Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday Funnies - The lighter side of horrific facial injuries

The Friday Funnies is a semi-regular feature that highlights hockey humor from around the web.

It's Friday. Why are you working? Shouldn't you be wasting company time reading hockey jokes? Yes, of course you should. Let me help...

  • Down Goes Spezza - Two things about this relatively new blog. 1.) Although I can't quite put my finger on it, the name seems vaguely familiar. 2.) Any blog that features posts with titles like Top 10 Most Memorable Flyer Facial Injuries is OK with me. I'd complain about the omission of Ron Hextall, but then again it's probably true that Potvin did more actual damage to his soul.

  • Habs Laugh - The folks at this Montreal Canadiens humor blog take a moment out from throwing burned out cars through store windows to consider the pros and cons of the Habs advancing to round two.

  • Blades of Funny - Debunking some well-known NHL myths. Come for the jokes, stay for the shirtless Sheldon Souray pic.

  • Hockeenight - This Hawks blog has created a video preview of the upcoming series with the Canucks. I'm not sure the production values will be putting Bloge Salming out of business any time soon, but I still liked it because... well, you'll see.

  • Bloge Salming - Speaking of Bloge... if you missed this video from a few days ago, watch it now so you'll understand why everyone is suddenly calling the Leafs GM "Burkes McGurkes".

  • Tweet of the Week - Did you know that Vancouver Sun sports editor Scott Brown is the brother of former NHL star Rob Brown? That would be the same Rob Brown, of course, who indirectly lends his name to his blog thanks to his TKO at the hands of Sylvain Lefebvre. When this was pointed out to him, he chose to look on the bright side.

  • Jays STAT - Finally, this latest blog from the folks behind Vintage Leafs has nothing to do with hockey. But if you're a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, or baseball, or lens flares, or happy kitties, or angry little girls, or... you know what, it's hard to explain, just check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The NHL partners with Facebook

The NHL recently announced that it had integrated Facebook with And while that initially sounded like a cool idea, it quickly became apparent that it wasn't all it was hyped up to be. All the site had done was add some of those annoying "like" buttons to various pages. No big deal.

Or was it? My sources within the NHL's interactive marketing team have told me that last week's launch was just an appetizer. Very soon, NHL fans will be able to enjoy the full Facebook experience.

Here are just a few examples of features that will be rolling out soon:

  • Upload your photos from your drunken all-night bar crawl; Facebook will automatically sort through and tag Shane O'Brien in all of them.

  • Fans can now post a message on the league's wall, then get slammed face first into it from behind by Marian Hossa.

  • Connect with NHL teams by clicking the "Become a fan" button (note: button no longer available in the southeast United States).

  • You will receive an endless and annoying stream of Mafia Wars invitations from Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn.

  • I'm not sure, but I think only Leaf fans are seeing this one:

  • The league will automatically search through your photo album and fine you for every headshot.

  • The Facebook messaging system will now detect any hockey-related emails you send and automatically forward them to Paul Kelly.

  • In an effort to keep up with the NHL on the cutting edge, the CFL has announced an integration deal with Friendster.

  • Help the Washington Capitals stay in peak physical condition by playing the world's most popular online game: Pharm-Ville

  • And finally, remember those "like" buttons on the NHL Teams page? Soon, they'll be replaced with specific buttons for each team. Here's a screen grab from the beta version:

The NHL on Facebook

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Signs your team is not making it to the second round

Martin Brodeur is fat.
Now close your eyes and imagine back
to a time when you were still good.
We're about halfway through the first round of the playoffs, and while nobody has been eliminated yet several teams are starting to emerge as clear favorites. By this time next week, eight teams will be through to the second round.

Of course, that also means that eight teams are going home in the next few days. And it's not hard to figure out which ones, as long as you know the subtle signs to watch for.

Spoiler alert: Don't read any further if you want to be surprised.
  • When a reporter asks if the star player's injury is day-to-day or season-ending, the coach replies "yes".

  • Your team looks so small, slow and fragile that fans have been inspired to start a twitter campaign called #ThrowTheSnail.

  • Your Canadian players are already thinking about what kind of injury to fake when Mark Messier calls about the world championships.

  • Your fans' racist blackfaces all include little frowny mouths.

  • The mounting pressure has left your starting goaltender so mentally unstable that he now ends every sentence with an invitation to come chat with him on spiffbox.

