Category Archives: Musings of Mateo

Timberlake… a King?

I’m a big fan of Saturday Night Live, and especially comedian Mike Myers. I must’ve watched Wayne’s World on VHS a trillion times when I worked in the video store. So I Married An Axe Murderer is a cult favorite of mine, and I’ll throw down the remote whenever I cross it on cable.

So when I read that Mike was coming out with a new movie featuring his first original character since 2002’s Austin Powers film, I was anxious to see what he was going to come up with next.

Turns out, Myers co-wrote and is co-producing The Love Guru, as well as starring as the main character. According to FirstShowing.net, here’s the movie’s synopsis:


In the film, Pitka (Myers) is an American who was left at the gates of an ashram in India as a child and raised by gurus.

He moves back to the US to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality. His unorthodox methods are put to the test when he must settle a rift between Toronto Maple Leafs star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Malco) and his estranged wife.

After the split, Roanoke’s wife starts dating LA Kings star Jacques Grande (Timberlake) out of revenge, sending her husband into a major professional skid — to the horror of the teams’ owner Jane Bullard (Alba) and Coach Cherkov (Troyer).

Pitka must return the couple to marital nirvana and get Roanoke back on his game so the team can break the 40-year-old “Bullard Curse” and win the Stanley Cup.

Sounds like Myers is still a little miffed about 1993. Think the Maple Leafs will meet the Kings in the Western Finals in the movie? 

Gretzky < Russell?

ESPN.com columnist Gene Wojciechowski wrote a column about what is the greatest record in all of sports. It’s an interesting take, considering Barry Bonds just broke Hank Aaron’s home run record.

Gene lists 32 records in bracket form, and matches them up. Such as Cal Ripken Jr’s consecutive game streak vs. Lance Armstrong’s seven consecutive Tour de France victories. (Ripken won for some reason).

Gene used some bizarre logic to announce who won each round. It wound up being more of who was the greatest athlete of all time, instead of the actual greatest record. For example, he rationalized that Hank Aaron’s home run record is greater than Barry Bond’s home run record, because “integrity always beats asterisks.” Fair enough. But then he turns around and announces that Jim Brown’s career rushing records of yardage and touchdowns was greater than Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record. Huh? Nine years of playing football trumps 8 years in the ring? Hmmmm.

What does this have to do with hockey? Well, he lists Wayne Gretzky’s career mark of 2,857 points better than DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, Jordan’s career’s scoring average and Cy Young’s 511 career victories. Every single decision came down to the fact that Gretzky owned 61 NHL records at the time of his retirement. A bizarre way to look at it, but whatever.

So No. 99 made it to the “final four”, along with Hank Aaron’s home run record, Bill Russell’s 11 NBA titles and Ty Cobb’s career batting .366 average. How he came to the majority of these decisions is beyond me. And the thing that gets me is Gretzky lost to Russell! Gretzky’s mark is a personal achievement, whereas Russell’s is a team achievement. Apples to oranges, if you ask me. And the end result? Aaron beats Russell. Go figure.

If I had the patience or the desire, I’d draw up my own “final four” and back it up with facts. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Gene’s approach was too broad. I’ll narrow it down, focusing on one aspect from each of the Big Four: sheer numbers. This puts Gretzky’s career points with Jerry Rice’s career touchdowns, Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s career points, and Barry Bond’s home run record. Gretzky would sweep any matchup scenario I could come up with. Why? Because compared to the other players, Gretzky made his team better. How’s that for logic?

Check local listings for availability

Turns out, the two Kings games over in jolly Ol’ England will be shown on the telly. However, instead of chugging a beer as you watch the game, you might want to consider a nice cup o’ joe.

According to NHL.com, the game on the 29th will be shown at 9 a.m. (a.m. as in ahhhhhh, man!) on HDnet and on CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” (More like Hockey Brunch in L.A.) The game on the 30th is also at 9 (That’s right, 0900 hours, maggot!) on Versus.

