Well, a week passed. So that happened. The NFL had, perhaps, its most embarrassing moment ever. NHL players flocked to take jobs from their brethren. No one on the Blue Jays wrote anything offensive on their faces. Summer ended. Fall began. The leaves are changing. The winter is promised. Across Canada and the American north, those in fear of the cold flock to find partners, suitable or not, to keep them warm until April.
This week on the Round Bus, we’re joined by Ann Ward. Ann is a writer, editor, conference organizer, and breakfast sandwich enthusiast. She lives in Montreal, but flies away often when duty calls. You can find her most recent writing in Dragnet and Contemporary Verse 2.
Now, let’s get on the Bus…
Fail Mary, Golden Taint, GoldenGate, the call in Seattle giving the Seahawks a disputed win over the Pack leads to end of NFL lockout of officials
Ward — I think it’s nice that the NFL is giving NHL players something to read about while their kids’ hot nannies are busy packing their bags for Switzerland.
Orti — Okay I’m fresh back from the spa so my brain is right humid, and I’m two glasses deep in the Shiraz and my bag feels like a body of warm rain. This whole caper reminds of the Chicago White Sox of the 20’s thing (do I have the team right?). One shoddy ref makes a call totally different to the guy standing 12 inches away from him and you tell me the fix isn’t in to make the underdog win? Any precedents? Let’s ask past NBA refs and some FIFA refs if this thing is possible. Oh and Kerry Fraser. Let’s ask him if he’s ever taken money to make THE LA KINGS ADVANCE TO THE STANLEY CUP FUCKING FINALS. Sorry. That’s just the heat talking.
Forbes — I just keep coming back to this: how cynical. How cynical of the supposed custodians of the games we love to continually treat us like fools, like simple consumers. To run out an officiating crew that was so obviously unqualified to run an NFL game was insulting to fans at best, dangerous for players at worst. That they did it in every game for three full weeks is an unambiguous admission of just how much the league values both of those groups. They hoped it wouldn’t backfire, but how could it not? And when it did, it did so in spectacular fashion. My pinko, labour movement-loving heart fluttered like a bird in its cage, at the same time that my football-loving self was losing his shit. Crazy moment, at once thrilling and enraging and, if you were a locked-out real NFL referee, all that was required to prove your point. I assume Roger Goodell was on the phone within minutes, and that only the fine print and legalese pushed the announcement of an agreement all the way to Wednesday.
Spry — If only the NHL lockout could reach a similar axis of suck. Frankly, I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Did anyone do any kind of study on blown calls from last season at the same juncture? Frankly, I think Vegas orchestrated The Call on Monday night.
Seriously, though. Dear NHL: Piss or get off the pot.
Ibeas — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if fans actually feel their favourite sport would be diminished by the replacement of human officials with attractive robots, those fans should probably question why they follow that sport in the first place. It’s like being in a relationship with someone because they’re a “fun drunk”.
Oilers owner Darryl Katz threatens moving the team, visits Seattle
Forbes — Nothing surprises me. The Oilers are no more integral to the identity of Edmonton than the Dodgers were to Brooklyn, which is to say: very. But teams are capitalist ventures, and they follow money like Orti follows a cheese peddlar. Be worried, Edmontonians.
Ward — I think we should all be more worried about whether to cheer for EV Zug or HC Lugano. (Put them together and you’ve basically got the name of that Algerian Mafioso I dated in ’09.) I’m working on a chart that divides us all into Zug or Lugano supporters, so nobody needs to worry about this Katz crap. You like the Oilers? You’re a Zug fan. Done. Next.
Spry — Leave it to the NHL to find a major dick in a locked-out league filled with dicks. Darryl Katz will never move the Oil to Seattle. Ever. Never. It’s all posturing, and it’s so lame, straight from the Rich Owners and How to Take Advantage of Communities Handbook. I have a better chance of re-marrying Kelley O’Hara than the Oil does of moving. Alberta is Canada’s richest province, and Edmonton is its second coldest/most boring city (Winnipeg is number one). If the Oilers left, there would be no other reason to live there. It would deteriorate into a ghost town. The polar bears would take it over. Wolves would be on the city council. Stray dogs would live in trendy condos.
Orti — Spry is on crack and I’ll explain it in one world: The Great One. Parenthetically, I’m about done with this notion of doing it for the community and doing it for culture and doing it for legacy and doing it for pride and history and whatnot. It doesn’t work like that. A multi-million dollar corporation doesn’t stick around because of culture. It sticks around because of money. Canadian taxes are high and there’s probably a sweet deal (see: corporate welfare) going on in Washington state that looks appealing to Katz. Is anyone forgetting that this is the team that traded Wayne Gretzky – the very trade that made everyone basically accept that ANYTHING is possible in this world. What do you think Osama was telling these young jihadists who were expressing doubt that 9/11 couldn’t be pulled off? Exactly. He basically told them if the Great One could get traded then anything is possible. Then all hell broke loose. I blame the Oilers organization for a lot of things. This Seattle stuff is no surprise.
Spry — Trading Gretzky was easy. Moving a franchise that is a city’s only reason to exist? That’s next to impossible. You are on crack, sir. You are. On. Crack. Sir.
Ibeas — I have nothing to say on the matter, except to point out the irony of a much-beloved and storied sports franchise being moved to Seattle.
Forbes — Real quickly, I’d like to distance myself from the opinions about Edmonton expressed by some of my compadres here. I’ve been there a couple of times, have some family there, always enjoyed it, Whyte Avenue et al. I got nothing but love for Edmonton.
Spry — Suck up.
Oktoberfest is upon us. Should/is binge drinking a sport?
