What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Now that we are past the first full week of the 2018-19 National Hockey League season, and thanks to the traditional free preview of NHL Center Ice on, I’ve gotten a good glimpse of all 31 teams in the National Hockey League. I wanted to see all these in the regular season before opining as to who has the best shot at skating off with Lord Stanley’s Cup come June. That’s because a lot of stuff happened this off-season, and for the first time in quite a while, there’s been a tectonic shift in the NHL “haves and have nots.”
This shift has been so dramatic it is reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That fact reminded us here at Dubsism World Headquarters that the vast majority of the hockey players in this world either come from former communist countries like Russia and the former Soviet Bloc, countries with westernized “Communism Light” like Scandinavia and Canada, or the remaining vestiges of Stalinism itself; Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the three counties in Southern California with a large number of expatriates from both.
Anyway, sports are one of the great unifying forces in all of our world; the love of hockey is what we here at Dubsism have in common with all those murderous commie bums. Given the aforementioned metaphor with the fall of the Berlin Wall, we decided it might me time to reflect on the good old days of “Cold War” by comparing some of those wonderfully kooky, commie leaders by comparing them to today’s NHL franchises in terms of the team’s likelihood of capturing the Stanley Cup.
Cup Contender #31) Ottawa Senators
The theme for the Ottawa Senators in 2018-19 can be summed in one word: bleak. Before the season even started, they traded away their “star” Erik Karlsson rather than to risk losing him for nothing in free agency. In other, before puck #1 dropped, the Senators threw in the towel. This makes it official that you don’t need to look toward Washington D.C to see pathetic performances by Senators.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Pol Pot, Cambodia, 1963-1981
What does it say about a guy when he was such a horrible leader that his fellow neighboring Vietnamese communists took him out? A French-educated communist, Pol Pot is the guy who brought us “The Killing Fields” by force-marching all the city-dwellers out to the countryside to become farm workers. Naturally that failed, so he doubled-down by machine-gunning those who didn’t meet quotas. In no time at all, the paddies were too full of corpses to grow anything.
Cup Contender #30) Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens are another team starting behind the hockey 8-ball. Only about three doctors and God know how long the Habs will be without Shea Weber, but at least they have put Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty on the first plane out of town. They still have Carey Price in goal, but even when he’s healthy, with precious little defense in front of him, he’s going to spend a lot of time doing his best impression of a tin duck in a shooting gallery.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Hugo Chavez, Venezuela, 1999-2013
A proven way to not win a lot of hockey games is to have no defense in front of a goalie who has so many “frequent flyer miles” the local hospital named their MRI machine in his honor. The comparison is in Chavez’ economic implementation of communism; somehow he found a way to turn a country floating on oil which was the Latin American banking equivalent of Switzerland into a place were everybody is standing in line to by half-a-loaf of bread and three eggs with a wheelbarrow full of cash.
Cup Contender #29) Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes are the proverbial “up and coming” team; being on the receiving end of the Alex Galchenyuk trade is the centerpiece for making that chase. They also have a future star in Clayton Keller. But they are coming from a place so far away from contention, it’s easier to picture Wayne Gretzky as a nude model than it is to see the Coyotes being anywhere near a play-off, let alone a cup contender.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Ymajaagiin Tsedenbal, Mongolia, 1940-1984
Here’s how far away Mongolia is. First, you take a 19-hour flight to the absolute end of the world, where you change planes to take another 6-hour trip to the town at the head-end of a two-day ride on a yak. Even with that, Mongolia is closer to a Stanley Cup than Arizona is.
