Is it possible that the NFL preseason has already begun? Jesus. Where did 2013 go? Seems like just yesterday the Barnstormer interns were cleaning up the office, post-New Year’s debauchery and now it’s nearly mid-August. Hockey will start soon. We’ll plan for a long winter. Christmas shopping will be the noise in our periphery.
Someone needs to invent a time slower downer. Go scientists!
Our guest this week is Tyler Munro. Tyler is a Toronto-based writer who can’t decide whether he likes music or basketball more, so he’s decided to make it his mission to write sarcastically about both. His Twitter account is missing an “e” because some jerk with a great name grabbed the full handle first, but you can still follow along at @tylrmunro.
Tyler joins Mike Spry, Dave Jaffer, and Ian Orti… Let’s Bus.
It’s the 25th anniversary of the Gretzky trade. Give us your best Gretzky story/anecdote/tale.
Munro — I was 13 when he played his last game and spent most of his prime wavering between indifference and hatred towards the game of hockey. I liked his restaurant as a kid. That’s pretty much it.
I’ve read since that he was pretty outspoken against fighting in hockey, and that’s something I can get behind. I have no problems with hard safe hits within the flow of the game, but hockey fights aren’t something I’ll ever appreciate. Aside from the fact that they perpetuate the notion of goons and marshmallow heads, they break up the rhythm of a sport I already can’t get into and for what? Most of the hockey fights I see are often little more than two goofs doing the cha-cha on skates, whacking each other in the helmet and then scooting off to the penalty box.
Jaffer — I was a Lemieux guy when I was a kid, but I didn’t hate Gretzky. I marveled at him. I worshipped him. I just liked Lemieux more because I was a righty. Or something. That said, I still think that Mario was the better player. Suffice it to say, I was the only Lemieux guy in my neighbourhood. Pittsburgh was my team before Toronto was based solely on Lemieux, who it should be noted, scored 199 points with like, no one else on his team. That year (1988-89), he scored 50 in 50, and had 13 SHG. THIRTEEN. That’s nuts!
Anyway, regardless of Mario’s greatness, I got hated on for not being a Gretzky guy, and that probably had to do with Pittsburgh’s general futility prior to the 1990s, and the fact that Mario was a Quebecker and Gretzky was, essentially, every kid I grew up with. (There was one kid, Ryan Robillard, who fucking idolized Steve Yzerman, though, and it should be noted that he did it way before the Red Wings became a dynasty.) And then when Pittsburgh started winning, I got called a bandwagon jumper even though I had my first Lemieux jersey in 1987 and my wore my Penguins t-shirt (bought in like, 1988) so often it was more or less a series of vaguely connected threads by the time Mario undressed the Minnesota North Stars. And I lived with it. And it was fine.
Now, years later, I look at their careers, post-hockey, and think Lemieux has had the more profound impact on the game and its culture, and he should be fucking proud of that. The most significant thing Gretzky did was his “everyone hates us” rant at the 2002 Olympics. And you know what? That was better than pretty much everything he did after leaving the Oilers.
Spry — I was a Gretzky guy when I was a kid, and hated Lemieux. But, somewhere along the line, I came to absolutely loath Gretzky and revel in the glow of Mario. Not sure what happened. Maybe it’s because Gretzky never really stood for anything outside the game. He is/was the very definition of the bland hockey player, never said anything of interest or intrigue. His daughter is Paris Hilton 2.0. He’s never pushed for more Canadian teams. He didn’t beat Marc Crawford senseless in Nagano.
Mario, on the other hand, came back once from cancer and once to save hockey in Pittsburgh, made the greatest assist I’ve ever seen and won a gold medal, and continues to be a valuable presence in the game. And I don’t know anything about his kids.
Orti — Okay, all of you are clearly on crack, with the exception of Tyler but who for the sake of the lunacy of Spry and Jaffer’s comments, I will lump into the cracksmokers corner if only for his indifference to hockey.
First of all, Spry, Mario never touched that puck in that great assist, which is what made it a great assist, but not an actual assist. Whatever. Jaffer, I feel for your experience growing up because I remember those days – of Gretzky or Lemieux camps, and Lemieux was admittedly better and peeling off the jock straps of defenders with his hands before scoring.
But to put Gretzky’s numbers in context. To get as many POINTS as Gretzky had assists, you would have to play 20 years in the NHL and score 100 points in each of those seasons. Then you have his ASSISTS record ONLY. There are another 800+ goals on top of that meaning the next person to break Gretzky’s points record will have to play roughly 30 years in the NHL scoring 100 points in each of those seasons. I don’t think there is an athlete whose records seem more unbeatable in any other sport except maybe Lance Armstrong’s seven TDF records…and…well…
Now if you’re looking for a Wayner anecdote then nothing beat the Nagano Olympics when in the semi-final shootout against the Czech Republic, coach Marc Crawford elected to SIT the only player who had scored more goals than any other player in the history of the game ON THE BENCH, and let Ray “Hands” Bourque shoot in his place.