Well I got to write this a lot later than I thought I was going to write it compared to the last three years so that's kinda nifty. However, the deep and irreversible emotional scars we all have are a little bit deeper this time around. Our wounds are going to require a lot of elvish nursing from Liv Tyler before we're no longer foaming at the mouth and seeing ghosts and the death of the world around us. The Nazgûl wear black and the Los Angeles Kings wear black, coincidence? Probably, but still f*ck both of those groups. They are both equally evil and go out of their way to bully and terrorize people of shorter stature. If Gabby gets re-signed by the Kings I'm calling him a Nazgûl for the rest of my life even if I'm happy he won a Cup.
Before I give you a bunch of worthless advice on how to get through the summer, you might want to take a little walk down memory lane with the first three summer survival guides (or check them out if you are new to the Banter and weren't around to read 'em):
Just awful, repetitive jokes. There probably wasn't enough of them though, so here's the fourth installment of Digger's Summer Survival Guide with even more repetitive jokes! And drawings! And curses!
Fake Hockey Strategy
I write about the Fake Hockey Strategy every year because I feel it is the way a lot us young'uns (I use that term loosely) of us get our hockey fix over the summer when we aren't slick with sweat and dicking around with capgeek.com. What makes this summer's fake hockey even better is that the next generation of consoles has come out. So now we can relive the Rangers season in slightly better graphics far from the despicable and noxious frivolity and mirth of those around us. You know the ones... the shirtless "bros" that wear board shorts when they have no designs of going to the beach or into a pool just because it's summer, the womenfolk that wear floppity sunhats and oversized glasses that talk about Pier 1 Imports and how trashy Kim Kardashian is but they just keep talking about her, and the children. God save me from the children.
I would say that you can play street or roller hockey in the summer but have you guys ever tried that? Goaltenders can play about 10 minutes at a time before they look like that Nazi dude that opened up the Ark of the Covenant; just steaming blood and soft tissue in puddles of hot, waxy flesh. The persistent stank of sweaty hockey gear in the summer sun is a crime against humanity and we should do whatever we can to avoid it. As much as those of us who play hockey will miss playing it for a few months I assure you that it is best avoided this time of year. What do bugs, humidity, and sunburn have in common? They all ruin hockey. And summer.
So stick to your Xbox or Playstation for your hockey fix this summer. Go back and finish this season the right way and when you look at people with eyes misty and glistening with tears you'll try to explain to them and they just won't understand. Then, when they're sleeping, murder them. Well, maybe don't murder them, but don't let them rob you of your joy. That is what life is all about really, suppressing the desire to murder people and not letting them spoil your good times. Also being decent to people and all that other crap.
It will only get us through a little bit of the offseason but there's no denying that the World Cup is worth watching. If I wasn't a hockey fan I would almost certainly be a soccer fan, especially if I had been born in Europe. Soccer and hockey are really quite similar; both have offsides, nets and goalies, something you have to put into net, sweaty people, penalty shots, and referees that don't know what the hell they're doing and can, and often do, ruin games.
The World Cup also gives us some perspective about what diving and embellishment really and truly look like. Soccer can be unwatchable because of the antics of seemingly every player on the pitch when they're touched, poked, or grazed by another player. It's as if the pitch is covered in land mines and any contact with another player causes you excruciating pain and discomfort. Compared to Derick Brassard, P. K. Subban, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the average soccer player is Daniel Day Lewis on a really good day.
If nothing else, soccer does make one appreciate just how tough and rugged hockey players are. It also makes you think things like; I wonder who cleans out the grass stains? So. Much. Running. Why are they always running? Why isn't that guy running? Can only a few guys at a time run? This game would be better if there was a bloodthirsty tiger just roaming around and ruining people and all they had to fight him off were the bones and body parts of those that were already taken by the tiger.
The Brad Richards Buy-Out Game (Part 2)
It's a pretty simple game really, try not to develop a socially debilitating nervous tic whenever you read or hear someone mention Brad Richards being bought-out this summer. Consider it a test of your willpower and stamina. How far can you make it before you start yelling at someone and begging them to talk about something else?
I have a feeling this is going to be torturous for us until it finally happens (if it doesn't happen, I expect us all to literally lose our minds). This is the one thing that almost every Rangers fan can agree on... so it'll probably be done at the last minute by Sather and the rest of the Rangers' brass. The buy-out window officially closes at 5 p.m. on June 30th and it officially opened 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final was finished. In other words, the buy-out window is now open. Hoooooooo doggy. How long will we have to wait to hear that Brad Richards has been bought out?
