Annnnnnd, I'm back. Only been five months. Miss me? Didn't think so.
Last year I used Harry Potter for the season preview. This year I am going with Game of Thrones, AKA A Song of Ice and Fire. (GOT is actually the name of the first book in the series so ASOIAF is a bit more appropriate when referring to the whole series...but...whatever.)
I have read all the books (five of a planned seven) and watched the first two seasons of the HBO series. Obviously by reading the books I know things that are going to happen to a lot of the characters that you wouldn't know if you only watched the HBO series. With that in mind I did my best to keep my descriptions vague so as not to spoil anything for you TV-only people, which I assume is the vast majority. Also, I used illustrations for the characters that I found online rather than the actors from the TV show. I don't like being forced to imagine a character based on an actor's physical appearance. I like to use my imagination so that's why I decided to do it that way.
If you haven't read the books, I highly recommend them. They provide so much more depth and context than they are able to fit into the TV show. I still like what HBO has done with it but the universe George R.R. Martin has created is so huge and has so many characters that it is really hard to work all the subtleties and nuances into a TV show. Stuff gets lost.
I was planning on posting this on Friday 1/18, the day before the first game of the season. Unfortunately I came down with pneumonia last week and that just knocked me on my ass. I highly recommend never catching pneumonia if you can arrange it.
I'm not sure what my plan for this blog is going forward. I would like to think that I will be posting somewhat regularly during the hockey season. At least I will if I think I have anything interesting to say. Follow me on Twitter if you care and I will link to whatever new stuff I post there.
I broke this down into two parts. The first part is all Blackhawks players and personnel. The second part is all non-Hawks players and NHL/league people. Enjoy!
PART 1 - BLACKHAWKS PLAYERS AND PERSONNEL
Jonathan Toews is...
Each is the most important character in their respective story and the plots cannot move forward unless they advance them. Danerys is the mother of dragons and slaves. Tazer is the metaphorical father of the team. He's the daddy-captain. Did you see the pictures of him running practices during the lockout? It's just what he does, it's etched into his DNA. I like to imagine someone else trying to run a practice and Tazer proceeding to stare them to death.
It's easy to forget how young Danerys and Tazer are. Danerys is only fourteen in the books (guess HBO isn't cool with depicting a 14 year-old getting mounted by a much older Khal Drogo...) and Tazer is only twenty-four. In hockey terms, he's still three to five years away from his prime.
The main difference between these two is that Tazer has already been to the top of the mountain. The question is: was that a one time thing or can he put a team on his back and take them to the promised land one or two more times before he's done? Danerys is still earning how to weild her power and is yet to achieve her dream of sitting upon the Iron Throne.
The Money Quote: "When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who have wronged me. We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground. Turn us away and we will burn you first."
Patrick Sharp is...
Ser Loras Tyrell
Because they're the finest physical example of the male form in both fiction and real life. Or so I understand. That's where any comparison of these two must begin anyway. Sharp is one of Chicago's Most Beautiful People. Ser Loras is known as the Knight of Flowers. Women swoon after him wherever he goes. They dampen the ladies' smallclothes is what I'm trying to say. (Disclaimer: In the books there are oblique references to Loras' sexual orientation and a possible clandestine relationship with Renly Baratheon; In the television show there is no ambiguity, Loras and Renly are shown to be lovers....but I digress.)
On a less superficial level, we must acknowledge that both of these guys are the balls in combat. Sharp was the Hawks best and most dependable forward last year and is vastly underrated in the discussion of best offensive players in the league. There is nothing really underrated about Loras. He is a member of the Kingsguard. He wins tourneys left and right and is considered one of, if not the best all-around knights in Westeros.
The Money Quote: [Jaime Lannister about Loras] "He is me, Jaime realized suddenly. I was speaking to myself as I was, all cocksure, arrogant, and empty chivalry. This is what it does to you to be too good, too young."
Marian Hossa is...
Khal Dogo is the baddest motherfucker to have sprung forth from the mind of George R.R. Martin thus far in a Song of Ice and Fire. Nothing stands before him and the only player on the Hawks worthy of the comparison is my main man, my favorite Hawk, Boss Hoss, Marian Hossa.
