SILVER FOX: DATE WITH AN OLDSTER
"(H)O CANADA" DAY EDITION
Okay so by the time you read this - IF you read this, that is - it won't be Canada Day anymore but I mean it's not like you would have read it on July 1 anyway because of fricking Free Agent Frenzy with all its Richards sweepstakes and Jagr cockteasing and Dale Tallon temporarily overdosing on Cymbalta and yadda yadda yadda. Plus Noodles was initially much too spent after all this excitement (not) to contend with a hot Ho Canada oldster mess. It's late but it's heartfelt. What can I say? Canada Day comes but once a year - July 1. Let us not forget what it all means. Especially to hockey players. Let us now stand in observance of Canada's national anthem as butchered by Vegas lounge singer Dennis KC Parks:
Kenneth Wayne ("Ken") Dryden
PREGAME CONFESSION/FULL DISCLOSURE
Okay people. I am neither going to mince words here, nor am I going to play games. This entire exercise is a shameless, poorly disguised excuse to celebrate Canadian hockey players. Who grew up in Canada. Eating pancakes with humungous gobs of maple syrup. And pork. And Heinz baked beans. Watching HNIC, Front Page Challenge, Friendly Giant, W5 and the Beachcombers. Paying homage to beavers and the Trans-Canada Highway. Drinking Molson's and Labatt's. Smoking Players and Exports. Explaining to non-Canadians what "icing" is (not the kind you put on cake), how to eat a poutine and how to spell words like "Inuit" and "tundra."
The only thing cooler than a Canadian hockey player is a Canadian hockey player who's a straight-up egghead geek. Yes, a Canadian hockey player who runs for a seat in and ultimately gets himself elected to Canadian Parliament. What could be more Canadian and sexier than that? Could anybody be considered more absurdly Canadian than Ken Dryden? He's so Canadian, it's absurd. No - ridiculous. No - delicious...
Officially: Best-selling author/essayist. Lecturer. Attorney. Entrepreneur. Politician. Occasional hockey color commentator. Sexy beast.
Unofficially: Unemployed. With a Trump-worthy combover. He lost his York Centre parliament seat in the federal election this year so of late he's been keeping busy writing about hot topic issues of the day - such as headshots - and being a doting Grandpa to his four grandkids. Sometimes Canadians get so carried away collecting autographed/perspiration-soaked Dryden memorabilia for their beaver caves that they forget to vote in elections to ensure the guy remains in public office. Way to be hosers, Bob & Doug.
Officially: Legendary goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. Inducted into the HHOF. Won the Vezina five times. Won the Conn Smythe prior to winning the Calder, a feat which has yet to be replicated. Has six Stanley Cup rings. His statue is widely seen at shopping malls in Montreal. Srsly people.
Unofficially: The original hipster goalie. Didn't need but fashioned a 1970's-style combover when he was in his twenties. A ferociously independent thinker who walked away from the game in his prime because he had the courage to admit that he quite simply did not want to play anymore.
WHY HE'S AMAZING
Dryden is arguably the most influential, iconic and widely-copied goalie of the past 25 years. He made being tall between the pipes cool. He made it okay to be a brainy weirdo in a milieu predominantly comprised of meathead jocks. He devised his own quirky way of making his gangly frame work to his advantage. He made combovers cool. He continues to have a ripple effect on hockey in his capacity as a celebrated author ("The Game" is considered necessary reading in the hockey world), essayist (he most recently wrote an acclaimed piece for the Globe & Mail on headshots), lobbyist and legislator. Ken commands respect and inspires people to be thoughtful about the game that used to dominate his life.
WHY HE'S (STILL) SEXY AS HELL
Because brainy weirdo athletes with crazy combover sex hair never go out of style, dumbass. Right, Ryan Miller?
WHAT YOU WOULD DO ON A DATE
It's Canada Day! Yay! Why don't you just kick back with a wiener and a beer and let Ken entertain you by answering some cerebral, provocative questions posed by none other than the 2010 Olympic champion Canadian Men's Hockey Team? This is another one of those "watch but don't play" type of dates. Don't be bummed. This'll be fun. You'll be thanking your lucky stars for this scenario soon enough...
Coach Mike Babcock: "Okay boys. Gather 'round here.
C'mon. Here's the way it's gonna be, eh. You each get ONE SPECIAL QUESTION to ask Ken about anything you want. But that's it: Just ONE question. No more and no less. Think of it like Gilbert Gottfried and his "genie" jokes; it's as if Ken is your own personal genie except you get question instead of three wishes. Ken is very excited for this Q&A and can hardly wait to get started. Just don't fuck it up or break the rules, okay? We gotta keep things moving and not get all indulgent..." You have your lingering doubts about all this, however. And it's not just 'cause you're jealous.
