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Loose Change: Seeing stars

Because of my thirty-none years on the beat I tend to live within the inner sanctum of the hockey powers-that-be, which means I’m privy to the intimate details of everything hockey (I know the first three parts of the secret NHLPA handshake for example).

I’m usually one of the first reporters called when a trade rumor is leaked (I call it “prowess,” they call it “a wild ability to fabricate”) and my vote counts heavily towards some of the most major decisions rendered at National Hockey League HQ, (guess who made it Pasta Tuesdays at the NHL cafeteria?) so it’s only natural that when the league recently sent a DVD to the NHLPA explaining the boundaries of the newly proposed head shot rule I was also able to pinch given a copy.

Because of the recent rash of scrambled noggins (sounds like something Denny’s should serve) there has been a real push by the NHL to protect the league’s feeble image players. During their last round of meetings, the league’s GMs drew up a proposal (between the seventh and 10th hole) essentially stating that “any blindside hit where the head is targeted shall be punishable by (trails off).”

Of course for this proposal to pass it has to be ratified by the league’s GMs, the owners, the NHL’s competition committee, the NHLPA, three Tibetan monks and a player to be named later. First step in getting this done in the desired three days was creating a DVD guide that would explain the proper (and legal) way to crush an opponent’s cranium. 

From the outset, I must tell you, this is a confusing film.

It starts out in a foggy meadow, where a bird sits chirping. We pan out.

We cut to a series of collisions – none of them related to hockey or even sports. There are car accidents, police chases, a polar bear sliding into a walrus and one of a fat guy on an undersized bike running into, and destroying, an above ground pool.

James Earl Jones narrates.

“In the real world a toddler running into a picnic table is funny stuff, the kind of thing meant to entertain and win us money, but in the world of hockey, collisions aren’t a laughing matter.”

Then a quick cut to archival footage of a wobbly Craig Janney attempting to find his own bench.

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“OK, some are, but still…”

Then we’re bombarded with bombs, explosions and a myriad of collisions, this time all hockey hits.

A baby drools, lightning bolts, a quick shot of Eric Lindros and evil laughter in the background, then more drooling.

We fade to an on-ice demonstration scene. Two players, obviously actors (they’re wearing Edmonton Oiler jerseys and smiling) make a series of moves skating by each other, the first time they slow to hit, then freeze for the camera (still smiling). Why are Oilers hitting each other?

Colin Campbell leans into the frame grinning, two thumbs way up. We hear a bing. The word “legal” flashes across the screen.

The scene rewinds. This time the collision is quicker and more violent. The actor making the hit is smiling menacingly. He has cat eye contact lenses. Flames burn around his helmet. The actor taking the hit is flat on the ice, tongue out, coughing up some sort of bile. His leg vibrates erratically. He whimpers “Why, why?”

Campbell leans in again, this time dressed in a Keystone Kop police uniform and blows his whistle. He looks angry. A buzzer sounds. The words “Illegal” and “see me after class” appear on-screen.  Then everybody bows.

We fade to close with Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot, only the word “legal” has been dubbed into the song between the words “best” and “shot.” Campbell, the two actors and James Earl Jones groove through the closing credits.

Overall, two stars out of five. It would have only been one star, but I liked the added Blooper Reel (man, Jones sure can swear).

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you the humor column Loose Change every Tuesday. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Check out his website at charlieteljeur.com.

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