Archive for the ‘historic rivalries’ Category

Gut reactions: the Kostitsyns give the Montreal media a scandal it can’t refuse

February 20, 2009
You know things are not going well for your team when it is compared to the guy who took too much LSD to function in Pink Floyd.

So, here’s the gist of the Kostitsyn brothers scandal from what I’ve read so far: the two brothers are linked in some fashion to a mobster named Pasquale Mangiola (along with Roman Hamrlik – who might just have the most mob-friendly name in the NHL). From what is out there right now, the Kostitsyns were not directly linked with any criminal activities.

It seems that Mangiola simply wanted to be linked to hockey players and the Kostitsyns wanted to be linked with fast cars, hard booze and loose women. You’d think that would be the new example of a “symbiotic relationship” in the next edition of Biology textbooks, but apparently it just gets you in hot water. (No word on whether or not Mangiola berated Sergei for buying his girlfriend an expensive fur coat, though.)

At this point, this thing seems like it can go down two paths: a) this could simply be an example of mixing with the wrong people along with the Montreal media’s apparent lack of restraint OR b) the details are blurry right now and won’t come into focus until a harrowing trial. Either way, it’s just more bad news and more bad PR for a Montreal Canadiens team that is falling apart worse than Syd Barrett on acid.

Obviously, this thing is still in it’s infant stage, but here are my initial thoughts:

  • At least it’s likely the NHL won’t have to worry about widespread US coverage.

Can you imagine some beleaguered copy assistant/intern at a newspaper saying “Fuck this job, I’m not looking up the spelling of their last names. I’ve had enough of this shit.” Trying to look on the bright side here, folks.

He recently posted regarding a book he read about soccer players accepting bribes from mobsters and, quite reasonably asked, “why would this happen in soccer and not in other sports like hockey?”

It doesn’t mean that the Kostitsyns were Pete Rose-ing games, but that post numbed me to this news. Perhaps it otherwise would have been shocking, but that definitely blunted the blow.

  • This might shed some interesting light on the surreal Kostitsyn-Grabovski vendetta. Perhaps the things that Grabovski said that got back to the Ko-bros involved making fun of their mob connections.

Or (Bettman wipes sweat from his Napoleonic brow) maybe Big Grab simply was scoreboarding the Ko-bros because his mafia could beat up their mafia.

  • After what feels like a decade of steroid scandals, spousal abuse stories, Leonard Little running over everyone in the general St. Louis, Mo. area and so on … it’s a watershed moment for the oversaturation of bad news. Especially with the whole “economic meltdown” happening outside of the sports world.

At this point, most sports fans probably understand that they’re not always rooting for upstanding, apple-pie-cooling-in-the-windowsill people. Some of these guys are racists, some are alleged rapists, some cheat, some chase women and on and on. Really, unless the Kostitsyns were electrocuting dogs and promoting the involuntary deflowering of girl scouts, this might not register in my cynical, battered soul. God/Joe Pesci help us all.

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For more, I’d recommend following the big dogs like Puck Daddy, AOL Fanhouse, From the Rink (Mirtle) and Kukla’s Korner.

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Dance partners: Boston (plus a quick note)

February 18, 2009

Before delving into this fun little diversion, a quick announcement: the individual posts for the All-Decade team will sprout up starting tomorrow. So far, there are three contributors, plus myself and two possible late additions. Send me an e-mail if you’re a blogger and want to send your picks (OK … OK … if you only comment but happen to harness a hidden mine of snark gold, then maybe we’ll make an exception). Please do not get huffy if your e-mail doesn’t make it.

(E-mail: jamestobrien@hotmail.com)

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The playoffs are reaching the “can almost smell it” level of close-ness now. Here’s a fun new running feature, then: Best Dance Partners. It’s better than it sounds (so stash that White Man’s Underbite in your closet of shame along with your Snuggie, Creed CDs and mistress). Basically, the feature boils down to the three teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the NHL team in question.

This week’s installment is the Boston Bruins:

1. Montreal Canadiens (the fifth seed with 66 points, but tied with four other Eastern teams so this isn’t as improbable as it sounds)

Last year’s Montreal – Boston seven-game series brought enough intensity to start a Montreal riot (as Rocket Richard shook his head in shame from Hockey Mount Olympus).
Interestingly enough, this hypothetical series would be quite the role reversal (Boston and Montreal switching no. 1 and no. 8 seeds along with traditional favorite-underdog positions). Plus, the Bruins’ breakout season would crash head-on with what currently is a free-falling centennial edition of the Habs.

Oh yeah, also, both teams can bring plenty of speed, depth and a traditional hatred marinated in decades of bad blood to yet another playoff series. Surely, the journey to shake that Montreal monkey off the Bruins’ back would cause blood pressures to rise in both Original Six markets.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (currently in 10th place, would need considerable good fortune to make it to the playoffs)
NBC would rank this potential series WAY ahead of a series with Montreal. But a Pens-B’s match brings a lot to the table for more than just casual hockey fans.

It would really allow the Boston Bruins “brand” to grow as bigger audiences would finally get to see the best team in the Eastern Conference take on Pittsburgh, the team with the highest hype-per-win-capita in the NHL. Either that, or the Bruins would be upset by the Penguins leading Gary Bettman, Versus and NBC to jump for joy (while wishing the Penguins knocked off a Canadian team instead of the big market Bruins).

The more likely Bruins-crush-Pens scenario is oddly similar to that time Andre the Giant “put over” Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III. If, you know, Andre the Giant really sucked that year.

3. Buffalo (currently the seventh seed with 66 points)

Buffalo vs. Boston would be a battle between a small market obsessed enough with hockey to produce huge local ratings and a huge market with other sports on the brain. Even though the Bruins aren’t a perpetual Goliath like Detroit, Buffalo’s underdog factor would be pretty appealing in this one.
Plus, the hockey would probably be very good and Buffalo brings some similar strengths (deep scoring, good goaltending) so the series could even generate a few nail biters.

One bland pairing that would make fans yawn and TV execs drool

Boston vs. New York Rangers

Are we the only people with a slight urge to see the Rangers miss the playoffs? They’re such a mess of a roster, with four HORRIBLE contracts (Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Michal Rosival) and a limp lifelessness to their recent play.

Sure, they are two big markets. Sure, the networks would probably show Boston Red Sox/Yankees montages. And, sure, Sean Avery would bring lowbrow attention to the series (predicted Avery quip, spoken in typical monotone: “Zdeno Chara is a tall glass of ugly.”)

But what’s in it for, you know … hockey fans? Not as much as those three other matches, to be sure.