Friday, October 2, 2009

October means NHL action! Three people rejoice!

It's time for HOCKEY! Yes, it's fallen out of favor with viewing audiences (well, I'm not sure it ever really was IN favor, but, you know...), but my pulse quickens whenever October rolls around and I know I'm in store for 82 contests of the greatest game in the world! A lifelong Detroit Red Wings fan (yes, I'm from Michigan, so no band wagon behavior for me), I remember the bad times in the early '80s as well as their rise to one of the consistently great franchises in the league. I hardly miss a game, and enjoy flipping around my DIRECTV Center Ice package to see what the rest of the league has in store. From the impressive young Blackhawk team with explosive young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, to the Pens and Sid the Kid, to the ageless netminding wonder Marty Brodeur in NJ, there are many great matchups on any given night. But my love of hockey doesn't stop there--here are many things about the game and related media that I enjoy. So sit back and serve a few in the sin bin while you peruse this...
My favorite all-time hockey player, the long time captain of the Red Wings is one of the best leaders and gentlemen on and off the ice. He helped lead the franchise out of the doldrums and into contention, and while his supporting players may have rotated (Dino Ciccarelli, Paul Coffey, Brendan Shanahan, Luc Robataille, Brett Hull, etc.), Stevie was always the key to the Wings' cup conquests (his double OT goal against St. Louis always comes to mind). One of my prized possessions is a pic taken of me in the front row of a San Jose Sharks game in the early 90s, right next to the penalty box, where Stevie was serving two (plus, I have ridiculous floppy Edward Furlong hair). I miss seeing Stevie on the ice, facing off against retired Avalanche captain Joe Sakic. Heck, I miss that heated ol' Avalanche/Wings rivalry. Great times.

Not a very good movie. But anything where a team comes up short, only to have the stunned silence broken by steadily growing slow-clap warms my heart. I enjoy starting them in public.

Hockey players have the best names, hands down. Saku Koivu (pictured above). Teppo Numminen. Radek Bonk. Jordin Tootoo. Roman Hamrlik. Sergei Krivokrasov. Ruslan Fedotenko. Miroslav Satan. Tuomo Ruutu. Jaromir Jagr. Zigmund Palffy. Jeff Beukeboom. Jukka-Pekka Seppo. Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Mika Kiprusoff. And sooooo many more!

Ya gotta love those hypnotic ice resurfacers. Plus, if you are at a game and see the Zamboni hit the ice, odds are T-Shirt cannons are coming your way!

894 goals. 1,963 assists. A career +518. 4 Stanley Cups. 1 time hosting SNL. His slap shot couldn't help his comedic timing as the Great One turned in a wooden glued-to-the-teleprompter performance. Still, it was cool seeing him interact with Wayne and Garth. TRIVIA NUGGET: The musical guest was Fine Young Cannibals.

Gordie Howe is amazing. The guy played FOREVER (6 decades!--if you count the one shift he played at 70 years old on the Detroit Vipers in the IHL). He played with his sons on the Houston Aeros and Hartford Whalers. A player could take pride in a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," which was 1 goal, 1 assist, and 1 fight. A big, physical player with an incredibly knack for finding the back of the net, Howe is one of the most beloved figures in all of hockey. Heck, his jersey is forever immortalized on the back of Cameron Frye in John Hughes' classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Holy jumpin'! I love me some Panger. The tiny, bald ex-Chicago Blackhawk goaltender is my favorite hockey analyst/color man, constantly piping in with some great tidbits and family-friendly white guy slang.

Emilio's finest hour (well, not really). But you gotta love any movie franchise that lets one player lasso another player on the ice.

The U.S. Olympic Hockey Team's gigantic upset of Russia at the Lake Placid 1980 games isn't just the biggest upset in hockey history, but perhaps all of sports. It would be like Rocky 4, but instead of Stallone beating Ivan Drago, it was a myopic kitten getting the job done. The movie dramatization with Kurt Russell is pretty good, but be sure to find a doc with some of the actual footage and team interviews. The guys are pretty interesting characters, particularly captain Mike Eruzione, goaltender Jim Craig, and hall-of-fame coach Herb Brooks.

Ya gotta love Barry. I let his hair call all of the shots in my life.

The break-out stars from the profanely beautiful Paul Newman hockey classic Slap Shot, the bespectacled Hanson Brothers brought extra-curricular scraps to the level of art. Honorable mention to french-speaking Denis, who, at the start of the film, describes going to the penalty box: "You go, by yourself. You feel shame. Then you are free."

Well, this practice is long since gone. I really miss the flying octopii on Detroit ice, or the stuffed Penguins in Pittsburgh. The league threatened to fine Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka if he did his octopus twirl (shown above) anymore. Still, people do occasionally toss their caps on the ice when a player gets a Hat Trick.

This long-time Canadian hockey commentator makes Prince look like a school marm. If his extreme opinions and off-color comments don't startle you, his blazers will.

Chimps playing hockey! Chimps playing hockey! Well, Chimp playing hockey. This entry into the MVP series (a knockoff of the AirBud films) shows us that a properly trained monkey can be a serious threat if left alone in the slot. Doesn't get back well on D, though, so don't expect a good plus/minus.

Ah, the charming, fun ol' Nintendo game, where, due to the lack of A.I., a wrap-around goal was ALWAYS effective. Better get used to that aerial view, 'cuz that's all you are getting.

NHL 09 (PS3)
This hockey game is KILLER. The graphics are unreal, the play control complex but exciting, and the commentators (Gary Thorne and Bill Clement) are the best you could hope for! Plus, it's fun to drop the gloves as Darren McCarty and stick it to some hapless Blues 4th liner.

**I know, I know. Too long between blog posts, so here's your required Baio photo. I wonder if Scott digs hockey?**

1 comment:

  1. This blog is all kinds of Win. ;-)

    I still have the Gretzky SNL ep on tape somewhere. Classic.

    I had my picture taken with Panger. I was taller than him, LOL!

    My friends and I in high school had a long-running joke about "Melrose's Place." I'll just leave it at that, heehee. But yes, his mullet is legendary. My dad even tried to copy it (shudder).

    Was I the only one, upon first hearing the song "MMM-Bop" and learning it was sung by Hanson (three brothers), who immediately pictured the Hanson brothers doing a pop-licious bit at center ice? I still do, sigh...