Cup Contender #28) Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are another team with young talent both at the big-league and throughout the farm system. Brock Boeser is among the best young players in the league ; this guy has an Art Ross Trophy in his future (and he’s an alum of my alma mater, the University of North Dakota). Quinn Hughes shows all the tools needed to be a James Norris contender sometime down the road. But today isn’t tomorrow; and it’s no closer to yesterday when the Canucks mattered.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua, 1979-1990; 2006-present
Here’s where old things somehow become new again. Now that the Canucks are out from under the regime of the geriatric Sedin brothers, they’ve completed the fall from cup contender to also-ran. There was a time when Daniel Ortega’s name figured prominently in American politics as a pivot point in all that Iran-Contra stuff in the 1980’s. Judging by that sweet Members Only jacket, you can tell he wishes it still was the 80s, because now he’s back in power and nobody cares.
Perhaps they need to hire Oliver North as their coach.
Cup Contender #27) New York Islanders
Even though Charles Wang is now a minority owner of the Islanders, the level of dysfunction he brought to this franchise remains. You can see that in the upheaval this team went through this off-season. The Isles brought in Lou Lamoriello to be the general manager, and he promptly lured head coach Barry Trotz away from the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. On the upside, they still have the reigning rookie of the year in Mathew Barzal, but on the down side, star center John Tavares left in free agency for the Maple Leafs, and they have major questions on defense and in goal. But they think Trotz can fix all that. He can, only if he can bring about 10 hand-picked Capitals with him.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan, 1990-2006
Wang selling his majority interest in the Islanders didn’t end the dysfunction just like the break-up of the Soviet Union didn’t end communist dictatorships in central Asia. Enter Sapamurat Niyazov, who couldn’t be a better fit as he represents the kookiest of kooky commie dictators who is also a throwback to the glory days. The New York Islanders are a wreck now, but they did have a run of four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980s. Today. Turkmenistan is just another former Soviet republic which hit its zenith as part of the USSR.
There is so much to love about Niyazov, but I’ve got to start somewhere, and his official title seems like the logical place. Why bother with ordinary titles like “His Majesty” or “Mr. President,” when you can be “His Excellency Saparmurat Niyazov ,Turkmenbashy the Great, Father of the Turkmen People, President of Turkmenistan, and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers.” He forgot “Surgeon General,” and “Supreme Astronaut,” but Niyazov was nothing if not modest.
If you doubt that, nothing says “modesty” like writing a book that every citizen of Turkmenistan was required to read and reminding them by putting a 50-foot statue of it in the middle of the capital. But for my money, you simply can’t build a better monument to modesty than erecting a $12 million statue of yourself which rotates so it always faces the sun.
Look at that thing. How delusional do you have to be to immortalize yourself looking like Bob’s Big Boy in an off-the-rack Men’s Wearhouse suit dipped in bronze? Niyazov obviously liked the way he looked, but then again he thinks Barry Trotz can get the Islanders back to the Stanley Cup Final.
Cup Contender #26) Detroit Red Wings
Prior to the previous two seasons, the Detroit Red Wings had a 25-year run of post-season appearances, but this year looks to #3 in the opposite direction. This team arguably netted the best catch in this year’s draft, including “high-potential” Filip Zadina at #6 overall heading a class of 4 picks in the top 36. But Detroit is a long-term rebuilding project, and while this draft class is going to pay dividends down the road, the Red Wings are still closer to the bottom than the top.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Nikita Khruschev, Soviet Union, 1953-1964
There is an old saying in sports that the hardest job is taking over for the legend. I like to call it “Phil ‘Vince Lombardi Left Town’ Bengston” syndrome. Bengston found it nearly impossible to live up to the expectations of Green Bay Packers fans which had been built by the guy whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy.
Khruschev found himself in the same position in a Soviet Union coming off three decades of rule of Stalin; a span which saw the USSR transformed into an industrial leviathan and the defeat of Nazism in the “Great Patriotic War.” Khruschev tried to keep Stalin’s successes while easing Stalin’s brutal repressions, but he wasn’t particularly successful.
The problem is that even though that great war was almost a full decade in the past, it still meant even in 1953, the Soviet Union was in sore need of rebuilding, and that would be the case for quite some time; more time than Khruschev needed to “de-Stalinize.”
