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This Week in Disrespect: Lowell is the 1 percent

November 23, 2011

Disrespect is a hell of a thing.

We realize that this is a difficult concept for anyone who is not a supporter of our Lowell River Hawks to fully empathize with. Given the existence of a vast league-wide conspiracy against the school, on top of the half-dozen or so agenda-filled, hate-spewing college hockey — ahem — “news” organizations and numerous fan blogs, equal parts faceless and pointless, authored by basement-dwelling know-nothings hoping to scrape enough cash together to further their education through some vocational school they saw on daytime TV, we have to keep our head on a swivel.

And in recent days, given the national debates now underway, it dawned on us that when it comes to disrespect, Lowell receives approximately 99 percent of all doled out to Hockey East teams by the league, media and those aforementioned morons. While other teams (mostly Merrimack and Providence, Lowell’s brothers in not being good enough for Fenway in the views of some dolts at league offices) may face the occasional sling or arrow, Lowell is simply expected to carry the crushing weight of this disrespect world upon its shoulders, bearing the burden like a modern-day Atlas.

Disrespect comes in all forms. It’s not a hard science, per se, but more of an artistic endeavor; a skillful ballet with ebbs and flows, subtlety and nuance. It takes some amount of dedication to achieve the levels of we’ve seen in recent years. And while some (for example, the mere existence of Joe Bertagna as league commissioner) can be spotted from orbit, other, less-obvious instances would pass unnoticed if not for our carefully-trained, highly-suspicious eyes. This past week was one that will go down in the annals of history as perhaps one of the most disrespectful on record.

On Monday, Nov. 14, Hockey East released its weekly awards.  Having been convinced that the dubious powers that be would find a way to screw Scott Wilson, and in turn Lowell itself, out of back-to-back Rookie of the Week honors, we were grudgingly satisfied when we saw the freshman get what was rightfully his (though frankly, he should have been Player of the Week). So while we accepted the smaller disappointment, the league clearly imagined that it could sneak a mountainous portion of disrespect past us. Lowell was picked as Hockey East Team of the Week, yes, but wouldn’t you know it, it seems the Rhodes Scholars let their infinite disregard for Lowell’s wonderful program slip through even in its moment of triumph by replacing the moving, beautiful visage of the River Hawk.

With the UNH logo.

It took us seconds to surmise that, once again, Bertagna was the mastermind of this carefully-orchestrated slap in the face to our beloved River Hawks, because we can see little reason any reasonable observer without a vendetta would have confused Lowell and UNH that weekend. Lowell obviously trekked up to the seventh circle of Maine to compete in front of a fanbase made up of people who share one too many DNA markers for our comfort. Lowell simply outskated, outhustled and outplayed the Black Bears for the first sweep at Alfond Arena since the Reagan administration. It was a pretty big deal. Meanwhile, UNH surrendered an extra-attacker goal with a buck-twenty left in the third period to draw the third-worst team in Division 1 hockey. That’s right, third-worst.

No one with a brain could have made a mistake so colossally stupid, which is what tipped us off that this was another in Hockey East’s disgusting game. To wit, by now everyone knows about the return of Frozen Fenway and though we’re not exactly sure why Bertagna decided to bring this gimmick back, the most obvious theory is of course this would be a chance to check off another box on his anti-Lowell agenda.

Why is this return engagement at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark so offensive? Because the two teams chosen to play in the early game of the doubleheader are the inept and comically-bad-this-season University of Vermont and equally-boring Amherst. In a special venue designed to maximize ticket revenue, the powers that be could not have done worse if they had invited Providence to play a black/white scrimmage.

Realistically, the Maine/UNH nightcap is going to draw the lion’s share of ticket sales (and to be honest that many hillbillies in the big city should be a major concern for Mayor Menino and anyone unfortunate enough to get stopped for directions by the country-folk caravan). What few, sad, desperate Vermont fans will travel down from Burlington to watch their garbage team? Six? Maybe eight if the administration at UVM can somehow convince the jock-sniffing faithful that Tim Thomas will in the same area code that night.  And even if that doesn’t work, they could always cobble together a more plausible lie about Eric Perrin’s attendance, since no one could possibly believe he had something better to do. At least Amherst will tote a small, vocal crowd, easily identified by their backwards baseball caps, lippers full of Skoal and the mattresses they plan to burn on the warning track win, lose or draw. When we think about it, the combined demographic of this event is actually terrifying. Lowell’s exclusion from this Hub hoedown is at this point not unexpected, and the more we think about it, the better off we are that we won’t have to suffer the indignity of being in the same square mile as any of these mouth-breathers.