Ken is escorted to a stall in an executive locker room. He is presented with a towel, a bottle of Aquafina and a pack of Juicy Fruit. The guys crowd around and in front of him. (insert photo entitled "Me Me Me" here) They bicker and elbow each other for prime spots, gazing at him openmouthed like pre-schoolers. Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby hog primo spots right at Ken's feet, in front of the others.
(Chris Pronger is standing at the back of the room, chomping a toothpick: "Teacher's pets!") Coach Babcock decides that it's only right for goalies to ask first, then defensemen, then forwards. On with the show...
Here's what Canada Day fireworks look like in Quebec, btw. Team Canada's goaltenders are all from Quebec.
Roberto Luongo: "Hey Ken - how ya doin? I ahh... An-ahhh. An-ahhh. I was wondering -- an-ahhh -- an-ahhh -- "
(Joe Thornton cracks up laughing and starts mocking Luongo's "an-ahhhs" to everybody's delight. "Hey Bobby - need help from Slappy?" Deafening cackling around the room. Ken is horrified.)
Ken Dryden: "Now boys... Let's try to stay on point here, okay? No need to get chippy in the locker room. Go ahead, Roberto."
RL: "Thanks, Ken. Ahhh -- I wanted to know how you, y'know. Stopped the puck from going in the net?" (Everybody dies laughing. Eric Staal swallows his gum and then expertly horks it back up.)
KD: "Please, boys. Roberto, I'm not sure I understand your question but I think you're trying to get at how I aggressively stretched my body beyond my immediate crease. Right? (RL nods.) Well, I concentrated on maintaining and improving my flexibility during workouts and from a psychological standpoint I refused to allow shooters to control my game. I also tried really hard not to binge-eat leftover brownies at 3:00AM." (Everybody claps and says, "Good answer!" like on Family Feud.)
Marc-Andre Fleury: "Salut, Ken! Je t'adore! I wanna know how you dealt with the massive Hall of Fame-sized egos on Les Habitants back in the day. Lafleur, Robinson, Lemaire, Cournoyer, Savard, Gainey, et al. How did you handle all that ego, mon ami?" (He flashes a goofy smile at Sid, who is glaring back at him.)
KD: "Marc, you cheeky bastard. You make me laugh. Thank you for your question. I built my own little Planet Ken and zoned out there most of the time. There was enough pressure trying to win in the playoffs without having to worry about whether or not Flower was in one of his 'moods...' You're absolutely nothing like him, by the way!"
Martin Brodeur: "Salut, Ken. I don't have any questions for you but here's a half-off coupon at my pizza bistro pub for next time you are in Montreal. It's not good on weekends, holidays or for happy hour and the sum of your meal cannot exceed $11.99 but we can still hang out and drink Arnold Palmers, eh?"
KD: (taken aback) "Marty, you are such a generous man. Thank you so much! See you at lunch on a Monday!" (Dan Boyle can't contain his disgust any longer, clarifying that Marty's 'craptacular eatery is closed on Mondays, but whatever...' Much snickering and whispering ensues.)
Here's what Canada Day fireworks look like in Kelowna, btw. Four of Team Canada's seven defencemen are major badasses from British Columbia.
The other three are fat, old and cranky - or a combination thereof - from Ontario. Canada Day fireworks from Ontario:
Duncan Keith: "Hi, Ken. I'm just curious if when you got engaged to your lovely wife Lynda, it seemed like you kinda lost your mojo?" (Patrick Sharp isn't in attendance, but for some reason everybody's looking around for him because it's as if he just said something snarky. Furiously rubbing Duncan's back is his faithful linemate and BFF, Brent Seabrook.)
KD: "Thanks, Duncan. As you all know, balancing life on and off the ice is one the biggest challenges you'll ever face. I find it's always been helpful to learn as much as you can on your off-days about intricate topics such as threadcount, hairspray and newfangled margarines. It's not always going to be fun, but guaranteed you'll be thanking me later when she claims you forced her to sign the prenup under duress. Here's my card, buddy."
(Everybody claps and says, "Good answer!" like on Family Feud.)
Brent Seabrook: "Wassup, Kenny? So if you had to choose, which one would you pick: The Rock or Vin Diesel?"
KD: "I'm not sure I understand your question, Brent. But if I was on a desert island, I would want to share a cantaloupe daiquiri with The Rock." (Seabs gives him the thumbs-up.)
