Who cares about Saturn, really? I don't worship Roman deities, so why should the best day of my week be named after the god of agriculture... unless we're talking harvesting of things to be made into alcoholic beverages... then me and ole Saturnus can chat. I'm renaming the days of the week as I see fit. (Wednesday stays Wednesday though, for the sake of Happy Wednesday tradition - except it is also Humpday... whatevs...)
In an attempt to limit the amount of time I waste ranting about the world (and occasionally reveling in it), I'm trying to set up a bit of a schedule for myself. So Hockeyday will feature my weekly hockey rant. I won't lie, I'm going to post hockey rants/news/photos/et c. whenever I jolly well please, but every Hockeyday I will post a fairly lengthy Rant-of-the-Week. The Big Kahuna. About whatever is pissing me off, or making me spin with joy: be it CHL, AHL, NHL or IIHF hockey. It may be Puck-Daddy-esque rants (although I am nowhere near as funny as he is). It may be player/team/country profiles. Or it may be game reviews (of games I actually attend) complete with photos. Really it might be anything. Anything about hockey.
Now, to get you in the ranting mood, why don't y'all sit back, relax, and grab a beer (or, for those of you too young to drink beer, a gingerale or Coke or something)...
My rant is slightly less patriotic, and slightly less entertaining... well, maybe less. Maybe more, depending on your sense of humour. And it's a heck of a lot longer. I suggest you don't try to read this during a TV timeout. It's more intermission or pre/post-game material. So, without further ado, this week's...
Pucks who try to convince you they are Not Pucks
(And why they are, for the most part, unwittingly, correct)
This is a direct result of me randomly facebook-stalking someone who vehemently claims NOT to be a 'puck bunny,' but who is The Prototypical (Contemporary) 'Puck Bunny'. Yes, it’s getting capitalized. It is a title.
I have no real problem with 'puck bunnies.' They are Mostly Harmless. Like Earth. From a cosmic stand point. If you are Zaphod Beeblebrox or the authors of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or an inhabitant of Douglas Adams’ brain and/or fictional universe (which sometimes, honestly, I would much prefer to be, as long as that universe include hockey, Hagen Daas and mac&cheese). Zaphod Beeblebrox is also, coincidentally, the name of one of the only good clubs in Ottawa. But, I digress...
When I was 13, I was obsessed with David Duchovny. If you've never heard of The X-Files, you may not understand. (And holy crow, you're young!) Essentially, Fox Mulder was the Dr. McDreamy of my youth. (In retrospect, it figures that I would have a crush on an Ivy League graduate portraying an emotionally conflicted vigilantly searching for alien life...) My point is that I get the obsessive quality of being that age. I remember it very clearly.
A friend of mine told me a few years ago that she’s pretty sure she hit emotional maturity at fifteen. Her daughter is one of the coolest kids in the whole universe (seriously, what five year-old BEGS to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I caved. She had nightmares. She's a better person for it. Now she's 11 years-old and one of the biggest Buffy fans I've even known): just goes to show that even though L. opted to stay fifteen-ish in her head, she’s not completely irresponsible. She just retained that overly-excitable fifteen year-old-girl-ness. So well that on her fortieth birthday even people who knew her quite well kept forgetting that it wasn't her thirtieth birthday.
I think I hit pause at 21. Or 15. Or 4. Depends on the day.
I can relate to the little teenage pucks who squeal over Jordan Staal or Patrick Kane (or Michael Del Zotto - Have. You. SEEN. This. Boy? SO adorable - and a totally sweetheart to boot!). I remember what it was like to be that excitable and ridiculous. Even then, I knew how ridiculous I was – I just didn’t care, because I was having too much fun and because I knew there was a limited span of time in which I could pull off those kind of antics, smile innocently and get my way. I made the most of it sneaking back stage at concerts and dancing on the main stage at 15,000 person raves. Spinny joy: Heaven is hearing Paul van Dyk at optimal distance from 200 speakers.
I have the same sort of view concerning 'pucks' as I do concerning band groupies: the older they are, the more frightening they are. If you’re infatuated with John Tavares at 15, that’s one thing (although, talented as he is, why you would think he is Cute is BEYOND me). If you’re in your late twenties... it’s just creepy. I have to conform to socially dictated norms on this one: there’s a reason why they’re called jail-bait when they’re under 18...
