The three stars of comedy … will return
We're taking a break from the three stars this week, since a.) it's August and everyone who has ever played, coached, or worked in the NHL in their life is off the grid at a cottage somewhere, and b.) I've been away most of the week and probably missed anything funny that did happen. The three stars will return next time. Meanwhile, we have important business to get to in the next section.
Be It Resolved
Last week, I got very worked up about the NHL's weird insistence on treating holding the stick as a different penalty than holding, complete with its own hand signal. To be clear, I stand by that rant completely. I'm right and you know it.
In putting that section together, I had to dive into my copy of the NHL rulebook to verify that holding the stick was in fact the only penalty that forces the referee to perform a two-part signal, and in doing so, I realized something I'd never noticed before: There are four NHL penalties that don't have a signal at all.
Granted, they're the rare ones. Specifically, the penalties without signals are kicking, head-butting, throwing equipment, and too-many-men. You don't see those all that often. Still, they're in the rulebook. They should have some sort of signal. You can't ask a referee to announce a penalty and then just stand there like an idiot while everyone stares at him. We need to give these guys something to work with.
So let's do that. I've got some suggestions.
Let's start with kicking. That's the easy one. The referee just makes a little kicking motion. Simple enough, right? I mean, it would have to be a distinct kicking motion so that everyone in the crowd could make it out, but I'm sure the league could come up with a nice, easy definition for distinctive kicking motion that everyone would always agree on, so we'll just use that.
(Also, you could probably follow that up by having the ref pull out a phone, dial the police, and have the player arrested because he just freaking kicked somebody while wearing skates and is obviously a psychopath.)
The head-butt is a little tougher. My first thought was that the ref would slap his own forehead, but older fans might get confused and think he just realized that he could've had a V8. So I'm going to go a little more extreme and suggest that he slam his head directly into the crook of his arm. It's simple, distinctive, and my son will get excited because he'll think the ref is dabbing. Everyone wins.
For throwing equipment, I think we go with the obvious: The ref has to wind up and toss his whistle into the crowd like it's the Rock's elbow pad. And yes, that does create a problem where the referee won't have a whistle for the rest of the game, but if it's overtime or late in a close game or the playoffs, he won't need it anymore, so we should be fine.
And finally, too-many-men. My first thought was that the ref should have count to six on his fingers, look confused, and then make an exaggerated herpy-derp face at the crowd. But that seems a little complicated, so let's keep it simple. Just point at the Bruins.
Be it resolved: All these new hand signals go into effect for the 2017-18 season. Please let any referees in your life know so they can start practicing now.
Obscure former player of the week
One of this year's bigger off-season moves was the Stars signing Alexander Radulov away from the Canadiens. Radulov had 54 points last year and occasionally goes into beast mode, so he doesn't qualify as an obscure player. His brother Igor does, though, so he gets this week's honors.
Igor Radulov was a winger who was picked by Chicago in the third round of the 2000 draft, four years before his brother would go to Nashville in the first. It was a good round for less-successful brothers, as Henrik Lundqvist's twin brother Joel had gone a few picks earlier. (Henrik himself wouldn't go until the seventh round that year, marking the last known time that his life wasn't completely perfect.)
It was a bit of a weird draft pick, because by the time the Blackhawks used it, it had been traded five times in deals involving everyone from Mike Knuble to Ulf Samuelsson to Niklas Sundstrom (twice!) to the No. 4 overall pick in the 1999 draft, which was Pavel Brendl. Theory: If you dig hard enough, every obscure player eventually links back to Pavel Brendl.
Anyway, Radulov remained in Russia for a season before heading to North America to spend a year playing for the OHL's Mississauga IceDogs (and head coach Don Cherry). He scored 33 goals, then moved to the AHL in 2002, where he got his first taste of the pro game. By the end of the year, he earned a brief call-up to Chicago, where he scored five goals in seven games.
That had fans and media expecting bigger things. Radulov made the Blackhawks out of camp for the 2003-04 season, but he got off to a slow start, scoring just once in his first 16 games. By December, he was playing under ten minutes a game, and then found himself a healthy scratch. By the New Year, he was back in the AHL.
While we didn't know it at the time, we'd seen the last of Igor Radulov in the NHL. He headed home to Russia during the 2004-05 lockout and stayed there, first with HC Spartak Moscow and later with the KHL. Unlike his brother, he never did make an NHL comeback; at 34, he was still seeing time in the KHL last season.
What has Don Cherry gone and done now?
We haven't used this section much lately, and to be honest, there's no real reason to break it out now. Don Cherry hasn't done much this week. He's on vacation, like everyone else. But since there's not much going on, I thought it would be fun to use this space to tell the story about the time Cherry was voted the seventh-best Canadian.
Yes, that actually happened.
I realize that American readers are probably wondering how this is possible. How could a country with so much history decide that a sports broadcaster was the seventh greatest person to ever live? That would be like naming John Madden or Vin Scully as one of the ten greatest Americans. They've had great careers, and people love them, but greatest ever? Like, out of everyone? Are you crazy?
Meanwhile, Canadian readers are like, "Seventh? Huh. That seems a little low."
Here's the background. In 2004, the CBC launched a project to determine the greatest Canadian of all time, creatively naming it "The Greatest Canadian." The end result was a top-50 list, determined by a multi-step public vote.
