(Ed. Note: Our series "Puck Daddy's Guilty Pleasures" features puckheads from all walks of life answering questions about their own hockey-related guilty pleasures. It will run daily during the month of August. Have a suggestion for a "Guilty Pleasures" guest blogger? Hit us on email. Enjoy!)
Today's Special Guest: Chris Smith of the hockey jersey blog Icethetics.
1. The Player You Most Love To Hate
Zdeno Chara. Getting the easy questions out of the way first, I see. I make no bones about my bias for the Tampa Bay Lightning. And I hate playing the Bruins. I especially hate it during home games because the St. Pete Times Forum inevitably fills with Boston fans, who are one rung below Philly fans. (What? I said it.) Anyway, I see Chara as a talentless bully and someone who has a job with the Bs strictly for his size. (Boy am I going to catch some [Gretzky] for that, I'm sure.) Whenever I see him, he's going after a guy like Marty St. Louis. I get the biggest laugh at what amounts to watching a cartoon where Marty basically skates away between Chara's legs or something. He's the one guy I can't bring myself to root for.
2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can't Help Rooting For
None of my readers will be surprised by this, but it's the Vancouver Canucks. In terms of geography, they're now my closest team and there's just something about watching them and they're fans. I've been to Rogers Arena twice during the regulars season and the atmosphere is unlike anything I'd ever experienced. And I went to all four 2004 Stanley Cup Final games in Tampa — including Game 7 where Dave Andreychuk lifted his first Cup. That building was crazy but Vancouver's on another level. That probably goes for all of Canada.
3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time
Lecavalier vs. Iginla. 2004. That is all.
4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most
I have to go with the Lightning's late-90s third jersey with the rain, waves and lightning bolts down the sleeves. That's what spurred my interest in hockey uniforms as a kid. It's one of the few jerseys I actually own. If we're not including the Lightning — and I'm probably going to get in trouble for this — I liked the original Phoenix Coyotes uniforms from the 90s. The color scheme, the Native American-type artwork in the logos, all of it. It was definitely hideous, but it's one of those sets that I've always secretly loved.
5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)
I don't know if this really counts, but I liked how Gretzky used to tuck in one side of his jersey. I know it had a practical purpose for him, but it always made him easy to spot on the ice. I don't know if that's my favorite thing but I'm known as a jersey guy so there you go.
6. The Injury You Couldn't Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)
As horrible as they can be sometimes, I guess staring at an injury, like a train wreck, is human nature. What first comes to mind was Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty. (Perhaps my bias from Q1 coming in to play a little here.) But seriously, you see someone collide violently into a solid object at that kind of speed and you have to marvel at the human body. I was thrilled to see he's all right.
7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture
Phil Esposito in Mystery Alaska. Does that count?
8. Finally, What's The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?
It's not a popular opinion, but I've never hated him as much as most people seem to. He's a smart guy in a hard job. He's got to grow the league to keep the owners happy while trying not to alienate its current fans. I don't envy him and those that think they can do a better job are fooling themselves.
The complaints I hear the most from Icethetics readers are the Reebok Edge jerseys and the lack of variety in Winter Classic opponents. He has to make decisions that are both profitable and appeal to the masses rather than a niche audience. At the end of the day, he's running a business and, let's be honest, doing it pretty well.
Photo credits: Getty Images