Ramblings: Answering very specific questions

Michael Clifford


With regards to hockey, there are many more questions than answers right now. Sports, as a general concept, need to take a backseat to everything else at the moment. What it does let us think about is questions relating to the game we love. Let's try to answer some of those burning questions.


Which NHL player would make the best rescue option if you were kidnapped by a demon from the netherworld?

As I sit here watching the original 'Ghostbusters', it seems to me we are woefully underprepared should the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ever return to wreak havoc on New York City. Suppose we are Sigourney Weaver's character, Dana Barrett, and we needed one NHL player to come free us. Who would we want to rely on?

One guy I wouldn't rely on is Brandon Pirri. That guy has 23 more career goals than assists. He's not coming to help.

We need someone who would have courage in the face of danger, yet not be so headstrong as to not think through the situation. We need someone who is smart, but not so bookish that they can't think outside the box. We also need someone who is not afraid to get their hands dirty or face slimed, all while not eschewing their humanity.

Which player has courage, what could loosely be termed as 'street smarts', and isn't afraid to mix it up when necessary? Give me Zdeno Chara.

Yeah, I know, picking the guy that is 6'10", 250 lbs and a powerlifter seems obvious. But as we've seen through his many, many visits to the children's hospital as well as worldwide aid, he has a caring side to him all while not being afraid to throw around some NHL delinquents. He speaks several languages fluently, so he's obviously a smart guy, but his travels around the globe has provided him wisdom from many, many cultures.

Not only is he a big strong guy, but smart, courageous, and likely very resourceful as well. If you ever hear a friend say, "Only Zuul," call Big Z.


Which hockey player would be the best pro wrestler?

The world of professional wrestling, historically speaking, is a world of showmanship. It's about being so over-the-top that people cannot look away, yet at times being subtle enough to support drama-filled storylines with body language and in-ring moves. It's about being able to connect with the audience in a very real way while also suspending their belief for even a micro-second. It's about getting people on their feet, whether to cheer or to boo.

So, I've wondered: with Rob Gronkowski making the move to WWE, which NHLer would make the best pro wrestler?

The first name off the top of my head was Brad Marchand. The under-sized heel (bad guy) who antagonizes everybody is a common and successful trope in the pro wrestling world. He certainly checks all the boxes of many NHL fans, namely, "which guy would you like to see choke-slammed through the Spanish announce table?"

A darkhorse contender would be Tomas Hertl. That guy just brings so much joy to his fans, and hockey fans in general, while seemingly keeping a smile on his face at all times. That kind of face (good guy) presence isn't easy to pull off. If it's not natural, the fans will see through the façade and won't connect with him. Hertl seems like someone who genuinely enjoys life and putting smiles on the faces of kids. That plays very well in pro wrestling.

Personally, I'll go with another San Jose Shark in Joe Thornton. I know, I know, it might seem a little far-fetched, but I see him as a locker room leader, a person that the guys and girls in the back can look up to. Beyond that, he has the charisma to come up with one-liners off the top of his head, and being able to think on your feet with a microphone in your hand is where a lot of pro wrestlers sink or swim. Also, did you see him in the Body Issue? Dude is built to be a submission specialist.


Which hockey player would you want in your crew if you were taking part in a heist?

I've watched enough heist movies to know this much: you need people who can keep calm under pressure. You don't want guys on your crew panicking at the smallest movement or mistake, else everything will just fall apart. Also, needing guys who can stick with the plan is vital. Being a bit too slow at a certain task could lead to the whole crew being rounded up by the cops. The person also needs to be, let's say, morally compromised enough that they have no qualms with committing crimes in the first place.

So, who is calm under pressure, can stick to a game plan, and operates in the gray area of hockey? I can think of no better guy to have on my heist crew than Matthew Tkachuk.

Think about it. We all saw his between-the-legs goal early in the season, right? Guys who are prone to panicking can't pull that off in the blink of an eye. He is also a full-ice, 200-foot player by every imaginable measurement. He is a guy who can be depended upon whether the team needs a goal with a minute left or needs to prevent a goal with a minute left. He is also certainly not shy about mixing it up and goading other people into making mistakes. Tkachuk also knows when to walk away at the right time. He fills our quota on everything we need in a heist partner. Were I looking to steal gold bars from Fort Knox, Matty Tkachuk would be my guy.


If you needed one NHL player to be your wingman at a bar, who would it be?

Every guy and gal needs a good buddy at the bar with them once in a while. Someone to talk you up while also avoiding pitfalls. But a balance needs to be drawn: we need someone who is good at pumping your tires, but not doing so in such a charming way that they overshadow your natural charisma. It's a very fine line.

We need someone people like but don't love (generally speaking), someone who is a helper but doesn't want the spotlight, and someone who can think on their feet. I can think of none better than Nicklas Backstrom.

Look, Caps fans. I know you love the guy, and with good reason. He's a great leader and playmaker, and is a Cup champion. But I like to think I have a good pulse on the hockey world, and I think Backstrom fits in the "I respect that guy a lot" category more than the "I need to watch this guy when he plays" category. That's exactly what we need in a good wingman.

Also, how many better helpers have there been over the last decade or so than Backstrom? In fact, very few; he leads the league in assists since he entered the league in 2007. He clearly has no qualms about providing aid to a friend in need.

There are other guys who fit the bill but I can think of very few better qualified for this specific position than Nicky Backstrom.


If you were stuck with a line of three players in the woods and needed to survive off the land for weeks or months, which line would it be?

This isn't a question that's easy to answer on its face, I don't think. We don't necessarily need guys who put up a lot of points. When you're stuck in the woods with a lighter, a pocket knife, and your wits. You don't need guys who can pull of a bar-down off-wing wrist shot. You need guys who work well together, aren't afraid to work their hands to the bone, and who have a variety of skills. We can't have all three players being helpers, now can we?

Which line has three guys of varying skill sets, helpful skill sets, and have good chemistry? Give me the Svechnikov-Staal-Williams line from Carolina.

I know it's not an official line as Andrei Svechnikov has (had?) often been playing on the top line, but it was a familiar trio in the 2018-19 season, so I'm counting it. Who's going to stop me, anyway?

We have the youthful enthusiasm of Svechnikov, and that's going to be critical. Guess who's getting sent out every morning to chop down wood or hunt for breakfast? Sharpen your axe, Svech. He's also creative enough to recognize other ways out of a jam that may not be apparent to others. We have the steady, overall value from Staal. He might not have the raw upside, but he knows everything that needs to be done, from building shelter, to gather wood/food, to keeping a fire, as well as low-range scouting. When we get to Williams, man, that guy's been through it. He has seen everything. There is nothing that can take him by surprise at this point, and that calming influence would be necessary for me as I scream "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE" every 30 minutes.

Maybe people will quibble about this choice of line, but I truly believe each player brings a unique aspect to the group, enabling us to survive this ordeal in these unnamed woods.


What are some of your choices for these questions? Hit up the Facebook comments.


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