Three stars of comedy
The third star: Andrew Hammond's family—The kid gets it.
The second star: Evgeni Malkin—I mean… sure. Why not.
The first star: This new Blues fan—Meet Tony, a St. Louis sports fan who accidentally ended up watching Game 7 of the Blues/Blackhawks series. He live-tweeted the experience.
Yo deadass this the first time I've ever watched hockey and this shit has been LIT for these first 45 seconds
— Tony X. (@soIoucity)April 26, 2016
Since then, hockey Twitter's newest celebrity has continued to learn about the sport while weighing in on other matchups, having current NHLers beg him for follows and (briefly) disappearing without a trace. He's back now, and yesterday he was on Good Morning America. This thing got kind of out of control.
Tony was also invited to attend the next Blues game, which he accepted with his standard mix of enthusiasm and mild confusion.
Tony is the best. Uh, nobody tell him how being a Blues fan in the playoffs inevitably ends.
Outrage of the week
The issue: The NHL began announcing the finalists for the various awards on Wednesday.
The outrage: The first had only been out for a few minutes before the outcry: The voters got it wrong! That one guy doesn't deserve it! What a bunch of dummies!
Is it justified: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But as a voting member of the PHWA, I can tell you: This stuff is a lot harder than it looks. Filling out a ballot can take hours. You constantly shuffle players around and always end up leaving off a few names that you're shocked you couldn't find room for, which just makes you second guess everything. It's a miserable experience.
So go easy on the writers, even if you don't agree with the three finalists they choose. You can politely disagree, while still respecting the amount of thought that goes into…
Wait, I'm sorry. Which award?
The Vezina? The one that the GMs vote on? Where the writers aren't involved at all?
Jonathan Quick, you say.
Well, for the love of… you morons! What is wrong with you? Jonathan Quick over Corey Crawford, or Roberto Luongo, or Cory Schneider? Are you kidding? Quick's save percentage was lower than Chad Johnson's! Two weeks ago, Dean Lombardi and his Drew Doughty for Norris World Tour wanted to strip the final say on awards away from writers and hand it over to the GMs because they were the only ones equipped to understand the subtleties of the game, and then those exact same guys go and cast their votes for Jonathan Quick? DO YOU PEOPLE EVEN WATCH HOCKEY?
[wheezes into asthma inhaler]
Sorry, got a little carried away there.
Anyway, like I was saying: Voting is hard, and you should never get mad at the writers about it. Especially you, NHL GMs. Because, man, you guys are terrible at this.
Obscure former player of the week
The draft lottery is Saturday. The Oilers are going to win, and everyone you know is going to be furious about it.
The lottery seems like an odd fit for this section. We're used to it determining the No. 1 overall selection, and even a massive bust like Patrik Stefan isn't exactly obscure. But in previous years, it was possible for a team to win the lottery without moving all the way up to the top pick. So we can indeed find an obscure player who can claim to be a lottery winning pick: former fourth overall pick Pavel Brendl.
Brendl was a junior sensation with the Calgary Hitmen in the late 1990s, one who drew comparisons to other European snipers like Pavel Bure and even Jaromir Jagr. The Blackhawks won the 1999 lottery to move up from eighth to fourth, then dealt the pick to Vancouver (as part of the maneuvering that allowed the Canucks to wind up with both Sedins). It eventually ended up with the Rangers, who used it on Brendl, who reports at the time suggested could debut in New York that fall.
Instead, he never debuted there at all. After two more years of junior, Brendl was dealt to the Flyers as part of the long-awaited trade that sent Eric Lindros to New York. Brendl made his NHL debut that season, but never amounted to much. In 78 career games for the Flyers, Hurricanes and Coyotes, he managed just 11 goals. His NHL career was over shortly after he turned 25, although he'd go on to play for another decade in Europe.
Since there's not much else to say about Brendl's NHL career, please enjoy this fan-made YouTube video of him set to the tune of "Simply The Best"—which was presumably made by someone who was unaware of the existence of literally any other hockey players.
