It's one of the more entertaining lines of thought I feel a fan can have: Which one of the players on my favorite team could I sit down and relate to over a brew or two at the local pub?
You're sitting in your comfy, broken-in recliner after a long day at the office, and you crack open a bottle of your top beer right as the puck drops. There really isn't a better feeling. Unless you could be doing the same thing with one of the guys out there on the ice.
At least that's my line of thinking.
But not every player would be a blast to kick it with at the bar. Based on the interviews I've seen, I think Chris Pronger would be a bit of a buzzkill after a few brewskies. As usual, please don't tell him that I said that.
So as I look over the 30 NHL teams as what feels to be the longest summer without hockey in history, I wonder which player I would go out for a night out on the town with. Who would be the funnest? Who would create a good atmosphere? And who would tell the best stories?
These are just my picks. I was on the fence with a few of them. Obviously, it doesn't get much more subjective than this. Who would you go with for your favorite team? Or any other team for the matter. Let me know in the comments, and is it October yet?
I didn't think I'd be going with the Finnish Flash for this one. Ryan Getzlaf was one of the first people I thought of when I started mentally making notes for this slideshow. Really, a case would be made for the entire first line in Anaheim.
Getzlaf, Corey Perry or Bobby Ryan would all be fun to hang out with for their own reasons.
Then I considered the stories that the 41-going-on-35-year-old Selanne would have up his sleeve, and that made all the difference for me. From his incredible rookie season, to winning a Cup, to Olympics appearances and staying productive for so long, I feel like this guy would have some interesting things to talk about over a few brews.
And you know Selanne isn't sipping on Miller Lite. He's probably got one obscure European beer for every story he could tell.
At least half of Boston's forward core would be fun to party with. Guys like Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic were all tempting choices.
But after one of the best individual goaltending seasons in the history of the NHL, and a Stanley Cup victory to top it off, Timmy Thomas is a guy sitting on top of the world. That is the kind of guy I'd want to go bar hopping with.
And the tales of the peaks and (death) valleys his career has taken would inspire even the harshest critic. He seems to be a nice guy, but we saw flashes of aggression in the Finals, and if any Swedes tried anything funny, I think Thomas is the guy I'd want on my side.
He's proven on at least one occasion that he knows how to get down, and I wouldn't mind being witness to this kind of tab.
The guy has "Miller Time" scrolled on the back of his mask. If that doesn't make this an easy choice, then I don't know what would.
It's probably just a joke and a play on the popular brewing company's catch phrase, but I'm willing to take my chances here. After an outstanding Olympic run where he led the US to a Silver Medal—albeit in heartbreaking fashion—Miller is a player with notoriety outside of hockey circles.
He's also one of the best American-born players currently playing in the NHL, and for that I'd like to buy the man a high-end brew or two. But then the rest could go on Miller's tab. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. And if he did, I'd tell him that Thomas ponied up and if he didn't I'd sell the story to FoxSports.com.
That'll show 'em!
This is too big of a no-brainer to pass on. As much fun as Olli Jokinen and Miikka Kiprusoff would be to get your drink on with, Jarome Iginla takes the keg...err, cake.
Widely regarded by many to be one of the best captains in the League today, he is also at the top of many pundit's "Guys I want to see lift the Cup soon" list. He's been one of the most consistently dangerous players for as long as I can remember, and one of the only reasons I wish more Calgary games were on TV here in the States.
Iginla carries himself with an outstanding mix of swagger and class, and these kinds of human beings are very rare. Perhaps some of that could rub off on me over a few bottles at a local establishment.
Drinking with a member of the famous Sutter family is a bucket list-worthy goal. Of course, in doing so I'd be passing on one of the famous Staal brothers. But there are a handful of those guys floating around in the NHL. We still hate Pittsburgh and New York (Rangers), after all.
I'm assuming it isn't a unique experience for a Canadian kid to grow up in a hockey-centric family. Try as I may, I can't fathom that, but I digress. The difference here is that Brandon grew up in a famous hockey-centric family.
Talk about an interesting childhood. I can't imagine having those kinds of expectations placed on your level of play as a seven-year-old forward. Yet Sutter met and exceeded those expectations at every level and has turned into a hell of a hockey player.
Jeff Skinner would have been my pick here, but the kid is only 19. I'm sure he knows some door guys in the area and could get in if he wanted, but I don't want to condone under age conception in this space. Moving on.
