PHILADELPHIA – There are certain traditions that accompany the annual NHL Draft every offseason. Like pretending to know who the heck any of these people are, let alone their obscure Canadian junior teams. Like deciding whether to hug mom or dad first, and whether to hug Charles Wang at all. Like booing the ever-loving crap out of Gary Bettman.
And, of course, the annual rite that is the Awkward Rookie Photo Gallery.
(More to the point: Where have you gone, Kirill Kabonov? Can we put him and Nikita Filatov in a reality show about two Russian knuckleheads trying to make it back to the NHL?)
Here are the 10 most awkward NHL Draft rookie photographs. Please keep in mind this is all in good fun, and prepare to weep for today’s youth …
And here … we … go.
10. Miles Gendron, Ottawa Senators
One of the poses for this year's rookies was the classic "grip the stick" shot. Gendron was one of the only players to fondle the knob. Forget for a moment that his intimidation face is that of a hungry puppy caught in a drizzle; why does he look like he's about to belt out "Evenflow"?
9. Beau Starrett, Chicago Backhawks
Hey, it's that overzealous intern that sorta looks like Jim Parsons! ("Coffee? Of course sir! Let me just book a flight to Columbia to harvest the beans myself!")
We're fans of this shot not only because Starrett looks slightly stiffer than an oak trunk, but because the angle of his body makes it look like he's about to lift off like Iron Man.
8. Nikolay Goldobin, San Jose Sharks
"A gentleman ALWAYS keeps his pinkie finger extended whilst gripping a hockey puck."
He either looks:
1. Like he found this in his pants.
2. Like he picked up something he's never seen before. And if he's a Sharks prospect, wouldn't that thing be a game program from the Stanley Cup Final?
7. Kevin Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers
We're assuming the stage direction on this photo was "show us the last thing we'll see before we die."
6. Roland McKeown, Los Angeles Kings
Oh, Roland. A little Paul F. Tompkins, a dash of Perez Hilton, and all "HELLLLLLOOOOOO LAAAADIES."
But that's not the reason Roland McKeown is on thist list, nor is that the photo that got him here.
It's this one:
In which Roland McKeon appears to be wearing a small LA Kings camping tent (and/or one of Dustin Penner's leftovers). The reason he looks like a Weeble is because he's holding a stick, athought it's difficult to see it; as it stands, McKeon resembles a Hockey Buddah, or at the very least one played by Paul F. Tompkins.
5. Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks
"WHY ... SO.... SERIOUS?!?!?!"
At the very least Virtanen looks like someone hit with The Joker's SMILEX gas, if not the Joker himself. Let's hope he didn't face the untimely fates of models Candy Walker and Amanda Keeler. (Pulled those two names by memory; happy anniversary, Tim Burton's BATMAN.)
4. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
Oh, wait, sorry, this isn't from the draft. This is his professional headshot from his audition to be a henchman in the next DIE HARD movie ...
Have you ever seen anyone caress their chin with the gentle touch of industrial-grade pliers?
3. Brendan Lemieux, Buffalo Sabres
Just in case there were any lingering questions about this being Claude Lemieux's kid, Brendan Lemieux presents his "I just hooked your larynx!" face.
Expect to see this face a lot in the regular season, followed by his goal-scoring face in the postseason, followed by his "PAY ME OR TRADE ME" face in the offseason ...
2. Reid Duke, Minnesota Wild
There are going to be some of you that look at this photo of Duke and be like, "What's the big deal, it's not like he's trying to control my mind through some sort of Dwight Schrute-like telepathy ..."
But gaze into this eyes and tell us you're not a little disturbed.
Even a little.
Just maybe a tad.
Anyone else feeling a little dizzy?
Maybe a little ... a little sleepy ...
WE LIVE TO SERVE YOU MASTER!!!!!!!!
And finally, we don't care this isn't a glamour shot, because it's clearly the most awkward shot of the 2014 NHL Draft:
1. Sonny Milano, Columbus Blue Jackets
That awkward moment when Jarmo Kekalainen ring-tosses your jersey onto your head.
Good luck to all the 2014 NHL Draftees, and congrats.