Three Stars of Comedy
The third star: Brad Marchand? – Wait, really? The same guy who made a complete fool of himself over the weekend by licking an opponent for the second time this postseason, setting off the saddest controversy in recent memory? Surely he had the good sense to lay low for a few days, instead of going on Twitter and trying to land haymakers.
Apparently not. And you have to admit, as far as hockey player online roasts go, this one wasn't bad.
We'll give it a C+. Now stop licking people, you little weirdo.
The second star: This fan – OK, now that is the week's funniest Brad Marchand joke.
The first star: Shea Weber – It was a rough week on Twitter for the Habs, and I can't say I have any idea what's supposed to be happening here. But check out Weber, behind the table on the right.
He's clearly been told to dance, but he doesn't want to dance and doesn't know how to dance. I've never identified with a professional athlete more than right now.
Debating the Issues
This week’s debate: This is a debate. "In Favor" will be taking on "Opposed." But who's going to win?
In favor: Well, I like my chances. I've prepared my debating points, I've been working on my rhetorical arguments, and I think I've got the stronger case. So yes, I think I'm going to win.
In favor: What?
Opposed: Nice guarantee.
In favor: I'm sorry?
Opposed: You just guaranteed victory. You basically pulled a Mark Messier.
In favor: Well… I don't think I actually did. I just said that I think I'm going to win. It's not really the same thing.
Opposed: OK, Joe Namath.
In favor: Are you really going to make a big deal out of this?
Opposed: Of course. You just guaranteed victory. That's huge. The hockey world loves a good guarantee story.
In favor: Yeah, I know. I think maybe we love them too much. Because these days we can't get through a round without somebody making a vague statement about winning a game that immediately gets turned into a guarantee.
Opposed: No, you called your shot, just like P.K. Subban recently did. We'll see if it works for you as well as it worked for him.
In favor: But that's the thing. I never actually said the word "guarantee," and neither did Subban. He just kind of mumbled something about "we're gonna win a game." That's expressing confidence, which is what you'd expect him to do.
Opposed: That's still good, right?
In favor: Sure, but it's not a guarantee. Neither is saying "We'll be back," like Connor McDavid did. Or like John Tortorella did. Or like pretty much everyone does when you ask them if they think they're going to win the next game, because what else are they going to say? "I think we're going to lose"?
Opposed: Well, no. But they could sound a little less confident.
In favor: Sure they could. That happened… once. And that guy was never allowed to live it down.
Opposed: OK, but you have to admit, there's something great about a player making that kind of public statement. Fans love it. The media eats it up. The player's teammates probably appreciate it. What's the problem here?
In favor: The problem is that we're long past overkill. Ever since Messier wound up on that famous NY Post cover and then backed it up with a hat trick, we've been chasing that high. And now we turn every little expression of confidence into a guarantee story. It's ridiculous.
Opposed: I mean, if somebody makes a point of saying something like that to the media…
In favor: It doesn't even have to be the media these days! Mike Babcock basically says "see you later" to some random arena workers, and suddenly he's guaranteeing victory too. It's completely out of control.
Opposed: Well, there's no turning back now. You've guaranteed a win. You have to own it. You'd better come through.
In favor: I really, really didn't do that.
Opposed: Too late. Here comes the verdict guy.
The final verdict: Opposed wins.
In favor: Dammit.
Opposed: Don't worry. When you make a guarantee and then lose, nobody remembers it.
Obscure Former Player of the Week
All respected hockey scholars agree that the 1992-93 season was the greatest ever, and that year's playoffs were no different. By this point in 1993, we'd already celebrated May Day and been horrified by Dale Hunter, and we were just days away from David Freaking Volek, with Kerry Fraser's missed call, McSorley's stick, and Roy's wink still to come.
In fact, just about every day of that postseason provided a memory. Like tomorrow, for example. If we go back 25 years ago on May 11, we'd find a crucial overtime between the Kings and Canucks, in a matchup that featured future Hall-of-Famers like Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Pavel Bure, and Jari Kurri. But with the series tied at 2-2 and the favored Canucks on home ice, the role of the overtime hero was played by this week's obscure player: Kings winger Gary Shuchuk.
