1. The Player You Most Love To Hate
What I hate are the showboaters. They’re rare in hockey, and for a reason. The players hate a showboater. Even teammates hate them. When you’re scored on, you’re mad at yourselves for not stopping it. When that player then skates around celebrating in some over the top fashion, you make him and his team the object of your anger. Your adrenaline rises and you promise to make them pay.
There’s a couple players that are guilty of this. They might be fun to watch in retrospect, but when it happens against your team, you really get steamed.
I’m not talking about a spinorama trick shot in the shootout. Honestly, that’s one area that deserves something you don’t always see. Just don’t follow it up with gloating.
2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can’t Help Rooting For
When the Penguins were in danger of moving, I had to consider what I would do if the worst case scenario came to pass. I wouldn’t have been able to root for the Wherever My-Team-In-Another-Citys. I looked around the league and legitimately could not see myself rooting for any other team. I was prepared to give up my hockey fandom if the Penguins were forced to go elsewhere.
Luckily that didn’t happen. As a result, if I ever root for another team, it’s usually one that is the underdog in a season. In 2008 it was the Chicago Blackhawks. Then they Chelsea Daggered themselves into overly annoying territory. After that, it was fun to see the Avalanche come back from the depths of irrelevance. After they regressed over the past year, I gave by the L. A. Kings a chance… until they rescued Mike Richards from Dry Island. But the Winnipeg Jets are back, so I’ll give them a shot this year.
3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time
This comes out as a three-way tie, if only for the fact that I witnessed the two of these firsthand. I was at the infamous four-overtime game between the Penguins and the Capitals, watching from high above in the nosebleeds when this happened:
The Penguins eventually won, of course. Hours later.
I also got to see Sidney Crosby’s first NHL fight in person while I was in Boston:
That made up for the Laraque vs. Chara “fight” that occurred earlier when they pretty much just grabbed each other and fell to the ice. ((Sidenote: HockeyFights.com is awesome. ))
And of course, the best fight from last season, Brent Johnson vs Rick DiPietro:
4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Wildwing jersey. Only Disney could do that to hockey.
I’d never wear that though, so if limited to that stipulation, I’d have to go with the good old California Golden Seals, and only the primarily green jersey at that. The yellow jersey is harsh on the eyes and the seafoam green variant should just be set on fire.
5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)
Old time hockey.
It’s my last game, and I wanna play it straight. No more “Nail ’em.” No more “[Mess] with ’em.” That’s finished. I wanna win that championship tonight, but I wanna win it clean.
Old-time hockey, like when I got started, you know?
Toe Blake, Dit Clapper, Eddie Shore, those guys were the greats.
— Reggie Dunlop, Slap Shot
It’s lost a little bit of its appeal to me due to its commercialization as a clothing brand, but old time hockey has a certain meaning to any true fan. Though in the movie it referred to a clean style of play, today it’s a throwback to toughness, intimidation, and letting the players settle their scores on the ice.
6. The Injury You Couldn’t Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)
Any concussion. I’ve had three and they’re not fun. It used to be part of hockey where players would just skate it off, but over the past few years, it’s becoming clear these have a major impact on players for the rest of their lives. ((It’s been a problem for a lot longer, but it’s just now being addressed within the sport. Before it was “just part of the game.”)) And not just in hockey, in football too. Concussions are the type of injury that nobody can clearly explain or treat, and as a result of the leagues learning how devastating multiple concussions can be later on in someone’s life, major changes are being made in hockey and football to try minimize the likelihood of the epidemics that have appeared recently.
7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture
Is there hockey in pop culture right now? I don’t think so. ((Unless you mean really bad Mike Myers movies.)) Thanks to the neutral zone trap, the lockout, and being ignored by the Worldwide Leader ((ESPN)), hockey isn’t a big part of pop culture right now.
Resorting to more nostalgic times, I’ll go with The Mighty Ducks. Flying V, knucklepuck, etc.
7a. Your Favorite Terrible Hockey Card Or Hockey Action Figure.
I still have this solely because of the four-overtime game against the Caps in ’96.
8. Finally, What’s The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?
He doesn’t give up on trying to keep teams from moving. It worked in Pittsburgh, and I’m thankful for that. And now he’s doing the same for Phoenix and the Islanders. He tried his best in Atlanta, but wide enthusiasm and support was just never there, especially when having to compete with the the Falcons, Braves, and Hawks for attention.