Halloween is just around the corner, and you have to think your favorite NHL players are getting ready to pick out their costumes for their teams’ parties. However, maybe some players don’t need to dress up. Maybe their everyday clothes are their actual costumes and their game helmets their metaphorical masks.
Maybe, just maybe, there really are monsters out there. The evidence is (almost) irrefutable. Consider the following:
Brent Burns – Werewolf
The beard of Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is the stuff of legends, maybe too much so. He also has a tendency to metamorphosize every full moon or so… or whenever the Sharks need him to play forward.
The only thing that seems to be keeping him from changing completely is the silver in the team logo. Here’s hoping he never gets traded again, or, rather, Sharks fans are hoping he never gets traded again. Minus Marc-Edouard Vlasic and an aging Paul Martin, that back end leaves a lot to be desired.
Other candidates: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell. He’s traditionally had the beard and the hair for it, the teeth that Burns is lacking too.
Raffi Torres – Zombie
If his inability to play with a brain weren’t enough, San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres’ tendency to hunt for ones on the ice certainly would be. Most recently the recipient of a record 41-game suspension for the below headshot on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg, Torres’ punishment has more to do with the repeated offenses in his career than the actual infraction in this specific case.
He will be forfeiting over $440,000 in salary for just this incident, though. It makes one think (not Torres; everyone else), maybe he can find work as an extra on The Walking Dead. He certainly won’t be skating for quite a while.
Marian Gaborik – Mummy
One of the few players who has missed more games than Torres, Los Angeles Kings forward Marian Gaborik is so consistently covered up in bandages, how could he be anything but a mummy?
Gaborik has played in the league since 2000-01, so 15 seasons up to now. Not including this current year or the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he has played in 832 games. That’s an average of 64 games per season, which isn’t very good… for your average human anyway.
He might very well be the health yardstick against which all other mummified pharaohs are measured, in which case if one ever attacks you’re in good shape. Just aim for the lower abdomen/groin. (Presumably) wearing a cup hasn’t done him much good over the years… at least the last 15 of the previous few millennia or so.
Other candidates: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul. He’s missed more games over the years than… well, his teammates who are actually “playing.” That’s saying something.
Jaromir Jagr – Ghost
A seemingly ageless wonder, Jaromir Jagr came back from NHL purgatory (aka the Kontinental Hockey League) to pick up almost right where he left off, posting 54 points in 73 games with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-12 on the verge of turning 40. Two years later, he scored 67 points for the New Jersey Devils.
Now a Florida Panther, Jagr seems intent on haunting the entire league team by team. If that weren’t enough to send chills down your spine, his mullet that took on a life of its own back in the 1990s is coming back from the dead too.
Other candidates: Up until last season, Alexei Yashin was still on the New York Islanders’ payroll. Yikes. Seeing as his spirit has finally been put to rest, how about goalie Rick DiPietro who will be paid by the same team up until 2028-29? Jaroslav Halak or not, the team is sill exorcising DiPietro’s demons and all the damage done during his years manning the crease.
Chris Chelios – Vampire
Sure, Chris Chelios is no longer an NHL player, but it may just be to keep up appearances. Admit it: There was a time up until the end of the last decade you figured he’d be around forever. Truth of the matter is he probably just went vegetarian.
Calling it “natural instinct,” Chelios admitted way after the fact to biting then-New York Rangers forward Tomas Sandstrom in a scrum. The question is, was it human instinct, or something much more predatory?
Other candidates: Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara does look almost stereotypically Transylvanian, doesn’t he? That massive wingspan of his likely does serve him well transforming between human and bat and back again… well, whatever he passes for when he’s not a bat, anyway. Most have long since agreed he’s more monster than man.
Brendan Shanahan – Frankenstein
That’s Doctor Frankenstein, to you. The actual monster is the mish-mash of an organization current Leafs President Brendan Shanahan is putting together as we speak.
The science experiment of shoddy patchwork comprises throwaways from other teams (Brad Boyes, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, etc.), parts on the shelf with almost no hope of returning to game action (Nathan Horton) and guys who actually look like Frankenstein’s monster (Dion Phaneuf).
There’s little to no guarantee this will all work out, but give Shanahan credit where it’s due. He seems genuinely devoted to seeing this thing through to the end. It just remains to be seen if that’s before or after the villagers get fed up and pick up their pitchforks and torches.
It should be noted, Frankenstein didn’t exactly outlive his creation in the book. And the monster? It didn’t exactly capture the Stanley Cup, either.
The monster did end up in the Arctic, where it could have theoretically gotten good at hockey, if it’s any consolation for Leafs fans. Of course, it also ended up cast adrift on an ice floe never to be seen again, if it’s any consolation for everyone else.
Other candidates: There honestly may not be quite anyone else putting its team together like Toronto right now. Unfortunately, the NHL does not award style points in the standings.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.