grab bag

DGB Grab Bag: Loser Mobiles at Cup Parades, Drunk Ovi, and Emotions are Good

Many of the Capitals were living and dying with every play during their run, a stark contrast to the hockey stoicism we're so used to.

by Sean McIndoe
Jun 15 2018, 3:10pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Three Stars of Oh, Who Are We Kidding, Let's All Enjoy Drunk Alexander Ovechkin

The third star: Drunk Alexander Ovechkin – The keg stand is solid, but it's the way he eggs on the crowd chanting his name that really makes the moment.

The second star: Drunk Alexander Ovechkin – Good news, Habs fans, we have our first ever sighting of a Weber getting close to a Stanley Cup championship.

The first star: Drunk Alexander Ovechkin – This is my favorite moment, partly for the unbridled joy and comradery and impressive form, but mainly because until this moment I'd forgotten about the back tattoos.

Honorable mentions: Slightly-less-drunk Alexander Ovechkin, Drunk Alexander Ovechkin's dog, very-far-away Alexander Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie's shirt-trading, and Jakub Vrana's tattoo experience.

The NHL Capitals Actually Got Something right

Do you remember a time back before Alexander Ovechkin was permanently drunk, wandering the streets of D.C. with the Stanley Cup and singing "We Are The Champions" on a permanent loop? Neither do I, but I looked it up and it was a week ago.

Let's think back to that time, back before the Capitals were champions. What will you remember about Ovechkin's playoff run? Chances are, you'll remember him scoring some of the Caps' biggest goals. That's how it works with superstars. But you might also remember something a little bit odd—namely, the things he did when he was off the ice and on the bench.

Watching Ovechkin watch the Capitals play for the Stanley Cup turned out to be one of the highlights of the Final. When things went well, he look overjoyed. When they didn't, he looked crushed. When we weren't sure how something would end up, he looked like he wanted to puke. In short, he looked like you or me watching our favorite team, except with the dial cranked up to 11. It was the best.

And how did it end? With the Capitals winning. Yes, despite everything we've been led to believe over the years, a team was somehow able to overcome the insurmountable obstacle of one of its key players looking like he actually cared.

Ovechkin didn't try to play the stoic. He occasionally said something beyond the usual claims of it being just another game. He didn't keep his head down and mumble about getting pucks in deep, just in case he accidentally said anything that might turn into A Thing. He didn't bother to pretend that this stuff didn't matter, because we all knew how much it did.

And it wasn't just Ovechkin. The Caps had Evgeny Kuznetsov doing his little bird dance celebration. They had Devante Smith-Pelly looking like he might explode with joy after every big play. They even had Nicklas Backstrom showing honest-to-god frustration, allegedly.

And they still won. The hockey gods did not smite them.

Let's take the hint. Enough with this nonsense about hockey players all having to look like bored zombies, whether times are good or bad or in between. That's one way to act. It's not the only way. Enough of pretending that it's somehow bad form to show any emotion in one of the most emotional sports on the planet.

It's been like this for a long time in the NHL, but the idea has really taken hold in recent years thanks to a combined six titles by the Penguins and Blackhawks, teams that are fast and fun and captained by two of the most boring people on Earth. And that's fine! Maybe Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews are just like that. Some people are. I'm one of them. Maybe you are too. The Capitals have one in Braden Holtby. Some of us don't like emotional displays or facial expressions or interacting with the outside world.

But some people do. And apparently, those people can win Stanley Cups. So let's stop acting like it's some sort of crisis every time a hockey player cracks a smile or hangs his head on the bench or celebrates a big play. Enough with the body language police forensics squad showing up, and enough with trying to divine a man's character based on whether he had the right type of scowl after the game.

It's hockey. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's miserable. Players who react like actual human beings are apparently not barred by cosmic law from ever getting their hands on the Stanley Cup, so let's stop acting like it's a problem.

