Tag Archives: joe torie

Black Ice Issue #38 — Coaches Corner

Went to the Canucks game last night. It was bad ass. Had the most miserable week at work last week and it felt so fantastic just to let out guttural moans and buoyant cheers for the home team. Just what the doctor ordered. What strikes me about organized sports is how it is just a stones throw away from war. I mean, what do I really have against the City of Calgary? I have been there once in my life. I have nothing against the Calgary. But that does not stop me from hating them. And how is Vancouver so much better. This I cannot say. Truthfully I hate this city most of the time. It offers me nothing, I offer it nothing. It is a symbiotic relationship based on petulance. A coalition of the less-then-willing. But our alliance is merely contingent on our proximity to each other. But the enemy of my enemy is my friend no?

So we take this substitution for war, gilded on an arbitrary rivalry based on a geography and slap a price tag on it. Fuck you Vancouver. Go Canucks go.

The lyrics for the Propagandhi song ‘Dear Coaches Corner’ seem especially pertinent as I float through the miasma of this life. Searching for meaning in the vein pursuit of breath and life and divisional dominance.

Dear Ron McLane. Dear Coach’s Corner.
I’m writing in order for someone to explain
to my niece the distinction between
these mandatory pre-game group rites of submission
and the rallies at Nuremberg.
Specifically the function the ritual serves
in conjunction with what everybody knows is,
in the end, a kid’s game.
I’m just appealing to your sense of fair play
when I say she’s puzzled by this incessant pressure
for her to not defy collective will and yellow ribboned lapels,
as the soldiers inexplicably repel down from the arena rafters.
Which, if it not so insane,
they’ll be grounds for screaming laughter.

Dear Ron McLane, I wouldn’t bother with these questions
if I didn’t sense some spiritual connection.
We may not be the same, but it’s not like we’re from different planets.
We both love this game so much we can hardly fucking stand it.
Alberta-born, and Prairie-raised.
It seems like there ain’t a sheet of ice north of Fargo I ain’t played.
From Penhold to the Gatinaeu, every fond memory of childhood
that I know is somehow connected to the culture of this game.
I just can’t let it go.

I guess it comes down to what kind of world you want to live in.
And if diversity is disagreement, disagreement is treason.
Well, you’ll be surprised if we find ourselves
reaping a strange and bitter fruit that that sad old man beside you
keeps feeding to young minds as virtue.
It takes a village to raise a child, but just a flag to raze the children
till they’re nothing more than ballasts for fulfilling
a madman’s dream of a paradise. Complexity reduced to black and white.
How do I protect her from this cult of death?

have a listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAIUf_SYpwE


Black Ice Issue #37 — Game Eighty

John Keats once famously wrote, “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Witnessing Luongo’s 46-save performance has brought Keats’ immortal words to life on the streets of Vancouver.

Roberto Luongo was traded to Vancouver from Florida for Todd Bertuzzi just under three years ago. The architect of this trade, Mike Keenan, now helms the bench for the Calgary Flames and the compensation for that trade, Bertuzzi, now plays for Keenan.

Historically Keenan has had a man-crush on Todd Bertuzzi and a sadistic temperment for goaltenders. Evidence for this lies in his dealings with Luongo while in Florida. It’s also interesting to note that he has traded for Bertuzzi before, in 1997, when Bert was with the New York Islanders. Back then the struggling prospect caught the eye of Keenan who was with Vancouver at the time.

And Goaltenders? Miikka Kiprusoff is first in the NHL with 45 wins but 31st in goals-against. What can be made of this canundrum?

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Or one man’s garbage is another man’s garbage. Or Mike Keenan is a big fuckin idiot. Whatever, where were we? Ah yes, beauty.

Roberto Luongo is the show in this town. True, his fingers are a little bit light from their conspicuous lack of Stanley Cup ring. But the weight of this cities hopes remain a steadfast reminder to the star keeper that we are now 38 years and counting. And waiting. Waiting for that thing of beauty to enshroud our green oasis here in the Pacific Northwest.


Black Ice Issue #36 — Darcy Rota Blues

Been thinking of Darcy Rota all night.

In the ’80s when Rota joined the Canucks he quickly made a splash playing on a line with Thomas Gradin and Stan Smyl. In the great campaign of 82 the trio combined for 204 points in the regular season and another 46 more in the playoffs capping off a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup final. Although the team fell short in the quest for the cup the ’82 playoffs cemented an obsession for hockey in this city that has yet to abate.

So why have I been thinking of Darcy Rota all night?

Over the weekend a friend and I spent the evening sorting a box of old hockey cards he had bought off eBay some time ago. As we were dividing up the absurd hockey hair of the ’70s from the sublime facial hair I came across a card of Darcy Rota. Born in Vancouver he spent just four-and-a-half seasons with the Canucks before retiring with a severe spinal injury. He was only 31.

