Tuesday, May 09, 2006

stop the ducks! for the love of pete, stop the ducks!

I hate the Anaheim Ducks, aka the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

I hate them because they are a Disney product. I hate them because they are an NHL team whose origin is a crappy kid movie made strictly to extort cash from suburbanites, who bought in hook, line, and puck. I hate them because Anaheim is in Orange County, which is about as diametrically opposed to hockey geography as you could find in North America.

But mainly I hate them for the 2002-2003 Stanley Cup Finals, which were boring in the very rare moments when they weren't unspeakably dull.

I hold grudges. It's a family trait. But when it comes to hockey, these grudges are serious. And when it comes to the trap, they're immensely serious.

For those out of the loop: Hockey is a sport that relies on speed, creativity, and the ability to respond to that creativity with shocking and hopefully debilitating violence. At its best, hockey is a sort of full-contact ballet with weapons. The trap is a defensive system that makes all of that impossible, in basic terms, by preventing anyone from moving. Its chief weapon is inertia. I'd compare it to paint drying, but drying paint is actually more dynamic than the friggin' trap.

The Ducks (TM, the mofos) got within a breath of the Stanley Cup by perfecting this abomination in the spring of 2003. They were only prevented from winning the Cup by the greater evil of the New Jersey Devils, who more or less invented the trap to compensate for their lack of talent, in an effort to defeat the insanely talented Pittsburgh Penguins of the early 1990s.

Ah, so it all comes down to defending the Pens, does it? Eh. Mebbe.

The Penguins could play, in that era. And if their opponents wanted to play tight defense, the Pens could do that, too, with the addition of three or four hideously speedy skaters who could spontaneously create offensive be-bop to stone the hippest of the hip.

The trap was specifically engineered to prevent any flow to the game. It made a virtue of being unable to move.

It's taken more than a decade for the hockey mandarins to work out that this kind of game is not only bad for business, but just isn't any good. My own feeling (and I confess that for me hockey is a moral matter) is that teams that played the trap should be banished from the playoffs for the same amount of time they subjected us fans to their horrible resentful version of this gorgeous art/sport/sublimated Thanatos instinct.

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