Cup Contender #25) Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres seem like they have been in “rebuild mode” for a decade now; the last few years being an exercise in “two steps forward, one step back.” The Sabres finished dead last in the NHL last season and won the draft lottery yet again. This time they made Rasmus Dahlin the first overall pick; this defenseman looks to be a force around the blue-line for years to come. Combined with #2 overall Jack Eichel plus the addition of Jeff Skinner, this looks to be a “two steps forward” year for the Sabres.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia,1989-2000
In much the same way the Sabres keep trying to return to the days when they were playing in Cup Finals, Milosevic tried to re-establish the broken-up Yugoslavia as a Serb-dominated federation. But he did it in such a ham-fisted way it resulted in a three-year civil war which didn’t end until the United States used stealth bombers to blow up all the combatant’s donkey carts.
Cup Contender #24) New York Rangers
The upside is that the Rangers aren’t the worst team in the NY/NJ area. The downside is they still aren’t very good. While it may be true the Rangers have a slew of young prospects, they also sold off some big pieces at the trade deadline last February. By putting a ton a veteran talent on the PATH train to the airport, the Rangers are guaranteeing that young talent will face an “us against the world” challenge in 2018-19.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Enver Hoxha, Albania, 1944-1985
Hoxha might be the most fascinating dictator on this list. This is guy who was a school teacher, then a tobacco store owner. That’s not exactly the recipe for a great communist dictator, but that’s exactly what Hoxha became.
On the up side, he did see Albania emerge from the ravages of the Second World War as a semi-feudal relic of the Ottoman Empire to become a state completely self-sufficient in food production, while becoming fully electrified and completing a full-scale industrialization which by the 1980s meant manufacturing comprised over half of Albania’s gross national product.
The problem was that Hoxha’s successes led him to swirl deeper into “Hoxha-ism” which led Albania to becoming the pariah of the communist wolrd as Hoxha was the “know-it-all” kid in school everybody hated. Albania ended up in “us against the world” mentality when Hoxha literally turned the country into a fortress when he built hundreds of thousands of concrete bunkers; an average of almost 6 of them for every square mile.
Cup Contender #23) Chicago Blackhawks
Last season saw Chicago’s 10-year play-off come to a screeching halt, if for no other reason that they had no goal-tending once they found themselves without Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks still have veterans Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane up front, and if Crawford can’t anchor the defensive end, this season could just be a repeat of the last.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet Union, 1985-1992
Gorby is the guy who got to watch the wall come down, but to be fair, the foundation under that wall had been cracked long ago. Leonid Brezhnev’s “Era of Stagnation” followed by the Andropov-Chernenko “let’s die in office” gerontacracy meant by 1985, Gorbachev became the captain of the Titanic twenty minutes after it hit the iceberg.
Despite all that, good ol’ Gorby made the best of it; he ended up more popular in America than he was in what was left of the Soviet Union. But he was still the last guy to get the Soviets into the play-offs.
Cup Contender #22) Dallas Stars
The Stars stumbled at the end of last season, falling out of the playoff race in the final weeks. They also missed out on the Tavares sweepstakes, failed to land Erik Karlsson, and generally didn’t really do anything to help themselves during the off-season. That means they are back to leaning on a core of Jamie Benn, Ben Bishop, and whatever else they can find which didn’t get them to the postseason last year, and probably won’t again.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Klement Gottwald, Czechoslovakia, 1948-1953
In much the same way as the Dallas Stars won’t matter in 2018-19, to be honest Klememt Gottwald would go unnoticed in the pantheon of communists. He didn’t do much historically as a communist dictator, he was only in office for five years, but that was enough time to make him universally hated.
That’s probably because before he came to power, he was he was a gym teacher and newspaper editor; two of the most hate-able people on earth, and he topped that off by going into politics.
