Mike Lange is the voice of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While he used to grace loyal watchers with his call of televised games, today sees Lang's famous voice calling the action on local radio. Whether being heard on the boom box or "boob tube," his is the official larynx of Steel City hockey!
For generations of fans, his one-liners and eccentricities in key moments have served like an intravenous dose of caffeine to accompany that already automatic surge of adrenaline that accompanies great play on the ice.
In the 'Burgh, Mike Lange stands beside Myron Cope as, quite simply, "the man." As if any real "Picksburgher" needs to be told, the loss of Cope provides a key lesson as it concerns today's hockey broadcasts.
Appreciate what you have while you have it!
How can Lange not be appreciated? Through Stanley Cup campaigns and threats of leaving town, his excited, raspy call of the action has a full body of character. Yet, even his unique tone can't compete with the greatest element in his repertoire: all of those colorful sayings!
Crack open an Iron City beer, turn on the radio telecast and rewind the DVR a few seconds to sync with the hockey game (if, of course, "it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh!"), and take a nostalgic skate with me as we count down the 10 most classic sayings of Mike Lange's illustrious career.
"Slap me silly, Sidney!"
When you're the best hockey player in the world, you can expect recognition, accolades, stares from beautiful women and lots of free stuff.
When you're the best hockey player in the world and you play in Pittsburgh, you could just get the added benefit of your own scoring catchphrase from the maestro of the microphone!
Mario Lemieux has to feel a little gypped...
"Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Creek."
With this saying, Lange gives a shout to the 'burbs, referencing Turtle Creek, a borough in Allegheny County.
It only works if you pronounce the location as "Crick."
So, go ahead, do it both ways! Then, you tell me which one feels better!
Oh, by the way, does anyone know Arnold Slick?
"It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh!"
It's impossible to leave out the introduction that precedes every Penguins hockey game for the entirety of each 82-game schedule. By the time the playoffs have ended, a championship season in Pittsburgh assures that fans will get to hear this classic setup over 100 times!
"Oh, Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley! Bring me the brandy!"
While this countdown focuses more on the Lang favorites, lines used with frequency by the broadcast pioneer that are more familiar to the masses, this classic call of the Penguins' Stanley Cup win over the Chicago Blackhawks was unforgettable.
While there is no time like the first time (1991 vs. Minnesota), it is his second Cup call that is most genius.
As the City of Champions prepared to enter a second Stanley Cup to its totals, Mike Lange made the announcement in the classic, "semantically-inclined" manner that his fans would expect.
Since then and years later, the 2008-09 season ended at Joe Louis Arena, as Lang shouted out, "Lord Stanley, scratch their names on your fabled Cup!"
"Shave my face with a rusty razor!"
"Scratch my back with a hacksaw!"
These sayings tie for the eighth spot. Does this technically make this a list of eleven items?
No, because we're cheating!
So, why the tie? Simple: they're the same saying with the benefit of some "Mad Libs." You're not fooling me, Mr. Lange!
It seems Mike prefers some masochism with his hedonism, and a little pain to go with your pleasure can be found in this one-liner. The Penguins score a goal, and Mike Lange asks us to make him bleed.
Perfectly rational, right? Or, is it just blissfully irrational enough to make us yearn for more?
Be sure to have plenty of tissue paper to apply to those red splotches, and don't forget to use some aftershave. A lot of pain now will save a little pain (for a long time) later, and Mr. Lange will certainly thank you!
And, for the record: if you're going to scratch his back, make sure the saw is black and gold! Okay?
"Buy Sam a drink, and get his dog one, too!"
If anybody's dog loves an ice cold drink from the tap, it is Sam's pooch. You thought they named him Rocky after the boxer?
Wrong. Try Rolling Rocky. (And the crowd at the funny bone starts to nod off!)
I know, I know....ugh! Like any comedian worth his salt, I need to start with a couple of cold ones myself, of which I've consumed none. Ron White has it right!
For more on Sam's dog, watch the video! Turns out—he's a traitor! Pittsburgh fan, riiiiiight...
"Let's go hunt moose on a Harley!"
Cool guys hunt.
Cool guys ride Harleys.
So, by dissecting the evidence and applying it logically...cool guys hunt moose?
Rocky the beer-guzzling dog (previous slide) is safe. But, I'm not so sure about Bullwinkle's friend!
"(Goalie's name) just lost his liquor license!"
During their championship playoff run, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins played the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
On one of the most sensational scores ever produced by a Penguins player, Malkin put a backhand shot over Cam Ward that seemingly defied logic, if not geometry. It was an incredible shot, and one that loyal Pens fans will never forget.
Cue Mike Lange!
"He's smiling like a butcher's dog!"
After scoring a goal, hopefully this player takes an Altoid. Dog breath is not becoming to the fairer sex! Then again, neither is drool...
"She wants to sell my monkey!"
There are two ways to interpret this classic Lange line.
If my worst fears are not confirmed by the correct interpretation, I'd tell Mike that owning certain pets that are not naturally domesticated is irresponsible at best, if not unethical.
And, if my concerns are rightful, well, I'd suggest a cup. With a padlock. And key. Hidden well.
"(Goalie name) doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch!"
What if goalies could use this technique to time travel?
If he winded his watch backward, he could revisit the play and have another opportunity at success.
However, a more ethical choice would be to wind the clock forward, enough time to get over the emotional scars without changing the course of history.
Wait, did I just turn a Mike Lange saying into a thought about time travel and a miniature dissertation on ethics?
I suppose that makes sense. Lang's words are quite prophetic!
"He beat him like a rented mule!"
From square wheels to horse power, we've come a long way with transportation speed!
There's no reason to rent a mule (repeat: HORSE power). However, if you find yourself in the predicament, who could blame you for hitting it?
Punctuality is sophisticated, after all.
"Get in the fast lane, grandma! The bingo game is ready to roll!"
Smile wrinkles, varicose veins, liver spots and the strength of mind for one B.A. hobby. Some grandmas were made for the rigors of big-time bingo play.
Calling the numbers? Why, none other than Mr. Mike Lange. It's his speed, his way. Is your nana ready?
If not, she can play with all the normal grandmas at the normal table! After all, this bingo game is played in the fast lane!
She'd better have a stamper in both hands.
It's the words every Pens fan wants to hear from Mike Lange, a surefire sign that Pittsburgh has won the game!
Being sure not to fire out the saying too prematurely, Mike is more than willing to wait until the clock hits triple zeroes to fire out the one slogan associated with Penguins' success. After all, he has a reputation to maintain, and to blurt out his most classic saying only to have to take it back would be sheer...
Without further delay, the phrase every Pens fan loves but doesn't always get to hear:
"AND ELVIS HAS JUST LEFT THE BUILDING!"