Foxy Friday: Raphael Diaz

I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this post.

Today’s Foxy Friday has played for not one but TWO of the teams in the NHL that fuel my hate fire. But today, I will smother that raging hate fire and look past the jersey.

Today, I will also forget that he is named after one of of the Ninja Turtles and will focus on what is really important on this most special and holy of days.

Ladies (and gentlemen?), meet Raphael Diaz.

This is a man who name invokes images of the Bernabeu, emerald green pitches, and the white noise drone of the vuvuzela, not the Saddledome, sheets of ice, and pop tunes played by a pipe organ.   This 5’11” blueliner was born in Zug, Switzerland, which sounds more like an alien race from Doctor Who than an actually place, and he joins fellow Swiss Foxy Friday Honoree Roman Josi in making us sit up and take notice of that little neutral nation.

We, as true intrepid journalists (!) need to know what other hockey foxes are hiding up there in the Alps.  Is Switzerland the new Sweden?

diaz, raphael

Like Sue-Ellen, we “right on top of that, Rose.”

 

Diaz is a newcomer to the NHL, but has already had quite the journey.  He was signed by the Canadiens in 2011 to an entry level contract. He was traded to the Canucks in February 2014, who then turned around before the ink was even dry and traded him to the Rangers a month later. Then in  October 2014, he went to Calgary’s camp on a try-out and ended up signing a one-year contract at the start of this season.

That’s a lot of new jerseys, new locker rooms in new cities, and through it all, he still managed to look like this.

He works out.

 

If Sidney Crosby and Karl Urban had a baby, Raphael Diaz would be their little bundle of joy.

Hey, girl, hey…

 

Diaz is foxy because his role model is obviously John Tavares. As a newbie NHLer, it is important to establish your identity early on.  Diaz is working the “Accountant-by-day-Hockey-Player-by-night” look with the best of them.

GET THIS MAN SOME KHAKIS!

I’ve been waiting for you all night…by this pineapple

 

Diaz is truly foxy when he has no idea what we are saying…

Only if you insist…

 

…And when he’s acting like a giant toddler.

He is foxy because his eyebrow game is ON POINT, even though his beard game needs a bit of work.

But you know what really gets us? Those smile lines around his eyes

Those just destroy every fiber of my being.

So in conclusion…

Yes, Raphael.  I think we just did.

You can follow Raphael on twitter at @diaz_raphael_61.

Foxy Friday: Ondrej Pavelec

Who knew Winnipeg was such a helpful city? In addition to being the hometown of Jonathan Toews (and others), they held an actual vote to determine the best looking member of their NHL team.

Canada: Using Democracy for Real Things!

The result probably surprised no one except Evander Kane, who retaliated with a sweatpants-based protest, subsequent injury and trade. There’s only room for one “Hottest Jet,” honey:

Foxy Friday: Ondrej Pavelec

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You’d rock this vote.

(Thanks for @Kailz_H for the suggestion! Twitter won’t let me scroll back to last Thursday, which is a nice way of telling us we talk too much.)

Now, if I said “Ondrej Pavelec,” most people would say “Bless you.” Some hockey fans might say, “That goalie who fainted?” That is true – Pavelec fainted in-game against Washington back in 2010, while playing for the Thrashers. He suffered a concussion upon hitting the ice, but it was diagnosed as a fainting spell, and not career-threatening. The story goes he woke up in the hospital and asked about the score (Atlanta won).

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If you think he looks a bit like #TeamEbs, I say you’re right. He bears a more-than-passing though less-than-gapped resemblance to another blue-eye Western Conference Foxy Friday selection.

Though I doubt Ebs could pull off this Eurohipster disguise:

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What’s that about a beard? Oh, you said, “YES?”

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Or were you referring to this hat?

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Ondrek is Czech, from the same region (Kladno District) as Michael Frolik, Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Plekanec, Jiri Sekac, Jiri Tlusty, and Jakub Voracek.  Not bad for an area roughly 275 square miles.  They are all best friends and they love each other and do sports.

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Note the plaid shorts, a worldwide phenomenon.  While jeans like this are only available in Europe and Russia through The Ovechkin Collection:

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This is about our limit for distressing on “These old thing?” brand new designer jeans.

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Pavelec has played 324 NHL games over 7+ seasons. His current  2.60 GAA is a career best, though his top yeAdd Mediaar was ’11-’12, in which he won 29 games. The Jets are currently 4th in the tough Central Division with 73 points, and would be Wild Card spot #1 if the playoffs began today. (Warning: Stats from Thursday, because Friday has a ‘no math’ policy.)

Ondrej is in the third year of a five-year/$19.5 mill contract that leaves him UFA in 2017.

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My favorite thing about the Winnipeg Jets website is that you can misspell Pavelec as Pavalec and still get 40 photo results. It’s nice to know mine are not the only fat fingers in the business.

The Jets have a program called Reading Takes Flight where players visit schools and read them a children’s book about the Jets. Here’s the full photo gallery, feel free to stop when you get teary-eyed.

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Ondrej has been on a lot of Czech talk shows, which you can find on youTube. You won’t know what they’re saying, but hey, Foxy Friday isn’t really about that.  Here’s an interview from before this season began, featuring English and our beloved beard-plus-hoodie combination:

Since he knows we love part time models, Ondrej starred in possibly the oddest (and longest) hockey player TV ad I’ve ever seen. The sign says “Hi, my name is Ondrej Pavelec,” but that is false. You might be Pavelec’s belt buckle, though I am pretty sure you are not Ondrej at all. If you had his face, you’d use it.

Ondrej does not have a Twitter, so you’ll have to go to a game and ask him out with a sign like the old days. In the meantime, you can follow his goalie pads (they lead a full life) at @pavelecspads.

Happy Friday!

Jackpot! (I had to.)

The Penguins traded their annual Skates & Plates waiter gear for other ill-fitting suits this year and hosted Aces & Ice Casino Night last night. It looked like the World’s Most Awkward Wedding Party.