The inspiration for this slideshow, Patrick Kane, is a bit of a notorious party boy. And while some Chicago fans really aren't big fans of this aspect of his personality, I think it's blown out of proportion and good for the game.
But that is beside the point.
Kaner is the prototypical drinking buddy, and has a lot of notoriety. Rolling through Chicago with him would be an interesting experience that would be hard to remember, to say the least. I've been to Chicago on a few separate occasions and never really fell in love with the city.
I've always said that it feels like a town where you'd need to spend three years just learning the ins and outs before romping good times could be had. Kane probably knows his way around the town by now, and I'd love to see Chicago from his perspective.
It's been a strange trend through these first few slides. I have a player in mind for mostly every team, but so far several of them have been under the age of 21. Pretty ridiculous to think about how much these kids have accomplished before they can even have a drink of beer in public.
It makes a hockey writer feel old.
Paul Stastny will just have to do I suppose. Matt Duchene—or Crosby-lite as ESPN personality John Buccigross has called him—was my initial choice, but Statsny is closer to my age anyway. Going out drinking with newly christened 21-year-old people can be a tricky proposition at times.
Growing up the son of a pretty well known and famous hockey player, Stastny is another guy who would probably have some cool stories to tell. I also feel I owe the man a beer or three for helping me win my first Fantasy League Championship in 2006-2007, when the youngster put up a surprising 78 points in 82 games.
Thanks, Paul! I'm sure that's why he had that breakout season, right? To aid fantasy hockey owners looking for an edge?
Rick Nash is a player who I think could eventually turn into a Jarome Iginla-ish figure in the NHL. He's a very talented player with soft hands to go along with a large frame and strong skating stride. Nash—like Iginla—is also trapped a bit when it comes to his Stanley Cup opportunities.
But the Jackets could be on the way up, and this could re-energize Nash and his goal-scoring prowess. He's been the captain of my home-state Blue Jackets since 2008, and he seems like he'd be a cool guy to hang out with.
After scoring goals like this, it's clear that Nasher is a guy you can trust during a blackout.
Steve Ott is what a super-pest should be. While total goons continue to get the spotlight on ESPN and draw the ire of hockey fans and NASCAR fans alike, guys like Ott (for the most part) keep their elbows down and don't nearly end careers on a monthly basis.
And when Ott does cross the line—something most agitators are guilty of to some degree—he at least has the gull to drop the gloves with whoever comes his way.
He sticks up for his teammates whenever he can, wears the "A" for his team and is still good for 10 goals a year.
Sounds like a guy I'd like to hit up Main Street (or whatever) with.
The Red Wings are obviously the team that I follow most closely, so this was a tough call. I can look up and down the roster and think of at least one reason to kick back with nearly every player on the team.
Todd Bertuzzi just to tell him how awesome his beard is.
Danny Cleary because he's been my favorite Wing since Yzerman retired.
Nicklas Lidstrom because I'd love to see if he maintains his grace and poise a few rounds in.
Darren Helm because I get the feeling that he gives awesome high-fives.
Pavel Datsyuk has too much upside as a drinking buddy to pass on, however. If you've ever seen the Russian magician in interviews, you know why. He just makes me laugh. And that's a priceless asset in a drinking buddy.
His sense of humor is very understated and dry, but his teammates say that he is one of the more clever guys around. His English isn't very good, but that's part of Datsyuk's charm.
What, too soon?
There are few players that I pull for more in the NHL than Jose Theodore. My hockey heart has a soft sport for him because of his backstory, and some of the things he's had to deal with throughout his playing career.
His play has declined steadily since winning the Hart Trophy and Vezina in 2001-2002, but not without a fair share of off-ice distractions. I'm not making excuses for Theodore, but it's hard for me not to root for this guy.
I guess I'd just like to encourage the guy to kick some serious arse in his first season as a Panther. Not that it would probably make a huge difference or something. But sometimes it's nice to know that the whole world isn't on your back, which seems to be the case for Theodore.
When I started my first hockey blog last October (time flies when you're having fun, eh?), I named Drew Doughty to my NHL Crime Fighting Duo. Alongside him was Evander Kane, who had knocked the remaining sense out of Matt Cooke's head in one of my favorite hockey moments ever.
He still hasn't signed a contract to play with the Kings next season, which only means one thing: plenty of time to kill heading into the season. What better way to do just that than cruising around LA looking for a good time?
Doughty is one of the best blueliners in the NHL and could basically inherit the Norris Trophy from Lidstrom when he finally decides to retire. Skaters like Shea Weber may have something to say about that, but the fact remains that this is a stellar player.
