Opinion and Analysis“Defending the Cascadia Cup.” Maple Leaf Forever!, January 18, 2013.
“Todd Marchant, My Favourite Post-Dynasty Oiler.” Copper & Blue, September 1, 2010.
Two weeks ago, it emerged that Major League Soccer was attempting to trademark the name of the Cascadia Cup. The supporter groups who were creators and custodians of the Cascadia Cup naturally got their backs up, issuing a joint press release denouncing MLS’s attempt to get the trademark and promising to fight for it.
It was, very nearly, the first time the Emerald City Supporters, Timbers Army, and Southsiders had publicly agreed about anything. A statement of support came from Seattle’s other major supporters group, Gorilla FC. Vancouver’s Rain City Brigade has tweeted agreement. No supporters group in Cascadia, large or small, has lined up behind MLS as of this writing.
For over a week, fans waited to see how Don Garber would reply to this unambiguous, public rejection from the Cascadia Cups trustee. Yesterday it came and shocked even the most hardened pessimist. Garber’s response to the resistance, communicated to Nick Firchau of MLSSoccer.com while the MLS SuperDraft dominated the soccer news cycle, is an almost staggering blend of arrogance, deflection, and condescension.
That underrated-ness was one of my favourite things about Marchant. Like many sports fans I always had sympathy for the underdog, and a 5’10” former seventh-round pick who was constantly ignored for a Selke nomination despite being maybe the best defensive centre in the world is about as underdog as you can get. Even better, for a defensive forward, Marchant was so exciting to watch it could turn a young man to sin, twist him onto a road of high speed and quick chances and narrow escapes. To watch Marchant kill a penalty was to watch a predator as sure as any on the Discovery Channel: cruising near the blue line, always in the right part of the box, his eyes following the puck and yet never failing to track the player, one false move and crack, like lightning his stick would flash out and corral the puck, sending it smoothly out of the Oilers zone or, even better, corraling it onto his stick and turning on that ridiculous speed, speed that, the first time you saw it, you realized you’d never really understood speed on a hockey rink before, those jets that humiliated the best players in the National Hockey League.
History of Sports“Hugh Cairns VC DCM.” Maple Leaf Forever!, November 11, 2014.
“October 2, 2002: Shannon Szabados Plays for Sherwood Park.” Copper & Blue, October 2, 2012.
According to the report of his company commander, Captain R. W. Gyles, Cairns and Lieutenant J. P. G. MacLeod of “C” Company 46th encountered a large group of Germans in one corner of a field. Depending on who you believe, MacLeod and Cairns were either alone or had two others with them. MacLeod had an officer’s pistol, Cairns his Lewis gun. Cairns had already been wounded fighting other, large groups of Germans, as the main mass of the attack had pushed past and left the Germans cut off from their army. Cairns and MacLeod may have been outnumbered twenty-five to one, but they had also spent the morning fighting a winning battle.
MacLeod ordered the Germans to surrender. Most raised their hands; one German raised his rifle. MacLeod covered the German with his pistol. A German officer made to have his fellow put the rifle down. Simultaneously, he drew his own pistol and shot Cairns through the chest.
Consider the thinking of that officer. In spite of the propaganda of a later Reich German soldiers at the front were under no illusions: their country was two weeks from surrendering and the troops knew how near the end was. Two days later German sailors at Kiel would mutiny rather than make a seemingly-pointless sacrifice, beginning the Revolutions of 1918-19. Yet rather than go into captivity this officer chose to risk his life, and the lives of his men, on slim odds. We will never know his name, let alone what his war was like.
“September 20, 1981: Tony Hand Makes His Debut.” Copper & Blue, September 20, 2012.
When 16-year-old Shannon Szabados got the start in goal for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Sherwood Park Crusaders on this day ten years ago she did not, particularly, make history. She was the first female player in the history of Canadian junior “A”, but not the first in the history of first-class Canadian junior hockey. Manon Rheaume had, ten years earlier, debuted with the QMJHL’s Trois-Rivières Draveurs. Rheaume allowed three goals in 17 minutes in her only junior appearance but went on to become the first female to play with men professionally and in an NHL exhibition game, always briefly.
So Szabados was the first woman to play Canadian junior “A”, the first in the history of the AJHL, and of course the first in the history of the Sherwood Park Crusaders. That won’t exactly fill a plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Rheaume had blazed the trail, Szabados was following at a lower level (or so the story went).