Cup Contender #21) Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are all about disappointment. They have the game’s most dynamic budding super-star in Conor McDavid (I still don’t think we’ve seen this guy’s ceiling yet), they made a trip to the Conference Finals two years ago, but followed that by falling back into the draft lottery in 2017-18. Here’s hoping the Oilers figure this out before they end up trading McDavid like they did with their last super-star.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Mengistu Haile Mariam, Ethiopia 1974-1991
Since the departure of Wayne Gretzky three decades ago, Edmonton has been a model of dysfunction. That’s a major contributing factor as to why since the end of the Gretzky era, the Oilers have failed to make the post-season 18 times.
There’s no better comparison for dysfunction than Mengistu and his commie Derg party. Ethiopia has the resources to be the jewel of Africa, yet Mengistu brought little more than famine and mass murder. This was a regime that would execute you and demand your family re-imburse the government for the cost of the bullets.
Cup Contender #20) Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina arguably had the best off-season in terms of talent acquisition by landing Dougie Hamilton, Adam Fox, and Michael Ferland in a trade from the Calgary Flames. Even though they gave up a top-flight blue-liner in Noah Hanifin, the Hurricanes still have one of the better defensive corps in the league. But to get to the next level, Carolina needs to come by goal-tending and a consistent offense.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Kim Jong Il, North Korea, 1994-2011
Apparently, you get a pass on the “guy who gets the job after the legend” thing if the “legend” is your father (see Kim Il Sung later in this discussion). What you don’t get is status as an eminent military power despite having one of the world’s largest standing armies because you have no way of taking any fight anywhere outside of Korea.
Cup Contender #19) Florida Panthers
The Panthers would have made the play-offs last season if they hadn’t spotted the rest of the league 20 points before they started really playing. They missed the post-season by a single point after a horrible start and a ferocious second-half push. If the Panthers don’t cough up another early-season big cat hairball, Florida figures to be a playoff contender in 2018-19.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan, 1991-2016
Karimov is like the Panthers in the sense they both came up just a bit short. In Karimov’s case, he was in the running to be the “last man standing” as far as dictators surviving since the fall of the Soviet Union until he died in 2016.
But Karimov also shared the sense of irony with the man who outlived him (see #14 Nursaltan Nazarbayev). I don’t know how you don’t love the head of an offically-athiest nation being the namesake of one of the world’s major religions.
Cup Contender #18) New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are the flip-side of the play-off coin. They made the post-season by a single point in 2017-18. The Devils had a quiet off-season, meaning they didn’t make any major additions. Instead, they will be “standing pat” and depending on internal development hoping that emergence of a prospect or two will propel them back to spring-time hockey.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Matyas Rakosi, Hungary, 1945-1956
Rakosi was known as the “Stalinist’s Stalinist” as perhaps one of the hardest-line hard-liners in the Stalin era. He is most known for coining the term “salami tactics” when it came to dealing with fascists, fascist sympathizers, or others not friendly to the communist cause because he felt the best way to deal with them was “cutting them up like slices of salami.”
However, he was another guy who didn’t heed the warnings to change Stalin was gone and all the other hard-liners were softening. By 1956, his Soviet masters “retired” him into exile in the USSR where he died in 1971.
Cup Contender #17) Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames were the ones on the other side of that block-buster trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. Granted, they had to part with Dougie Hamilton, but in return they added future stars in Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. Both of these guys will have an immediate impact the on the Flames; the hope being one of those will be getting the Flames into the post-season.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Robert Mugabe, Zimabawe, 1980-2017
Trades in the NHL wouldn’t be such a risky proposition if team could use Robert Mugabe’s negotiating tactics: “Accept my terms or I’ll kill you.” It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that a great communist dictator would resort to such brutal extortive means, but Mugabe has such a crystalline purity in how he stripped all the pretense off it when he unleashed the Pan-African commie Zimbabwe African National Union forcing white land-owners aside at gun-point to replace them “Pol Pot-like” with black families ill-equipped to successfully use modern farming techniques.
