Quarter Season Review

The Winnipeg Jets have played 22 games in the 2014/15 season, and a quick look at my calculator tells me that they are now a quarter of the way through. They currently sit in 4th place in the Central Division, which is good enough for ninth in the Western Conference (one point behind the Sharks for the last wild card spot). The Jets have lost five of their last seven, and all the momentum from their prior eight game point streak seems a distant memory. Like when the remote falls between the couch cushions, and you can only touch it with the very tips of your fingers…that’s how the teams feels about relates to winning these dark days.

So far…it seems like more of the same.

What is different about the team this season? Ondrej Pavelec has turned around 180 degrees in the off-season. He is faster, leaner, meaner and seeing the puck better. Oh yeah, and he’s consistent, too. He is by far the best Jet on the ice game in – game out. He has a save percentage of .917, which is down slightly from last week, but still good enough to crack the top 20 goalies in the league. He currently sits ahead in the stats of Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Schneider and Tuukka Rask.

Another crucial difference in the team this season is their defensive play. With the exception of the last two games, the Jets have been strong in their own end. They’ve been covering their man, playing hard in the corners and coming up with the puck more times than not. They seem to know when to collapse, and they’ve been very smart positionally.

The offence, however, has been somewhat short of achieving brilliance; shy, even. They don’t score. Like, ever. Their goals per game average is 1.96. That’s good enough for second last in the league, ahead of only the meager Buffalo Sabres. When I compare the Jets scoring average against good teams, here’s what I find:

Los Angeles Kings – defending Stanley Cup champions – 2.67

Boston Bruins – 2.50

Vancouver Canucks – 13-6-1 – 2.95

Pittsburgh Penguins – actual machines of scoring – 3.53

St. Louis Blues – just kicked our ass tonight and lead the Central Division – 2.62

Montreal Canadiens – best team in the league, currently – 2.48

It doesn’t take a mathematician, a statistician or even an eighth grade arithmetic wiz to figure out this enigma. The Jets need to score more if they are to keep up with teams like these going forward.

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Have you ever tried to describe death?

Have you ever tried to describe death? Sure, many poems and stories have been written on the subject. It’s been the focus of modern journalism for far too long. It’s the collective fear of young and old alike. Innately programmed into all of nature is the instinctual fear of death; life is the very opposite, and survival is the only goal. We, as humans, have somehow bastardized the meaning of life, and thus, are living for more than mere survival…I’m not even sure why we’re living anymore. What’s left to concur…really?

Have you ever tried to describe death? I mean really put yourself in the body of a dying person…imagine that your heart has stopped…what are the final feelings? What are the final thoughts? Would you have regrets? Do you think of what comes next? Have you lead a life of purity and followed the word of God only to find vacancy in your hour of need? Will darkness surround you…or out of the darkness is there light?

Have you ever tried to describe death? I believe that it is the point of life. If there is an eternal energy source, and something that comes after life, than death is a passage; something we all must experience at some point or another in order to validate ourselves to ourselves on our quest to better ourselves. The more violent and painful the death, the more your energy learns, and the more your soul is purified.

Have you ever tried to describe death? The cold feeling of loneliness that takes you from the warmth and brings you nowhere and nowhen…that evil presence that rips you violently from love and buries you with the maggots…forever to rot. Embalming fluids can only go so far; the corpse is destined to putrefy. Long winded and never forgotten, death lives forever in the collective consciousness of all beings. He stalks life like a pack of wolves to an injured bison. And when it comes everybody feels the fear of the unknown upon them…

Lying in bed trying to sleep, I can’t help but feel afraid at the current pace of my heart. Why, I wonder, does it race so? It’s beating with the energy and rhythm of eight horses pulling a carriage at full speed down a cobblestone road in 16th century France. Nothing I do will slow it down: walking, pacing, sitting, lying…nothing. I get up to fetch some water from the sink and sit down with my cup on my couch. I reach for my phone and swallow my pride as I dial 911. Feeling the fatigue of my over-worked heart, I rest my head on a pillow and stretch out my legs. My mouth goes dry. My head feels light all of a sudden, and I feel as though my lungs are not functioning as they should. My body feels heavy as I begin to sink into the furniture. The feeling of dehydration comes over me. How long has this sharp pain been in my chest, I wonder? Fear floods over me the way a typhoon storm surge rips apart an entire city that dared to exist too close the unforgiving sea. So tired is the city. So tired am I. My body feels starved for oxygen. My eyelids bare the weight of a full-grown steer. I feel as though I am floating in colour, rocking to and fro ever so gently. It doesn’t take long until the rocking becomes more menacing, more treacherous and more terrifying just like those hallucinogenic fevers that a young child gets periodically. The vibrant and calming colour that had embraced me through the serene has now been vanquished by a shade of black so horrible that no man could have ever laid eyes upon it and lived to tell the tale. My body is numb, and I begin to forget about such corporeal things such as bodies and couches. However, I can hear voices…they seem to be echoing through this void I am in, repeating phrases and words that don’t seem to make sense. Echoes in the dark and through time…the last thing to be a thing.    

