Thursday, December 8, 2011
Thursday Morning Cupcheck: Inside the Shanamind
This week, the wheels on the bus of Justice go round and round.
Good morning, hockey fans! Last week we busted the myth of NHL leadership. This week, while most of you were enjoying a family-friendly episode of Troll versus Troll, the Dallas Stars were finally in the news, albeit for not the best of reasons. While to most non-Islanders fans this was nothing more than a well-placed bodycheck that unfortunately resulted in a concussion, Isles fans —with all the pent-up rage you'd expect from a team that makes the playoffs once every three decades— called for Fistric to be drawn and quartered as an example to the rest of the NHL's cheap shot artists -- rather than, say, as an example to Islanders players on how to properly throw a check. (Oops!! So sorry Isles fans, please let me clarify: A "check" isn't just one of those giant cardboard novelty things you've been mailing to Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro over the years. It's also a defensive tactic that real teams use sometimes to win games of the hockey. Hope that clears up some confusion!)
Naturally, NHL Suspension Czar Brendan Shanahan didn't agree, and hit Fistric with a three-game suspension, with possible time off for good behavior. While his reasoning may have sounded a bit suspect at the time, I was able to use my contacts at MetroPCS, some red lipstick, and a ballerina costume to infiltrate NHL's secret underground bunker in the Himalayas, and got a transcript of Shanahan's phone conversation.
A phone in the shape of a leprechaun pleasuring a pot of gold starts ringing in Shanahan's office. Putting down his Etch-a-Sketch, Brendan reluctantly picks up the receiver.
Mark Fistric: "Wait, what?"
Shanahan: "Oh! It's you! Nevermind. Hey, what's up?"
Fistric: "You told me to call you, sir. About the suspension thing."
Shanahan: "Oh, right right right. Just watched the tape, everything looked clean, maybe watch the guy's chin a little next time, eh? Otherwise, everything looked solid to me."
Fistric: "(surprised) Really? So I'm ... I'm free to go?"
Shanahan: "Oh, absolutely! Definitely nothing worth bothering about here. You're scott-free. Just don't check any Islanders again."
Fistric: "Well ... thank you, sir. Thanks!"
Shanahan: "No problem. Hey, tell Burkie I said Hi. Later, gator."
Fistric: "Who? Burkie?"
Shanahan: "Yeah, Burkie. Burke? Brian Burke?"
Shanahan: "Your boss?"
Fistric: "Uhh ... I play for the Dallas Stars, sir."
Shanahan: "Wait, what?! (frantically pops video into VCR, presses "power" button) Oh, I mean, wait a minute, hold on, let's see.. (tape ejects, he slams it in again)... Well, Mr. Fristic, I, uh, I was watching the tape again, a few replays while you told me that story, and, well, it's clear that since you don't play for an original six team, er—"
Fistric: "Original six team, sir?"
Shanahan: "Uhhh, forget I said that. What I meant, is that, after viewing this tape, you clearly need to be disciplined. Sorry. Sixteen games."
Fistric: "Sixteen games!! What the hell for?"
Shanahan: "... leaving your feet?"
Fistric: "Sir, my feet are planted on the ground when I start the check. A hockey player skated into me while I skated into him. The laws of physics dictate that my feet would have to leave the ice after the hit."
Shanahan: "Son, the NHL isn't interested in the laws of physics. Fine, then, 11 games."
Fistric: "For what?!?"
Shanahan: "... targeting the head?"
Fistric: "He's falling backward, seemingly to avoid the check, as my upper arm hits his face."
Shanahan: "Yeah, but ... ok, eight games."
Fistric: "Why eight?"
Shanahan: "... charging?"
Fistric: "'Charging,' on a north-south hit where both players were facing each other? Even an NHL ref wouldn't call that."
Shanahan: "Ok, ok ... but your previous record ..."
Fistric: "My hand got caught on a guy's helmet and I conked him once on the head with it. In a fight. Against a guy who is now my best friend and roommate."
Shanahan: "Hmmm ... ok, listen. I've weighed all the evidence. So I think we can agreeeeee ... threegamessosorryisthatokyesgreatfinebye!"(hangs up)
Shanahan unplugs the phone from the wall and gazes out the window. Suddenly, a lightbulb goes off over his head and his pupils are replaced by dollar $ign$. He rushes to the intercom and presses a large red button.
Shanahan: "Gary! Gary! I just had the best idea!!"
Bettman: "(sleepily) What is it now, Brendan?"
Shanahan: "I just thought of a way to make the league rich beyond our wildest imagination!!"
Bettman: "(sighs) Ok, Shanny, great, great. Go ahead."
Shanahan excitedly replugs in the phone into the wall, then flips through a dusty rolodex. Finally, his eyes light up, and he dials Scott Stevens' number.
Scott Stevens: "Hello?"
Shanahan: " (lowers voice an octave) Scottie, Scottiescottscottscaroo. I'm afraid we have a problem here. I've been reviewing tape of approximately 2,312 incidents from your career, and ..."