The NHL is back.
How's that for a lede, huh? The NHL is back. We've already set the scene in our look at the Western Conference, and NHL hockey fans (i.e. all 19 of them) have become reacquainted with their favourites, so here goes part II.
Okay, not right away. Before that, let's mention one tiny thing. This past June, my hometown Montreal Canadiens decided to spit in the face of their fans by trading away their diamond, P.K. Subban. Foolishly. Idiotically. Moronically. And, most damning of all, for no damn reason.
Seriously. After a miserable season without the team's most important and talented player in goaltender Carey Price, general manager Marc Bergevin looked over his roster and said, "Hmmm sure, my superstar defenseman, one of the league's most charismatic and talented players, well that player sure is the problem so I'll trade him for a lesser and older player. Then, just to show everyone how much I and my coach Michel Therrien hated Subban, I'll go ahead and sign Alexander Radulov, last seen being benched in the middle of a first-round series by an offensively-challenged Nashville that needed all the firepower it could find."
Yep, solid plan.
Subban was the Picasso painting that somehow fell into the Habs' lap, only the team's decision makers never wanted to put the painting up on their home's walls. Why? Because they know Habs fans will just as feverishly cheer for a boring house where all the walls are painted white as they would for one with a Picasso in the lobby. You know what the problem is with a Picasso, right? Instinctively, everyone know it's quite a wonderful work of art but, like, wtf do you do with that? Not everyone knows how to match the rest of the house in order to maximize the Picasso.
So the Habs went ahead and added Mr. white wall himself, Shea Weber, to pair with their white wall of a captain in Max Pacioretty, who's about as charismatic as watching paint dry.
Why put up a Picasso on your walls when it could just be white walls all around, right? Well because IT'S A PICASSO GODDAMNIT!
Anyway, here's the second part to our hater's guide to this new 2016-17 NHL season. We look today at the Eastern Conference, where Sid the Kid keeps crying and other teams try to keep up by clutching, grabbing, and just generally playing awful, defensive hockey. Wouhou.
Last. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs will forever stay losers and the team's fans know it deep down in their hearts. On opening night of this first season of this supposedly new age of the Maple Leafs, the stud rookie the team had tanked away all of last season for scored four freaking goals. Impressive, right?
THE LEAFS LOST THE GAME! Seriously, look it up. Your stud scored four times and you lost.
New coach, new director of hockey operations, new players, new fan optimism in Leafs Nation... same old results. Fuck the Leafs and long live the streak since 1967.
15. Montreal Canadiens
Read the intro to this post. The Montreal Canadiens traded P.K. Subban, so they're dead to me. This guy gets it.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets
Welcome to the kindergarten version of the Winnipeg Jets. Here's a team that's so awful that the two conferences played hot potato with it. The Eastern Conference lost out because the Eastern Conference always loses.
13. Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators are the perfect NHL team: in any other sport, Ottawa could and would never dream of having a pro sports franchise, but this is the NHL and this is Canada so call it a marriage of convenience. Both the NHL and Ottawa are like the annoying little brother your parents always force you to bring to the park when you go with your friends. "Ugh what's he doing here?? He always embarrasses us!"
That's Ottawa: your kid brother you drag to the park against your will and who puts boogers in his mouth. (The "boogers in his mouth" is for the Senators letting the best player in their history Daniel Alfredsson leave town for nothing.)
Fuck the Sens and their dumb nickname. Plus their owner's cheap and doesn't want to spend any money to maybe win a damn playoff game or two.
12. New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall used to be a pretty gifted and exciting forward for the Edmonton Oilers, then he got traded to the New Jersey Devils this past summer, on the same day the Habs gave away Subban.
Come back to this post at the end of the season, after Hall has finished a six-goal and eight-passes season. How do I know I'll have been right? Because the Devils are where goals go to die. If you play for the Devils, then you instantly become a defensive specialist. You morph into John Madden, simple as that.
11. Buffalo Sabres
Bahahahha you guys tried so, so hard to be so, so shitty that you would have overwhelming odds to draft Conor McDavid, but the Hockey Gods told you to talk to the hand cause the face don't care. Now you have the discounted and knockoff version of McDavid in Jack Eichel.
