27 January 2008

The All-Star Game!

This is the All-Star weekend, which means for the vast majority of players, they get a long weekend off to spend with their families, relax and rehab their bodies, or get drunk, depending on who they are. (Or a combination of all three. Who knows? I'm not here to judge.) For the lucky All-Stars, they get a weekend in...Atlanta, where they take part in pointless but hugely amusing competitions and do stupid interviews.

So, I really like the All-Star game. But this weekend I thought I could celebrate better by doing my own personal All-Star event. I think I will call it "The First Annual All Hockey All The Time All-Star Ranking!" I like the exclamation point.

Our first competition will be Best And By Best I Mean Most Amusing Foreign Forward. This is a pretty tight competition, you see, because I generally want to shy away from "most amusing" meaning "funny-looking." (That's a separate competition.) (Also, frankly, there are a lot of weird-looking North Americans out there. Maybe they're all from Love Canal?) However, this is going to go in a heartbeat to Alex Ovechkin. Even if he is pretty funny-looking, this category rests solely on this video [warning: goes straight to video]. This is one of the most amusing videos I've ever seen, a bunch of the young Caps players taking a tour of D.C....on Segways. It's also one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen, since Ovechkin spends most of the tape zipping around like a nutjob, getting in trouble with the authorities, going "YEEEEAAHHH!" and asking "To find girls. Girls, where are you?" Ovechkin seems like a pretty hilarious guy to hang around with. (Call me next time the Capitals are in town, Ovie. We don't have any Segways here, but we can walk around Parliament and take stupid pictures with the statues, which is also pretty fun.)

Up next we have Most Funny-Looking Player. This is actually a close competition between the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, whose pictures I'm not going to link to because they skeeve me out too badly; and Jason Spezza. I love Jason very much, and he is an outstanding young player who will one day have a lot of leadership potential, but I'll tell you right now I don't understand the girls (and there are a lot of them, believe it or not) who hail him as some kind of sex symbol. Because...no. Just...no. He ran a couple commercials for a jeweler here in Ottawa with the tagline "Dare to Dream," and they're just so hugely stupid and goofy and...He's a good guy, just he wins for Funny-Looking.

Now over here in this category, we have Most Useless European Defenseman. Duh, this is a layup for Karel Rachunek. Now, I adore Rachunek, but I fully realize his uselessness. In nine out of ten pictures, he looks stoned off his head. He has taken maybe three pictures while smiling in his entire life. When he was playing for the Sens, Jacques Martin accused him of being "unemotional" and "cold." And this was repeated by his teammates. From everything I've read, he's pretty well-liked, just...apparently has no feelings, EVER. Not that this makes a difference to me. I love him even in his uselessness. Even if I am the only one. (And really, he's getting better! The older he gets, the better he gets as a player! I'm not kidding, guys! He's grown up and filled out...hello? Hello?)

How about the goalies? They get no love. (That's a lie.) How about Most Completely Smoking Hot Goalie? (Yes, I am about as deep as a puddle, but I don't lie about it!) Now, Ray Emery got into hot water with management when he was photographed getting a tattoo and it was in all the newspapers (there's a long story that goes along with that about a bet about eating a cockroach off the locker room floor and $500, but yeah), but frankly, I don't care. Thank you, Sun Media, for putting this into my life. YEAH I THOUGHT SO. I could do without the funky little chin-beard he has going on there, but please. That's like critiquing the landscaping behind the Mona Lisa, people.

Like your goalies a little less flashy and flamboyant? How about a little Henrik Lundqvist? with your coffee? Yeah, I thought so.

He doesn't have ENOUGH hair for you? How about Roberto Luongo? Now, that one may be kind of an exposure-therapy thing, but seriously, "Bobby Lu" is so good he has men in Vancouver volunteering to dump their girlfriends for him. He is one of the best things to hit Vancouver in a long, long time, and they appreciate him every bit.

On a different, but still goalie-related note, we have Who Is The Weirdest Goalie? Now, this category is wide, wide open category because most goalies are on the express train to Bizarro Land with stops in Strangeville, Weirdson, and Completely Batshit. Will it be Antero Niittymaki, whose name I will never be able to spell right on the first try, who once let in a goal because he was too busy watching his own replay on the Jumbotron? No, that makes him Most Self-Centered. Will it be Kari Lehtonen, who was quoted as disliking the new NHL jersey style because he "saw some pictures of [himself] on the Internet and they made [him] look fat"? No, but maybe a close runner-up for Self-Centered. Twitchy Nikolai Khabibulin?

