Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fan appreciation night at the Joe

First of all, found this on Up next in sport. Best image ever:

So, I didn't wanna make this its own post, so I stuck it together with the recap. It's a long read, mostly focusing on Norwegian hockey, ending in something I realized today. Anyway... might give you a perspective on hockey and how it is over here.

So Norway is a small hockey nation. Sure, we have are decent and hockey is the 2nd most watched live in person team sport, but we only have a little more than 30 indoor rinks for a population of 4,8 million people. And most of hockey in Norway is gathered in one area.

The black spots on the map are the 9 team that finished this year's Elite league (4 dots around Oslo), the red one was in the Elite league, but went bankrupt after a month. The yellow ones are places that have had teams in the Elite League the last few years. Trondheim will again next year. So, you see that the Southeast dominate Norwegian hockey. Here's a map of the Oslo region:

The two green spots are the locations of teams that have been in the league lately, but not in a couple of years. The two yellow ones are current elite league teams right outside of Oslo. We are gonna focus on the two red ones (there are more teams in and around Oslo, but not on that level), the two current Elite league teams from Oslo.

I come from the outer East of Oslo, a bit east of the easternmost red dot. That's where I grew up. So, naturally, the easternmost red dot is the team I played for. They are named Manglerud Star. The team came to life in the sixties when the teams Manglerud and Star merged. They got their colours by mistake when they recieved a batch of jerseys meant for the Minnesota North Stars in the 70s. Today their jerseys resemble those of Dallas. The club also has a division 3 or 4 footbal team. The team is probably the best youth developer in the country. They are among the top 2-3 teams in every age group until 17-18 years of age. They have good coaching and ambitious parents send their kids there. And they have a culture of winning. 5 of the guys on the olympic team is from that club (which is unusually low really compared to how it usually is). In my age group we won the league every year, got 1 gold and 1 silver in the two National championships we played in and beat top Swedish and Czech teams.

But the club has no money. The economy in Norwegian hockey is really bad and this club was badly run for years. Nowadays they are run better and more modest, but they have no cash to dish out and no rich uncles to save them when they overpay and nearly go bankrupt. Because of this they can't attract top National stars or good foreigners and their own talents usually leave for better and richer teams in Norway or Sweden. They won two championships in the 70s, but that's it. Since then they have mostly been in the Elite league, but have been relegated a few times. This year they came in 6th (or 7th), but got picked (yes the top 4 pick their opponents), by the number 1 seed Vålerenga in the first round and got eliminated. So they are awesome at the lower levels, but a perennial underdog at the senior level.

The second red dot is Vålerenga. They are also a good youth team, but not as good. They miss with an age class here and there, but they are still very good. This is both from great coaches and because they market themselves as Oslo's team and many people buy into that and send their kids there. They also have an Elite league football club and are the country's most popular club in both sports. They have a culture of arrogance both inside the club (I know, I played against them and had friends on their team) and among the fans. Insufferable. Anyway. They keep much of their talent and attract other player, both national stars and foreigners because they have rich uncles who give them money and save them from bankruptcy (something which is pretty often an issue.

Anyway, I recently moved from where I grew up, to inner Oslo east. Actually to Vålerenga. And I have lived here for two months now, but today was the first day that I relaized that I walk around in a winter jacket that has Manglerud Star's (their rival, my old team, got the jacket when I was a "parent" on my brother's team's Toronto trip last year) logo on a tiny patch on the pocket and embroidered on larger, but not very visible (black on black) over the heart. I have wanted to stick it to them by putting a sticker on my car or a flag in my window, but haven't dared because of vandalism (their fans are assholes), but today I realized that I have stuck it to them all along. Now over to the recap:

The Wings started very well. They had pressure and after less than 3 minutes, Bert made nice drop pass to Kronner while Stuy drove the net. Kronner blasted it into the net. 1-0. The Wings dominated most of the period, but got more and more sloppy. Around the midway mark they made a bad lineshift. Lids was caught standing still and Umberger scored on a perfect shot. Towards the end of the period Eaves rocked Påhlsson (who was kinda falling while he got hit). The Blowjays disliked that and went after him. He had to stand up for a clean hit, which is BULLSHIT as fuck, but he gave Kurt Russell a beating, so it's all good. The Wings got a PP off of it because of an additional roughing, but got nothing. Instead a bad bounce and a missed cue ended in Påhlsson alone with Howard right after the PP ended, he scored. With less than a minute left, the Wings got another PP, had some chances, but got no goals in the part of the PP that was in the first.

The Wings started the second with the rest of the PP. They had some chances, but didn't score. After that the Wings seemed to lack energy and the Jackets took over. Howard had to step up and make some huge saves and on the PK Lilja made a save on the line. At the midway point of the period the Wings woke up again and started pressuring. Suddently it was Mason who had to be huge. And he was. The closest the Wings got was the iron on a PP. But of course the BJs came back in the last couple of minutes and Howard made a huge save. In the last minute the Wings had a big one, but Mason was equally huge.

The Wings came out strong in the third and had lots of chances. They got rewarded with a bogus tripping call against the BJs. On the PP Z shot a puck off Homer's foot and in to tie it. The BJ players complained so much about Homer being in the crease (newsflash: that has been allowed since 1999, Brett Hull, remember?) that they got another minor. Nick wasted no time on it and gave the Wings the lead with a slapshot that went off something. And right after that Helmer found Buckets at the front of the net for the 4-2 goal. But, right after that again, E made a dumb mistake and the BJs made it 4-3. The Wings controlled the rest of the game.

- Is Patty Eaves our new fighter/enforcer?
- I wish I got a BJ for everytime the Wings see the BJs. I deserve that for watching the Wings struggle against a shit team.

3 things that worked
- Good start
- Jimmah
- Good 3rd period

3 things that didn't work
- Waaaay too sloppy at times.
- Lack of energy in large parts of the second.
- Stupid play by E on the last goal against.

Play of the game
The first goal of the game was a beauty by everyone involved.

Player of the game
Z was pretty dominant

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