(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: Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy's caustic columnist and the man you can find on Twitter at @twolinepass.
1. The Player You Most Love To Hate
I don't know if he's ever given me reason to actually hate him, but man do I love seeing Ales Hemsky get his clock cleaned.
For a guy with a massive amount of skill, he sure puts himself in a bad position to get cleaned out with alarming frequency which I guess explains why he averages just 61.25 games per season in his career.
And the best part is when he does get hit, because his equipment just goes flying. A glove at center ice, helmet in the third row. Looks like a yard sale. Every time.
I'm sure you could put together an entire 10-minute video playlist of just Hemsky getting clobbered by opposing players, and .. what's that? Oh, someone did.
Massively entertaining every time.
2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can't Help Rooting For
The Phoenix Coyotes. Despite being scoffed at by just about everyone in the league, once they got rid of Wayne Gretzky as coach and Don Maloney got his feet under him as GM, they've been a very good team, particularly now that Dave Tippett is behind the bench.
They don't play a particularly attractive brand of hockey, one that commands your attention like the Capitals' or Canucks' style of play, but it's effective. Just not at drawing fans, one supposes.
And frankly it was reprehensible the way the Canadian media circled the franchise like vultures, which made me want to see them succeed even more. The fact that their consolation prize was the Thrashers? Just perfect.
3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time
I was in the building for this one:
Bruins blowout midway through the second period and the Caps go looking for someone to fight. PJ Stock was more than a little eager to fight anyone who came over the boards, and Ron Wilson sent out Stephen Peat.
The Caps enforcer had four inches and 30 pounds on Stock, but he beat the absolute hell out of his opponent in a fight that featured about 70 punches in about 15 seconds.
They just don't make em like that any more.
4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most
People hate it, but I think it's great: The Islanders "fish sticks" jerseys were just as good as anything they wore before or since, with the exception of the font. If they'd have introduced the new logo on the same jersey, people would have been fine with them.
5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)
I love everything immediately after the Stanley Cup elimination game.
Everything. Every. Thing.
The emotion on the guy's faces, both the winners and the losers. The handshake line where the winners almost seem contrite about the fact that they're about to do something they've been dreaming of doing since they were skating on a pond down the road when they were five years old. The sheer pleasure Gary Bettman seems to take in getting the crap booed out of him. The fact that most of the home fans stay even when the visiting team won. The joy on the winners' faces as they lift the Cup whether it's for the first time or the fourth.
It's all hockey should be, sportsmanship and showmanship, sorrow and joy, in about 10 minutes.
What could be better than that?
However, I also hate what comes next: the months-long offseason.
6. The Injury You Couldn't Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)
Steve Yzerman catching a puck in the face against Calgary in the 2004 playoffs. Jesus Christ, guys. Put on a visor.
7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture
Any time anyone references a "Mighty Ducks" movie, I'm gonna be on board.
But the fact that the actual Ducks did an actual Flying V in an actual NHL game (sorry, this is the best I can do for evidence) is just about as good as it gets.
8. Finally, What's The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?
I don't think you should have to secretly respect Gary Bettman.
Even if the league's supplementary discipline system is completely screwy under Colin Campbell, the guy has done an unbelievable job of making the league and the sport itself more successful and popular in the last several years.
Gary Bettman is phenomenal at his job. That's just how it be.
- Gary Bettman