(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we’re bound to lose some friends along the journey. We’ve asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here is Toronto Maple Leafs fan and hockey writer Joe Pack, fondly recalling the 2016-17 Ottawa Senators. Also he died before completing this apparently. Just go with it.)
(Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don’t take it so seriously.)
By Joe Pack
Joe Pack, known for his winning performances on Marek vs. Wyshynski’s “Game Show Friday” and his three-figure following on Twitter, died on Thursday. He was [an older millennial].
The Toronto native had taken his wife and son to the Puck Daddy Hotel in New York where he was to write the eulogy for the Ottawa Senators. (The Underbooked Hotel in Ottawa is closed during the hockey season.) The secluded hotel had housed dozens of eulogy-writing bloggers over the years and the building was said to have been erected on the Failed Playoff Teams’ burial ground. Its manager, Greg Wyshynski, warned Pack of the potential for claustrophobic reactions to the building and that the last Senators eulogizer had “run amok” before making CFL fans out of his family of four. Pack told him he didn’t believe in scary stories and that two weeks of isolation and Senators hockey was exactly what he was looking for.
Only it turned out to be two months.
“Our people in Toronto recommended Joe very highly,” said Wyshynski. “And for once, I agreed with them.”
Joe’s son, “Fanny” (a passionate fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs since 2016-17) has a special talent, one that allows him to see both the past and future with unique clarity. Fanny met with the hotel’s head cook, Sean Leahy, while his parents toured the facility and the two discussed the hotel over a bag of trail mix.
“Mr. Leahy, are you afraid of Room 131?” asked the boy.
“Nah, I ain’t afraid of Room 131,” Leahy answered. “But stay out! You hear me? Stay. Out. Also, please keep the temperature in this hotel freezing cold at all times.”
Some of Joe’s Senators eulogy, never completed, is excerpted here.
My family and I depend on the small sums of money provided by my freelance work but this is my career’s greatest test of will, watching this pajama-clad hockey team.
Aside from being dull, their logo looks like a Phoebe Buffay painting.
Ottawa’s pre-game tailgate is a banal nightmare out of a Stephen King novel …
… while its post-game celebrations are what a Vancouver riot would look like if the Stepford Wives were in town.
This the most Canadian thing ever: Sens fans partying in the street, but only when the light turns red. Back to the sidewalk on green. pic.twitter.com/rXDykia3BN
— Brian Platt (@btaplatt) May 10, 2017
But it’s their play on the ice that is murdering hockey.
The ghost of the New Jersey Devils lives on in the spirit of the Senators who refuse at times to even direct the puck at the other team’s goal. The real hypocrisy is that they poke fun at opponents who do the same.
The Bruins failed to record a shot on goal in the second period.
Can someone in the advanced stat community tell us if that is good?
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) April 13, 2017
And for all the Sens skaters who insist on blocking every shot attempt on goal, they are instantly forgettable outside of the elegant Erik Karlsson and the guy whose nickname is “Meth.”
It’s beginning to feel as though the next overtime could go on forever, and ever, and ever…
In order to inject some life into his stay at the hotel, Joe took to throwing a ball against a wall or staring out a window. He would often kill time by counting the hotel’s bathrooms which he was glad to find outnumbered those at Edmonton’s Rogers Place Arena.
His son, meanwhile, began acting out, repeatedly writing the word MODEROB on walls across from mirrors — behaviour that Joe felt he had to correct.
It’s apparent Erik Karlsson is the only reason any hockey fan would tune into this team’s games. And while his club is easily capable of putting this government town down for its second nap of each day, Karlsson — in the words of “Morpheus” from The Matrix — has the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he’s expecting to wake up. One can only hope to soon watch the slick Swede in a uniform other than that of a Canadian Tire employee. At least they aren’t wearing the ones with the big “zero” crest.
But not even Karlsson can make this Senators-Rangers series watchable. I’ve switched over to Penguins-Capitals for the night.
