Orange Ducks

They still play in Anaheim, but they’re going to resemble the Netherlands Soccer Team in their new getup, announced today.

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NHL Season Fails

If the “New NHL” triumphalists mean by “success” a few small and/or Canadian teams going deeper into the playoffs than usual, then arguably this season was a success. (Of course Calgary went to game 7 in 2004, so what’s the difference?)

But by any other measure, this season ended up being a farce. In the end, the pre-ordained team wins the Cup–the one with the big time regular season record and the blockbuster trade deadline deals, the one in the market that the NHL wants to grow. Nothing against Canes fans–they showed they are for real, but somewhere in the league office, toasts are being made to the continued dominance of the South and the big-time US hockey markets. In fact, with the exception of the Devils wins in 95, 00, and 03, the Stanley cup has had a Bettman era run of big market and/or Southern Champions. New York, Colorado, Detroit, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. And Bettman and his ilk made it clear time and again how they felt about the Devils winning by continuing to change the rules to penalize their players.

Does anyone doubt that next year, the champion will be selected from these choices: Nashville, New York, or–wait for it–Phoenix?

So, sure–the territorial sweep of Cup champions has expanded in Bettman’s time, but the popularity of the game has not. Take a victory lap on the CBA, Gary, and call it a career.

Super Powers' Super Heroes

The popular superhero movies of the late 90s through the beginning of Iraq War II were an attempt to work out America’s “hyperpower” anxiety. Whatever their artistic merits, all of these movies elementally concern the consequences of “super power” being exercised. This felt especially pertinent during the rabid Dali-Meets-Orwell run up to Iraq War II. With the techno-marvel of Iraq War I still fresh in mind and rehashed on the Discovery Channel it was not unreasonable to think of America’s military as a collective super hero with its ability to shoot bombs down chimneys and survive underwater, and with its foot soldiers who could see in the dark and readily tell friend from foe.

As Iraq War II has blundered and bloodied into a sandy sorta’-Vietnam the super hero movies have become trite and meaningless. X-Men III, to tell from the reviews, is more of an inchoate FX show as opposed to the first two films’ use of eye candy to explore the themes of racism and general exclusion. The genre appears to be shifting from a focus on the consequences and responsibility of super power towards an almost-meaningless demonstration that those powers are still there.

Enter the Return of Superman a character that, despites its roots in the very ambiguous morality of the Jewish mythological character the Golem, has come to represent the most perfectly American of superheroes: an immigrant that is yet raised with agrarian virtue in middle America that matures into a bookish go-getter in the big city by day and an establishment world-saving champion by night (notice that Superman does not have the vigilante issues or angst of many other superheroes.) As non-Ted Rall America begins to at least acknowledge our see-no-evil concentration camp in Cuba, government surveillance of citizens, and standard warfare atrocities committed by our troops it will be interesting to see if this Superman represents super power in its most innocent and unambiguous purity: a force to combat evil that has no complicated amplication, no collateral consequences and invites no blow back.

Julien Hired As NJ Coach

Claude Julien, lately of the Montreal Canadiens, has been hired as the new Devils coach.

He was not the best available coach, unfortunately. I don’t think he will last more than a year.

Selanne Back With Ducks

As the Battle of the Reddest Province versus a Red State continues, the Anaheim Ducks resigned Teemu Selanne for “less money” than he could have had elsewhere.

Even though J.S. Giguere was in net for the last two games of the playoffs, speculation still exists that he will be traded. If he can fetch a quality player in return, the Ducks should have more than $10M of cap room to add, even after others get raises.

Apology to Carolina Fans

I can admit when I’m wrong.

I’ve seen enough evidence of Hurricane fans actually caring about their team to be convinced that they’re actually deserving of what they’re about to get. Do they have the legacy of an Original Six team or the Oilers? No. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to win when they deserve it.

I still believe Edmonton would have given them a run for it if Roloson hadn’t gone down. But do I believe that under no circumstances Carolina couuld have won even with Rolo in? No. I sure hope we don’t hear a lot of “they didn’t deserve it” from the press, especially the Canadian press.

Carolina was a good team all year. They made some good moves at the deadline. They played good hockey in the playoffs. Yeah, they’ve had some big luck–but so does every champion.

Congrats to Carolina and their fans, assuming this goes the way it is seeming it inevitably will.

UPDATE: Al Strachan’s snarky comparison between Carolina and New Jersey’s parade route, or lack thereof, underscored this point for me. Everyone underestimates the fervor of New Jersey’s fans. Having never been to Raleigh, I’m not sure I can say first hand, but based on everything I’ve seen, read, and heard, they are really into it down there.