“I’m mad…and that’s a fact
I found out…animals don’t help
Animals think…they’re pretty smart
Shit on the ground…see in the dark
They wander around like a crazy dog
Make a mistake in the parking lot
Always bumping into things
Always let you down down down down” – David Byrne
By Rich Lindbloom
First off, I want to unequivocally state that I don’t think Brad Watson makes “mistakes in the parking lot.” (On the ice, of course, is an entirely different matter.) David Byrne of the Talking Head’s wrote a peculiar song called Animals awhile back. Brad Watson’s shady interference call on Andrew Shaw, brought back memories of the song. The lyrics are pretty humorous, and if you’re an animal lover you can relate to a lot of what he points out.
Byrne sings the song in an angry voice, with some back ground singers repeating the word, “Bad Bad Bad.” I had to laugh Tuesday when Nathalie told me our 130# Newfie ate her tub of black bean salsa from Trader Joes off the kitchen table. I could hear her hollering a mile away, “Bad dog, bad dog.” She said she actually caught him with both front paws on the table, chomping the salsa down – the entire tub, sans the chips. I muffled a chuckle when she told George, “I hope you have massive diarrhea tomorrow!”
I know there were a lot of Hawk fans chanting “Bad! Bad! Bad!” on Tuesday night, when the overly theatrical referee, Brad Watson, did his best imitation of a helicopter waving off the tying goal in the third period. Actually, it appeared Watson let two infractions go unpunished before his ill-fated call. It negated a great individual effort by Viktor Stalberg, who finally ended up transforming Joakim Andersson into a human pretzel with a few dipsy doodle moves.
Moments prior to the infamous wash off, it appeared Watson ignored two acts of malfeasance that occurred in Howard’s crease. First off Colaiacovo flips Shaw to the ground – since the puck was not in the same Zip Code as where this obvious infraction took place, surely an interference call must have entered Watson’s mind. Then as Coaiacovo pushed Shaw towards Howard, the stingy Red Wing netminder slashes Shaw on the boot. Less obvious was Jacob Kindl flying in, slamming his skate into Shaw causing Shaw to venture a little deeper into the crease. Puck Daddy had the footage of the play on his site the next morning and did a great job of showing different angles of the play. He was not alone among independent observers who detected no observable interference. Simply put, Watson’s call was just plain “Bad Bad Bad.”
I asked a good friend who has played this game for over 50 years at the goalie position what he thought about the call. If Ears, as he is affectionately known, was born in a Latin American country he would have been the type of fan who would have no problem lynching referees who seemingly screw their team. I fully expected him to launch a vitriolic tirade in response to my query. Instead, (after calmly stating it was a terrible call and stating Watson should be suspended for the rest of the playoffs), he brought up a rather salient point.
“If you’ve had the chance to watch the LA Kings, holy shit Batman, all they do when they’re not skating is hold, interfere, clutch and tackle. And the refs won’t call it!” He added “Babcock is a smart, albeit cynical coach. He saw around the league, especially the Kings, that interference won’t be called, so that was his game plan after game One.” Funny, but my boss at work who has been watching games since the 50’s, noticed the same thing about the Kings.
The refs swallowing their whistles has been somewhat unnoticeable in the Hawk/Wing series. The Hawks have had five, five and seven penalties called on them in the first three contests. During the regular season, the Hawks tied the Rangers for the least penalized team in the league. Either we’ve morphed into a totally undisciplined, lazy ass team, or there is a communist plot unfolding before our very eyes. I vote for option two, although I think part of the discombobulating the Hawks experienced was due to the inexplicable benching of Viktor Stalberg. It messed up the Hawks kharma.
I wonder if Stalberg said something to Coach Q like, “How long is it going to take before you realize I am the answer to our power play woes. Wake up and smell the coffee Q, the primo donnas are not getting the job done. You need someone to crash the net, and it ain’t going to be Hossa.” Whatever conversation took place, it sure was good to see Viktor dashing through the snow again. I only got to listen to the first period in Game three, although my wife was texting me updates throughout the game. When I saw Detroit had gone up 2-0, I suspected that after the Wings had weathered a pretty good effort by the Hawks in the first period, they finally took over the game. Reading the game recaps at the various blogs including Cheer the Anthem, Hockeenight – (Big Cheyene still had that diabolical smile on his face), The Third Man In, Second City Hockey and The Committed Indian, they all seemed to echo the same refrain…
It apparently was a solid effort for the lads with the Indian Head on their chest. Two posts and a crossbar – ouch! – that’s painful. Howard playing as good as he can play – although if the Hawks keep firing 40 shots a game at the net, eventually that dam is going to spring a leak. The sooner, the better. A goal disallowed that could have entirely changed the complex of the game – so much for letting the boys play in the playoffs. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Ref, you suck.”
In the end, win or lose, as long as the effort is there I can’t get to upset. Many fans and writers are trying to light a fire under our Captain, despite 110% effort on every shift. Not to mention surviving incessant mugging attempts by the despicable, filthy Wing players who feel it is their God given right to cross check Toews repeatedly in the middle of the back. News Flash – it’s not easy to dent the twine in the NHL. Actually there is a good deal of luck involved in many goals…
‘See how the Fates their gifts allot.
