The following post ran in last night’s “The Committed Indian”. If you haven’t picked one up yet before a game, you don’t know what you’re missing. Last night, the ‘What your Hawks Jersey Says About You…’ was a knee slappers delight. The next time I see someone strolling around in an Al Secord jersey, I’m running for cover.
Welcome one and all to the first ever Fifth Feather Hockey Oscars where we take a look at all that is beautiful and not so beautiful from this year’s NHL campaign. We hope the paparazzi were kind to you on the red carpet, and if you would kindly and quietly take your seats, we will begin this year’s award ceremony. Unfortunately, our hosts D.B. Sweeney and Matthew Perry couldn’t make it tonight, so we will be your guides through each category.
Best Supporting Actress – Alexander Semin: Following early season anti-Sidney Crosby comments, Washington Capitals’ winger Alexander Semin turned in one of the Academy’s all-time great performances on January 3, 2009 with Mark Staal of the New York Rangers. As members of the Rangers and Capitals gathered in front of the Ranger net following a whistle, players from each team began pairing off. Semin and Staal began wrestling, and Staal promptly and easily removed all of Semin’s upper body wardrobe before the two combatants fell to the ice together. What happened next is Academy history: Semin jumped on top of Staal, startling the Ranger with a barrage of – what could most kindly be described as – womanly, open-handed strikes, apparently designed to fend off another woman or small child. Perhaps Semin thought the youngest Staal brother in the NHL was a bongo. Staal left the fracas unscathed; unfortunately, we can’t say the same about Semin’s reputation.
Best Original Song – “Here Come the Hawks”: Maybe we’re a little biased in this, but nothing revs our engine quite like hearing this catchy little number. Sure it’s hokey and cheesy, but that’s what we love it about it. What all of us can do without is the little karaoke number on the scoreboard that’s played in between periods. The last thing anyone needs to see is Brent Sopel trying to carry a tune or James Wisniewski looking at a sheet of paper like he’s never seen written words before.
Best Animated Feature – Sean Avery: When Brett Hull and the Dallas Stars decided it was a good idea to sign Sean Avery to a three year, $12 million deal, they probably didn’t take into account what kind of effect he would have a low-key veteran locker room. The result was Mike Modano looking like the guy in “The Rock” after Nick Cage just punched a chemical ball in his mouth. Avery and Dallas were just not a good mix. It reached a boiling point when Avery let loose with his now infamous ‘Sloppy Seconds’ tirade, which can only mean bad things if you’re trying to win a Stanley Cup, but great things if you have a hockey blog.
Best Costume Design – Retro-Inspired NHL Third Jerseys: The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks spared us from more ugly vertical striping associated with the new Reebok Edge jerseys, and added retro-inspired, traditional third jerseys during 2008, proving once again, there’s just no substitute for horizontal striping on hockey sweaters. Listen, we’re not exactly traditionalists, but the words “gold armpit piping” and “jersey” should never be spoken in conjunction with the NHL – but perhaps neither should “hockey in Nashville.”
Honorable Mention: Alexander Ovechkin stole the Breakaway Challenge during All Star Weekend by donning a hat and women’s sunglasses during a shot. We’re not sure why this won him the vote, but maybe the ‘Hawks should wear shades come playoff time.
Worst Film Editing – Comcast Sports Net Chicago: Comcast’s insistence on goaltender close-ups following a save even when a dust-up ensues nearby is maddening – and, today, award winning.
Best Actor – Gary Bettman: It was manifest destiny for the National Hockey League, he told us. And, why wouldn’t it be? With Wayne Gretzky’s trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988, the league was set to spread its proverbial wings. But, moves to Phoenix and Carolina along with expansion to hockey hotbeds Atlanta, Nashville, Sunrise and Tampa Bay haven’t turned out quite as well as expected. As of press time, seven of the eleven teams with the poorest average attendance called non-traditional, warm weather locals home. Would the NHL dare return to Winnipeg with its tail between its legs?
Best Actress – Sidney Crosby: On most nights, the Next One looks more like one of “Charlie’s Angels,” constantly yapping to the refs about who is treating him unpleasantly. If the opposition breathes on him a little too closely, he’ll go off like a tripped alarm. It’s no coincidence that a recent poll among NHL players conducted by ESPN.com found Crosby to be far and away the biggest complainer, collecting a whopping 52% of the vote.
Best Foreign Film – Alexander Ovechkin: Nothing says, “I love hockey” quite like a big-headed, gap-toothed, grinning Russian who will bowl over anything in his way to score a goal. How great is he? His ridiculous goal last week against Montreal – when he passed the puck to himself off the boards, made a spin move, beat the Canadiens’ defenseman around the corner, got dragged down, and then scored from the seat of his pants – is being argued by some as not even in the top-five of his greatest goals. What else can you say about a guy leading the league in shots by a margin from here to eternity? Though his style of play may not be conducive to a prolonged NHL career, enjoy him while you can, because he is truly a beautiful hockey mind.
Best Director – Rocky Wirtz: So much has changed in sixteen months since Rocky Wirtz took the reigns of what was formerly an honorable NHL franchise: perhaps coincidentally, the Blackhawks have at least two bona fide superstars; home games are now on television – not to mention, routinely sold out; the ‘Hawks are among the top point getters in the Western Conference; Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito once again proudly wear the ‘Hawk head; and, with the help of the NHL salary cap, the ‘Hawks are no longer considerably outspent by division and conference rivals. Most importantly, though, the NHL is back in Chicago. Just two seasons ago, the immortal Jeff Hamilton was third in team scoring with 39 points on the year. Today, there are nine ‘Hawks with at least 32 points, and the ‘Hawks are on a collision course with home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Bravo, Mr. Wirtz. Bravo.
Best Picture – The 2009 Winter Classic: It’s been nearly eight weeks since Wrigley Field was transformed into an ice rink, but the memories will last forever. Like Mickey Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler or the ending of Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, the Blackhawks/Red Wings New Year’s Day clash more than filled its goose bump quota. From the National Anthem and fly over to the spectacle of “Vancouver vs. Nashville” on the historic Wrigley Field scoreboard, the day thrust the young ‘Hawks into the spotlight and made Chicago hockey fans feel involved in the NHL again.
Thank you all so very much for coming. (Academy music begins playing in the background.) We’d like to thank the Committed Indian for having us and our parents for instilling in us strong hockey values. If there’s anyone we forgot to mention, we’re sorry; we’ll get you next year.