NHL back, baby!
Welcome to our preview of the NHL's strongest division. This only means we need to bring our A game and let these suckers fall from their perch high up above. It'll hurt twice as hard. To read our previews for the Pacific and Central divisions, please head over here and here.
While the regular season is already underway, let's back up a bit, well actually a long, long time, and marvel at the feat that Gary "Call Me Gary" Bettman and the minions managed last January, right in the thick of its 2016-17 regular season when Little Gary likes it best. To celebrate the 100 years of the NHL, the league had, in what was quite the bout of competency yes, decided to figure out the 100 greatest players in its history.
You think, "Nice, right? There's no way the NHL could possibly have messed this one up, right?" How wrong you are, my dear friend. Because as we now know, the NHL NHL'd it. Yep. The smallest fuck-up was that Gary and co. unveiled a list of the 100 names in no real order. Just a bunch of active players, then guys from the 00s, then the 90s, 80s, etc. etc., because apparently when the league wanted to determine the 100 best players in its history, that was meant literally: we want to know who the 100 players are, but not the actual number they are ranked. That there are 100 trophies for 100 players is what matters, not whether Alexander Ovechkin is ranked ahead of Joe Thornton.
Oh but wait, the above is a mistake: Thornton actually isn't on this list of the 100 best players ever because.... well that's our second problem with this list, and it's a two-parter. For one thing, current players are severely underrepresented. Look, it's no secret that that people in general, and hockey fans in particular, love to romanticize their past and their little lives of their own and what came before and how wonderful it was. The two biggest franchises, the Habs and the Leafs, love nothing more than to live up to some (supposed, in the case of Toronto) glorious past. The NHL is no different, apparently believing that if you scored 19 goals with a wooden stick 75 years ago then it means more than 19 goals today. Because that's life, humans just get worse and worse at a thing as time passes. Riiiiiiight.
But so yeah, the NHL's list was slanted toward players of the past and only six current players made the cut: Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Ovechkin, and the Blackhawks trio of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Somehow, Little Gary believes that the Chicago trio and their ringzzzz deserve it over, I don't know, Joe Thornton and his 1,392 assists (22nd most ever), or that they deserve it over Evgeni Malkin... and really, that's who we want to talk about.
Because don't listen to the minions. You, as a rational human being with a functional brain, know that Toews, good, old and boring Canadian asshole Toews, doesn't deserve it over Geno. How do you know? Because you can read #stats, whether those be cumulative (627 points versus 836 career points) or the relative and contextual kind. Did you know that Geno Malkin, with his 1.179 points per game, ranks 14th. Not for 2016, or 2017, no, 14th in league history. Somehow, the 14th most productive player ever isn't one of the NHL's best 100 players ever. Oops, probably says Little Gary, but no fuck you.
Btw if you're not a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, don't worry I'll have cleaned the stench of the above by the time I get to their turn below. Fuck the Penguins, but it gets better.
Also btw, if you happen to think that the above was long, tedious, not particularly funny, and boring, well congratulations you now know what it feels like to be an Ottawa Senators fan.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets
These are the Columbus Blue Jackets, but let's just discuss head coach John Tortorella because as usual, this man makes everything about himself. He would bench any player who dares sit, not stand, for the regular anthem because, well, Tortorella doesn't give a fuck about a because. The man knows what he knows and he wants what he wants, and he'll tell off anyone who dares stand in his way (or, erm, not stand for his anthem) and through it all, he'll antagonize just about everyone and fuck his players, because he's Torts and you're not, wonderful Torts, and he's Torts who'll be fired before you know it. Tortorella is always an asshole, and he always gets fired. Rinse, repeat.
2. Washington Capitals
What's it going to be this year, Capitals? You want to say that the Washington Capitals keep finding new ways to fall flat on their face every year, but that's not entirely true. Like, the journey may be different every time but the end result isn't: it's always just the Capitals all alone on the tiles in their bathroom, wearing just a sock, dirty boxer briefs and half a shirt all the while holding their dick in their hand and wondering WTF. Alexander Ovechkin is perhaps the greatest goalscorer of all time and he'll retire without a Stanley Cup ring because he had the misfortune of being drafted by this franchise.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
Ohhhhhh here's the time. Let's go fucking #HAM on these cracker jacks. Did you know that at the end of last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins won their second title in a row? That in and of itself would be entirely enough to hate this franchise, but the special sauce is what came after that. A while back, when POTUS went and acted like a fucking buffoon and called out NFL players for being non-robotic machines of destruction and instead having a social conscience, and when he then reacted like an 8-year-old with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors for, again, having some modicum of respect for their fellow human beings, well the very next day is when the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose co-owner is the second greatest player of all time, and who currently employs the best hockey player in the world, and who again have won the past two Stanley Cups, well the very very next day is when the Pittsburgh Penguins went ahead and said, "Fuck you NFL players, fuck you Steph Curry, hello Donald J. Trump."
