It sure would be something if Thursday’s fallout in the NHL labor negotiations were made the subject of this week’s opening sketch on Saturday Night Live. Or even an extended segment on "Weekend Update."
This author regrets to assume that the odds are against such recognition for multiple theoretical reasons. One is that the NHL and SNL share a common abode in NBC. Therefore the network might not want to poke fun at the league’s ongoing crisis, let alone the central figures of the mess.
But admit it, hockey fans. You have been waiting since even before the last lockout to see commissioner Gary Bettman lampooned on late-night American television. The sport will have all but made it when that happens—or maybe when SNL does an NHL-related skit akin to its basketball- or football-oriented bits from within the past year.
Even if NBC does, in fact, prefer to play it safe and eschew the likes of Bettman, it might actually do the NHL a favor by keeping the sport on people’s minds during this labor stalemate. All that would take is to select a player, coach or maybe just a fictionalized fan to caricature on "Weekend Update," with the conversation centered on the bizarre ways they are supposedly passing the time.
Maybe we will get a pleasant surprise and find out the lockout is not off limits for humorous, good-natured jabs. After all, Brett Hull made a cameo appearance on "Weekend Update" almost exactly eight years to this date during the last work stoppage.
Or, perhaps, once normalcy is restored, NBC will have the green light to use its sketch program to help amplify the attention drawn to one of its major sports partners.
Regardless, for reasons familiar to any puckhead, Bettman is one figure who ought to be caricatured at some point. Besides him, here are nine other NHL personalities perfect for parody.
One could argue that this is a little stale at this point, but there are probably enough NHL buffs who are still amused by Boudreau’s prolific profanity from the inaugural season of 24/7.
The material therein has pretty much written itself already, so just find a fresher discussion topic, have the bleep button in handy and let Bobby Moynihan have at it.
If nothing else, it is safe to assume that Crosby is still the most familiar active player among less-than-die-hard hockey fans. Besides, there is no real need for satirists to explain exaggerations of someone’s humorous attributes.
Arguably the most talented American-born player in the league, the real Kane already displayed his share of humorous antics at last year’s skills competition.
That makes the job of creating a parody a little easier, and this year's lack of an All-Star Game and resultant lack of opportunity for an encore performance could be a starting point.
If NBC’s NFL studio personnel can be parodied on the eve of the Super Bowl, surely the NHL’s studio personnel from the NBC Sports Network can be, too, when hockey is back in session.
Ovechkin is another top-notch household name like Crosby and another energetic, fun-loving personality like Kane. Enough said.
This was already done at the 2012 NHL Awards, but there would be no harm in reviving the concept with an SNL cast member or host satirizing Shanahan’s suspension videos. Perhaps previous Shanahan impressionist Will Arnett, currently a star on the NBC sitcom Up All Night, will be given the chance if he is invited to host.
The lockout may be the right time to do that, as it could cast Shanahan as being desperate for work and thus recommending certain disciplinary sentences for locked-out players, or even fictional strangers, for absurdly trivial matters.
Like it is with Boudreau, Tim Thomas’ head-turning news off the ice might or might not be a little too old to make sense on a show that is all about satirizing current events. It will be especially hard to find any relevant material if his decision to sit out a year precipitates an abrupt end to his career.
But there is always the chance Thomas, polarizing public perception and all, could return to action when the NHL does.
The notoriously irascible and often terse head coach of Manhattan’s NHL franchise has a one-two punch of can’t-miss comic parody potential and local familiarity for those who attend SNL shows in person.