Cup Contender #16) Colorado Avalanche
in 2017-18, two teams made the magical journey from conference cellar-dweller to playing hockey in April; the aforementioned New Jersey Devils and the Colorado Avalanche. The Snowslides have a Hart Memorial trophy candidate in Nathan MacKinnon who headlines a talented young roster that should battle for playoff contention.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana, 1960-1966
Nkrumah was the “rising young hope” popular to the Pan-African commie movement; being Ivy-League educated at the University of Pennsylvania and a dedicated self-described “nondenominational Christian and a Marxist socialist.” The idea was that injecting “Christian” into the mix would help take the edge off “God-less communist,” but anybody with any brains at all realized quickly that being a “religious communist” is like being a doctor who urges you to gain weight and start smoking.
Cup Contender #15) Columbus Blue Jackets
Believe it or not, the Columbus Blue Jackets have the fourth-most wins in the National Hockey League over the past two regular seasons. the key word in that sentence is “regular.” When it comes to the post-season, Columbus has racked up a grand total of three play-off wins and two first-round exits.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia, 1969-1991
Remaining in power for over two decades is a significant accomplishment for any repressive commie thug; that’s the equivalent of killing it in the regular-season. But the real goal for any true communist dictator is to die in office, become a deity, and have portraits and statues of you everywhere as long a communism stands, like Mao, Lenin, and Kim Il Sung. Fleeing the country in the back of a rusted-out Soviet army truck with the warlords who deposed you hot on your heels taking pot-shots with AK-47s is definitely “losing in the play-offs.”
Cup Contender #14) Anaheim Ducks
While the Ducks are still a serious contender for the Stanley Cup, Anaheim’s veteran core is getting older and their window for contention is shrinking. But for now, the Ducks still have a formidable line-up which is bolstered by having Adam Henrique for the full season following his mid-season trade from the New Jersey Devils. They also locked up goalie John Gibson to a long-term extension, which means for now the Ducks continue to contend. But the clock is ticking.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Nursaltan Nazarbayev, Kazakistan 1991-Current
Nursaltan Nazarbayev is the “Last of the Mohicans” in terms of communist dictators surviving since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If this ranking were about the dictators rather than hockey teams, Nazarbayev would be higher on this list because not only is he a survivor, he’s a good old-school commie, and yet he’s also a first-class kleptocrat. I can’t help but love the ironic symbolism in a guy who supposedly believes in economic equality and yet steals everything he can get his hands on.
Even though he is a survivor, the problem is that surviving is a function of time. Time only moves forward, which means Nazarbayev’s window as a contending commie is also closing.
Cup Contender #13) Minnesota Wild
There’s a state of flux in Minnesota with the exiting of general manager Chuck Fletcher and the entrance of Paul Fenton in his place. Fenton maintained the status quo keeping the core of this consistent play-off contender intact. That makes sense because the Wild have made the postseason six straight years, and this group has the talent to make it seven.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Nicolae Ceaucescu, Romania, 1965-1989
The current state of the Wild bears too many similarities with the rise of the totalitarian Ceaucescu state. Romania in the mid-1960’s was a land with rich agricultural, mineral, and oil resources.
Not only that, but when Ceaucescu came to power, at first he didn’t fit the mold of a communist dictator. He eased restrictions on speech and the press and was openly critical of the Warsaw Pact’s crushing of the “Prague Spring” in Czechoslovakia.
But Ceaucescu quickly found that in order to maintain the status quo, the only club he had in the bag was a return to hardline communist principles. He unleashed a secret police force which enforced a particularly brutal form of Stalinist repression, and his economic policies resulted in crippling international debt, harsh rationing of domestic commodities, and strained relations with even his fellow communist states.