Be It Resolved
Rangers veteran Dan Boyle unleashed a profanity-laced rant during an end-of-season media scrum this week, one that targeted columnist Larry Brooks and others for what Boyle viewed as unfair criticism.
First things first: Brooks was right about Boyle being a terrible signing. But Boyle himself is under no obligation to agree, and he certainly doesn't have to like it. Clearly, he didn't. So he became the second player in the last few days to loudly curse out the media for a perceived infraction, joining Cal Clutterbuck's defense of the dressing room floor logo from last week.
It should go without saying that the media is 100 percent fair game for criticism from those we cover. Just about every sportswriter has stories of blistering late-night emails, texts and phone calls from agents and front-office folks who didn't like something they wrote, or of being pulled aside by an angry player after a scrum. It's part of the job. It's how the system should work.
You probably encounter people every day who aren't good at their jobs, or at least aren't good enough for your liking at a particular moment. Maybe it's the pizza delivery guy, or your kid's teacher, or the cop who gives you a speeding ticket, or the telemarketer who interrupts your dinner. When that happens, you're allowed to be unhappy about it.
But here's the thing: If your response is to seek them out on the job and make a big show out of loudly cursing them out in front of their co-workers, you're being a jerk. It doesn't mean you're not right. But you are being a jerk about it. And you're doing it for one of two reasons: Either because it doesn't occur to you that there's a time and a place for this stuff, or (more likely) because you're the sort of person who kind of likes being a jerk when you think you can get away with it.
And yes, sportswriters can be jerks, too. We can also be petulant, thin-skinned (oh lord, so thin-skinned) and mean. We deserve to get called on all of that. We make our living pointing at other people and saying "That guy didn't do a good enough job," so we should always be fair game for the same treatment.
Just don't be a jerk about it. That's it. That's all anyone should ask. We're all grownups, and grownups should be able to disagree without having a public meltdown. As a general rule of thumb, if you find yourself in the middle of a crowded room screaming f-bombs at somebody who's displeased you, you've become the problem.
Be it resolved: Don't be a jerk, everyone. It's really not that hard.
Classic YouTube clip breakdown
It's tough times for Washington Capitals fans these days. After a great regular season that nobody enjoyed, they're in the playoffs where everyone is waiting for one of their classic chokes. It almost happened in the opening round, when the underdog Flyers rode a ridiculously hot goalie to two wins after falling behind 3-0. The Caps held on to win the series with a Game 6 nail-biter, and their reward was a meeting with the Penguins, who were the league's hottest team heading into the playoffs and just finished destroying the Rangers.
So, yeah… tensions are high in Caps nation. So let's see if we can bring a smile to those long-suffering fans, by going back to some familiar material. That's right, it's time for one of those bizarre 1980s Washington Capitals music videos.
- So this is another in the seemingly endless line of rock songs about the late-80s Capitals. We've previously covered "More Than a Team" and "Capital Feeling." We've also done Calgary's "Can't Touch A Flame When It's Red Hot," Toronto's "The Leafs Are The Best" and Team Russia's "Whatever the Hell This Thing Is." We may enjoy hockey teams lip-synching rock anthems a little bit too much. We're working on it, OK?
- Wait, it just occurred to me that maybe Capitals fans who are worried about a first-place team getting eliminated may not want to listen to a song called "Out On Top." Oh well, too late now, roll the clip!
- We open with an extended crowd shot. Clips from the '80s are always jarring for a variety of reasons: The goalies are tiny, some guys aren't wearing helmets, there aren't many ads on the ice, etc. One underrated aspect: The fans aren't all wearing jerseys like they do today. And that means you get to play "Spot the guy in the ugly sweater." It doesn't take us long to find our winner here, and he's pretty excited about it.
- A quick note if this is your first time with one of these: The guy who makes Capitals music videos does not understand how highlights work. He only has like three games to work with, and nobody has ever bothered to explain to him that he's supposed to use plays that are good for the Caps.
