Embroiderer > King

Back in high school, my friend’s kid brother — who was a pretty good goalie for his age — got to attend a training camp with Patrick Roy. I don’t think Roy was there much, but said kid brother reported back that one of the instructors, an already-drafted QMJHL goalie named Martin Brodeur, was going to be even better than Roy.

Naturally I was dubious. For Canadiens fans (which I was, as were this friend and his kid brother) Roy was practically royalty.  We’d watched him talk to his goalposts on his way to a surprise cup in 1986 as a rookie. He’d won three Vezina trophies in four years. I didn’t know it yet, but I’d soon watch him win another cup in 1993, another upset for which he’d win his second playoff MVP award. Of course, I watched him leave Montreal in a blaze of ego, and then suffered through watching him win two cups (and another Conn Smythe trophy) with the Colorado Avalanche while my Canadiens foundered. He elevated a team with loads of talent which just couldn’t get over the hump, and delivered two cups to Colorado. When he won his fourth cup I considered him the greatest of all time.

But even then I know he might have a challenger. Brodeur won the Calder trophy as top rookie in 1994, and won the cup the next year. Brodeur was never as dramatic as Roy…no fiery exits from New Jersey, no winking at a forward he’d just robbed…just 18 seasons of all-star play. Four Vezinas (one more than Roy), two Stanley Cups, and the all-time records for wins, shutouts, and single-season wins.

I had posters of Roy on my wall. I had his jersey, and wore it to school the day after they won the cup in 93. I think I still have his rookie card somewhere. But when the CBC asked yesterday, “Is Martin Brodeur a better goaltender than Patrick Roy?” I had to say yes.

One never wants to decide between his hero and the man who knocks them off the perch, even on a topic as silly as hockey. But, unpalatable as that was, I realized how lucky I’ve been to watch (and see live, in Brodeur’s case) the two best goalies in the history of hockey play at the same time.

Panem et circenses

I’m going to see The Hunger Games (imdb | rotten tomatoes) tomorrow. Yeah, that’s right. Those Hunger Games. I read the books (hey, a fella’s gotta kill the 15-hour flight to Sydney somehow) and I want to see the movie. Let’s be clear: I don’t want to see it even one-tenth as much as Nellie, who bought her tickets last weekend. But if a movie looks entertaining, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, and rates an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, then I’m going whether or not I’ve read the books.

While the media seems intent on comparing it to Twilight (all the squealing teens don’t help) anyone who’s so much as glanced at the books knows they’re nothing alike. Granted, I didn’t read Twilight, but the brief snippets I’ve caught on TMN suggest that I’d hate the movies (and would probably therefore hate the books) because the characters seemed spectacularly annoying. I was hopeful The Hunger Games screenwriters wouldn’t do that to their central characters and, judging by early reports, they did not. I think Matt Brown summed it up nicely:

“Katniss never swoons for a boy or falls into suicidal fantasies in an effort to annihilate her self for the good of the establishment. I could do with five or ten minutes of her punching Bella Swan in the face.”

Right, then. Let the odds be ever in our favour of not being stuck next to too many spastic teenagers tomorrow.

*** UPDATE ***

So we saw it on Saturday. I thought it was pretty good. Didn’t melt my brain or anything, but I knew what I was going in to, and they did what they were set up to do: make an interesting, entertaining movie without ballsing it up as I’m sure the studio tried to make them do. The actors did very well and made us care. They made me want to see the next…I dunno, seven movies, or whatever they split the final two books into.

Side note: the theatre was the new AVX at the Scotiabank, which had comfier seats which you could reserve online so there was no standing in a queue to fight for a not-shit vantage point. Well worth the extra 3 quid. Oh, and the crowd wasn’t annoying at all…no squealing, no talking, and only one teenage girl on her phone during the movie, which I’ll take as a win.

Side technical note: they did a good job of portraying the violence without making it overly graphic; I still wouldn’t recommend bringing your nine year old (as some people in that theatre did) but if a kid read the book and has played a FPS or too then I don’t think the movie will freak them out.

Side asshole note: apparently some people are upset that they made the black characters, you know, black.

Le low

Well, that’s my bracket busted then.

My day started out just fine…great weather and a canceled afternoon-long meeting led me to hit the Real Sports Bar early. I emailed my team back at the office, telling them all to go home, and staked out a spot for CBJ+M (and, eventually, Nellie). We landed decent spots with a good view of the 2-acre TV. The fuzzy picture below just doesn’t do it justice. Just for scale, the smaller screens to the right and left are actually composite screens made of four 42″ plasmas each.