By the time the end came, Ceaucescu was so hated he was the only Soviet Bloc dictator to be executed in the popular uprisings which came upon the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Cup Contender #12) Los Angeles Kings
The big difference between the Darryl Sutter Cup-winning Kings and today’s version comes down to one thing: line depth. The new Kings’ regime solution was to fish former New Jersey Devils’ star Ilya Kovalchuk out of the Russian KHL. Nobody knows what he’ll have left in the tank after four seasons strapping on the skates for SKA Saint Petersburg, but he already is adding a serious scoring option to the Kings.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Wojciech Jarulzelski, Poland, 1981-1990
I don’t really know what the Kings are today; I never could figure out Jarulzelski. This is a guy who tried to escape the communists by fleeing to Lithuania to avoid the Nazi-Soviet partition of Poland in 1940. But when Lithuania fell under Soviet control, Jarulzelski was sent into forced labor at the Karaganda coal mines in present-day Kazakhistan.
It was there the transformation happened. Jarulzelski went from forced laborer to being selected to attend Soviet officer training school, after which he served in the First Polish Army, which was under Soviet command. This begins Jarulzelski’s ascent through the ranks of the Communist Party. Eventually, the same man who once tried to escape the communists played a role in the Polish Army’s aid in crushing the “Prague Spring” in 1968 and imposed martial law in Poland in 1981 with intention of destroying the anti-Communist “Solidarity” movement.
Cup Contender #11) Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights were the first team since the 1967 Expansion St. Louis Blues to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Despite their remarkable inaugural season, it’s hard to tell what their sophomore season will be. They lost James Neal and David Perron in free agency, and came up short on a deal to land Erik Karlsson in a potential trade.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Xi Jingping, China, 2012-current
Xi may be the “new kid on the Communist bloc” having come to power in 2012, but the fact that he heads the world’s largest labor force in a nation of damn near a billion-and-a-half people. But like the Knights couldn’t pull off deal, time will tell how Xi handles an American president who literally wrote the book on making deals.
Cup Contender #10) Philadelphia Flyers
Some would have you believing the only way to win this off-seasons’ free-agent sweepstakes was to land John Tavares. But the Flyers acquisition of winger James van Riemsdyk isn’t exactly an exercise in “fighting the losing battle.” Yeah, I know JVR just got hurt, but the NHL regular-season doesn’t really start to get important until after Christmas anyway.
Philadelphia was a play-off squad in 2017-18, and the addition of van Riemsdyk to a group already featuring Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Nolan Patrick means hockey-wise, it should stay sunny in Philadelphia in 2018-19.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Erick Honecker, East Germany, 1971-1987
Despite the fact Honecker looks more like a junior high-school principal than one of the world’s great repressive commies, he still was fighting one of the world’s great “losing battles.” Having the island of freedom known as West Berlin smack in the middle of East Germany was like having a built-in “population drain.”
This is why the East Germans built the Berlin Wall, and even though Honecker comes to power nearly a full decade after the wall went up, he still found himself trying to keep the East German bathtub full with three paper towels.
Cup Contender 9) St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues missed the playoffs in the final game of last season. Oddly enough, this represented a break in the stagnant nature of Blues’ hockey for the majority of the the last decade. The formula was the Blues would be Sputnik orbiting planet President’s Cup looking like one of the favorites for the Finals, then go full-on Chernobyl far too early in the post-season. But like I said, the St. Louis Sputniks didn’t even make orbit last year season, they added some rocket fuel in the form of Ryan O’Reilly, Patrick Maroon, and Tyler Bozak.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Union, 1964-1982
To be fair, Leonid “Forehead Mustaches” Brezhnev doesn’t get the credit he’s due. First off, he was a decorated general during the Great Patriotic War (or as we call it, World War II). He was also a gifted engineer. The only person that ruled the Soviet Union longer than Brezhnev was this guy you may have heard of named Stalin.
But the key word here is “stagnant.” During Brezhnev’s time steering the Soviet ship, the official term for their planned economy was “period of developed socialism.” Of course, this was a euphemism, but you used it if you didn’t want to end up in Siberia. Outside the USSR, the term was “Era of Stagnation.” The Soviet Union remained a superpower, but couldn’t keep pace with the economic growth of the West, which led to it’s downfall.