Be brave and strong my friends. Be brave and strong.
The stakes of this game are slightly higher because the Rangers aren't going to buy Rick Nash out and they shouldn't buy him out even if they had another amnesty buy-out. What most of us saw this season and postseason from Rick Nash was an ineffective power forward that failed to score at a pace appropriate to his salary and cap hit. What I saw was a player that suffered from some of the worst goal-scoring luck I've ever seen. Rick Nash had a shooting percentage of 3.6 in the postseason. That's crazy. That's bananas. He had a shooting percentage of 10.1 in the regular season and would've eclipsed 30 goals had he not played only 65 games due to injuries (not too shabby).
With that said, Nash needs to be better, especially in the big games, and everyone knows it. The Nash "apologists" know it and the Nash "haters" know it but we're still going to talk about it all summer long. We're going to drive each other crazy because everyone is going to keep repeating the same points over and over again and very few of us are going to be willing to agree to disagree. What I am proposing, to those of you who will follow me, is that we peacefully convert to Nashgnosticism. The Nashgnostics have no extreme opinions about Rick Nash whatsoever. They are uncertain how to feel about the handsome power forward that we seemingly liked more when he played for the opposition. Nashgnostics recognize that Nash needs to be better but they also recognize the team can't easily replace the role he plays for the team in free agency even if they wanted to. They don't see Rick Nash as a superstar. They don't see him as a worthless player. They see Rick Nash as a talented guy we are more or less stuck with who underachieved in the 2014 Playoffs. Nothing more, nothing less. Here's a chart to help illustrate where Nashgnostics are in the grand scheme of things.
Circle crabs are real dicks.
Whenever you see a Rick Nash debate on the Banter, twitter, or wherever these things break out just try and practice Nashgnosticism. Recognize the fact that yes, Nash wasn't good enough and no, we can't do anything about it. He's still on our team, he'll probably score 30 goals next season, and he'll probably not be very good in the 2015 Playoffs if the Rangers make an appearance there. It's a fun game to play. And by "game" I mean a strategy to not lose your sh*t and start doing that eyes-really-wide-nostrils-flaring thing while you wrench a leg off of a nearby chair and use it as a crude cudgel to start bashing people with because they refuse to stop talking about it and move on to talk about other things, like puppies or bacon.
Offseason GM Strategy
This summer survival strategy has already started to the surprise of absolutely no one. The armchair general managers have been hard at work and they're going to be presenting us with their schemes and designs for the duration of the summer. Buckle up.
At some point I'm going to do it, you're going to do it... we're all going to do it. We're also all going to have Grabovski as our second line center (the worst best kept secret of the offseason) and we're all going to bring back Anton Stralman even though the chances we're going to see him in a Rangers jersey next year at a reasonable cap hit is not bloody likely. All that I ask while you put together your 2014-15 Rangers roster is to try not to be one of those guys that has Jonathan Toews centering our first line because the Rangers managed to put together a package of three or four crap prospects and Dan Girardi to pry him away from the Blackhawks. Stuff like that doesn't happen guys. So don't give us all headaches by doing it over and over again during the summer.
Who do we sign? Who do we trade? Who makes what and for how long? What will Zuke get? Brassard? Kreider? John Moore? Can we bring back Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle? Will Pouliot be here next season? Will Diaz? Oh, it's going to be a goddamned nightmare.
Make a Beardsy Doll
The menfolk among us know what that sad walk to the bathroom felt like when we had to shave off or trim our playoff beards down into something that society, our significant others, or our parents would no longer shrink away in fear of. When I trimmed my prodigious neckbeard I looked down at the multi-colored tangle of hair and was not yet ready to let it go. It had been through so much with me, including the entirety of the 2014 NHL Playoffs. It had soaked up the juices of various meats. It had probably kept mosquitoes away from my neck. It had probably supported an ecosystem of tiny mites or bugs. It made me feel like a lion or some kind, a lion with a steel wool mane. And I tamed it. I conquered something raw and beautiful. I was no better than those dicks that shot all of the buffalo.
I looked down at the remains of a once mighty beard and frantically started clumping it together. I was driven by wordless instructions from deep within my heart. I used rubber bands, tape, twine, toothpaste, and glue. And then, after an eternity of five minutes, I saw something look back up at me. It was my Beardsy Doll. And he was going to keep me company this summer. He was going to make everything okay. I had made my own Frankenstein's monster and he was going to be way cooler because he would have nothing to do with the movie I, Frankenstein whatsoever (seriously Thomas Jane? Seriously?).
