DGB Grab Bag: Breaking down another wild NBC portrait, hashtags thoughts and Dave Tippett’s tool problems
By Sean McIndoe
Oct 4, 2019
Uploaded by: Martin Arnold
From the headlines
The season started this week and there were some games played and that was all great, but NBC Sports did another one of their completely insane NHL portraits so we’re going to talk about that.
These things pop up once or twice a year; you may remember the fun we had with the mountain-climbing motif in last spring’s playoff edition. For the regular season, they went with a back-to-school theme, and boy was it ever something …
Once again, it looks like a nicely drawn but otherwise pretty basic marketing tool until you start to notice the little touches. And as always, the fact that it’s posted on Twitter in a format that’s too small to really make out any key details, somehow makes it even better.
Sadly, there’s nothing in this classroom that’s as legitimately laugh-out-loud funny as having John Tavares climbing a mountain while wearing a bed sheet for a cap. But that’s understandable because the bed sheet will probably never be topped. Let’s not set the bar too high here.
So what have we got? To start with, Ryan O’Reilly isn’t wearing skates, but he does have on shoes that look like skates. That’s an artistic choice and I can go with it. Some of the players are pretty boring – I can understand Elias Pettersson and Roman Josi not giving you all that much to work with, but you’d think they could have come up with some sort of sight gag for Money Mitch Marner. Other parts are just weird, like the octopus or Kaapo Kakko’s NY shirt.
But a whole lot of it works. Here’s my list of the five best details I could find.
5. Claude Giroux is clearly asleep, which might be a reference to him having a newborn at home but I’m going to assume it is actually a commentary on the Flyers’ playoff chances.
4. Brad Marchand being the class prick.
3. Drew Doughty running his hand through his full head of hockey hair while sitting next to Ryan Getzlaf, which is absolutely something Doughty would do.
2. Phil Kessel having a dancing hot dog.
1. Connor McDavid, because: a.) apparently his broken shoulder from a few years ago never healed properly; b.) the perfect rendition of the ever-present Connor McDavid “I hate it here” face; and c.) even in a fictional drawing of all the biggest stars in the world, he still can’t get an actual hockey player on either side of him. That’s attention to realism, folks.
Honorable mention to P.K. Subban face-timing with Lindsey Vonn, Marc-Andre Fleury’s flowers, Johnny Gaudreau’s candy, Jack Eichel eating a steaming hot chicken wing which I initially thought was something else and the Gritty lunch box.
As for Blake Wheeler passing a secret note to Sebastian Aho, I am 100 percent convinced that was a Montreal Canadiens player in the first draft and somebody made them change it. You will not be able to convince me otherwise.
Still, great work by the artist. Now go figure out which one you are.
The second star: Taylor Hall proves dreams to come true – Solid callback here by the Devils to one of the best hockey tweets ever. And congrats to Taylor on the new license. I wonder if he signed it already or if Darren Ferris is making him wait until July 1.
The first star: Whatever this is – I’ve watched this dozens of times and it gets funnier with each one. Don’t even worry about the context. It doesn’t need any. It’s perfect just the way it is.
Be It Resolved
Earlier this week, the NHL unveiled this year’s list of official hashtags for every team. And right away, people made fun of them. Most of the mockery seemed to be aimed at the New York Rangers, whose #PlayLikeANewYorker is vague, awkward and way too long.
I could join in and make fun of the Rangers, and a few of the other unwieldy ones like #ALLCAPS and #FlyrOrDie, but I’m not. I could also go the contrarian route and applaud the more creative entries while yawning at the more basic versions – ooh, #Flames, nice work. How many of you had to work on that one? But I don’t want to do that either.
No, I’m going to make a completely different suggestion and I want you to hear me out.
How about … we just don’t use these stupid things at all?