  • Daniel Alfredsson just guaranteed that your team is making it to the second round.

  • Around the team, the tension is running so high that Daniel Carcillo has already pretended to get hit in the face with it.

  • At the end of the game, your PA guy announces "Last minute to play in this god-forsaken waste of a season... um, I mean period."

  • Your local golf course has received reports of two weird guys in green spandex dancing next to the first tee.

  • Mike Murphy and Ron Maclean just spent twenty minutes arguing over whether or not your team has demonstrated a distinctive choking motion.

  • Toronto Maple Leaf fans have started describing your season as "incredibly successful".

  • Sidney Crosby has already decided which of your players he won't be shaking hands with.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Welcome to Loser City

The Stanley Cup is every player's ultimate goal. And since the only way to win it is by first earning a spot in the NHL playoffs, the post-season naturally becomes ever player's first and only priority.

Or at least, that's what they tell us. It turns out the players have a little secret: missing the playoffs isn't so bad.

Oh sure, it's going to be frustrating if you're a fiery competitor like Jarome Iginla. Luckily, Jarome has some new teammates this year, and they've let him in on how it really is:

If you don't visit Bloge Salming every day, Daniel Carcillo wins.

The Jose Canseco Twitter meltdown flowchart

This has nothing to do with hockey. Sorry. But it does involve the greatest twitter feed in the world.

Back to hockey talk soon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Funnies - Saying goodbye, summer jobs, and Canucks scandal

I'm trying something new today that I'm hoping will become a semi-regular feature. Fair warning: There's at least a 50% chance that I'll get lazy and forget to do this ever again. But let's give it a shot and see where it goes.

One of my favorite developments of the past few months is the growing hockey humor community that's slowly but surely sprouting online. I'm going to try to take some time every few weeks to highlight some of the posts that I think DGB readers would enjoy. Ideally I'll get the satisfaction of knowing I've temporarily damaged your Friday morning productivity, and you'll wind up with some new sites in your rotation.

Here's seven links to kick us off...

Blades of Funny - This relatively new site takes a moment to say goodbye to some departing stars. Leaf fans can only hope they're right about that last one.

Bourne's Blog - A look at various NHL players' summer jobs. They had me at the first line.

Don't Trade Vinny - The world's most popular Tampa Bay Lightning humor blog has been a longtime critic of Rick Tocchet. With his firing this week, it was only fair of them to take a moment to say goodbye.

Habs Laugh - The scouting report on how the Habs can beat the Caps. As if any such thing was remotely possible.

Intent to Blow - The NHL's answer to The Onion reveals a shocking scandal surrounding the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, of course there's a 'Kyle Wellwood Is Fat' joke, why do you ask?

Sports Pickle - Well, technically this is NFL humor. But something tells me DGB readers will enjoy it.

Bloge Salming - On the one hand, I have to assume that anyone who reads and even vaguely enjoys DGB is already visiting Bloge daily. On the other hand, even if you've already seen it this one is brilliant enough to deserve another look.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Google's new Maple Leafs TV ad

Some of you may have seen this already, but Google has started running a new version of its Super Bowl ad. As far as I can tell, this ad is only running in Toronto, and it certainly seems to be targeting fans of a certain hockey team.

Not sure about you, but I'd say Google has done a pretty good job of understanding us.

Update: In case you're wondering, Google and Youtube have released an online app that makes it easy to create your own parody ads. Plenty of hockey ones are already showing up, including:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tips for winning your office playoff pool

It's the day after the end of the NHL's regular season, and that means that millions of hockey fans around the world will soon be drafting teams for their annual playoff pool.

Some people claim that playoff pools are all luck. Nonsense. Not only can you win your office pool, but you can dominate. But you need to go into your draft with a strategy.

Are you tired of being the Marian Hossa of your office pool? If so, change your luck this year by following the tips below:

  • When faced with a choice between two players with similar talent levels and statistical output, it's generally a good idea to lean towards the one whose team qualified for the post-season.

  • Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley would all make for excellent first-round selections in playoff pools that don't count stats such as goals and assists.

  • You should absolutely feel free to draft players from the Eastern Conference once all the players from the good teams are gone.

  • The Phoenix Coyotes finished with 107 points. It might be a good idea to Google them to see if you can figure out the names of some of their players.

  • If there are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs taking part in your draft, remember to build in some extra time at the start for explaining what "playoffs" means.