Cup Contender #8 ) San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks lost out on the John Tavares sweepstakes, but like a lot of team further down this list, they added by not losing. The Sharks re-signed Evander Kane after trading for him in February, and they kept key veterans like Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Brent Burns among others. That recipe was good enough to make them a play-off contender in the past, and there’s no reason to think why that should be any different come April.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Deng Xiaoping, China, 1976-1997
Here’s yet another guy with the “taking over for the legend” problem. That’s exactly what Deng did 1976 upon the death of Mao “Cult of Personality” Zedong. However, Deng avoided Phil “Vince Lombardi Left Town” Bengston syndrome by doing the same things Mao did in terms of maintaining the core principles of old-school communism. He just didn’t do the goofy stuff Mao was known for, like the famine-inducing “Great Leap Forward” or the purge known as the “Cultural Revolution.”
In other words, goofy or not, Mao made China a world power, and Deng made sure not to give back the gains Mao made, in much the same manner that the Sharks didn’t get any better, but they didn’t get any worse.
Cup Contender #7) Boston Bruins
Every year, we hear about how good the Boston Bruins are, and every year, they give us the hockey version of “Lucy pulling the football.” Last season, they got it over with early by getting housed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. Despite that, the Bruins keep putting themselves in that position because their top line Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak is consistently one of the best in hockey, which means Bruins will always be in the play-off picture.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Kim Il Sung, North Korea, 1948-1994
Every year since the Truman administration, the North Koreans have either started a war, been actively engaged in some sort of military activity, or threatened to restart the war with America. Kim Il Sung is the patriarch to the Norks, even if he was installed by his Sino-Soviet cohorts back in the day when Mao and Stalin were still on speaking terms.
Flash the clock ahead almost seven decades to get a guy like Trump who has the diplomatic skills of a charging rhinoceros to brow-beat the Norks to the negotiating table. If Trump can do that, maybe he can make the Bruins great again.
Cup Contender #6) Toronto Maple Leafs
Last year, Toronto couldn’t get past the Bruins in the first round. This year, the Maple Leafs added John Tavares. Adding him to the already-established core of budding stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner gives the Maple Leafs some serious fire power to make them a “wild-card” nobody will be able to take lightly.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Marshal Josep Tito, Yugoslavia, 1944-1980
Tito was the chief architect of the communist federation known as the “Second Yugoslavia” which lasted from the end of World War II until 1991. But what made Tito a “wild-card” is he was the first Eastern bloc leader to defy the global Communist masters in Moscow by defying Soviet hegemony. In it’s place, Tito espoused a non-aligned posture between NATO and the Eastern Bloc and backed countries taking non-Soviet backed routes to totalitarianism which he liked to call “national communism.”
At least he knew “national socialism” has already been used.
Cup Contender #5) Tampa Bay Lightning
If you take a hard look at the Lightning run through the play-offs last season, it’s even harder to look past the back-to-back shutouts which knocked them out of the play-offs against the Washington Capitals. But if you can get past how badly the Lightning were outplayed in those two games, you can see that maybe aside from the Capitals there isn’t a team more ready to win right now than Tampa.
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are crucial components of one of the most dynamic lines the game. The Lighting have line-depth in the offensive end. They have a great corps of defensemen led by Ryan McDonagh. Anchor it all with goalie Andrei Vasilevski, and there’s no reason why the Lightning can’t be playing hockey in June.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Joseph Stalin, Soviet Union, 1922-1952
For some reason, Stalin always gets over-shadowed when we talk about the great, murderous socialist dictators of the 20th century. Lenin gets the glory of being first. Hitler was a snappier dresser. Mao had that whole “Cult of Personality” thing, but in terms of being a prodigious killer, Stalin takes a back seat to nobody.
Besides…don’t look now, but the Lighting are another team full of Russkies.