Seriously, why are we doing this? Hashtags? Is it 2009? Do I have to list a few teams on Follow Friday too? This is dumb. There’s no benefit to any of it, and no, making a little five-pixel-wide logo show up doesn’t count. I’m sure it helps some social media team somewhere track engagement or whatever, but that’s not my problem. So knock it off.
OK, that was a little harsh. I’ve got a longstanding rule of letting hockey fans do pretty much whatever they want as long as they’re not bothering anyone else. Wear whatever weird jersey you want. Cheer for whichever random role player you like. If you’re at the game, as long as you’re not banging the glass or standing up and waving at the camera, go nuts. Do you, hockey fans.
But good lord, can we at least get the media to stop using this stuff? You look ridiculous. You’re trying to break news that might be important, but you’re using cutesy hashtags to do it. “After another tough loss, we’re told there’s a players-only meeting happening right now in the #LetsGoOilers dressing room.” What? Why? Just because some marketing consultants came up with a whimsical branding exercise doesn’t mean any of us are obligated to participate. Just type the team’s name.
So be it resolved: No more NHL team hashtags for media. And if you’re a fan who’s not completely sure why you’re supposed to be using them, don’t.
Obscure former player of the weekOne of my favorite parts of early-season Grab Bags is we can comb through the archives of players who got off to ridiculously good starts in a given season. This always comes in handy when somebody puts up crazy numbers for a few games and we all try to figure out what it means.
For example, did you know that in the last 40 years, there are just 27 times that a player started the year by recording 15 or more assists in their team’s first ten games? The list includes several names you’d expect; Wayne Gretzky did it six times, while Mario Lemieux had four. We also get appearances by other star forwards, like Adam Oates, Peter Forsberg, Jaromir Jagr and Pat LaFontaine. But only three defensemen show up on the list. One is Paul Coffey and another is Ray Bourque. And then there’s the third blueliner, who’ll be this week’s obscure player: Greg Hotham.
Hotham was a smallish defenseman who was selected by the Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the 1976 Draft, one pick before a fellow blueliner who the Kings found simply irresistible. Hotham spent two years in the IHL and one more in the AHL before debuting with the Maple Leafs during the 1979-80 season, playing 46 games and recording 13 points. He only appeared in 11 NHL games the following year, spending most of it the minors and was traded to the Penguins for a sixth-round pick midway through the 1981-82 campaign.
Like every other player during the Harold Ballard era, being traded away from the Maple Leafs caused Hotham to level up into a much better player, although in his case it took a few months; he finished the season by playing 25 games in Pittsburgh and had 10 points. But by the time the 1982-83 season arrived, Hotham had temporarily morphed into Bobby Orr. He opened the season with two assists against the Devils, added one against the Rangers and then two more against Bruins. In all, he was only held pointless in one of the Penguins’ first nine games and went into the tenth with a goal and 11 helpers. That tenth game was at home against the Capitals and was the best of Hotham’s career; he had four assists in a 7-5 win. (Pat Boutette had a hat trick that night and was off to a great start of his own, with 11 goals through 10 games.)
That was pretty much it for Hotham’s playmaking golden touch, both for the season and beyond. He had just two multi-assist games the rest of the season, finishing up with two goals and 30 assists on the year. He’d play one more full NHL season in the Pens’ big tank year of 1983-84 and 11 more in 1984-85 and that was it for his big league career. He’d spend five more years in the minors before retiring in 1990, having played 230 NHL games and recording 15 goals, 74 assists and 89 points. He was inducted into the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, which you can watch here. And he can always say he shares a record with Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque.
Classic YouTube clip breakdown
It’s been a big week for Dave Tippett and Mike Liut. Tippett made his debut behind the Oilers bench in Wednesday night’s win over the Canucks, while Liut put the finishing touches on a pair of big deals as the agent for Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen.
Did that intro seem like a convoluted way to mention two seemingly unrelated names? It sure did. Does that mean this week’s video features both of those guys performing in an awkward comedy sketch from the mid-80s? Loyal readers, you know me too well.