I’ll be the first to admit that I think that Sidney Crosby (who is 4 years my junior) is cute. In fact, I think he’s drop dead gorgeous. Now. At twenty-one. As a teenager, he was kind of dorky looking. (I always did have a thing for dark, curly hair and big brown eyes though... see above re: David Duchovny.) Doesn’t change the fact that, given the choice, I’d take still Dany Heatley over Sidney Crosby any day of the week.
(There are some loyalties that defy logic – this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of mine. I love Dany Heatley inexplicably and almost unconditionally and have ever since he was in juniors. It may have sometime to do with his holding international scoring records... and playing consecutive 50 goal seasons for my home-team... or it may just be that he's hot. I do not know. I do not care. I just have to cheer. Easiest relationship I have ever had :P He can do no wrong. Except when he has those seemingly endless spells of lethargy and I just want to kick his rear back into gear so he can score - but, even then, I want to scream because I CARE... :P )
I get that the 'pucks'-who-don’t-ever-want-to-be-called-'pucks' don’t want people to think they’re just there for the boys, because it de-legitimizes their status as hockey fans, but if they are there for the boys, why not be honest about it?
In order to set a good example, I will be honest. I am going to see the Syracuse Crunch because I want to see Stefan Legein play. In person. And I want him to sign my Team Canada jersey. And I may be unable to stop myself from giving him a bone-crushing hug to thank him for coming to his senses and letting Columbus assign him to Syracuse. I can’t tell you what their record is, or even what division of the AHL Syracuse is in – I know jack about the AHL. Well, except that Ottawa's AHL affiliate is in Binghamton, NY and they had a decent couple of seasons when the Sens were still on their ascent.
The only reason I care about the Syracuse Crunch is because Stefan Legein is the funniest player I have ever seen. For some reason, a group of guys on the 2008 WJC team (Stefan Legein, Steve Mason, Brad Marchand and Karl Alzner) just stole my little heart. That hadn’t happened since I saw Dany Heatley play in the same tournament many years ago.
While it will be very cool if I get to see Nikita Filatov play, I won’t be choked if his knee heals up and he's playing well enough to be called back up to Columbus before February 27th. Because Filatov is not my reason for going, Legein is. Because I love this kid. And because I am SO SO SO glad he's back on the ice. And because, even though he’s five years younger than me, I think he’s adorable as sin. And, since I’m being perfectly honest, because I have an inexcusable crush on him for the following reasons:
Vintage Gino Reda. Work the stach babe...
“This... What pain? What pain? It’s hard to feel pain when you’ve got a big medal around your neck.”
- interview with James Cybulski after winning WJC gold, shortly before being creamed by Brad Marchand on TSN (for the second time that week)
The photo on the right. The hit, actually. The fact that he is 5'10" and can pull stunts like that. Booyeah!
“Two more, baby! Two more, two more!
“One more, baby! One more, one more!
“I told you Canada! I told you!”
- spoken during the playing of 'O Canada' after the quarter- final, semi-final and gold medal games, respectively, of the 2008 World Junior Championship in Pardubice.
Admittedly my interest in the Syracuse Crunch is anomalous. As most of you know, I do actually follow other teams: the Sens, Pens, Giants, and, as of recently, the Blue Jackets. Off the top of my head, I can tell you that the Ottawa Senators are the 3rd worst in the NHL, bottom of the Northeast Division with 42 points in 50 games (GAG), and that they are currently 16 points out of a playoff spot (CRINGE). I also know that, as always, Dany Heatley is their top scorer (46 pts), that, as per usual when he has an injury-free season, Alfie is leading in assists (31), and that new Head Coach Cory Clouston is an NHL neophyte (egads!).
I also know that the Vancouver Giants are 45-4-0-3 this season, that their win% is just under 90% (0.894) and that they shut Spokane out 5-0 last night (whaaa? Tokarski? WTF mate?). That means that, as of last night, Tyson Sexsmith now has now holds the WHL record with 25 career shutouts, and that Casey Pierro-Zabotel [WHL Player of the Month for January] is leading the league with 90 points (63 of those are assists) and has a +/-rating of +54. PLUS FIFTY-FOUR. (And that’s not even the highest +/- rating on the team...)
