Living in California, I sometimes lose perspective on the whole media cycle surrounding hockey. I'll navigate the hockey blogosphere, from Puck Daddy to From the Rink, and you'll think a storyline is incredibly important; but then you'll go outside and no one gives a fuck. I guess it's good that I get grounded by the apathy of my great state, because without this kind of correction people in the hockey world can get pretty insane. Occasionally, the hockey media will get its head so far up its own ass that they'll forget, "Hey, it's hockey, it's not really that important." Here are 5 stories from this off-season that made me want to shout, "NO ONE CARES:"
5. Dan Ellis, Twit
It's a classic tale: sports athlete reaches out to fans, dares to be a real person, is quickly shouted down and attacked by the very fans that complain that they don't have enough interaction with their favorite athletes. It all started with Dan Ellis complaining that he had lost "18% of his income," referring to the fact that he's losing 18% of his income to the escrow that keeps the salary cap at its current level. People took offense to this because... when you make more than a certain amount it's OK if you lose a fairly large chunk of it? I don't know, it was hard to follow. Then he complained that he worries more about money now than he did when he was in college, which some people took offense to. I'm not sure why; I do too, because I'm smarter than I was when I was in college. When I was in college all I worried about was having enough money for rent and beer; now I worry about health insurance, my phone bill, car insurance, rent, and saving enough for a house or new car or whatever. Is this an unpopular opinion to express? I'm honestly confused. The funny thing is, people always criticize athletes because they spend money too freely; now they're criticizing an athlete for caring too much about money.
...Of course, since it took me that many words to clarify my thoughts on the matter, I probably wouldn't try to state my opinion on Twitter.
Anyway, people told Ellis to shut up because he plays hockey for a living and that of course means he's not allowed to complain about anything in his life. Ellis tried to explain himself in the 140-character limit that Twitter allows and this ended up coming out:
If you don't make a lot of money I don't expect u to understand in the same way I could never understand what it is like to risk my life
What followed was a tweetstorm of epic proportions, an internet meme, a fake twitter account (that is admittedly pretty hilarious), and a hockey player that will never have a publicly-expressed opinion on anything ever again. The whole thing was kind of embarrassing: Dan Ellis was shown to be kind of a moron who is bad at expressing things, hockey fans were shown to be a bunch of hyper-reactive little girls that apparently can't stand the fact that morons make a lot of money, and every hockey player now knows that it's not worth the trouble having a twitter account because some asshole is going to take whatever you say the wrong way and you're probably going to get yelled at by your GM. Nice work, everyone.
4. Tomas Kaberle, Trade Bait
Brian Burke: Hey, just letting you know that Tomas Kaberle can be had for the right price.
Other NHL GMs: Oh, OK. He's kinda good, I guess. What are you looking for, prospects and picks? You guys are rebuilding, right?
Brian Burke: Haha, you stupid bastard, we're the Maple Leafs and we won't rebuild! We're retooling. Completely different. I want a young, top-6 winger for Kaberle and a high pick.
Other NHL GMs: But... if we trade you a young winger then we're not really getting better and we want to make the playoffs. Are you sure you don't want a prospect that will be ready when you're in the pla-
Brian Burke: I WILL CHOKE YOU WITH YOUR OWN INTESTINES! I'm only trading Kaberle if it makes us better this year! NOW GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!
Other NHL GMs: So... you're only going to trade Kaberle if it's in an unfair trade? Then why are you trying to trade him?
Brian Burke: I'm not, I'm perfectly happy with him. You're the one trying to get him so you need to meet my demands.
Other NHL GMs: What? YOU JUST SAID-
Brian Burke: -Hey, don't come to me throwing around demands, I'm perfectly happy with my team.
Other NHL GMs: ...Well then keep Kaberle and have fun missing the playoffs.
Brian Burke: Fine, I will. Wait, wha-
3. The Impending Lockout: DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMED!!!!!!!!!!!
The current CBA is ending pretty soon and hockey fans are pulling their hair out at the prospect of another lockout. There are ominous signs: the NHLPA hired Donald Fehr, a hired gun who was at the helm of the MLBPA during their last work stoppage, and there appears to be a fight brewing over allowing NHL players to play in the next Olympics. But c'mon people, the NHL isn't going to have another lockout 6 years after they lost an entire year. They won't have one for the simple fact that the NFL and NBA are almost certainly going to have lockouts of their own and the NHL would have the Fall to all to itself during that time. I know we're all still recovering from the last lockout (it pretty much ruined a year of my life) but there's no reason to worry about it until it's actually a remote possibility.
2. Bloggers Want Access to Locker Rooms, to Become Shitty Just Like Regular Media
It all started when a few clubs like the New York Rangers and the Edmonton Oilers requested that bloggers be kept out of their locker rooms when they're the visiting teams; what followed was a bunch of whining as bloggers decided that people cared about their profession. Real quick: no one gives a fuck about bloggers. Barely anyone cares about newspapers collapsing and the fall of modern journalism and all that jazz. People just want to read about hockey. The reason people don't read newspapers anymore is because all they talk about are things tangentially related to hockey (like all the stuff on this list). You can enhance people's knowledge of hockey through a lot of things, but the last place you're actually going to learn anything is in the locker room. Fight for interviews when players aren't tired and annoyed instead. Interview the strength and conditioning coaches. Interview the ice girls. Or just do nothing and write stupid lists. ANYTHING but locker room interviews.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk
Contract law, political infighting, backroom deals, pissy back-and-forth catfights... the only thing this story was missing was, you know, hockey.
Thank God prospect camp starts tomorrow.