Shuchuk went undrafted before breaking out in his fourth year with the University of Wisconsin, where a 41-goal season was enough for the Red Wings to make the 22-year-old Shuchuk the 22nd pick in the old supplemental draft for college players. He played six games for Detroit that season, scoring one goal and hammering one Cam Russell, while spending most of the year in the AHL.
That would be it for his Red Wings career, as he spent the next two years in the minors before being dealt to Los Angeles in the blockbuster Paul Coffey/Jimmy Carson trade. He'd play parts of four seasons for the Kings, scoring only 10 goals in 136 games. But it was his first playoff goal that Kings fans will remember him for, as he buried Robitaille's feed for the winner against the Canucks.
That was one of only two playoff goals he scored in the NHL. Shuchuk was out of the league by 1996, and went on to a career in coaching. He spent several years behind the bench in the NCAA, and was last seen serving as coach and GM of the Janesville Jets in the NAHL.
Be It Resolved
OK everyone, huddle up. We need to talk about something. It's been a long time coming, and frankly, I'm amazed we even need to have this discussion. But apparently we do, so here goes.
NHL fans, you are doing the goalie taunt wrong.
Not all of you, of course. But enough of you that we clearly need a refresher on how this works. We've already been down this road once before, when everyone insisted that you could taunt a goalie three seconds into the game, before they'd even given up a bad goal, or even any goal at all. That didn't make any sense—you can't mock a guy who's working on a shutout. Some of you are still making that mistake today, and worse. But it's become slightly less common, so that's progress. But now we have a new problem emerging.
First, the background: The goalie taunt has been around since the early 90s. It was "borrowed" from baseball, where fans would target Mets' star Darryl Strawberry with a mocking "DAR-RYL" chant. It made its way over to hockey, with the first high-profile victim being Blackhawks goalie Ed Belfour. When he was having a rough night, opposing fans would ride him with mocking "ED-DIE" chants. The tradition spread from there.
So while the taunt has been directed at countless players over the years, those are the still the two archetypes. They're the chant in its original, purest, most effective form. "DAR-RYL" and "ED-DIE."
Notice anything about those names?
First of all, they're using the players' first names. That's not necessarily crucial, but it works better—it's just way more condescending to use a player's first name. "BRA-DEN" is better than "HOLT-BY." "PEK-KA" is better than "RIN-NE."
But far more importantly, "ED-DIE" and "DAR-RYL" are both two syllables. That's the key. The chant only works if it's two syllables. Not one, stretched out. Not three or more, jammed together. Two. Only two.
You'd think that would be obvious, but you'd be wrong. On Saturday in Nashville, Predators fans went after Connor Hellebuyck with the taunt. Not only was it way too early—it turned out he played great in a 6-2 win—but even worse, they went with "HELL-E-BUYCK." That is not how this works, Nashville. We've all loved your transformation from questionable market into one of the very best fan bases in the league, but that doesn't get you off the hook. It's "CON-NOR" or nothing.
But that wasn't even the worst example. Back in round one, Bruins fans decided to target Frederik Andersen—and rightly so, because he was largely awful in the series. But Boston fans went with "AND-ER-SEN." What? That's unforgivable. The guy's first name is Freddie—it rhymes with the original NHL goalie chant. Hitting a struggling goalie with a "FRED-DIE" chant was the world's easiest layup, and Bruins fans blew it.
And yes, I know what some of you wondering: What happens if we want to mock a goalie and neither of his names are two syllables. Well, then you don't get to use the chant. Sorry. Jonathan Quick, Cam Ward, and Mike Smith are all immune. It's not fair, but that's life.
So be it resolved: The goalie chant has to be two syllables, and whenever possible it should use the first name. Making goalies cry is all in good fun, but respect the game's traditions, dammit.
Classic YouTube Clip Breakdown
Our pal Gary Shuchuk got to be the big story of those 1993 playoffs for about 24 hours. The next night, Stumpy Thomas had four points as the Islanders forced a seventh game against the Penguins, and Volek made history 48 hours later. That left one second-round series still in play, with the Maple Leafs hosting the Blues in a Game 7 that figured to be a goaltending showdown between Felix Potvin and Curtis Joseph.