I guess that struck me. For ten years Rota was a top-six journeyman and consistent point-a-game producer in the best hockey league in the world. For ten years lived breathed, and bled for a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Chalice above his sweating brow, encircling the rink to a mechanized roar of a jubilant crowd. But all of this was not to be. For six weeks Rota, Gradin and the Steamer entranced a city, sparked a riotous obsession for hockey in the province and came within breaths of winning it all. But it was not to be.

The Canucks lost (as they are want to do) and Rota went on to play two more season before retiring. He had his best statistical year the season after ‘the run’ but hung up the skates soon after.

And that was it.

So remember Kesler, Burrow et al. You may only get one shot and then, like Darcy Rota, you spend the rest of your life wondering what if.


Black Ice Issue #35 — Triple Boredom With Fries

I left the game in the middle of the third period for band practice. Had a feeling the Canucks would pull through. You know that feeling? The one that suggests your team is going to win by virtue of their glistening record. Little did I know that the boredom so often beset upon a tilt with the Minnesota Wild would decend into full fledged Chinese water torture.

True, the Canucks were coming off a six game road trip having already snatched 6 of 10 point on the road. They hit the ice in the Twin City with stiff bodies and swirling minds (visions of a first round match-up with the Blackhawks dancing in their heads). But thankfully one particular Canuck made a point to bring his A (plus plus) game to the city of F. Scott Fitzgerald and that man was Captain and current king of the crease, Roberto Luongo.

Louie was flawless, apart from letting a Marian Gaborik deflection flutter over his sprawling frame, and his rebound control (according to people who know about these things) was fantastic. Gone are the easy goal he was badly criticized for in the press two weeks ago. Back is the swagger that saw the Montreal native finish second twice for the Vezina and has the pundits calling once again upon the General Managers (who vote on the best goalie trophy) to take a look at our prodigal son.

This was the type of win we were used to seeing when Luongo first came to town two seasons ago and the expectation for this team was very low. In those days the Canucks would squeeze a goal or two out of their anemic offence and then lean on Luongo to be superhuman night after night. Yesterday’s night was no different, except the team performance was a statistical anomally. Right now the Canucks finally have a legitimate top six forward combination (something they’ve missed all the way back to the Bertuzzi/Naslund era). Mix that with Luongo steady ascent to the top of the goaltender ranks and the solid play from the defence corp and you have a deadly combination.

There are no glaring weaknesses with this team. Unless you count apathy, but that could have just been confused with fatigue on Tuesday night. Expect to see no more of this in the 2008/09 season, unless the Canucks prefer to loose a chance at the championship.


Black Ice Issue #34 — Hair Raising Tilt

I do not have a problem with hair pulling. It is just part of the game. Some might ask, is it necessary to punctuate the flow of the contest. I say, maybe maybe not.

Reality in the heat of battle can often be blurred as attempts to overcome reaches desperate proportions. Case in point Sunday evening in Chicago when Alexander Burrows dragged Brent Seabrook to the ice by his flowing biff and continued to tug on his mane as they tussled horizontal on the ice. All of this the result of an punch to the mask of Luongo by Dustin Byfuglien after an unsuccessful rush by the Hawks. Concurrent to the melee was Shane O’Brien going batshit crazy after seeing the Luongo incident on the Jumbotron. The hotheaded Irish kid proceeds to make bongo drums out of any Hawk available on the ice. And Kevin Bieksa jumped into the fray with ….. a happened to lose not only half his equipment but also about half a pint of blood on the surface of Chicago Stadium.

The entire incident had a comic appeal and resulted in over 80 penalty minutes being issued by official. And begs the often asked question: is fighting necessary and how should it be regulated?

Apart from being the statement game of the season for the Canucks and a possible preview of a first round match up, the game was a case study in how physicality is such a benchmark of the game. With players able police their actions on the ice (while officials police the police action) it forces players to remain accountable to their actions on the ice. Dustin Byfuglien intentionally smack Luongo in the mask, so he must answer the bell.

A physical team is not necessary to win a championship (see Detroit 2008) but it certainly helps (see Anaheim 2007). A hearty mixture is probably your best option when entering the playoffs and both the Canucks and Blackhawks seem to have both in spades, toughness and a host of talented players.

The Sedins/Burrows combined for a eye popping nine points on route to a 4-0 lopsided victory on enemy ice. What was most telling of their performance was all three of their goals were scored even strength. Now with the clubs power-play sneaking up the ranks to a reasonable 18.3% and their penalty-kill at a respectable 80.7% their special teams are starting to perform at a clutch capacity suitable for playoff hockey. Combine that with the gritty production of Ryan Kesler and rigid goaltending of the Roberto Luongo and you have a dangerous combination of skill and resolve to enter the post-season.

If the Canucks have to gauge out eyeballs and yank out tufts of hair to win the Stanley Cup, that is fine with me.