With the start of the regular season now less than a month away, I figured now is as good a time as any to issue a general disclaimer about the upcoming seven to eight months.
When I joined Bleacher Report shortly before the end of the 2007-08 regular season, I took a lot of heat initially. I was a Penguins fan and immediately labeled as a bandwagon jumper, I could have cared less about my grammar, and I commonly inserted the word "joke" into the spelling of a players' name (i.e. Ovechjoke, Chris Osjoke, etc.).
Now while I understand that there are a lot of people that register to the site, never write a single article, but proceed to throw out all sorts of rival-bashing comments, directed not only at the opposing team, but also at the opposing writer. I hope that I am not thrown into this category, I am approaching 100 articles at Bleacher Report, and I'd like to think that I've entertained at least a few people during my time here.
So, for those of you newcomers to the site, strap in because it will be a fun ride. The word "joke" will be overused to the point that it may activate your gag reflex whenever you see it in writing for the next five years. There will be multiple "Debby Briere" and "Benedict Hossa" references. I will call your team homosexual, heaven forbid, I might even use the word "gay".
I will say that players from your team have made the biggest mistakes of their lives after taking a penalty in which the Pens net a power play goal. I will say that your goaltender belongs back in pee wee's after allowing six goals on 26 shots. I will say that your coach is among the top five most annoying human beings on planet Earth, then proceed to make fun of his annoying speech impediment for the "nexth five thententheth".
All the while, I am recapping a game. A series of events that ultimately result in a final score; one winner, one loser, thousands of happy fans, thousands of disappointed ones.
I'm sure that many questions will arise as we progress through the upcoming season, so perhaps I should offer some general answers before things get too out of hand.
I do not think that I am better than anyone, on this site, or in the world for that matter. I recognize that in terms of writing prowess I probably don't rank in the top 25 on this site. Does that bother me? No, not at all. I'm just trying to have some fun while expressing my dedication to my team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I am not a bandwagon jumper. I endured some of the worst hockey in recent history in Pittsburgh. I watched as Rico Fata and Dick Tarnstrom led the Penguins in scoring. I cried when the Penguins drafted Crosby. Not because I was happy, but because I was so relieved that we might actually be entertained watching this team again. I vaguely remember the Penguins' first Stanley Cup in 1991, but I remember exactly where I was sitting, who I was with, and what I said when they won it again in '92.
I do not think any less of you as a human being because you are a Flyers/Rangers/Crapitals/Devils/Red Wings/etc. fan. I don't like your team, I don't like your city, whatever, big deal. It doesn't mean I have anything against you as a person. Whether or not I would ever carry on a three hour conversation with you is more on the "no" side than the "yes", but if you want to try to talk to me, go for it, I'm a pretty easy going guy.
So as we get ready for yet another season, hopefully everyone is ready for the "Martin Brodeur's illegitimate son has left the building" jokes, coupled with the "Gretzky lost a hockey game tonight... his wife lost 3 grand at a slot machine" references, to go along with the ever pleasant references to "Filthadelphia" and "New York Shitty" and the sure to be new-found rivalry with the "Tampa Bay Penguin Stealers".
Just try to keep in mind that this is all in fun. I have the utmost admiration for every single player that plays in the National Hockey League, and I feel that these guys are the most gifted athletes in the world. So, when I say that Brain Rolston couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle after he goes 12 games without a goal for the Devils, please know that I do in fact know that this couldn't be farther from the truth.
So, here's to a new season, new rivalries, new fueds between old rivals, new jokes, new moments, new memories, and most importantly, another Championship-less year for the city of Philadelphia.
Let's Go Pens.