Monday, April 21, 2008


Bill Simmons

I normally don't read ESPN much these days, save for news stories on occasion. I can get information about the Devils, the Giants, the Red Bulls, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football Team, Fulham, and so on and so forth from many other places. In any case, my brother Jim noted something interesting at ESPN's area for it's columnists, Page 2. Bill Simmons has a column about hockey today.

Now, I used to read Simmons a long while back but the less I regularly went to ESPN, the less of Bill Simmons I read. He still writes favoring Boston, particularly the Patriots, the Celtics, and the Red Sox. Which makes sense, he grew up there, he's emotionally tied to all the teams, but that also includes the Bruins. And that means all kinds of horrible memories of the Montreal Canadiens destroying the Bruins on a seemingly regular basis. But he's a self-proclaimed "hockey widower" because of how the Bruins were run and this:
The Canadiens beating the Bruins. We were the nail and they were the hammer. Nothing ever changed. When I graduated college and realized I had spent two solid decades of my life rooting for a franchise that cared about making a profit more than winning a Stanley Cup, that's the only way I was able to dump the Canadiens from my life -- by not following the sport as diligently. Once the Devils unveiled their hideous zone trap and Gary Bettman tried to turn a blue-collar sport into "NBA 2.0," it was an easy decision to cut the cord entirely.
Huh. Maybe Simmons was too busy beating his head into his couch and breaking his nose to notice the Montreal Canadiens. Oh, he noted who was on the team like Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Jacques Lemaire, Bob Gainey, and Ken Dryden. Yes, they were loaded with talent.

But, Bill, they played the 1-2-2!!!

The Canadiens dominated with a tactic similar to that hideous neutral zone trap along with the talent of their players! That's how they were so merciless as a team! They were incredibly talented, yes, but they were also incredibly disciplined and incredibly good at killing the opposition in transition! They were the progenitors of the system that the Devils and hockey teams since 1995 have been using to not get burnt by high-flying squads. And the Devils coach who implemented that hideous neutral zone trap? Jacques Lemaire! One of the defensemen from that juggernaut Canadiens squad who was groomed in that system and found great success with Montreal applied it to a 1995 Devils squad that wasn't exactly a murderer's row of skill and vision like Montreal of the '70s. One of the players who you named, Bill! It worked pretty damn well, when they smacked Detroit in the face with a broom for their first Stanley Cup.

The irony is even sweeter when you consider that Gary Bettman is still the comissioner, the NHL has it's best year ever in terms of total and average attendance, and the self-proclaimed "hockey widow" is back watching hockey again. Not bad for Mr. Bettman and the league, right Bill? You're always welcome to watch the greatest game on Earth. Of course, Montreal just demolished Boston in dominating fashion, so I guess it's back to ignoring the NHL for Mr. Simmons. We'll still be here watching what we love, Bill. If you want to join us, you're more than welcome. Just drop the perception that New Jersey hurt or killed hockey, OK?

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As a Rangers fan, even I'll agree that the Devils didn't hurt hockey in any way, let alone "kill" it.

The object of the game is to win. As the talent level rises, it's only natural that teams will devise ways to try to defend against that talent. Look at the playoffs now, just about every single team is collapsing their defense in front of their own net. It's so difficult to score goals these days, you can't afford to give up 4 or 5 goals any given night. You have to worry more about keeping the puck out of your own net, then focus on offense from there.

This guy is a total ass, don't let it phase you.

Ewww, excuse me, I have to go take a shower now, I feel dirty after defending the Devils.. :)
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