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But two drinks in, the bridesmaids are yelling, “DIBS!” and making shanks out of bobby pins.

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The dads, like Alison’s dad there on the left (not really), are warming up their, “Have you met my daughter?” speeches.

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While the groomsmen try not to look too drunk…

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Even if they have to count reaaalllllyyy sllooowwwlllly…

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And the married guys keep interrupting their attempts to flirt,

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When they’re not laughing because they know how much an open bar costs.

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But no matter how hard they try, there is always one guy who ends up going home alone.

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Here are the full photo gallery and PensTV Video. Celina talks so fast that I am out of breath before they even get to Crosby, but this is something you’d (er, I would) probably pay a fortune to attend.  There is far less chance of physical embarrassment dealing cards than carrying plates, and I can’t help thinking Beau Bennett is a lot safer in this low-impact environment.

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Twenty bucks says that Ehrhoff, tired of being left out, rigs the Secret Santa so he can buy Letang a selfie stick.

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Because he knows we love guys in glasses.

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The Dallas Stars also had a casino night this week. Furthering their quest to be Your Favorite Team, here’s video in which Jamie Benn admits his favorite part is “mingling with the female crowd” who sit at his table.

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No shame if you just tried to buy a ticket for next year’s event like this:

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Because:

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So:

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Two of Hearts

My name is Pants, and I support two hockey teams.

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A while back, @eyetotelescope suggested we address the idea of liking more than one team. Many of you are in the same boat (er, on the same door) at this treacherous time of year, when four-point games rain down, winning streaks become glorious victory marches and slumps are loose bars on a shark cage discovered after you’re already underwater.

Today is the perfect day for this post. I don’t just support two teams, I picked the Penguins and Capitals. Rather, they picked me. Divisional rivals who actively dislike each other, currently a single point apart in the standings – Pens in the playoffs, Caps in a wild card spot. The Caps have beaten the Pens the last I-have-blocked-out how many times. It’s pretty much the worst pair of favorites available.

They play tonight in DC and I will be there, wearing a Pens jersey.

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So, for your cheating heart and mine, here is my guide to supporting two (or more) hockey teams.

Rule One: Know your favorite

I like the Capitals. I love the Penguins. Between the two, there is no contest.

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More simply: The Capitals are my Horcrux. A piece of my soul is in there – and while it hurts, sometimes they must be destroyed. Tonight, I don’t care if Slapshot hugs me on the concourse or free ice tea and nachos are hand-delivered at intermission by a sweaty, Under Armor-ed Mike Green. None shall pass. Not this night.

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Maybe your favorite team was determined by geography, or you inherited a family allegiance. Perhaps you’re riveted by the excitement of trap defense! (Psych – no one is. Explain yourselves, New Jersey.)  When I say I am a Penguins fan:

  • Unsuspecting stranger: “Are you from Pittsburgh?”
  • Me: “No, I’m from upstate New York.”
  • Person, now approaching edge of cliff: “Shouldn’t you like the Rangers?”
  • Me: PUSH

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Kidding. If a person wants my hockey life story from ’91 to present, they can have it. But it ends like this: Penguins first. Capitals second. Blackhawks third, but I couldn’t maintain this even in a Cup-winning season, so it doesn’t count. Then everyone else, and Flyers/Rangers last. Everybody knows their place.

Rule Two: Own your infidelity

As a Pens fan first, living in the DC area, I must often betray a lovely Caps fan who has unwittingly befriended me.

  • Me: “Actually, the Penguins are my favorite team.”
  • New friend: “Prepare to die.”

Nowhere does it say you must like only one team. Second (or third, fourth) favorite teams come about in more interesting ways! You move away from home. A player gets traded.  Hell, RNH’s eyebrows are the only things selling tickets in Edmonton these days. I’d love to know how your second-favorite teams snuck into your hearts and set up camp.

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My story centers around the 2011 Winter Classic. Not the game – David Steckel should walk into my office right now so I can put my stapler through his face. Rather, the lead up to the game ruined me, in three easy steps:

  1. NHL: “Crosby vs. Ovechkin is a thing. See all these TV commercials? We are making fetch happen.”
  2. Mr. Pants: “How would you feel about moving to the DC-area?”
  3. HBO 24/7: Penguins vs. Capitals.

I never liked the Caps growing up, but since they’d switched out of the Pens conference in ’93, I hadn’t cared. The League’s insistence on this rivalry brought the Caps into my home and my Center Ice feed. I tried to resist. This blog, born September 6, 2010, was originally full of me making fun of Mike Green – and meaning it. Then something happened.

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Mike Green’s belt. Four years later, still hilarious.

 

Here’s my original post about my descent into madness. The more I got to know the Caps, the more I liked them. Then I moved to the DC area. I went to my first Caps game two days later and watching my new “home” team, I couldn’t help hoping they did well. Not that well, but you know. Just a little well. Is that so bad?

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I KNOW, OKAY?! But it was too late. This is why you should vaccinate your children.

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Fine print: We won’t even knock Taylor Swift for performing in nearly every hockey jersey in the league. If the girl likes hockey, she is cool with us. But support too many teams and it’ll look as if you don’t really like any. [Google images gallery] Now, if Taylor turns up with an encyclopedic hockey mind, we retract this statement and offer her a guest blogger password.

Rule Three: Hold your ground

Firmly establish the hierarchy between your teams. It will be the most important component of your fandom. Favorites first, always. Even if it means Caps fans, who were your friends ten minutes ago, are taking this picture of you when the Pens go down 4-1:

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Perhaps your teams are in different divisions or conferences (the relief!). But they will eventually play each other. If you’re the two conference type, your greatest dream and worst nightmare could come true at the same time: your teams play each other in the Final. Arrive unprepared and you’ll be like Bella, trapped in the freezing cold and of course you have to cuddle with the shirtless werewolf or die, while the vampire is right outside listening to a pervy inner monologue. It’s your fault for not having a jacket.

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Don’t look so comfortable.

