Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Triplet Line for the Tampa Bay Lightning will show up with their toys for their pre-season game against Pittsburgh in Johnstown, Pa., in September. And if they do, there's a pretty good chance they'll go to the box for two minutes and feel shame.
Like Dickie Dunn, I’m just trying to capture the spirit of the thing. Now that Johnstown, Pa., has been named the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA, the most pressing question is whether or not the members of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning will have to put on a pre-game fashion show. After all, nowhere in their contracts does it say they gotta make fools of themselves. Am I right?
(Note to reader: If you’re not familiar with the 1977 classic sports movie Slap Shot, which was robbed by Annie Hall for the Best Picture Oscar in 1978, move along because the rest of this will be completely foreign to you.)
As the winner, Johnstown will host a pre-season game between the Lightning and the Penguins next fall and the Cambria County War Memorial Arena will receive $150,000 to upgrade its ice-making equipment and scoreboard, which should make that “cheap son of a b----” Joe McGrath happy for a while. Johnstown’s winning bid was announced by the president of Kraft Beverages and Snack Nuts Division on Saturday. Who knew Kraft had a Beverages and Snack Nuts Division?
In any event, here are a few things you can expect to see when the Penguins and Lightning faceoff in Johnstown on Sept. 29:
* Penguins owner Mario Lemieux will make a one-game comeback, making him the second most-famous Lemieux to play in Johnstown after former Chiefs goalie Denis. Lemieux will explain icing to everyone before the game by saying, “Icing happen when the puck come down, bang, you know, before the other guys. Nobody there, you know. My arm go comes up then the game stop then start up.” He will then take a shift and skate back to the bench and say, “Who hones da team? Wait a minute. I hone da team.”
* On the bus ride to the game, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will lose his blouse in a poker game. He will arrive at the game and realize he's allergic to the air in Johnstown and say, "I'm tired of it. Puke! Blah! All the time, puke." To which his backup Thomas Greiss will say: "You're a goalie. You're supposed to be like that."
* Lightning coach Jon Cooper will personally put a $100 bounty on the head of Brandon Sutter. He'll be told by the NHL that he can't do that because it violates the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. "Bullsh--, I just did," Cooper will respond.
* Steve Downie will get a penalty, then go to the box for two minutes by himself and, you know, feel shame, then he’ll get free. Chances are, that will happen at least a couple of times.
* The Lightning’s Triplet Line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov will show up with their (expletive) toys and start a massive brawl before the game starts. Lightning play-by-play man Dave Mishkin will say: “Everybody is just on their feet screaming ‘Kill Kill Kill!’ This is hockey!” The referee will skate up to them during the national anthem to warn them and Johnson will say, “I’m listening to the (expletive) song!”
* There will be NHL scouts in the stands with contracts in their pockets looking for talent. For winners.
* Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will stand up before the game and give his teammates the following rousing pre-game speech: "It’s their rink, it’s their ice, and it’s their (expletive) town. But tonight we got our fans with us. They spent their own dough to get here, and they came here to see us! All right, let’s show ‘em what we got, guys! Get out there on the ice and let ‘em know you’re there. Get that (expletive) stick in their side. Let ‘em know you’re there! Get that lumber in his teeth. Let ‘em know you’re there!” To which Evgeni Malkin will respond: “Bleed all over ‘em. Let ‘em know you’re there!”
* One of the Lightning prospects will go minus-3 in the game and say, “(Expletive) Chrysler plant, here I come!”
* Steven Stamkos will wind up for one of his patented shots from the top of the circle on the power play, but it will go horribly awry and fly over the boards before hitting the organist in the head. And the organist will be told, in no uncertain terms, to never play Lady of Spain again.
* Saskatchewan natives Chris Kunitz of the Penguins and Braydon Coburn of the Lightning will get in a fight over which one is the better friend of Gilmore Tuttle, who runs a doughnut shop in Mile 40, Sask.
* One of the Penguin players will ask the trainer for a drink between periods. “Get me a grape and an orange,” he’ll say. “And none of that stinkin' root beer.”
* And finally, one of the Lightning prospects will have such a bad game that Tampa GM Steve Yzerman will bury him so far in the minors that not even The Hockey News will be able to find him.