There are two things I can't do fast enough:
One is tie my skates next to a salacious sheet of ice. That boyish impatience has stayed with me to this day. It can be 6 a.m. on a dry, cold January day, and that warm-blooded eagerness goes right to my fingers. If you threw a keyboard down in front of me in the middle of skate tying, I could type 700 words a minute.
The other is open a much anticipated new CD.
My third-favorite quote of all time is by Sir Thomas Beecham: "The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought."
Music provides a current of energy I need to live. So, combine my fervent CD anxiousness with the insane ways CDs are packaged in 2004 and you have an experience that is only more maddening than breaking a skate lace in the middle of said skate tying -- especially since I'm usually opening my new CD while DRIVING. Is anything more difficult to open than a new CD? The next time Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow get into a conference room they should seal the doors with that last piece of sticky tape that seals a CD case. What is that thing??!! And when a piece of it gets on your finger, you CANNOT get it off. It's like a strand of hair on a piece of soap. I hear they seal nuclear reactors with that substance. Are record companies doing everything possible to discourage CD purchases? It's not downloading, bad music, $18.99 for a new CD, or bad marketing that sent CD sales plummeting at the start of the decade. IT'S THAT DAMN BIONIC ADHESIVE!! After the TV show "MacGyver" was cancelled in 1992 the CD industry must have bought all of MacGyver's bonding strips at a "MacGyver" going-out-of-business sale.
The other benefit of a new, freshly opened CD is the sweet smell of the liner notes booklet. That's the first thing I do once I get the industrialized tape off the case. I bury my nose right in the booklet and inhale deeply. I did the same thing with those prehistoric copier machines we had in elementary school and I did the same thing when my Dad would take me to hockey games as a kid. He'd buy the hockey program "GOAL" and I would open up that thing and SNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIF deeply. I loved the smell of a fresh new hockey program. The only time it wouldn't give me a hockey high is when I realized I just inhaled deeply on an action photo of a sweaty Johnny "Pie" McKenzie.
Last week, I was heading to my mom and dad's for a visit. Before the two-hour trip, I rushed into Borders, plopped down my $12.99 and got U2's newest release, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb." Its title is a perfect metaphor for this CBA season. The negotiations between the owners and players are much like a bomb, figuratively speaking. If it goes off and obliterates the season, who knows what the damage will be? So, with that in mind, let's go through U2's 11 songs on their new disc as we wait for Gary and Bob to start dancing.
Money lyric: "A feeling is so much stronger than a thought."
A 3 minute, 15 second song of pure U2 worldly testosterone that makes nearly every other band sound like a local garage band. The above money lyric is the exact reason there hasn't been an NHL season thus far. The only way to save the season is to remove emotion from the equation. I don't know who decides the order of U2's songs, but they have fallen into a certain pattern in terms of tempo and style. I think I could do better. Baby names and song orders on mix CDs are two strengths of mine. Song order is what made "Joshua Tree" PERFECT. "Vertigo" is the equivalent of "Beautiful Day" on "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and the pattern continues from there. These songs are a little better, but the "How to ... " CD has actually made me appreciate ATYCLB more. That CD is a lot better than I gave it credit for.
2. Miracle Drug
Money lyric: "Freedom is a scent, like the top of a new born baby's head."
The money lyric is my favorite on the CD because the smell of a baby's head is my favorite scent in the world -- right before John "Pie" McKenzie. This is a lyric Bono would not have thought of when he was 21. Now that he is 44, it fits. And it explains the durability of the band. I like this song the more I hear it. What is the NHL's miracle drug to a CBA truce? An aggressive NHLPA offer to start. Put the pressure on the owners. Make the offer public. Spell it out. Let us see it.
3. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Money lyric: "And it's you when I look in the mirror/And it's you when I don't pick up the phone/Sometimes you can't make it on your own."
Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow have similar levels of stubbornness and one wonders if a mediator, or mediators of some sort, is the only solution. What about Brian Burke, Ken Dryden and Don Meehan? Burke was once an agent, a league VP and a GM. Dryden was a player and a front office suit. Meehan is the players' hawk. Some of his players are whales in terms of contracts, but his reputation is solid. Let's say the three take the players' proposal to Bettman next week. Bettman tweaks, and then the Three Wise Men go back to Goodenow. They talk about where the owners could move. Burke knows. Dryden knows. They've been there. That proposal is taken to Bettman and civilized conversations again are held to get a deal done. At that point, if the two sides can't get together, cancel the season.