Orti — If any young male in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario (home of biggest Oktoberfest outside the Weimer Republic) can answer this without saying WHHHOOOOOOOOOO! YEEEEAAAAHHHHH! then I’ll say yes. If not, no.
Spry — It’s not a sport? I gotta fix my resume.
Ward — I say since we’re all already in Switzerland most of the time to support Glen Metropolit and the NLA, it would be crazy not to hop on the autobahn and head for some nonstop beer drinking. Seriously, Lugano is closer to Munich than Berlin, Orti. I mean we’re going to drink anyway.
Spry — Ann, do you know Kelley O’Hara?
Orti — Whoa, my mancrush is only a drive away?! Glen Metrowayupallinit!
Forbes — Has nobody commercialized Oktoberfest the way they have St. Patrick’s Day, with those idiotic countdown clocks in pubs, and that “364 practice days” nonsense? Some fruit seems too ripe to have not been picked, and sometimes late-stage capitalism lets me down.
Ibeas — Only if you consider NASCAR a sport. They’re practically the same thing. Think about it.
The 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series
Orti — On a serious note, a lot of Russians see this as a dark stain on the sport and their country. It’s true. And the thing is, and the thing no one in Canada wants to ever admit, is that they’re right. Hockey is a truly beautiful sport and the Russians played it with grace and style – the kind of hockey we all love to see and expect from first and second liners these days. But what Canada did was cheat. Yes I’ll say it. Bobby Clarke broke the ankles of their best player, Valeri Kharlamov, and put him out of the tournament in game six when the Russians were up 3 games to 1 (one game was a tie). Kharlamov was bullied and taunted the entire game and then slashed out of the tournament eventually leading to Russia’s loss. My heart is with the Russians here and I see no pride in this victory – especially compared to the great and graceful wins of 1987’s Canada Cup, and the Winter Games of 2002, and 2010. Keep in mind Russia was a shitty place to live for Russians during the Cold War. None of them liked it. But like us, they loved hockey, and instead of seeing a great tournament they got their sport shat on by a bunch of goons.
Forbes — I have never watched the Summit Series because it forms such a vital component of our national character — the creation myth of modern Canada, along with Vimy Ridge, Expo 67, The Beachcombers, and Stompin’ Tom — that I fear that the reality will pale next to the version I have built in my head where Paul Henderson scored the winning goal and then killed 7 Soviets with his stick and then planted the maple leaf at centre ice while Don Messer fiddled the anthem before they all flew away in the Arrow.
The Plains of Abraham, Queenston Heights, Passchendaele, the FLQ crisis, the Summit Series — these things made us who we are, and they deserve all the commemorative stamps and special quarters we can give them.
Spry — Oh, for the love of Jesus. Last week I played a drinking game with myself. Every time I heard the name “Paul Henderson” I did a shot of Jack. I was hammered by 8:42AM everyday. The other night, hockey journos were live-tweeting one of the summit games. From 1972. It’s as if it was the only accomplishment of our great nation. Did they all forget about poutine, universal healthcare, and the systematic oppression of aboriginal peoples? Yeesh.
Ibeas — Seeing as how I’m not from around here, and my upbringing wasn’t steeped in the local narratives, I’ve always sort of pictured the Summit Series as a glorification of assholery, and left it at that.
Ward — Ugh, the Summit Series. Once I was on a plane to Montreal and they had Game 8 on those awesome individual touch screen TVs (the “Paul Rudd Machines”, Spry). I happened to be sitting next to a super-fan of the series who insisted we watch the whole thing. We kept having to simultaneously pause it so that he could explain that if Bobby Clarke hadn’t slashed Kharlamov, the Soviets would have won and Paul Henderson wouldn’t be jack shit. Or something like that. (As an aside, I recently agreed to marry the dude who was sitting beside me on the plane, and so could probably play Spry’s Henderson drinking game with similarly swift results.
Spry — “Paul Rudd Machines”. When Ann and I worked together for a cultural relief non-profit a lifetime ago, we were flying into Nairobi, when the pilot announced that the lights weren’t working at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. We were rerouted to some tiny airport near Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. As the plane went down, we watched Paul Rudd movies, and exclusively Paul Rudd movies, popped sleeping pills, and hoped for the best. True story. Later, we got drunk, mixing pharmaceuticals and alcohol against the best wishes of custom and prudence. Paul Rudd, to the best of my knowledge, still makes films.
Ward — That was terrifying, that landing. Just for that we deserve free tickets to the Stein Hoisting Contest and all the Augestiner we can drink. (Apparently that’s the German beer that’s closest to Labatt 50.)
Spry — I’m in.
60 NHL players have signed or agreed to contracts in Europe
Ibeas — “We’re going to protest the owners depriving us of money by going overseas and depriving others of money.”
Forbes — Classy. Solidarity among players. Well, certain players. Just the richest ones, actually.
Ward — Honestly, my main concern was that they would be taking work away from Metropolit. That’s really the first thing I was thinking when the lockout became a reality. Well, right after mentally checking to see if Jeff Halpern was okay. (I’m capable of astral projection in times of high stress.) If this continues, I may have to expand my chart to include the DEL and the KHL. I’m running out of space on the page under ZUG.
Spry — Bastards, all of them. I miss Metro, Annie. I miss him. Remember that time in the bar I thanked him for making my spring? That was awesome.
Orti — What’s the insurance rate of a locked out player playing in the K-Hole? Who insures any man that steps on one of those team planes?
The Final Word
Spry — I miss hockey.
Orti — That ain’t a nap, that’s depression.
Ibeas — The happier I get, the more outraged I become. What gives?
Forbes — This was fun. Best Round Bus ever? Come back soon, Ann Ward!
Ward — Aww! Hopp Schwiiz! Hopp Schwiiz! Hopp Schwiiz!