This gets tough in tight playoff races, like the Pens and Caps have now, when you kind of have to root for Team #2 to lose against everyone. They’re too close to Team #1, or in front of them, and basically ruining everything. Horcruxes, people. We never said it would be easy.

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Rule Four: Have a sense of humor

I have been chirped for my Crosby jersey at games in LA, San Jose, Anaheim, Atlanta (remember that experiment?), New York (Rangers) and, of course, DC.  I just laugh.  Luckily, most hockey fans are awesome and even if they hate Sid and the Pens, they’re nice to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I prefer to think it’s because I’ve obeyed rules 1-3 and I know my stuff. And I’m just waiting for this moment:

  • Announcer: “Penguins goal by Sidney Crosby. His 20th of the season.”
  • Caps crowd: “Who cares?”
  • Me: “I do. I care.”

But I won’t lie – I hope Mike Green scores one. After the Pens score ten.

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Rule Five: It’s your party

How can you like two teams?! Teams that hate each other? How can you be at odds with the fundamental tenet of sports? Obviously you are an idiot/bandwagoner/in it for the hot guys/not a real fan.  That argument can (and will) be used against you for a litany of imagined offenses no matter who you root for. We say do what you want. Love who you love. Stay weird.

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Finally, if you’re a one-team kind of person, know this: I envy you. I have a lot of love to give, which leaves a lot of open wounds when my teams don’t love me back.  I trade slightly better odds of winning for twice the angst come spring and playoffs. Told you I was bad at math.

Foxy Friday: Tristan Harper

47 feet of snow on the ground. People jumping off their roofs into snow banks.  Wind chills of -20F.

While I suffer through this historic Boston winter, I got a little something to warm me (and you) up.

(full disclosure: I am writing this post after a copious amount of sake. I am not responsible for my actions. #BuzzedBloggin)

Foxy Friday: Tristan Harper

 

Remember that movie Weird Science?  Well if Pants and I starred in the Hollywood remake, this might be the perfect boy we’d create.

HE HAS A GINGERBEARD FOR PETE'S SAKE!!!!

HE HAS A GINGERBEARD FOR PETE’S SAKE!!!!

 

Tristan Harper is a hockey player for the Braehead Clan in Glasgow, Scotland of the EIHL. I didn’t even know they played hockey in Scotland.

But I do now.

I’ve been to Scotland.  Had I know they had men like this that also played hockey – I never would have come back.  I would have sold everything I own, purchased a Scottish hockey club (and a sheepdog), and live happily ever after.

My morning meetings would consist of tea and jammie dodgers and player development meetings would be beard grooming lessons and highland games.

Wonder of what's under that kilt...

Wonder of what’s under that kilt…

 

He’s a NHL-worth 6’2″, with a beard that proves that a well-groomed can increase a man’s hotness power ranking exponentially.

His beard – it’s impeccable.  Never did I imagine that a beard would exists that could compete with the best but it seems that Zetterbeard may have some serious competition for my pogonophilic admiration.

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Wanna stroke it like a cat.

Oh and his name is Tristan.  You remember the first time that you fell in love with a Tristan?

I do.

Howdy. (from bellecs.tumblr.com)

While my new love isn’t exactly tearing it up in the points department (6 pts in 45 games), he does have 62 PIM and his team is in 1st play in the league, so he’s got that going for him.

Also going for him – this.

And this…

#NerdLikeUs

#NerdLikeUs

Oh and let’s not forget this…

Scottish boyfriend sweaters are just as hot as the Canadian ones.

Scottish boyfriend sweaters are just as hot as the Canadian ones.

 

You can follow Tristan at @harpoon26 and check him out on Instagram.

I will warn you though – his IG feed does cause side effects – heart palpitations, swooning and/or fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, the “feels”, the “schwings”, ovarian aches, or Lady Gaga YAAAASSSSSing.  Verklepmtion lasting longer than four hours required immediate medical attention.

And if you didn’t think beards make any guy hotter, check this.

Boom. Instahottie.

Boom. Instahottie.

(Thanks to the multiple people who brought this man to my attention.  You know my type and you are true gems of humanity.)

 

You love Jonathan Toews

I can’t resist hockey players and kids, and no one can resist Girl Scout cookies. Not the Blackhawks, not Andrew Shaw and not Jonathan Toews. Video: #WhatsYourGoal: Alexis wants to sell cookies to Jonathan Toews In the video, Captain CharmingPants is back, and this time, he irons.

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Which is the only thing on Earth he isn’t good at.

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This is a guy who scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot during his first NHL shift in his first NHL game. Remember when he got so mad at the All-Star Skills Competition because he didn’t hear the cue to start? This look on his face is TrueToews, the one he keeps locked away since Captain Serious changed his costume. There is also a puppy, in case any of me survived.

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This comes hot on the tail of Tazer’s vitally important in-arena message: don’t get up to pee during the game. HOLD IT, PEOPLE! (Everyone looks at me, doing the pee pee dance in my seat.) That glorious contribution can be seen here.

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BlackhawksTV, still the best.

Never Grow Up

If you keep losing to the Capitals and making me look like a chump in front of important people (like my boss, @raedanda, Mike Green, etc.), the second best way to my heart is through tiny skates and giggling.

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Smile, there are girls watching.

 

Yeah, I’m a sucker.  Check out video of Crosby & friends surprising the Little Penguins hockey camp yesterday.

You can tell Flower has a kid, because he is not afraid to pick them up and spin them around and tackle them. The rest of this is like a Meeting of the Future Hot Dads of Western Pennsylvania:

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It’s an omelet!

 

Sorry, wrong picture.

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Then I surprised her with flowers and…

 

Yeah, that one. As usual, the kids are having fun, but the guys are having even more.

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Do they make those socks in long?

 

Does this make you want to have kids? I showed it to my mom, who gave me “Disappointed Parent Re: Failure to Procreate Face”, then pronounced MAF her favorite Penguin. He has not let her down.

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Go forward, tiny human.