4. Love and Peace or Else
Money lyric: "Baby don't fight/We can talk this thing through/Between me and you/I'll call or you'll phone."
This song was too high on the CD. I would have had it lower. It's the "Bullet the Blue Sky" song on the disc. That song was the fourth song on "The Joshua Tree." See the synergy? "Love and Peace" is nowhere near as powerful as "Bullet," and it will play much better live than on a CD, but it is good and grimy. Imagine Bettman or Goodenow singing this lyric in a Mississauga karaoke bar? Speaking of "Love and Peace," I believe that tickets for the first game after the lockout should be free. The players will give up their pay for the first game back. The owners will provide a high-quality item as a giveaway. The players will come out for the warm-up and give the fans a standing ovation around the ice and they all will throw autographed team jerseys, provided by the owners, into the stands. Love and Peace or Else.
5. City of Blinding Lights
Money lyric: "Can you see the beauty inside of me?/What happened to the beauty I had inside of me?"
This is a great good morning song and should have led off the disc. The way it fades in and builds and builds, and is immediately listenable would have made it an ideal leadoff hitter. This won't be a single because it's too long, but it's pure U2. It is an ideal summer song. The above money lyric reminds us of the NHL. What happened to the beauty and fun? Well, it's been smothered by money, corporate ticket holders, arenas that are too big, stick clutching and hooking of those with and without the puck, and less net to shoot at. A new CBA needs drastic on-ice change as part of the NHL's civil war reconstruction.
6. All Because of You
Money lyric: "I like the sound of my own voice/I didn't give anyone else a choice."
This is the best song on the CD and should be the next video/single. If Henry Kissinger melted every U2 song in the band's discography into a metallic ball for the purpose of cultivating one song, planted the songball of matter, watered it, and put it under a heat lamp, he would reap this "All Because Of You." It should have been the second song on the CD. Having this song sixth is like batting Manny Ramirez sixth. A waste. Playlist order matters! "All Because of You." Great title. Got me to thinking, why are YOU a hockey fan? I became a fan for life all because of my Dad who would listen to his favorite team on AM radio and write down all the game stats in a notebook. As always, I was by his side for every goal.
7. A Man and a Woman
Money lyric: "I know that everything is not OK/But you're like honey on my tongue"
I could do without this song to tell you the truth. In my mind it's the weakest on the disc. Do this: When you buy the new U2 CD, burn a CD or download it on your iPod and put the songs in this order for a better experience. I'm better at this than I am naming the top of a newborn baby's head.
1. City of Blinding Lights
3. All Because of You
4. Crumbs from Your Table
5. One Step Closer
6. Love and Peace
7. Miracle Drug
8. Original of the Species
9. A Man and a Woman
10. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
There. Much better.
8. Crumbs from Your Table
Money lyric: "Where you live should not decide/Whether you live or whether you die."
Doesn't the NHL have to go to full blown revenue sharing to support teams like Nashville and Pittsburgh? Can the Pens and Preds even afford a $30 million payroll? Or are they just mice nibbling at crumbs from the table of the Red Wings, Avalanche and the like? I don't understand why massive revenue sharing hasn't been a part of the equation. You don't need revenue sharing in a 16 or 21 team league. But 30?
9. One Step Closer
Money lyric: "I'm 'round the corner from anything that's real/I'm across the road from hope."
Noel Gallagher of Oasis gave Bono the phrase that spawned this tune. The above money lyric is a good phrase for the NHL's current state of affairs. But as we've been saying here, an aggressive offer will be coming soon from the players in a week or so. It will put all the pressure on the owners to make a deal out of the offer. I still remain confident we will have hockey this year.
10. Original of the Species
Money lyric: "Some things you shouldn't get too good at/like smiling, crying and celebrity/Some people got way too much confidence baby."
Another thing you shouldn't be too good at is producing good PR, because it usually is masking the truth. The NHL says it wants to have an even playing field economically, and that has driven their PR machine. But remember, there is only one reason we are having this work stoppage: to lower and control labor costs. Every corporation does it every now and then.
Money lyric: "Take these hands/Teach them how to carry/Take these hands/don't make a fist, no."
A spiritual finale in the vein of "40," "MLK," and "Mothers Of The Disappeared." A fitting ending to a wonderful work of art and a good theme song for the NHL and NHLPA to adopt. "Yahweh" is an expository song of cleansing and hope. There is no need anymore to make a fist in this negotiation. The time is now for the NHLPA to make an aggressive offer. Then the owners need to convene and go point by point over the proposal and give an aggressive counteroffer calmly, professionally and purposefully. This is an exciting time. They will clarify themselves and we will soon know who wants to dismantle the atomic bomb. And who doesn't.