autopoieticsystems.wordpress.com/ for more dark style writing.  Everything there was written my myself.

Warning….School Assignment Ahead….

Fear not loyal sports readers…the Jets play tomorrow night and I will have yet another witty, off the wall comparison to entertain your mind.  In the interim, this is a journalism assignment about a play I saw live tonight. 

I was forced to go to a play for journalism class tonight. I use the term ‘forced’ with surgical precision. I can’t say, with any amount of truth, that I’ve ever been to a play before this one, so my expectations were low. As a matter of fact I was preparing to hate it, and maybe catch up on some much needed sleep during.

However, I was shocked that it took me approximately one and a half minutes to be completely hooked. Proud, by Michael Healey, is not only funny, but struck me as a very accurate portrayal of how Steven Harper runs his government.

I’ll spare the run down of what happens in the play. Suffice to say that the theme was misdirection, which is not a far-fetched theme for a play about a conservative majority. This play resonated with me because, while being heavy on the satire, it didn’t strike me as inaccurate. The real Harper has done things like that in the past.

The big surprise came right at the beginning, when Harper and his right hand man Cary are discussing the seating arrangement of their vast majority and they showed a representation of the House of Commons where over 90 per cent was blue. I don’t think that could ever happen. There is no way that Quebec would allow for a Tory majority to that extent. Especially not with Justin Trudeau at the helm of the Liberals. I think that the age of the Tory government is at an end. So, to see their visual aid in near total blue nearly made me laugh out loud.

The other shock, for me, was the amount of sexuality.  But moreover, the way that the characters used sex as a weapon.  Not that the concept is shocking to me in any way; sex has been weaponized ever since the dawn of sex.  But the fact that there was so much blatant sexuality in the play was the shocking part.  Maybe that is just because my play cherry was popped tonight, and my lack of experience was showing.  But I thought it was very effective at capturing my attention, and keeping it throughout.

In all, I think I’ve learned that theater perhaps isn’t as dull, scary, boring, useless (insert scathing adjective here, here and here) as I once thought.  Maybe – and this is a very far out, hypothetical maybe – but maybe nonetheless, I might even go check out something else of the live variety (that isn’t a concert, I mean).

Of Soldiers and Players…

Professional athletes often get compared to soldiers. Think about how many times announcers refer to a football player or hockey player as a warrior. Or how many times hockey players “battle” in the corner. The term “sudden death” is thrown around about as many times as the Buffalo Sabres have thrown in the towel this season.

Truth is professional sports could not be further away from the reality of war. Professional athletes receive millions of dollars each year to play a game that most kids grow up playing for free in the streets of their neighborhood. Granted, most athletes risk injury on a nightly basis. But every single war veteran has risked his life. And the dividends just aren’t there.

There is a plague among war veterans today. PTSD is causing suicides within the forces at an alarming rate, and still, help is not readily available. Conversely, in sports, the concussion is a cancer that is growing out of control and into the media like never before. As players get bigger, stronger and faster, the injuries (most famously, concussions) increase.

Likewise, as weapons become more powerful, the potential for mass destruction and mass death is exponentially amplified. The amount of time it takes to create said destruction and death is reduced significantly in comparison to before the atomic age.

Okay, so the comparison can be made. But should it? Consider, you’re a 16-year-old boy who’s lied to the army about your age in order to gallantly serve your country. You’ve bought into the propaganda campaigns, and are ready to run heroically into battle and kill the fascist swine that threatens peace and freedom in the world. You carry the romance of the idea with you through your two weeks of basic training before they ship you off to Europe.

