The final installment of my season recap features the worst of the worst. It's the stuff that was too bad to make the cut for the bad post. Not all of it's nice, but (most of) it's all in good fun.
--The NHL has a long and storied history of featuring guys like Scott Hartnell. And I say, "keep it coming." There's nothing more beautiful in this world than seeing a guy like Hartnell step out on the ice in full hockey regalia. He wouldn't even need to play a shift. Simply sitting on the bench with that face would be enough.
--The Handshake Incident. I have nothing to add to this. I don't even care that Crosby didn't shake everyone's hands. I'm mostly irritated with the way the media handled it all. They somehow, I'm assuming through a great deal of effort, managed to be less professional than Sid the Kid. They should be ashamed of themselves.
--At one point during the regular season, I watched a game against Dallas on Versus with my brother. By the end of the first period, we weren't sure that the announcers were aware that they were calling a hockey game. We lost count of the outside sports metaphors that were used to describe plays being made on the ice. I don't remember all of them, but they included the announcement that someone had just tried to "alley-oop" the puck into the net, that the score was currently 1-Love, and several others that went beyond the standard "quarterbacking the powerplay" that's commonly used. Even better, later on, they described this save by Chris Osgood as "mastodonic." We still haven't figured out what that means. I'm assuming it was a compliment, but honestly, there's no way to tell. If you happen to know exactly what he was trying to say, by all means, enlighten me in the comments section. The highlight of the game, however, was when one of the Versus guys said that Pavel Datsyuk played with, "such fabulosity," thus introducing me to my new favorite word. There was a month there where my brother and I couldn't have a conversation without dropping "fabulosity" at least a dozen times. This is perhaps the only thing for which I've ever been grateful to Versus. Oh to have had my DVR back then...
--This picture will probably haunt me forever. Not to mention the fact that I can't even bring myself to post one of Crosby hoisting the Cup.
--The Goal that Wasn't. Things worked alright in the Anaheim series, so this goal won't cause Wings fans to convulse the way Buffalo fans do when shown this goal, but still... The worst part was the way the NHL closed ranks to defend Brad Watson and his patently obvious error. A few days later, an NBA referee blew a call that changed the outcome of a close game, and the league acknowledged it publicly. While it didn't change the fact that the mistake had happened, at least it gave the NBA the appearance of being a professional organization with standards and accountability, something the NHL is sorely lacking.
--Then there was the matter of the lowlife who stole Henrik Zetterberg's game-used stick from a kid after the Winter Classic. Seriously. Stories like that make me wonder what the world has come to. The whole incident had a happy ending, as the guy who bought the stick from the thief sent it back to the kid, and both ended up with something. Conclusions like that at least partially restore my faith in humanity. Props to the guy for returning the stick to the kid after he read about the incident. There need to be more people like that in the world.
--The saga of the Phoenix Coyotes and Jim Balsillie was timed perfectly so as to serve as a distraction from the league's showcase event: the playoffs. While I never bothered to delve into the financial/legal aspects of the mess, I have to admit that a little part of me wanted Jimmy Balls to come out on top, just so Gary Bettman would lose. I don't know, maybe that makes me a bad person or even worse, a bad hockey fan, but I'm not sure I care all that much. I couldn't shake the feeling that a Bettman loss would be the beginning of the end for the commish, and that's enough to get me to support just about any bandwagon.
--"The Beard is Back." It's entirely possible that this is the worst playoff slogan ever invented. When you combine it with the signs saying, "You're entering a no-shave zone," it's a complete and utter disaster. I love a good playoff beard as much as the next fan, but there's a difference between having something as a quirky hockey tradition and using it as a major marketing campaign. Mike Ilitch needs to fire his marketing team. I'm assuming that they're the same people behind those atrocious Little Caesar's ads. Find a new line of work, people. Please. You wouldn't think it would have been that hard to find a way to market the defending Stanley Cup champions. My kid sister could've come up with a better slogan. Ugh. And was it really necessary to adorn the Al outside the entrance to the Joe with a big fake beard? I tried one of those on, and I'm pretty sure I have black lung disease now from inhaling the pieces it shed. Al deserves better than that.
--Donald Brashear's hit on Blair Betts during the first round of the playoffs was another truly ugly moment from the 08-09 season. If watching this video doesn't make you shudder, you're probably a sociopath and should leave this blog immediately.
--Valtteri Filppula's hair continues to get worse and worse with each passing season. You'd think that with all of the money this guy makes, he'd be able to find a better stylist. Until this season, I was unaware that he had a little cult-like following of girls who find him sexy. I can only assume that these are the Michigan-born cousins of the Sidney Crosby fangirls that plague the Pittsburgh area.
--This video of a distraught Sharks fan after his team's elimination is pathetic in every way possible. (Make sure you stay with it until the parents show up. That's when it really gets good.) It's like a trainwreck that you just can't stop watching. And yet, strangely, watching it makes me feel a little bit better about myself. Not even in my lowest moment have I ever approached the level of...I don't think there's even a word for it...that he displays in this video. I sincerely hope that his parents got him some psychiatric help.
--Last but not least, the NHL's disciplinary process managed to devolve into even more of a complete and utter joke. I'd link videos, but honestly, there are too many to choose from. Coming up with a comprehensive and consistent policy needs to be the NHL's top priority before somebody ends up with a life-threatening injury from one of these nasty hits that are tolerated so long as the victim is able to skate away with his head intact.
On a personal note:
-I managed to sprain my toe whilst flailing around on the floor in front of my TV during the final minutes of Game 7. Clearly, this was not a high point in my life.
Part One: The Good
Part Two: The Bad