David Letterman signs off for the last time on Wednesday night, ending a 33-year run in late night in which he reinvented the modern talk show.
It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s not. Everything Conan does. Everything Kimmel does. Most of what Fallon does. Really, name every host outside of Leno (who was the antithesis of everything Dave was) and they were influenced by Letterman.
And really, name anyone over the age of 30 that attempts to be funny, and they probably put on the TV with the volume down at 1 a.m. to watch Stupid Pet Tricks on NBC when they were supposed to be asleep for school or work. I think the vibe I borrowed from Letterman was that "let's just try everything, see what we can get away with and hopefully someone likes it." That's what "Late Night" was, before he started "The Late Show."
Letterman had a great connection with sports and sports figures, usually with the ironic detachment of wooden-acting athletes attempting to read comedy bits off cue cards.
That extending to hockey on a few occasions as well.
Dave’s hockey humor was mostly found in his Top 10 lists, and it usually read like everything Letterman knew about the game he learned from “Slap Shot” and SCTV reruns. But that’s OK. It was pretty funny all the same.
So in honor of Letterman’s final show – and from the home office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – here are The Top 5 Hockey References In David Letterman’s Top 10 Lists:
5. Top 10 Things Never Before Spoken By A Hockey Player
From 2009, featuring the New York Rangers and Chris Higgins saying “for good luck I lick the puck!” Also Sean Avery with the No. 1 spot, on the list and in our hearts you guys.
4. Top Ten Ways to Make Hockey More Exciting
10. During playoffs, players dress up as their favorite Ice Capades character
9. Canadians must play in bare feet
8. All penalty minutes must be served sitting next to that guy who played "Doc" on "The Love Boat."
7. Just barely visible under ice: frozen body of Walt Disney
6. Replace Zamboni with Ford Bronco
5. Your New Jersey Devils starting goalie--Miss Katharine Hepburn
4. New snack bar item: player's missing teeth dipped in fudge
3. Every team roster must include one lesser known cast member from "The Love Boat"
2. Only guys named Stanley get to wear a cup
1. Let Michael Jordan take a crack at it
From June 1995, Letterman presented this list that’s about as dated as you can get.
But No. 2 was worth a chuckle, as No. 2 on the lists usually were.
3. Top 10 Hockey Player Pick-Up Lines
Members of the 1998 American Olympic men’s hockey team read the list.
Keith Tkachuk! Tony Amonte! Chris Chelios! Sexual innuendo! The unstoppable charm of Bill Guerin!
2. The One-Off Jokes
Once in a while, Dave would just toss off a funny line about hockey into a larger Top 10 list. For example, from December 2001:
Good Things About Global Warming - December 20, 2001
8. Hockey players tripping in slush makes hilarious Marv Albert sports blooper
And from June 1987:
Top 10 Off-Season Sports on ESPN
1. Dog Hockey
I mean, dog hockey! How great would that be!
And finally, the No. 1 Hockey Reference In David Letterman’s Top 10 Lists:
1. Top 10 Ways The New York Rangers Spent Their Time Off
Hey, a bonus behind the scenes look at the Top 10 list! I think life needs more stoic Mark Messier reaction shots. And did ladies love Brian Leetch or what?
Fare thee well, Mr. Letterman. We throw a pencil through a fake window in your honor!