Joining Battle of California has been fun. We have all come to regret it, but I've enjoyed it. For the most part. Not really. Anyways, replacing someone so well liked around here has been difficult, even now, well over a full year after they left. They were far more creative then I, and a much more passionate fan of the Los Angeles Kings. No, taking over for Earl has been tough. I can't draw for one, and even still what I do slap together is pretty unremarkable by comparison. But still the most glaring difference is Earl Sleek's undying, overpowering love of the Kings.
You may not know it but Earl has been a fan of Los Angeles, ever since the Kings showed up in the 60s. In the era of the crazy nicknames like "Frenchie", "Cowboy", and "Dlurt" there was Earl, too. Proud attendee, nicknamed by the early fans as well. He became affectionately referred to as "Sleek" back in the day for his sleek, hairless chest he flaunted behind the glass of the Kings' net when he inevitably would rip off his shirt displaying his purple and gold painted torso.
Despite the teams early struggles for a brief 20 or so years, Earl stuck with the Kings and that loyalty paid off with the Kings acquisition of Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky's addition, along with Earl's favorite bunch of players like Luc Robitaille and his all time personal love of his life, Robb Stauber, gave the Kings success and Earl fond lasting memories. But it came at a steep cost.
The arrival of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were at first just as ridiculous as they sounded. They looked goofy, played at the "Pond", and were flat out terrible. It was actually alright for a while. Anaheim became a second, slightly southern home for the Kings and tickets were (and still are) dirt cheap. Unfortunately, Earl took very seriously the Ducks' later success and struggled for a while, despising the sport he enjoyed so much. He took up singing in that period, and things slowly turned around for ol' Sleek. He took his frustrations out with cartooning, which I know most of you are familiar with. For those of you who aren't, Earl made himself something of a series about a blue duck being a real jerk to everyone he came across. It reached wide acclaim, and Earl was proud to see the ridicule of the Anaheim Ducks was widespread throughout the league and the fan bases.
I can recall reading Earl's posts here at Battle of California during 2012 in the playoffs. Earl could barely contain himself, and it finally all came out once the Kings won the Stanley Cup. It was all he could ever ask for. Finally, after over forty years of the Kings, and covering them via BoC, and before that the Kings' message boards, and even before that writing and publishing his own Kings centric newsletter, Earl decided to hang up the writing gig. I still can't believe I took over for such a die-hard.
However, you can still see Earl regularly. Just because the Kings won one Cup doesn't mean he stopped being a fan, obviously. Just look for him at the Staples Center. He'll be glad to to chat you up on why Anze Kopitar has deserved the Selke award for years, and why Drew Doughty is a Norris trophy candidate. You can still always find Earl right behind the Kings' net. With a now black and white painted chest. If you look low enough you can spot his #23 Dustin Brown tramp stamp.
Jerk-Off 2014 FINALS
It has been a long time coming for this, and frankly I think we all knew who was going to make it this far. Especially at this blog. 30 teams. Over 40 rounds of voting. Well over a hundred guys to vote for, and here we are. The last four jerks, still jerking it up and off. Three of them will fall into obscurity with the dozens of others who failed to seize the Douche Throne. One will claim it and wear a crown of shit as the ruler amongst jerks. The Jerkssiah. The one true jerk.
Here's the "rules": Voting runs through Monday at 11 PM. Polls close then. I know there will be many things to prevent you from not voting. Long lines. Terrorism. The fact you have no real reason to visit this site anyways. But vote! And tell everyone to vote. This is the most important undertaking performed at Battle of California, so says me. I hope you enjoyed it. I did, because it gave me something to write about where I could put in minimal amounts of effort. Our four finalists...
COREY PERRY, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Kind of sneaking under the radar, Perry actually has two suspensions, both four game bans. However, it is the things Perry doesn't get caught for that irate people so much. The jawing, jabbing, and hacking just enough to get attention of people, but not enough where the refs are willing to call a penalty on the guy. Along with scoring absolute back breaking goals, Perry is easily the most frustrating pest to deal with in the NHL. He's also an artist at colliding with goalies, whether he is driving to the net, running a screen, or just because it's something to do. He is also mad fugly.
DUSTIN BROWN, LOS ANGELES KINGS
Brought up through the Kings' system and named captain at a fairly young age, Dustin Brown has really made nothing but enemies. He hits. A lot. Despite the fact he has only been suspended once in his career, his reputation around some parts is that he a notorious dirty player. His knees are classified as WMDs in northern California. He doesn't overtly whine, but falls over as often as a small child on skates for the first time. It has also led to a flopping reputation. Main point being: Brown's reputation is far more entertaining than the actual Dustin Brown, who's pretty "meh" the majority of the time.
MIKE SMITH, PHOENIX COYOTES
Possibly the most hated goalie since Patrick Roy, Mike Smith was nobody in Dallas and Tampa Bay. He was moderately famous in Long Beach for flipping off the crowd during a minor league game. But once he touched down in Phoenix, Smith's career blew wide open. Acting of the highest caliber, and a real lumberjack with the goalie stick are Smiths main skills. He has scored on himself in hilarious fashion, mostly because everyone knows how truly big of a prick he really is.
RAFFI TORRES, SAN JOSE SHARKS
Hated equally, even on his own team, the Sharks. He may not be as established in the California rivalry, since he is new to San Jose even at this point. Yes, it has been over a year since he joined them, but God set him down with a karmic punishment from on high and Torres has essentially missed the whole season. Even still, he is the most infamous head hunter in the NHL currently. He looks insane, plays dirty, sounds like a real asshole, and he probably smells like cat pee. I'd ask Marian Hossa what his opinion on Raffi Torres is, but whenever anyone does Hossa just has a mental break down, sobs terrified, and blacks out.
Prediction: No one gives a shit about the game tonight. See you next week.