 

The Little Penguins program, which Crosby sponsors, outfits kids with head-to-toe gear and they participate in camps. There are even some girls-only camps, because girls rule.

Video: Crosby at Little Pens practice in 2013

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It’s not nice to make fun of people, unless they’re Borts. That’s okay.

 

Here’s a story on it from USA Today, plus a few shots on Penguins’ Instagram and Snapchat, if you know how to use that. Maybe these kids could teach me after hockey practice.

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This game is called “What’s Wrong With Our Power Play!”

 

The Good Lie

In his latest and greatest Valentine’s Day video, Cabbie gets Tyler and Jamie to prank their mothers by announcing they will propose to their respective girlfriends on Valentine’s Day.  Girlfriends their mothers have never met, because they aren’t real.

 

We here at WUYS hold a few truths to be self-evident:

1) Cabbie for President – of a made-up country we start because he can’t actually be our President, as a Canadian. This is in the fine print somewhere.

2) The Dallas Stars want to be your favorite team.

3) Tyler Seguin is an excellent liar. We assume he only uses this when necessary, but that boy could sell you a bridge.

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4) Jamie Benn, not so much.

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5) And finally, moms are the best. Every one, every time.

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Feel free to cut the end off this video, play it for your own parents and announce, “Meet my fiance!”

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But you haven’t actually met him, so…

 

Thank you to @charlieryan58 for sending this!

Enjoy a throwback Valentine: Cabbie and the Oilers PUPPIES with Actual Puppies

 

Foxy Friday: Tom Wilson

Foxy Friday has been known to possess great power, often resulting in immediate goal-scoring (You’re welcome, Ekblad.) and a general increase in overall hockey prowess. Hey, we strut a little when people tell us we look nice too! In the interest of using our powers for good, we turn a long-awaited Friday eye toward someone who could use the help.

Foxy Friday: Tom Wilson

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Tom Wilson has been on the list for future Friday-ing since, well, since he was way too young to be on that list.  Aren’t they always? He had also been in the Capitals lineup consistently, spending time on the Ovi/Backstrom line, and some more time in the box for boxing.

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Since December 23, Tom has been fighting that elusive illness we call “healthy scratch.” It bit him again Wednesday night in San Jose. Now, we’re not doctors, but we watch them on TV. And the only prescription for this is more Foxy Friday.

First, the good news: Tom Wilson is 20.

Wait, that’s not good news. He was born in 1994, the same year as my first car. It’s times like this that I enjoy my inability to properly process math.

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He’s from Toronto, and is pretty much the future pool-boy-next-door of college-aged Chuck’s dreams: 6’4″, longish hair, looks like he could rock a mean flannel, chop down trees, rescue you in the forest – general woodsman duties. Not sure about the beard though, not on this babyface.

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EPIX’s “Road to the Winter Classic” show gave us a look inside the bachelor pad Tom shares with Caps teammate Michael Latta.  These two are besties in the best ways. Vacation:

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Guest star Foxy Friday: Liam O’Brien. Here’s another.

 

Slumber parties:

 

Twitter discussions of the English language:

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wacky Twitter Q&A in which they agree with everything I have ever said:

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Driving with expired inspection stickers and bulk buying ketchup. (In an unrelated story, @lm1485 and I once convinced our boss that ketchup was the Official Condiment of the Washington Capitals. WE WERE RIGHT!)

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This & many more from www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com

[More video: Tom’s game commentary, ride along with Latta & Schmidt]

I’ve met Tom twice, and he is the strapping, handsome, friendly guy with the reach to knock out an opponent that you imagine. You would have spent high school writing “Mr. And Mrs. Chuck-Wilson” on your binder, while your dad sat on the porch with a goalie stick (it’s Canada) to make sure no one snuck out (or climbed in. See: woodsman duties.).

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How did we live before internet?

 

Did I mention Tom is Mr. February on the Capitals Canine Calendar? He gazes across DC offices from his softly-lit clearing in the woods (!), hair all glossy and holding not one, but two puppies! Only he isn’t holding them because why, why would they run away when Valentine’s Day is just arriving? This should be a Lifetime movie, where a nerdy girl who volunteers at an animal shelter meets the hunk of her dreams at a charity calendar photo shoot. Consider this my copyright.

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Pupface says it all.

 

That puppy on the right is hitting the high note in “I Will Always Love You.”

Tom has played on the Caps top line. He fights too, rather often – I’ve seen more Tom Wilson fights in person than any other player. Maybe he’s trying to impress me., though I was more impressed by this one time he didn’t fight. (Against a Flyer, no less. What is happening to me?) And by this time he got KO’d by a Make a Wish kid. He’s been called the team’s “heart and soul” and the Caps have said they don’t want to “dull his edge” – but they also don’t want him turning the puck over, especially not during valuable Oveckhin ice time.

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Not-So-Average Joes

 

Lately, Tom has also been instrumental in the Captials’ support of young fan Bensten Schone, who was hurt in a sledding accident. You can help too – send him some love using #prayforBman. See the Caps video for Bensten, and watch (we mean cry) as Bensten watches it for the first time.

Also, watch Caps announcer Wes Johnson’s awesome video.

The Caps are out west for the weekend (vs. LA and ANA) then in Pittsburgh Tuesday night, where I will not be rooting for Tom or any combination of the Washington lineup. Until then, may this Friday help a fox get his groove back.

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What, you want more puppies?

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Pocketful of puppy.

 

Like the puppy you missed in the bottom there?

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MY TURN?? MY TURN!!

 

Because I can go all day.

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Puppyselfie. That does it.

 

Follow Tom on Twitter (@tom_wilso) and Instagram, and hopefully on TV during a Caps game soon.  Until then, enjoy this time the boys all went to see The Interview:

 

And where, while ‘working’ my real job, I didn’t get out of the shot fast enough.

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Busted. (You bet I volunteered to work that event.)

 

Pens & Pins

A snappy headline escapes me today, but the annual Pens & Pins charity event was held last night, and look who was looking good.

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No surprise there.