Life of Podes
Shjon Podein is once again playing professional hockey in Sweden, just as he did last year. Podes was on a point-a-game pace (1-4-5) since the break for the Karjala Cup, the goal being a game winner. Växjö has won four (one OT win) of the games. The only loss was in overtime. This season, Podes has seven points (3-4-7) in 12 games. He has also managed 24 penalty minutes, 28 shots on goal and is plus-1. Though he is a winger, Podes still has taken 45 faceoffs and has won 20 of them.
Thanks Daniel Elma!
Podes represents a percentage of the union that is the most vulnerable in this work stoppage and who is getting hurt the most -- the third- and fourth-line grinders. He sent me this e-mail Sunday afternoon:
I've got to ask some questions as a true fan. Let me know if you can help out. Starting with the owners:
1. Why does Gary Bettman not let the owners talk? It seems that as a fan I would love to hear what some of the most powerful people in our nation, not only hockey, have to say on this lockout. A gag order makes the owners look like they have something to hide. Am I wrong?
2. How about a fair and partial arbitrator like baseball was going to bring in? Is that only fair for the nation's past time and not for hockey? I know both sides do not agree to (have) one, but when do we take the availability of negotiating skills away from those who are not willing to negotiate?
For the players:
1. I would like to know, is this a true union? Is it fair to the union as a whole, that some guys have the opportunity to go overseas and make a lot of money when many guys in the union don't have the same chance? It is as if the union caters to the more affluent players.
2. How does the union expect everyone to adhere to the same rules when some are benefiting overseas when others are not able to?
You bet, Amy. And to keep my hope alive, everyday I've been listening to Radiohead's "Optimistic" from their CD "Kid A."
If you try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough
If you try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough
I'd really like to help you, man
I'd really like to help you, man
And now this messed up millionaire
Floating around on a prison ship
My friend Mike is in Iraq right now at Baghdad International Airport doing fire/rescue duty for the U.S. Army. We played hockey together since we were in the seventh grade, and he's a big hockey fan. The point that I'm trying to get across here is that after a couple of beers, you can't just look at any random person, blurt out the words Sandy Moger, and expect them to understand who in the hell you are talking about. Only a true hockey fan knows who Sandy Moger is and feels the nostalgia of such a name. And when you said that name around Mike or any one of my friends, we'd all keel over laughing our butts off while our girlfriends all thought we had lost it. At which point we'd look at them, yell the name John Rohloff (or any other ex-Bruin), and start laughing even harder. God bless the sport, and my friend Mike.
Hey, Mike, tell your buddy Mike that I said hi, thanks for his courage and grit, and ... Rick Zombo.
I am an Australian who fell in love with the game back in '92 when the Penguins won the Cup. Since then, I have followed the team closely and have been heartbroken by this labor dispute. To not be able to watch Mario (even at 80 percent) play the game is so disappointing. It's very hard to get a hockey fix here in my country, as there is just no coverage on the package that ESPN sends down to us. I need my hockey. I have a sick feeling there will be no season this year and poor standouts like Sidney Crosby will miss out on the thrill of being drafted.
My three favorite Men at Work songs: "I Can See It In Your Eyes," "Overkill" and "Blue For You." My three favorite INXS songs: "Shine Like It Does," "Need You Tonight" and "New Sensation."
Last week Dafna Stempel wrote in asking for help tracking down Frank Fredickson's number. As usual, the intelligent and caring readers of this column offer their help:
Here is some info for Danfa. As a hobby, I love reading about old time hockey and baseball. From what I know, and can gather, there were no names or numbers on the backs of the Falcons sweaters in the '20s. The Falcons team was made up of Icelandic people who immigrated to Canada. Because they were looked down upon as minorities, they had to form their own leagues and teams. In 1920, they won their league, played for the Allen Cup, against the University of Toronto (I think), and defeated them. Numbers started to show up in the mid- to late-'20s. Sweaters were originally more practical than anything else, because of the warmth. As the NHL evolved, so did the sweater, into a jersey. The first change was adding numbers to them, to help identify players. Since they were helmetless, identity wasn't a huge issue, and names were not originally part of the jersey, but evolved over time.
Now, Fredrickson wore No. 5, when he played for the Bruins. I would think that would be as good a number as any to use.
