Friday, November 23, 2012

Operation Hat Trick a trick of another kind

Hello again, folks. Nyaaaah!

It's your old pal Evil Bob, back after a looong hiatus to spread some holiday anti-cheer <strokes pencil-thin handlebar moustache> and give you the real scoop on "Operation Hat Trick," that game with all the ex-NHLers taking place this Saturday down in Atlantic City that everyone is just falling all over themselves to let everyone else know they're going.

They got you again, didn't they?

Your blood -- which like all humans, pumps red -- still bleeds Orange and Black, Black and Red or Red, White and Blue for the five major teams in a 130-mile radius. And apparently all it takes for you to spend your hard-earned cash for gas, tolls, tickets and concessions, was for your "heroes" to come streaming back from points unknown and simply take the ice again somewhere.

Nothing says hockey and helping your fellow man like playing near unfrozen water in one of two USA gambling meccas, right?

And of course, that somewhere has to be the Mausoleum-by-the-Sea otherwise known as "Boardwalk Hall." It's a place so sterile (like a hospital waiting room with frescoes) that most fans who are socially inept enough to watch a game there rather than gamble or shop or take in a fine exotic dance show or purchase some gold of untainted origin in this fine city, that their minds wander to the vaulted ceiling to rip on the garish paint job instead of watching a random stick puncture the mouth of a bonus baby now plying his trade in Bratislava instead of Boston.

Remember that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, unaffiliated with the NHL, not on strike and not locked out, without drama or much fanfare, pledged $1 million of his own money to help victims of Sandy. BOOM! Roasted.

That's true Christian charity, and while it's not 100 percent on the saintly (get it?!) ledger, it's a hell of a lot more altruistic than millionaires who have little interest in sticking around to influence their boss to get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement done suddenly riding in on their White Horses and putting together nothing more than a cheap PR stunt.

You have to hand it to them. Even without advance notice of the NHL's plans to get rid of the All-Star Game and the next two week block of regular-season matchups as of today, they get the badly-needed win. It's like pouring a bag of sugar on a flan. Wilford Brimley would drop dead of diabeetus, this thing is dripping with so much sweetness.

Want further evidence you've been had? Rick Tocchet coaches one team and some dude from that Guinea train wreck MTV show is coaching the other.

The idea of giving to those who need is so pervasive these days, that most of you don't even think -- you just turn your pockets inside out, and are content with yourselves for having done something the world will give you a gold star for doing when there's nothing special about it anymore. A slow clap is in order but that's it.

How quickly you forget these one-trick ponies are roughly half of the reason you cry into your pillows and whine on social media each day about the fact that "hockey is gone" when it's all around you, 30 NHL teams aside. 

You know what the smart thing would be instead of a Pavlovian reflex involving the lightening of your wallet for these international con artists? For some of those close enough to AC to attend the game and who have seen their lives wrecked because of the effects of the hurricane head up to each player and give them a piece of their minds.

Tell Henrik Lundqvist that he's not really cleaning your flooded basement or comforting family members traumatized by damage to their neighborhood by jetting in and jetting out with roughly two hours of his time allotted to play a game.

Mention to Daniel Alfredsson that his cash is no good here (seriously, look up the exchange rate on that). Hand Martin Brodeur the soggy, broken remnants of your ocean-view deck and tell him thanks for the memory.

Inform Scott Hartnell that while he has the option of a) owning a team and b) playing on that team in another continent, you on the other hand don't even have one house in working order in which to live, and have only one job which needs to provide for children, and that maybe using his influence as a Flyers player rep in the union/league negotiations, he might be better served helping rescue a season which may be more of a burden lifter and pleasant distraction in the long run than a simple one-shot deal.

It kinda makes those "liberal" rockers Springsteen and Bon Jovi -- who will organize a benefit at the drop of an upturned fedora -- look good by comparison, because at least they were born, raised and live in the state of New Jersey.

Whatever this is, it ain't nearly enough, and could have been organized just as easily, and a lot less conspicuously, without the flash and trash of what used to be the National Hockey League.

You say there's 10,000 people expected to show up? A question: what is the sound of 20,000 hands clapping? Anybody who's ever been to the weathered edifice on the 2300 block of Pacific Avenue knows that whatever it is, it's usually overwhelmed by the cavernous dimensions of the place, like a scream muted in the vacuum of outer space.

Even if the Jersey Shore version of the Santa Ana winds sweep through the seats and there's a persistent purposeful chant of "We Want Hockey," fat chance anyone of consequence, i.e. the actual players, would be caught noticing it.

So, good luck to you all who make the trip. Remember, just walk up to the table and put it all on black and always hit when you have 16. And when that nice man in the pinstripe suit tells you to get in the limo which will take you to the best bar in town which he says will host the OHT after-party, go ahead and hop in. Nothing could possibly go wrong because charity is something everyone at every level can get behind.

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