The trouble is that to a casual hockey fan, female players in men’s leagues like Rheaume and Szabados are all about the story. It had little to do with hockey at all, except as scenery. Rheaume was accompanied by a blaze of publicity, got her seventeen minutes, and moved on. Szabados got a few exhibition games and twenty seconds in the WHL in September of 2002. Flashbulbs popped. She went down to the AJHL and remained in Sherwood Park, and the story lost momentum. The Tri-City Americans had their publicity, Szabados had her day in the limelight, and now back to the obscurity to which all women’s players except Hayley Wickenheiser seem destined.
Except Szabados doesn’t work that way. In Sherwood Park, she did something no other female player had done in a men’s league: played regularly for three seasons plus two more in other cities and became one of the league’s leading stars. While Rheaume was a flash in the pan, Szabados was an inferno. Had she been named Steve she would have been every inch the same AJHL player for her calling card was skill, not gender. She was the first woman in high-level men’s hockey notable not for the quantity of her press coverage but the quality of her play.
Inevitably Hand, who turned 45 this past August, could not dominate a first division into middle age. The 2008-09 season was Hand’s last at the highest level, when he was 41. Instead, he became player-coach of the second-division Manchester Phoenix where he remains to this day. Last year he had 32 points in 21 games and the best points-per-game on his team.
Tony Hand was more than the first and only great British player. He was an adapter, somebody who hurdled every change in the most chaotic hockey environment in the world and remained an icon for it. And it all started in a little Scottish rink before a few dozen fans thirty-one years ago.
Humour and Vitriol“Edmonton 0ilers – New York Ranger5 Post-Game.” Copper & Blue, March 3, 2014
“An Open Letter to Steve Tambellini Regarding Dustin Penner.” Copper & Blue, March 2, 2011.
The latest Edmonton Oilers death march is drawing mercifully to a close. We have almost built the bridge for our sadistic captors, the trains are rolling, the monsoon is approaching, all that remains are a few formalities before we are machine-gunned into our shallow graves. Isn’t that nice?
[. . .]
The only thing you can rely on with the Oilers is that they will always be unreliable. When it comes to tank battles Daryl Katz is Zhukov. He didn’t invent the art, wasn’t even the first expert within his own country, but he honed it to perfection and will always be associated with it. Oh, Buffalo’s got us licked, don’t get me wrong, but given how much rebuilding we’ve done this is a fucking remarkable 29th. Where’s the “BAM! Stanley Cup”?! I was promised “BAM! Stanley Cup”! Buffalo’s not even a real hockey market whereas I’m only stuck writing this because our usual PGT guy willingly went to an Oilers game, without a gun pointed at his head or anything. The Sabres may out-tank us this year but we know who the real calamity kings are.
Tambo-lina, I’m going to say something so obvious everybody except you seems to take it as a given. To have a good hockey team, you need good hockey players. Dustin Penner is a good hockey player. You traded him for Colten Teubert, who is not a good hockey player. He is so not good he couldn’t get past Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold on the Los Angeles Kings depth chart. And, not to pick on the guy, but who the fuck is Davis Drewiske? That’s not an NHL defenseman, that’s a Red Green Show character! He’s -1 and has no goals on a team that’s one of the favourites for the Western Conference title, and he’s kicking Colten Teubert’s ass. Teubert was ninth on his team in scoring among defensemen, and that team is the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. Do you know who’s ninth among Oklahoma City Barons defensemen in scoring? Of course you don’t. It’s Jake Taylor. Tits up!“Permanent Revolution: Oilers Trade Smid for Magic Beans.” Copper & Blue, November 8, 2013.
The problem is… oh what the fuck’s the point?! You know what the problem is! The problem is that the Oilers have once again traded an established NHL player for once again guys who, if we’re very lucky, will become nearly as good as Smid, once again sacrificing play at a position where they absolutely cannot afford to sacrifice it, all once again out of the hope that something good will somehow come of trading decent players for inferior ones. We have finally reached the point which people like me have been warning of for seven years, where the young players that we acquired because we had to trade our veterans have become veterans we have to trade to acquire young players. Smid was one of the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned Five Assets we got for Chris Pronger, and now he’s been flipped for a mad stab at the future, making Horak and Brossoit our first but certainly not our last second-generation rebuilding blocks. Somewhere Leon Trotsky is an Oilers fan, because who better demonstrates his philosophy of the permanent revolution?