We know that if we're getting the band back together we are going to have to bash out our big hit before we get to our new single that no one wants to hear and songs from our difficult third album that only the hardcores bothered to buy. That's the way the nostalgia circuit works.
So, early in our set, we're going back to where it all started: the Nixon to our Dr. Thompson, the Damon Albarn to our Noel Gallagher, the Jannety to our Michaels, the Oshawa to our Meth, the Sunday morning to our Babycham and Jack Daniels chasers. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this one is called Damien Cox.
Now, some of you may be surprised to hear that our relationship with Damien is not entirely Itchy and Scratchy. Sure we may have made our name (literally) by bashing his work, but when we crawled out of our mom's basements a few years back to try our hand at some real journalism, Damien graciously granted us an interview for a piece we were writing about the centuries-old battle between bloggers and mittenstringers.
Since then he's banned us from following his Twitter account and dismissed us as "PPP's girlfriends" , but we still remember that beautiful moment of bi-partisanship when we filed away the dick jokes and cast aside our differences for a bit of filthy lucre (if you're wondering how much it costs for us to sell out, by the way, the answer is $120).
In that spirit of togetherness, we'd like to offer our advice to Damien as he joins the thousands of mittenstringers, ex-players, failed GMs, and interchangeable square-jawed hair-gel spills from Alberta who fill the airwaves 24 hours a day on the ever-expanding black hole of Sportsnet TV channels that will soon engulf the entire universe.
You see, Damien has had more than 20 years on the Leafs beat to grind up tree after tree with hoary old chestnuts like draft-schmaft, 1967, and blame-the-fans. He can wind up Leafs nation like a wristwatch, every hour on the hour, without ever having to try. But now, on Sportsnet, he'll be expected to piss off the fans of the five other Canadian teams as well. And who better than us, the Rolling Stones-of-hating-the-
In order to make this crash course as simple as possible, Damien, we'll even guide you into this world through the laid-back easy-feeling sounds of your beloved Eagles.
Like the Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens are hounded 24 hours a day by a bloodthirsty media corps always looking for someone to blame when things are going wrong and something to complain about when things are going well. You may have to up your game a bit to compete with this crew. Also, keep in mind that the Rogers Cup takes place in Montreal, so you will be seen in a press box there at least once a year. Habs fans are known to get violent, so be careful.
Hopefully these pointers can help you out:
1. Call the CopsIf you thought that an 18 year-old kid taking pics of his cock and having them leaked by some third-rate Canadian version of Perez Hilton (aka, the Toronto Sun) was the moral nadir of the hockey world, wait until you get a load of Montreal - the Jersey Shore of hockey, the only place in the world that can twist Shawn Ryder's melon, man. Strippers! Cocaine! Hells Angels! Strippers! Last call at 3 am! Strippers! Russian Mobsters! Carey Price! Cocaine! The Venus de Milo could bang this drum at will; you will look like John Bonham.
2. That’s $613,095.25 per goal in 09-10
Even your most casual reader is acutely aware of your fascination with numerology – particularly the importance of Canada’s centennial year. But while you’ve made your name in TO by squawking "1967" over and over again, you’ll need to memorize a few other numbers if you want to rile up Habs fans. Like 7,357,143 - Scott Gomez's salary cap hit through 2013-2014. Or '0' - the number of people in the world besides Bob Gainey who would have made that trade.
3. If they were an Eagles song they would be...
Hotel California. We think this song is a cautionary tale about hedonism and excess taking its toll, which can result in people losing themselves in a nightmarish world where one can only re-live their past glories because there is little possibility of future happiness. We think that, but we're not sure because the lyrics are a mix of flash-fried hippy mysticism and over-written teenage-journal nonsense. Whatever. The Habs are the Eagles of hockey, so any song would have worked. Also, wine isn't a spirit.
Unlike in Montreal, you'll be the first journalist to ever say anything negative about the team. Well, the white players on the team anyway. You've already done some yeoman's work winding up Sens fans in the past, but here is some new material to help you along.
1. The Blame Game
This one will be easy, since you can just do a find-and-replace on a bunch of your old columns and insert Muckler for Fletcher, Melnyk for Peddie and Elmer Fudd for Brian Burke. Plus, there's a dressing room cartel in Ottawa that is so self-interested and destructive to the team's future that they make the Muskoka Five look like Thích Quảng Đức. When it comes to assigning blame for the current disaster in the nation’s capital, you'll be able to do more finger-pointing than Kyle Wellwood in a donut shop.
2. Grab Them by the Year
Everyone knows that Ottawa Senators fans can be divided into two camps: those who fans who believe that the Senators last won a Stanley Cup in 1927, and the two fans who rationally accept that the current incarnation of the Senators has as much claim to that Stanley Cup as Kim Jong-Il has to the next Nobel Peace Prize.
3. If they were an Eagles song they would be...
Desperado. A listless ballad about a selfish loner who forsakes any chance at happiness and instead chooses to go it alone, while a lack of heart results in their undoing. Key lyric: "You're losing". Also, this song fucking sucks.
1. Where have you gone, Igor Ulanov?
Since the glory days of Gretzky, Coffey, Mess, Kurri, and Gary...
the Oilers have become famous as a place players avoid like the plague. While the Oilers often draft well, fans are accustomed to eventually seeing stars skate out of down for bigger paydays and better teams and not-living-in-Edmonton scenarios elsewhere. So, the opposite of draft, schmaft - maybe you can get "free agent, schmee bagent" to catch on? Also, start speculating about where Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are going to be playing in five years. The fans will love that.