I couldn’t pick him out of a police line-up, but I know Casey P-Z wears #17, he’s the oldest forward on the Giants’ roster and he’s a Pens prospect (because Ali told me just the other day) – I give Casey P-Z a season and a half being shuffled back and forth between Wilkes-Barre and the Burgh before gets a permanent spot when the Pens lose Staal to the highest bidder...
I know this because the Sens and the Giants are teams I will cheer for no matter what. Even when they are tanking. Ugh. (I did it in the 90s when the Sens were bottom of the league for 4 of 5 years... why would I become a fair-weather fan NOW?)
I go to Giants games, because I like to see them kick Kamloops’ or Chilliwack’s or Everetts’ butt. And because I can’t afford to go to Canucks games (not that I would, except to see another team play, but that’s beside the point). I love Giants games because the kids playing aren't doing it for money. they're doing it because they love it, and they want to make it their life and they have the kind of unquenchable thirst that only teenagers can have when they're after something they want.
The Giants are kids to me. Most of them are the same age or younger than the kids I used to baby-sit (the oldest is in third-year university – man that makes me feel old). So, when I say Evander Kane is cute, it’s in a strictly ‘man-I-wish-you-were-my-little-brother’ sense.
I went to a game in the fall, an Oshawa Generals game, to see that 'Tavares Kid' and see what all the fuss was about. After his 3rd season in the OHL and a fairly unimpressive appearance at the 2008 WJC, I had to see for myself... and I did. He's good. Really. Freaking. Good. Better than on T.V. (Tank Ottawa, Tank!)
Some guy asked me if I was there to see John Tavares. And since I was, I said so. He rolled his eyes and said something to the effect of 'talent over looks every time' to which I laughed and told him that I was sure Tavares was a nice kid but regardless of talent or looks, I'd stick to mooning over guys born in the same decade as I was, thanks. Like Ryan Whitney. Or Dany Heatley. He laughed. Hard. I'm pretty sure he didn't believe I was over18.
If you like hockey because of the cute boys, I can’t blame you. The eye candy isn’t exactly a deterrent for me either. What I can’t stand though, is the girls who are clearly there for the guys, but who deny it. If you’re a straight female, chances are you will find Some Player on Some Team attractive. Props to all the ladies out there who are comfortable enough with their hockey fandom to admit they think [insert name of any player you like here] is cute.
I mean, there are a lot of good looking guys playing hockey (some with a few fake teeth but really, we all have flaws... teeth can be replaced, lack of brains or class or an emotional IQ cannot). There are ever a few teams that are almost unnaturally attractive. Like almost the entire roster of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who could do a firefighter-esque calendar. Luca Caputi is only the most recent addition to what is, hands down, the best-looking team in the National Hockey League.
(who looks about 18 but is actually 31 - this photo is from the 2006 Olympics...) and #25 Max Talbot
that playoff beard deserves its own photo, #9 Pascal Dupuis - who should keep the beard year-round in my
opinion, #28 Eric Goddard, and #2 Hal Gill again, because I like him now that he's no longer a Leaf.
clockwi- you get it: #71 Evgeni Malkin - actually smiling for once, #14 Chris Minard, #55 The Gonch,
#19 Ryan Whitney (<3), #43 Philippe Boucher (scary-look-alike of Mario in that photo?),
#15 Mike Zigomanis (ZIGGY!) and Lauren, #29 MAF (Marc Andre Fleury, and Geno, again, duh.
get just so I can tell him why I have HIS jersey...), #11 Jordan Staal, #20 Colby Armstrong
(cause he'll always be a Penguin to me - and to the NHL come March 4th --- c'mon world...
dooo iiitt!), and #87 El Capitaine Sidney Crosby x2 - the NHL's most profitable eye-candy...
...and newbie, #61 Luca Caputi...
Yum, eye candy...
speaking of candy...
If you love hockey, you love hockey. I can’t argue with that. I will, however, expect you to back it up by knowing a bad turnover when you see one. Badmouthing the ‘pucks’ two rows over who are actually paying attention to the game as you natter my ear off about how cute the team captain is does not prove to me that you love the game. If you did, you'd be watching the game. Plus, didn't your mother ever teach you that it’s just rude to bad-mouth people?
Especially when you do it just loud enough for them to hear. Especially when they're the ones hollering at the ref when he fails to call a blatant hook on their favourite player. Fine, they’re doing it in cute little tank-tops and Lululemon hoodies and cheering for the cutest defenceman on the team, but at least they’re WATCHING.