Now, I have Versus, so the game on the 30th ain’t a problem. But what am I going to do to watch the season opener? Unless my invitation, plane tickets and hotel room got lost in the mail, it looks like I’m out of luck. I doubt I’ll be able to sell the wife on letting me head down to the local watering hole to watch the Kings beat the holy snot of of the Ducks. So, if you have any suggestions, by all means.

That was the good news… The bad news is that the game on the 30th will be the last time the Kings make it on national television. According to Versus.com, the Anaheim Ducks will make appear at least four more times on Versus. The Kings? Yeah, right.

Hey, I understand the logic. Los Angeles is coming off its worst season. Why should I expect the Kings to get national TV exposure? This just underscores, more than ever, that the NHL has to get off that joke of a network and back on ESPN. Not that L.A. would appear any more if the NHL was, but they might have the clout to change games later in the season.

I see that there is ONE game on Versus that is TBD, on April 1. Turns out, that’s the same day the Kings are playing Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks. I say we start a letter-writing campaign right now to get the Kings on there right now.

Of course, that might mean less people actually see the game locally, since Versus is about as available as the Playstation 3. You can get it, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg to get it.

Back when a record meant something

0802-bonds.jpgAs the world watches Barry Bonds chase Hank Aaron’s home run record, I have found myself oddly disappointed.

The whole backstory revolving around Barry’s alleged steroid abuse has put a damper on what should be the crown jewel of all American sports records, the home run record. This is the record that is most revered, and turns the player who obtains it from iconic to immortal. The player’s name reverberates through the annals of time, like that disembodied voice in the movie Field Of Dreams.

But instead, it has left such a bad taste in the majority of sports fans’ mouths, that this death march toward 856 has become most unbearable, especially for those of us in the newspaper industry. Every night since he’s been in striking distance, we’ve had to basically plan two front pages for both A1 and the sports section. And because he plays on the Giants, the majority of the games start at 7 p.m., so there’s a chance he might hit it right on deadline.

After another such night on Wednesday, I was thinking back to when another hallowed record fell. It was back in 1994, and once again, Southern California was the stage. It was on the lips of many sports fans, and there wasn’t a hint of hatred anywhere. And oddly enough, I was working at a newspaper at the time, albeit my college paper.

We were putting the Viking, Long Beach City College’s newspaper, to 0802-gretzky.jpgbed that night when Wayne Gretzky broke Gordie Howe’s all-time goal scoring record with a power play goal against the Vancouver Canucks. We didn’t have a television in the newsroom, so I was huddled around an old clock radio that I had found in the paper’s dark room. I was wearing my Kings jersey that night, and I spilled Mountain Dew on my desk as I stood up and cheered, sending day-glo green soda everywhere. Thankfully my mom took pity on me and removed the stain when I got home.

I had only been a hockey fan for a few years before then, but I understood that Wayne’s feat was truly a remarkable site. It seemed right that “The Great One” unseated “Mr. Hockey” for the all-time goal record. There was some grumbling by Howe when he did it, but no one really paid him any attention. It became, at the time, Wayne’s crowning jewel to his career. Fans in the Great Western Forum roared like the Kings just won the Stanley Cup. A career retrospective was shown up on the scoreboards. Gretzky embraced NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who looked estatic to be there. It was a moment to remember.

And if you think back, maybe you can remember what you were doing too.

How to deal with those kind of Ducks fans

duckfan.jpgIf you are like me, and something tells me you are, you may find yourself in the unenviable position to eat some crow to a friend or co-worker who is a Ducks fan. Whether they are a long-time fan from when the Ducks were “mighty” or they just happened to jump on the Black, Gold and Orange bandwagon this post-season, these fans deserve your attention.

To help you maneuver through this difficult process, we here at Life In Hockeywood have some suggestions for you to maintain your dignity while still being able to command respect.

