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The Schadenfreude Hockey League: May Day Edition

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Let us laugh at our rivals, that we may feel joy.

Ottawa Senators v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The offseason has begun, at least for Leaf fans, and that means it’s time for another installment of the Schadenfreude Hockey League, where we mock fanbases because we’re evil.

So let’s get to it.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Oh, you didn’t think we were going to skip over this, did you? No we shall not.

Because let’s be honest, Leaf fans are easy marks, right? We bought into the streakiest goalie in the league, the streakiest 1D in the history of the universe, and a gang of unripe would-be stars and we told ourselves they were a fringe contender. Then we watched as that team came together for a clusterfuck of third-period brain farts to do their best 2013 impression. Good work everyone. Sports is pointless. Eat Arby’s.

And oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth. There has been public hysteria in the aftermath of the Leafs having committed the unfathomable sin of losing in seven games to a higher seed two years after they finished last. Is Auston Matthews a leadership void shaped like a man? Does Mike Babcock hate him? Does Jake Gardiner do drugs before he goes onto the ice? Is Freddie Andersen prone to sporadic failure-itis? Trade him. Trade them. Trade them all for picks.

This is exacerbated, of course, because other fanbases want so, so badly for the Leafs to fail. Twitter was plagued with a bunch of almost-funny tweets that were most definitely drafted after Game 2 and then sent out with unearned fanfare ten to twelve days later. The Leafs, I don’t know if you’ve heard, have actually not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. Fans who were either unborn or already old in the 1970s want to use the Harold Ballard Era to try and club the Toronto fanbase over the head, because it’s stupid to like Mitch Marner when the Leafs were bad in the age of Disco. Or something. Look, I can only see the same line so many times before my eyes glaze over, it’s like trying to maintain interest in Winnipeg.

So actually, here’s the thing: the Leafs have been worthy of roasting many a season in their history, and as usual, Toronto fans have done it better than anyone else. This year, though, every Canadian fanbase except the good people of Slushie Murder Town would trade spots with the Leafs in a heartbeat, and they absolutely know it. The best burns they could muster have been dated as described or trying to tag the Leafs with first-world problems. They have to pay their stars, says the Ottawa fan. Their franchise centre didn’t score enough, says the Habs fan. Mmm, yeah, you know, I think we’ll take it. I think we’re gonna be okay.

Hey, though. Maybe we won’t win a Cup. There’s no such thing as destiny, and the Leafs have a lot of improvements to make before they’re on that level. But if you squint real hard at the chirps, you can see one other thing about our rival fanbases:

They’re terrified we will.

Ottawa Senators

You may have been distracted, but the Ottawa Senators have had an exciting couple of months. No, really. Eugene Melnyk, whose approval rating in the Greater Ottawa Region is on par with syphilis, tried the desperate politician’s gambit and went to the people. It did not go well!

The sad sufferers of Silver Seven Sens helpfully recapped the Senators Town Halls, and I encourage you to read the whole thing. But I will paraphrase the key points for you.

Melnyk said the Sens could only afford to pay Erik Karlsson in seashells and cat hair. He had a powerpoint presentation about how bad his own parking lot is, as if that isn’t the 138th-biggest problem confronting a franchise that will play its games next year in debtor’s prison. The Sens don’t want to hire scouts just “to go hire scouts”, because employing people for money is cheating. They had this exchange, which I would like to have framed:

We’ve never failed to re-sign unrestricted free agents, except when they wanted to sign somewhere else! Have fun with Duchene and Karlsson, y’all.

Oh, and one last thing. Pierre Dorion blamed “so many lies on Twitter, bloggers” for troubles experienced by the Sens. He’s right. I am single-handedly destroying the Senators with this document.

Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers wasted the final year of the best player on Earth’s ELC, with flaws that are directly tied to trades that everyone knew were awful at the time. One of the guys they traded away is a Hart Trophy finalist—an award that Connor McDavid is only missing out on because the team around him is butt. Surely, you would think, even an organization as inured to failure as the Oilers would have to realize a change at the top was requihahahaha no of course they didn’t.

