Whatever it Takes
Nothing - repeat nothing - will ever outdo Red Kelly's pyramid power when it comes to hockey gimmicks.
Well, given that the Maple Leafs lost the '76 quarterfinal series against Philly, maybe that's not quite true.
But give the man an "A" for creativity.
Right now, there are two good gimmicks going on in the NHL, and both are funny in their own way, but also pretty damn meaningful to the two teams involved.
The Edmonton Oilers are giving an "ugly coat" to their best player after each game, and man, this is one unsightly garment.
Long, leather and with a thick fur collar, I think I might have seen something like in Starsky and Hutch. Or maybe on Broadway Joe Namath around the time he was doing commercials for nylons.
Most important, it's a fun team thing, the kind of goofy little gimmick that creates team spirit and makes the 82-game season feel a little shorter.
The other gimmick is going on in Atlanta and actually started last season. Whenever the Thrashers get involved in a shootout, all the players on the bench turn their helmets around backwards in a hockey version of baseball's rally cap.
It particularly looks odd on players who wear shields.
When Slava Kozlov scored Atlanta's first shootout goal Thursday against Washington on a flashy deke, the veteran Russian couldn't even wait to get back to the bench to get his helmet turned around.
When Kari Lehtonen stoned Alex Ovechkin to end it, there was the hilarious sight of the Atlanta goalie being congratulated by teammates who all looked as though they were wearing the ugliest helmets since the old soup bowl model once worn by Brian Glennie.
Silly, sure, but you know what? It takes an element of the game that some complain emphasizes individual over team, and puts the team spirit back in the game.
Instead of fearing the shootout like say, oh, the Maple Leafs, the Thrashers at least give the impression they're revelling in the moment.
Ugly coats and helmets worn backwards. In a pro sports world that often seems too antiseptic, this is good stuff.