NHL Grab Bag: OK, Fine. We’ll Revisit the Albert CommercialRocky Widner/Getty Images
Welcome to a weekly blog post of thoughts and observations from the past few days and/or decades of NHL hockey.
The Three Stars of Comedy
Recognizing the three moments or personalities from around the league that produced the most comedic fodder for fans this week.
The third star: Eric Tangradi blocks all the shots
OK, the video of this Eric Tangradi shift doesn’t seem all that funny — until you imagine it being mashed up with the audio of Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes. Why doesn’t this exist yet, Internet? Do I have to think of everything for you?
The second star: The L.A. Kings’ Twitter account trolls Leafs fans
Ever since Game 6 of the 1993 NHL Playoffs it’s always been difficult for me to be upset with referees. #TRH
— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 22, 2013
The video is fantastic. The GIF is somehow even better.
What’s the Hockey World Pretending to Be Outraged About Now?
Nothing makes hockey folks happier than being outraged about something relatively unimportant. Each week, we’ll pick one topic fans are complaining about and try to figure out if the anger is justified.
The issue: Everything.
The outrage: It’s kind of been one of those weeks.
First, Duncan Keith was rude and possibly misogynistic toward a reporter. Then Tyler Seguin dropped a “no homo” on Twitter. Then Ottawa Sun writer Don Brennan wrote a Matt Cooke column that was focused on his own genitals, for some reason.
And all that was just Monday night. The really ridiculous stuff had happened over the weekend.
That’s when Bruins announcer Jack Edwards decided it would be a good idea to compare Cooke to Sirhan Sirhan during the first game after Boston had been shut down for a citywide manhunt for a killer. Strong timing there.
Is it justified? To varying degrees, sure. Don Brennan was just being Don Brennan. Seguin apologized. Edwards did, too, though it might have been with Ray Shero’s knee in his back. Keith only sort of did, and some people are really mad at him, including … um … this guy. And the outrage folds back in on itself.
As for the rest of us, let’s pretend this week never happened.
Obscure Former Player of the Week
NHL history is filled with legendary players whose stories are passed down from generation to generation. This is not one of those players.
This week’s obscure player is former enforcer Tony Twist, who played parts of 10 NHL seasons with the Blues and Nordiques.
There are three important things to know about Tony Twist:
1. He was a seriously scary fighter.
2. He had a fantastic name.
3. That name was very similar to a character from the Spawn of comic books, which turned out to be kind of a problem.
As it turns out, in addition to KO’ing players on the ice, Tony Twist could hold his own in the courtroom, too. He sued Spawn creator (and former Edmonton Oilers co-owner) Todd McFarlane for millions over a character named “Antonio Twistelli.” The case dragged on for years, at one point pushing McFarlane’s company toward bankruptcy, before the parties finally settled for a reported $5 million.
The lesson: Whoever you are, whatever you do for a living, you do not mess with Tony Twist.
Great Hockey Debates
In which we employ the Socratic method in an attempt to settle the issues that have long plagued hockey fans.
This Week’s Debate: Over the years, NHL teams have attempted to improve the arena experience by adding various forms of marketing and/or entertainment during breaks in play. But has the trend gone too far?
In Favor: You know, I really think maybe it has. I can appreciate the need for some occasional music or sponsored messages, but all the constant noise and interruptions at a modern-day NHL game is really starting to seem over-the-top.
Opposed: Maybe for you, but remember that the younger generation doesn’t mind all this. It’s actually what they expect when they attend a major sporting event. They’ve grown up with it.
In Favor: I guess that’s true. I just remember when a break in play meant you could actually turn to the person next to you and have a conversation about the game you were watching.
Opposed: That was a different time. And not everything was better in the old days.
[A whistle blows in the background.]
In Favor: I guess I’m just old-fashioned. I still prefer having the occasional moment where I could …
Arena Hostess: DID SOMEBODY SAY TRIVIA TIME???
In Favor: What the …
Arena Hostess: WHO WANTS TO WIN A PRIZE???
In Favor: You have a microphone. Why are you yelling at us?
Arena Hostess: I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!
Opposed: Hey, is there any chance you could give us a second to …
Arena P.A. Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt this screeching trivia to bring you the Joe’s Moving Van Rentals Super-Duper Big Move of the game!
In Favor: The what?
Arena P.A. Announcer: Everyone in Section 312, switch places with everyone in Section 228. Go!
Opposed: That doesn’t even make sense.
Arena P.A. Announcer: DO IT!
In Favor: I’m sorry, but we were kind of in the middle of something.
Opposed: Maybe if we talk really fast we can finish this before they …
Arena Music Guy: [Begins blaring “Cotton-Eyed Joe” at 193 decibels]
In Favor: I think my ears are bleeding.
Opposed: I’ve become confused and disoriented.
Arena Hostess: OH, LOOK, YOU’RE ON THE KISS-CAM!
In Favor: No!
Arena Hostess: YOU HAVE TO KISS!
Opposed: Why are you doing this to us?
Arena Hostess: [Whispering urgently] They’ve kidnapped my whole family. They told me if I stop yelling for even one second, I’ll never see them again. Please help me.
Opposed: Wait, what?
Arena Hostess [Frantically banging Opposed’s and In Favor’s heads together]: KISS EACH OTHER!
In Favor: I think I’m just going to curl up here and not move for a while.
Opposed: No! Listen to me! We can make it out of here!
In Favor: Go on without me …
Opposed: No! I will not leave you behind! Crawl toward the light!
[Opposed and In Favor commando crawl down the aisle toward an exit.]
In Favor: I … I think we’re going to make it …
Mascot: [Rappels from rooftop, begins firing into the crowd with his T-shirt bazooka]
Opposed: I’m hit!