That turned out to only be half true, as Potvin earned the shutout in what ended up being one of the biggest Game 7 blowouts ever. The Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period and were up 6-0 by the second intermission, with just about everything getting past Joseph as the Leafs cruised to the easy win.
And yet, all these years later, the one play from that game that everyone still remembers is one of the few saves Joseph managed to make that night. As we approach the moment's 25th anniversary, let's relive it here.
- We pick up the action about 14 minutes into the second, with the Leafs leading by five. The game is basically already over, but the two teams are still going end-to-end because that's the only way anyone knew how to play hockey in 1993.
- Our clip begins with everyone going "Oh yeah, John Cullen was on the 1992-93 Leafs." By the way, our play-by-play voice for this clip is Bob Cole, which I don't have to tell you will make everything that's about to happen roughly a million times better.
- The Maple Leafs shoot the puck into the Blues' zone on a typical dump and chase. But this is a Norris Division game, so there are more hits in the next few seconds than we see in most full games today. Eventually, three players stop throwing checks long enough to realize the puck has ended up at center ice. Two of those players are Maple Leafs, so it's an odd-man rush.
- Those two Leafs are Wendel Clark and Glenn Anderson, who I'm just going to go ahead and assume is humming "The Leafs Are The Best" throughout this entire play.
- At this point, Clark winds up for a slapshot, and every Maple Leaf fan in the world knows exactly what's going to happen—he's faking the shot to set up a pass. We know this because Clark has been in the league for eight years at this point and has literally never taken a single slapshot in his entire career. He never had to, because he could put a wrist shot through a goaltender's chest. To be honest, we weren't even sure he knew how to take a slapshot. What would even happen if he ever tried?
- So yeah, Clark lets it rip, he hits Joseph right between the eyes, and Joseph's head falls off. [Does math.] Yeah, the physics checks out on this one.
- The Gardens crowd, not surprisingly, doesn't have much sympathy, and they cheer louder for this than any of the goals that night. Were we all horrible people in the early 90s? I think we may have been. Ah well. Shout-out to the one fan who reacts to the play by clapping directly in front of the camera.
- What comes next is my favorite moment of the entire sequence. Joseph pops up, apparently somehow still alive, and he tries to no-sell the whole thing like he's the Ultimate Warrior. It's actually a spectacularly bad-ass moment, right up until the point where Curt Giles runs over to give him a big hug. You can actually see Joseph try to turn away, but Giles isn't having it. He chases him into the corner like a concerned helicopter mom. It's adorable.
- By the way, I have no idea what the St. Louis Blues did to Wendel Clark in a previous lifetime, but he apparently devoted his life to getting revenge.
- Joseph eventually shakes off Giles and skates around trying to look tough while periodically checking to see if his ear is still attached. This would be a good time to remind you that this is the same series in which Mike Foligno kicked him in the face. I feel like every modern-day goalie who tries to draw an interference call by flailing around for ten minutes every time they feel any contact should have to go the penalty box for two minutes to watch old clips of Joseph shrugging off attempted beheadings.
- My second favorite moment in the clip: Joseph still playing the tough guy when Kerry Fraser comes over and briefly makes him laugh. Poor guy just wants to look cool in front of his friends, and he has to deal with mom hugs and dad jokes. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE YOU GUYS ARE SO EMBARRASSING.
- "The mask saves Curtis Joseph's life." Man, no kidding. Some things were better in the old days, but I feel like "Nobody's head explodes into a cloud of mist from a slapshot" was an improvement.
- And with that, our clip ends. The Leafs scored another goal about one minute after this play, mainly because Joseph instinctively climbed over the glass and fled the arena as soon as they crossed the red line.
- Epilogue: Clark tried really hard not to murder anybody for the rest of the series. Joseph finished the game and went on to a long career that included two stops in Toronto. Giles is still following him around trying to hug him to this day. And Fraser was so traumatized by what he'd witnessed that he vowed to shut his eyes the next time he thought someone was going to get hit in the face.
Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at email@example.com .