First, make sure you seek the Duck fan out first to congratulate them. By calling first or going out of your way to offer kudos, this will allow you to dictate the terms of the conversation. It takes most of the wind out of their sails as you offer your hand in true sportsmanship, and throws them off-kilter.Second, speak slowly and respectfully. It provides you with an appearance of someone who is sincere. Plus, by speaking slowly, they’ll be able to follow the conversation. But keep the discussion moving. To do that, see the following step:

3) Provide some observations about the series. Say things like: “Ottawa sure couldn’t get anything going in that last game,” or “The Sens’ first line just didn’t have it all series.” This keeps the focus on analysis of the Finals, and off of comparing the Ducks to the Kings. Also, keep changing the subject quickly, which will allow to to seemlessly transition to the next step.

The fourth point is key: give credit where credit is due. This means you should mention one of the Ducks players; be it Selanne, Giguere, Pronger… whoever. But then sneak in Kariya, like this:

“It’s good to see Selanne finally lift the Cup. He really deserves it. All the guys, really. Selanne, the Neidermeyers, Giggy, Kariya, Pronger… They all deserve the Cup, right?”

Nine times out of ten, the casual fan won’t notice P.K.’s inclusion. They’ll just blindly keep nodding in agreement, as you lay it on thick. Then you can set the trap.

“Especially Kariya. Man, he’s been there for ages. It was good to see him bring it home, right?”

If your friend is “that kind” of fan, they won’t see it coming. If they don’t say anything a second time, drop the hammer.

“Yeah, because Paul Kariya hasn’t been on the team since 2003. You did actually watch the playoffs, right? Wow, I’d think you would’ve caught that. Some fan you are…”

Dumbfounded, your friend will stammer, and try some retort. But it’s too late. They have been found out as the fair weather fan Anaheim is famous for.

Advantage: you.

See you in three years…

1130-kings.jpgWhen I started blogging about the Kings this season, I wanted to make sure I got to see certain teams in person. Being a SoCal native and a hockey fan has its disadvantages. Since I work nights designing front pages for the Press-Telegram Sports section, going to games is a bit hard.

However, I had a lot of vacation time that I have accrued this past year, so I picked several dates to would just happen to coincide with games I’d like to see. Asking time off for work was easy, convincing The Wife was another thing. A long-time Kings fan, she was a little jealous that I got to go to these games. But, I told her that this was going to be strictly business, and that I wouldn’t really be enjoying it, as if I was watching as a fan.

After I got the green light, I was cleared to see four teams that I’ve been wanting to see in person: the Rangers, Penguins, Flyers and Devils. I had guys that I wanted to see on each team, such as Jagr on New York, Sid the Kid on Pittsburgh and Brodeur on NJ. Since there are so many displaced East Coasters out here, I know they would represent their clubs en masse.

After Anze Kopitar put a puck past Brodeur in the shootout Monday night, I realized this would be thge last time I’ll probably get to see some of these guys at all. Jagr is on the backside of his career, and Brodeur is a legend. Lord knows how Crosby is going to be in three years. I feel lucky that I was able to witness Alexander Ovechkin last season, when I happened into the lower bowl seats against the Capitals.

I’ll just come right out and say it. This “plan” hatched up by the NHL to focus exclusively on inter-divisional rivalries is stupid. Coming off a lockout, the league needs more chance to show off their product. The fact of the matter is, the East Coast teams are ultimately better than the ones out here. No West Coast team has won the Stanley Cup. Why is that? Could it be that teams west of the Colorado River are regarded as novelties? Could it be as soon as a player reaches the peak of their skill, they would rather play in a city where there is actually snow, instead of rolling blackouts.

Hell, even the Anaheim Ducks are shunned by major papers out here in Los Angeles, and they are among the creme of the crop this season. The Sharks have some great young players, but does anything think they could take an Eastern Conference team in seven games?

