Players like Chris Pronger who don't rely on cliches are a welcome quote for reporters. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Unfortunately, clichés are as much a part of the hockey world as any vulcanized mound of rubber or composite stick composed of uncooked spaghetti.
So the arrival of the first hockey player named after sports’ most time-tested interview-murdering technique – Los Angeles Kings center (and former New York Rangers draft pick) Marc-Andre Cliché, who played his first NHL game last season – was long overdue.
Of course, you don’t have to tell me that Cliché “is what he is” – or that “time will tell” if he can make a difference “moving forward”.
All this, I already know. But I also know these communicative cop-outs and intellectual crutches never fail to depress me.
I look at the English language the way an action movie star looks at a closet full of assault rifles and assorted weaponry – with respect, affection, awe and glee – which is why it always pains me to see it used to bludgeon true insight into the sports business.
That’s why, in the past, I’ve made a point of analyzing and tearing into the most ludicrous hockey clichés currently stinking up the scene. And we’ve got some more gems to lambaste this year:
1. “Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup”. I get that. I believe we all get that. Goes without saying, in fact. Let us know when you start playing for something else.
2. “A Whole New Level”. Our planet has been mapped out fairly extensively, so where are all these new levels, anyway? And why is it always a “whole” new level? What if it’s only partially new or a completely refurbished level?
3. “You’ve never played the game, so shaddapp you face.” This one is an absolutely preposterous oldie that, like a social disease, never really goes away – and it’s the last refuge of anyone who has run out of legitimate arguments.
Arguing that only NHLers can comment on the game would be like me saying all athletes should be forbidden from writing about the game because 99.98 percent of them are functional illiterates who think a dangling participle is a more serious injury than a meniscus tear.
That’s simply not true – and neither is the assumption you only can understand and comment on hockey once you’ve experienced it a high level.
4. “We just have to take care of the little things.” Exactly what little things need taken care of? Mitochondria? Verne Troyer? Gary Bettman’s affection for reporters? Be more specific, fellas.
5. The Bryan McCabe Mid-Cliché Inhale. This signifies a player’s weariness – as well as his commitment to finishing the cliché he started. For example, McCabe was really on his game here (look for the BMMCI at the 36-second mark).
6. “In accordance with club policy, contract terms will not be disclosed.” Many of the NHL’s franchises now have a “club policy” allowing them to disclose dollar amounts, contract details and salary cap information – but just as many employ carrier pigeons, Pig Latin and encryption programs from the Pentagon to keep that info far away from the nosey-ass public.
If the NHL demands all its member teams use the same website template, why don’t they force all those members to acknowledge and cater to the legitimate interest fans have in the financial aspects of each team’s operation? A reasonable answer to that question also has yet to be disclosed.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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