As an OGA staffer, we have specific teams that we each cover throughout the year. Mine do not include the Flyers and Maple Leafs. But with pardon to my brethren who do speak (write) out on their behalf, I cannot resist a short blog about these feral organizations. This short blog is my anthem to inpending pandemonium…
Did you hear that bone crunching smash into the boards? The ‘Ooofff’ as the open ice check to the solar plexis collapses the diaphragm, forcing all of the air from the lungs. Or knuckles on cheekbone in rapid succession? Is it just me, or can you hear it, too?
I do. And it’s coming from the East. More specifically, from Toronto and Philadelphia.
Make no mistake – there is a fundamental change to Eastern Conference Hockey. Brian Burke’s beginning makeover of the Maple Leafs into the Ducksian-like image he has come to cherish brings a certain joie de nasty to this team’s game that others are either going to have to emulate or suffer. Just close your eyes and think of Burke teams, and, well, you think recently and you recall the nastiness of a Chris Pronger…
Who is now in Philly. Wait. With Ian Laperriere, Daniel Carcillo, Riley Cote, and Aaron Asham amongst others. That’s right, isn’t it? Or was it Schultz, Clarke, MacLeish and Van Impe? I’m confused.
I do know this is not likely to be a simple fracas or mere uproar. So is ‘Donnybrook’ the right term here? Conflagration? Rhubarb, even? I am not sure because the two have not danced yet. I just anticipate in the step a certain crunching of toes.
Maybe mercifully for the teams, there are only four meetings between The Broad Street Bullies and The Bay Street Brutes this coming regular season. But for the Hockey fan who likes their ice with an extra helping of dislodged chicklets, 6 and 14 January, 7 March and 6 April will be some of the roughest nights in the League this season. (Not to mention the Pre-Season’s 17 & 19 September when some will be willing to do a lot to impress enough to earn a spot on a roster that is supposed to define toughness.)
Wow! America (Canada, et.al.), be on alert. And be prepared to cover the childrens’ eyes if you are watching and are not from these now fundamentally transformed cities where they will have time to grow into these behemoths. The Surgeon General’s warning will be stamped on your ticket and roll across the TV screen “…Some of these games may not be for the faint of heart….”
To paraphrase George C. Scott’s recreation of General George S. Patton, “…(Hockey). I love it. God help me I do love it so….”