Into The Fish Mines

Get your torsk-caked hands off me, Swedish oppressor!

by Dan MacRae

Aw NHL Naw

The 2013 IIHF World Hockey Championship has come and gone. I’ll give you a moment to minimize the Backdoor Teen Mom screen caps you have on your laptop and double-check that the World Hockey Championship did indeed happen this year *sits on porch swing until you return*. Yeah, I kinda blanked that it was happening this spring too.

Growing up as a bison-bitten tyke in the wilderness of Manitoba, I remember the World Hockey Championship feeling vaguely important. Like, if Canada lost to Sweden, we’d all be sentenced to work in King Carl Gustaf’s oppressive fish mines (I was not a bright child).  The tournament wasn’t always that memorable, but it felt like some sort of an event worth paying attention to.

Lately, the glamour, the shimmer, the fear of fish-mining seems to be slowly leaking out of the World Hockey Championship. Maybe it’s because Canada has consistently underwhelmed of late, or maybe it’s because the Olympics seem MAXIMUM IMPORTANT, but I just can’t be arsed to watch the tournament anymore. I blame the scourge of “having better things to do”.

This year, I only caught that one game, and Canada looked like they were going to lose to Slovenia. That was it. As a result, I missed out on soaking my brain in all the exciting European brands that were advertised in the weirdly lit rinks in Stockholm and Helsinki (Go Škoda!). I’m 80 per cent sure that most of the products being advertised out the ass at IIHF events don’t even exist. They’re probably secretly filthy European phrases. Like, “Zepter” is a hilarious inside joke about genital goo that only Europeans understand. “Hahahaha! We made Jordan Staal wear “Zepter” on his visor! Doesn’t he know that’s slang for grümstoun? LØL!”

At least if that were true, I might be bothered to check out a game or two while eating breakfast. Give me word goofz, Europeans!

What was I going on about? Oh, right. World Hockey Championship Fever: Catch It!

SECOND ROUND KNOCKOUT

Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but the second round of the playoffs kinda sucks. A li’l while back, I went on a big ramble about how you can still force yourself to enjoy the second round for a variety of reasons –some valid, even! Still, it takes a lot to keep the malaise away, and the second round is like a fucking tidal wave of the stuff.

The momentum of first-round excitement comes crashing to a halt in round two. There are fewer games, bigger gaps, more interviews on the mythology of hockey (GET READY TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT DARRYL SUTTER HAS TO SAY ABOUT “HEART” LIKE HE’S A CHARACTER FROM CAPTAIN PLANET), and an overwhelming sense of dread knowing that a team you hate is going to clog up the Stanley Cup Finals and leave you to spend that time watching MasterChef instead (do not fill that time with MasterChef).

The games haven’t been terrible, but the whole process can be a bit of a slog. You’re a butterscotch-coated delight for powering through it.

HOT PENGUIN ON BEAR ACTION

Still hanging in there for playoff watching? Good news! The Eastern Conference final looks pretty sexy and not just because Jaromir Jagr is a hunkasaurus rex!

A Pens/Bruins series ticks a lot of appealing playoff showdown boxes. It’s a series loaded with superstars, old dudes looking for their first cup ring, nostalgia porn (open the Google Chrome incognito window, because it’s hot 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Final action!), recognizable franchises and the occasional Slovakian giant.

Plus there’s the prospect that Marc-Andre Fleury might dress like a Victorian-era ghost and live in the rafters of the CONSOL Energy Center until this year’s playoffs blow over.

Note: Do not accept tea from Victorian-era ghost Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s all part of his trap.

AWARD TOUR

The nominees for this year’s NHL Awards have been announced. WHO WILL WIN THE ESSO PARTICIPATON MEDAL FOR GIVIN’R? I’m cool with the idea of the National Hockey League giving out awards to players for MEGA DEFENSE or GOOD ROOKIE MANNERS or whatever, but I’m always baffled why they have to have an awards show go alongside it. It combines the boredom of awards shows with the most boring athletes on the planet –I mean, the stars of the PGA and LPGA come across like fucking Street Fighter II characters by comparison.

Leagues like the NBA knock their award shit out during the playoffs, hand the winner their trophy at a press conference and it works just fine. The NHL’s all like NOPE! WE NEED TO HAVE A CEREMONY BECAUSE: WE’LL COME UP WITH A REASON LATER.

Are you curious what a league made up of Ed Hardy enthusiasts wears to an awards show? Do you have a hankering for F-list celebs that are only presenting a trophy so they can get 45 seconds of face-time on the NBC Sports Network? Can you only get aroused by banter about how “zany” Patrick Kane is? The NHL Awards are for you!

You’re a bad person for allowing such a terrible thing to happen to an innocent populace.

Dan MacRae is a human suit puppeted by a small but determined team of ocelots. You can follow him on Twitter: @danmacrae