Digger's Summer Survival Guide 2013

We're mad too Hank, we're mad too. - Jared Wickerham

Steel yourselves my friends, the offseason is here.

Behold! That thing none of you were waiting for, the third edition of Digger's Summer Survival Guide! For those of you who are newer to the site here are the first two awful installments:

Survival Guide 2011

Survival Guide 2012

I don't know about you guys but this season left me feeling awkward, confused, and disappointed. I imagine I'd feel kind of the same way if I went to play a pick-up hockey game and there was a goth kid named Azrael there with those creepy all-black contact lenses like the guitarist from Limp Bizkit and skin that looked like it had never seen the sun. And within the first few minutes it becomes apparent that Azrael is a lot better than everyone else and he just dominates the game and humiliates you and your friends. And then, just for good measure, after the game is over Azrael open-mouth kisses your buddy's sister, winks at you, and then hops on a bitchin' red scooter and putters off into the night with his hockey stick strapped to his back like Casey Jones from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles only gothy-er. Yerp, that'd be pretty awkward, confusing, and disappointing but not quite as much as this season was.

What's that you say? You've already blacked out what happened this season? Well, here is a brief summary of what went down.

During the summer the Rangers acquired Rick Nash and everyone said that with a first line of Nash, Richards, and Gaborik and Hank in net the Rangers were the team to beat. And then bam, lockout. We all felt dead and empty inside for months and months and then bam, the news hits that there will indeed be hockey in the form of a 48 game regular season. The Rangers struggled and sputtered through the regular season and on deadline day they traded away Marian Gaborik to get Derick Brassard, John Moore, and Derek Dorsett and also made a deal to bringe ine Ryane Clowe. With the postseason looking doubtful the Blueshirts rallied and clinched a playoff berth in the second-to-last game of the season. The Rangers somehow found a way to get past Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in an intense seven game series and then... they went into the bear pit.

And we all learned what happens when you go into the bear pit without anything that resembles a powerplay, a guy making $12 million playing on the fourth line, and a banged-up blueline.

Bearpit2_medium

The horror (I draw people with three fingers, deal with it).

So how the hell do we get through this summer without waking from night terrors and staring into the darkness of our bedrooms, asking the shadows where the hell Torey Krug came from and why he is a demon that feasts on our hopes and dreams? I'm not sure I have the answer to that my friends, maybe Azrael would know but that dude is miles away by now. What I can give you is the third installment of Digger's Summer Survival Guide.

FAKE HOCKEY STRATEGY

Always a popular strategy, the fake hockey strategy is for those of you who shun the cruel kiss of the sun's rays and prefer to spend your days (and nights) indoors bathed in the HD glow of your televisions while you play video game hockey. This is a strategy that I almost always employ, especially when I reach that delusional stage in the middle of the summer where I miss the Rangers so much that I decide to play the entire season and make sure that it goes the way it was supposed to go- with the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup, Roman Hamrlik and Stu Bickel never playing ever, and Rick Nash having 78 goals. Another way to enjoy fake hockey is to wrangle up as many squirrels and chipmunks as possible and "encourage" them to play out hockey games (naturally, the puck would be an acorn). I would suggest that you could even go so far as to Gregor Mendel it up and breed the best rodent hockey team ever but eugenics is a dark and dangerous path that seldom leads to good things. Two summers ago I suggested a similar approach with chimps but chimps eat people's faces and recently tried to take over the world in that James Franco movie so fuck those guys, they are worse than bears.

THE BRAD RICHARDS BUY-OUT GAME

In an attempt to stay sane (or perhaps dive deeper into the sweet, seductive waters of psychosis) try and keep track of how many comments, tweets, FanPosts, articles, and Ouija board references there are to Brad Richards being bought out this offseason. Any time that you avoid mentioning Richards, the potential buy-out, and/or his contract and thereby not perpetuating and feeding the hurricane of misery that we will all endure throughout the long summer please eat a cookie or a cupcake because you will have earned one.

(Note: Please don't turn this into a drinking game. You'll die.)

PICK A COACH, ANY COACH GAME

The other thing that I am sure will be a constant cloud over the Banter this summer is the job security of John Tortorella and the discussion of potential replacements. I'm going to establish a rule here and now and say that for every coach you suggest, especially Lindy Ruff, you have to eat a pinecone. Just so I don't come off as a monster, it can be a small pinecone and you can prepare it any way you want but you must eat it because eating that pinecone will only be half as awful as talking about whether or not Torts should or shouldn't lose his job all summer long.

HIBERNATION STRATEGY

Grab a pillow, a blanket, maybe a Snuggie, several Costco-sized bags of potato chips, and go hide in your bathroom for the next few months. Wake up only every few days to "take care of business", hose the stink and filth off your body, and groggily stare out the window into the disgustingly beautiful world just so you don't go too far down the rabbit hole. The permanent psychological damage of this strategy is staggering and almost certainly immeasurable but it is a surefire way to fast forward to the Fall and the 2013-2014 hockey season. This is still my favorite survival strategy because it not only prevents you from talking to people (people are overrated and some of them bite) but it also is good practice for the inevitable zombie/robot/alien apocalypse that is just ‘round the corner.

