NHL: Wade Belak and the 7 Funniest Interviewees in Hockey
Last week, longtime NHL tough guy Wade Belak tragically passed away at the age of 35, but the memories of the colorful, larger-than-life Saskatchewan native will live on for years to come.
While Belak was known more for his abilities with his fists than he was with the puck, many fans may best remember him for his quick wit and contagious sense of humor, because he was one of the funniest interviewees the game has ever seen.
In the spirit of Belak's memory, here's a look at some of the funniest interviewees in the game's recent memory who catch the attention of the media and fans across the country for both their one-liners and candor when put in front of a camera.
So without further ado, here are the seven best interviewees in hockey.
7. Alexander Ovechkin
Ovechkin interviewed at the 2007 All-Star Weekend.
Alexander Ovechkin has become one of the most popular players in the game today not only for his abilities on the ice, but also for his wildly entertaining personality off of it.
His boyish sense of humor is on display every time he steps in front of a camera, but he also shares his thoughts on the state of his team and the game itself with a remarkable degree of honesty for a superstar.
During the early stages of his career, Ovechkin's somewhat-broken English added to the levity of his interviews, as he was forced to answer questions from the media with brief, yet often hilarious, statements.
One of his most memorable interviews came during the 2006-07 season, when Ovechkin was asked whether or not he had managed to get the bag of Lays potato chips that remained stuck in a vending machine during a recent commercial. His response? That he believed that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis "has a lot" of potato chips.
6. Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler, interview bomber.
Since the 2010 Olympics, Ryan Kesler has emerged as a budding star for the Vancouver Canucks and Team USA, combining gritty two-way play with a nose for the net that helped him notch his first 40-goal season in 2010-11.
Off the ice, Kesler has proven to be one of the best interviewees in the league, as he wears his heart on his sleeve in a way that few other hockey players do. At the 2010 Olympics, Kesler made headlines by saying that he "hated" the Canadian team just moments before he and the American squad orchestrated a big round-robin upset over the home team in Vancouver.
Last season, Kesler demonstrated another side to his personality, as he was at the center of one of the funniest YouTube clips of the NHL season. During interviews with various teammates, Kesler would show up in the background, momentarily taking attention away from the subject of the interview in hysterical fashion.
He's become a fan favorite in Vancouver, and one can only hope that he'll continue to provide the hockey world with more clips like the one above.
5. John Tortorella
John Tortorella takes on Larry Brooks once again.
John Tortorella has made a name for himself as one of the most fiery coaches in the National Hockey League, and his tough-as-nails demeanor carries over to the fashion by which he conducts interviews with the press.
The 2004 Stanley Cup winning bench boss has a running feud with New York Post writer Larry Brooks, and a number of their run-ins have been caught on camera during postgame press conferences.
While they're of the unintentionally comical genre, Tortorella's exchanges with Brooks are a must-see, because it's so rare for coaches to publicly rip individual members of the media with such passion and sarcasm at the same time.
Upon seeing clips like the one above, it's easy to see how Tortorella commands respect from his players, and why he's been successful wherever he's gone.
4. Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger responds to Adam Burish's comments.
Over the last two decades, there have been few players as dominant as Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers.
The larger-than-life defenseman possesses a unique blend of size, skill and toughness on the ice, but off of it, he demonstrates a quick wit and dry sense of humor that makes for some very interesting interview sessions with the media.
Pronger rarely answers questions in a straight-forward fashion and utilizes a heavy dose of sarcasm, which makes him one of the funnier interviewees in the league.
After the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, the big defenseman was to respond to Adam Burish, of the Blackhawks', statement that he'd like to punch Pronger the next time they see one another. Pronger's response was simply, "Where's that? In the Minors?"
3. Scott Gomez
Gomez trades barbs with a reporter in a postgame interview.
Though he's suffered through a couple of dreadful seasons since leaving the New Jersey Devils in 2007, Scott Gomez continues to be one of the most colorful players in the game when in front of a camera.
Gomez has shown a rare willingness to poke fun at himself in interviews, which has made him popular with the media everywhere he's played.
In a pregame interview on CBC with Elliotte Friedman in December of 2010, Gomez said that he had "asked Santa" for help with his shot because he'd been taking heat from his teammates for his lack of a cannon in his arsenal.
Upon being traded to Montreal in 2009, the shifty pivot tried to become more accessible to the French-speaking media by taking classes to learn the primary language of his new city.
In the video above, Gomez trades insults with a reporter from MSG, once again displaying his sharp sense of humor.
2. Wade Belak
Wade Belak's interview after being traded to Florida at the Trade Deadline in 2007.
Though Wade Belak was known for his crushing hits and willingness to drop the mitts on the ice, he became a favorite with the media, especially in Toronto for his dry sense of humor and willingness to laugh at himself when conducting interviews.
Belak's comfortability in front of TV cameras is one of the reasons why he was set to transition into a role with the Nashville Predators broadcast team.
Upon being traded by the Leafs to Florida in 2007, Belak simply said he "blamed Mats" for the move, as team captain Mats had been rumored to be on the trading block as the deadline approached that spring.
His happy-go-lucky demeanor made the news of his death even more surprising, especially considering the fact that he appeared to be moving into the next stage of his life with such ease.
The hockey world lost one of the most personable players in recent memory this summer, and the video above shows the level of levity Belak brought to the rink each day.
1. Brendan Shanahan
An early Brendan Shanahan interview with ESPN's Gary Thorne.
During his 21-year NHL career, Brendan Shanahan was one of the funniest players in the game due to his honesty, quick wit and generally fun-loving demeanor, which is why he was a fan favorite in every city he called home.
Though his interviews will be of the more serious nature now that he's assumed the role of Vice President of Hockey Operations with the NHL, he will forever be remembered as one of the best interviewees in the sport's history.
In the video above, Shanahan displays his sense of humor as he discusses everything from his audition for a spot on The Flintstones to his progress in learning how to play the saxophone.
It's one of the most hilarious interviews ever given by a hockey player, and it's a must-watch for fans everywhere.