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.
sure the goalie's the guy you want to be highlighting on this team, guys?