[PIT-WSH series] Did Matt Niskanen do murder? Are the Caps evil? Is Alex Ovechkin the devil himself?
[OTT-NYR series] Tanner Glass will play
— Dumb Bozo (@davelozo) May 2, 2017
During one writing session, Pack recalled being woken up by his wife, Wendy Clark, after a terrible nightmare. He recalled buying a flexpack of Senators tickets for the family and driving for hours along the endless mountainside to the far reaches of Kanata, Ontario where they watched the Sens keep the puck along the boards to the delight of dozens. Pack told his wife he’d lashed out at them and chopped the tickets into “tiny, little pieces” with an axe.
As Pack woke from his nightmare, Fanny entered Room 131 only to be found hours later by his mother who discovered he’d been nearly choked to death by a mysterious “pressure” he’d felt which he could only describe as “defensive” and “net-front.” The so-called pressure took the form of Ottawa coach Guy Boucher, whom Fanny thought looked like Mads Mikkelson’s “Le Chiffre” from Casino Royale.
After putting Fanny to bed, Wendy went back to Joe’s room to peak at what he’d been writing.
All neutral zone play makes Pack a dull boy
All newtral zone play makes Pack a dull boy
All neutral zone play makes Pack a dull bot
All neutral zone play makes Jack a dull boy
All neutral zone play makes Pack a null boy
Pack appeared from behind her and asked what she thought of it. She was instead concerned for Fanny’s health and wished to leave. The boy had taken to napping for four hours at a time, roughly the length of a Sens game.
But Joe snapped at her, saying the Senators were finally exciting to watch and that giving up on the assignment would surely mean moving back to his mother’s basement.
Wendy clocked him with a Martin Brodeur goal stick she found in Wyshynski’s office and stuffed Pack in an room with his laptop.
The following is an excerpt from his final offering:
The daily emails I receive in my spam folder from The Underbooked Hotel should be enough to confirm the disinterest in this hockey club. But the captain’s response to the thousands of empty seats says it all:
Erik Karlsson, asked if he noticed all the empty seats at Canadian Tire Centre last night: "Yes."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 28, 2017
Particularly charming has been the team’s resolve to remain relevant and professional. In the following video clip, goaltender Craig Anderson mocks Marc-Andre Fleury’s spill at the outset of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final. Only Anderson barely has an audience for his prank.
Look at and listen to the cavernous Canadian Tire Centre as the Senators take to the ice, not for practice as the tweet erroneously suggests, but for Game 1 against the Penguins:
Meanwhile at Senators practice today: "Please tell me you got that" ???? pic.twitter.com/Ueh8VwCdK8
— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) May 12, 2017
As Wendy retrieved Fanny to take him to a hospital, she finally noticed in a mirror what the boy had warned of with his writing on the walls:
She grabbed her listless son, but as she turned for the entrance, Joe appeared down the hallway and began limping after them. Just then, Sean Leahy — who had been called by Fanny to help fix the thermostat — came out of his office and asked Joe how his eulogy was going. Joe began reading but Leahy reportedly keeled over, only awaking from his coma days later.
Wendy ran to her car but a tire had been slashed with a hockey skate, the name M. COOKE stitched into the boot. She told Fanny to hide as she called for assistance and the boy ran toward the hotel’s hedge maze (which doesn’t show up on Google Maps, even though it’s clearly on the property).
Joe followed but either his way was blocked, he was tripped up by hockey sticks and shin pads lying about, or televisions playing reruns of Senators games were placed in his path.
Joe was found Wednesday morning, slumped forward, head still in hands.
Bored to death.
Among the photos on the wall of the Puck Daddy Hotel remains a memorial to Joe Pack which quotes him as saying:
“In the words of Hologram Bill Masterton: ‘Oh, you wrote an Ottawa Senators eulogy? Well, I DIED!”
[That last game was pretty sweet though.]
Joe Pack is a freelance writer on sports and culture based in Toronto. Or at least he was.
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