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Shaquille O’Neal and hockey: a brief, odd history

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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Shaquille O'Neal appeared at the New Jersey Devils’ game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. Why? Obviously because some kid in a Brodeur jersey who lives in North Jersey rubbed the bottle and wished that Kazaam would drive the Zamboni.

Or perhaps Shaq’s a super famous retired dude who grew up in Newark, and who was honored by the chance to drop the first puck, resurface the ice and (inexplicably) rock an Alexei Ponikarovsky jersey.

Whatever the motivation, it provided the world with this video of Shaq driving the Zamboni while conversing with a plushie and signing, and for that we’re grateful:

Well, thanks for ruining it for every other Zamboni guest driver, Mr. Charisma. Pretty much the only thing that could top this is Chris Tucker, in character from “The Fifth Element.”

This is, however, not the first time Shaquille O'Neal and hockey have oddly crossed paths. Here’s a brief history of Shaq-Fu and puck:

Shaq vs. Chara, 2007

In 2007, Shaquille O'Neal was still four years away from playing out the string with Boston but he met a Beantown icon after a game with the Miami Heat: Zdeno Chara.

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This photo solely exists to let NHL forwards know it could have been worse if Shaq ever learned how to skate.

Shaq vs. Jeff Vanderbeek, 2008

In 2008, Shaquille O'Neal made an appearance at The Rock for a Devils game, hanging with then-owner Jeff Vanderbeek and franchise favorite Ken Daneyko. But the real honor, we imagine, we being interview on VERSUS.

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Puck The Media

Career topper, that moment.

Shaq vs. AAAAARRRGH

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In 2011, Shaq showed up for a Celtics game at TD Garden wearing this frightening Boston Bruins goalie mask that we’ll assume he stole from his friends the Jabberwockeez.

Shaq vs. Bobblehead

Hey, remember when Shaq played for the Cleveland Cavaliers? Of course not. But ot did produce another bit of Shaq hockey oddity:

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Yes, it’s the Lake Erie Monsters’ Shaq playin’ hockey bobblehead doll, as the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche bestowed upon him an honor previously reserved for Barack Obama, John McCain and Patrick Bordeleau.

Where will the Shaq/hockey connection take us next? We’ll just go ahead and assume he’ll play goal for the Flyers. Everyone does eventually.

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