Your reader Dafna Stempel might want to know that Frank Frederickson wore No. 5 when he was with the Bruins. I'm not sure if he had the same number earlier in his career with the Falcons and with the first Canadian Olympic team in Antwerp. Your readers requesting baby name help might be interested to know that his full name was Sigurdur Franklin Frederickson -- a nice Icelandic name.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
I am a law student at DePaul Law in Chicago doing a paper for my sports law class on whether or not the legal system should step in during on ice incidents like the Todd Bertuzzi or Alexander Perezhogin ones. I'm debating on which stance I should take. On one hand, I think sucker punches that seriously injure players should be prosecuted, because if I sucker punched a co-worker I'd be going to jail that day. Why should the legal system ignore what happens on the ice? Why is that job different than any other one? On the other hand, there's the age-old argument of letting players police themselves. Like when Bertuzzi plays again, he'll have to look out for Peter Worrell. Please let me know your opinion on this subject. I appreciate any help!
This is such a difficult debate, Mark. My instinct is to say that the law generally doesn't belong on the field of sport, unless one night P.J. Axelsson pulls a machete out of his hockey pants and beheads Brendan Witt during a line change. That would be a clear-cut legal matter. But sport, especially hockey, is a physical endeavor where adrenaline, emotion, confrontation, collision and antipathy is marketed and encouraged. However, if Steve Moore were to never play hockey again because of his hit from Bertuzzi, should he not be compensated in some way for lost wages because of a clear-cut cheap shot? Who should pay? Bertuzzi? The NHL? The Canucks? A combination? That's when it becomes sticky.
The other night I caught a Hartford Wolf Pack vs. Springfield Falcons game on TV. I called all my friends! I saw the goalies were only allowed to handle the puck between the two lines behind the net! I saw the thick new blue lines! The game was much faster, and I even got to see a shootout! You know what my one problem was? I couldn't see the puck with all the advertisements on the ice. I was watching and then the puck became camouflaged by a "Red Lobster" logo.
I've always been against on-ice signage. Hockey fans don't have an issue following the puck because they understand flow. But recruiting fans would be easier if they all could follow the puck. Bright white ice with no lobster claws or tartar sauce obstructing the biscuit would help. Plus, the game would look better for the passionate fan. This is one of those easy decisions that obliterate the brain because others can't seem to see the elementary benefits.
I fully support the call for Cam Neely to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. I have never been a Boston Bruins fan, but Neely was the player I admired the most when I was growing up, and I have never forgiven Ulf Samuelsson for robbing the game of such a talent. One of my most cherished hockey cards of all time is Neely's O-PEE-CHEE rookie card with the Canucks.
Ryan Makela (no relation to Mikko)
This has nothing to do with Ryan's e-mail, but when I bought my first car, I never heard of an oil change. I was never with my Dad when he got oil changes and I don't recall, as a kid, seeing them advertised on TV like today. Well, 45,000 miles after buying my first car my cousin Eddie Buccigross mentioned he got an oil change. I said, "What's that?" He proceeded to explain an oil change and then mentioned you are supposed to get one every 3,000 miles. I was 42,000 miles over. My 1987 Nissan Maxima went on to accumulate 250,000 miles and I sold it for 500 bucks. All of which leads me to believe that while oil itself is vital to an engine, oil changes every 3,000 miles may be overrated. Your thoughts?
Three excellent cover tunes you MUST check out: Revolting Cocks' cover of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," Mushroomhead's cover of Seal's "Crazy" and Richard Cheese's lounge-like cover of Disturbed's "Down with the Sickness." You won't regret it. I'll be listening to these songs on the road trip to Scott Cavin's BBQ in St. Louis, which I still need directions for.
Is there ANYTHING better on the web than Mapquest? Name anything else that has made life easier and costs nothing. Mapquest, TiVo, iPods, NHL Center Ice. These things have NO downside. By the way, I forgot James Taylor, Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon's remake of "What a Wonderful World."
So far, the owners have failed to meet my standards. Maybe other people can trust financial information from a group of billionaires that previously ripped off the players' pension fund for $42 million, even if Forbes says they under reported revenues by almost $200 million. Maybe others can unquestionably trust a group that once included Bruce McNall. Maybe others can ignore that these same owners twice renewed the old CBA saying it was good for the game. Maybe others are OK with the fact that the owners want a financial framework that guarantees them a healthy profit regardless of how well or poorly they run their teams, when no other business owners get that level of guarantee. Maybe others are OK with the owners withholding our entertainment so they can get a guaranteed higher percentage of our money.
Maybe others are not like me ... and this is probably a good thing in many eyes.
John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is firstname.lastname@example.org.