(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: Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey, debunker of all silly rumors.
1. The Player You Most Love To Hate
I don't hate any player, but there are some whose actions I despise. There have been plenty over the years - Ken Linesman. Ulf Samuelsson (cue Don Cherry rant here!), Claude Lemieux. Darcy Tucker - whose antics sickened me.
Currently, it's Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins (cue Cherry again). His cheap shots have career-threatening consequences for his victims, as Boston's Marc Savard can attest, and no place in hockey.
2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can't Help Rooting For
I'll be a Montreal Canadiens fan until the day I die, but I also root for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I became a fan of the Penguins long before they won their Stanley Cup titles, thanks to the brilliance of Mario Lemieux. I was also a fan of Jaromir Jagr during the 1990s. I feared for the Penguins' future when it was rumored they would be relocated, was relieved when it didn't happen, and thrilled when they won the rights in the 2005 Draft to select Sidney Crosby, who carried them four years later to a third Stanley Cup.
This is a team that has seen such tremendous highs and lows over the past 25-plus years, and that's ultimately why I've cheered for them. Unless they're playing the Habs. Then, they suck.
3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time.
Vincent Lecavalier vs Jarome Iginla, 2004 Stanley Cup Final. I know most hockey fans love to see fights between enforcers, but those bouts don't have the charm for me of seeing two really good players, in the heat of the action of an important game, losing their tempers, dropping the gloves and whaling the tar out of each other. For me, that bout typifies "old school" hockey, when the top players didn't need goons to fight their battles for them.
Case in point, as well as honorable mention: Larry Robinson beating the crap out of Dave Schultz during a Canadiens-Flyers game at the Montreal Forum in 1974. Don Cherry said it best: the dumbest move in hockey was waking up (angering) Robinson.
4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most
I'm no fan of ugly hockey jerseys, but I'm fond of the old Colorado Rockies jerseys, if only because I thought the logo — a mountain peak with a stylized "C" in the center — was pretty cool.
5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)
The Upper/Lower body injury. I realize coaches are reluctant in giving out too much information on an injured player, but this broad based term never fails to make me laugh, as well as fuel my twisted imagination.
Upper body injury, eh? Maybe it's a broken wrist? Cracked ribs? Dislocated shoulder? Concussion? Hangnail? Burst zit? Accidentally cut off his head whilst shaving?
A Lower body injury could be anything from a sprained ankle, broken leg, pulled groin or a crushed testicle, but for all we know, perhaps they stubbed their toe? Or they've contracted jock itch? Or suffered one of those Peter Griffin-like skinned knees?
If a player is injured, the team should just admit what it is. You're really not fooling anyone with this "upper body/lower body injury" nonsense. The players can tell if an opponent is nursing an injury, and will target it regardless. And it if serious, he probably shouldn't be playing.
6. The Injury You Couldn't Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)
While playing defense during a 1998 military hockey tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, I was run from behind into the end boards, crushing my left ankle and breaking my lower left leg in two places.
After falling to the ice, I saw my left foot canted outward at a weird angle and, in a moment of Captain Obvious clarity, thought, "It's not supposed to look like that". I was in shock, and couldn't stop staring at it from the moment I was carried off the ice until put under for surgery two hours later.
I would recover, following two more surgeries, the insertion of three screws in the ankle and a plate in my lower left leg, three months of sick leave and four months of rehab. It also marked the beginning of the end of my rec league playing days.
7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture
Red Green's familiar sign off, "Keep your stick on the ice".
8. Your Favorite Terrible Hockey Card Or Hockey Action Figure.
The 1974-75 Jacques Lemaire hockey card. I'm going into the way back machine, kids, but it was in the 1970s when I was a big time collector of hockey cards. Yes, I'm that friggin' old, back when nickels used to have pictures of bumblebees on 'em...
Anyway, what's memorable about this card is Lemaire played for the Montreal Canadiens — did so for his entire NHL playing career - but for some reason, card manufacturer O-Pee-Chee (the "Upper Deck" of its day) airbrushed a Buffalo Sabres jersey under Lemaire's head shot.
Maybe they were told Lemaire was going to be traded? Perhaps his name somehow got mixed up with a list of Sabres players? Who knows, but in 1974, it certainly shocked and upset my 11-year-old sensibilities to discover Lemaire wearing a Sabres sweater, especially after seeing him on Hockey Night in Canada the previous Saturday playing for my beloved Habs.
The Canadiens blog Ya! The Habs Rule! has more on the story.
A mint condition Lemaire Sabres card today is worth a whopping $1.50, so there's not a lot of value in uncorrected hockey cards from the '70s.
I don't feel so bad for defacing that card as a kid with a marker, crossing out the Sabres logo and scrawling the Habs crest above it, in my childish attempt to rectify what, for me, was a terrible wrong.
9. Finally, What's The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?
The fact he comes out to present the Conn Smythe trophy and Stanley Cup, knowing he's going to get booed and heckled mercilessly, and yet carries on with his little speeches and presentations as if there's nothing amiss.
Could any of us go out there and face that avalanche of verbal abuse from 18, 000 fans who hate your guts? I doubt it. Say what you will about Bettman, and I believe he deserves most of the criticism he gets, but I respect that he doesn't shy away from the Cup presentation ceremony, even when he knows he's going to be heaped with abuse. Especially if he's making the presentation to the visiting team.