Olympics Force Realignment of Hockey Fans

We are currently looking down the barrel of a big hockey day. At noon Pacific Time the re-sorted Team Russia will be facing off against Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Fleischmann, and the Czechs. This afternoon will see the battle of the ages: Canada versus USA. The staff at RMNB has found that the Olympic hockey tourney has Balkanized American hockey fans to such a degree that it merits discussion. Unfortunately, we are not mature enough for real discussion, so here’s a bunch of jokes about Sidney Crosby:

Let’s analyze the psychology of each type of fan.

Washington Capitals fan, neophyte

Possibly unaware that Jaromir Jagr ever donned the Caps red and white black and brown, the Caps bandwagon limits its gaze across the International Dateline to Russia. Russia sports no fewer than six former Washington Capitals, and their play is (supposed to be) as aggressive as the home team’s. Canada sacrificed any chance of garnering the Caps newbie’s support when Steve Yzerman passed over @GreenLife52. Team USA stirs up some base patriotic vitriol, but the unfamiliar roster and lack of hype surrounding the team undermines any appeal to the Johnny-come-lately Caps fan.

Washington Capitals fan, with an autographed Dale Hunter jersey

The Caps fan of the Bondra era still mourns the Cup-round blowout of 1998 and is filled to the brim with bile for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Because of this long-brewing rivalry, the ancient Caps fan, peering over his 401k report towards a standard-definition television, cannot bring himself to root for any team containing a Penguin. Canada and Russia lose any chance at garnering his favor because of Crosby and Malkin, respectively. Grandpa Caps fan somehow overrides his Penguinphobia when considering Brooks Orpik’s presence Team USA; perhaps it’s the dusty memory of Lake Placid 1980 or the manly gristle of Ryan Miller’s unkempt facial hair.

Pittsburgh Penguins fan, there but for the grace of God

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the most talented teams in the NHL, but their geographical origins have rendered them far flung in the Olympiad. This puts the fans in an awkward position, as they must now reconcile the relative vitality of their favorite players in order to pick a team to root for. Should their allegiances drift above the border to Mike Richards and Sidney Crosby, he of the private jet? Or perhaps Evgeni “Geno” Malkin’s dynamism will excite the inner fan despite his Washingtonian linemates? And then there’s Brooks Orpik sporting the nation’s colors, piggybacking on nationalistic fervor. Frankly, no one’s got it tougher than the Pens fan for the next week.

Gretzky

Gretzky’s rooting for Ovechkin. After that torch-lighting SNAFU, 99 wants nothing to do with his countrymen.

Old-school Puckheads

The hockey faithful from days of yore consider Sidney Crosby to be the second coming of Mario Lemieux. When Jeremy Roenick, who always looks like he has just gotten out of the shower, speaks, the senior hockey fans must be restrained from throwing slippers at their TVs. To this fan, Team USA lacks a marquee name or a hockey pedigree worthy of his support. Nay, the Puckhead’s eyes invariably look to Canada, as surely a decent hockey player could hail from nowhere else. This fan, to the surprise of thinking people everywhere, discusses the gold medal as if has been bequeathed to Canada from on high, and the mountiess need merely show up and claim their prize. Even if this fan played for the Bruins and coached for the Islanders (and beat up a fan with his own shoe), this dude will become his ultimate obsequious self only when speaking in praise of Team Canada.


What strange bedfellows this tournament has wrought? In the past week I once caught myself cheering Evgeni Malkin. I’ve seen a hockey blog for a rival team that must not be named (but rhymes with “the dense fog”) herald the skill of Alexander Semin. I’ve seen hockey’s own John McEnroe, Jeremy Roenick, become the loudmouthed defender of the Washington Capitals against Mike Milbury’s attacks. Before the week is out, I may yet high-five a Penguins fan.  Ick.

When March finally arrives, we’ll all need showers.

Alex Ovechkin: I WILL CRUSH YOU (Photo: Fotobank.ru / Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin mentally crushing you (Photo: Fotobank.ru / Getty Images)

While TJ of Alex Ovetjkin has been absolutely tearin’ up the Translation Game right now for The Olympics (check out his awesome work here), the Russian Machine has taken a more gradual approach. Unlike TJ, we prefer Fedor continue to eat meals, sleep 8 hours a day and exercise. So tonight, we present Artem Zagumennov’s interview with Alex Ovechkin after he immediately got off the plane to Vancouver. His article was published on Championat.ru yesterday morning.

Below the jump, find out about Alex Ovechkin’s SHEEP-CRET, who he partied with on the plane over & how many sticks he brought to Vancouver.

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What You Need to Know About Olympic Hockey Rules

The world of post-lockout NHL has been crazy.  We’ve spent the last few years getting used to the faster pace, more frequent power plays, two-line passes, and gimmick endgames; and I think we’re sorta comfortable with it now.  The Vancouver Olympics follow the slightly different IIHF rule set, so we thought it’d be nice to give you this quick primer on the changes.  Feel free to quote these at a cocktail party to sound smart.

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Let's go Russia Flag

First, RMNB taught you how to correctly pronounce the names of some of Team Russia’s Best Hockey Players. After the significant attention our post received, we figured our readers desired to learn more. So today, RMNB is going to teach you how to root for the Russian National Team in Vancouver with style. Yes that’s right, like a Ruskie! Take it away Fedor.

Are you fan of the Russian Hockey Team? Are you going to root for Russia in the Olympics? If you’ve answered yes to both questions, then you’ll probably be interested in the most popular fan chants in Russia and how to pronunce them. I’ve included easy and difficult chants.

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Ovechkin Credits Fans, Knuble for Win Over Penguins.

Alex Ovechkin likes hard games

Fedor provides for us another illuminating interview translation, this time between Slava Malamud of Sports-Express.ru and Alex Ovechkin. In today’s piece, Alex thanks the fans for waking the team up during the Penguins game, explains the value of a fight, and discusses his prospects for Vancouver.

Q: What was the reason of Capitals’ slow start [at Sunday's game]?

Alex Ovechkin: Weather meddled in it for sure. We’re used to seeing fans wind us up during warm-ups. But some fans were late to the start of the game due to snowfall. It was unusually silent. Perhaps it unsettled us. But when the fans stepped up for the third period, we just couldn’t stop.

Q: In the first period, when you were boarded, Knuble fought for you.

A: It’s one of the moments; when you see your teammates ready to fight for you if something happens. It was a turning point for us.  Everyone started to fight.  Mike received 17 penalty minutes. That was what we needed. I so like hard games.

Q: Your productivity before the Olympics is perfect.

A: I’m going to be the optimal fit for Vancouver. What am I to do? I must do it.

I, for one, choose to interpret that last answer as a declaration of infallibility.  When taken in combination with AO’s hubristic interview with Lindsay Czarniak, The Great Eight seems to promise to return from Vancouver with stratospheric goal production, a gold medal, and the head of (Canadian superstar) Bill Shatner.  Others, however, might consider this a radical interpretation of the text.

Agree to disagree.

Here is an interview between Dmitri Chesnokov and Alex Ovechkin that was published today on Sovetsky Sport’s Website and translated by Fedor Fedin. In this article, Alex Ovechkin addresses the Olympics, the Kovalchuk-to-DC rumors and his plans for the New Year. Take a look below. It’s a great read!

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