Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thursday Morning Cupcheck: Making Thornton Melon Proud
Next up: the 2010 Triple Lindy Awards.
Good morning, hockey fans! Here's hoping your feelings weren't hurt by the well-timed zings of our soon-to-be-contracted-and-locked-out sister sport. Last week, we had to push ourselves away from the pavo; this week, it's time to celebrate! The Stars have, somehow, managed to go from 11th in the West to 2nd in a matter of three or four timely wins!
Don't bother with the streamers and lampshades: just celebrate as quickly as you can with whatever's in arm's reach. Despite dominating the league like your Uncle Chester dominated the guest porcelain after last week's gravycaust, the Stars are still just three points north of 12th place in the West.
More importantly, Dallas' recent 6-1-1 swing has been at the expense of some unnamed teams -- like the Ducks, Senators and Hurricanes -- that employ some rather unsporting tactics to draw two-minute minors. Tactics that fly in the face of Truth. And truth be told, the Stars have certainly been guilty of having known dive-masters on their rosters of late -- Mike Modano, Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott all come to mind.
Wait, did I say the D-word in reference to my own team? I meant, "Embellishers." So without further ado -- 'cause ado effing sucks -- here's a list of the NHL's Top Five Actors, with a random number of Honorable Mentions towards the end.
5. Dan Carcillo: While there might be more hated players in the NHL, there isn't a single one that's more annoying. Carcillo regularly leads the league in penalty minutes, meaning that he can't be all that great at his job as an instigator, but somehow he still manages to draw a few calls here and there from oblivious refs. No list of dive artists would be complete without this Alec Baldwin-in-training.
Tough Guy Rating: On a scale of Chuck Norris to Helena Bonham Carter, the haymaking Carcillo would rank just slightly above Urkel, if Urkel had a car battery hooked up to his gonads and was fighting the ghosts that just pantsed him.
Effectiveness Rating: C+. While he did draw the second-most penalties in the league last season, it was the first time in the last four years that he had even been a blip on the penalties-drawn radar. Bad players can only embarrass bad referees so many times before their act becomes both tired and completely ineffective. He's currently peaking with the team he was born to play on, but in three years he'll be a waiver-wire pickup for the Oakland Raiders. If he's lucky.
4. Sean Avery: Avery is now what Carcillo will be in a few seasons - a hollow shell of an instigator, so terrible at his job that he actually gets called for diving. His own coach has reined him in, most likely because he was tired of having to kill so many unnecessary penalties.
Tough Guy Rating: On a scale of Jason Statham to Sandra Lee, Avery ranks a surprisingly high Shia LaBeouf. Say what you will about his diving, but he's not afraid to take a punch or two to get off the ice for five minutes.
Effectiveness Rating: D. The guy who once did this has zero credibility among NHL zebras, and his mere presence on the ice is often reason enough for a two-minute D-Bagging minor.
3. Corey Perry: Once upon a time, the NHL was graced by a man-child by the name of Claude Lemieux. Claude was undoubtedly the single most divisive player in hockey on a nightly basis: not only for unsportsmanlike diving, but also for cheap shots, turtling, and starting fights that his teammates had to finish for him. But that was OK: the NHL needs villains far more than it needs heroes. Fortunately for us out here in the media-free West, the Spirit of Lemieux is alive and well in the form of one diving, turtling cheap shot artist Corey Perry.
Tough Guy Rating: On a scale of Mr. T to Robert Pattinson, Perry rates about an Imperial Stormtrooper - a guy who can't hit anything from farther away then ten feet, falls down a lot and looks far more bad-ass than he actually is. The kind of guy that would get thrown to the ice by an undersized non-fighter that he jumped while losing 4-0.
Effectiveness Rating: B+. Despite leaping to the ice every third shift, he still doesn't have the worthless rep of a Carcillo or Avery, but he rarely gets calls either. Refs seem to call far more minors on him than due to him, although they might take pity on him after seeing this hilarious rink-length pass. Perry's still young, and with a few more nationally-televised games against the East, people might start to sit up and take notice of this plucky Lemieux-in-training.