Cherry ended up finishing seventh, ahead of people like Alexander Graham Bell, Sir John A. Macdonald, and, oh yeah, Wayne Gretzky. He was narrowly beat out by names like Terry Fox, Sir Frederick Banting, and Lester B. Pearson. In case you're wondering, the winner was Tommy Douglas. If you Americans don't know who that is, he's basically the guy who brought Canada the concept of, um, you know what, America, maybe it's better if we don't mention it right now. Tommy Douglas is Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather, that's all you need to know.
The important point is that Cherry finished seventh, which gives you an idea of how insanely popular he's always been up here. There was a time when he absolutely could have run for prime minister. Hell, he probably would have won.
By the way, when the CBC program aired, each of the top ten was presented by a Canadian celebrity. Cherry's segment was introduced by Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Just in case you were ever wondering what the most Canadian thing of all time was.
Classic YouTube clip breakdown
Who's up for some terrible NHL goaltender-based rap/rock? Good. You're in luck.
Careful readers will recognize this clip from February, when it was rediscovered and broken down in detail by Kings bloggers The Royal Half. We gave it a spot in the weekly comedy stars section back then, but it was inevitable that it would work its way to Classic YouTube section status someday. That day has arrived.
So the background here is that it's the 1989-90 season, give or take a year, and a group called The Puck Boys has decided to record a song honoring the Kings' coolest player. No, not Wayne Gretzky. No, not Luc Robitaille. Not Bernie Nicholls, either. Those guys were good, but they didn't rock a baby blue bandana during games. No, the Puck Boys are going to sing to us about Kelly Hrudey.
To answer the obvious question: No, The Puck Boys are not a real band. They can't be. I mean, I don't doubt that at least a few of these guys are actual musicians, and the lead singer is… well, we'll get to him in a bit. But this is basically a casting call of musical clichés all mashed into one super-group. They can't possibly be an actual collective. There's just no way.
All that said, this is a pretty catchy song. You're going to be humming it all day. Consider yourself warned.
"Who's between the pipes tonight? Well let me check my roster…" Um, actually, the roster itself wouldn't have that information. You'd need to check your lineup. Once again, novelty hockey song bands' failure to hire me as a fact-checker comes back to haunt them.
Glove saves were just better in the 80s and 90s. The goalies always looked a little bit surprised to have actually made a save, and they'd really sell it by flailing their arms around. It always looked great.
OK, almost always.
We get our first wide shot of the entire band, which includes a guy in cowboy hat, a dude in a suit, and a small child. And, of course, there's our lead singer, who looks like Bruce Springsteen had a baby with Marty Jannetty and then let it be raised by Rico Suave.
Just to give you a sense for the attention to detail that's going to be in play here, we start off with our singer telling us about all the things they now have "one less" of, while holding up two fingers.
The singer is giving off some star power, but the undisputed star here is keyboard-suit guy. He has clearly a.) never played the keyboard before and b.) not quite got the hang of the whole "having elbows" thing. But he did break out the formal wear for this video shoot, so we'll give him that. Dress for the job you want, and all that.
This is one of those late-80s songs that would be described as rap but may or may not actually be. I feel like the inclusion "whopper of a stopper" kind of disqualifies it right there.
So about that lead singer. His name is Harry Perzigian, and he'd become famous under some less than ideal circumstances a few years later. He was accused of supplying drugs to the son of actor Carroll O'Connor, who later committed suicide. He later sued O'Connor for slander, and the whole thing was a reasonably big tabloid story at the time. Perzigian died in 2014; a friend wrote this tribute.
I feel like that may have been the most depressing paragraph in YouTube section history. Can we get back to hockey jokes now? I'm not sure we have a choice. Onwards.
"Is this real, we must be dreaming. Have you checked our goals against?" Yes, I have. Kelly Hrudey's goal against average in 1989-90 was 4.07, the fourth worst mark in the league. But in fairness, he posted a 4.34 in the playoffs.
As we're digesting that information, our next highlight is an opposing player on a breakaway just getting blatantly tackled before he can get to Hrudey. Probably the right play.
That player is Brent Ashton, by the way, and he's going to feature in like every one of these highlights. Seriously, it's all they have and it's going to get weird.
"It's 7:30, I'm OK," our singer tells us while pointing at his wrist, which does not have a watch on it. This guy is terrible at hand gestures. Working the name of the song into the wardrobe is a strength, sure, but hand gestures not so much.
We get more Ashton highlights, and… wait. Was this originally supposed to be a Brent Ashton tribute video? Did they write a whole song about Ashton, then scrap it at the last minute and throw it in a dumpster, where it was found years later and repurposed by Chris Parnell? It would explain so much.
We get our second identical shot of Hrudey decking Paul MacDermid. And with that, we've made it through our entire video while using highlights from one single NHL game. Come on, guys. Even the Neil Sheehy-era Capitals know you always use two or three to mix it up.
And because I know you expect me to know these things, I went back and tried to figure out which specific game all these highlights are from. We knew the Kings were playing the Jets in L.A. (home teams wore white back then), Kelly Hrudey was in net, Brent Ashton and Paul MacDermid are in the lineup, and the Kings won (since we see Hrudey pumping his fist at the end of the game). The only game from 1988-89 or 1989-90 that fits that criteria came on December 19, 1989, when Hrudey gave up five goals in a 9-5 Kings win. Wayne Gretzky had six points. Are you
sure the goalie's the guy you want to be highlighting on this team, guys?
I don't think that's the kid's real voice, you guys.
The epilogue on all of this is that Hrudey spent the next five seasons in L.A., and was significantly better over most of that span. He finished fourth in Vezina voting in 1990-91, and helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993. Was he inspired to those heights by this song? We can never truly know for sure, but yes, he was.
Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at