For A is happy – B is not.
Yet B is worthy, I dare say,
Of more prosperity than A.” – W.S. Gilbert
I’m very familiar with the platitude “Our best players need to be our best players,” but do you think Datsyuk (one goal) and Zetterberg (two assists) have dominated in this series? If the outcome was determined by the Corsi numbers, (shots attempted by a team vs shots attempted against while a player is on the ice, per 60 minutes), you would see the 20/19/81 line has more than held up their end of the bargain. So basically, if someone asks you, “What’s wrong with Toews?” – punch them in the face, it might be the only thing they understand. What’s wrong with Brent Seabrook, well that’s another matter.
I noted in my expert analysis after Game One that Nyquist, Brunner and Andersson unnerved me a bit. I recall seeing Nyquist in a preseason game two years ago and asking the nozzles at Wingingitinmotown who the hell was #14. When #14 undressed #7 with a slick move to score the first goal, it brought to mind another Talking Heads song,Slippery People.
“What about the time, you were fallin’ over?
Fall on your face, you must be having fun.
Back sliding, how do you do?
These slippery people, gonna skate by you.”
I doubt that Seabs will make that mistake again – but he certainly better give Nyquist a little more room. At first I gave Crawford a pass on the goal, but then I thought, “In shootouts this year, you seldom saw Crow so out of position. Although Seabs did commit a Bozo No No, he did his best to limit Nyquist’s options. It wasn’t like Gustav was going to double back. And then there was Leddy sort of floating into the picture – perhaps a little more hustle on his part would have stopped the Jordanesque crossover move that led to the tally.
Either way, when Seabs got to the dog house, err I mean bench, I’m pretty sure Coach Q was shouting “Bad Bad Bad.” It is uncertain whether he hoped Brent had massive diarrhea the next day.
In closing, any of you who were fortunate to grow up watching hockey in the Original Six days might remember a hooligan by the name of Brain Bugsy” Watson. (It’s unclear if he’s a relative of referee Brad Watson.) Bugsy was Bobby Hull’s shadow back in those days and it was a rare occasion when those two would not drop the gloves and attempt to turn each other into raw hamburger. I don’t think there was any player in the league that I loathed more, although I wasn’t particularly fond of Gordie Howe either. Bugsy was a Bad Bad Bad man – sort of the hockey equivalent of Dennis Rodman.
By chance, a co-worker visited his restaurant, aptly named “Bugsy’s” in Alexandria, Va. a few years back. He hunted Watson down in the establishment and told him he remembered him back in the day. Against his wife’s wishes, he told Watson flat out that he hated him when he played for the Wings. Watson laughed and said, “I knew that – they probably still hate me in Chicago.” He even told a story about how a rumor circulated one day that he had severely cut his arm with a chain saw. When Bobby hull heard about it he simply asked, “How’s the chain saw doing.”
Turns out, “Bugsy” was a very gracious host, even buying a round for Benny and his family. Below is Benny, his wife Rosie and Bugsy;
I realize saying something nice about a hated Red Wing player could be considered blasphemous to Blackhawk fans. I also realize how desperately we want the Hawks to emerge triumphant in this series over our bitter rivals. No one wants the Hawks to win tonight more than I. But ya know, I think it’s more about not wanting the season to end, then victories. It’s been a great ride this season. Memories are great, but there’s nothing like the moment.
You can analyze game three from 20 different angles, (personally I like Sam Fels idea of changing the top two lines to 20/19/88 and 10/36/81). It makes it worse that we are the favorites, and we’ll feel intense shame should the Red Army emerge victorious. How could we ever look a Red Wing fan in the eyes again! My solution, pop the top off a cold one, enjoy the tussle and hope for the best. There’s so much parity in this league at the moment, that the difference between dusting off the golf clubs or advancing on to Round Three is often determined by a quirky bounce of the puck or a referee’s very Bad Bad Bad call.
Finally, I realize some of you wonder what George’s daily deposit resembled the day after his Salsa theft. Massive diarrhea was not present, although the tell-tale signs of corn and black beans were omnipresent, once again convicting the lovable behemoth. I wonder if Nathalie made him look at it and admonished him once more when he pooped the next morning. It wouldn’t do much good I suppose, neither will fretting about tonight’s game. Personally, I’d be quite surprised if you don’t see a Hawk team give it their all, and then some. I guarantee you the Wing fans are as nervous as the Hawk fans about tonight’s game.
“Every time you win, you’re reborn; when you lose you die a little.” – George Allen
Let’s hope we’re reborn again tomorrow morning! Go you might Blackhawks.
Rich Lindbloom is the author of the book War Drums in the Distance: Special Moments in a three year quest for hockey’s Holy Grail, a collection of pieces written on the Chicago Blackhawks return to prominence and up to the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup Championship. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com or for the Kindle.