Cup Contender #4) Nashville Predators
It’s become common-place NHL folklore that the team which wins the President’s Cup doesn’t win the Stanley Cup. Last year’s incarnation of the Nashville Predators were no exception. theorize all you want as to why that is, but the fact remains that to amass more points in the regular season than any other team by definition means you are pretty damn good. Yeah, so the Preds couldn’t get past the Jets last year. Well, guess what? The Jets are also pretty damn good. The Predators are poised to be an NHL power again this season.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, 1945-1969
It shouldn’t surprise anybody the Nashville Predators are pretty damn good. It also shouldn’t surprise that you could make a large list of southeast Asia communists who were French-educated. After all, the entire region was once named French Indochina. If you were to make such a list, it could not be complete without Ho.
In this half-century since his death, the American desire to relegate Vietnam to the dustbin of repressed memory shouldn’t be allowed erode what this guy actually accomplished. Ho managed to lead a largely citizen army which for the most part was under-trained and under equipped to the point they forged weapons out logs and bamboo and fashioned sandals from Jeep tires to victory over not one, but two nuclear-equipped superpowers who with the push of a button could have turned Vietnam into a glass-floored, self-lighting parking lot.
I don’t care what your political affiliation is, if there were a President’s Cup for revolutionaries, Ho would have had one.
Cup Contender #3) Winnipeg Jets
2017-18 was the season the Winnipeg Jets announced their presence with authority. They came up short in the Western Conference finals against the even more upstart expansion Vegas Golden Knights. But don’t forget that came after a toe-to-toe trading of hammer blows with the Presidents’ Cup winning Nashville Predators. Just like the two teams ahead of them on this list, Winnipeg are coming into 2018-19 with a talent core that although is still very young, now has play-off experience. Don’t be surprised if Jets seize power very early in the Western Conference.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Fidel Castro, Cuba, 1959-2011
2018 may have been the year the Jets emerged as a new power in the Western Conference, but it was 1959 when an upstart Fidel Castro shook up the world by establishing the first communist state in the Western hemisphere. The thing we don’t know yet about Winnipeg is can they survive the test of time. After all, Castro’s Cub survived for over 60 years being 90 miles from the shores of a country sworn to destroy it.
Cup Contender #2) Pittsburgh Penguins
If it weren’t for the Washington Capitals, the Penguins might just have been your three-time defending Stanley Cup winner. Just like the team that finally beat them, Pittsburgh also kept the core of their contending team together. As long as the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their primes, they will rate high on this list. I know Matt Murray can get a concussion while putting on his socks, but that’s also not a new problem.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Mao Zedong, China, 1943-1976
Chairman Mao would be the greatest communist dictator of all-time had it not been for the fact he wasn’t first; Mao doesn’t exist without Lenin. This was always the problem between Mao and Stalin and his successors. Mao felt like he should be regarded as the grand old man of global communism because he built communist China; he didn’t inherit his empire like Stalin and the rest did. This is also why the Penguins seem the least enthusiastic about the improvements being made by all the young teams behind them.
Cup Contender #1) Washington Capitals
The Capitals didn’t make any major additions after winning the Stanley Cup; they didn’t have to. Much like in the Dubsism College Football Heavyweight Championship, they are the champs until somebody beats them. On that note, where the Capitals gained was in not losing key pieces, most notably John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeny Kuznetzov. This ensures it won’t be revolutionary jargon to say Washington will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018-19.
The Equivalent Communist Dictator: Vladimir Lenin, Soviet Union, 1917-1924
Let’s be honest…when you’re talking communist dictators, Vladimir Lenin is the “grand-daddy of them all.” To this day, he’s the “blue-print” for your left-wing extremist. Take a marginal college student, immerse him in radical politics, get him kicked out of school for participating in ostensibly “illegal” protests, add one cup of milk and voilà…Carnation Instant Communist!
Not to mention, how could the representative commie for a team full of guys named Ovechkin and Kuznetsov not be a Russian?
And before you ask…no, I don’t think Barry Trotz’ departure makes that much difference.
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LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOO…. STALIN!!!!!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my vodka.
I want to you at a Lightning game dressed as Stalin. Or, you and Milhouse dressed as Boris and Natasha.