  • Before picking Chris Phillips, double-check your rules to make sure your pool doesn't only count playoff goals scored against the other team.

  • Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson probably won't get you many wins or shutouts. But if your pool has a category for "Having the same haircut as Friar Tuck from Rocket Robin Hood"... well then, ka-ching!

  • Wherever possible, load up on players from the two highest scoring teams: The Washington Capitals, and whoever is playing against the Washington Capitals.

  • Yes, it will be tempting to pick Ryan Miller based on his MVP-calibre season. But don't forget that he plays in Buffalo, so something horrible is going to happen to him.

  • Many "experts" will tell you to avoid Russian players, since as Europeans they don't care about the Stanley Cup as much as North Americans and won't be willing to do the hard work it takes to win one. This is nonsense. Russia is technically part of Asia.

  • Office pools with coworkers are lots of fun. But remember, if you work in the newspaper industry be sure to get everyone's money in advance in case your paper goes out of business before June.

  • When doing projections for Philadelphia Flyers forwards, remember to factor in the fact that they'll all probably be forced to play goalie at some point.

  • Wherever possible, focus on players that appear to be well-rested. For example, savvy veteran Matt Cooke recently took a refreshing ten-minute nap in the middle of a game.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A fond farewell to the retiring Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser
Unfortunately, he found a pulse
After 30 years and over 1,900 games, this Sunday's Flyers/Rangers tilt will mark the final game of longtime NHL referee Kerry Fraser's career.

OK, OK, I know where you think I'm going with this. After all, Fraser's infamous missed call on Wayne Gretzky's high-stick arguably cost the Leafs a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals, and many fans have never forgiven him. I may even have mentioned it once or twice.

But whatever you may think about that incident, the fact remains that it was one call in long career. So rather than go the predictable route and use the occasion as one last chance to pile cheap shots on the poor guy, I'm going to take the high road and focus on the positive.

So in that spirit, I invite you to join me in celebrating a successful career with this list of Good Things About Kerry Fraser.

  • Was an independent spirit, and not some weak-kneed conformist who made all his difficult decisions based on what's written down in some sort of "rule book".

  • Taught you at an early age that life is unfair, justice is a myth, and that we live in a cold and uncaring universe that will feed you small morsels of hope only to crush and mock you -- all of which most people don't get to find out until they're much older.

  • Is often unfairly referred to as "evil", which theologians will tell you is not only inaccurate but actually impossible as it implies the presence of a soul.

  • Scientists researching the effects of severe head injuries say that the comment section of the Gretzky/Gilmour youtube video has proven to be an invaluable resource in locating victims of undiagnosed brain trauma.

  • Had a distinctive hair style, which would have no doubt spawned countless hilarious jokes from the media if only they had ever noticed it.

  • Always dealt graciously with criticism; in fact, you could give him the finger right in front of his face and he would just stand there as if he didn't even see it.

  • By helping the Kings make it to the 1993 Conference Finals, he was at least partially responsible for the subsequent wave of expansion into southern American markets. And look how great that's worked out!

  • If you were going to compile a list of best top red-headed sports officials of all time, you could make a pretty strong case for him being in the Top 100.

  • As best anyone can tell, probably had nothing to do with the writing or recording of "Free to Be".

  • By forcing Marty McSorley to use a stick with less curve, was indirectly responsible for the delivery of serious blunt force trauma to Donald Brashear's head.

  • Has gone over ten years without screwing over any members of the Hartford Whalers.

  • Certainly disproved that whole "vertical stripes make you look taller" myth.

  • He's pretty much the last active NHLer who remembers what it's like to participate in a meaningful Leafs playoff game.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The NHL's most memorable comebacks

Tiger Woods
Hey, why are there so
many Leafs on the course?
The big story in sports this week is the return of Tiger Woods. Four months after his headline-grabbing scandal, the world's most famous athlete will make his much-anticipated comeback this weekend at the Masters.

There's little question that the NHL has never seen anything quite like this week's PGA circus. But that's not to say that hockey hasn't seen its share of comebacks.

In fact, more than a few NHLers have made dramatic returns after an absence from their sport. Let's look back at some of the most memorable:

March 2, 1993 - After being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, Mario Lemieux returns to the Penguins' lineup. He goes on to capture the league scoring title and MVP award despite missing two full months, undergoing grueling radiation treatments, and being confined at all times to a hospital bed in rural Pittsburgh.

