The NHL has released its roster of celebrities for the 2010 NHL Awards at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas next Wednesday. Like Mark Wahlberg and "Mad Men" star John Slattery, which is cool. Like D.B. Sweeney and CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos, which is typical for hockey. Like Travis Barker of Blink-182 and Snoop Dogg performing "I Wanna Rock," which is pre-taped. Sigh.
Your host for the evening? Actor/comedian Jay Mohr, whose sitcom "Gary Unmarried" was cancelled by CBS less than a month ago. Here's what was written for Mohr in the press release:
"As a huge hockey fan, I'm very excited to host the 2010 NHL Awards and honor the game's greatest players," said Mohr. "The 2009-10 NHL season has been one of the most exciting in recent memory and the nominated League stars have given us some truly incredible moments to celebrate."
Wow, who knew he referred to it as the "2009-10 NHL season"?
This is a slightly different Jay Mohr, however, than the one who wrote the following about hockey in 2007, as Paul Kukla passed along in his post "Get a Real Job Jay":
"Hockey sucks too. I can't root for a guy whose name on the back of his jersey has no vowels. I also don't think a sport is legitimate if its inception depended on the weather."
And slightly different than what he said in an interview with Jets Insider in 2008:
JAY MOHR: I love the Yankees. I've never been into hockey and sadly I'm a Knicks fan.
And slightly different than when he was a columnist for SI.com back in 2005:
I am frequently asked who my favorite teams are, and I always give the same response: "Yankees, Knicks, Jets and screw hockey."
And the times he's filled in for Jim Rome and said "hockey sucks."
Look, the dude's a comedian, and hockey's almost as easy a target as soccer. (By the way: nice dive and reaction, little girl with a skinned knee. Just apply the joke to any game that's on as you read this.) Maybe Mohr just recently became a hockey fan, like 90 percent of Chicago.
If he isn't? Well then kudos to the NHL for handing the keys over to an outsider and not to Alan Thicke. Say what you will about Mohr's relevance or persona, but the dude loves sports and sports fandom. And I say that as a Jets fan who experienced his brilliant take on our NFL Draft habits.
Love hockey, hate hockey ... you've got three jobs next week, Mohr. First, be funny. Second, don't allow Chaka Khan on stage. Third, bridge the gap between the quirky humor and personalities that can be found in the NHL and the Jim Rome/ESPN/"Mohr Sports" viewer who finds it confusing or repellent. You're going to have Alex Ovechkin(notes) in a suit and Pavel Datsyuk(notes) on the mic at least once. That's a great starting point.