Obscure Former Player of the Week

Since we all had so much fun watching the current Capitals captain this week, let's use this week's space to remember their first one. This week's obscure player is Doug "Diesel" Mohns.

Mohns was a speedy winger who won two Memorial Cups with the Barrie Flyers in the early 50s. He signed with the Bruins and debuted in 1953, then spent 11 seasons in Boston, many of them playing defense. He was traded to Chicago in 1964 for Ab McDonald and Reggie Fleming, and would eventually take McDonald's place on Stan Mikita's wing as part of the "Scooter Line" and had a career-high 25 goals during the 1966-67 season.

Mohns lasted almost seven years in Chicago before being dealt to the North Stars, and was later claimed by the Atlanta Flames in the inter-league draft. In 1974, the Flames sold him to the expansion Capitals, where he'd play his final season at the age of 40. He was named captain and patrolled the blueline for that miserable team, while racking up an impressive -54 rating. Somewhat amazingly, that wasn't the worst mark of his career; he'd somehow gone -62 for the 1961-62 Bruins, the worst mark ever recorded at the time. But apart from those two season, he was a plus-player over the rest of his 1,391-game career, and he'd retire after that one season in Washington with 248 goals and 710 points.

He may be best remembered for being one of the first NHL players to wear a helmet. Head protection was apparently very important to him; according to the Hockey Hall of Fame, he was also one of the first NHL players to wear a toupee.

Mohns passed away in 2014 at the age of 80. His official web site is still up and running, and you can visit it here.

Be It Resolved

The Capitals had their Stanley Cup parade on Tuesday, and it was good. Evgeny Kuznetsov swore. Ovechkin shut down Mumford and Sons and then swore. TJ Oshie chugged a beer through his jersey. All good.

But it could have been better.

They all could. A Cup parade is the ultimate chance for hockey fans to experience the joy of victory—to share the experience with hundreds of thousands of fellow fans, and with the players and coaches who made it possible. It's the ultimate hockey lovefest.

But that's only half of what being a hockey fan is all about. Sure, it's fun to feel happy when your team wins it all, or at least that's how it's been explained to me. But there's the other side of the coin that hockey fans love just as much: Watching your opponents cry. Seeing some other team's players or fans or media sulk their way through the aftermath of your victory is almost as much fun as the actual win. Maybe more.

So let's make it part of the Stanley Cup parade.

Be it resolved: From now on, every team that wins the Cup gets to invite one person from outside the organization to their parade. And that person has to attend.

Specifically, they have to attend in a little car that will trail about a half-block behind the parade. Let's call it the loser-mobile. People are allowed to taunt and throw spoiled fruit at it. And then we make the person sit in the front row during the speeches.

Look, I can tell you have questions. Would the person who was chosen want to come to the parade? No, of course not. Would we be able to force them? Yes, we could find a way. Would doing that be, in the strictest legal sense, kidnapping? Maybe, but if I've learned anything in the last few years it's that laws can be applied selectively.

Is this whole idea just mean? Yes. Yes it is. It's super-mean. So let's do it.

How much fun would it be to argue over who each year's winner should pick to ride in the loser-mobile? Imagine the possibilities for this year's Capitals. Sure, you're probably thinking Sidney Crosby as the obvious choice, but I'm not sure that works; he could just spend the whole time flashing his three Cup rings at the fans. But there are plenty of other candidates. Maybe George McPhee? Whichever media guy wrote the hottest "Ovechkin will never win it all" take? Pierre Turgeon, with Dale Hunter driving right behind him the whole way? Filip Forsberg, and make him wear a Martin Erat jersey? Personally, I'd go with Henrik Lundqvist just to be a jerk, but you make your own call.

More importantly, book some time off this afternoon to think about who you'd choose for your own favorite team. It could be a rival who always had your number, a referee who screwed you over, a cheapskate owner who ruined your childhood (Personally, I vote for the Leafs to dig up Harold Ballard.) Or maybe just some especially annoying idiot from Twitter who talked a little too much trash. Anything you want.

