When Bad Karma Attacks


I’m not a superstitious guy, at least in the real world. In the sports world (and in the gambling world), there’s this little thing called mojo. Mojo’s a funny thing; anything can affect it. From the type of jersey a certain fan wears during the game (as I’ve often written about) to the oft-lamented “shutout” mention, I’m of the firm belief that sports mojo plays an integral part in any team’s success. I’m sure you could come up with some sort of giant mathematical formula that factors in all of the good and bad mojo of every sports fan on the planet, and use that to determine who wins every game. The scary thing is I bet it’d actually work.

The worst kind of mojo for a sports fan is “It figures” mojo. “It figures” mojo is that heartbreaking sense you get when something awful happens to your team just to piss you off — you know, it’s the type of moment when you slap your forehead and say, “It figures!” A perfect example of league-wide “It figures” mojo is Brett Hull‘s skate in the crease during the season when everyone complained about the crease rule. Another example is the Buffalo Sabres losing on a power play for over-the-glass delay-of-game last season.

“It figures” mojo can be team specific. Often times, when one city laments the trade of their megastar player, “It figures” that said player is ridiculously awesome for the new team (see: Chris Pronger). “It figures” mojo can reflect upon bad management, an evil coach, a bad locker room, or inept ownership. The funny thing about “It figures” mojo is that while it’s excruciatingly painful and bitter for one team (see: Edmonton), well, it’s pretty darn good for another team (see: Anaheim). And that’s where we stand today. There’s an intriguing number of “it figures” sports mojo going on with every team in the second round. There’s a reason for fans of one city to groan, slap their head, and mutter, “It figures!” if any of these teams advances. The question remains, though: in the world of lucky jerseys and fan good-luck rituals, how much of this “It figures” mojo will actually boost a team (while putting yet another dagger into the heart of another team)?

Mojo Working For San Jose
Hey Boston, how are you missing Joe Thornton right now? Wouldn’t just be so terrible if he wins the Stanley Cup the year after he wins MVP? Oh yeah, how are Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau working out? About as good as Alex Zhamnov, huh? Yup, there’s probably several thousand Bruins fans shaking their heads thinking, “Figures Thornton goes to a Cup contender.” Will that sports mojo be enough to propel the Sharks forward? A little Boston suffering goes a long way…

Mojo Working For Detroit
Let’s face it — everyone hates Todd Bertuzzi. But really, there’s so much more about the Red Wings to hate. In Ottawa, they’re probably still bitter that Dominik Hasek didn’t perform this way last season. The few remaining Chicago fans probably don’t hate Chris Chelios, but are just a little bitter that Grandpa USA is still skating nearly a decade after leaving the captaincy in his hometown. So the Wings have several levels of “It figures” mojo going for them.

Mojo Working For Anaheim
I heard there was this fellow named Chris Pronger. He made a lot of Edmonton people really, really happy for a little bit. Then he made them really, really mad for pretty much the rest of time. Pretty much everyone around the Edmonton area is thinking, “Please don’t let Chris Pronger win the Cup.”

Out in Vancouver, there’s still a little bad blood with former GM Brian Burke. Plenty of Canuck fans are probably thinking, “Oh man, it figures that we get Burke’s team in the second round.” Does this make it ripe for vengeance or just another instance of the power of “It figures” mojo?

Mojo Working For Vancouver
The few remaining Florida Panther fans are probably in a fit of “I told you so!” agony right now. They knew they had one of the league’s best goaltenders in Roberto Luongo. They knew they had a bonehead GM in Mike Keenan. Now, they have to watch as Luongo takes charge in the second round of the playoffs. Panthers fans are thinking, “Man, it just figures that Luongo can win the Cup the year after he leaves us.”

Mojo Working For New Jersey
It’s really hard for fans to hate specific players on the New Jersey Devils, mostly because they’ve got so many homegrown players on their roster. There was never a moment when some fan lamented losing Scott Gomez for nothing, or Patrik Elias received the wrath of fans for demanding a trade. No, the only sort of “It figures” mojo the Devils is that there are a number of hockey watchers across the country who are frankly kind of sick of Martin Brodeur and co. However, that’s more of a mild irritant compared to the pure venom that some other teams face, so the Devils probably won’t get too much of a boost from this.

Mojo Working For Ottawa
The Dany Heatley trade was a pretty big blockbuster that was supposed to send the damaged soul up to Ottawa for the confident superstar. Well, funny thing about Marian Hossa in this year’s playoffs — he pretty much disappeared. Heatley? He’s doing pretty well for himself. Yes, Blueland is probably mumbling, “It figures that Heatley succeeds while we flame out!”

Mojo Working For/Against Buffalo
Buffalo’s in an interesting situation since they’re basically the black hole of sports mojo. Wide Right, No Goal, the Buffalo-slug logo…it doesn’t get much worse than that. So Buffalo being Buffalo is natural bad mojo, and any sort of strange thing can happen to possibly derail the Sabres run.

There’s not a lot of “it figures” mojo targets from opposing teams to boost Buffalo’s karma. Sure, there’s probably some bitterness out of Colorado that Chris Drury is winning while the Avs finally miss the playoffs. Maybe there’s even some Phoenix Coyotes die-hards who say “it figures” to Teppo Numminen going deep in the playoffs. But all in all, there’s not a hell of a lot for non-Sabre fans to be bitter about — meaning the traditional Buffalo-team curse doesn’t have much to counterbalance it.

Mojo Working For The New York Rangers
Boy, doesn’t it figure that loudmouth moron Sean Avery gets a Hollywood hottie like Elisha Cuthbert? And doesn’t it just figure that Avery goes from a nowhere-bound LA Kings team to a New York Rangers squad? And doesn’t it just freakin’ figure that Avery — Sean Freakin’ Avery — was pretty much the sparkplug the Rangers needed to come together? What other good things could happen to Sean Avery? Hockey fans the world over shudder to think.

So, looking at all of this, who gets the biggest boost from “It figures” mojo? Out west, you have an entire league of fans hating Todd Bertuzzi, combined with the local bitterness of some other key players. However, it’s really hard to eclipse the pure vitriol coming out of Edmonton towards Chris Pronger, and that just may give the Ducks the boost they need. In the east, Buffalo’s got to deal with their own natural curse, so any boost they get is pretty much negated. The New York Rangers, however, have that little annoying guy named Sean Avery that people just love to hate. I mean, the guy was on MTV Cribs! Too many people across the country are shaking their head at Sean Avery’s success, and that’s some pretty powerful sports mojo there.

Of course, all of this can be negated when fans have the right combination of lucky jerseys and lucky trinkets. So fans, do your part and get your sports mojo going — just be careful of any inadvertant jinxs, and don’t say “shutout” to ANYONE.

And I’m sure I’ve just jinxed every team in the league to something horrible by writing this post. Like I said, I’m not superstitious except in the sports world.


One Response to “When Bad Karma Attacks”

  1. 1 OddyOh

    Hilarious entry, Mike, good job! You’re so much more entertaining to read than the ‘personalities’ on Sportsnet.ca, those guys are just blah. As a Leafs fan, it guts me to see Ottawa doing so well…on the other hand, I do have to root for an all-Canadian Final…yeah, I didn’t say it was likely. Go ‘nucks Go!

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