Snappin' necks and cashin' checks is what they do. When you are reading about or watching Drogo you can feel the power glowing off the page and screen. He is pure animal-warrior. No thought, just movement and action. Instinct. And that's what it feels like when I'm watching Hossa when he's on his game, just toying with the opposition because he's just so much better than everyone else on the ice. Whatever. I'll admit it. My Hossa man-crush is one degree shy of becoming Loras/Renly-esque.
If I'm comparing these two though, I can't get out of here without mentioning something rather unfortunate. Both Hoss and Drogo were brought low by treachery. Hossa by the mindless cruelty of Raffi Torres and Drogo by the blood magic of Mirri Maz Durr.
Hossa, like Tazer needs to avoid being concussed again this season if the Hawks are going to have any success.
PS: If anyone in the Hawks front office is even thinking about buying out Hoss next summer, I'm gonna find them and do THIS. Beware.
UPDATE: Hoss checks in with a goal and two assists in the first game of the season. Boom!
The Money Quote: "I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their golden gods back to Vaes Dothrak."
Patrick Kane is...
Kaner is a more important character to the Blackhawks than Syrio Forel is to A Song of Ice and Fire but I couldn't figure out anyone else who matched up with Kaner so well. Forel is a water dancer, a philosopher, and as the former First Sword of Braavos, he is the ultimate swordsman.
I love how Martin writes Forel. His constant use of the third person to refer to both himself and the person he is speaking to is very entertaining.
The comparison with Kaner is based solely on their pure skill levels. I've seen it written before that Kaner is the Hawks most skilled player since Denis Savard. For all of his off-ice exploits and being pushed into roles that don't suit him *cough*center*cough* it can be easy to forget how supremely talented the kid actually is when he is allowed to do what he does: make plays. He is the Blackhawks water dancer and their first sword.
The Money Quote: "Just so. Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes are true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth."
The Money Quote No. 2: "There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'Not today.'"
The Money Quote No. 3: "The Frist Sword of Braavos does not run."
Dave Bolland is...
Petyr Baelish AKA Littlefinger
There is the Game of Thrones and then there are the games within the Game of Thrones. These two are the masters of the games within the game. Manipulation and psychology are where they make their bones.
It's the work that Bolland does between the whistles that makes him special. Like Baelish, he is slight of build and tends to rely more on his cunning than whatever his physical gifts may be. He'll fuck with the other teams' mind then annoyingly back it up with a great skill play. Even in moments of success however, he betrays nothing. Are you familiar with his post-goal serial killer stare?
He is The Rat.
If Petyr Baelish's nickname was not Littlefinger, it could easily be The Rat. Just look at him. He is so god damned sneaky and slimy...and ratty. He makes me squirm whenever he shows up in the series. So creepy. Always plotting and scheming to assume as much power as he possibly can you never feel like you really know what is going on with Littlefinger. You know he's playing the game two or three moves ahead of you but you can't catch up with him. If every player in the game is dancing, don't you get the uncomfortable feeling that Littlefinger is the one holding all the strings? Gross.
The Money Quote: "Distrusting me was the wisest thing you've done since you stepped off your horse."
Duncan Keith is...
Great, yet flawed men. Eddard tried to play the game of thrones with honor and that cost him his head. If only Eddard would have remembered what Leo, the evil leader of The Scorpions gang in the musical Grease said: "The rules are, there ain't no rules."
No rules in drag racing and no rules in the game of thrones, alas. That is not to say that Eddard was stupid, just that he could not deviate from his rigid moral code for any reason, even if it meant saving his own life.
Which brings us to the curious case of Duncan Keith. Only a couple of years ago he was deemed the best defenseman in all the realm. Today, he's slipped into a secondary tier and the fans and media have just about run out of explanations as to what exactly his malfunction is.
At first we thought it was just part of the general hangover the whole team went through after the Cup run. He admitted as much himself. Then last year there was a lot of talk about motivation and visits to the team psychiatrist. Haven't heard a peep out of him this off-season/lockout. He wasn't in Chicago working out with the guys there so I'm left to assume he was training in solitude in rural British Columbia like some kind of Canadian monk.
