Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bitterness, Jealousy, and Fort Zinderneuf

Fort Zinderneuf of Beau Geste fame
I was thinking a bit ago that we are in a hockey desert right now.  Little bits of news are like oases in the desert.  They whet your throat, but its not enough.  Flyers get rights to Bryzgalov.  Clitsome re-signed.  Dribs and drabs that keep you going, but its not enough for a righteous hockey indulgence.

Yeah, yeah, the Stanley Cup playoffs are on.  Game 7 looms.  Look.  The games have been entertaining.  And Raffi and Manny give a little reflected glory to the CBJ.  I like Tim Thomas' 'chutzpah' (sp?).  But I came out of the regular season carrying way, way too much baggage to truly enjoy the playoffs.

Its such a shell game.  Really.  We fired the coach who would have a given us half a chance to win in a Stanley Cup playoff, which is Hitch.  You are watching two teams play no holds barred Hitch hockey in this final.  If the refs called the regular season the way they call the finals, Hitch would still be coach.

Which gets down to my issues in this hockey desert.  Bitterness and Jealousy.

A French Foreign Legion Hat

But, I need to tell a story first.  I went on an annual camp out in early May.  A buddy of mine had this new North Face hat that had a cloth that attached to the back that made it look like a French Foreign Legion Hat.  So I had to explain to him the whole thing about the story of Beau Geste.  And now, when I think of desert, I think of Fort Zinderneuf, a central location in Beau Geste.  An ironic twist to this camp out was the fact that Mike Commodore wanted to chat with me after I ripped him in this blog.  Ultimately I explained it was a rookie mistake, and he took it like an adult.  But now, Fort Zinderneuf and hockey have this strange connection in my head.

It was a first for me in this off season to realize that I had major feelings of bitterness over the CBJ's performance, and that I was jealous of the teams that were doing better.  I tend not to pick favorites in the playoffs, because that usually results in disappointment, unless, the team I am watching is playing Detroit.  Or Pittsburgh.  Or Chicago.  Or Anaheim.  Or LA.  Please note that at this point I recognized the bitterness and jealousy thing I have going on.

From historical perspective, I bought at the bottom, in terms of our season tickets.  I bought when expectations were the lowest.  Nicky Zherdev was still roaming the ice, and Vyborny was starting to reel off those 'slow starts' that ended his career.  I was rewarded by the magical experience that was Game 4 in a losing playoff series.  If you went to Nationwide Arena last year, you never saw a hollow shell of what the 'wide can be.  But, as Howson said the following year, 'the bar has been raised'.  Truly it has, if I am bitter and jealous about the CBJ not being in the playoffs.  I don't think this is an issue of personal weakness.  But Hitch demanded that we be 'all in' and I'm not sure that I ever got off. The December spirals of the last two years have been exceedingly painful.  It is difficult to view this with the aplomb I used to have.  On the other hand, we were competitive after December, which I attribute to a soft schedule, the 'money on the board' episode, coupled with the mental prop up of the 'Father's Trip'.  But we settled the LOFT issue this year, so that's a bonus.  We just don't have the talent to compete.

Recognizing the bitterness and the jealousy is a new thing for me.  And probably reasonably representative of the season ticket holder fan base.  We do really need to have a pretty solid off season.  But here we are, stuck in the desert.



  1. Very, very well stated, Gallos. I'm finding myself of two minds right now: Enjoying the Finals as "hockey entertainment" while still harboring the bitterness about the CBJ that you speak to.

    Guess that means I need to rev up the "Out of Time" series. Expect something in the next week or so.

  2. We have plenty of dogs to lie at the foot, but too few heroes who deserve such honor.

    (Great movie and book!)


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