Real Sports Bar in Toronto

The food was decent for a sports bar, if rather overpriced (much like their neighbour, E11even). The beer list was entirely pedestrian, and it got a little douchebaggy later in the evening (douchebags are easy to spot, by the way: they drink Bud Light from those cobalt blue bottles), but there’s no question that it’s a great place to watch sports. There are screens everywhere, including over each urinal in the privy. We had a free round sent over by some friends at another table, and reciprocated with tequila shots; thankfully the niceness arms race stopped there. We were also about to place an order for medium chicken wings when our server showed up, asking if we would like a free order of medium chicken wings which had accidentally been ordered for someone else. Either we were very lucky, or we were momentarily able to make things appear at our table just by thinking about them. I tried thinking about Mila Kunis carrying a bottle of 1982 Chateau Margaux but it didn’t work. Still, we were having pretty good luck and enjoying ourselves a great deal.

But then things went from bad (Ohio beating Michigan) to worse (my Duke Blue Devils losing to #15 seed Lehigh). The nuclear-level problem was Missouri losing to Norfolk State; I had Mizzou going to the final four. Granted, so did a lot of other people in my pool, but my day overall — 5 and 11, after going 13 and 3 the day before — shot me to the bottom quarter of the standings.

Nellie, on the other hand, is near the top. She always does better in the pool than I do; I should just stop entering and save myself the $20 each year.

How to fix the Montreal Canadiens, 2012 edition

As I type this I’m watching the Montreal Canadiens play their 13th-last game of this dreadful season — they currently sit last in the Eastern conference and 28th out of 30 in the NHL. They have no hope of making the playoffs. They ditched some trade bait at the deadline and have picked up some decent prospects and picks (five picks in the first two rounds in the upcoming draft) so that’s cause for optimism. Still, more changes are made if they’re going to make the playoffs. Not that the Habs management is calling me up for advice, but here’s what I (and, I think, anyone who’s thought about it for twenty seconds) would do:

  • Trade (or, worst case, buy out) Scott Gomez. His 0.297 points per game for $7.5 million just doesn’t work. You can’t play him ahead of Desharnais or Plekanec, and you’d be holding back Eller’s development (not to mention Louis Leblanc’s) if he’s not the #3 centre. Unless Gomez wants to take a pay cut and become a defensive specialist (hee!) on the fourth line he needs to go.
  • Try to get something — anything — for Kaberle, Campoli and Nokelainen. At the very least let Campoli leave town.
  • Move Rene Bourque to the 3rd line. Bourque, Eller and Travis Moen (if they can keep him around) would be a very good, very physical 3rd line.
  • Use some cap room to sign a second-line winger to play with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. A scoring winger with some size would give the Canadiens a second scoring threat to compliment the Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole top line. Add the afore-mentioned third line and an intimidating fourth line featuring Ryan White and Brad Staubitz (if he re-signs) and your forward lines are actually in pretty decent shape, I think.
  • With P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges and Alexei Emelin the core of the defense is solid, if a little fragile. Assuming Kaberle and Campoli leave town, Montreal would need a veteran 5th D-man to bring along prospects like Raphael Diaz and Jarred Tinordi. Yannick Weber seems to be a spare part under coach Randy Cunneyworth, but having a guy who can play D or forward is helpful.
  • No help needed in net: Carey Price is it.

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of nuance, but at least if Mr. Gauthier calls me in the off-season I’ll have some conversation-starters ready.

In Soviet Russia, XBox plays you

Seriously, somebody stop us. This has been our past five days:

Wednesday: after a long day in the office we met for tasty deliciousness at Beerbistro. I introduced Nellie to Dieu du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté.

Thursday: I took some co-workers to Fieramosca. It was, as usual, delicious. At some point (probably after the fifth shot of Limoncello) I was a little worried about how I was going to feel the next morning. Especially since I had an 8AM meeting. Also, this was my second visit to Fieramosca in less than a week; the previous Saturday Nellie and I took our friends Kaylea and Matt there to celebrate their engagement.

Friday: Nellie had after-work drinks with co-workers, which meant I had a night to myself. “Solo Dan eve” involved shooting a lot of XBox Russians (<– not a euphemism, by the way, dirty!), eating pizza and blasting The Dandy Warhols.

Saturday: errands, errands and more errands, followed by a few hours in the office, but it took a decidedly more positive turn when Nellie and her fancy new haircut met me on the way to visit our friends CBJ+M. We picked up barbeque from The Stockyards, watched basketball and did some New Orleans trip strategizing.

Sunday: it was too gorgeous to do anything but get outside, so we walked to Gilead Cafe, checked out some new furniture in the Distillery District, ogled a Montauk sofa, did some clothes shopping (!) and had a few glasses of wine and a prosciutto pizza at Paese. We came home and opened our windows for the first time in months, got the smell of spring in the place, and eventually picked out two bottles of wine with which to finish the day: a 2008 Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay from Niagara, and a 2008 Pirramimma Petit Verdot from McLaren Vale to pair with our Cumbrae’s steak. Both were fantastic.

So as fun as that all sounds, I would just like…I don’t know, a salad or some quinoa or something.