-- Welcome to a weekly grab bag of thoughts and observations from the past few days and/or decades of NHL hockey.
This week's three stars of comedy
Recognizing the three personalities from around the league who produced the most comedic fodder for fans.
The third star: These fine gentlemen: I can't tell you how much I want this to catch on. Come on, NHL, it took like three days for that stupid "high five along the bench" thing to become a permanent league-wide standard. Surely we can do the same for this. (Click the image to get it to play.)
The first star: John Scott, All-Star in training: OK, maybe the whole All-Star vote campaign thing has been done to death, but at least he's approaching the honor with all the gravity and seriousness that the NHL All-Star Game deserves.
What is the hockey world pretending to be outraged about now?
Nothing makes hockey folks happier than being outraged about something relatively unimportant. Each week we'll pick one topic fans are complaining about and try to figure out if it's justified.
The issue: After months of speculation, the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes have finally ended, as the star forward chose his destination for next season and beyond.
The outrage: HE CHOSE POORLY!
Is it justified?: OK, this one technically hasn't happened yet. But after the past few days, I think we can all see what's coming. At some point between now and July 1, 2016, we'll finally know where Stamkos will wind up, and when that happens a whole bunch of fan bases are going to be completely insufferable because he didn't pick them. It's going to be horrible. But it doesn't have to be, so let's get in a few preemptive strikes on team complaints.
Lightning fans: OK, granted, you're the one group that really did get kind of screwed in all of this. You lost a generational player, one you had cheered for since he was a teenager and it came under circumstances that had never really happened before in NHL history. Still, you're piling the shock on a little thick. Bob McKenzie told you that Stamkos was as good as gone way back in December, so you've had up to seven months to prepare for this. Settle down.
Maple Leafs fans: Oh, shut up, you entitled babies. You were ground zero for the Stamkos hype for the better part of a year and you loved every minute of it, right up until he didn't pick you. Remember, all that stuff about it being a sure thing because he secretly wanted to play in Toronto came from you, not him, so don't go pulling out the fainting couch now that he chose to go play for a team that's actually good.
Canadiens fans: Yes, we know, Stamkos looked adorable in that one picture with P.K. Subban. If we all chose our future place of employment based on our cutest childhood photo, we'd all be working as mall Santas.
Rangers fans: Oh, no, did someone else's future Hall of Famer become available on the open market and not wind up in New York for the first time in recorded history? Oh, well, at least you'll always have Messier. And Gretzky. And Bure and Lindros and Esposito and LaFontaine and St. Louis and Kurri and Sawchuk and Harvey and Robitaille and Lafleur and Dionne and ...
Red Wings fans: Don't worry. You don't know it yet, but you just drafted a guy in the seventh round who'll be even better than Stamkos in three years.
Sabres fans: No, just kidding, you guys would never come in second on a big name and then act like giant babies about it.
Predators fans: Hey, it's not our fault that when Stamkos was asked what role he wanted to play and answered "first-line center," everyone in your organization just stared at him like they had no idea what those words meant.
Kings fans: Sorry, no can do. Stamkos never played for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Oilers fans: Screw you. The rest of us are still trying to figure out how you managed to make the playoffs and still win the Auston Matthews lottery.
Obscure former player of the week
NHL history is filled with legendary players whose stories are passed down from generation to generation. This is not one of them.
In the end, I couldn't decide. So instead, let's do all three. This week's obscure player is Noel Picard.
Picard was a defenseman who broke in with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1964-65 season. He appeared in 16 games, then didn't see the NHL again until he was snapped up by St. Louis Blues in the 1967 expansion draft. He'd become a mainstay on the Blues' blue line through their first five seasons, appearing in the All-Star Game in 1969 before badly injuring his foot in a hunting accident in 1971.
He was claimed off waivers by the Flames in 1972 and finished his career in Atlanta, retiring in 1973 with 335 NHL games and 75 points to his credit. To this day, he's remembered as one of the most popular players from the Blues' early years.
But that's not the main thing he's remembered for. No, that would be his appearance in one of the most iconic photos in sports history. On May 10, 1970, Picard and the Blues were facing the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals. In overtime of Game 4, Picard found himself in front of the St. Louis net as Bobby Orr cut toward the crease on a give-and-go. Picard reached out with his stick, Orr scored the Cup-winning goal, and the rest was history.
Being known as "the guy who tripped Bobby Orr in that famous photo" might not be the claim to fame Picard was hoping for when his career began, but it's not bad. At least he came closer to slowing Orr down than most other opponents ever did.
Hockey's Unwritten Rules
In the event that two teams participate in a game containing an excessive amount of bad blood that culminates in a third-period line brawl, at least one announcer shall be required by hockey law to ominously make reference to the date of the next game in which the two teams play each other.
This announcement must be made within 30 seconds of the conclusion of the incident. It should be preceded by several seconds of dramatic silence, which might or might not also double as the announcer frantically looking the information up on his schedule. If possible, the announcer should refrain from explaining what the date actually means; he should simply say it, then let it hang ominously in the air while waiting for his color guy to fill in the blanks.
All of this must be immediately followed by an admonishment to the audience to "circle the date," even though nobody has used an actual printed calendar since 1996.
Violation of this unwritten rule shall be punished by a seven-day suspension of the announcer's standard right to ruin any additional fights by screaming like an overexciting toddler because he is an enormous homer.
Awesome and/or horrific old YouTube clip of the week
In addition to being a great source of adorable pets and functionally illiterate commenters, YouTube is a gold mine for old hockey clips. In this section we find one, and break it down in way too much detail.
You no doubt saw the Montreal Canadiens perform a version of "Let It Go" last week. (If you didn't, don't worry -- it's already penciled in as the horrific old YouTube clip of the week in December 2027.) The clip was all in good fun. It was also the latest entry into a glorious subcategory of NHL pop culture: Teams making awkward holiday videos.
With Christmas just a week away, let's dip back into the archives for some more holiday cheer. Gentle readers, the 1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers would like to read you a poem. (Thanks to reader Paul G. for sending in this clip.)
Have a question for Sean? Want to suggest an obscure player or a classic YouTube clip? Send all your grab bag-related emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.