There is a time and a place to talk: it’s called intermission.
There’s a tendency for female fans to get defensive on the whole ‘puck bunny’ issue. Not everyone grew up knowing their home-team’s trade history or playing the game. I'm not from a hockey family. I'm a self-taught hockey fan, so I know it’s tough not knowing as much as you would like about the sport.
It's even harder when you're trying to learn about a sport you instinctively like, while simultaneously feeling the need to defend yourself against accusations of ‘puck-bunnydom.’ It shouldn’t dissuade girls & women from getting into the sport, but I think it does.
When I was in my teens, not knowing as much as I would have liked about the game definitely prevented me from being as huge a fan as I am now. I was afraid of looking like an idiot, and I was afraid of asking the guys to explain things I didn’t understand (like the differences between certain calls in NHL, junior and IIHF games).
[Although NO ONE has yet been able to explain to me why the 2009 WJC was counting Down minutes this year when every single other international tournament I’ve ever watched has counted Up. Did they change international standards or something? Or did they just say screw if for the WJC this year because the teams were already playing on NHL regulation ice instead of international standard so they may as well just wave a hand at the counting too. Or was it just TSN? Explain. Someone. Please. I don't have time to go searching for the answer...]
The thing that galls me the most is that the girls and women most often called pucks aren’t actually pucks at all. It’s why I’ve been putting little quotation marks around the term.
The term ‘Puck Bunny’ is defined by Andrew Podnieks in his book, The Complete Hockey Dictionary as the following:
Puck: ... 3. ~ bunny – teenage girl who hangs around junior hockey players, usually with sexual connotations.
Pucks are the girls who sleep with hockey players, usually multiple hockey players. My friend M.L. billets for a BCHL team (the Junior A league in British Columbia). Her family’s been billeting since she was sixteen. She knows pucks. Real pucks. They actually do exist. And she loathes them.
I'm pretty sure she never dated any of the guys on the team her family billeted for, but she’s really close with all but one or two of her old billets and her “class” –the guys who were on the team the year she was in her last year of high school– they still have reunions (cute, eh?). One of the only former billets her family isn’t in contact with was a partier and one reason they aren’t on good terms is because M.L.’s little sister had the distinct pleasure of waking up with random girls in her house a couple of times.
The misuse of the term irks me more than anything else. I like words. Words have specific meanings. Words have connotations. Angry and Upset have similar meanings, but very different connotations.
The over-use of the term 'puck bunny' really irritates me; it has come to possess a broader definition than it originally did, and is now applied with alarming regularity to any female fan who so much as mentions that a player is good looking. It would be one thing if it had simply come to mean any female fan girlie enough to have a crush on a player, but it has stubbornly retained its original sexual connotations and therefor forces female fans to be 'hardcore' or 'pucks.' To that I say: screw it.
Newsflash! No matter how much I think Dany Heatley or Stefan Legein are cute, I’ll never be a puck because I’ve never slept with a single hockey player, let alone multiple players. I haven’t even dated a hockey player. (Well, except that one date in ninth grade, but it never went anywhere and he played high school, not league...)
Another recent realization is that appearances can be deceiving (um, DUH, you say, but I'm speaking topic-specifically). The fifteen year-old girl (who is actually really cute in a completely sweet, non-slutty way) in her tight jeans and blue zip-up hoodie cheering for Michael Del Zotto is, despite first impressions, a more honest fan than the girl in the Tavares jersey who is too busy complaining about said fifteen year-old to see Tavares score.
The cute girls who go to games and can't be bothered to hide the fact that they like a player because he's cute are constantly pegged as pucks, but they actually have a very solid argument to throw in people’s faces if they hold issue with this classification. They aren’t pucks. Not unless they’ve slept with the whole checking line, or a defensive pair or two. This argument shuts men up because if they know hockey, they know it’s true. If it doesn’t shut them up, asking them rhetorically why they watch women’s beach volleyball usually does.
There are a few types of female fans who could use this argument, should they wish. The first type can't be bothered to argue it because they don't actually care what you think of them (which I'm actually developing an increasingly degree of respect for) either because they aren't afraid of admitting that they think hockey players are hot, or because they simply can't be bothered to argue with you because they are confident enough in their fandom to laugh it off. Besides, the girls who do know enough about the sport to prove they aren’t just there for the view, know way more interesting stuff like the fact that their starting goalie has really cut down on the number of rebounds he allows this season, or that a specific player is on the top penalty kill unit because he has the second highest number of short-handed goals in the league. Or even simple stuff like being able to identify every player on the ice by number. On both teams.