If you’re lucky, you’ll end up a reinforcement on a quiet corner of the western front that sees little action. But you’re not lucky; you’ve drawn the infantry card in the invasion force at Juno Beach. You think about your loved ones back home as the amphibious personnel transport carries you from the ships to the shores. You wait inside your tin can and realize that you’re too young for this; just a boy, lost amidst a game for men; a game that is too frightening even for some men. You watch as some men vomit on their boots while others pray. Some do nothing at all besides stare.

You realize how vulnerable you and your mates are inside your floating tin can as the eruption of German machine guns send wave after wave of bullets toward you. Death howls every second. It mocks you for thinking this could ever be romantic.

The transport door swings open and claps down into the water, and the front half of the men are instantly killed by machine gun fire. The rest charge down the ramp or jump out the sides and make their way furiously down the beach.

Suddenly a mortar shell explodes a few feet to your left and everything goes black and your ears ring with a hellish pitch. Your head pounds like the continuous driving bass of a heavy metal concert.

When your vision comes back, you think to yourself how beautiful this beach must have been before all this. You picture the pristine, white sand and the hot sun beating down on you. You see gorgeous women everywhere. Waiters come and take your drink order.

But the fallacy doesn’t last long. Another mortar shell blows up not far from you; a shocking slap back to reality. The Germans are relentless in their machine-gunning of the beach; after all, they are defending land that they believe to be theirs. You would do the same if the situation was reversed, wouldn’t you?

You’re lucky. You are one of the few who’ve made it up the beach. You can breathe. As you do, though, you look back at the slaughter-field behind you in awe. This epic battle has produced so many dead. The bodies have mounted everywhere. The beach that was white in your vision, is, in reality, brown, black and blood-red. The smell of death is like rotting bile mixed with the heaviness of iron, and is emanating from thousands of dead Canadian boys and men.

Now, you sit there clutching your gun with your back pressed tightly against the base of a German bunker, awaiting orders, watching the stained water roll in more dead soldiers and fish. You have no idea what is next. You have no idea whether what has just happened will help the allies gain ground in the invasion nor do you know if it will help win the war. All you know is that you are alive…for now.

Of course the comparison can be made between warriors and athletes, but should it?

Check out this post http://autopoieticsystems.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/this-remembrance-day/ written by me a year ago today on my other site.

The Dominator

Dominik Hasek was one of the best goaltenders to ever strap on the pads. He started his professional career with the Chicago Blackhawks playing only 25 games in two seasons (from ’90 to ’92). The next season, ’92 – ’93, he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres and stayed there until 2001. After that, he went on to play the next four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, with one season as a Senator after the first two.

The Dominator, as he was affectionately referred, played 735 regular season games with a record of 389 wins and 223 losses. That’s good enough for second place on quanthockey’s all time save percentage list; his save percentage was .992.

This is important because, when Hasek began his career in the NHL, the principal style for goaltenders was still ‘stand-up’ (not to be confused with comedy). The stand-up goalie would remain standing when facing a shot. This is in direct contrast to today’s popular ‘butterfly’ style.

The butterfly style is the primary position of most (actually all) goalies today. When facing a shot, the goalie will drop to his knees immediately and face the bottom of his skates toward the boards to his right and left (picture an inverted ‘T’). His pads will be perfectly perpendicular to the ice without leaving his five-hole open, and he will hold his glove and blocker slightly away from his body (click here to see a picture). This position covers the most amount of net area possible and is the base position goalies begin the save process from. Once in this position, the goalie will then react to the shot.

Hasek had an original style that had never been seen before (or since) in the NHL. Some likened it to a fish out of water. Hasek would, more often than not, flop to the ice and cover the bottom part of the net with any part of his body possible. He would use parts of his body to stop the puck that no other goalies would, like his back and his head. He was also known for dropping his stick right in front of himself when facing a breakaway or odd man rush. His unconventional style is legendary, and won him six Vezina Trophies, more than any other goalie in a career since Jacques Plante won six in eight years back in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s.

I urge you to watch this youtube compilation of his finest moments.

What does this have to do with anything? If you’re an aspiring writer, I urge you to use Hasek as inspiration to not be afraid to find your own style. Many people will try to contain your style, mold your style and shape it into something “conventional.” Dominik Hasek is the perfect example of success outside of the normal range of acceptable.

Amateur writers will constantly face pressure to conform to the status quo or the mainstream style of writing. I say, let the dominator show you that: if you know what you’re doing, and you execute properly, you can get away with going against the grain.

After all, what’s the fun in going with the flow when you can be like the salmon and swim against the current.