Shea Weber: "Ken, did your agent ever have problems with stuff like spelling, grammar, punctuation and reading comprehension? Specifically, did your agent ever write out your contract math calculations on a napkin from Jimmy Ho's Takeout Express or Senor Froggy's?"
KD: "Shea, I am your biggest fan my furry friend! (Pronger belches from the back.) I was fortunate to have only the best representation throughout my career. It is truly ironic that you asked me this, because I have conveniently devised a "How To Tell If Your Agent Can Spell" spot quiz that takes less than 3 minutes to complete. Highly recommended when interviewing prospective agents. Here's my card."
Scott Niedermayer: "Kenny, you're coming over for dinner next Thursday right? We're doing ostrich burgers and Jell-O pudding. Shall we say 5pm for casaba daiquiris?"
KD: "It's a date, my friend!"
Drew Doughty: "I gotta go pee. May I please be excused? Is it over there? Can you show me where the washroom is?"
KD: "Certainly, Drew. The washroom is the second door on the left as you exit. Jonathan, would you mind helping Drew go potty for us?"
Jonathan Toews: (Beside himself with excitement. Sidney Crosby is pouting and glaring at Ken. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry look like they're going to follow them, for some strange reason...) "Oh Mr. Dryden! It would be my sincerest HONOR to escort Drew to the washroom, sir!!! You can count on me, sir! C'mon, Drew. Let's go potty!"
Coach Babcock can't hardly stand it and blows his whistle for a timeout. "Guys guys guys GUYS!!! Remember this is your ONE CHANCE to ask Ken a question, eh? Your ONE CHANCE. No second chances. This is it. The Game Seven of Q&A Ops. So make the most of it. Okay, continue."
Dan Boyle: "Did you ever get super itchy down there during a Game Seven and scratch yourself in front of millions on TV when you were supposed to be shooting from the point on a power play?"
KD: "Great question, Dan. I suffered from severe pubic dermatitis at college and through the first two years I played for the Habs. It was horribly embarrassing and the guys gave me all sorts of grief over it. Remember you are a mere mortal, Dan. Even professional hockey players have itchy pubes from time to time. Don't beat yourself up over it. Don't let it get you down."
(Everybody claps and says, "Good answer!" like on Family Feud. Mike Richards looks especially relieved, for some strange reason...)
Chris Pronger: "What does it feel like to be a quitter? How could you walk away from hockey?" (Sid and Jonathan cannot believe their ears. They can't believe anybody would call Ken a quitter.)
KD: "Chris, 'quitting' and 'walking away' are two very different animals. I get asked about this a lot, actually. I guess I would have to sum it up by stating that at the time I honestly felt like I had dedicated everything I had - and allotted every spare moment - to the game of hockey. Mentally and psychologically, I was spent. But mostly, I had evolved beyond the routine and I knew it was time for me to move on. Simple as that." (Sid and Jonathan leap to their feet and give Ken a front row standing o... Pronger shakes his head.)
Here's what Canada Day fireworks look like in the Prairies, Nova Scotia and Niagara Falls, btw. Team Canada's forwards are all from Ontario, Quebec, the Prairies and Nova Scotia.
Dany Heatley: "Did anybody ever accuse you of being an overrated asshole?"
KD: "Great question, Dany. I was never accused of that, no, but I was often perceived as aloof and maybe a bit arrogant because I kept to myself and liked to read a lot."
Patrick Marleau: "If an obnoxious old guy with bad hair and brown teeth called you spineless on national television, would it be wrong to booby-trap his condo and give his suits to homeless people?"
KD: "Not at all, Patrick. You might want to consider getting some other guys in on your plan, however. I know for a fact that you are not the only person JR has picked on in an effort to corral the hockey media's attention."
(Everybody claps and says, "Good answer!" like on Family Feud.)
Joe Thornton: "You're obviously a big guy, Ken. Mentally, physically, genitally. You're a big guy like me. So how do you feel about the headshot issue?"
KD: "This is the most polarizing issue in hockey right now. I wrote about it recently and it's hard not to be repulsed when you see guys' seasons and even careers cut short by stupid hits. Shots to the head must cease and the League, PA and franchises must be on the same page as to the implementation of appropriate disciplinary action."
Heatley, Marleau and Thornton stand up together and head to the washroom holding hands: "Excuse us..." ("San Jose Hosers!" mutters Pronger)
Eric Staal: "Ken, did you know that your autograph looks identical to Ted Bundy's? Check it out. I stole this from Jared's scrapbook he made with my Mom last year."
