Puck Daddy - NHL

(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: Cheryl from HockeyBroad.com.

1. The Player You Most Love To Hate

That guy on the other team who is just so ... annoyingly good with the puck that you love watching him play but you hate having him score on your team. You know the one -- the guy who's so amazing on his own team, but you know he would be just that much better if he was on your team.

2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can't Help Rooting For

Maybe it's the old-school Whalers fan in me (you can take the hockey team out of our state, but you can't take it out of our hearts), but I always seem to end up rooting for the underdogs. So perhaps it's no surprise that I've taken a liking to the Florida Panthers.

Let's face it, Florida hasn't given their fans a lot to cheer about for the last ... oh, 14 years or so. They made one of the worst trades in NHL history (and how's Luongo working out for you, Vancouver?) and haven't been able to attract any stars to bring their talents to South Beach. That is, until this summer. Dale Tallon helped create magic in Chicago; Florida's long-suffering fans hope he'll do the same in Sunrise. Hiring Kevin Dineen as head coach was a very smart move, and I don't say that just because Dineen's my all-time favorite player. Dineen's a smart coach who can bring a lot out of players who haven't reached their full potential yet; imagine what he's going to do with a bunch of guys who've already proven their talent. Combine that with revamping half the roster with nine high-profile acquisitions this summer, and Panther fans have a lot to be excited about heading into the 2011-12 season.

3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time

Bobby Goepfert vs Billy Sauer goalie fight. Florida Everblades vs Gwinnett Gladiators line brawl, December 22, 2010.

Some back story on why I loved this fight: the writer for SwampHockey.com and I met up for what would be my first Everblades game. Not long before the game, we'd had a discussion how neither of us had ever seen a goalie fight live. To say that the Everblades and Gladiators have no love lost between them is an understatement, and this game was already rowdy by the time this scrap evolved. The fight escalated right in front of our section, and there was a brief surreal moment of "No way - this isn't happening--" and then realizing "It IS happening! A goalie fight!" Certainly a game I'm not going to forget any time soon.

4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most

ECHL and AHL special event commemorative jerseys - the wilder, the better. And nobody does wild better than the ECHL, which has given us such gems as the Las Vegas Wranglers Santa jersey, the Kalamazoo Wings skeleton jersey, and who can forget the Florida Everblades neon green holiday extravaganza? Now if only a team could get permission to do a tie-in jersey to go with their Star Wars or Star Trek nights, I'd be full of hockey-nerd/sci-fi-geek glee!

5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)

Going to have to go with "Niemi said ... no!", Pat Foley's catchphrase for Antti Niemi's(notes) more spectacular saves during the Blackhawks' 2009-10 season and playoff run. Often imitated, never duplicated.

Runner-up: calling long hair "flow".

6. The Injury You Couldn't Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)

Missing teeth. So help me, I love seeing hockey players smile with chicklets missing. Nothing says hockey-player-crazy tough like seeing a guy take a puck to the mouth, go get his face shot full of novacaine, and be back out again, taking shifts.

7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture

Hands-down, "Score! A Hockey Musical". I had my doubts when I first heard about it, but ... well, it was better than I expected. It's silly, it's cheesy, it's loaded with hockey stereotypes and clichés -- and it makes me laugh and sing along with it. Jeff Skinner(notes) fans may (or may not) be amused at his resemblance to the lead character, Farley Gordon. Personally, I'm a big fan of The Moose.

Honorary mention: the NHL '93 scene in "Swingers".

"Why'd they get rid of the fighting? It was the best part of the old version."
"I think kids were hittin' each other or somethin', man."
"Yeah, but you know what, Mike? You can make their heads bleed on this one."
"Make somebody's head bleed."
"No man, we're in the playoffs."

8. Your Favorite Terrible Hockey Card Or Hockey Action Figure.

The Patrick Kane(notes) 2010 Hallmark ornament. I know I'm not the only Blackhawks fan who was disappointed to see that mini-Kaner was crafted without his signature mouthpiece; without it, the figurine looks more like Jack Skille(notes) than Kane.

9. Finally, What's The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?

While it's easy to make the popular decisions (who doesn't want to play the hero?), Gary Bettman has had a career full of supporting or championing the unpopular choices when it means improving/helping the league as a whole.

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