I have a confession to make. I cannot make head or tails of hockey. And considering DC has the best team in the league, that is a major bummer. I respect the sport immensely but whenever I try to follow the puck, I feel like a tabby teased with a laser pointer.
I think it has something to do with being from the South. With today’s technology, ice rinks are as common as Starbucks. But skating on the lone ice rink in 1985 Memphis was as novel as walking on Mars. Keep in mind, when I was growing up, there were no Nashville Predators or Carolina Hurricanes. On a hockey freelance assignment once, I had a 10-minute conversation with Gordie Howe and had no idea who he was.
So when I look at hockey, I can’t help but bring a Southern mentality to it. Take hockey player names. Many of them properly convey the devastating power, grit and grace these athletes possess: Alex Ovechkin. Jaromir Jagr. There’s even a Michal Jordan.
Then there is the handful of unfortunates who sound like they should be throwing rocks at Forrest Gump.
Still, they are my peeps. Or at least sound like them.
Take Dallas center Vernon Fiddler. Or Detroit’s Tomas Tatar. (I know the Slovakian player’s name is probably pronounced more like the fancy raw steak, but in my head I hear my grandma cooking “tay-ters” for dinner.)
I would give anything for Beau Bennett and Bo Horvat to team up with Luke Glendening and Luke Schenn.
Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck isn’t alone–there are actually numerous Cal’s across the NHL, but it’s the “Clutterbuck” that makes me mentally cast him alongside Dallas’ Cody Eakin and Colton Sceviour in a Bonanza episode. Throw in Jimmy Howard, J.T. Brown, and Calvin Pickard and you could pull off Oklahoma.
Finally, there’s Columbus center Boone Jenner, which sounds more “Bull Durham” than “Slapshot” to me. It manages to be both sexy and redneck at the same time—exactly the kind of guy I like, if I weren’t twice his age. So I’ll leave it there, y’all.