Sports

Down Goes Brown Grab Bag: Dallas Clowns Trump, Top 100 Lists, and Musical Acts

Among the topics this week: Holy crap, the NHL actually booked some popular music acts for the All-Star Game. And much more.
January 27, 2017, 2:30pm
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor's note: Welcome to Sean McIndoe's weekly grab bag, where he writes on a variety of NHL topics. You can follow him on Twitter. Check out the Biscuits podcast with Sean and Dave Lozo as they discuss the events of the week.)

Three stars of comedy

The third star: Referee Frederick L'Ecuyer—Honestly, I'm amazed this doesn't happen more often.

Ref with the live mic yelling 'f--ck you! f--ck you!' Ah yes, this is the stuff I live for. — AOL KEYWORD: Mike (@mikeFAIL)January 27, 2017

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In fairness, what were the odds that he'd be wearing the one and only referee mic in NHL history that actually worked?

The second star: Kenichi Ohashi—Who? He's the father of the Capitals' analytics guy, and he promised he'd do 100 pushups if the team won.

This is the stuff of legends. Kenichi Ohashi, father of coach Tim Ohashi, promised 100 pushups with a win. He did not disappoint. — Washington Capitals (@Capitals)January 22, 2017

Honestly, it's the players' reaction that makes it. Where does this rank among the most triumphant moments in Capitals franchise history? It has to be top five, right?

The first star: The Dallas Stars vs. Donald Trump—Oh snap.

Stars Jumbotron with a topical joke. — Kate Morrison (@unlikelyfanatic)January 22, 2017

In related news, the Stars' goaltending isn't derailing the season of a legitimate Stanley Cup contender; they're just making alternative saves.

Debating the issues

This week's debate: The NHL will release its centennial Top 100 Players list over the weekend. But wait… what if a player you like isn't on it? Should you flip out?

In favor: Uh, yeah. Of course you should. Isn't that half the fun?

Opposed: Well, yes, kind of. Let's just make sure we keep all the criticism reasonable and make sure we…

In favor: WHY DO YOU HATE MY FAVORITE PLAYER, I WILL STAB YOU ALL!!!!

Opposed: OK, maybe take a deep breath.

In favor: Seriously, though, my guy was a superstar. He was one of the very best players in the history of my favorite team. He had all those points, and won a few awards, and went to the All-Star Game more than once. Surely that's enough to make the top 100!

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Opposed: OK.

In favor: And not only that, but he was… wait, what was that?

Opposed: I said OK. You're probably right. Your guy has a case.

In favor: Oh… well, good then. Glad we agree.

Opposed: So whose spot should he take?

In favor: What?

Opposed: Which of the 100 players who did make the list should lose their spot to your guy?

In favor: Oh. I don't know. I didn't really think about that.

Opposed: But you have to. If you think somebody took a spot that your guy deserves more, you need to say who that is.

In favor: Look, I don't know. I shouldn't have to go through an entire list of 100 names just to know my guy should be there. He was really good. Look at those numbers. He's clearly a Top 100 player.

Opposed: But that's not how this works. "Top 100" isn't some general descriptive term, like calling somebody "good" or "great" or whatever. By definition, it's limited to [does math] 100 players. And that means that if you think your guy should be there, your argument has to start with someone he should replace. If you can't find one, then your guy doesn't belong in the top 100. He may be good, or great, or even a franchise player. But we're dealing with 100 years and 100 players, and the bar is pretty high.

In favor: Huh. Interesting. You've put a lot of thought into this.

Opposed: You could say that.

In favor: Yeah, I guess it really is a—hey, wait a second, have we been doing this whole debate just so you could mention the book?

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Opposed: What, you mean this book that we wrote that just came out this week, where we team up with Biscuits co-host Dave Lozo and Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski to not only come up with our own Top 100 list but then go the extra mile and rank each and every one?

In favor: Dude…

Opposed: [annoying game show announcer voice] The one that's available in e-book form right now on iTunes and Amazon, where it's been the top-selling hockey book in both the U.S. and Canada all week?

In favor: You know, a little subtlety probably wouldn't kill you here.

Opposed: The one that's full of history and humor and fantastic fodder for debate and also [whispering] doesn't have Jonathan Toews in the top 100?

In favor: Wait, what?

Opposed: Yeah.

In favor: Oh man, we're going to get destroyed for that.

Opposed: Yup.

The final verdict: Remember, Blackhawks fans, you can't be mad about Toews unless you also tell us who should—[flaming brick flies through window] EVERYBODY RUN!

Obscure former player of the week

Earlier this week, Patrick Marleau scored four goals in one period, tying an NHL record that hadn't been reached in nearly 20 years. Everyone immediately starting making inappropriate Joe Thornton masturbation jokes. Seriously, everyone. The Sharks did, Logan Couture did, Brent Burns did, Marleau's own wife did. It was a thing.

Scoring four goals in a game isn't actually all that rare; it's happened two other times this season, and 154 times since 1987. That list includes several Obscure Player alumni, like Greg Adams, Johan Garpenlov, Chris Kontos, Yanic Pearreault, and Hakan Loob. That's more than I'd expect, and it had me wondering: Who was the most obscure NHL player to ever score four times in one game?

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I think the answer is this week's honoree: Jaroslav Svejkovsky.

Svejkovsky was a Czech winger who was a first-round pick in the (extremely terrible) 1996 draft, going to the Capitals at 17th overall. He earned AHL rookie of the year honors that season, while also getting some time with the big club; he had three goals through his first 18 games with the Capitals.