It's my hope that during all these off months that he was able to sort out whatever it was that bringing him down and get back to his old ways.
Quiet, solid, rigid. Honorable. There are a lot of similarities between Duncs and Eddard, I just hope that Keith figures out how to change himself in time. Eddard didn't.
The Money Quote: "Winter is coming."
Brent Seabrook is...
Power play? Check. Penalty kill? Check. Shut down the other team's top line? Check. Eats monster minutes? Check. Can be relied upon to complete any task put to him in any given situation? Check. He is simply the Hawks best defenseman and he does it all in relative silence and anonymity.
Jaqen H'ghar is the best at what he does (killing people). If you give a man a name, a man will kill him for you. Period. End of story. As a Faceless Man of Braavos we don't really know who or what Jaqen H'ghar is other than the most efficient killer this side of Dexter. And he does it all in relative silence and anonymity.
The Money Quote: "Help was not promised, lovely girl. Only death."
Corey Crawford is...
Sometimes it's easy to forget that the goaltender is the most important position on a hockey team. It's even easier to forget that on a team like the Hawks who have so many interesting players and personalities outside the crease that by the time you get to thinking about Corey Crawford, you're like, "Oh yeah, him."
His first season was good, his second season was bad and now what are we to expect in his third? It was too many softies last year, especially in the playoffs that sunk the Hawks. Did he spend his lockout time wisely? I don't know. I never heard anything about him at all during the lockout. He is so boring that he makes Tazer look like a coked up go-go dancer in a cage at Studio 54, circa 1978. I bet you Crawford is like one of those weirdos who are on that show My Strange Addiction. He probably eats toasters or something.
It can be easy to forget about Bran as well since Martin tends to abandon his story from hundreds of pages at a time. But that's not because he's not important, in fact he may end up as the most important character in the series when it's all said and done (with the caveat that he doesn't die first, of course - Martin loves to kill his characters).
As an aside, I predict the climax of the entire saga will come down to some kind of epic showdown between Bran and Danerys, Ice versus fire. Just a guess.
Anyway, there's a lot going on with Bran. He obviously has enormous potential but can he learn to harness his power, and channel it properly? Same for Crawford. Enormous potential. The talent is there, but can he put it all together in a scant 48 games?
The Money Quote: "Can a man still be brave when he's afraid?"
Daniel Carcillo is...
We don't have proof that Carcillo is not actually a red priest of R'hllor so until proven otherwise, I'm just going to go with that.
Lots of connections between these two. Melisandre seems to be playing a game that we, the readers, are not privy to and sometimes it feels like Carcillo decides to play his own games with out considering what is best for the team. I can't take any more mindless majors that require season-ending surgery and months of rehab from him.
Melisandre undoubtedly has power. We just don't understand where it comes from or what the extent of it is. I don't think she does either. Her visions show both truths and half-truths and she doesn't have the skill to separate the two which is frustrating and makes her look like some kind of carnival sideshow... Just like Carcillo.
Carcillo actually has some skill but when he forgets that and lets his reptilian brain take over (or maybe it's the other way around; maybe his brain is primarily reptilian and the human side emerges only occassionally...) things go to shit and he becomes the sideshow.
Both Carcillo and Melisandre have attached themselves to powerful people in order to further their ambitions: Melisandre to Stannis Baratheon and Carcillo to Toews and Hossa (on whose line he will be skating). Only Q would be able to explain why Carcillo is on a line with two of the best forwards in hockey when he should be in the bottom six somewhere. Melisandre is merely an up-jumped priestess who thinks that Stannis is the answer to her prophecies. Stannis is running with her because he doesn't have any other options. The Hawks have other options on what they can do with Carcillo although it is up to Q's whims to make it happen. Color me doubtful.
UPDATE: Carcillo injured himself in the first game of the season and will be out for a month.
The Money Quote: "We all must choose. Man or woman, young or old, lord or peasant, our choices are the same. We choose light or we choose darkness."
Brandon Saad is...
Brandon Saad and Arya Stark are the vessels of all our hopes and dreams. Merely children, we have seen their potential and ache to see both of them mature into their powers with which they will beat fools down.