Imagine if Lowell had played instead, how happy people would be. They’d get to watch a fun, exciting team that doesn’t absolutely stink at everything even tangentially related to the sport of hockey. Frankly, though, Lowell’s lack of an invitiation isn’t simply disrespectful to us. Given the quality of last night’s game in Burlington, we now believe this to be disrespectful of anyone who considers themselves a hockey fan, since that was an ugly and pale imitation of the sport we all love so dearly. Even those dimwitted few still dumb enough to call themselves Amherst or Vermont fans have to be mortified at the prospect of that game being seen on national television. Best-case scenario: It’s going to pull a negative-2 share, meaning the 2 percent of America who heard about this game taking place are going to call their cable providers and immediately cancel the channel that will carry it.

Speaking of Amherst, though, we found the crypt-like silence coming from the various Amherst blogs after they were thoroughly humiliated on Saturday night quite strange and wholly satisfyin. But it seems the team’s biggest mistake, besides choosing to go to that dismal misappropriation of Bay Staters’ dollars, was beating Boston College. Playing the No. 1 team in the country at home, Toot Cahoon took a page out of Rex Ryan’s playbook and hyped up a November regular season game as their Super Bowl. To their credit, the Minutemen took advantage of a Boston College team looking, and rightly so, completely past them after taking down Maine 4-1 the night before. Amherst had, the night before, been taken to the woodshed in embarrassing fashion by New Hampshire 7-3. It was the perfect storm for a trap game, and the Eagles flew right into it. The unfortunate side effect being that Amherst  and its fans alike now believed the team to be a contender. Prior to this weekend, at least a few Amherst blogs spoke of opportunity. After Saturday night we’re sure they’re getting their affairs in order and collecting as many bottles of prescription medication as they can find, waiting to drift into the arms of Morpheus.

But as a result of that win, College Hockey News, which is about the 14th-best source for all your the-thing-in-its-title, contributed some outright and unapologetic disrespect of its own. In fairness, and because they would never let on, we find it important to make you aware that the writer in question is an Amherst supporter, a kind of yellow journalism that we find particularly appalling. Though this cretin tried to temper the amount of disrespect, another case of someone trying to sneak it by us, by calling Lowell’s run of wins more impressive than Amherst’s (accurate) and noting Lowell’s numerous games in hand with respect to their standing in the league table (true), the conceit of the barely-coherent item was clear: That Lowell and Amherst are somehow equal.

History has vindicated us on this, of course, but imagine the gall it must take for anyone on earth to suggest that a team which entered the weekend 4-4-2, with three-quarters of those wins coming against Bentley, Holy Cross and Northeastern, would be anywhere near Lowell’s level of quality. We’re sorry, but did we miss a memo where it said beating teams that perennially make Amherst look like North Dakota by comparison — at home no less — was in the same zip code as clobbering BU 7-1 and sweeping in Orono? It’s bad enough the league gave Player of the Week to a Minuteman who lit up Holy Cross, but this is just mortifying, partisan pap on the part of a supposedly-neutral news source. We guess, though, that in terms of writer quality, the site gets what it pays for.

But it would appear that rampant envy of Lowell’s success by Amherst alums was not relegated merely to the little-trafficked pages of College Hockey News. No, the New England Hockey Journal also saw a blight of petty jealousy last week, as another Cahoon disciple posted his weekly Hockey East power rankings. In sixth: With a record of 3-6-1, 3-5-0 in league play, the Maine Black Bears. In seventh: With a record of 5-3-0, 3-2-0 in Hockey East, the Lowell River Hawks. Yes, the same Lowell team that, a) was two games above .500 instead of three games below it, and b) had just swept Maine on the road. And just in case anyone was thinking that may have been a typo — an unforgivable if understandable one, given that no Amherst grad has ever been able to differentiate between any numbers above five — the Hockey Journal’s weekly ranking of all college teams in New England also featured Maine one spot above Lowell for no readily apparent reason. We’re not exactly sure what kind of Amherstian math or logic was applied in the making of such an abominably poor list, but here we are. Surely, Friedrich Frege was spinning in his grave so hard that the length of a day shortened noticeably.

Had it been any other school which accomplished all that Lowell has already this season, the morons at Hockey East’s offices, idiots who write terrible blogs and alleged media Svengalis would be practically planning a parade, particularly if that team had picked up just five wins the season before. But because it’s our dear River Hawks, the cycle of oppression and disrespect will never end, until something is done to smash this corrupt system.

Occupy Hockey East.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 1:00 pm

    I’m actually surprised that you missed this quote from Jack Parker in the New England Hockey Journal article:

    “It was the absolute lack of respect, or lack of effort, or lack of both up at UMass-Lowell,” BU coach Jack Parker (Somerville, Mass.) said. “We were flabbergasted that UMass-Lowell was that good, well, how can you not think they’re that good? So that was a real mistake on (the coaches’) part, we couldn’t get them ready for that. They were embarrassed by that, no question about it, and they came back and they were geared up to play. It was nice that he had the two top teams in the league to play after last weekend.”

    • RHHB permalink
      November 23, 2011 1:20 pm

      Hey, if we went around documenting every instance of Jack Parker disrespecting Lowell, we would have to quit our jobs.

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