Russian Machine Never Breaks: We Suck, 2011 Edition

We just finished basking in the glow of our successes in the past year. Ahhhh… Yes, that was nice.

But now it’s over, and we must look ourselves in the mirror to see the billion things we have screwed up over the past year. We’ve got a huge collection of embarrassments and goof-ups that should have shamed us out of blogging altogether. But we’re shameless. You already knew that.

Worst of Russian Machine, 2011

(in no particular order)

The whole oil painting fracas

hu·bris (noun): Excessive pride or self-confidence.

The Washington Capitals play excellent hockey in the first round of the playoffs. As we readied ourselves for the Tampa Bay Lightning, we happened upon Alex Reut’s “We are the Champions” painting on eBay. Illustrating the Capitals as medieval warriors receiving the Stanley Cup, it is a magnificent work of art, but tragically mistimed. We wrote about it, raised a big media stink, and then the Caps lost four in a row and started working their tans. To be fair, Reut is a really nice guy and has auctioned his artwork for the Lokomotiv charity.

The Matt Cooke video timeline

Ian worked his fingers to the bone researching and compiling this litany of sins committed by Pittsburgh’s resident imp. It’s a great piece of writing, and it was a valuable resource for our Puck Daddy eulogy for the Pens, but it was stridently calling out an opponent. That hasn’t worked out for us lately. Matt Cooke has only 12 PIMs on the season (28 fewer than Alex Semin) and he’s on par for the best season of his career. I guess we’re glad he’s not hurting anyone, but somehow this is worse.

Again, the gray thing at the top of the page

I’m sure at one point we had an idea for what the hulking gray mammoth should do. Whatever it was, it’s now gone. The gray thing is a chore, something you gotta get through before you get to the good stuff. For one of the better looking blogs on the ‘sphere, the gray thing is our discoid lupus erythematosus scar. Just like Seal!

“Somebody Else” in our tagline

Semyon Varlamov abandoned us so that he might lose even more spectacularly in Colorado. That left us with a very temporary hole in the Washington goalie position and a much more lasting hole on our site’s tagline. You might say, “Just put Dmitry Orlov up there.” We will eventually, but we’re waiting for a certain something to happen first. And maybe next year we’ll have a Kuznetsov in there as well. And an outside chance at a Yakupov.

The “Winning” t-shirt

The Caps probably should have known better than to hitch their wagon to Charlie Sheen’s star. The drug addict who once shot his fiancée got fired from his job, began a chemically soaked social media tour, and somehow ended up as role model for the Caps’ season, which really wasn’t that winning-y after all. The team should’ve known better than to make this shirt, and we should’ve known better than to cover it. But Hot Shots was awesome.

Calling out Caps fans bad habits

Peter had good intentions when he put together this discussion of Verizon Center cheers. Wanting to see Caps fans exude spirit without an ironical burn or the taint of misogyny– there’s nothing wrong with that, right? Apparently there is, ’cause commenters came outta nowhere to call him out as the preening lib he obviously is. And although no one in the thread seemed to have a working understanding of what “politically correct” really means or the faintest awareness of the privileged perch from which they spoke, at least it was nice that they cared enough to write.

Trolling Jaromir Jagr

We hate Jagr (okay, Fedor doesn’t). For the first Flyers game, FOTB Max Duchaine made a “Moves like Jagr” video featuring that awesome Ovechkin hit. When Jagr came back to Verizon Center, we made posters, we scrawled some Czech hatespeech, and we re-skinned the entire site out of anger. The Flyers whipped the Caps’ asses, and we had to eat crow. Pride, fall, meekly revert the skin.

Alex Ovechkin’s candy bar and the Bauer deal

Like we said in the highlights post, Ovi does so much weird stuff that he’s easy to write about. But the cool stuff is when Ovechkin does something meaningless– like wear sweatpants over jeans or where a black Chewbacca costume. When Alex signs a super-lucrative endorsement deal with Bauer, does epic commercials for Reebok, or gets his face on the wrapper of a candy bar that touts how awesome he is, it casts into stark relief how un-awesome his hockey playing has been lately. Le sigh. And then there’s the “Will he hit 50 goals?” thing that Neil wrote, which is a question no one asks anymore.

Kuznetsov- and Orlov-mania

Our blog has the word “Russian” in the title, so we’re contractually obligated to write about the Caps rising stars from the land of wodka. But the sheer quantity of Russian prospect posts we serve you is absurd: “hitting is good”, Kuznetrick, 3-point night in Hershey, “I’ve made a decision”, swagger, Mark French likey, fighting vs. playing, Rosetta Stone, playoffs, AHL is hard, World Juniors, shootout goals, Maradona, Karjala Cup, gettin’ fancy, leading the KHL, Ovechkin-esque glass diving, shoot shoot shoot, wedding photos, and like a gazillion more.

Shacking up with the Puck Buddys

Our biggest offseason acquisition was a group of dudes called the Puck Buddys. They manage a terrific blog written by gay hockey fans and players. And best of all, they’re rabid Caps fans. Craig and Doug now contribute various stories to the site, but for a while they caught hell for their pregame posts. Some commenters expressed their venomous dislike for those pregamers, which really contain the same mix of hockey smarts, silly jokes, and character assassination that you can find in any RMNB post. The Puck Buddys are now members of the Russian Machine family; they’re the gay uncles whose wacky hijinx make everything exciting.

We’ve done so many more awful things, but there’s just not space. We’d love to tell you about the S-bomb we dropped on Twitter, the people who have justifiably blocked us on Twitter, or Neil’s endless parade of goalie posts. But nope; ran outta time. Aw shucks. Guess it’s back to thinking we’re awesome for you.

For all our missteps, the future is bright. We’ve got a big year ahead of us. We’re gonna do different kinds of media– tv and radio and stuff. Maybe the Caps will be in the 2013 Winter Classic and we can pick the bones off that again. There will certainly be a chase for the playoffs and hopefully a postseason run.

And of course we’ll make a huge deal about Alex Ovechkin’s next milestone. His 20th goal should come in March and dear god what has happened to this team make it stop make it stop

  • Karline

    You guys are still the best Caps blog out there! 

  • I’m confused. How is adding the Puck Buddies a bad thing? I LOVE THEM!!
    And everyone has their “off moments.” You guys are awesome! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  • guest

    Please tell me where i can order that shirt.

  • Dougie Fresh

    I loved the post about how ignorant Capitals fans are. It’s so true it hurts, but no one ever called dc a sports town.

  • Gwen

    Ya, I got the shirt, wore it to the Flyers game, to which I brought my “no Jagr” poster… …  but,  I’ve enjoyed the blog tremendously this past year, and am hoping that prayer will win out against fancy stats, especially where Ovi is concerned.  Come on 2012!! Come on Caps!!!

  • The shirts…

  • I feel like I’m the one that should be apologizing for the Winning tshirts… I unleashed them on Caps fans (pun intended?)…ya’ll just posted about it. Also–team didn’t make it, the team store did. Big difference, really, I promise.

  • so, yeah the caps got their asses whipped by the flyers, but you should never pass up an opportunity to mock that hideous mullet. 

  • JessHughes

    I was about to type the same thing.  I followed Puck Buddies before they came to RMNB and I still *heart* them here.  The Caps’ painting a mistake, sure, but not Puck Buddies.

  • Loved the post about ignorant fan traditions; it was fabulous.  And this is the first (sometimes only) blog I read about the Caps even after I’ve watched the game.  I can’t wait to get the fun silly perspective.  Haters gonna hate … the rest of us love all of you.