No, they didn't say that. They said they would go to the White House because they don't believe this is the right time or place to make political statements of any kind. In typical NHL fashion, the Penguins could have dipped their little toes in the water but they didn't. "Water's too cold," they wailed, "and anyway it's no big deal if we don't get wet today." Actually guys, yes it is. The day after the Warriors discussed the possibility of not visiting the White House, the Penguins basically called them out for it. But if it were just that, then maybe it wouldn't matter. Because let it show that it is the Donald J. Trump POTUS White House, not any administration, that the Penguins have decided to honour and visit. "You don't use your platform to make any kind of statement and not board the fucking train," say the Penguins, but in 2017 standing pat and not boarding that train and saying nothing amounts to quite the statement. Sid "The Baby Kid" Crosby, you didn't need to make it so easy. Get a fucking grip, Penguins. If you want it in long form, it's here. Otherwise, the tweet version of your fuck-up is basically this:
But yeah, this team is going to win a third Stanley Cup in a row this season, because the whole world fucking sucks. And they'll go to the White House again next year.
4. New York Rangers
The New York Rangers play their home games in the least famous "most famous arena" in the world. Henrik Lundqvist was butt the entire year last season but showed up just in time for the playoffs to take down the Habs and wonderkid Carey Price (as well as he should have!), only to then go back to being butt again just afterward. Considering how handsome he is, his 2016-17 season is basically the plot of Cinderella come to life, right down to the detail of him turning back into a pumpkin in time for the Rangers to have yet another disappointing showing in the playoffs.
This roster is old and overpaid, head coach Alain Vigneault looks like he still gets ID’d at the beer store, and team president Glen Sather still smokes a cigar every time he’s shown on TV during games. Maybe one time he can choke on the fucking thing.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
It took only about a decade but the Carolina Hurricanes might have finally cured themselves of the Cam Ward disease. Have you ever seen an athlete ride off a heat check quite like Ward did, as the then-rookie goalie guided the Canes to a Stanley Cup win way the fuck back in 2006 and then proceeded to revealing to everyone and their mother that he was really just suited to be an NHL backup. And finally this season, Carolina has apparently agreed with his results, because Ward will be riding the bench on most nights. What a backbone on this team, amirite??!
Also, for the love of all that is holy, have the goddamn decency to change the team’s name. Hurricanes aren’t really in, haven’t you heard? With hurricanes, we get this goddamn shit show.
6. Philadelphia Flyers
The long running gag for the Philadelphia Flyers, we’re talking here one that has been true for the entirety of this franchise’s existence save for a few brief (and always fleeting) periods here and there, holds that this team just can’t ever have a good goaltender LOL so funny :) :) :P. "If they only ever have a good goalie…," they say, trailing off and laughing to themselves. But you know, that’s not a joke: the Flyer actually cannot figure out how to draft and develop an NHL-caliber goalie for their team. They never have. As POTUS would say it, sad. Very sad.
Another one of the Flyers’ fault is employing the likes of the Aaron Ashams & Dan Carcillos of this world and whomever the fuck it is this year, guys who are better at bludgeoning the other team’s best players than they are at playing hockey. Maybe that’s the logic. "Heheh gotcha, your team can’t score goals if your best players are injured, so we don’t even need a goalie"? It’s yet to work, other than mostly just wasting away Claude Giroux’s best years. Fuckers.
7. New York Islanders
I mean, can we move on from the New York Islanders? They're a team that named their backup goalie the team general manager a while back, and they play in an NBA arena. John Tavares is a guy. Whatever, moving on.
8. New Jersey Devils
Oh god, oh man. The New Jersey Devils home arena is a literal cement block, let’s start there. Let’s also mention that this team might have a 20-goal scorer on its roster, but good luck figuring out who it will be. (For some teams, that would be a sign of depth. For the Devils, it's just a sign of the depth of their struggles.) Taylor Hall would be a guy to know, but for most season he’s just a guy who gets injured. There are probably more people at the local handball game than there are to see this bunch play, because who would want to watch the Devils lose 1-0 on a damn own goal???
You know when you see someone on the street that you absolutely don’t know, only they are convinced you two know one another and they’re all like, "Hey it’s me Dave, Carol’s friend from work," and they’re looking at you all eagerly like a puppy dog, only you have not a clue who the fuck is Carol, let alone Dave? Well in this metaphor, the New Jersey Devils are Henry, who’s the cousin of Carol’s best friend whom she met at yoga class. Fuck the Devils.