 

PensTV has a video feature from the event. Everyone is always having so much fun, from the players to the kids. And who wouldn’t? Bowling makes awkward lumps of us all – except apparently Simon Despres, who owns his own bowling gear.

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Work hard, play hard.

 

For most, even professional athletes, bowling is a great equalizer where success comes accidentally but often enough that you feel you might just actually get the hang of this someday. If not, there’s usually a crane game and maybe even karaoke.

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Is it easier to bowl with long arms?

 

Not Geno, though. He’s a pro. He’s Grease lightning. He bowled two strikes in a row. [Video]

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I am score.

 

How’d everyone else do?

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I cannot work Snapchat, people.

 

Coach Johnston (who I think of as “Coach J,” as if he’s my own coach) seems like a kindly high school principal, guiding his charges into adulthood with calm and poise. I have the urge to ask him what to do with my future, so he can explain it in a way that makes me realize I knew all along.

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Right, BSutts? Right.

 

Check out a few more photos at Make A Wish of GPA & WV. I leave you with this:

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All that, and snacks too.

Donations to Make-a-Wish (still tax deductible through April 15!) can be made at www.wish.org.

 

Foxy Friday: Aaron Ekblad

Have you ever found something in the least likely place? Like on The Cosby Show, when Vanessa lost her folder because she’d accidentally put it back in the freezer with the ice cream? That’s how we felt a few Fridays back, watching the NHL All-Star Draft.

Foxy Friday: Aaron Ekblad

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BeardWatch: Rookie of the Year

It’s not easy to surprise us with foxiness around the NHL – so vigilant is our endless search – and if you get past us, surely our eagle-eyed readers Tweet of a worthy candidate we somehow missed.

Not this time.

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The new guy

 

Aaron Ekblad walked on stage the ASG Draft and threw our work right out the window.

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21st Century fact-finding mission

 

It’s a lucky thing Aaron was selected for the All-Star Game, or we may have never seen him. I mean never, because that’s how likely I am to watch a Panthers game. Well, never is a long time for him, so maybe someday. But we probably would have missed this hair:

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Never a selfie-stick around when you need one.

 

(Object not, Panthers-fan friends, for my lack of attention to your team probably means they will beat my team in the playoffs. You’re welcome. Love, Karma)

In addition to the perfect boyband bangswave, Aaron is 6’4″, 216 lbs… and was born in 1996. Just a reminder! He was drafted first overall in 2014. Usually, draft photos are what we pull up eight years later to laugh about. Where is whoever writes this blog in 2023 going to get her comedy material?

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Stop. Let me get a good look at it.

 

Aaron had 4 assists for the victorious Team Toews in the All-Star Game.  Not surprising, as he’s got 21A on the season and a total of 28 points. Who else has 28 points this season? James Neal.

Not bad, Aaron.

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The Cutting Edge pre-dates Aaron by four years.

 

In case you momentarily forgot Aaron is 18, one of his favorite movies is “That Awkward Moment” – which is an awkward moment when someone’s favorite movie stars Zac Efron. Not knocking Zac, just admiring the bottomless chasm of age difference. [ More favorites here and here/video.] You know that Saved By the Bell Jimmy Fallon thing everyone is talking about? I bet Aaron’s never heard of Zack Morris.

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No running in boat shoes.

 

The @FLAPanthers (which always reads “Flap Antlers” to me) are, by all accounts, in much better shape this year than last.

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Florida Department of Tourism Meeting

 

I mean on the ice, you guys. They are currently 9th in the East with 56 points – ahead of the Flyers (52), trailing the Bruins (61). Still plenty of time left for everything to go right or wrong.

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First year playoff hopes

 

Ekblad, along with his ASG mates Filip Forsberg (who the Caps traded away for nothing) and Johnny Gaudreau (who I will never, ever call “Johnny Hockey”), are frontrunners for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. [Intern Jeff Skinner just harrumphed and walked out.] With half this season left to go, it’s safe to say that Aaron is our pick. After all, he didn’t go to Boston College.

 

Follow Aaron on Twitter (@Ekblad5FLA), Instagram (aaronekblad5) and his website that is really a Tumblr in thing disguise: aaronekblad.ca.

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Look at that part.

Close Shave

I don’t know if this break in our server problems will last, so I will post this quickly! Thanks to everyone who sent it to us – it was worth waiting for.

Tyler Seguin and Jordie Benn made a Super Bowl bet: if Seattle lost, Tyler would have Jordie’s megabeard. If New England lost, Jordie would shave Tyler’s head.

 

What do we have to say? Thank you, Tom Brady. Thank you, Julian Edelman. Thank you, Katy Perry, for even your low-vocaled halftime show and that time you wore the Holocaust cloak from The Princess Bride had some hand in this.

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Usually, we’s say “Not the face!” – but this time, okay.

 

Benn had been working on that beard for a year, and as much as we’ll miss it, he could easily grow it back by next Thursday.

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Should have trimmed it first. Everyone knows that.

 

Tyler’s hair, on the other hand… don’t mess.

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Hey girl/guy/kid/fan/lense/plate of macaroni & cheese. You busy later?

 

In other proof that the boys take their football seriously, Tyler Tweeted this:

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Suede dude booties off when watching football.

 

And while you may be willing to overlook a missing apostrophe or two, Jamie knows the best way to get revenge is by sitting near someone cuter on occasion.  Maybe he’s taking applications.

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Bonus: the Gnome never eats his pretzels.

 

Not a Total Loss

For last night’s Penguins @ Capitals game, I was lucky enough to get a luxury suite ticket from my friend Jess.  We also scored passes to the Coach’s Club, which is a magical land at ice level with a ‘make your own nachos’ bar, free drinks and a dessert table.  Sounds good, right? It’s also situated between the locker room and the press elevator. So if you happen to be a player on LTIR acting in a coaching capacity, you might need to go upstairs. You might need to go right by the nacho bar. Which means you go right by me.