The 19th one was a doozy. On April 13, 1997, Svejkovsky and the Capitals visited the Buffalo Sabres for the final game of the season. The rookie had the game of his life, scoring four times to help the Caps win 8-3.

As it turns out, it would be the last multi-goal game of Svejkovsky's career as a Capital. He'd score just 11 more times with Washington over parts of two seasons before being traded to the Lightning for draft picks. In Tampa, he'd debut with a two-goal game and then manage just three more over the rest of the year. He'd start the 2000-01 season in the IHL, suffer a serious concussion, and never play again. His NHL career was over after just four years, 113 games, and 23 goals.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any surviving footage of Svejkovsky's four-goal game, so please enjoy this clip of him and Peter Bondra starting a line brawl.

The NHL actually got something right

Earlier this week, the NHL announced its lineup of musical acts for All-Star Weekend. And there's something extremely unusual about it.

It's people you've actually heard of.

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No, really. The NHL booked Carly Rae Jepsen, Nick Jonas, and Fifth Harmony. I know them! Those are three reasonably popular artists. Could I name more than one song between them? No, of course I couldn't, because I'm old. But I have kids who listen to terrible pop music radio stations, and I can at least recognize all three of those names.

And for once, it's not just in the ironic "Oh, they're still even alive?" way, like when the NHL would go out and get Chaka Khan or Def Leppard. The league actually managed to book somebody from this century. It was stunning.

And then, while we were still recovering from that bombshell, they hit us with the chaser: They also got Snoop Dogg for the skills competition. That's an actual real-life music star. What is even happening here?

(Related Snoop Dogg note: This is your reminder that everyone cool cheers for the same team. Yes, everyone. That's right, everyone.)

It's all very disorienting. The occasional appearance by Drake aside, the NHL almost never gets anybody anyone cares about. I mean, it was only a few years ago that the NHL's big ticket music act was 3 Doors Down. What kind of pathetic, small-time loser can't get anyone better than 3 Doors Down for a major event?

And sure, there's probably an L.A. effect happening here. It's easier to get big stars to show up at the Staples Center than to get them to fly out to Columbus. But even factoring that in, the league deserves some credit.

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It's like watching your awkward cousin suddenly clean himself up. Pretty soon the NHL will be ditching the velcro shoes and trimming its ear hair.

Classic YouTube clip breakdown

It's All-Star Weekend, and since it's the league's centennial, we should expect plenty of sappy tributes to the game's greats, past and present. Spoiler alert: None of the tributes will be anywhere near as good as this.

  • This is Pond of Dreams, a short film the league produced as part of the 2000 All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Full disclosure: I'm going to spend the next few bullet points making fun of it, but I freaking loved this thing. It hits all the notes. I may act all cynical, but I eat this stuff up with a spoon.

  • So we start on an outdoor rink, where several players are playing shinny while arguing over which NHL legend they get to be. This is pretty much mandatory for all young Canadians, although there are regional differences. For example, when I was growing up in the mid 80s, it was just dozens of kids screaming, "I get to be Wendel Clark," and then immediately turned into a bench-clearing brawl.

  • The camera pans over and we see some older gentlemen making their way to the rink. We get some stilted dialog, because these are hockey players, but it's nowhere near as bad as this stuff usually is.

  • We cut to some highlights of players who were in their prime at the time: Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Bure, Paul Kariya, and Eric Lindros. Then we go back to the outdoor rink, and realize who our three older guys are: Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux. The three legends get some highlights of their own.

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  • It's the year 2000, so it's safe to assume that Ray Bourque quickly demanded a trade out of that Mario highlight.

  • The three Hall-of-Famers arrive at the ice, and we get the big reveal that you already knew was coming: The four kids out there playing are indeed Jagr, Bure, Kariya, and Lindros. They try to talk the old-timers into playing, and Gretzky gives a look like he's going to do it. Somewhere, Dave Semenko starts cracking his knuckles, just in case.

  • I'll just go ahead and say it: This is easily the best acting of Gretzky's career. Granted, that's kind of like calling this year "The best season in Blue Jackets franchise history," but it's all we've got. Remember, this is the only guy who couldn't handle three words in that Bo Jackson commercial, so I don't even want to imagine how many takes they needed for him to nail this.

  • We get a dramatic pan of the four young players. It's interesting to look back on who the NHL's marketing team thought was the future back in 2000. In case you're wondering how that worked out: career cut short by concussions, career cut short by concussions, career cut short by knee injuries, and still playing to this day because he ate the souls of the other three guys.

  • "No thanks, boys… it's your turn now." Whoa, weird, I just developed this crazy sinus infection that's making my eyes all runny. Everyone look away, I'll be OK in a bit.

  • Lindros, Bure, and Kariya skate away, but Jagr stays behind and stares Gretzky down while the camera slowly zooms in. "Hey boys," he finally says, pausing dramatically as the other turns back towards him. "Let's beat their wrinkled old asses."

  • OK, fine, he doesn't say that. Instead, he leads the youngsters in a classic hockey stick tap as a choir starts singing in the background. There's a fun article on NHL.com about the making of the clip, in which it's revealed that Jagr didn't know how to do the stick tap and somebody had to show him. You just know he was telling the director that he should salute them instead.

  • And that's it. The camera pulls back, and fade to black, presumably right before Mario grabs a stick and says, "Screw it, I'm back" and then dangles everyone for the next three hours.

Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at nhlgrabbag@gmail.com.