May 24, 2000 - After missing several months due to a career-threatening concussion, Eric Lindros returns to the lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers and immediately gets back to doing what he does best: suffering a career-threatening concussion.

March 4, 2010 - Lee Stempniak records a goal for the Phoenix Coyotes in his return to the NHL after a 16-month absence.

July 7, 2003 - Dominik Hasek announces his intention to return to the Detroit Red Wings after a one-year retirement. Or maybe he was trying to order a pizza. Nobody has ever really understood a word that guy said.

October 5, 2001 - Nearly 18 months after suffering a gruesome eye injury, Bryan Berard returns to the NHL has a member of the New York Rangers. Berard becomes the first NHLer to return to the league despite being declared legally blind since Kerry Fraser in 1993.

January 19, 2009 - The San Jose Sharks recall 43-year-old winger Claude Lemieux, six years after his retirement from the league. Lemieux tells reporters that he chose the Sharks for his comeback because of their need for a veteran presence, his friendship with general manager Doug Wilson, and the fact that he's really too old to be playing more than one playoff round.

September 19, 2009 - Theo Fleury scores in a pre-season shootout for Calgary after a seven-year absence from the NHL. His inspiring comeback attempt ends weeks later, when the Flames release him after realizing he is not a former Maple Leafs third-liner.

March 5, 2009 - Sean Avery returns to the NHL after a three month absence due to the most shocking and controversial sex scandal in NHL history; or, as the rest of the sports world would call it, a slightly off-color joke.

May 27, 1993 - In the midst of the Kings/Leafs conference final series, Wayne Gretzky makes a miraculous recovery from a career threatening case of piano-on-back.

April 9, 2002 - Canadiens' captain Saku Koivu makes his return after a seven-month battle with cancer. Montreal fans are so moved by his recovery that they give him an emotional eight-minute standing ovation, before immediately spilling out onto the street to smash hospital windows and set ambulances on fire.

October 5, 2005 - In a bizarre coincidence, every single player in the entire league returns to action after an identical one-year absence.

October 5, 2000 - Alexei Yashin returns to the Ottawa Senators lineup after holding out for an entire year. He goes on to have a mediocre regular season and then disappears in the playoffs, leading the hockey world to conclude that anyone who would trade for him now would have to be a complete idiot.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools - NHL style

It's April 1, and here at Down Goes Brown that means two things: the Leafs have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and it's time for the annual April Fools post.

So just like in 2008 and 2009, let's see if we can come up with some practical jokes and wacky pranks that various NHL personalities could play on each other today.

Uh, we're over here, Marc.Marc Savard - Playfully tease Matt Cooke when he asks if you've forgiven him by blinking twice for "no" instead of once for "yes".

Taylor Hall - Call Brian Burke; tell him you just checked the standings and are wondering why no Leafs scouts ever come to your games.

Phoenix Coyotes - Send out season ticket renewal forms with a Winnipeg return address.

Alexander Ovechkin - Scare Ted Leonsis by telling him that you were a regular client of that steroid-dealing chiropractor. Quickly reassure him that in truth you've never even seen a chiropractor, since you've never suffered from any back problems at all unless you want to count all that acne.

2K Sports - Pick some random second-liner from an insignificant team; tell him he's been chosen for the cover of NHL 2K11.

Mr. BeanStephane Auger - Before tonight's game, inform one of the players that you're planning to "get him", when in fact you're really planning to get a completely different player.

Gary Bettman - Make a hilarious announcement that blindside hits will now result in suspensions but not penalties, as if any self-respecting league would ever do such a thing.

Joe Thornton - Completely forget how to be an effective hockey player. (Not actually a prank; more of an annual April tradition.)

Pat Quinn - Tell team that it's really important to give their best effort during their remaining games because they still matter somehow.

Mario Lemieux - Over breakfast, jokingly suggest to Sidney Crosby that maybe it's time for him to move out and get his own place like an actual man would do.

Noses are hard.Jonathan Toews - Confuse Blackhawk fans by posing for a massive highway billboard next to a strange trophy none of them have ever seen before.

Florida Panthers - During boring team meeting, throw paper airplane at David Booth that hits him right in the head! Ha, he never even saw -- oh god, I think we killed him.

Shane O'Brien - When the bartender asks if you want to buy another round, humorously reply "No thank you, because I am a professional athlete and I have practice tomorrow".