OFFSEASON FANTASY GM

I affectionately call this "Mosheing it up". We all like to play GM every once in awhile and lord knows there is going to be a lot of time to kill in the offseason. At some point someone is going to spend half an hour on capgeek.com, have an epiphany, and have a great need to share their solution to all the Rangers' woes in a comment or a FanPost (Note: As I was writing this, this has already started to happen... so there you go). We'll talk about re-signing RFAs Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, and Mats Zuccarello and just make up numbers because that is what we all love to do and then make some other numbers up and talk about who we can bring in to fix everything, including the un-fixable powerplay. We'll even talk about whether or not Clowe will re-sign for weeks and weeks and what would be an acceptable contract length and cap hit for his services. After a short time we'll all just lose our minds and come up with unreasonable shopping lists and be immensely disappointed when the Rangers sign none of the guys we convinced each other that we really wanted and give all of the RFAs two-year deals because that is what Slats always does. It'll be a real hoot.

CIVIL WAR STRATEGY

One of the most disturbing facts about the nature of man is our innate aggression and our propensity for war. Blueshirt Banter has a lot of writers and members with a lot of charisma and popularity and it also has a lot of people disagreeing with each other on a daily basis. There have been whispers about a Civil War shattering the treasured unity of the Banter like Mjolnir shatters the jaws of Frost Giants for months now (all started by me in one of my many attempts to entertain myself). Soon, a line will be drawn and sides will be taken and what unfolds will be a symphony of carnage, screams, and blood-soaked glory. I suggest that we all prepare ourselves by growing out muttonchops or other nineteenth century facial hair patterns. The ladies of the Banter can wear fake beards or bonnets or whatever it is ladies wore back in the day. Not going to happen you say? This place has been a powder keg for days... DAYS I TELLS YA, and at some point someone is going to fire the first shot. Who knows, perhaps cooler heads will prevail and we can avoid needless interwebs bloodshed but do not trust to hope, it has forsaken these lands. Okay, so I stole that line from LotR because it was on in the background when I was writing this, so what? Y'Wanna fight about it? ...See? Just like that a war could start. I told you this place was a friggin' powder keg.

THE BREAKUP STRATEGY AKA THE ANIMATED MOVIE MARATHON STRATEGY

We all feel hurt and betrayed by our beloved Rangers. Lord knows we are disappointed not only in them but in ourselves for expecting so much from them. The love we share is deep and strong enough that we will come back to them eventually (we always do... no one spoons us quite like the Rangers do) but for the offseason we can break it off with them at least for a little while. Just so that we can grow and find ourselves, y'know? And by grow and find ourselves I mean walk around in an oversized t-shirt and pajama pants while convincing everyone via facebook and text messages that we are doing just fine and that we've never felt better while we cry ourselves to sleep every night and eat ice cream for lunch and dinner and shame for breakfast.

My personal spin on the Breakup Strategy is to watch as many animated movies as possible and as many entire seasons of shows as possible (hello new season of Arrested Development). Netflix is a beautiful and dangerous thing. It is amazing how you can find yourself mesmerized and stuck watching entire seasons of a show that you are only moderately interested in and wondering where the hell the time went and why you only just now realized that it is 4:00 AM and you have to urinate, sleep, eat, and get some work done. I may stand alone on this but animated movies, especially the Pixar variety, comfort my soul in a way that I can't express through words. I probably enjoy them a little bit too much though...



And you guys don't think I'm an emotionally stable adult. Pffssshhh. I am sure some of you think that watching a bunch of Pixar movies to get over a case of the boo-hoo-cry-all-the-times is even more pathetic than quoting my own tweets in an article but I can't hear your negativity over the happy sighs of my inner child. And if I could I would start a war with you... shit! War again, just like that! Friggin' powder keg.

However you get through this offseason and whatever strategies you might use to make it go by faster I hope that you all have a happy, healthy, safe, laugh-filled, and fantastic summer spent with friends, family, and the person that lets you kiss them on the mouth if you are fortunate enough to have one of those. Go enjoy the sun, go grill, go romp around the beach, go sleep in, and go enjoy the part of the year where hockey doesn't constantly influence whether we go to sleep smiling or scowling. Thanks for making this year on Blueshirt Banter a blast guys. I know I speak for everyone on the staff when I say that we are looking forward to keeping you informed and entertained throughout the offseason. I hope you enjoyed the third installment of Digger's Summer Survival Guide.

So, what strategies are you going to use to get you through the summer? Who are you pulling for to hoist the cup now that the Rangers can't do it? How bad do you want a bitchin' red scooter? Favorite animated movie?

Take care of yourselves and each other. Let's go hockey, let's go Rangers.

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