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Me and Dupuis

 

Me and Pascal Dupuis – that really happened, you guys.  Kudos to Jess, who was having none of my typical reaction (RUN AWAY!). Also bless the glacially slow press elevator, in which we and Duper were all waiting to ride. There was no way not to talk to him, being one of few people sporting Pens jerseys in the VIP area. Some folks gave me looks like I shouldn’t be eating all their nachos… well, I had to win something last night.

Duper was exactly as you imagine – lovely, friendly and still older than I am. That one never fails. He was taller than I expected and made me wish I paid more attention to White Collar and had learned how to lift someone’s phone, so I could call Sid and tell him what I thought of the first period.

Before that, warm-ups looked like this:

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Borts asked to send this pic to Alison.

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I finally remembered to stand on the Crosby side.

 

The game looked like this from our great seats, only the count on the scoreboard kept getting worse.

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Too bad I could see the scoreboard.

 

In the end, it was an excellent game at which to enjoy free food and Duper’s brief company.  We rode in the elevator again later and shared a grimace over the way the night was going.  Everything else was horrible, especially Steve Downie, and except Mike Green’s goal to make it 4-0. The Penguins were practically on their bus already, so let Mike have one.  I’ll take the punishment.

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Real friends stop making fun beyond 2-goal deficits.

 

Now That Was Fun

I wrote 90% of this before the the All-Star Game started last night, and changed very little afterward.  My opinion was the same: Best ASG weekend ever.  Sure the setup is wonky, the events kind of hokey. Who cares? It’s supposed to be fun, and dammit, it was really fun!

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Firing squad awaits the cannon

 

Thanks to the players who really came to play – not play like they do in competition every day, but the fun kind where the fans get to play along.  Specifically, thank you because:

You looked great.

NHL ASG 2015 (1)

You should see my shoes.

 

Really great.

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No, they’re my shoes.

 

Like “This Foxy Friday will be used against you in a court of law” great.

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18 and counting

 

You made new friends.

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No one can resist the plaid jacket.

 

You saw old friends.

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First rule of red carpets: Don’t arrive right after Seguin.

 

And trolled them.

NHL ASG 2015 (1)

“Hi Chuck.” “No – Hello Chuck.”

 

You talked a lot of trash.

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No one at NHL had a real notebook.

 

You took a selfie.

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Do you see something behind me?

 

You got drunk.

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It was this guy.

 

You forgot your new friend’s name.

asg getz

Also, I don’t know where Long Island is.

 

He forgave you. Mostly.

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:: internal eye roll ::

 

You took more selfies.

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Just add kids!

 

You didn’t win a car.

2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft

Because you didn’t pass the sobriety test.

 

Then you did win a car! But you weren’t the only one.

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#RNHAllStarStud

 

Either way, you won our hearts.

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Right in the ovaries.

 

Even if just for a moment.

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My hatred is no match for this moment of perfection.

 

Even if you weren’t the MVP.

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We would never get your name wrong.

 

Most of all you made us forget all the guys who weren’t there, from the Subban-type snubs to the Crosby-esque casualites. Maybe the weekend could have been even better… but we didn’t miss them.  So thanks for this weekend, and see you next year in Nashville. ;)

Kitchen Confidential

At last year’s Carolina Hurricanes 2014 Casino Night, people bid on auction items that for some reason weren’t redeemed until this year.  I don’t know why.  But it seems to have been worth the wait.

Video: Cooking with the Canes

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I do what with my hand?

We didn’t bid to win a cooking class with Foxy Friday alum Elias Lindholm and Intern Jeff Skinner, but let’s be clear: making us lunch every day is now one of Intern Jeff’s job duties.  And we’re not talking mac & cheese (or KD as you Canadians call it). We want something with components and condiments and at least one vegetable.

The instructions are simple:

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Yes, chef.

Foxy Fridays are sous chefs only. Jeff didn’t win Top Intern: Masters to watch some hack steal his rightful place. Watch over the competition with hawk eyes.

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Working up to his Gordon Ramsay voice.

Say “eh?” as often as possible and don’t you dare burn our dessert.

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BAM!

Be appropriately self-depreciating so no one expects you to cook every day. But we still do.

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Maybe one of those “America’s Worst Cooks” shows next time.

Somehow, Intern Jeff Skinner is still only 22. That should give us pause since he’s been working here for a decade, but eh -it’s not like we pay him, right? Maybe we keep him around to convince ourselves we never age either, like the witch in Tangled. He’s our Mandy Moore.

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We check our reflections in the Calder Trophy.

We haven’t heard from Intern Jeff in a while, and not because he’s been unpacking boxes at my new house. The Canes are having a… rough season, to say the least. With just 16 wins, they are last in the Metro, second-to-last in the East and 27th overall. Intern Jeff has 10G + 9A. That puts him a few points shy of his 2011-12 pace; a serious sophomore slump after his fantastic rookie year because everyone figured out how good he was.

I won’t post graphics of standings or stats – no one wants to see that.  Instead, here’s a a happy photo, and hoping the Canes can get a little something going in the second half.

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November 2014. I hope he slid down the pole after.

Over and Over

Why do I watch the Penguins play the Flyers? It’s not because the Penguins ever win. It’s more like seeing a disaster unfold and being unable to look away – if you’ve ever been around when a flaming asteroid obliterated a theme park.

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‘Cause, baby, now we got bad blood

Now, I could watch because I hate the Flyers. They always do just what I thought they would do. (Cue Zac Rinaldo.) But even being proven right gets old and I think I’m over it. The games are all reruns. My ragetank is full. What pours in now just overflows and runs onto the ground, a sad waste rather than a useful resource. I used to backhandedly relish every cheap shot and dirty hit by the Flyers, because they were always writing themselves as villains. Now I worry the Pens are one play, one lost cool, away from becoming that which I have always loved to hate.

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Now we got problems

I could watch because rivalries generate high-stakes, hate-laced hockey simmering with the potential for glory and storylines that live in a fandom’s heart forever. The Penguins/Flyers are not that, not in a long time. Instead of reading like chapters in a book, their box scores read like rap sheets to be held against players in court.

