December 01, 2009

Press Row

The Toronto Maple Leafs don't have first-round draft picks in 2010 and 2011. You know what else they don't have? Internet access on press row. Apologies about the #LiveBlogFail. It happens, yo.

Three years after writing my first blog post here at Sports And The City, I'd made "the show." For one night, I was out of the basement, and on the biggest stage. Without you, three readers, it wouldn't have been possible. Thank you.

While I hate to inundate you with another list of thoughts, Elliotte Friedman style, I'm left with no choice. Without access to the magical world wide web, I was forced to actually use a pen, and write. I know; the humanity. In all seriousness, thanks to Jonathan Sinden, interactive media guru at MLSE, and operator of the Leafs' twitter account, who invited me to The Foster Hewitt Media Gondola last night. It was a fantastic experience, and an honour to be up there.

Without further ado:
  • All you really need to know is that before puck drop I met LeafspaceMonika. She put her arm around me, and it was a dream come true. I may have told her that I'm in love with her, I don't really remember. The rest of the night really doesn't matter, because I'd already won.
  • I hate Ryan Miller.
  • The Leafs actually came out strong to start the game. They were the better team in the first half of the first period. It might have been the drugs, but I'm pretty sure Toronto came out flying. If it wasn't for Ryan Miller, it's 2-0 Toronto 10 minutes into the game.
  • Fuck Ryan Miller.
  • I had to make an actual conscious effort not to cheer while in the press box. It was more difficult than I thought.
  • Buffalo came alive to close out the first, but Jonas Gustavsson was there to match Miller. The Monster is great in tight, and moves graciously across the crease. (That's what she said.)
  • The highlight of the first period was Wayne Primeau slamming Derek Roy into the boards in the Leafs' zone. I love watching Derek Roy get slammed into the boards.
  • As I tweeted in the first period, watching Phil Kessel turned me on. I'm quite certain I was making Jonathan uncomfortable, but the situation was beyond my control.
  • The pretzels flow freely up in press row. The pretzels were making me thirsty.
  • No sign of Howard Berger. Remember, he's paid to write about the games, not watch them.
  • According to my man Jonathan, it was Brian Burke who said the Leafs have to reach out to bloggers. Forget about the team's record, and forget about how they do the rest of the way while he's managing the team; the Brian Burke era has been an unmitigated success.
  • The best part about being on press row might be the stats sheet you're handed at the end of each period. Your homework, it's done for you. You know exactly how many minutes too long Jason Blake has been on the ice, and just how poorly the Leafs are doing in the faceoff circle. I certainly appreciated it.
  • The Leafs came out strong, again, to start the second period. And I'm quite certain the drugs had worn off by this point.
  • Matt Stajan and Phil Kessel botched a 2-on-0 early in the period. Kessel would probably have been better off on his own.
  • More Leafs fans need to own Niklas Hagman jerseys. Do you own one? Let me know, so I can give you the props you deserve.
  • I hope last night is the last time Ian White and Luke Schenn play together. Awful.
  • Seriously, fuck Ryan Miller. He is the truth. He made tremendous saves on the penalty kill against both Hagman and Mikhail Grabovski. Buffalo is lucky to have him.
  • I thought Mike Komisarek played a strong game. He kept his shit simple, which is what he wasn't doing prior to his stint on the disabled list.
  • Phil Kessel is an underrated passer. Marc Savard didn't make Phil Kessel. Phil Kessel made Marc Savard.
  • I could hear Dennis Bayak calling the game on AM 640 from my seat. I found this rather exciting.
  • Jason Blake: enter the zone, circle the net, put a useless shot on goal. Rinse. Repeat.
  • I'm sorry to say, but the crowds at the Air Canada Centre are nothing short of brutal. I thought about starting a "Go Leafs Go!!!!1" chant, but that type of thing is frowned upon in the press box.
  • Did I mention I hate Ryan Miller?
  • The Leafs surrendered a goal 20 seconds into the third period. I blame Ron Wilson. Face it: it's convenient, and easy. Fire him. And hire Wayne Gretzky. Don't deny it, it'd be fun.
  • Is there any possible way Jason Blake makes the U.S. Olympic team? I'm thinking not, as Wilson probably wants to get away from him for a couple of weeks.
  • Carl Gunnarsson didn't return for third period action after suffering a shoulder injury. The irony of Komisarek returning and Gunnarsson getting injured is delicious. We gain one, and lose another. Almost as delicious as the sushi platinum seat holders like Daoust love to eat.
  • Ryan Miller is always at the top of his crease. He cuts his angles like nobody's business. I fucking hate Ryan Miller.
  • I'm quite certain I saw Luke Schenn on the point on the power play in the third period. I'd like to see more of this. It can only help his development. Also: mad respect for "Luke's Troops." Canadian serviceman and servicewoman deserve all the standing ovations they can get.
  • It was a listless third period from the Maple Leafs. Outshooting your opponents with absolutely nothing to show for it, night in and night out, has to take its toll.
  • There's no way Lee Stempniak is a Maple Leaf next season after his contract expires.
  • The cat-calls on Jonas Gustavsson late in the third period were completely uncalled for. When did Toronto fans become the epitome of douchebaggery? What are we, Boston?
  • Lindy Ruff calling a timeout in a 3-0 game with 2:54 left on the clock was straight rude. He purposely did it to prolong our misery for an extra 30 seconds, that bastard.
  • Ryan Miller finished with a shutout. The silver lining: I didn't pay a penny to take in the game.
  • I'll be honest, when Jonathan took off for a few minutes during the game, I hollered "67!!!!1" a couple of times, at the top of my lungs. Yet no sign of Damien Cox. Clearly, he wasn't on press row, or even in the building.

