Sunday, August 23, 2015

From the Slot: The Day Dino Ciccarelli Broke My Heart

When I was six or seven, my younger brother started to play hockey. It's the first time I remember being aware that the Red Wings existed. It's '93, '94, and Dino Ciccarelli had been with the Wings for a year or two. He was my favorite player. Being that age, and not really knowing hockey, I don't really know why he was my favorite. But he was. When my Mom ironed on numbers onto my t-ball jersey, I chose 22. Can you guess why?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Kocur Foundation Softball Tournament, and Ciccarelli was on the guest list. I was very excited, and, being oblivious (plus my age when he was playing), I didn't know that he had a reputation for being a dick, and other parts of his off ice dealings.

So, I went to the tournament hoping to get many players' autographs, and among them, I wanted Ciccarelli's because he was my first favorite player. Before I learned better and Yzerman reigned supreme until his retirement.

A majority of the day, I spent with friends, the boyfriend, and their kids. We gathered around the fence of the celebrity dug out, and waiting behind the bleachers for the players going back and forth from the VIP area, and the dugout.

It felt... weird.

I was under the impression that in addition to supporting a great cause that part of the day was fan interaction, and it just felt like that wasn't what the players felt like that's what they signed up for. When most of the players and other celebrities were interacting with the fans, they were smiling and nice. But, for most of the games, they all stayed on the field because they didn't want to have to listen to people saying their names over and over again. And really, I can't blame them for wanting to just hang out, but if part of the event is touted as fan/player/celebrity interaction, then they hopefully understand the crowd of people around the dugout. Or maybe have designated signing times like McCarty and Ted Lindsey did.

One person, although he did sign things, and I eventually got an autograph, seemed like he didn't want to be there. I don't think I need to tell you who it was.

You see, even though he was there to play softball for a good cause, and (supposedly) for the fan interaction - I was there to meet someone I had idolized as a kid. That's a big expectation for me to carry in when meeting a fellow human.

Not that there is ever a reason to be a jerk to someone, but I feel like we place an unrealistic burden on athletes. Look at all the times that the athletes we idolize have let us down in just the last year or two. Currently, the hockey world is being rocked by rape allegations against Patrick Kane. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Sam Ukwuachu, Slava Voynov, Semyon Varlamov, Michael Vick, Aaron Hernandez, all of these athletes have been convicted or accused of doing horrible things. And that's just hockey and gridiron football.

When these humans screw up, or aren't what we idealize even in small ways, we get upset. Which is why I left the tournament yesterday feeling uneasy and unsettled by my interactions with Mr. Ciccarelli. I (subconsciously) expected this hockey player from my youth to be the man I saw on TV, not to be a human that has faults, thoughts, and feelings of his own.  To an extent, I'm responsible for my own disappointment yesterday.

To that same extent, we are responsible for some of our disappointment in these athletes when they don't live up to our expectations.  Not that that excuses the behavior of the humans we place on pedestals when they assault someone, or murder them, but we need to remember that the teams we watch, the people we look to, cheer for, are humans. They make mistakes like we do, and we need to remember that.

I think we'd all be a little less shocked when athletes and celebrities aren't what we expect or do bad things if we just manage to remember that they are human and maybe put a little less of our expectations on their shoulders.

Monday, January 19, 2015

From the Slot: Undrafted Players and the Hockey Hall of Fame

A question has been nagging at me: who is the first un-drafted National Hockey League player in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Well, the fast answer is the entire 1945 class of inductees.

But let's pretend we want to delve a little deeper and set a few parameters.

In 1963, the The National Hockey League Amateur Draft was the first entry draft to the NHL. Previous to that, players were found and signed by teams on their own.  Only North American players were drafted in the original conception of the draft, and even when European players began to defect to North America, they were ineligible for the draft and usually initially played for the team that helped them leave their home countries.

Peter Stastny. Photo Credit here.
The draft continued in the original fashion until 1979, when the NHL absorbed the World Hockey Association, and the rules changed so that any North American player from 18-20 years old and any European player of any age can be drafted in the newly termed NHL Entry Draft.

With players of all nationalities eligible for the draft, Tomas Jonsson (Sweden) became the first drafted European player as the 4th pick in the second round (29th overall).

The following year, Peter Stastny defected from Czechoslovakia with his brother Anton after winning the European Cup in Innsbruck, Austria. Having never been drafted, but played in the NHL with the now (sadly) defunct Quebec Nordiques,  the New Jersey Devils, and the St. Louis Blues, he becomes eligible to become the first un-drafted player to be inducted to the HHOF, and indeed, he did so. In 1998, three years after retiring in a Blues kit, Peter the Great was inducted into the HOF with Roy Conacher, Michel Goulet, and Athol Murray becoming the first un-drafted player in the HHOF by this definition.

Some of you might cry foul and say that Bj√∂re Salming was the first un-drafted player inducted. But, given that he wasn't eligible to be drafted before his rookie year in the NHL (six years before the draft rules changed), he was disqualified to be the first un-drafted inductee in the context of my question.  It's only fair that the first be after everyone is eligible for the draft, and given that European players weren't eligible in 1973 to be drafted, well, you get my point.

Regardless of whom you feel is the rightful first un-drafted NHL Hockey Hall of Famer, there is quite the illustrious list of un-drafted NHL players in the HHOF.  Eddie Belfour, Dino Ciccarelli, Joe Mullen, Adam Oates, the list goes on.

Only goes to show you that not being drafted isn't the end of the world.

Sources here, here, and here

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Mission to Civilize, er, I mean Decorate

After I finished the master and moved back in, I wanted to finish up decorating the rest of the house. There was a wall in the dining room, two walls in the living room, and some spaces smaller spaces in both rooms as well as the bathroom I wanted to finish.

The easiest was the dining room. Found this great painting at Meijer that coordinated well with the curtains.

Plus, I already had some pictures from my trip to Ireland framed, just not hung. Well, now they're up on the wall, under the photo I purchased at 500px of a waterfall at Yellowstone.

The living room was up next. Previously, there was a wall of wedding photos, and a smattering of photos on another wall. Some of those photos were Adam's, so I packed them up for him to have. 

This is a big wall though, and it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do there. 

First step, though, was moving my running photos to one wall.

Then, after much pondering, I saw some crayon art, and then I thought, "Perfect! I can totally do that!"

And I did. But now that that was decided, what was it going to be of? I settled on tributes to my biggest fandoms. Doctor Who, Harry Potter, M*A*S*H, and the Detroit Red Wings.

You'll notice that the M*A*S*H canvas is not crayon art. Good job! Cause it's not. It's pastels. It was too intricate to melt wax all over the place. It was my first time working with those as well, and I think it turned out rather nice. 

Plus, it takes up the entire wall, done!

Up next in the living room, I printed up some photos and dropped them into three photo collage frames.  That wasn't a hard decision, I knew I wanted more photos of my family and friends where they had been previously. Just in different frames and sizes.

Lastly, over the bay window I got a new display to replace the one that went with Adam. Plus, the red flower matches the dragonfly curtain!

Last tiny space to decorate, the people we bought the house from had left nails in the wall in the big bathroom. After being empty for two years, I decided to fill them.

As luck would have it, I passed an end cap at Meijer that had these two cute ceramics on clearance. I was sold!

I've been so pleased with how everything has turned out. I walk into my bedroom and smile because it's SO pretty.

I sit in my chair to watch TV, I look up, I see the art I worked so hard on.

I walk through and see all these touches I've added, and it just makes me so happy. I've got a big, goofy grin on my face all the time up in here!

P.S. If you don't catch my reference in the title, go check out Newsroom. First season is awesome.