Thursday, December 28, 2006

Criss Angel on Ice: The Magic of Ted Nolan

Let's start by saying that if I ever lose my mind, marry, and defy eugenics by procreating, two of my acursed brood may just have to be named Ted and Nolan, regardless of gender or species. That is of course, if the Isles continue improving and stunning the haters under the coach's steady, motivating hand.
Ted Nolan, an Ojibwa Native (like Shania, except he actually is!), was hired over an eventful summer by Islanders owner and loopy billionaire Charles Wang. For those unaware of the circus on the Island, newly hired GM Neil Smith, was fired after 40 days in office, Isles legend Pat LaFontaine quit the organization, and Garth Snow, who used to carry Rick DiPietro's water bottle, was named the new GM. And then the franchise paid for the college education of Rick DiPietro's grandchildren by offering him an unheard-of 15-year contract.
But we never should have doubted the awesome, unearthly powers of Ted Nolan. The Islanders are winning, Alexei Yashin is playing excellent hockey, and, absorbing some of the Nolan-luster, Garth Snow has made some intelligent moves to make way for a marquee deadline trade.
Ted Nolan is a veteran of two seasons in Buffalo and winner of the Jack Adams Trophy for Coach of the Year. I won't get into detail about the Nolan's clashes with Dom "Flopinator" Hasek or John "Who Needs Zdeno Chara?" Muckler that led to his break with the Sabres. Nor will I detail the perceived racism and GM-killer rumors that precluded him from getting an offer to coach in the NHL for the better part of a decade despite his unquestioned success.
Let's talk instead about how Nolan, like Siegfried & Roy and Oprah Winfrey's make-up artist, can perform miracles. While with the Sabres, Nolan took a squad of no-names (save the Flopinator) deep into the playoffs. Now, he's taking a squad of no-names (plus the hardest-working albino in the NHL) and shaping them into contenders. Hey, I'm not saying they should start scheduling their day with the Stanley Cup, I'm just saying they are a legitimate challenge to any team (except for Ottawa, for some reason).
If you want an example of just how dazzling a magician Ted Nolan is, look no further than Alexei Yashin. Yashin has always seemed like a lazy pretty boy. All talent, no gumption. I don't know what Ted Nolan did (besides cast powerful spells), but all of a sudden Yashin is finishing his checks, moving his feet to chase the puck, and carefully setting up his teammates. For further empirical evidence please note that (Saint)Jason Blake has almost reached his career goal total for the year and it's not even the All-Star Break; Arron Asham, mostly a grinder and goon, is now a legit scoring threat; Brendan Witt, Sean Hill, and Mike Sillinger, all left for dead by previous teams, are playing great hockey and acting as leaders in the dressing room. Nolan is a master motivator and calm, unflappable leader. Any one of his players would bust through a wall for him. Trent Hunter would bust through three, because that's the way he is.
Also magical? His fashion sense. From the Hawaiian print tie he wore in Ottawa, to the lavender get-up he donned for his Isles debut, Ted Nolan has tremendous style. His artfully moussed hair and serene pout out-Zoolander most coaches in hockey.
I hope Ted Nolan stays in the land of malls and mallrats for years to come. It's comforting to look behind the blue-and-orange bench and see him Blue-Steeling until his boys win. Any more magic and he'll need a staff and pointy hat.


Jordi said...

Ahaha pointy hat!

I apologise for being one of those people who laughed at the crazy DiPietro retirement fund. Now I like DP very muchly. You know.

Heather B. said...

It seems like Dominik Hasek lost a lot of Buffalo's love when Nolan got fired. While I'm a little sorry to have another competitive team in the East, I'm glad to see Teddy working again and doing well.

Has Timmy called yet? ;-)