Sports are certainly good for the heart. And they say laughter is the best medicine. So there can't be anything healthier than a good dose of humour from the hockey world. In tune with Bleacher Report's new series of Sport's Funniest Moments, comes this all-hockey line-up.
Here's a look at the most laugh-invoking moments from the "Coolest Game on Earth" and there are several worthwhile categories to consider:
Now rink combat usually invokes images of massive exchanges of lefts and rights between skated-heavyweights, delivering oft-bloody punishment.
So when one witnesses the Washington Captial's Alexander Semin engage his opponent, NY Rangers Marc Staal, it's difficult not to flash a toothless grin. Semin's fisticuffs draw a closer parallel to a "stomp" show performer drumming on a trash can than a true hockey tilt, and so his slaps earn him the title of funniest "slapstick" fighter.
Oh there's a ton, since the "articulate skill set" on most players is as low as league worst Rod Brind’Amour’s plus/minus rating (-30). Here are worthwhile mentions.
The first features Dallas Stars goalie Ed Belfour, who after hearing his coach Ken Hitchcock wanted his backup Marty Turco to push him for the No. 1 job, retorted "maybe we should hire another coach, so we can push him."
Edmonton Oilers coach Ted Green makes the list with his quip following Shaun Van Allen’s concussion, when his player couldn’t remember who he was; “Tell him he’s Wayne Gretzky.”
And finally, the expressive comeback of NY Rangers president Neil Smith who, responding to a fashion photographer’s statement that he would like to shoot some of the Rangers players, was quick to note that on “some nights, [he’d] like to shoot some of the players [him]self.”
Sticking with verbal, the funniest statement by a fan deserves equal recognition. Here’s a look at the poster-board medium.
Of course, written wit may be lost on some. Government endorsed bigot Don Cherry would no doubt dismiss this category on a technicality. It involves reading, something perhaps a little bit too European?
For the rest of us, here’s a look:
Amidst the sea of signs at every game shouting for camera attention from ESPN and TSN in hope of making the next morning’s Edition of Sports Center, or the ever imaginative “D” and adjoining picket fence (spelling "defense" for those who still solving this brainteaser), there does come along the occasional clever statement.
Oilers fans deserve a collective honourable mention for their written jesting of Chris Pronger upon his return to Edmonton following an ugly departure.
But the ultimate favourite dates to the 1999 Finals between Dallas and Buffalo where a Sabers fan’s work read:
Modano: Wrist Injury
Hull: Groin Injury
But to return to ice level.
The embarrassment of an own goal is unmatched by any other blunder in sports. Sometimes bad bounces, mistimed reflexes or lapses of concentration happen, usually to the head-burying response of accountability and humiliation.
Well, not for this Japanese player who threw his arms up in celebration before realizing that those around him with their arms raised, were his opponents.
And before reaching the No. 1 overall selection, it is appropriate to list a pre-game blooper that unequivocally demonstrates that when it’s not your day its better not to tempt fate, and just stay in bed.
The honour unquestionably goes to a young lady, otherwise anonymous to the hockey world. She was due to sing the National Anthems before a tilt between Canada and the US in Montreal.
The now infamously mortifying moment had her start with the visiting team’s "Star Spangled Banner" but, barely into the third verse she jumbled the lyrics, uttered “sorry” and scuttled off the ice back into the tunnel ushered by the boos and jeers of the crowd.
"Know when to fold’em, know when to walk away..."
After collecting herself and grabbing cue cards with the lyrics, the fate’s prey bravely came back out. One step back onto the ice, however, and she was as airborne as the “red rockets” she should have been singing about, flying up and landing on her backside.
Needless to say, there was no third act.
And now the final, the Steve, Sullivan Show.
Like a smart comedy, this one had karma and humour brewed to a perfect blend.
The high stick cut Sullivan who, stemming the bleeding with a towel and bent over and skating gingerly, was escorted off the ice by a trainer.
Before he reached the bench however, Sullivan stopped for a chat with a heckling fan who addressed the injured player with a shower of derogatives and mocked the blow to the nose.
Well, karma laced them up that night and came into play. Not only did Sullivan bank in a couple of shorthanded goals later in the game but managed to settle a personal score with the macho fan as well.
Patrick Roy’s clearing attempt sent the puck over the boards and clipped the heckler in the forehead letting loose blood.
Now, with the roles reversed and the fan's face buried in a towel, Sullivan skated over and, much to the amusement and thumbs up of the fan’s girlfriend, repaid his dues.
Karma might not come back to bite you, but it sure can hit you in the face.
So here is to a game we all love and to many more good times and laughs.
As a postscript I cannot refrain from addressing one last category.
Based on not only on-ice performance say, for the last 40 years, but on a barrage of fabulous jokes that would make Don Cherry’s Redneck spin, the "Maple Laughs" at least win this title: the funniest team.
Consider it a spark that may add to tonight’s Belorussian powder keg, Hockey Night in Canada; Habs hosting the Leafs.