Matt Cullen has turned in a solid NHL career playing with the Wild, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, winning a Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes and getting his start in Anaheim with the Ducks. Almost as consistently as clockwork, he has put up 40-point campaigns while being great in all three zones.
The journeymen center may not stick out on a roster of any kind, and probably wouldn't catch the casual fan's eye over one 60-minute game. But Cullen stands out to me for another reason.
When I was growing up in Cincinnati, the city was home to Anaheim's farm team. Matt Cullen only skated with those Ducks for 21 games, but I was there for all of those home matches, and to that point he represented the best hockey player I had ever seen in person.
I met him once during a season-ticket holder skate-around and still have the signed picture somewhere. So just hanging out with this guy, who I had put up on a mantle at such a young age, would be a cool experience.
If I ever want to know what I'd look like in the NHL, I generally turn my eyes to the roster of the Montreal Canadians. Some of their most effective players are of comparable size to yours truly, and it's an interesting thing to behold when they stand next to players like Hal Gill.
No one fits this short-but-talented bill quite like Brian Gionta.
Drinking with a pro athlete that is roughly your size when you tower at 5'6'' is a rare chance, and few players in the League meet this requirement. Hanging out with Gionta would probably be one of my only chances to drink an NHL player under the table based on mass alone, and I don't think I could pass it up.
Aside from the physics of it, Gionta is one of my favorite players to watch, especially when the playoffs are underway. The guy is all clutch, and who doesn't want to chill out with a guy who can be described that way?
My interest in partying with Mike Fisher has nothing to do with his wife and everything to do with how awesome of a player he is.
I have absolutely no plans to lock the 6'1'' Fisher in a bathroom somewhere in Nashville and use that as an opportunity to use my charm and humor to sway Carrie Underwood into my arms forever.
Here's looking at you, Mike.
There are about 100 million reasons to hit the town with Ilya Kovalchuk, and they are all sitting in his bank account. If you could paint the town red with any NHL player, it'd be Kovie. None of the picks on this list are inspired by money; after all, a grinder putting away $750,000 a year lives the high life compared to me.
But just being able to witness what that kind of money can do for a night would be pretty spectacular to watch. What kind of place does Kovalchuk go to when he needs to unwind? Odds are I'd need to rent a suit to fit in, and that alone would probably break my bank.
Once we would get underway, I'd ask him to invite Zach Parise. Then the real fun could start.
Because really, what else is he going to do? Play hockey?
The oft-injured Islanders netminder could actually be the perfect partner in crime. He has hardly any responsibilities, unless you count letting in three-and-a-half goals a game and keeping the bench warm the rest of the time.
But he has a steady paycheck, unlike the rest of us who would lose our jobs for being this awful for this long. To top it all off, he's fluent in English, being American and all, and there would be no communication barrier whatsoever.
I'm going to assume they don't call him King Henrik for nothing.
Ever since he broke into the NHL following the lockout, Lundqvist has enjoyed the lifestyle that being a prime-time athlete in New York affords. Who wouldn't want to tag along for that? He commonly appears in magazines as a model for suits, and was named Sweden's best dressed man in 2004.
On top of that, he was named on of People Magazine's 100 most beautiful people in 2006.
Forget drinking buddy, this is a guy I want as a wing man. Especially since he's engaged now, and can't hog all the ladies. Not that any of them would be looking at me either way, but you get the point.
There may not be a classier individual in the NHL than Daniel Alfredsson. This is another guy that I regret not being able to watch more. US television schedules be damned.
I don't feel like I have dedicated enough of this list to picking the brains of some of the savvy veterans around the League, but I feel as though hanging out with Alfie would more than make up for that oversight on my part.
Zenon Konopka gets an honorable mention here, just because I'd love to see him in a bar fight in which no one was injured and no one was arrested.
This is just another one of those hunches—not based on anything I've read—but I bet Scott Hartnell would be a blast to hang out with. Perhaps it is just the vibe I get from the sweet locks and wicked beard, but even while watching him play he seems to have the jump in his step that would reflect how he carries himself off the ice.
From what I understand, Philadelphia is a bit of a tough city, and Hartnell would be able to help me get out of any jams that I talk my way into. Unless it's a 6'9''-ish, 255-pound Slovakian bear of a man. Then maybe not so much.
I guess just getting punched in the face repeatedly is an option, too.
