Like NASCAR and your local bowling league, the NHL has an award gala at the end of the season. Gone are the scruffy beards and gap-toothed scowls. In go the dental bridges and out come the clippers. The league heads to Sin City, USA and they are dressed to the nines. Some would say it is an antiquated notion, something for people with small egos. Others would say that the money spent on presenting the thing could be spent better on something else. Perhaps one of the three recipients of service awards could dole it out. Out to the desert they go and celebrate the season that was.
The Beautiful People
Celebrities were everywhere. There was the fat guy from Modern Family. The fat guy that makes bad movies. There were even fat guys you couldn’t recognize. Oh, but then there was Tom Hanks… son. Some woman who dances on a different network showed up to have an awkward moment with a player. Ray Liotta came by to scare everyone with his most recent plastic surgery. The main attraction, the most famous hockey fan they could muster, was Vince Vaughn. Woopty frickin’ doo. He couldn’t have been more stilted and unfunny. I learned that Will Arnett is chiseled under his shirt. Somewhat disconcerting knowledge.
Listen to the Music
If the glitz and glamor of Hollywood isn’t your thing, they had music. An obscure Metallica cover band from Alberta was on hand to entertain during lulls. They really had the look and sound down, wearing the same simple black outfits and playing the same style instruments. I don’t get the name: Nickelback. I don’t see the reference in any Metallica’s songs. All in all, I’d have preferred Rush. Perhaps a set of Spirit of the Radio and Tom Sawyer would have been better.
There are Winners and There are Losers
Since you’re reading this you already know who won and lost. I’ll not rehash that. I don’t have any issues with who received what. Everyone got something shiny to take home. Things seemed very equitable and polite. It was interesting to find out the depths of Geno and Gonchar’s bromance. I’ll also point out that Mark Messier shouldn’t have his name on an award having to do with leadership. Please review the following exhibits of him targeting opponents heads:
I rest my case.I’m not saying he isn’t a Hall of Fame player. I’m saying he took dangerous shots and played disrespectfully during his career and that is not a leader.
What’s It All About?
Is the ceremony for the attendees? Is it for the fans? It certainly is an odd televised event. There aren’t enough viewers to justify spending more on entertainment. And I get that Canadians might enjoy seeing Nickelback. But if you are American and you really like Nickelback you need to be shaken until your teeth rattle. That’s like saying your favorite food of all time is margarine on plain white sliced bread.
I think televising the awards would only make sense if every player was North American. Then it would have a sense of continuity and tradition. It would be a truly Canadian event and something those of us Americans inclined to partake could watch. All of the winners would have accents we knew and understood. But when a Russian like Geno wins three of the most important awards and stumbles through short, harshly Slavic-tinged speeches, it doesn’t work. It is not homogenous. Just like the league, it has no real identity.
Joe Wilson is a published writer and an avid Capitals fan. He has been following the team since 1993. When not writing and working he is studying to complete his history degree.