A third type of female fans are the ones who will deny their puck-bunnydom most vehemently but who don’t actually know enough about hockey to know they CAN shoot the accusation of puck-bunnydom down fairly easily. Go figure.
Which has led me to a sad conclusion: many of the most vehemently “non-pucks” tend to be the ones who I think actually WISH they were pucks. Real pucks.
(A notable exception to this rule is my friend BJ, a vehement non-puck who will just as soon launch into a feminist rant as she will deck a guy for calling her by the derogatory name: she's a PhD candidate, so a sucker punch would probably be the less vicious blow than a feminist rant from someone who's studying clinical psych and has been cheering for Vancouver since way before they made the Cup final.)
For a long time, I was adamant about people not calling me a puck – I think I actually told a friend of mine that if he set me up with an NHLer I’d give him good reason to call me one, but until then he could kindly shut up since it was about as accurate as calling me married.
I wasn’t exactly lying though. A lot of hockey players seem like pretty nice guys. Most of them are in amazing shape. And I tend like active people. In high school, I dated a few rowers for a good reason (other than the fact that I was a rower too and it ate our lives so we never had much time to meet anyone else). Rowers are smoking hot. So are some hockey players.
It recent occurred to me that, despite living in NHL-franchise cities for all but 4 months of my life since I turned 14 (and started dating), it’s never once crossed my mind to go out clubbing with the intention of meeting/seducing/sleeping with one of the Canucks (or the Sens or the 67s or the Leafs or any member of any of the countless junior hockey teams in the Greater Toronto Area).
That's almost twelve years I could have been snagging myself an NHLer husband. If I cared enough to try. Which I don't. Because, frankly, I have better things to do. As do the vast majority of remotely well-adjusted female hockey fans, even if they do think Jason Spezza (taken, actually, besides he has terrible taste - his house is two blocks from my friend Eri's parents house in Ottawa and it's hideous) or Carey Price or Zach Parise is just the bees knees.
There's really no point in caring about the 'puck bunny' misnomer. All that matters if that you know you aren't (or you are, at which point all the power to you for your honesty) because most people use it as a way to try to make themselves feel better by making someone else feeling worse about their passion for a sport we all love. Which really defeats the purpose of the NHL's recent efforts to expand its fan base. Particularly when they are trying to sell the sport to women.
There's a reason why the NHL started making pink jerseys... because alienating female fans means you alienate 50% of your potential market, and if pink jerseys help some female fans get into the sport and make sure that the league keeps having all 30 franchises, I really won't complain. I'll never wear a pink jersey. Unless by some freak accident my Canada jersey bleeds in the wash or something... (WHAT, I ask you, is so wrong with Red or Blue or Black and Gold?), but I won't hold it against a chick who does.
I love hockey. I want other people to love hockey. I don't really care WHY people love it, so long as they love it. So the next time someone calls you (or your girlfriend/wife/sister/daughter/best-friend) a puck, you can correct them, if you really want, or you can laugh at them for their lame attempt to put you down and get back to cheering for you favourite team. And hope your team kicks their team's sorry (collective) butt down a couple points in the league standings.
On that note, because it is Hockeyday, four teams I like have games tonight (and the Pens host Detroit tomorrow):
GO GIANTS !! Kick some Thunder-butt tonight!
GO COLUMBUS !! (Sharks, eek!) Get well soon Mase!
GO SYRACUSE !! I enjoy any win over Toronto, even the Marlies...
GO PENS !! Petr - Give Detroit some of that good ole Game 5 magic tomorrow!
**The links might not work, but I don't have the patience to check. If they do work though, click on them, for extra fun. Also, the photos should all enlarge a bit if you click on them. If there are any grammar or spelling mistakes or any factual errors, too bad. I just re-did this once so that the font wasn't blindingly small... and it was hard to format the first two times, so I'm not doing it again. Unless Clare wants me to edit her out of my collage (because it's my fault for not asking sooner although it is SUCH a CUTE pic of her and Letang - I swear I'm not sucking up, not many players have any personality in photos). That's the only reason I'll do an edit.**