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And I don’t think we can solve them

A lot of people in our Twitter feed who were not watching said, “Sounds like I’m missing a good game!” They missed a wild one, for sure, but not good.  If you’ve ever been to Medieval Times and seen the jousting knights miss each other completely, only to “fall” theatrically off their horses as required by the script and rush into mock-battle, that’s what last night’s game looked like. Less mock in the battle, of course. But it was predictable, and even laughable at times.

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You made a really deep cut

My interest might hold if the Penguins ever won, or if they were playing better hockey of late. Yet they can always be counted on to come apart against Philly. I used to do the same. It used to bother me that we weren’t winning games 10-0 based simply on moral superiority. But we play our worst against them, and they play their worst against us (which is the same as their best, because Flyers). It’s not fun. If the Pens had won in OT last night, instead of taking extraordinarily timed back-to-back penalties, I would have enjoyed a short revenge. But it wears off quickly now, harkening back to the awful 2012 playoff series that made me ashamed of hockey in general. (Obligatory reminder that I am not over James Neal’s behavior in that series and I never will be. Every time I despise a Flyer, my conscience rightly whispers, “Hypocrite.”)

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And, baby, now we got bad blood.

I realized last night: I want to hate the Flyers the way I used to, when the games were at least a little about hockey and not just about bloodlust. When being right felt smug instead of sickening, and what happened on the scoreboard meant as much as what happened on the ice. Now, regardless of the outcome, I just feel dirty. My fight for this fight is worn out.

If only the Penguins felt the same, maybe they could win one.

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Takin’ It Back

Last night, MSG network premiered their “Beginnings” series episode about everyone’s hot middle school science teacher, John Tavares.

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Why yes, I’ll tune in.

I didn’t get to see the show, but it re-airs Friday at 10:30 PM.  Verizon Fios carries MSG almost everywhere, so I’ll finally get my million-dollar cable bill’s worth!

For now, I’ll survive on these clips – MSG: Beginnings

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The club can’t even handle me right now.

I’m 30 seconds into the first clip – John goes back to his primary school – and I’ve died 211 times. (Shorter but much higher-res version of clip here.)

Who picked out this shirt? Is it made of wrapping paper? Pay them.  John walks around, frowning modestly and pointing at things.

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Here’s the “Most Likely to Wear Khakis as an Adult” plaque.

He narrates, which puts me right into a coma, but that’s cool because the last thing I saw were his calves so you can just let me sleep a while.

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And here’s the “Best at Tucking in My Shirt” banner.

John was obviously good at every sport, which you know because he doesn’t say so. He casually picks up a basketball, remarks how long it’s been since he played, then sinks 10 three-pointers in a row.

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He shoots…

I may be exaggerating to compensate for the way John downplays everything, or because his t-sleeve can’t fit over the golfer’s tan on his bicep.

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He scores.

There’s also a clip of John reminiscing on going into the OHL at 15 years old, and having his jersey retired by Oshawa last season.  His mom makes an appearance. Where is her award, for raising the only guy in the world who doesn’t seem to realize that John Tavares is John Tavares?  He really has no idea, right?

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Gee, is that what I look like?

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Yeah, it is.

On second thought, I think John knows a little.  Exhibits from the JT Gif Hall of Fame:

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Chosen by @RoseTintedVisor

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Chosen by @RealScarlett01

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Chosen by Pants (mine and yours)

Right before this show aired last night, the Isles shut out the Rangers to take over first place in the Eastern Conference.  Not a bad preview before your movie, Tavares.  John leads the team in goals (19) and points (39).  His next game is Friday vs. the Penguins. Maybe we can get a repeat of this:

Dress You Up in My Love

We were talking yesterday about Patrick Kane’s rise to All-Star domination (save for one Latvian).  Well on last week’s Wednesday Night Rivalry broadcast on NBC Sports Network, the broadcasters dropped another interesting piece of info:

Patrick Kane was the best-selling NHL jersey for 2014.

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They’re all wearing this number.

Surprised? I was, a little, I admit. Not Crosby, after his Hart-Art Ross-Lindsay-winning season? Well Sid was second on the list, and since he’s been in the League (and super high-profile) a few more years than Kaner, I figure most people (including myself) already have their Crosby jersey – or two, or three.  Plus the introduction of Winter Classic/Stadium Series designs and sharp new third jerseys by so many teams gives the sales potential a steady pulse for existing fans year after year.

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Personally, still not down with the St. Patrick’s Day gear.

Of course, the Hawks sweaters are gorgeous. Their Stadium Series jerseys were the best of any team in 2014, and their third jerseys are so perfectly vintage-inspired that I want to wear one and sit on a windowsill while I miss Douglas Dorsey.

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I’d say “Parlez-vouz Olympics?” but those jersey sales don’t even count.

According to Puck Daddy (bless them, as I am too lazy to do my own research!), the rest of the top sellers after Kane and Crosby were Toews, Lundqist and Ovechkin.  Sid was first last year, Kaner was #5 last year.

As 2015 starts, what can Patrick Kane do to maintain this top spot?  We have a suggestion:

kane shirt

Best Dressed

Yes, that’s real. Not a real jersey, but WUYS reader @toriewithanE made this dazzling gem on Skreened.  See, that is what we love here: initiative!  I said I was going to make a shirt, but Torie actually made it happen. We think it should be for sale, and count toward jersey sales. We could put his name and number on the back, but you’d never look past this:

From your head down to your tube socks.

That’s two days in a row I’ve included this picture in a post. You’re welcome.

Interesting (to me, at least): Crosby was #1 in 2012-2013, but #3 in the year before.  The lists are pretty fascinating.

Hey Now…

Ugh, sorry. I bet I’ve used a version of that headline for every All-Star Game post in the history of this blog! Smashmouth is not really a place I want to revisit, but it will forever associate with these events.

The complete list of players selected for the All-Star Game in Columbus on Jan 25 has been announced, but let’s start with the fan vote roster. Which looks like the Blackhawks roster.