- Case in point: Our first highlight is a Capitals player getting beaten up by three Rangers. Um… yay?
- Our next clip is Rod Langway crosschecking two Nordiques to the ice at the same time. Trust me, he did stuff like this all the time.
- "You've got to fight for what you want, you've got to learn how to win, you've got to lay it on the line, when the gaaaaaaaaame begins." Look, let's just get this out of the way: I unironically love this song and I'm not ashamed of that.
- By the way, that clip of Kevin Hatcher grabbing Rich Sutter with both hands and slamming him into the glass even though he never had the puck was a 100 percent legal defensive maneuver in 1987.
- We get a shot of a furious Scott Stevens, probably reacting to a time traveler from the future explaining that every big hit he ever threw would eventually be illegal.
- Our next clip is Rod Langway crosschecking two Nordiques to the ice at the same time. Trust me, he did stuff like this all the time and/or we're one minute in and the highlight guy is already recycling.
- "It's a feeling that you get, like the rushing of the wind, like when you're out there on the edge, it's a new time to begin." Yeah, none of that makes sense. Like, those words form sentences in the strictest syntactic sense, but none of it means anything. This is not a complaint, by the way.
- Here's Mike Gartner about to get Rock-Bottomed by Denis Potvin. Did the late-80s Capitals just never do anything remotely positive? Is that maybe the problem here?
- Oh wait, here are a few breakaway goals. OK, those do qualify as "highlights," so we'll allow that as long as none of them end with the Capitals player tripping over his own feet and face-planting into the end boards and… whoops, never mind.
- I know what you're thinking. The song is great, the clips are fun, but this video is missing something. It's not really a Capitals music video without a bunch of players awkwardly lip-synching. Well, you're in luck, because former Obscure Player of the Week Neil Sheehy is here to direct a choir of Capitals for a little sing-along.
- Sheehy shows up in all of the Capitals videos and the Flames "Red Hot" one, so I've long suspected that the NHL's entire '80s lip-synch craze was his idea. I may have been on to something: As essential Caps' blogger Japers' Rink pointed out to me, Sheehy is actually listed as the producer for this video. It was him! It was him all along!
- What I'm trying to say is: Neil Sheehy is a hero.
- Hey, remember a few years ago when Don Cherry went through that weird phase where he'd just yell "POINT" every few seconds? I think he was the choreographer for this video.
- I can't ID everyone here, but that looks like Stevens and Dale Hunter in the front row, and I think that may be Dino Ciccarelli next to them. And, of course, there's Langway in the back row. We've covered this before, but nobody loved these Capitals videos more than Langway. If you told me that he forced everyone else to do them against their will, I'd 100 percent believe you. Remember, he's the guy who once grabbed Ciccarelli's butt and then made this face.
- Nets being tipped over and trapping the goalie underneath will never not be funny.
- And here's a Capitals player getting checked into the Rangers' bench. Are we completely sure the highlight guy for these videos wasn't a sleeper agent for the rest of the Patrick Division? I don't think we can rule it out.
- "Now there will come a day, when you know that it's your turn, and you stand out from the crowd, you've got to show them what you learned, and then you run into a hot goalie for a week and a whole season gets torpedoed because playoff hockey is a living nightmare." Or something like that.
- We're heading into the home stretch here, so I have to warn you: Things are about to get dark really quickly. You may want to just close the clip right now. Seriously, just enjoy one last Sheehy-point and then CTRL+W. You've been warned.
- No? OK, your call.
- So here's the big finish: Everyone belts out "Capitals Red White and Blue" a few more times, there's more pointing, everyone turns to the camera for an exaggerated bow, and then an old man dies.
- SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL?
- We just end with an old guy taking a header out of his seat. No context, no explanation, no follow-up. Just some nice old man collapsing face-first onto the floor, and we fade to black. As does he, presumably.
- You know what: If there's any better metaphor for Washington Capitals playoff hockey, I've never seen it. All is forgiven, highlight guy.
Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.