Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday, Sunday

The horn signalling the end of the Caps-Canes game has long since sounded, the two points long ago added to the Capitals' standings. On a rainy/snowy/slushy morning such as this, thoughts of last night can only make it seem as though the sun is shining and it's 70 degrees.

What to do on a day like this? A day fit for neither woman nor beast (yet still doesn't keep the crazy man on the street outside from yelling incessantly) is a perfect day to catch up on things one has been putting off. Maybe do a little laundry...some dusting and vacuuming...run some errands...

Nah.

I have been procrastinating, though, and it's got to stop - today. Weeks ago I promised you my ultimate list of the unclassiest (is that a word?) guys in the league. Those players whose mugs could just as easily show up on a post office wall as on a hockey card; those players whose antics make us cringe, whose quotes make us wonder why they haven't been muzzled yet.

So without further ado, I give you the Hall of Shame:

- Jaromir Jagr - come on, was there ever any doubt as to who would be first on my list? Good ol' Jags, with his smug expressions and his eternally bad hair, is enemy #1 here in DC, and for good reason. We gave him a huge contract ($77 million over 7 years), a warm greeting at the airport, good buddies as linemates, and we got...nothing. Since being traded to New York in 2003, Jagr has repeatedly made it clear through the media that playing in DC was not up to his standards and that he is blissfully happy to get the hell out of here. All I can say is the feeling is more than mutual, because the Rangers got an overinflated ego and the Caps got Ovechkin.

I'll take that trade any day.

- Jeremy Roenick - once known for being one of the more entertaining players on and off the ice, JR is starting to show his age and is quickly becoming a crotchety old man who occasionally plays hockey. Always a talker and the go-to guy for hilarious and shocking quotes, JR topped himself when he basically told fans who didn't like the game to "kiss my a**"...he later claimed he was taken out of context (not sure in what context that quote would be taken the right way, but okay). His latest shenanigans include being implicated in this summer's Operation Slapshot and his decision to sulk in a restaurant rather than stay and watch a game after being scratched for medical reasons.

- Sean Avery - after flying largely under the radar in Detroit, Avery seems to have found his love of the spotlight since being traded to LA. He has developed a reputation for diving, which resulted in a $1,000 fine, and complaining about fines, which resulted in another $1,000 fine. Avery's antics also include the occasional celebratory push-ups, the mouthing off about French Canadians, the racial slurs...just an all-around nice guy. Still, LA fans claim they love this guy - he's certainly a spectacle, perfect for Tinseltown.

- Bob Hartley - since joining the Thrashers, Hartley has cultivated a reputation for basically encouraging cheap shots and turning an otherwise talented Atlanta team into a dirty one. Over the past two years the Caps have become particularly familiar with these tactics, a familiarity that came to a head back in November when Hanlon and the boys responded to the latest of Atlanta's cheap shots with round after round of fisticuffs. The infamous game sparked suspensions and fines, with both coaches screaming at each other between the benches and later in the hallway between locker rooms. Hartley, of course, feigned innocence and surprise after the game...


There are some guys who have showed moments of divadom, instances of poor sportsmanship, yet have enough potential to turn it around that I can't in good faith put them on the aforementioned list. Still, they deserve some mention as guys who could easily fall to one side or the other. Here are my choices for players who are On the Fence:

- Sidney Crosby - I know, I know, we're supposed to hate Sid the Kid on principle, and many may wonder why he wasn't listed among the classless above. In his first two seasons, Crosby has developed a reputation as a bit of a whiner, a bit of a hothead, a hell of a diver - and all at the tender age of 19. Yet it's hard not to notice that he's turned it around a bit lately. The temper tantrums are fewer, the diving penalties less prevalent...but most importantly, he's young. There are bad habits that every teenage prodigy has to overcome, and he seems to be on his way to kicking them. We'll have to keep an eye on him over the next few years to see if he's really grown out of his petulant ways. For now, though, he's a borderline case.

- Daniel Briere - up until about two months ago, I had nothing but respect for Le Petit Briere. He was small but scrappy, an obvious leader, and a big reason behind the sudden resurgence of the Buffalo Sabres. But his insistence on playing the poor innocent victim to Ovechkin's "goonery" rubbed me the wrong way, as he whined to the Buffalo media about neck pain and waking up sore every morning. His blatant spear and subsequent refusal to just drop the gloves with Ovie in the next meeting seemed to paint him as nothing more than a chicken and a crybaby. Still, I'm reluctant to call him completely classless on the basis of a few isolated incidents in an otherwise spotless career. He and Ovie seem to have worked things out, and it may be time for us Caps fans to just forgive and forget.

Not that I won't happily partake in any booing when he comes to town in April, of course...

- Alexander Semin - I'm setting aside my blatant homerism for this particular case, because it's something that has concerned me since he arrived this season. In between his spectacular stick-handling moves and jaw-dropping goals has come the occasional dive, the sporadic yapping, the slight edge to his game that result in cheap shots and bad penalties. It's a penchant that we all hope young Alex will kick sooner rather than later, and he does seem to be doing just that. His work ethic on the ice has improved, resulting in more ice time from Hanlon. And either he's becoming a better actor or he's curbed the diving impulse a bit - he's been drawing more penalties the other way just by moving his feet and trying to stay on them. One can only hope that having Ovechkin as a roommate will help smooth the rough edges and give us the superstar we all know he can be.

And there you have it! Did I leave someone off? Give someone more or less credit than they deserved? Feel free to drop a comment and tell me how you feel...and please, keep it G-rated, people. Think of the children...


5 comments:

Rob said...

Excellent work as always!

BTW, this might be REALLY late, but did anybody else notice that Donald Brasher and Sidney Crosby wear the same number. I know it probably means nothing, but it's something that crossed by mind.

CapsChick said...

Now that would be a fight that I would absolutely love to see...87 vs. 87. I wonder who would win that one? ;)

David said...

Long time reader, first time commenting. I really really enjoy reading this blog. It is an everyday stop for me.

Keep up the good work!

CapsChick said...

David: Thanks for the kind words! It's always nice to hear from someone who likes what I do. Better than "wow, you're a complete idiot" any day :)

Of course I welcome all comments, nice and not so much...

Jordi said...

I totally think the same way with Briere. I love him yet I kind of want to roll my eyes at the constant bickering over it. Of course it'd be too perfect if Briere didn't spear Ovie and they just clapped each other over the silly misunderstanding. But I mean it's just too much angst.

Avery... Ahh, I hate him too much.