of legends, with an old-time-hockey legacy. Paul Coffey
, Dave Keon, Bobby [Gretz]ing Hull... even our own Shanny: all legends who swam with the Whale. I can't [Wayne Douglas] on the Green and the Blue; they're the Connecticut Yankees in King Stanley's Court who inspired the immortal cinematic bon mot "Breakfasts come and go, Rene; but Hartford... the Whale? Hey, they only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime."
So you see, the universe (or Gary Bettman) is punishing me for patronizing the NHL free-for-nothing all those years by making sure the first time I seriously crack open my wallet on behalf of my boys, it's gonna be a series during which I'll be unable to obnoxiously hoot and holler like a Rangers fan. In fact, when Elias, Parise or Zajac perforate poor Cam Ward
with more shots than a sixty minute [Gretzky] compilation tape, I might have to choke back a tear or two.
This will not be a proud victory for Jersey, but we'll make that sacrifice; because we've always loved the Whale.
Devils in 5. [Wayne] you if you don't believe me.
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