KD: "Interesting! I never realized I had so much in common with a necrophiliac serial killer. Thank you for pointing this out, Eric. Very observant of you."
Sidney Crosby: "Who's Ted Bundy?"
KD: "He was a necrophiliac serial killer, Sid. He was fried in the electric chair when you were two."
SC: "What's a 'necrophiliac'?"
Jonathan jumps up and yells that Sid just used up his question and tried to sneak in a second so no fair, just FYI Mr. Dryden and Coach Babcock.
Babcock tells Jonathan to sit down, and reminds everybody to play by the rules. Sid pouts and moves to the back of the room to stand next to his new BFF, Chris Pronger. Pronger pats him on the head and offers him a bacon-flavored toothpick.
Jonathan Toews: (bowing) "A gracious good afternoon to you, Mr. Dryden! I hope you are enjoying yourself because we are certainly honored to be in your presence today, sir... (Getzlaf and Perry are making 'Captain Serious' eyebrow faces at each other.) I would like to know if you ever pondered coming out of retirement and if so, what convinced you not to come back?"
KD: "Jonathan, it is my pleasure to be here answering yet another of your fantastic questions. I had a lot of fun reading your 20-page handwritten note that arrived at 6:00AM via FedEx First last week. Lynda was more than happy to sign for it in her fuzzy slippers. I never considered returning to hockey but you can be sure that there are many things I miss about competing on an elite level."
Patrice Bergeron: "Salut, Ken. My team just won the Stanley Cup (Everybody rolls their eyes.) and of course now the guys on the winning team get to spend a day with the Cup during the summer. This policy was not in effect when you won your Cups, but if you had one day to spend with it what would you do with it?"
KD: "Patrice, I am so jealous that you'll be able to have an entire day with the Stanley Cup all to yourself. I would have loved to quietly share the Cup with my family and friends back in Toronto. Maybe I would have arranged for a parade down Yonge say, the fifth or sixth time I won it."
Mike Richards: "Did you know Paul Holmgren back in the day? If yeah, did you think he was a dick? How would you have felt if he traded you to the Kings?"
Babcock blows his whistle and tells Richie to simmer down and stick to one question okay. Everybody cracks up laughing.
KD: "I played against Paul a bunch of times toward the tail end of my career. He was a tough guy to keep down. I can't imagine being traded, let alone being passed around as often as you guys are these days. Don't let it get you down, Michael."
Ryan Getzlaf: "Ken, have a look at this cartoon I found of you. How do you contain your fury and rage when you see pathetic exploitative bullcrap like this floating around in the media?"
KD: "Wow - I forgot about that! Y'know what Ryan I don't have a problem with it. I think it looks like me and I would rather look at this than a photograph. Would you like me to sign it?"
RG: "Naaah, that's okay. Thanks." (Jonathan is shocked and glares at Ryan. Sid and Pronger snort.)
Corey Perry: "I just won the Hart and the Lindsay! (Everybody rolls their eyes.) If you had to pick one over the other, which one would you prefer?"
KD: "Toughie! But I'd say the Lindsay (or Pearson, as it used to be called). It is truly an honor to be held in such high esteem by your peers. Congratulations, Corey."
Rick Nash: "Canada is 144 years old today. I'm having a lot of problems finding a cake large enough to accommodate 144 candles. Can you recommend any commercial bakeries in the area?"
KD: "Certainly, Rick. The Cake Gallery of San Francisco will ship overnight edible masterpieces 365 days a year. My personal favorite is their Madagascar vanilla bean "Wheelbarrow Cake". I'll e-mail you their brochure, if you like.
Brenden Morrow: "Hi, Ken. My parents love this photo of you, but they don't understand what you're doing in it exactly... Can you explain what you're trying to do here?"
KD: "Hmmm. I think I must be doing the wheelbarrow here." (Everybody's puzzled. Awkward silence.)
Jarome Iginla: "I have been playing for what feels like forever, Ken. I have never won the Cup and I'm not gonna lie: It's starting to seem like I'll never ever win it. EVER. (Everybody rolls their eyes.) What advice can you give me for staying the course - to continue playing, to keep the faith and to keep from strangling my coach?"
KD: "Most of us fantasize about winning the Cup and how we'll celebrate it with our teammates, friends and family. But of course that's not the real reason we play the game and train so hard to be professionals. Try not to
forget what got you excited about playing hockey in the first place, Iggy. It's difficult at times but it can also help you withstand life's tougher challenges that have nothing to do with hockey."
Instead of everybody rolling their eyes, the guys stand up as a team and give Ken a well-deserved standing o. Well done. What a man. What a Canadian. O Canada.
HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!