Yes, that’s General Manager Peter Chiarelli he’s talking about. He’s back, guys! I hope he stays forever, honestly, he’s the light of my life. Maybe he’ll trade Puljujarvi this summer and just get absolutely hosed again.

Santa Claus is viewed favourably by children, or so I hear.

Now, it’s not fair to say the Oilers made no changes and simply propped up their Nude Emperor for another clothesless year. They fired their assistant coaches and turfed a few guys at their AHL affiliate. I hope they were all bad at their jobs. It’s sad to think lesser heads had to roll to keep the crown on GM Pete’s bald dome, but that’s the business. Are the Edmonton Oilers the embodiment of Late Capitalism? Discuss.

Anyway, the Oilers will likely be better next year for the sad reason that McDavid and Draisaitl are probably too good for them to be worse. If Cam Talbot can recover his form, they may even contend in the soft Pacific Division, and Mark Spector and David Staples will write bad pieces praising Chiarelli to own the libs. But we’ll always have the fact that after being gifted a huge amount of talent and wasting it, the Oilers have thus far been gifted an even greater talent and wasted that too. I think that’s beautiful.

Vancouver Canucks

:(

Detroit Red Wings

:(

Montreal Canadiens

Many thanks for the above image to frost_biten of r/habs; the subreddit is now at the point of bitterness where it’s genuinely able to laugh about its own team. It’s a good point! I remember it well.

I mean, it’s not a good point for the team, which is still wrestling with the same issues that have bedeviled it hitherto (no centres), but at least they moved up to third in a draft that is a) widely agreed to fall off after the first and second picks and b) doesn’t have great centres in it.

Anyway, everything will proceed as usual for the Habs. They’ll draft Joe Veleno because he’s from Quebec. Grant McCagg will somehow declare him a franchise player and make a galaxy-brain argument he’s better than Auston Matthews. Then the kid will get blamed for not solving the problems Marc Bergevin has inflicted on the franchise, and the Habs will continue their masturbatory hour-long pre-game cermonies where they honour members of a dynasty that has as much modern relevance as the Caesars. Carey Price and Shea Weber, by the way, will have a combined cap hit of $18.3M in a year where they have a combined age of 74. Attitude did this!

Buffalo Sabres

THEY WON THE LOTTERY! Yes, the Sabres won the right, finally, to pick first in after a year in which they were terrible. Now they may actually have a good defenceman named Rasmus!

Look, the Sabres couldn’t stay bad forever. We all knew that, and—

Actually, can’t they? They’re going to add one really good offensive defenceman in Rasmus Dahlin. Maybe he’s Erik Karlsson Mk. II, but as the Sens will tell you, it is extremely possible to suck when you have Erik Karlsson and like two other good players. The Sabres defence group now projects to be:

Dahlin - Ristolainen

Scandella - Skiddlyboop

Mr. Greenjeans - Weaselbutt

The Sabres’ forward group may approach competence by adding Casey Mittelstadt to a group that at least was strong at centre (and nowhere else), but this was a team that iced a nihilist punchline roster for the last half of the year. Can one man fix all this? Jack Eichel couldn’t, and he was so frustrated he fired his GM and coach and then his team got worse. But don’t worry, guys, enough high picks guarantee success. Just ask the Oilers, who eventually got—oh, sore subject, right. I’m just saying—don’t count your playoff spots before they hatch. Or at least until you aren’t paying Matt Moulson anymore.

Poll

Which is the most hapless team in the NHL right now?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Ottawa Senators
    (113 votes)
  • 14%
    Edmonton Oilers
    (50 votes)
  • 5%
    Vancouver Canucks
    (18 votes)
  • 11%
    Detroit Red Wings
    (38 votes)
  • 29%
    Montreal Canadiens
    (101 votes)
  • 5%
    Buffalo Sabres
    (19 votes)
339 votes total Vote Now