NHL Grab Bag: Olympic Games Edition!
This Week’s Three Stars of Comedy
Recognizing the three NHL personalities from around the league who produced the most comedic fodder for fans.
The third star: John Tortorella
Well, not the Canucks coach himself. He wasn’t in the building in Winnipeg, as he served the final games of his suspension. Or was he?
I think my favorite part of that clip is that a Statler and Waldorf sighting doesn’t even warrant a mention anymore.
The second star: John Tortorella, again
Well, not the Canucks coach himself, again. But via Puck Daddy, this fan-made Auto-Tune reinterpretation of the Flames-Canucks brawl is strangely fascinating.
That will be stuck in your head for the rest of the weekend, by the way. I probably should have mentioned that before I let you click play. Sorry about that.
The first star: T.J. Oshie
Blown goal calls aren’t usually funny, but I loved everything about this one:
In no particular order, I enjoyed: the Sens defenseman who blatantly lies by pointing into the crowd, especially since it almost works; Oshie’s reaction when he figures out where the puck actually is; the girl with the shovel who isn’t sure if she’s supposed to leave; Oshie’s sad little belated goal celebration off by himself.
But most of all, I love the precedent this sets. I vote that every season, we randomly pick one obvious goal and just agree that everyone will pretend it didn’t go in, just to mess with the guy who scored it.
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 them.
With the Olympics now under way, I figured this would be a good week to choose an obscure former player from the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. But that ended up being harder than it sounds. Several players from that team never made it to the NHL, and some of the ones who did weren’t very obscure. Neal Broten was an All-Star, Dave Christian played 1,000 games, and Ken Morrow was the first player to win gold and a Stanley Cup in the same year, making him the answer to a trivia question that every hockey fan already knows, so stop bringing it up already.
So after careful consideration, this week’s obscure player is Dave Silk. He was a right winger on Team USA who went on to play parts of seven NHL seasons for four teams. He was a depth guy who cracked double-digit goals three times and had a career-best 35 points as a Ranger in 1981-82. He’d later play for the Bruins, Wings, and Jets. His most memorable NHL moment might have been the time Glenn Anderson cracked him in the head with his stick.
But mainly I chose him because “Silk” is a fantastic name for a hockey player. We need to steal it and give it to somebody whose last name is too hard to spell. I am looking in your direction, James van Riemsdyk — or, as you will be known from now on, Jimmy Silk.
Trivial NHL-Related Annoyance of the Week
In which I complain about things that matter probably only to me.
A relatively recent NHL tradition is the dads’ trip, in which a team brings the players’ fathers (and sometimes mothers) along on a road trip to watch their sons play. They usually all wind up in a private box, often wearing their kids’ jerseys, and afterward, there’s sometimes a team dinner or other event.
The dads’ trip is not this week’s annoyance, because it’s a cool idea. No complaints there.
But while I support the concept, would it be possible to watch my team play its dads’ trip game without being subjected to 900 shots of the dads all game long? A few shots at the beginning of the game is great. A nice reaction shot of somebody seeing their kid score a goal is even better. A few reminders during the game, fine, if we must.
But they’re hockey dads. I assure you they’ve been to games before. They’ll be there again. We probably don’t need the special inset camera live-tracking them every time they get up to go to the bathroom.
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 has he been up to this week?
Saturday’s edition of “Coach’s Corner” started off like any other, which is to say it started off with a million ads. Then we got the fake intro. Then more ads. Then the real intro. And then we got Don Cherry.
That’s it. Just Don Cherry. Sitting at the desk, all by himself. Ron MacLean was nowhere to be found. It was creepy.
Even odder, Cherry didn’t bother to explain what was going on. He just launched directly into a typical “Coach’s Corner” rant. I think it was about Brandon Prust spearing a goalie, but I’m not really sure because at this point, nobody was paying any attention. We were all too busy wondering what the hell happened to Ron.
Did he get fired? Was there some sort of last-minute emergency? Did he interrupt with one too many bad puns during rehearsal, and after 30 years Cherry finally snapped and strangled him? Good lord, was it possible the decaying corpse of Ron MacLean was stashed under Cherry’s desk as we watched?
Then, two minutes in, Cherry suddenly asked, “How’s things over in Sochi right now?” and there was Ron, live via satellite from Russia. Oh, OK. I guess that makes sense, too. I’ll just go ahead and hang up with the 911 operator now.
“Is this segment always this boring?” asked Ron, in a funny moment that will probably get him strangled for real when he gets back.
Canadian Olympic Panic Watch
This week, Canadians learned that Steven Stamkos won’t play in the Olympics. Despite a near-heroic effort to rehab his broken leg, he fell just short. Doctors wouldn’t clear him, so he can’t go. That’s bad news for Canada, though it’s tempered somewhat by the fact that they’ll just replace him with Martin St. Louis, who was last year’s scoring leader and would probably be playing on the first line of just about any other country in the tournament.
And with that, we’re here. The waiting is over. The Sochi Games have begun. The men’s hockey tournament starts Wednesday. Everyone is flying out on the weekend. It’s go time.
So this seems like a good opportunity for a reminder: It’s all in good fun. Things might get pretty intense over the next few days, and I’m sure some things will be said that we’ll regret later. But we’re all friends now, and we’ll all be friends in two weeks. There’s a bond between hockey fans, and no silly tournament will change that.
