Hockey Guilty Pleasures

Puck Daddy asked me to chip in for their summer series. It ran today. Here it is for you.

1. The Player You Most Love To Hate

Pavel Datsyuk(notes). My punk rock sensibilities tell me that when the masses slobber over something, as a reflex you should hate it. Such as it is with Datsyuk.

I won't sit here and tell you he's probably not the best two-way player in the game, or one of them, because he is. And I won't tell you there aren't times that he makes my jaw drop with some disgusting move that makes professional hockey players look like rhinos on Quaaludes, because he does. But I hate the way it's just assumed he's dominating a season; his last Selke Trophy, and maybe the last two, were pretty much a joke,

I hate the stupid look on his face that makes you think he just had a stroke, I hate the way the press is wiping off their chin consistently when talking about him, I hate the way he gets away with some things that no one ever mentions because he's won like 53 Lady Byngs or whatever, and I hate his stupid haircut.

Oh, and I hate the way he just slices the Hawks to bits for about a decade now.

2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can't Help Rooting For

The New York Rangers. Maybe it's a Original Six thing. Maybe it's having had family in New York for a long time. But there's something about the Rangers. Could just be the goal-song. But when I was diving fully into hockey as a kid, it was hard to not be mesmerized by Messier in his Ranger days. MSG is, or was, the last truly great building to see a game in.

And I have this appreciation for Rangers fans, who I still believe are kept underneath Penn Station until it's game night because I've never seen any Rangers gear on the streets of Manhattan. But Rangers fans are the type where if you're sitting in your brother's office, hungover, talking about Rangers, they hear the hockey talk and have to stop in and join you even if they've never met you before.

3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time

You'll never find video of this, and I can't even tell you what year it was (though I think it was 1993). The Sabres were clobbering the Hawks in the Old Stadium, and Eddie Belfour was just looking for an excuse. Pat LaFontaine chasing down a dump in the corner must've been a wet dream to him, because Eddie came charging toward the corner, skated past the puck as if it were an I-pass, and waylaid Lafontaine into the boards, setting off a five-on-five brawl. It was a truly hockey moment.

No other sport has something as volatile and unpredictable as the unhinged goalie (except for maybe South American keepers in soccer, who can be really weird).

4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most

For my 13th birthday, my brother told me he tried everything to get me a green, Zarley Zalapski Whalers jersey. I've always dreamed of one since.

5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)

When someone gets tossed from a draw, I find it so school marm-erish. Especially when you can see the linesman telling the center "Get the [expletive] outta here."

Also, when you're watching games on Center Ice from Canadian coverage and the announcers tell you the junior team every player on both team played for. Seriously, do they do anything else up there?

6. The Injury You Couldn't Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)

Well, when Jeremy Roenick(notes) had his knee blown out by Derian Hatcher(notes) in 1995, I think. I still see that one in my dreams. Team was never the same after that.

7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture

"Pulling the goalie" obviously. It covers so much, I like the versatility of it. Makes me like Stan Bowman.

8. Finally, What's The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?

Probably his ability to survive nuclear war.