Beardsy is pleased to meet you.
Beardsy would've scored in overtime in Games 1, 2, and 5. Beardsy would have given us as many amnesty buy-outs as we wanted. Beardsy would never have turned the puck over in our zone so many times and he doesn't even know how to take penalties. That's just how good of a guy Beardsy is. He's a class goddamn act. Beardsy would pay me a small fortune for blogging if he had the money and would make sure that I never really and truly had to wear pants for the rest of my life. Beardsy is loyal, he is decent, he's empathetic and compassionate, and he is magical. If you rub him up against your face he'll give you Beardsy kisses which grant you modest super powers like being able to open up a book to the right page after your bookmark has fallen out of it and being able to catch glasses of water before they spill all over all of your nice things. Beardsy is the best.
Some might say that making and keeping a Beardsy doll is just an unhealthy way to hold onto the Rangers Stanley Cup run and that Beardsy is just a physical manifestation of shattered dreams and unspeakable pain... I don't like those people. They make Beardsy sad.
Beardsy may only have one arm and may only be a couple of inches tall but he's got moxie and charisma. He's the kind of guy that goes to the retirement home to play chess with old people. He's the kind of guy that brings you a steak when you're hungry and apologizes profusely for getting some hair on it. Oh Beardsy, don't you know it's the thought that counts you little angel? If you guys want we could meet up over the summer and play with our Beardsy Dolls together somewhere. I'm starting to make a Beardsy House and Beardsy Boat from toenail clippings, newspaper, and the teeth that I no longer deem to be "necessary". He's a scratchy good time and he's always happy to bring you along for his prickly, tickly, manly adventures.
I write about this one every summer for good reason; it's the way I wish I could get through the summer until there is hockey again. In an ideal world we would be able to become ravenously gluttonous like bears right before hibernation, and then simply disappear into a cozy den of blankets in an air-conditioned home, cave, or abandoned paint factory. The real magic of this strategy is learning how to successfully imitate the mysterious bear fecal plug. Yes. You read that right. And yes, that is a link you can click to read and learn about the great mystery of the ursine fecal plug and how it enables them to hibernate without sh*tting themselves all winter long. Go ahead click it. It's totally SFW guys. No pictures or anything. My favorite line from that little article; "Fecal plugs have a light odor that is not unpleasant." I need that on a shirt... a brown shirt.
Sadly, we are not bears. If we were bears I would probably be a lot less afraid of them than I currently am (death by eating alive from a small, hot, angry mouth is a pretty crap way to die). If any of you are going for the hibernation strategy this summer I recommend the following tools: laptop, laptop charger, air conditioning, an obedient mute, illiterate caretaker to occasionally sponge you off and brush the bugs off of your sleeping body (he'll never be able to share your shame with the world), an IV drip, and a very deep hole dug just beneath you to collect your tinkles. Let me know if you any of you guys actually pull it off this year, I want to know if it's possible before I give it a try.
Functioning Adult Strategy
The way that most of us (and by us, I mean you guys) will get through the summer is by working, socializing, and doing all of those things that productive people do to better themselves and enrich their lives. In a lot of ways it's nice that hockey just kinda stops for a few months. Sure there are trades, signings, buy-outs, and hockey news to keep track of but the real stuff stops. The game stops. It gives us a chance to lick our wounds and recover from the successes and disappointments of the last season. It gives us a chance to stop caring so deeply and so often and soak in the other stuff that life has to offer. Even if that other stuff is humidity, bugs, and sunburn. I seriously hate bugs you guys. So, so much.
Go do something great this summer. Read some books, fall in love, do donuts in the parking lot of a Dunkin' Donuts, learn an instrument, romance the hell out of your significant other, spend more time with your family, go get that job you always wanted, make an effort to be kinder to the people in your life, take up whittling, learn everything there is to learn about wine, be that guy that does shirtless tai chi in your driveway in the middle of the day, get outside, get some sun, and enjoy our time away from the game we love because absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Well, that's it ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed reading the fourth installment of Digger's Summer Survival Guide as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope I got you guys to laugh at least a few times because I know that we all need some laughs right about now. It was a great season. Thank you so much for reading all of the stuff I wrote this year and sharing so much of your time with me and the rest of the guys that make Blueshirt Banter happen. We love you. Have a
good goog summer.
Let's go Rangers.