(GUEST HOST COLUMN!) Delaying The Game: A U.K. Perspective

… and now for something different!! As I had hoped for, people have begun to step up in the “Guest Host” project I am trying to take, just to mix it up and give you guys something ELSE to read… so please… send more!! And for all those who wanted to complain about the Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose games… here check out THIS story from the other side of the Ocean!!!! So I step aside again and hands the keys over to Barry Meikle…. GO!!

When you live somewhere 5 hours behind Eastern Standard Time, following American sports and the NHL in particular can be a demanding pastime. Sure the internet has made things a little easier, but there is still the little detail of a 7pm face off time translating to Midnight BST.
I first got into hockey in 1989. My dad, a big NFL fan since it had hit UK television in 1982, was keen to do something different on a Sunday evening the weekend of the bye week before the Super Bowl. “Ice Hockey” was suggested and off we went to the local pre World War II rink, one of only a handful or so fit for semi-pro hockey in Scotland at the time, to see a match between the Murrayfield Racers and the Ayr Bruins. I was immediately hooked. The arena was around two-thirds full and I had no idea how much noise 2000 people could make. Through buying programmes at subsequent matches I attended, I realised there was a league in the US and Canada. The match programme would feature results from the NHL. No dates, no match reports, no standings even, just results.
Getting information about a league over 3000 miles away back then was not easy. There was no internet and very little TV coverage. Ice hockey is very much a minority sport in the UK and unfortunately the old clichés about the sport being boxing on ice still exist here today to a certain degree. Newspaper coverage was minimal, almost non-existent with only the broadsheets carrying 2-day old results daily with standings once a week. There was Teletext* which I’m led to believe is a little like Telidon in the U.S. which gave results and standings. That was the best way to keep track of the season and work out the playoff format from seeing which teams played each other in the first round. (*Teletext was how I found out that the Devils had lost Game 7 of the Conference Finals to the Rangers in 1994. “New York 2 New Jersey 1, OT (New York win the series 4-3)”. That was all the information I got. No details, just the horrible news in a blunt, primary colour format.)
As cable and satellite TV became more widely available in the UK in the early 1990’s, the potential for seeing NHL games increased. Before that time we only had 4 channels available and they closed down after midnight. The only TV exposure I had to hockey before that had been Saturday afternoon re-runs of ‘He Shoots, He Scores’ featuring the Quebec Nationals, a fictional team with a distinctly non-fictional logo. Eventually we started to get an NHL ‘Game Of The Week’ which would be a one hour show of highlights from a game from the previous week. My first live TV NHL experience came in the 1990/91 season, a Saturday afternoon face off between the Devils and the Flyers from the Meadowlands with Doc Emrick commentating. Whether it was the novelty of seeing a ‘proper’ live hockey game on TV, even at a time when live soccer games were rare, or the fact that Kirk Muller scored after just 12 seconds, who knows. My decision was made. “That team, the Devils, I like them”.
The 1991 and ‘92 Stanley Cup Finals were broadcast on cable and I prayed in vain for the series to go 7 games so I could keep watching (which is probably why I have an irrational hatred of Mario Lemieux to this day). In 1993 we were down to a one hour show 24 hours after each game of the Finals and by 1994 TV coverage had disappeared altogether (hence the Teletext story above). My dad discovered the NFL on the Armed Forces Radio Network broadcasting from Germany on an old 80’s style hi-fi system he had. During the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals, I decided to try my luck and was rewarded with play-by-play of Game 1. I had to turn the whole thing South-East to get the best reception and for some reason the already unpredictable reception used to fade gradually as the sun came up. The 1am starts during the Finals combined with a 4:30 sunrise during June conspired to make the reception fade completely before the end of the 3rd period. Consequently, I missed the last 3 minutes of the deciding Game 4.
The NHL moved to ‘Terrestrial’ TV in the UK in 1999 which showed 2 live games a week (on Wednesday and Sunday nights) and all the Stanley Cup Finals games live. Great, until you reach game 6 of the Finals between Buffalo and Dallas. Because the game overran its time slot by a good 2 hours due to triple overtime, Channel 5 had to cut away for good at 6am to revert to regular programming starting with the News, resulting in UK viewers missing the Cup winning goal by Brett Hull. The reason for the cut-away was because the two programmes used the same studio.
In 2000, I managed to see every second of the Cup Finals involving the Devils and the Dallas Stars including the marathon game 5 which ended at around 6:00 am BST. That was until I decided that the intermission between the 1st and 2nd overtimes of Game 6 would be a good time to ‘rest my eyes’. I woke up during the player celebrations with Scott Stevens about to be handed the Stanley Cup and I still can’t watch Jason Arnott’s Cup-winning goal to this day. One of the best moments in Devils history reminds me what an idiot I am. I think I must be the only Devils fan in history who has said, ‘Oh no!’ on discovering his team had won the Cup.
Finally in 2003 I got to see a Devils Stanley Cup win. Third time’s a charm. In 2002 a channel completely dedicated to North American sports (NASN, now called ESPN America) started up on cable which now shows live games virtually every night and 2 on Saturdays for Hockey Night In Canada. We can now also access espn360’s NHL Center Ice package online (for around $140 a season), so it is now possible for me to see every Devils game in a season, something which seemed unfathomable 15 years ago (hell, even 5 years ago).
In my 20 years of following the Devils, I have visited the States and Canada 6 times, taking in a dozen Devils games in the process, meeting some really cool people and having some fantastic times. The highlights include:
• Getting tickets to a Private box in the Air Canada Centre after a chance meeting with the President of the Devils fan club at the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2001.
• Sitting beside and chatting to Mrs Pandolfo and Mrs Mottau during Opening Night at Prudential Center in 2007.
• Sitting 9 rows from the glass during the 2003 banner-raising ceremony in the same corner of the arena that the banner was raised from.
• Being chased through the streets of Toronto by irate Maple Leafs fans for waving a Devils banner after the Devils eliminated the Leafs from the 2001 Playoffs.
• Having an irrational hatred of Michael Nylander after he scored the winning goal in Calgary’s 2-1 win at the Meadowlands in November 1995, ruining my first Devils game.
• Meeting Scott from this very site in December 2009 and sitting in the legendary Section 209.

