Tempting the Malocchio

Save yourselves. And the Red Wings.

When Johnny Ericsson hit the ice, my phone rang. Twice, in fact. One was my dad, calling to discuss the Joe Theismann-like grossness of the frame-by-frame. A former soccer player, he had some insight to share on lower-body injuries and legs bending that way (hint: they’re not supposed to). After a few minutes, we both agreed that “that… that right there… that don’t look so good.”

The other call was my mother, a big fan of Ericsson because “oh my God he’s so cute.” A huge hockey fan in her own right, she questioned the Wings’ conditioning this season, since they are dropping like flies. Shane Doan’s knee colliding with Jonathan Ericsson’s will ALWAYS make it buckle like that, so I didn’t think conditioning was the issue. I continued to toe the TPL company line and blame Bertuzzi.

Then she says “what about the malocchio?” The malocchio, or evil eye, is effectively the mystical Italian equivalent of the Hockey Gods. It’s believed to curse a person or persons with bad luck, injuries, or other strange occurrences and is usually directed at ones that are envied (and it’s no secret the Red Wings are the envy of the hockey world – particularly over the last dozen years or so).

Now the question becomes… are the Red Wings cursed by someone from the outside (meaning, we should all chip in and buy 23 cornutos to prevent further injury) or by Todd Bertuzzi from within, meaning he brought the malocchio with him? You know what I think.

But in the incredibly unlikely possibility that it is not Bertuzzi’s fault that bad juju has befallen our Red Wings, we must look outside the organization. No, Natalie, you and Brian are not suspects: although one might find it odd that Bertuzzi snapped out of his spiral of suck while you were in town and promptly returned to it after your departure. For now, you get a pass.

So, in an effort to purge the Beast, I offer the most likely candidates and offer up sacrifices, mostly in the form of shame and falsified compliments.

GARY BETTMAN
Perhaps it wasn’t enough to literally hand the Pittsburgh Penguins the Stanley Cup in June. After all, Gary’s a fragile little boy and it’s always been apparent that Bettman hated the Wings. But if getting booed every time you’re in any arena on the planet isn’t enough, let’s not forget the handshake-snubbing incident (no, not Crosby, the one featuring the infinitely badass Mike Ilitch) which is sure to have embarrassed Bettman. It’s entirely possible that moments after slithering into his hole, he unleashed the malocchio onto the Red Wings for 2009-10. Sure, expansion was stupid, the two lockouts were unmitigated disasters, and hockey has become a second-class citizen on your watch, but the Red Wings remain one of the more profitable names in sports and have done plenty to appease Mr. Bettman, namely taking part in the Winter Classic (thus ignoring their own tradition of the New Years Eve game) and opening the season in Sweden (thus forfeiting the gate of a home game).

DENNIS LARUE
In an effort to detract attention from the intent to blow nonsense, maybe LaRue cursed the Red Wings. Looking back, that Brad May no-goal now hardly ranks in the top ten of the most ridiculous shit that’s unfolded in the last two months. But we all know Dennis LaRue is one of the best in the game, evidenced by his invitation to ref the Olympics. Just don’t be surprised when the Dallas Stars somehow take home gold.

CHUCK NORRIS
Threatened by Jonathan Ericsson’s ability to heal himself, Chuck Norris is angry. So, I’ve pre-ordered Walker: Texas Ranger: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray*. I alluded to Norris possibly being related to Ericsson in an earlier post, which also probably angered Norris.
*doesn’t actually exist. Get on that, Paramount.

KEN HITCHCOCK AND THE BLUE JACKETS
It was widely publicized this off-season that the neckless wonder was outspoken about “wanting to make Detroit bleed,” saying that he was tired of looking up at Detroit in the standings. Well, you’ve got star netminder Steve Mason (oh, he’s not having a Calder-like season this time around?) and you’ve got playoff experience (oh, that didn’t end well?). Fret not, Columbus is one of those teams that has a bright future, like the Chicago Blackhawks only not actually good or in a city that deserves a team.

