|LaCroix: Big comedy fan.|
Every National Hockey League club puts out an annual media guide. These guides, or yearbooks as they are sometimes dubbed, can provide a tremendous amount of useless information—making one wonder how many trees could have been saved were it not for their publication.
Sure some individual and team records are worth noting. But many others are not. How many lives will be enhanced by discovering the following gem on page 147 of the Edmonton Oilers current guide?
The record for most penalties, involving two teams (one of them of, course, being Edmonton), in one period occurred on January 19, 1980 in Pittsburgh. In the second period of that slugfest, the Oilers and Penguins combined for 42 penalties: Edmonton had five minors, eight majors and six game misconducts while Pittsburgh picked up nine minors, seven majors and seven game misconducts.
Memorize those facts and no doubt you’ll be the life of your next party.
Seriously, however, most NHL guides can also provide plenty of insights on players. Besides the usual biographical data on their careers, including their pre-NHL days, some players also list some of their favorite things under sections usually labeled “Personal.”
For example, even though he was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Boston Bruins in mid-January, right winger Rick Tocchet is undoubtedly still catching as many episodes as possible of ER, his favorite TV show.
“I like drama shows,” Tocchet says. “It seems there’s a lot of good shows lately. I also like Seinfeld. But I think ER comes the closest to real life drama. I like stuff like that. I like hospital shows, and they’ve got good stories.”
Perhaps a desire to keep the noise level down so he can catch all the good lines, Tocchet said he hasn’t invited any of his teammates over for his ER viewings.
“I’ve got a girlfriend, she’s into it too so we usually watch it together,” he reports. “There might have been a couple episodes where I have a tear, but I try to hide it from her. I don’t want to get too emotional.”
And Tocchet doesn’t get too emotional if he has to miss his favorite show because of his hockey commitments. “I’m not that much of a buff,” Tocchet says when asked if he tapes the shows he can’t watch during their regularly-scheduled hour. “When I watched Melrose Place I used to do that. But I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Tocchet adds that he doubts he’ll pursue an acting career after his NHL days are over. “I just like sitting in the audience with my popcorn.”
As for Kings left winger Eric Lacroix, he reveals he’s a big fan of comedy actors Jim Carrey and Chris Farley. Like countless others, Lacroix used to stay up late on weekends to watch the rotund Farley during his Saturday Night Live performances.
“You just look at him and you start laughing,” Lacroix says. “It’s the same thing with Jim Carrey. When you just look at them, you put a grin on your face.”
Though Carrey has been spotted at Kings games, Lacroix has never spoken to him. And he hasn’t met Farley either, though Lacroix has heard through the grapevine that he too is a hockey fan.
“Maybe one day I’ll be hurt and they’ll be in the stands,” offers Lacroix. “I’d go up and introduce myself. It would be a great, great honor.”
Unlike Tocchet who ruled out the possibility of appearing in movies some day, Lacroix doesn’t totally dismiss the suggestion. “I don’t think I’d be a great actor,” he admits. “But you never know (what could happen) in 10 years. You never say never.”
Some gotta rock
As for Lacroix’s Czech Republic teammate Robert Lang, he falls into the category of spare-time headbanger. He reports that he enjoys listening to heavy metal music, including the likes of Metallica and AC/DC.
“It’s not just them,” Lang says of the death-rock combos. “I like a lot of different groups, too, like Smashing Pumpkins and Counting Crows.”
Lang, however, isn’t a frequent concert-goer. In fact, he’s only seen a pair of diverse acts—Elton John and Guns N’ Roses—live in his homeland.
But one of Lang’s countrymen, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Roman Hamrlik, does get to his share of live shows. Hamrlik’s bio states he’s met members of Van Halen, Queensryche and Jackyl during their tours of Florida. And meeting the boys of Metallica is one of Hamrlik’s future goals.
Lang also likes to hear loud music reverberating through the sound systems at NHL rinks.
“You focus on the game, of course,” he says. “But it’s not as if you’re thinking game, game, game. You watch and listen to what’s going on around you—not the people in the stands, but the music in an arena is a factor. I like arenas where it is loud. It pumps you and cheers you up.”
On a calmer note, flipping through Vancouver’s media guide one can dig up the fact Canucks winger Tim Hunter has been a guest conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Hunter explains that his performance was part of a charity event, which aided a hospice for terminally-ill children.
Hunter led the orchestra for one ditty during an outdoor performance at a Vancouver shopping mall last summer.
“The conductor showed me a few little things,” Hunter recalled. “He said just get up there and wave the wand around. He said (of the musicians), ‘They know what they’re doing. It really won’t matter what you do, but have fun with it.’ And I did. I had the wand behind my back and I was twirling it around. He said you can be like Bugs Bunny (in his classic conducting scene) when he got up and did his stuff.”
With a bit more planning, Hunter’s conducting could have been even more memorable.
“They were thinking of having a hockey stick instead of a wand but they couldn’t come up with a stick in such short notice,” Hunter added.
Though Hunter admitted his musical knowledge is limited, he enjoyed leading some of Vancouver’s finest musicians.
“I like doing different things,” he says. “I’ve always been involved in the community doing different things both during the summers and during the seasons. That was one of the funnest shticks I’ve done.”
Though chances are Hunter won’t be a conductor after he hangs up his skates, teammate Cliff Ronning knows what he wants to do. Ronning is anxious to join some of the other ex-jocks in the broadcast booth, preferably as a color commentator.
“I wouldn’t want to do play-by-play,” he says. “The names are too tough now with all these Russians around.”
But Ronning is confident he can contribute to pro broadcasts. “I enjoy the game of hockey and I feel I know quite a bit about the game,” says the diminutive center. “I think a color man can add a little bit of spark to the game.”
But Ronning says he wouldn’t be keen on criticizing a player’s on-ice efforts.
“I would always try to find the good things to say and not the bad things,” he says. “That’s up to someone else to say the bad things. The game happens so fast and there could be a lot of different things going on in someone’s life at the time. I don’t think they need anyone to be negative about them. Not everybody can put the puck in every time. And everybody makes mistakes out there. Sometimes it’s a good offensive play that (causes) a mistake, so I would credit the guy that makes that good offensive play instead of the guy who maybe fell down.”
A penny jar?
While several NHLers list they are avid collectors of sports cards and memorabilia, Vancouver’s left winger Martin Gelinas prefers to collect coins.
“It’s just something I started reading a little bit about four of five years ago,” he says. “I told my wife it might be something I’d be interested in, too. I started slowly and I’m enjoy it.”
Gelinas’ collection primarily consists of <