Hey Look!!!! We gots us a Devils game!!!!

But damn I miss the Olympics already (curling… women’s hockey, and not to mention the fun of the men’s tournament… it was all great, but hey all good things must end, and we’ll get it again in 4 years right??)… I just feel I picked up some momentum from the Olympics (I’d love to say the site did, but it’s painfully obvious at this point that I’m two-man all alone ain’t it?)… and I just wanna keep the flow going here…. but I’m not recapping tonight’s game…. tonight’s my favoritest of bar nights and all…. I ain’t giving that up, and my deal was always the home games :p…. not to mention I feel there is too much me going on here anyway as is…. so I figured I’d remind you of my “Guest Host” concept…. you write it… I post it here… just keep it about the Devils…. hell I don’t care if you write 1200 words saying what a douche I am (a certain ninja turtle fan out there will say I welcome it!)…. but I want a second voice, at least, speaking up on this damn site…. so CMONNNNN!!!!!

However that rant aside, I have almost a year of pent-up anger to shoot off at old coach prune-face in Calgary so I can see me doing some kinda write-up to shoot off on him now ruining my second favorite team as well….. but if you got something to say… holy hell… just SAY IT, I’d say email it to the 2man email…. but… umm…. I don’t think I know the username and password (again if you knew the awkwardness of being handed the keys to the site but I can’t check under the hood or even open the trunk, it’s kinda weird)
so if you want…. email through the facebook site ( http://www.facebook.com/twomanadvantage ) or just [email protected], I tend to check that enough on my cell phone…. so it’s all good…..

And oh yeah… get the hell back out there Paul Martin (and CMON LOU, we need a defenseman!!!)
Let there be NHL Hockey again!

Canada vs Team AMERICA (puta si!)… thoughts soon-to-be from Sun Tavern: Roselle Park, N

I’ve been toying and messing with the ideas of how to change things up in the post-game write-ups since I think we’ll all admit it’s gotten a bit stale… and honestly with no one else LEFT here writing (it’s no fault of mine as much as anyone wants to believe it).. and I’m gonna try to mix it up some and keep things fresh… also one of the other things I wanted to put out there… an open casting call to be a special “Guest Host” (stealing the idea from Raw) for Devils ROAD games… add some more coverage here… you don’t need to follow a style or a format, you don’t need to worry about pissing me off (the whole idea we follow hockey and read about it is we ALL love and enjoy it after all)…. and I do want to get some OTHER voices on here but MINE…. I went way way OCD in the pre-lockout days with the old CRASHER Line days…. and I don’t want that and I want to have a life OUTSIDE of this stuff…. though I’ve been kinda left with the keys to car… I don’t mind someone else driving and adding to the site when things allow….. so all that aside…. this is clearly the biggest non-medal game of the tournament…. so might as well have some fun with it at the bar and with friends (hell it’s 2 hours from now… CMON DOWN if you can!)

I have no idea how I will be covering this game… or what I will be writing… I’m really just making this damn thing up as I go right here… so please please do chirp in and get involved!!!

  • What’s on the line tonight??
  • The US comes in at 2-0 and with a win tonight they take a top seed in the medal round, and I think only behind Finland over all as the best team in the Prelims, which will give them a nice patsy in the first medal round game they play in… and even with a respectable loss (more so if it goes to Overtime) the Americans will have an excellent shot at the “bonus bye” for the 4th best team in the pools…

    Canada comes in with two not-so-good efforts in their opening games and an inexcusable shootout game against the Swiss who they are WORLDS better then (though Hiller did play out of his skull)… the shootout and the 2 points for the win (you see that NHL… PENALIZE a team for going to the Skills competition dammit!)….and if Canada doesn’t win regulation (depends on the score)…. they may have to play into the event which would be a DISASTER for a team that was supposed to DOMINATE here and not squeak in…. and all the pressure on the world is on them now!