Arya is my favorite character in both the books and television series, although in the books Martin spends a hell of a lot more time on characters a hell of a lot less interesting (Catelyn Stark, come on down! Brienne of Tarth, come on down!) than Arya. In books with fifty or sixty chapters, he might give her three. Come on, man.
We want both of them to do well so badly that it aches. We want Arya to become a master assassin who takes vengeance on all the people who destroyed her and her family (Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling, The Tickler, The Hound, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, King Joffrey, Queen Cersei) and we want Saad to become the next Hossa. We want it. Can they live up to our expectations? I don't know. That's why we read the books and watch the games...
The Money Quote: "Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine. Fear cuts deeper than swords. The man who fears losing has already lost. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords."
Andrew Shaw is...
Sandor Clegane AKA The Hound
They're button-pushers. They annoy you with their filthy chirping which is one way to get under your skin... but when some one tells them to, you know, push a button... they push it.
Excuse me for jumping off the GOT metaphor train here for a second but maybe this exchange from The Godfather, Part 2 can explain things a little better.
Chairman: You were a member of the Corleone crime organization.
Cicci: No. We called it the Corleone Family, Senator. We called it the family.
Chairman: What was your position?
Cicci: At first, like everybody else, I was a soldier.
Chairman: What is that?
Cicci: A button, you know, Senator, come on.
Chairman: No, I don't know. Tell me.
Cicci: Well when the boss says push a button on a guy, I push a button. See, Senator?
The Money Quote: "If any man dies with a clean sword, I'll rape his fucking corpse!"
The Money Quote (Bonus Quote!): "Fuck the Kingsguard, fuck the city, fuck the king."
Joel Quenneville is...
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
Grizzled, veteran soldiers. Leaders of men. Questionable decision-makers.
The Money Quote: "They say the king loved to hunt. The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that."
PART 2 - NON-HAWKS PLAYERS & LEAGUE PERSONALITIES
Dustin Byfuglien is...
Because they're both fat, you see.
The Money Quote:
Alexandre Burrows is...
A weak, insecure boy who betrays the family that raised him and kills many of those that he was closest to. Sounds about right for Burrows.
The Money Quote: "It's better to be cruel than weak."
Sidney Crosby is...
They operate under the presumption that they are the best. That they are the true heirs and direct descendents of the great players and kings that have come before them.
But they presume too much. They over reach. They whine and grovel and depend upon the welfare of the media strangers to survive.
No, in the end, they are not special at all. Crosby got his crown of concussions and Viserys received his crown of molten gold.
The Money Quote: "You dare? You give commands to me? To me? You do not command the dragon. I'm the lord of the Seven Kingdoms. I don't take orders from savages or their sluts. Do you hear me?"
Don Cherry is...
Grand Maester Pycelle
Doddering old fools whose"wisdom" is sought out and listened to with great reverence.
The Money Quote:"Now I have his son, King Joffrey, may the Gods bless his reign. He's a capable young man."
Elliote Friedman is...
They are the Masters of Whispers. Too easy.
The Money Quote: "The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling."
Gary Bettman is...
Lying, incompetent, scheming cunts.
The Money Quote: "When you play the game of thrones you win or die. There is no middle ground."
Jeremy Jacobs is...
These are the true faces of evil and power. Other...lesser...beings, may scurry about, making irritating noises in dark corners of these stories but in the end they signify nothing. Only these two stand unopposed, lords of all they survey. They are heartless pricks who would sell their own mothers into prostitution if they thought there was a buck to be made.
The Money Quote: "A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep."
Donald Fehr is...
They are the perfect foils for Jeremy Jacobs and Tywin Lannister. If only the whole world wasn't watching every move Jacobs and Tywin make, they would have disposed of these disgusting inconveniences long ago. Alas, as it stands, their existences must be tolerated.
Unfortunately for Jacobs and Tywin, Tyrion and Donald are the cleverest characters in their respective universes. They tend to be underestimated at every turn which they almost always use to their advantage.
The Money Quote: "I have a realistic grasp of my own strengths and weaknesses. My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his war hammer, and I have my mind...and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it's to keep its edge. That's why I read so much, Jon Snow."
That's it. You can follow me on Twitter @nCornick more nonsense if you so desire.