Pittsburgh Penguins Pregame: The Epicenter of Suck

Illustration by Ian Oland

Heeeeeere’s Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys fame. Tweet his face.

The Pre-Game: I think it was Benjamin Disraeli who said “Sometimes cities just suck.” Or maybe it was Don Rickles. We’re getting our historical figures mixed up.

Look, there’s nothing that stinks about San Diego, the actual place. It’s lovely. Or Phoenix, for that matter, if it weren’t for all the whack-a-doodles. Vancouver: now there’s a dandy city for you! If you can just get over all the residents piously reminding you just precisely how dandy it is.

On the other end, there are places like Mogadishu, a city that, I can comfortably assure you, sucks. Or vacation paradise Pripyat!  – home to the entombed Chernobyl perpetual light bulb. Pyongyang. Philadelphia.

Then we come to the middle ground: decent places inhabited by truly awful organizations. Pittsburgh comes to mind. Hoorah, it’s beautiful and their food isn’t too toxic and the local rumor is that there’s even a museum or something. But it’s also home to the rat burrow of unctuous fink Richard Mellon Scaife and his poisonous heirs, and the ‘Terrible Towel’, which we rank as only just below Scaife as scabes-inducing. The Pittsburgh Penguins… and Dan Bylsma. Think about that for a moment: both the Penguins AND Bylsma (and his douche-hat) compressed into one geographic point. That single distinction alone  is enough to push Pittsburgh to new title holder: Epicenter of Suck.

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Caps Fans and Bad Habits: We Can Do Better

(Photo credit: @clydeorama. Go check out Clyde’s site.)

Rituals bind us to one another. In a fan community, rituals take many forms. In the clothing we wear, the cheers we shout, the fives we high– that’s where togetherness happens. It’s like a wholesome mob mentality, and everyone’s allowed in the mob so long as they can do a couple simple things.

Problem is: sometimes those rituals get us into trouble. Some rituals become bad habits, and those bad habits have got to go. You know what I’m talking about: It’s all your fault, Who Cares?, RED!, and a certain nickname for Sidney Crosby. It’s not cool anymore. Let’s discuss.

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Dale Hunter Used to Fight His New Coaching Staff

Two days after re-joining the Capitals as head coach, Dale Hunter made his first big change by naming Jim Johnson as an assistant late Tuesday night. Johnson — a former bruising NHL defenseman who played in 829 career games (121 as a Cap) — will replace Bob Woods who was in his third year with the team. Johnson accumulated over 100 penalty minutes in seven of his 13 seasons in the NHL and has coached before. During the 2009-10 season, he was an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He then took over the head coaching position mid-season for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals putting up a 15-5-0-2 record in 22 games. With the Capitals’ defense floundering and ranked 28th in the league in goals against, the move certainly makes sense.

The most interesting part of the hire, however, is the fact that Hunter and Johnson actually fought each other twice during their NHL careers. Hockeyfights.com has video of their second bout from November 18, 1992 which I’ve embedded above. Hunter brutalizes Johnson in the scuffle landing eight-straight punches before the fight is broken up by the linesmen. Boys will be boys.

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Watch: Dale Hunter’s First Post-Game Interview

“People that work will play.”

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Blues beat Caps 2-1, Dale Hunter’s Debut as Coach

 Photo credit: Nick Wass

Photo credit: Nick Wass

Dale Hunter hoped to lead the Washington Capitals to victory in his first game as head coach. He’d have to go through Jaroslav Halak to get there, but more importantly he’d have to get a flagging Capitals offense moving.

Alex Ovechkin threaded the needle, setting up Nick Backstrom to record the first goal of the game. T.J. Oshie cleaned up a Alex Steen’s slapshot to tie the score at 1-1. Matt D’Agostini caught a lucky bounce and wrapped it around to give St. Louis the lead. Despite a late-game flurry, it ended like that. Blues beat Caps 2-1.

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Download and Print the Dale Hunter Sign

Your boy Dan Steinberg found some old posters celebrating Dale Hunter’s 1993 return to the Caps after a 21-game suspension. Now that Dale is the team’s head coach, we’ve recreated those posters.

The mondo link below will download a PDF, which fits an 8.5 x 11 page perfectly. Download the file and print a few dozen of these bad boys out (on recycled paper, obvs) to pass out to everyone you see in Chinatown. Let’s make some noise tonight and make Huntsy feel welcome.

DOWNLOAD THE DALE SIGN
Pdf (213kb)

Crash the net.

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Former teammates congratulate Hunter as his number is retired. (Photo credit: Linda Spillers)

Back at Piney Orchard, only a handful of fans would come out to watch the Capitals practice– usually just the locals.

One day– a million years ago, my brother and I were sitting in the stands watching Mike Eagles and Steve Konowalchuk take an optional skate before leaving the ice. A few moments later, we heard someone cursing nearby. “F%$#ing thing!” the voice boomed.

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St. Louis Blues Pregame: East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

Jamie Sabau

David Backes. (Photo credit: Jamie Sabau)

Doug Johnson of the PuckBuddys writes. Follow @PuckBuddys on Twitter.

The Unhappy and Unfunny Edition

The Pre-Game Practice

So. Anything happen over your holiday weekend?

Oof. Coach Juggles was jiggled out of the Caps hierarchy sometime late last week, so go the reports. But those who wielded the ax only announced it Monday morning. As if on Sunday we didn’t suspect our Regent would be decapitated; or that on Monday, after the quartering, they would all just expect us to blandly melt back into the blah-blah of our desperate little lives.

There’s been plenty of blah online in the last 36 hours, and in general on the Caps bench this season. Fine. But do not number us, your humble PuckBuddys, as among those celebrating the call for Boudreau’s head.

It is the right of every sovereign to decapitate those they wish…or at least was, in Elizabeth’s days. But who are we kidding? Today, it’s the unquestioned right of every sovereign owner of an NHL franchise – your Majesty – to chop off the head of any servant they see fit. Assuming they can buy out their contract.

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Dale Hunter: A Video Timeline

“I call him fat #$%&* and 10 days later he fired.” (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

It’s okay. We understand.

Not everyone was a Capitals fan in the 1990’s. Some of you weren’t even alive. You’re not expected or required to know the ins and outs of Bonzai, Langway, Hunter, and Chris Simon (who Peter stubbornly demands be included in Mt. Capsmore). When you heard that the Caps named Dale Hunter their newest head coach, you might’ve said something like, “That name sounds familiar.”

It’s O.K.

There are lots of good descriptions of Coach Hunter out there already– articles telling the achievements of a hard-nosed Cap with as much talent leveling hits as scoring goals, his number’s retirement and ascent to Verizon Center’s rafters, and his last decade serving as head coach and owner of the OHL’s London Knights.

We’ve prepared a multimedia crash course designed to show you — not tell you– everything you need to know about Dale Hunter.

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Bruce Boudreau Fired, Dale Hunter Hired