This is the worst idea I've ever had and I'm convinced we need to make it happen. Get the stun guns and duct tape and meet me by the parade route.

Classic YouTube Clip Breakdown

Washington's win was an exciting moment for this section, since no franchise has provided more YouTube joy than the Capitals and their bizarre infatuation with producing terrible music videos. Over the years, we've enjoyed breaking down musical creations like "Capital Feeling", "Out on Top", "Double Trouble" and "More Than a Team". Alexander Ovechkin even had a hand in the monstrosity that was "Shaybu Shaybu". If you like cheesy music videos and playoff disappointment, the Capitals were the team for you.

The second half of that equation doesn't really apply anymore. But we've still got the music. So until we get a full remaster of that "We are the Champions" single that Ovie and the boys have been working on, let's look back to 1990, as the Capitals celebrate their first ever championship. Well, division title. Look, until last week, you took what you could get in Washington.

  • It's April 27, 1990, and the Caps have just beaten the Rangers in overtime to win their second-round series in five games. It's the first time in franchise history that they've made it out of the second round, and they're officially Patrick Division champions. I think this calls for a song.
  • Well, first it calls for our two announcers to awkwardly introduce the clip. That's Mike Fornes doing the talking, and the legendary Smokin' Al Koken staring at you until you start to feel uncomfortable.
  • It's a little strange that apart from his hair going gray, Koken looks exactly the same as he does today, right?
  • Anyway, Fornes and Koken introduce a music piece entitled "What a Feeling" before presumably dashing off to whichever high school prom they're wearing those corsages for.
  • The music kicks in, and we're immediately crushed by the disappointment of realizing that this video will be set to the actual "What a Feeling" song as performed by Irene Cara, and not some terrible lip sync job by actual Capitals players. Still, it's a solid choice, and I like that it implies that this channel had been planning a division title montage since the song came out in 1983 and was only getting a chance to do it now.
  • We start off with John Druce's overtime winner from that very night, as shown from a weird angle that doesn't really make it all that clear what happened. But it's worth it, because they stay with the shot forever, and we get one of the longest recorded pilearchies I've ever seen. It just goes on forever, to the point that you start wondering how many players were on the 1990 Capitals. I'm pretty sure I saw Jim Hrycuik slip into the pile at the end there.
  • We then cut to a shot of cheering Caps fans, which we know is from a different game because the Druce goal was in New York. That's fine, because the fans are great. The highlight is the old lady in a Capitals sweater that's literally a sweater, and that I'm hoping against hope she knit herself. She is not messing around with that "Let's Go Caps" chant. If the Capitals teams of the era had been able to match her intensity they might have won multiple Cups.
  • We get another John Druce goal, because this Caps' run was pretty much all John Druce goals. That's followed by a quick shot of the Caps' arena, including a scoreboard which literally seems to be four giant rear-projection TVs stuck together.
  • More cheering fans. Is it weird that I'm picking out individual faces in the crowd and wondering how many of them stuck with the team through the next 28 years and were still around for last week's win? I kind of hope it's all of them.
  • We get a look at goals by Mike Ridley and Calle Johansson, and then what probably stands as the most important moment in the series: the game four OT winner from captain Rod Langway. That sets off another epic hug pile, followed by Langway being mobbed by the 14 different enforcers that were in the Capitals' lineup that year. He doesn't seem to mind. He's not "forcing my teammates to sing a terrible song at my sports bar" happy, but he's still pretty happy.
  • And that's it. Fornes is back for a quick goodbye, and our clip is done. The Caps were too, four games later—this would turn out to be their last win of the season, and they were swept by the Bruins in the conference final. They wouldn't see the third round again until their 1998 run to the Final, and then not again until this year.
  • There is no evidence that any members of the 1990 Capitals celebrated the win by swimming in a fountain.

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.

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.