It's been a long week and I've been busier than hell, but you've got to pay the bills, right? Gotta get out there and fight, fight, fight...
But sooner or later you need to slow it down and refocus on things that really matter, such as your hockey team's offseason transactions. It's been a busy week, and even though it's the middle of a beautiful July, there's a lot of action around the Tampa Bay Lightning. Trades, signings, hiring of coaching staff, rumors that I will be named CEO...
Since the actual players on the actual ice are what we actually cheer for during the actual season, I decided to head down to Thunder's, my sleazy local Lightning bar, and see how the punters felt about this week's big trade: Simon Gagner being traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Lightning in exchange for Scrappin' Matt Walker and a draft pick.
When I arrived, I found the usual suspects all present: Carter J. Lizardman, with his snout down in a bucket of wings; Ramone, who looked like he was about to puke and pass out (despite it being eleven in the morning); and Mortimer, a wrinkled old character with a lot of time on his hands.
I joined them at sniffer's row in front of the main stage. Agnes was up there shaking what she's got left, although no one was really paying attention excpet Mort, who looked like he was about to start writing her love sonnets.
"Gentlemen," I said, sitting down with a pitcher of draft, "give me your thoughts on our newest winger."
"Snarf crunch slurp smack," replied Lizardman. He had hot sauce all over his scaly face. Needless to say, Lizardman is a disgusting eater. He licked his lizard lips with his long pointy tongue. "We're loading up," he said. "Baa-aarp. With the changes on defence, I think we're ready."
Ramone's head lolled around, but he sat forward and managed to focus. "Ready for what, nut-bucket?" he slurred. "This is the same team as last year, except with Gagner instead of Tanguay. And we're going to see the same crap from Gagner. He's a broken man. I'm penciling him in for fifty games and thirty-seven points."
"The same as Tanguay had last year," I said.
"Yup," Ramone replied. "Only difference is that we're paying Gagner waaaay more."
"I think he'll do better than that," I said. "Healthy, he's a deadly player. I could imagine thirty goals. Although it would be nice to see someone exceed expectations around here for a change." I poured myself a beer. "Say, is anyone going to miss Matt Walker? I know he didn't have golden hands with the puck, but he was tough. Remember when he--"
"We know, we know," cut in Ramone. "You tell this story over and over again. He beat up the entire Maple Leafs team in one period. We know."
"It was a good game," I said. "Hey Mort, what do you think of the trade?"
The old man tipped back his cowboy hat. "Aw, don't ask me," he said. "I'm still sore at this Yzerman guy for trading Denis Savard. We coulda won the Cup that year."
I laughed. "What the hell are you talking about, Mort?" I asked. "That was like, fifteen years ago. Yzerman wasn't GM of the Lightning back then, he was still playing with Detroit. Hell, he's only been GM here for a few months. Phil Esposito traded Denis Savard. And besides, we weren't going to win the Cup with or without Savard. We missed the playoffs that year by a country mile."
Carter J. Lizardman released a revolting belch. "Ya-aaaarp," he said. "Actually, didn't Savard and Yzerman play against each other in the playoffs that year?"
"That's right," I said. "Detroit and Chicago played in the Western Conference Final."
"Yeah, well, I think we'd be better off if Savard was still playing for us," Mort said. "We could use his leadership."
"Mort, are you on crack?" I said, with an incredulous smile. "If Denis Savard were still playing, this would be his thirtieth season. He's almost fifty years old. He retired more than a dozen years ago."
"Yeah, spooge-wipe," said Ramone. "In fact, he's already been elected to the Hall of Fame, and coached in the NHL. Face it, you're dumber than Lizardman's lunch."
Mort got a bit red in the face. "I always get distracted when Agnes is dancing," he mumbled, and had a sip of his drink.
"Hell with it," I said. "We've gotten sidetracked. Gagner trade: what's the final word?"
"Good trade," Carter said."We're on our way."
"Fair trade," Ramone said. "An expensive stone-hands in exchange for an overpriced injury-machine."
"I'll say good trade," I said. "I think we'll get some value from Gagner short term, and it's only a one year contract."
"Bring back Petr Klima," mumbled Mort.
I shook my head and drank my beer.