That was last season, we know, but never forget. The Sabres tanked so hard but still couldn't do it right. They're the NHL's 76ers. Trust the process (of looking like fools).
10. Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings parade around their 25-year streak of making the NHL Playoffs like it's something to be proud of. Why not hang a freaking banner at your arena every year for "NHL PLAYOFFS PARTICIPANTS" while you're at it. In a league where more than half the teams qualify for the postseason, that streak means not a whole lot.
Oh and also, the City of Detroit may be broke af but they're freaking paying for their new arena with public money because of course.
9. Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes' official Twitter account has a banner image with #REDVOLUTION written in the center, so no. Fuck the Canes.
It's only right, then, that the team would turn around and blow a 3-0 lead on what should have been an easy win.
You're not making the playoffs. Keep doing that as often as you'd like, Eddie. Nice tats tho!
8. Philadelphia Flyers
Give the Philadelphia Flyers enough time and they'll find a way to fuck it up somehow. Give them great defensemen, they'll be stuck without NHL-caliber forwards, or give them the best four lines possible up front and these forwards will be all alone trying to score and prevent goals.
That's been the Flyers' normal every year of the team's existence, even when they won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 1974 and 1975: they may be strong in one area but they'll never have it all together at once. For example, they may have an NHL-caliber goaltender and... kidding, that will never, ever happen.
But Claude Giroux is a G.
7. New York Rangers
Oh, say hello to the Blue Shirts, the ones who really, deeply believe in themselves. You know what they say, right? You may have large, very big cojones (and the New York Rangers would very much like you to believe that they do have those), but in a heavyweight fight all that really means is there's a larger target on you below the waist.
Henrik Lundqvist is super handsome, sure.
6. New York Islanders
Usually when sports teams move to a new arena, it's to a new nicer one. But while the New York Islanders' new home is technically nice, it's mostly for the residing Brooklyn Nets.
But you knew that already, after last season.
This season, the Islanders are doubling down on their efforts to appear hip and trendy and therefore appeal to the hipster Brooklyn populace.
You're wrong it can be too early, especially if you're stuck with the Islanders and their annoying celebrity fan.
That's former WWE wraaaaassling superstar Daniel Bryan, yes. Sorry: YES!
5. Boston Bruins
Resident asshole Milan Lucic isn't on the Boston Bruins roster anymore, but if you thought that was reason enough to stop hating the team think again. Brad Marchand isn't a pest, he's a squirrel; just look at these cheeks. The Bruins jerseys are mustard yellow, and mustard yellow has always been the world's ugliest colour. Fuck the Bruins.
4. Florida Panthers
For the majority of the team's existence, the Florida Panthers have been utterly toothless. "Awwww cuuuuuuute!," says the average NHL fan. Also this: why do they play hockey in Florida again? Well they probably play hockey in Florida so we can make fun of the team and its dumb new logo for the lack of fans at their games. Look, packed house!
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Kid has finally done it, winning the second Stanley Cup of his supposedly illustrious career. He's a national treasure when he plays for Team Canada, but it's okay to make fun of him when he plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The other notable thing about the Kid, other than him being actually really damn good, is that he's now 29 years old, which is basically grown up.
But fuck that, Sidney Crosby isn't grown up. He's still a crybaby.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning will probably win the Stanley Cup this season because they're excellent and loaded at every position. Therefore, you should hate them for that.
1. Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals have it all: a great goaltender, great, mobile and savvy defensemen, and dynamite forwards (and the greatest shootout player in TJ Oshie to soak up those extra points the NHL insists on awarding during the regular season). They have it all and yet, they'll never get a Stanley Cup.
They'll never win a Stanley Cup because every Washington season follows the exact same script: a regular season where seemingly everything goes right followed by the playoffs, where nothing does. You may have heard about the team's struggles in the postseason, and it's happened often enough by now to know that this really isn't surprising. In the playoffs, the Capitals only ever disappoint.
So go ahead. Give 'em whatever and whoever you want, the best goal scorer, the Vezina Trophy or the most valuable player, hell give 'em Mario Lemieux and the ghost of Jean Béliveau on the same damn line for all we care. We'll still pick another team to win the Stanley Cup.
And you know what? We'll be right.