2. Time for a Change
For Ron Low to Kevin Lowe, the Oilers coaching and front office has featured more 80s retreads than TVTropolis's prime-time schedule. Unfortunately, their performance has been more Balki Bartokomos than Head of the Class, amirite? This is a perfect opportunity for you to plug one of your buddies who has never accomplished anything running a team, say Colin Campbell, for the GM job ad nauseum while trying to sell it to the fans as a "fresh start". I bet Doug Maclean would give you $100 every time you looked meaningfully at him after saying "fresh start". Of course, given the way Oilers fans feel about Tambellini right now, they might welcome Doug Maclean with open arms. It's that ugly.
3. If they were an Eagles song, they'd be....
New Kid in Town. "There’s talk on the street, it sounds so familiar. Great expectations, everybody’s watching you. People you meet they all seem to know you, Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new. Johnny-come-lately, the new kid in town, everybody loves you, so don’t let them down. ... But after a while you’re looking the other way. It’s those restless hearts that never mend." I bet Eberle's grandfather thinks this song is the jam. Like any Oilers rebuild, this song never goes anywhere, and it lasts forever.
1. Give Calgary fans the Welcome Mats
Nothing winds up the fans like castigating their hero and suggesting the local squadron tosses him over the side. Time to jettison Iginla and get on with the well-deserved rebuild (the Flames draft record is positively Leafsian, so remember names like Daniel Tkaczuk, Matt Pelech, Brent Krahn, Eric Nystrom, Chuck Kobasew, and Kris Chucko, and prepare to deploy them constantly). After all, what has Iginla ever won? Two Olympic golds? Well, those were with good players. Remember that blaming a team's failings on its best player, not the succession of Matt Stajans and Dustin Boyds who play on his line, has been the mittenstringers' go-to move since Orville P. Inktosser was wearing out typewriter ribbons suggesting that the Yankees get rid of that cocky hot-dog eating kid who struck out all the time.
2. Try The McCabe on Jay Bouwmeester
You remember this one? Take one offensive defenceman failing to live up to a big contract. Point out over and over again that he sucks and doesn't have what it takes to help a winner. When he is traded for pennies on the dollar, wonder aloud why the front office couldn't get maximum value for him.
3. If they were an Eagles song, they'd be...
The lesser known instrumental track "Journey of the Sorceror" from 1975's One Of These Nights, because former GM Darryl Sutter hired Mike Keenan as coach after they grew close while attending the same satanic coven just outside of Red Deer. I mean, do you have a more logical explanation for why that happened?
1. Tell the Truth
Point out that a team of divers, cheap shot artists, and crybabies following a cynical, churlish template set down by GM Mike Gillis and coach Alain Vigneault are not to be emulated by other Canadian teams, or embraced by other Canadian fans, but should be considered as a kind of Flyers-west, and ignored until their inevitable second round exit. They actually added gutless coward Maxime Lapierre at the deadline, apparently deciding they needed to get douchier for the playoffs. Given that you're dealing with a media/fanbase (the two are basically impossible to tell apart) that deals with suggestions that Ryan Kesler and his 17.7 shooting percentage might not be the reincarnation of Jean Beliveau as something between a blood libel and evidence of the evil NHL plot to screw over the team (google "Tony Gallagher conspiracy" sometime), they'll be burning you in effigy on Hastings St in no time.
The Canucks this year are heavily publicizing their 40th anniversary season without a Cup, which is kind of like Lyndon LaRouche celebrating his 10th presidential bid or Charlie Brown commemorating his 1000th attempt to kick the football. This is a city that still rhapsodizes over the 1982 Canucks, the 2011 Seahawks of football. Except, unlike those Canucks, the Seahawks actually beat a team with a winning record in the playoffs, the Canucks beating three under .500 squads before getting hammered by the Islanders. You might wonder aloud if the hordes of fans who are packing the GM Place and lining up to buy the new uniform the team switched to every 18 months are giving ownership an excuse to avoid winning the Stanley Cup. Wait, why would they not want to win? Winning means even more money. Come to think of it, this point is totally ridiculous and no one would every buy it.
3. If they were an Eagles song, they'd be...
"James Dean". The Canucks don't get as much national publicity as say, the Leafs or the Canadiens (ask a Canucks fan about this if you have some spare time, like if for instance you are cellmates doing life and have the next thirty years to kill), so few people living in central Canada fully appreciate just how cringeworthy all aspects of the franchise are, from "We Are All Canucks" to Gillis bleating, from Roberto Luongo diving to Alex Burrows breathing. Remember this is the franchise that gave Todd Bertuzzi and Matt Cooke their start. (Who was the GM who drafted those guys, anyways?). Similarly, "James Dean" is rarely mentioned with other truly execrable Eagles hits like "Take It Easy" or "Life In The Fast Lane", one listen and you know this is right up there them:
We'll talk about a low-down bad refrigerator,
You were just too cool for school
Sock hop, soda pop, basketball and auto shop,
The only thing that got you off was breakin' all the rules.
Jesus. Dave Pratt probably cranks this while he pulls on his leather pants and gets ready for another night hitting on divorcees at the Roxy.
Hopefully these pointers can help you out as you go national. Good luck Damien, and we look forward to seeing little Cox Blocs spring up from Bamfield, BC to Badger, Newfoundland. If you have any questions, or need more advice, just drop a "Damien here" in the comments and we’ll get right back to you.
Kim "Kimothy" Jorn and Goddfrey S. Till, Esq.