It was tough for me to pick a player from Phoenix that I'd want to hang out with due to two straight years of playoff matchups, but I guess if I had to pick, it'd be the consummate Phoenix Captain, Sean Doan.
I find his play against the Wings a bit on the cheap side, and he annoys me on the ice. But the people in Phoenix love the guy, and he's stuck with the same franchise through thick and thin, which I have to respect.
I'd kick it with the guy and try my best to not view his play through Red and White glasses, and to appreciate the intensity and dedication he brings to the ice.
I might catch some flack for this one. I really don't care.
Being able to sit down and talk with one of the most successful 20-something-year-old hockey players from the first generation I've felt like I was a part of is not something I could walk away from. Sidney Crosby and I are both the same age, and I've very aware of this fact since he came into the League after the lockout.
Since then, he's been to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, won the whole thing once, scored an Olympic Gold Medal-winning goal on home ice and won more individual awards than I feel like reading about on Wikipedia.
Getting a few drinks in the guy and talking to him about how he's been able to deal with all this attention (unwarranted, deserving, or not) and come out on top more often than not is appealing to me.
Patrick Marleau is a high-end player that has a Charlie Brown-type rain cloud develop over his head anytime the regular season ends and the playoffs start up. He is a guy who has had his character called into question more than just about any other All-Star player, and this pick has to do with getting to the bottom of this phenomenon.
The guys in the locker room have always supported him, as has San Jose's management and brass.
So what gives? Why so many questions about the guy? My goal would be to get to figure this out by talking to the guy while seeing him through the bottom of bottles. It may or may not work, but at the end of the night I could at least challenge him to a foot race.
Just because he's Speedy Gonzales on the ice doesn't mean that he would be off of it, right?
T.J. Oshie is kind of like Patrick Kane, minus the high level of continuous publicity his partying lifestyle generates. He drew a lot of attention from various media outlets, though, for his absence from a practice last season, which set Twitter ablaze and irritated teammates.
But this isn't about why a possible power forward isn't putting up 70 points a season. It's about who would be fun to drink with. Oshie is just the guy in St. Louis.
Is there a hockey player with more guts, heart and determination than Martin St. Louis? And is there a more trite way to describe the guy? Maybe spending a few hours with him knocking back a few would give me a few more adjectives to apply.
St. Louis is as entertaining as players come. The diminutive forward has been one of the best players in the NHL since the lockout, and he brings intensity to the ice on a nightly basis.
He seems like a cool guy in interviews, always seems friendly towards fans and that's a cool guy to hang out with.
I'd have to prepare carefully. Brian Burke isn't a guy who holds back in his conversations, and will pick apart anyone who isn't putting a serious alpha male attitude right back in his face. He's regarded as brilliant in some circles, and as overrated in others. I just think he'd be an incredibly interesting person to talk hockey with.
Burkie knows his stuff, and has string opinions on everything from head-shots to salary cup circumvention. And, if I could manage to stay on his good side, he would make for one of the best hockey conversationalists around.
You may not agree with everything the man says or does, but he's built some superb hockey teams, and is one of the loudest, most well-respected voices in hockey.
You know it's going to be a good night when you're seeing double before you even arrive at the pub.
Drinking game idea: Every time you mix the twins up, you take a shot.
I think there is one hockey player in the NHL that I could take down in a bar fight, and that's Alexander Semin.
His name has been in the media lately, since former teammate Matt Bradley made some sideways comments towards the aloof Russian winger in an interview recently.
But before that, and his relative fall from grace in Washington and down the team scoring leaders list, Semin was notorious for another incident—what many believe to be the first slap-fight in NHL history.
I'm not an MMA fighter or anything, but I think I could stand up to those blows pretty easily and at least take Semin to the cards. Unless he hulks out when he gets vodka in him or something. Then I may be in trouble.
I can't imagine what the atmosphere will be like in Winnipeg when the puck finally drops to open a new season. After all the work that local fanbase has put into supporting the revival of the Jets, the delayed gratification release is going to be epic.
And I'd love to be partying with the fans in Winnipeg to celebrate.
Well that makes two of us.
Feel free to become a fan, comment on anything you'd like (I'm always down for hockey conversation!) and to stay up-to-date on my other articles and random hockey musings by following me on twitter.
I even made it easy for you. Who doesn't love buttons?
Also, feel free to email me with any questions, or even if you're just itching to add another name to your Rolodex. Contact me at email@example.com
Sorry. I'm still working on a button for that.