Who’s up for a group hug? Yeah, I thought so. Come on, world, bring it in.
All right, good talk. Enjoy the Olympics, hockey fans, and may the best country win.
(As long as it’s not yours. Your country sucks. Your culture is a cesspool and your food smells funny and your leader is corrupt and your hockey players are a collection of cheating, diving, whining embarrassments whom you’d disavow and then deport if you had even the slightest sense of decency, which of course you don’t because again you live in a terrible country.)
Awesome and/or Horrific Old YouTube Clip of the Week
In addition to being a great source of adorable pet videos and functionally illiterate commenters, YouTube is a gold mine for old hockey clips. In this section we find one and break it down in way too much detail.
The Olympic women’s hockey tournament gets under way tomorrow. To mark the occasion, let’s go back in time to … well, not all that long ago, actually.
• It’s October 29, 2013, and we’re 100 days away from Sochi. To mark the occasion, Team USA forwards Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan have been invited to appear on Today. I’m sure this will go smoothly.
• That makes two straight weeks of morning talk shows in the YouTube section, by the way. Yeah, I’m not sure what’s happening either. The good news is that if last week taught me anything, it’s that Wayne Gretzky is wandering around backstage somewhere just waiting to make a random appearance.
• Our cohosts this morning are Hoda Kotb and Anthony Mackie. I had to Google Mackie to find out who he is. Apparently he’s an actor best known for his role in The Hurt Locker, which I’m assuming was a documentary about Carlo Colaiacovo’s dressing room stall.
• OK, so I know the Today show doesn’t do much in the way of hockey coverage, but this is only a three-minute segment. How hard can it be to do the sport justice? In fact, let’s welcome Knight and Duggan with a quick introduction and a video clip of Team USA highlights.
• Hm. A clip of Team Canada’s goalie making a save. Interesting choice. I would have gone with a Team USA goal or something, but I don’t want to tell you how to do your job here, NBC. You’re the professionals.
• And there’s a few seconds of Team Canada celebrating. Again, not really a great choice. We cut to Duggan and Knight, who are already side-eyeing each other in that unspoken This may have been a huge mistake kind of way.
• The camera pulls back, revealing that the segment is taking place in an unfinished basement. Everyone is holding a stick, there’s something vaguely resembling a hockey net off to one side, and for some reason the entire Edmonton Oilers defense is standing in front of it.
• “We’re gearing up,” Duggan explains. “Training hard every day.” I’m so glad that Title IX ensured that female hockey players get the same access to state-of-the-art cliché training as their male counterparts.
• Oh, look, it’s some more highlight clips. Good idea. Let’s set the mood here, really show America what these women can …
• … oh, for the …
• Really, NBC? These are the highlight clips you chose? Nobody saw a problem here at all? Let me offer up a hint: That team in the red and white, the one making the save and high-fiving and scoring the goal? That’s not Team USA. That would be its hated rival, Team Canada, and you’re showing clips of the 2010 gold-medal game the Americans lost.
• Wait, is this a Today thing, where every guest gets forced to watch clips of the worst moment of their career? I don’t watch the show, so I’m not sure. Maybe when Bill Murray comes on, it’s just wall-to-wall Garfield clips. Seems like kind of a jerk move if you ask me.
• “Now last year we won a silver, right?” Sure, Hoda, that’s close enough, I guess.
• Who had 1:07 in the “When will we get a question about whether there’s fighting?” pool? Please step forward and collect your winnings.
• Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed that part, because I’m pretty sure the question was supposed to be a joke and then Duggan’s just like, “Um, about two weeks ago.”
• Now it’s time for a stick-handling relay, which should go smoothly once the hosts figure out how to hold a hockey stick, which they do not. There’s a brief negotiation over whether Mackie will get to wear gloves. Duggan hands hers over.
• “It smells like Christmas in here.” I’ve tried to parse what that could mean and have to admit I have absolutely no idea, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about how a hockey glove smells.
• And we’re off. It goes without saying that the whole thing descends into utter chaos pretty much immediately. Pucks are flying. Everyone keeps bumping into each other. There’s lots of yelling, and nobody has any idea where to go.
• This is exactly what I imagine every Buffalo Sabres practice drill is like, by the way.
• The three ladies finish things off by sliding a few pucks into the net. Mackie wants a turn, too, but he Phaneufs his shot into the backstage area where it hits … something. We’re not really sure what he hit, but everyone seems really concerned for a few seconds. I hope he didn’t nail Gretzky in the temple.
• Now we get some closing small talk. “I know hockey is big in your world, but how is it nationwide?” asks Kotb. Wait, what’s “your world”? The Olympic hockey program? Yeah, I guess hockey would be pretty popular there. Weird how that works.
• “The growth of the game has been incredible, especially on the women’s side,” says Duggan. “Or at least it was, right up until this segment aired,” she does not add but probably should have.
OK, so let’s look on the bright side: Duggan and Knight were way better on the show than Alexander Ovechkin a few months later. Sure, they let one of the cohosts kill Wayne Gretzky, but other than that, I thought they did a good job. Best of luck to Duggan and Knight and their Christmas-scented gloves in Sochi.
At least until they get to the gold-medal game and lose to Canada. After all, NBC will need some highlights for their next Today appearance.