The NHLPA (National Hockey League Players’ Association) just came out with their list of superlatives this week. For those of you don’t remember high school, superlatives are those things where students get voted by their peers to be titled most (blank). For example, “Best Smile,” or “Biggest Flirt,” or “Most Likely to be Caught Stealing from the Teacher’s Lounge.”
But after reading through pages of snoozers like “Most Likely to Coach after Playing,” and “Best Role Model,” we here at The Turf figured it’d be a missed opportunity if we didn’t get to have a little more fun with it. So I made my own list. A list of the ones they missed. I give you, The Turf’s NHL Superlatives: The Forgotten ‘Mosts’.
Most likely to have an animal living in their beard… and not know it: Brett Burns, Defenseman, San Jose Sharks
There are some great beards in professional hockey, especially come playoff time. In fact, one of the best beards in the game belongs to Burns’ teammate, Jumbo himself, Joe Thornton. It’s a beauty. But where Jumbo’s beard wins in length and majesty, Burns wins in… uh… freaking grossness. I mean just look at that thing! He looks like Tom Hanks in Cast Away right around the time he loses Wilson.
Would anyone be surprised if one day Burns reached up into that thing, and pulled out a turtle dove, or a small family of rodents? Its surely big enough, and heck, it’s probably cozy (albeit smelly) under that wooly mammoth he’s got going on. At the very least, you know he keeps some snacks hidden in there for between shifts on the bench. That thing is the original flavor savor.
Most likely to be mistaken for a solar eclipse: Zdeno Chara, Defenseman, Boston Bruins
I recently watched a hockey fight where one of the participants was 6’7” Jamie Oleksiak. Normally, fighting a man who is that huge would seem brash, if not suicidal. Except when the other participant in the fight is Zdeno Chara. At 6’9” and 250 lbs, Chara is the tallest man in the NHL by a wide margin (Oleksiak is second) and he’s the third heaviest to boot (Dustin Byfuglien is the heaviest at 260lbs).
After their fight, Oleksiak told The Pittsburgh Tribune Review of fighting Chara, “I know what it’s like on the other side now, and it’s not a fun experience.”
There’s a good reason Chara doesn’t have to fight very often. People aren’t exactly lining up for the opportunity to challenge him. And just imagine how it must feel being checked by the big Slovakian. You probably here someone growl “Fi Fie Fo Fum,” and then everything goes dark.
Most Mischevious: Marc-Andre Fleury, Goaltender, Las Vegas Golden Knights
Fleury is known as a great teammate for a lot of reasons. He’s humble, easy going, unselfish, and, most of all, fun. Most times at his teammate’s expense.
It’s a well-known fact that Fleury loves to play tricks on his teammates. It’s so well known, in fact, that new players to his team come prepared to be on the lookout. When Ryan Reaves, a known trickster himself, was traded to Las Vegas this past month, he was almost pranked by the goaltender twice, but avoided both because he was prepared. Why? Because Fleury’s reputation preceeds him, Reaves said. “I was ready for it,” he said. “I had my guard up because I knew I was coming to his team.”
Some of Fleury’s practical joke best-of also include:
hanging then rookie defenseman Simon Despres’ street clothes from the arena jumbotron, the classic unscrewing the water bottle trick, moving defenseman Ben Lovejoy and center Mark Letestu’s hotel furniture into the hallways during dinner, and even stuffing a dead mouse inside defenseman Ryan Whitney’s shoe.
Most likely to sleep with your wife: Jeff Carter, Forward, LA Kings
This is probably not a reputation you want to be known for in a team sport. But Jeff Carter has this reputation all the same. That tends to happen when your philandering tendency gets you traded.
After a stellar start to his career, Carter was suddenly shipped to Columbus from Philadelphia in 2011 in exchange for then-prospect Jakub Voracek and draft picks. On the surface, this made sense as a salary dump for Philadelphia. But there were some pretty substantial rumors that there was more to the story than that. There were rumors that (among other college Spring Break-esque hobbies) Carter was having an affair with assistant captain Scott Hartnell’s wife. Uh oh. I’m not a synergy expert, but that feels like it could be a bit of a distraction. After the rumors persisted for over a year without dying down, Carter was traded.
This very well could have all been coincidence and conspiracy, but, through back channels and seriously awkward post-game interviews, the rumors seem all but confirmed. And even if not, I still probably wouldn’t be too happy seeing him walk into the dressing room, and I definitely wouldn’t be in a hurry to invite him over for game night with the fam.
Most likely to win a junk food eating contest: Phil Kessel, Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins
Let’s face it, Phil Kessel just doesn’t look like he should be a pro athlete. The quirky, somewhat doughy, Penguins winger doesn’t exactly cut an imposing figure, and seeing him panting on the bench at the end of a shift feels like something out of a Calvin and Hobbs comic. But the real kicker is the grief he got from the Toronto media for his love of hot dogs.
There was supposedly a hot dog stand, outside of the Maple Leafs stadium on the corner of Front and John street, that Phil had a particular fondness for, and Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons crucified him for it. I mean brutally so.
Phil seems to have gotten the last laugh, however. After winning his second Stanley Cup in as many years since leaving the Maple Leafs, he posted a picture of himself on the golf course with Lord Stanley’s Cup filled to the brim with, you guessed it, hot dogs.
Phil the thrill may win Most Savage as well.
Most Interesting Man: Henrik Lunqvist, Goaltender, New York Rangers
You’ve seen the old Dos Equis commercials right?
I would venture to say the Rangers’ longtime backstop would give him a run for his money. Besides simply looking like a younger, sexier version of the Dos Equis famed spokesperson, Lunqvist’s lifetime accomplishments outside of the sport of hockey reads like one of the commercials’ scripts. Here are just a few:
- He was voted Sweden’s Best Dressed and one of People Magazine’s 100 most Beautiful people less than two years apart.
- He used to play lead guitar in a rock band called Box Play.
- He has received countless awards for his humanitarian work, including being a finalist for the first ever ESPN Humanitarian Athlete of the Year Award.
- He owns his own restaurant, called Tiny’s in Tribeca.
- A YouTube video of a drunk man impersonating him once gathered so much buzz that two different Swedish tabloids did stories on it.
- He speaks 5 languages.
- He collects European Sports cars.
- He has an identical twin.
Ok, one of the above I made up. However, the fact that you probably have no idea which one proves that Henrik Lundqvist deserves this superlative.