2. Sidney Crosby: To be honest, Sid probably dives at roughly the same clip as any other #1 center playing 22 important minutes a night. But because of the NHL's single-minded campaign to feature him as "God, But Better-Looking" --not to mention the (unspoken?) requirement that every play-by-play announcer highlight Sid whenever he's on the ice, even for uneventful shifts-- means the microscope will always be on Crosby, whether he's really diving or not. Of course, this, this, this and a whopping helping of this don't help matters much.
Tough Guy Rating: On a scale of Gandalf to Kate Hudson, Crosby rates about a Luke Skywalker - a whiny snot-nosed kid that is inexplicably appointed to be the Savior of the Universe, but can't punch his way out of a common bar fight. That is, unless he's trying to pull the shirt off a girl.
Effectiveness Rating: A+. No player, perhaps in any of the major sports, gets the Benefit of the Referee more than Crosby. Not even Dwayne Wade. At least, until Sid reaches an unmarketable age, at which point the NHL will inevitably abandon him in favor of the next dashing #1 overall pick. That's when Flyers-Penguins games will really get interesting.
1. Dustin Brown: No one, and I mean no one, dives more than the Captain of the Kings. There are Italian League soccer players that think he plays like a huge p%ssy. Even Manu Ginobili screams at Brown to "GET!! UP!!" when watching Kings broadcasts. Eastern Conference fans might not know about this guy, but they should: no one even comes close to drawing as many penalties as Brown. Not Crosby, not Ovechkin, not Briere. Rank amateurs. And it's every year. I'll believe Crosby is the league' biggest diver when he piledrives himself to the ice twice in one shift.
Tough Guy Rating: On a scale of Batman to Martin Short, Brown rates slightly below Olivia Newton-John. For all his "tough guy" reputation, Brown engages in roughly one fight per season. And for good reason, too: he has just one definitive win in his entire 7-year career. And it came against Daymond Langkow.
Effectiveness Rating: A+. Not only does Brown draw more calls than the pretty boys out East, but he does so with a completely unearned rep as a Tough Young Captain. In that way, he is one of the single most effective players in the league: much like Peter Forsberg, who was one of the strongest players on two skates --until you lightly brushed his hip with the tip of your glove, sending him flying twenty feet through the air-- Brown has a knack for suddenly forgetting how to skate when his team needs a powerplay. In all fairness, sometimes all it takes is a rough patch of oxygen to send him hurtling to the ice like the fist of an angry god. But the refs are buying it like cases of Four Loko.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Burrows, both Ruutus, Steve Ott, Derek Roy.
In all fairness, as long as the NHL continues to put sub-standard referees out on the ice, the players should do whatever they can to draw penalties. Only suckas play by the rules: As long as Pronger can get away with mangling opposing forwards behind the net, he should do whatever it takes to help his team win. If the NHL doesn't like it, well, maybe they should start penalizing it.
When the Stars were routinely winning President's Trophies, it was no secret that the Avs (with Lemieux, Ozolinsh, Forsberg) and Red Wings (McCarty, LaPointe, Federov) threw themselves on the ice whenever they could to draw penalties. As a purely anecdotal observation at the time, it seemed like the resulting powerplays were far more likely to score than powerplays resulting from run-of-the-mill penalties. It often looked like the Stars' penalty killers were so irate about the injustice done them, that it would take them out of their game for the next two minutes, meaning that they were punked twice: once for the dive, and once for the goal. This is also why those Avs-Red Wings games were such high-entertainment: when two highly-talented teams constantly cheat each other, tempers flare, and testosterone levels explode. Throw in a self-promoting referee like Bill McCreary -- who would miss the obvious "real" penalties, but call the phantom ones -- and you've got a perfect storm of hockey hijinks.
That's it for this week's Cupcheck. Tune in next week when we list the NHL's Top Five Villains of 2015. Nazem Kadri's Heatley-like entry may surprise exactly no one.
See more stories in:
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