MARIAN HOSSA (AND, FRACTIONALLY, TOMAS KOPECKY)
It’s believed that with Hossa’s new contract, Chicago is destined to lose in the Final. The send-off he received from the Wings fans (read: kick in the ass and a hip hop hooray when news of the shoulder thing unfolded) is probably enough to make him wish bad things on his former employer. But, he is one of the more talented guys on Earth, and, after nine games, he’s already half-way to the Herculean numbers that Bertuzzi is putting up. Hopefully someone in the Hawks organization told him that the season ends when the last game is played, not in March.

CHRIS CHELIOS
I doubt heavily that he’d ever wish ill on the Red Wings, but maybe he was a little more let down than he let on when the Red Wings declined to offer an extension. He seems happy as a member of the Chicago Wolves, and even hinted that he’d like to return to the Red Wings. One might have thought that losing Lilja, Kronwall, and Ericsson — half of the projected blueline squadron — might be something that would have meant Chelios might have gotten a call. But, he hasn’t, and he’ll continue mentoring young Atlanta Thrashers prospects, something the Thrashers should be really pleased with.

CLAUDE LEMIEUX
Not only was he the whipping boy for the Detroit Red Wings in the 90s, he didn’t win Skating with the Stars – or whatever the hell it was called. I’m sure it’s not because of his top-notch turtling and/or clutch playoff scoring – both of which he was one of the best in the biz.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Sure it’s their 100th anniversary for the second year in a row, but — math bedamned — NO ONE IS GOING TO RUIN THAT PARTY. Except perhaps 70% turnover from a year ago and inviting Gordie Howe to the centennial ceremony, presumably to show all the Canadien Hall-of-Famers what a real hockey player looks like. You can’t have him, Montreal. NOT YOURS.

TODD MCLELLAN AND THE SAN JOSE SHARKS
Sure, they’re the best team in the NHL again. But you all know what that means. It means they’ll be golfing by the end of April. So much talent, it doesn’t make sense. They’ve been Cup favorites for like 8 years in a row, and under the prowess of McLellan, one would assume this could be their year. Although it wasn’t last year…but the Red Wings didn’t have the Malocchio chasing them around.

KARMA
This one brings us back to Bertuzzi. Do something bad, something bad happens to you. No matter where you go. Even if its Vancouver, Florida, Detroit, Anaheim, Calgary, or Detroit again.

16 thoughts on “Tempting the Malocchio”

  1. Leno's a good Italian, I doubt he'd unleash the Malocchio on others (also, he's busy undermining Conan's Tonight Show). Bertuzzi's a BAD Italian, and the Malocchio just follows him around.

    I am, however, accepting other scenarios. Please explain Islam and/or the Moon Landing and how they're responsible for such travesty.

  2. Forget Islam and the moon landing – blame Newt Gingrich.

    Why? Because with a name like that, I'm sure he eft up something. 😀

  3. As a good Italian girl myself (1/2 Sicilian 1/2 Roman), the post brought tears to my eyes (and not just because you know the difference between the cornichello and the malocchio unlike those faux Italians). It's not Bert (come on, he's Italian – where is the love?). It's envy. I am not sure why the red isn't working anymore. It might just be time to call in the old lady with the bowl of water and olive oil. Doesn't you mom know one?

  4. @Baroque — Newt Gingrich. Interesting. I'll get to researching…

    @Anonymous — I'm glad to have brightened your day. Of COURSE I know the difference. I'm first generation, so a lot of things from my childhood were strangely old-country-y. And yeah, it hurts me that Bertuzzi is an Italian, BUT! This article below shows that he's only "part Italian" and that he doesn't know his heritage at all, yet another unforgivable deed for an Italian, even a fractional-Italian.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/07/sports/olympics/07bertuzzi.html

  5. I am SO relieved that TSO is being left out of the blame for this one. How did we manage to get a reprieve? If anything, you can tie the whole Bert-scores-only-while-we're-in-town thing to how very necessary our presence is to Wings success; maybe some generous benefactor will read this and decide to donate season tickets to us.

    I just want to point out that it's starting to seem like TPL has a rollercoaster, potentially volatile, relationship with one Todd Bertuzzi. For TSO's part, we're going to look into getting TPL and Bert into a good couples' therapy session.

  6. Yeah, TSO gets a pass, but a small one. One more outburst in production like that on your watch, and you're Usual Suspect #1.