In Favor: NOOO! What have you done, you monsters! [Breaks down sobbing]
[Whistle blows. Everything immediately goes silent.]
In Favor: What … what happened?
Opposed: I think the game is back on.
In Favor: Oh.
[Opposed and In Favor stand up, dust themselves off, and return to their seats.]
Opposed: So what were we talking about?
In Favor: I don’t remember.
The Final Verdict: This is what every NHL game I go to feels like these days, because I am an old man.
Trivial NHL-Related Annoyance of the Week
In which I will complain about things that probably only matter to me.
There are now several teams officially eliminated from playoff contention, which means there are currently several fan bases cheering for their teams to lose all the rest of their games to improve their draft position. That’s because the NHL still insists on determining draft order based on a bottom-up look through the standings.
Sure, the NHL has a draft lottery (it’s on Monday), but it’s a watered-down version with only the no. 1 pick up for grabs. That means no team can drop more than one spot, so the incentive remains for teams to finish as low as possible.
This is one of those hockey issues where plenty of fans think the current system is broken, but nobody can agree on a better one. Some have suggested a more wide-ranging lottery, like the NBA’s, others want some sort of consolation playoff, and others say we should just give the top pick to the best non-playoff team. Personally, I’ve always liked Adam Gold’s proposal, which gives the top pick to the team that accumulates the most points after being eliminated.
But the key point is that anything would be better than the current situation, where any rational fan of a team that’s been eliminated should be rooting against them. If your own fans want you to lose, there’s a problem.
Besides, what kind of second-rate pro sports league would reward a team for losing? Oh. Oh, right.
The Week’s Most Depressing CapGeek Page
In which we select one page on CapGeek.com and stare at it while a single tear rolls down our cheeks.
This week’s most depressing CapGeek page belongs to Ilya Bryzgalov.
OK, technically, we’ve already featured Bryzgalov in this space once before. He was actually the very first player we discussed. But that was his player page, back when he was a starting goalie with a ridiculous long-term contract that the Flyers were going to be stuck with for years. I called it “awe-inspiring,” and not in a good way.
Well, this week we’re talking about Bryzgalov again, because three months later, things have gotten worse.
With the season winding down and the Flyers already eliminated from the playoffs, Bryzgalov currently has a save percentage of .898. That’s pretty solid if it’s 1991, but today it’s good enough to make him the 45th best goalie in a 30-team league. Meanwhile, Steve “I wasn’t good enough for the Blue Jackets” Mason seems to have taken his job.
All of which has led to speculation that Philadelphia will use one of their amnesty buyouts to walk away from Bryzgalov’s deal this summer. The Flyers deny it, because what else could they do, but Bryzgalov doesn’t exactly seem all that enthusiastic about staying:
Q: Do you want to stay here next year? Bryzgalov: (randomly to female reporter) Nice blouse. (long pause) What? (pause) Of course!
— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) April 24, 2013
So this week’s most depressing CapGeek page is Ilya Bryzgalov’s buyout calculation. That would be the one that indicates it will cost the Flyers $23 million in cash this summer to send him packing. Would it be too clichéd to call that amount humongous big? Too late. I guess we just did.
What Has Don Cherry Gone and Done Now?
Whether it’s Coach’s Corner, his regular media appearances, or a Twitter account that’s presumably meant to be performance art, Don Cherry is everywhere. What’s he been up to this week?
Don Cherry is now available in cake form. Your argument is invalid.
Awesome and/or Horrific Old YouTube Clip of the Week
In addition to being a great source of adorable pets and functionally illiterate commenters, YouTube is a gold mine for old hockey clips. Each week we find one and break it down in way too much detail.
So normally this is where I’d introduce this week’s clip. But it’s become apparent that we need to go back and revisit last week’s showing of the “Albert” commercial because you all had a lot to say about it.
So once again, here it is:
And here’s a link to last week’s column, where I broke it down in detail.
There are two big topics we need to address: The first is that, according to many of you, I missed something important about Albert’s jerk older brother, who doesn’t pick him even though he’s clearly going through a life-altering moment of rejection: He’s played by the same actor who was Flick in A Christmas Story and then went on to a career in porn.
I want to stress that I cannot confirm this information (and there’s no reference to it on his IMDB page), but a bunch of people on the Internet said it so clearly, it must be true. And if so, it would certainly add a new layer to the Albert family dynamic. I wonder if he tried to stick his tongue to the goal post.
The second key point is that I’m apparently not the only one who’s been bothered for years by the “Why does Albert have his first name on his jersey” question. You guys have apparently put a lot of thought into this one, and I heard several theories. Some of the best:
• Albert is both his first and last name: i.e., “the Pete Peeters theory.”
• Albert has only one name: Apparently he’s either Japanese or Brazilian. Somebody probably should have told the casting director.
• Albert is his last name, his brother is really his step-brother, and they have different surnames: Like I said, some of you put a lot of thought into these.
• His full name is Al Bert, his brother’s name is Andrew Bert, and they’re both on the team I kind of love this one because of the complexity involved. Having two A. Berts on the same team would result in Al having to wear his full name. There’s the issue of the missing space, but then again, the name has clearly been attached with stickers from the dollar store, so it’s hard to rule it out.
• It’s all a sad daydream: The ending is just Albert’s wishful thinking after being cruelly humiliated by his peers. It’s probably taking place later in his miserable failure of a life, possibly while he’s plotting his revenge.
• He’s not playing in the NHL, but rather some sort of XFL-style knockoff where you can put whatever you want on your jersey: Wait, would Vince McMahon take an interest in hockey? Maybe he would.
• You’re spending too much time thinking about this, and there might be something seriously wrong with you: This is my wife’s theory, by the way.
Oh, and you Americans were also really confused about why he was buying hockey equipment in a tire store (because obviously you really don’t understand Canadians at all).