      First Period

    — So far the best thing about watching the game at the bar…. JR and Milbury on MUTE… and the damn car race ended in time so all the NASCAR heads are leaving!
    — Speaking of bad TV Coverage I could totally go into the disgrace job that NBC is doing with these Olympics but I am trying to be a lil kinder/gentler here and enjoying the ride… least the games today didn’t get stuffed in the corner for more curling…..
    — Also damn, those USA jerseys look WAY too Ranger-Like… I get the 1980 Tribute and all… but booooo!! The Blue ones not so much….

    — SCAWWWWRR!!!

    Langenbrunner tips the Rafalski shot pass and it’s … one… NOTHING… NEW… errr.. USA!!!
    Correction… Tip by CROSBY… score unchanged!!

    — Crosby stuffed on the breakaway… MORE pouting ensues!!!!
    — Getzlaf to the box for a cross check to the skull… ouch!!!
    — USA has all sorts of jump and pressing like hell on Canada…. they’re feeling the pressure….San Jose fans, this look familiar to ya’s? 🙂

    — Well Canada ties it up but still looks kinda crappy, but still a NICE tip by Staal (damn that name) on a Seabrook long shot….

    — And speaking of Staal…. mb30 lets ANOTHER Rafalski wrister far side with Langs giving the ol’mb30 stink face!!!!!!
    — 2 goals on 4 shots for the Americans…. wow… that’s the mb30 we got used to in the clutch :p
    — What a hell of a first period for the US team….and judging by TSN on Facebook, the world is mutiny-ing against ol’mb30 here….

      Second Period

    — How awesome would an Olympic hockey fight be, eh??
    — And right as I was about to say how GOOD Miller’s been….

    Teows behind the net… comes to the front… shot… save Miller… juicy rebound and Heatley stuffs it home (and insert bad driving jokes here about Hot Rod Heatley)….2-2 game, blame Canada!

    — good Lord Donald Sutherland looked like cold hard brutal death there didn’t he???
    — Hot damn the game intensity is getting AWESOME….STAAL TURNS HEEL AND TAKES OUT PERRY!!! He’s gonna win the Royal Rumble!!!!
    — did ya ever think you’d cheer THIS???

    Bobby Ryan the shot… save…..Backus the next shot… is blocked…rebound comes loose… HELLO CHRIS DRURY and he stuffs it past mb30 for an all-too familair sight eh??? Just this one was kinda nicer to see… 3-2 US… FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    — WELCOME TO THE OLYMPIC BREAKAWAY COMPETITION!!!!! Kane, then Thornton…. then BOBBY RYAN!! Oh what a SAVE FEST!!!!!
    — attaboy Rafaslki….get that back elbow in when Staal tries to ride you like an awful country music song!
    — This game has been all the intensity and fire I was hoping for… ANYONE who’s anti-Pros in the Olympics needs this game as proof!!!

      Third Period

    — Cindy to the box, someone get the diapers and a bottle!!
    — Best thing about being in a half-full bar like this… the Olympics are on and the ice dancing is on… NOT ONE FUCKING PERSON IS WATCHING THE ICE DANCING… suck it NBC!!!!
    — Damn if the US scored on that delayed call, would the broken stick have gotten an assist??? US back on the power play!
    — and Rafalski 3:16 says…..

    I JUST LIT UP YOUR ASS!!!!! Puck to the point….Parise and Langs in front… looks like Captain AMERICA is right there to be AMERICAN PAIN IN THE ASS TIPPING IT HOME!!!

    — And then Ryan Miller is just CLUTCH CLUTCH CLUTCH… SUCK ON MY STICK SAVE CINDY!!!!!!!!!!! And a nice flop and spin-a-roonie… SUCKA!!
    — So ya think with each goal the smile on Luongo’s face gets better??? (as I say this MBxxx makes a HUGE stick save)
    — Canadians on a HUGE pp… missed on who… sorry
    — ok, so we did the KILL KILL KILL chant in the bar… even Andy was involved… he got a kick being on the other side of it 🙂
    — seeing Joe Thornton with the puck makes me think the Canadians have more chokers on the roster then the Benoit family did ……
    — and HOLY SHIT RYAN MILLER MAKES ME REGRET MY BEER CHOICE OF SAM ADAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Least it’s an American beer.. screw your Molsons!!!! (only for tonight :p)
    — but just when you think the game is over…..

    Nash from the corner… sees Cindy in front… the old no-touch rule is in effect…. Cindy taps it home and gets it through the pads of Miller…. well it’s gonna be a FUN finish eh???

    — NIEDERMAYER OFF THE OUTSIDE POST!!!! 3:00 of a hockey game to kill!!!
    (30 years later, Miracle 2.0??)
    — Why did Wilson NOT call tiem out there???
    …maybe cause of this!!

    Kesler jumps OVER THE CANADIAN PLAYER and taps it into the empty net… the goal was so ridiculous and crazy, Parise gets the back door assist!!!

    — Deportations, riots and mb30 sent to the American team out of SPITE soon to ensue!!