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I see red people.

Remember the Blackhawks jazzercize campaign video?  Of course you do.  Ne’er have you closed an eye since that day but you’ve seen this, seared in your memory and waiting, gold-chained and glorious, to remind you that votes are the very least you can give when one has smized so hard to earn them.

What percentage of a shirt is this? 25?

You may note a few things once your eyes adjust to all those Hawks logos:

1. NO CROSBY. Just in the fan vote, obviously, but Mr. Popularity, was not crowned Homecoming King this year. He can still call me if he needs a date, though. I am not so fickle.

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Just act cool.

2. What is a Zemgus Girgensons and how did it escape Middle Earth win the fan vote? This phenomenon was well-documented, so it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere (anymore than it completely came out of nowhere). Zemgus, who is 21 and plays in Buffalo, hails from Latvia. So mobilized were the 2 million people of his home country, they apparently did nothing but vote online for for the NHL ASG. Right to the top!

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What does high score mean? Did I break it?

Some people say this is a tawdry exploitation of the game’s selection process. I say: YOU ARE NO FUN, partypoopers! It’s one roster spot. It’s the ASG, which is really just an excuse to look good during the skills competition. Guys who don’t get picked get to go on vacation and don’t have to pose for ’80s prom photos. Sure, it’s an honor to be voted in, but let’s be real. Zemgus plays in Buffalo.  This might be the only thing he ever wins. I hope he enjoys the heck out of it.

3. Kane beat Toews. I love this. Just as Jon became more fun, Kaner became more serious. For next year’s campaign, they should do a full-length Grease remake. From:

Circa 2011

Circa 2011

to this:

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Circa last night

Note Seabs, Keith and Crawford walking by in the back. That’s Shaw on the left.

The rest of the roster includes:

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Class of 2015

The list is… confusing. Or perhaps it’s “avant garde” and I never really understood that kind of art anyway. No Nicklas Backstrom, fantasy point machine.  No James Neal’s hair blowing in the shot accuracy competition breeze. (That’ll teach you to get yourself traded away from Malkin… to a team leading the League. Figures.) No Chara, Zetterbeard or Datsyuk, no Sedins and no PK Subban. Remember that time he wore Intern Jeff Skinner’s jersey? Ah, those were the days.  Puck Daddy has some more snub thoughts here.

Those who did make the cut will be wearing these sweaters. When the ASG is over, I hope they are donated to live out the rest of their unsightly lives in relative dignity as Major League Soccer referee jerseys.

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For running at night?

Laviolette and Sutter will coach. Two team captains (and two alternates per team) will be announced next week, and they will hold the fantasy draft on Friday, January 23 at 8 PM (on NBCSN in the States). The draft is my favorite part of the weekend, even eclipsing the skills competition. Someone will get picked last, someone will trip going up the steps.  Hugs will happen. John Tavares will be there.

Look at his middle-school-boy handwriting.

Overall, it sounds a heck of a lot better than my average Friday night.  So we’ll see you there (er, here) for ASG Weekend!

Hockey New Year!

Did you all enjoy the Winter Classic yesterday? Watch from the couch with one eye open and a hangover breakfast? I expect you did , even if you may have been alone in your living rooms.  The event posted the lowest ratings of any Winter Classic – as shame, since it was one of the best games. You can read some possible reasons here (I agree with #1), but let me say:

It was great from my seat.

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America.

I had the squeal-inducing, off-the-wall-bouncing fortune to get a ticket through my work and attend the game with a colleague. You all know the ending – Caps won 3-2 on a goal from Troy Brouwer with 12 seconds left. Let me tell you how it looked from my seat.

I was overdressed, and carrying a bag of hand-warmers. I might wear this outfit when I race the Iditarod.

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Which way to the arctic?

Our seats were incredible: club level, front row. This will never happen to me again. But don’t be too jealous – the club level ran out of food in the second intermission. I just wanted to give Nats Park my money in exchange for calories and they did nothing. Thank God I didn’t have a hangover.

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My seats were better than Kathryn Tappen’s.

Billy Idol sounded great. He looked like he’s been frozen since ’88, outfit and all. Not really sure why he was the opening act, but of all the non-A-list randos the NHL could have secured, this was a very solid choice.

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Not my photo. Nor did he sing “Mony Mony.”

The National Anthem was spectacular. I believe I saw Caleb and Bob, the Caps regular singers, front and center in the Armed Forces band, yes? They didn’t have a great angle on the Jumbotron and we were busy marveling at that flag – and the fighter jets.

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America.

The sun glare was real, and we could file a class action suit for premature eye wrinkles against whoever put this game at 1 PM. When the teams switched sides at 10 mins of the first period, Holtby went from the shade… right back into the shade on the other side. Thanks, Billy Idol, for taking just enough time.

42,000+ is a lot of people. A lot of red was rocked, for both teams. Everyone got a free seat cushion, because GEICO is the official sponsor of my butt.

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We did not do the wave.

Among those 42,000+ people, only one made this:

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Nightmare on Every Street

My colleague pointed to a man on the field, with a microphone, and asked who he was because she’d seen him “holding court” in the press box. It was Roenick, of course. How to explain JR to someone?

The Caps opened a lead. They took some dumb penalties. Patrick Sharp scored in the blink of a eye. Matt Niskanen had a rough third period. But we Unleashed the Fury and Troy Brouwer saved the day. I was so excited I took an accidental celebration selfie that was supposed to be a picture of the game.

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Candid Camera

Afterward, everyone launched their unused fireworks from the night before.

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Boom.

I hadn’t eaten in hours and wished they would launch hot dogs into the air instead.  But fireworks are cool, especially when they are for winning!

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Clap.

It was a stellar day. That said, is it something I’d do again? For cheap/free, yes. The spectacle mirrors how I feel about hockey (big, loud, fireworks), but in the end even a great game is still just a regular season game. For fun, the Winter Classic is it. For heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, feel-it-in-your-guy hockey, save your money for a playoff game.  They’d never run out of food.