If last night was any indication, the Toronto Maple Leafs get it. No, not the hockey part, asshole, the social and new media part. They reached out to me, in the depths of my mother's basement, and treated me to a game, and all the pretzels my heart could desire. And I appreciated it. During the intermissions, I made tremendous progress on the Stanley Cup parade route the Leafs will be taking in 2010. Yes, 2010. It's those moments in The Foster Hewitt Media Gondola, when you're most inspired, and when you use your crayons to draw the heart of the parade through the streets of downtown Ottawa, and downtown Vancouver, that matter more than anything. Cross-country, baby. Like the Olympic torch relay.



Alix said...

This post is absolutely delightful. Well deserved invitation to the pressbox. And you're hot.

Have a cookie.

eyebleaf said...

I don't tell you enough, Alix, but I love you. I also love cookies.

Roy-Z said...

Phil Kessel is an underrated passer. Marc Savard didn't make Phil Kessel. Phil Kessel made Marc Savard.

Enough said.

Hungry Leafs Fan said...

Figures. I was waiting for the Live Blog!

The Leafs definitely played well enough to win. It's too bad they ran into another hot goalie. Once we let in that first goal I could just feel the hope seeping out of me. Once the second goal came, my hope was pretty much gone. After the third goal, I had to turn the game off. It can't imagine how hard it must be to sit in the press row and not show any emotion. Too bad you had to watch another Leafs loss at home. I hope you at least got a lock of Monika's hair out of it.

blurr1974 said...

Best. Post. Ever. Seriously, I love this.

I have a Hagman jersey...

Mark Milner said...

Yeah, Schenn seemed to get a lot time on the power play last night. I'm sure its a good thing for his development, but I'm not so sure it'll do much in the short term.

Still, it was pretty cool the Leafs reached out a blogger. Any ideas if they'll invite you back?

Anonymous said...

My jersey doesn't have a name on it, but in my mind it says Hagman.

Actually, no it doesn't. I can't lie. It says Clark. But Hagman is pretty great.

Junior said...

eye, they have to invite you back. I want you to be sitting in the press box with a bird's eye view of one of Tomas Kaberle's cross-ice passes like you won't believe.

Excellent post, and yes, fuck Ryan Miller.

Down Goes Brown said...

Also: mad respect for "Luke's Troops." Canadian serviceman and servicewoman deserve all the standing ovations they can get.

The coolest part of Luke's Troops is when they show the serviceman on the scoreboard and everyone gives him an ovation -- including the players and referees.

The Squid said...

I wear #9 on my hockey team -- in honour of Niklas "Larry" Hagman.

eyebleaf said...

I'm glad to see all the Hagman love. The guy is unreal.

And I'm hoping I get a call back too. You know, to see the Leafs actually score a goal. Fucking Miller. It's always Miller Time when the Sabres are in Toronto.

"Dave Schultz" said...

it's posts like this that remind me why you're one of my biggest blogger inspirations, fucking nails my friend.

Karina said...

You rule man. Great summary, and I 100% agree on Stempniak.

Mattt said...

Nice post and I'm sure your heart wasn't broken to not be able to blog during the game. Being a fan is what it's all about.

Ian H. said...

Sounds like you had a great time! Way to represent Leafs nation proud ... I hope you shook Burkie's hand.

1967ers said...

Great post, and congrats on the whole thing.


LeafFanInVan said...

You earned your spot in the gondola, your blog is a treat. Kudos! Hopefully they'll catch on and add net access up there for the bloggy-types. After the foofarah with that guy in Edmonton I guess teams are a bit slow and hesitant to get it figured out.

Fuck Ryan Miller. Especially if/when he is the Team USA starter. Ughghg. Someone Tonya Harding that guy. Never mind, I'm sure he'll do it himself.

eyebleaf said...

You guys are doing wonders for my ego.

Steve G. said...

Did you go to the postgame presser or in the locker room?

Tony Viner said...

Let me tell you something, young man. You are one handsome (and smart) individual. And coming from the most handsome (and smart) man in this city (at least), that means something. Trust me.

Moneypuck said...

"Sniff" It was just yesterday you were batting anonymous commenters away with anti-Wells comments.

On The Fence Sports said...

Leafs game and a nice picture with Monika...great night.

Is this going to be a fairly regular thing?

Anonymous said...

Being a Leafs fan from the US I can't say that I hate Miller. The kids a Stud in net. I cant wait to see him in between the Pipes at the Olympics. Look for me on 12-27 vs. the Pens as I'll be the one wearing the Hagman Jersey.

eyebleaf said...

@ Steve: No postgame presser action, mate. I'd have loved to ask Ron Wilson what he was going to do now that the games that mattered were over.

@ Tony Viner: I've bought into your handsome plan hook, line and sinker.

@ Moneypuck: I'm sure those days will return...

@ On The Fence: I don't imagine it will be a regular thing, but I'm hoping there will be more opportunities like it in the future.

@ Anon: I hate Miller mostly out of jealousy. I can readily admit that he's one of the game's premier goaltenders. And represent that jersey with pride. It's a beauty.

Steve G. said...

That sucks about the lack of a presser. Did he not have a conference, or were you not invited, or did you have to jet beforehand? It's amazing how much interesting stuff can be spilled at them that never makes it into copy.

Anonymous said...

Awesome stuff dude, just like everyone else said.

Monika said...

Hey -
I may be late in commenting on this fantastic blog, but I was flattered to read your bit about me. I'm blushing, still. Nice to meet you and it's too bad the internet didn't cooperate with you, but you got a killer blog out of it all and hopefully a memorable night! GO LEAFS GO!