1130-seinfeld.jpg Today, as I was working some magic on the front page for Thursday’s section, our esteemed columnist Bob Keisser made a rare evening appearance in Sports. After talking a few minutes about the Kings, he asked if Deano was going to make some moves this season. I told him what I figured: that we’ll probably send Conroy off for some prospects, as well as any other reasonable player we could unload. He made this comment: “I think it’s official that Kings fans can be considered ‘long-suffering.'” And I couldn’t argue that observation. It’s true. We haven’t been good enough to seriously contend for anything since No. 99 was skating around the Forum.

And like the Clippers of years past, the Kings’ only marketing strategy that makes any sense is to promote other teams coming to town. How successful can they be when the best teams in the NHL are shuttled in here every three years? Cue Jerry Seinfeld: “Who were the ad wizards that came up with that one?”

I know I’m not the only person who thinks this “plan” is really weak. When I told some of my friends that I’ll be going to some Kings games for free to blog, they were amazed at my luck. “Dude, that’s totally awesome. You are so lucky.” To which I replied: “Yeah, I’m lucky to go see Phoenix and Chicago.” Which prompted them to say: “Oh yeah. That kinda sucks.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’d go watch the Kings play an over-80 team from Leisure World playing broom hockey wearing socks and party hats. I love hockey, in any form. But to have the billion-dollar owner cite the lame scheduling on saving money on “travel costs,” it irks me as a hockey fan that they would fork out some extra coin to insure they show off just how good the league can be.

Instead, they want to stick it to the consumer to fork out $150 to be able to watch all the teams. But here’s a news flash, Gary Bettman: you aren’t the NFL. Each NHL team has 82 games a season, not 16 games like the NFL. Football games are events, hockey games have to compete against other stuff on the TV, like the NBA, CSI and infomercials.

Take this weekend… Which are you more apt to watch: The Kings taking on the Ducks or USC vs. UCLA? Back in the Press-Telegram’s Sports Department, I don’t think I have to tell you which is going to be on our screens.

Smallest home crowd since 2001?

What do you expect? This is a rebuilding team, and L.A.’s finicky fans won’t tolerate a loser. The announced crowd was 14,167, but there was less than that.

When Bettman decided on this lame plan, did he take into consideration that fans really don’t want to see so many divisional contests during the season? I like going to the occasional Kings-Ducks game, but I’d rather go see clubs that have history behind them. How many times can I get excited about going to a Sharks/Kings tilt?

L.A.’s fans have far too much entertainment competing for their dollars than other regions. And even though the Kings’ season ticket holders are at 90%, how many of those were just for the Luc retirement game?

Mark my words, 14,167 won’t be the smallest home crowd for long.

Blake makes his preseason debut…

0919-blake-score.jpg…and all is right with the world.

Rob Blake was one of all all-time favorites on the Kings. Mostly because he was a home-grown talent for the Kings, and seeing him evolve into the Norris award-winning defenseman coincided with the Kings arrival to success.

When he left, back in 2000, it was a huge blow to Kings fans. Many felt affronted by Rob when he spurned the Kings and decided to take a shot at the Stanley Cup with a better team, the Colorado Avalanche. Many fans began to boo him. Lustfully. And I was one of them.

If you aren’t donning the purple and black, you are the enemy. And Blake was the enemy. But then, it became much more than that. It became a swipe at Blake and his “greed” for more money for a lot of fans. Many simply don’t understand that the NHL, out of all the major sports, have the least amount of job security. I mean, what can an ex-NHLer do? Some go into commentary and sportscasting, like Marty McSorley did last season for FOX. But, the shelf life is really small. You gotta take the big pay-day when you can. And that’s what Rob did, and I can respect that.

So, I stopped booing Blake and started counting the days until his return. When Luc signed for one season last year, I knew that the Kings would bring back Rob. It just made sense. And having him out there on the ice tonight… well, it’s been a long time, but… the fans were cheering him.

Even Bob Miller made mention of this, when he scored the Kings’ only goal against the Sharks. Fans were standing, and clapping, and cheering for Rob Blake. And that should be music to any Kings’ ears.