No, this one is a toss-up. On the one hand, we have the challenger, young Peter Budaj of Colorado. Budaj is from Slovakia, which is already one strike in the "weird" arena, but apparently he has abandoned ship and doesn't play for the Slovakian national team any more, which should drive Frantisek Hossa and Julius Supler just about insane. He has a drawing of Ned Flanders from the Simpsons on the back of his helmet. I can't call him completely crazy, though, because he did this one interview and won me forever.

On the other hand, we have the incumbent, the reigning king of lunacy, Dominik Hasek. I LOVE Hasek, like, a LOT, enough that it makes some of my friends uncomfortable. His autograph is truly one of my most prized possessions, although when I met him I was so completely in awe I couldn't even speak. (That's a good story, also the time Nicklas Lidstrom touched my neck, and yes, it deserves to be in bold.) But even I realize Hasek is a nutcase with a nutty filling. Hasek once attacked a sportswriter in Buffalo--like, full-on went after him and ripped his shirt. He has had an opera written about him (and, in fairness, the rest of the Czech national team.) There are pictures of him loose on the internet doing the splits in the shower. He is a big wrestling fan. He has a history degree and is qualified to teach at the high-school level. (I would not have missed a history class EVER.)

I think that about does it for The First Annual All Hockey All The Time All-Star Rankings! Stay tuned. My next entry is going to be all about food.

04 January 2008

Music and hockey don't always mix.

It's true. They're not always well-suited for each other. The ultimate proof of this lies in perhaps the greatest Christmas song ever recorded, Honky the Christmas Goose. [Warning: link plays sound] Recorded by Maple Leafs legend Johnny Bower, it's just...outstanding. My favorite part is how the tempo speeds up and slows down with no real apparent motive. And, it's about a GOOSE, okay? How many other Christmas songs are about fowl of any type? None, that's how many.

"But wait!" I can hear you saying. "There's tons of good hockey songs out there!"

"Tons" may be overstating it a bit. There is the wonderful classic by Stompin' Tom Connors, The Hockey Song. I think it's like a law that it must be played, at least in part, at every NHL game. I know I sing along with it, even if the people I'm with look at me a little oddly. (Hey, they know the words, too. They should make it a sing-a-long. It's easier to sing than the anthems, you know.)

Or how about the classic Hockey Night in Canada theme? Certainly one of the most well-recognized sports jingles out there, I think. Well, the Monday Night Football theme might beat it out, or at least in my house during football season, the NFL on Fox theme song, but I like the HNIC theme better. Even if sometimes they do play some awful version of "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," which...okay, I don't make the rules, but I'd rather they didn't and just stuck to what works. Also, once I heard an awesome story about a couple who had the organist play it at their wedding at some point. Which I think is just the coolest thing ever.

And there's all the music they play AT hockey games. Which is usually not so inspired. I think we've all heard Enter Sandman and Play That Funky Music White Boy a few hundred too many times. Where is the new, exciting music? (And I am not speaking here for the staff at Scotiabank Place, who play a lot of fairly crappy "nu-metal" music in some sort of weird attempt to rev up the crowd, when they could just as easily flash pictures of the Buffalo Sabres on the Jumbotron and make people angry.) Where are the daring arena staff playing Helmethead by Great Big Sea? Actually, that might not be such a hot choice, since it contains the line "I'll never win a title and I'll never win the Cup," and is all about a crappy player who sleeps around with lots of women. So, you know, it accurately describes many, many players, but is probably not such a positive message for the young kids at the games.

Speaking of things that are not a positive message, apparently the New Jersey Devils, when they opened the Prudential Center this year, played a montage of clips set to the music of...yes...friggin' Baba O'Reilly by the Who. (Yeah, I know the video says Quadrophenia, and the song is off Who's Next. I didn't make the video, I just needed the song.) CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THAT TO ME? Ok, maybe Pete Townshend admitted that he didn't even know what the song is about, and I know it has a catchy riff and lots of fun synthesizer bits, but...seriously, "It's only teenage wasteland / they're all wasted" AND SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE IN THE DEVILS MANAGEMENT THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA FOR A VIDEO MONTAGE ABOUT HOW GOOD THE DEVILS ARE. I don't GET it. It's a good song, just...maybe not for this purpose?

And there are plenty of hockey players who have bands! Jocelyn Thibault is an avid drummer, and my mom's perennial favorite ex-player Darren McCarty is the lead singer in his own metal band, which is creatively named "Grinder." And since I don't much care for metal, I can't comment on the...relative decency of the band.

Fun fact for the day: Did you know Chris Chelios is just about to pass Alex Delvecchio in the standings for most games played? Chelios has 1547, and Delvecchio played 1549, and was, of course, one of the greatest players ever to play in Detroit. Chelios has far and away the most games played of any active player, although his next runner-up is a former teammate of his, Brendan Shanahan. Hockey is a small world.