We’re nearing that ever-ominous September 15 deadline, friends. When it hits we will officially be locked out; it is going to happen. The sooner we come to grips with this the better our lives will be — acceptance is the first step to recovery.
For players overseas this is a time of great trepidation. The reality is slowly setting in that unless you are a star on your club you could very well be out of a job soon, or at least in heavy competition to keep the one you have once NHLers head your way. (The ethical conundrum of NHLers shipping off is another matter which I hope to address next week)
The fact is many hockey players will soon have to go home to their families and tell their loved ones that they’ve been put out of a job by a National Hockey League player. For many, it will as simple as “Player X is here now, and he took my job” but for others, it will be the beginning of a gutwrenching path of deception to conceal the identity of said replacement player.
Some replacements are more embarrassing than others.
The feeling is universal. For many of us, we go to work and console ourselves knowing that we’re better at what we do than that person. Yet, in some instances that person is afforded better opportunities for reasons unbeknownst to us. It’s unjust. It’s unfair. It’s unlikely that voodoo didn’t play a role.
There are plenty of very good hockey players outside of the NHL. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting the right eyes to see you at the right time, and for many it simply boils down to bad luck. As we all know though, once you make it, you make it. Being a big brand name, regardless of how well deserved that designation is, will always carry you through the rough patches.
Being an NHLer makes you a brand name. Being a third liner in Germany does not. Even if the cool and obscure third liner in Switzerland is a better player, Swiss team will be more than willing to replace said obscure hypothetical with a big box store pile of garbage because the name plays better.
The question at this point becomes: who is the most embarrassing NHLer that could possibly replace you? There are several schools of thought on the matter.
Immediately, you have all lumped in every enforcer under the sun into the class of humiliation we are seeking here. Entirely warranted, though perhaps too much of a beeline for the obvious. There’s also the class clown type. Sean Avery comes to mind, as does another ‘interesting‘ fellow with a twitter account. I can’t imagine anyone being too thrilled about losing out to them.
Just as depressing are the players who have been given bloated salaries and have been buried in the minors to dodge the cap hit. Sober second thought? More like wicked hangover tap-out. “Get them off the damn roster, I don’t care if I still have to pay.” Wade Redden taking your spot on the blueline in the SM-liiga wouldn’t do much for your confidence, let alone your bank account.
Perhaps the most depressing person to lose your job to is that player who thinks they’re really good and just aren’t. The guys who celebrate every goal like they just one-upped Bobby Baun’s magnificence, who attempt multiple dangles per shift and complete one (around the linesman), who induce swear words from fans and enemies like nobody’s business. Not these guys. Never these guys. Paging the Kostitsyns.
Every goaltender in the world is currently quivering at the thought that Rick DiPietro could come into their crease and send them home with severance pay only to be called back in a few weeks later when Ricky Deep puts himself out for 6-8 months in a tragic shoelace tying accident.
Perhaps the entirety of the 2011-12 Toronto Maple Leafs could embarrass an entire roster somewhere out there between the months of February and April. Maybe this hypothetical team could become a year round bucket of yuck if they employ the 2011-12 Blue Jackets from September to January. I’m mentally drowning in this theoretical crapfest.
The fact of the matter is that the NHL, for all of its majesty, has an abundance of individuals which ought to absolutely horrify you if you’re a self-conscious hockey player employed elsewhere. There are so many embarrassing potential replacements it’s hard to choose which one is most horrifying. These are the concepts and folks I could come up with between vomit sessions and baffled weeping.
Which NHLer would you be most embarrassed to replace you in a roster? Leave your thoughts below, on twitter or on our facebook page.
The right answer is Jeff Finger, by the way. Jeff Finger is the most embarrassing replacement.