    TPL is nothing if not a rollercoaster, volatility producing relationship machine. Despite my smartass comments on the contrary, I've LONG hated Todd Bertuzzi. Rob, on the other hand, is a fan.

    I'm taking suggestions for a cross-blog bet. Perhaps something along the lines of I'll get a tattoo if he eclipses 20 goals, if a bleeding heart Bertuzzi supporter (Kyle or Rob) gets a tattoo if he fails to reach that number. Except maybe not tattoos because some people are afraid of commitment.

    I'm POSITIVE TSO has some ideas in this vein. I'd like to unleash the bet soon, while Bertuzzi is at the height of his popularity in Hockeytown (before inevitably blowing it this week).

  7. YES. I am all for potentially life-changing bets. TSO will go all in on this one. I don't know what that means for us, but whatever. We'll put it all on the table.

    I think we're kinda on the fence about Bertuzzi. Yes, he's a big league screw-up, but he's OUR screw-up, you know? There's something inherently romantic in the notion that this guy who's moderately talented is looking for a second chance on a team that's found itself in the unlikely position of underdog in this season so far, in the city that's making its own second chance. I don't know; maybe I'm going too far with the metaphor here, but I'm thrilled to see him succeed. If he wants to step up and help carry our team through this shitty season, that's just fantastic with me. This season has thus far been filled with so many unlikely heroes. Homer emerging as our leading goal-scorer after so many had written him off as over the hill is my favorite example, for obvious reasons, but also Jimmy, Kronwall–not that he wasn't awesome before, but still–and the newbies have been responsible for saving our asses when our mainstays were injured or not playing to their full potential.

    You're right–he may very well blow it in the near future. Judging by his past, the odds are very favorable for that to happen. I guess it's just a matter of time.

    Maybe TPL/Bert can have group couples' therapy with TSO/Leino. I feel like we'd probably cover the same ground, anyway, so it would probably more efficient to try it that way.

    Anyway, back to ideas for the bet/stakes…tattoos are a good idea. If that's too permanent, maybe the loser has to stand on a busy street corner with a sign that says "I heart Todd Bertuzzi like a fat kid love cake." Or maybe the loser plasters his blog with pictures of Bert, including, but not limited to, Photoshopped "couples" shots. In any event, TSO's contribution, in addition to being a captive audience, will be providing a soundtrack to the hilarity, starting with, of course, "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers, as it's the perfect song to think about raising the stakes.

  8. The romantic picture of Bertuzzi you've painted is very sweet. Does it lose any of its sweetness now that we're looking at Game #34 and he has 8 goals? Because, like I said earlier in the week, my coffee table would have at least 9 playing with those guys.

    He had a second chance… in Detroit, even. It was 2007. And he failed miserably. Then, ran his ass off for slightly more money from Anaheim. Just don't get that "Detroit Hero" vibe from him…

    But, yes, anyway…I can get on board with the photoshopped couples photos. I already have a tattoo bet going (with my fiancee) related to TPL, which I'll share as it becomes more relevant. Or, when Brian's video becomes available – whichever is sooner.

    The Kenny Rogers soundtrack only makes it sweeter. Now we gotta find a willing competitor!

  9. I'm not willing to bet a tattoo, but as said before I am willing to record and acoustic guitar + vocals version of the Todd Bertuzzi song and post it on my blog if he gets less than 20.

  10. Dude. Deal. Except I have absolutely no musical skill whatsoever, so I don't know what would be equal, but still embarrassing. Let's put our thinking caps on and come up with what I can do if he goes 20+.

  11. OK, OK, I should have said THIRD chance. All I'm saying is, if he continues to play well and the world continues crashing around us, I'll get a Mom/heart tattoo with Bert's name on it…on my FACE.

    P.S. I second the motion for Andy to cover the Bertuzzi song.

  12. You really shouldn't bet face tattoos, you'll end up looking like Tyson.

    Oh, and I can't wait for the Bertuzzi song. You guys have to help me come up with something that's equivalent to that…

  13. He's up to 9, and on pace for 21. Assuming he plays in all 82 games.

    It's going to be close. I still stick by it.

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