Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The 10 Worst Plays Of The Past 10 Years

Sometimes your team makes a play that transcends badness and breaches the realm of comedy. We've seen some real doozies this year -- Scott Hartnell's glove throw, Ryan O'Byrne's own-goal, Barry Melrose's coaching career. It got me thinking, and we all know what happens when I start thinking: a top-10 list.

10) Wideman shootout topple

I hate to throw Wides under the bus, but this was ridiculous. This is funnier than 90% of prime-time network sitcoms.

9) Toskala 175' goal

It's a minor miracle Toskala's reputation recovered (sort of) after this one; Dan Cloutier wasn't so lucky. To the best of my knowledge this is the longest goal in NHL history against a guarded net. The only reason it isn't higher on the list is because the puck did bounce a little on the way to the net, which can be challenging for a world-class goaltender. Especially when he has several seconds of advance warning to prepare himself.

8) Conklin's Finals nightmare

This one is exceptional because of its magnitude. The last minute of a tied Finals game is no time for tomfoolery behind the net. Conklin should have consulted Grant Fuhr re: staying the hell in the net during the playoffs.

7) O'Byrne shoots and scores

There were a lot of own-goals in consideration for this list, but most did not qualify for reasons of compassion. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally. For every 1,000 bouncing pucks in front of the net, one might be accidentally knocked in by a defenseman. For every 1,000 passes during a delayed penalty, one will squirt away and go dead-on into the empty net. It's understandable. But what distinguishes O'Byrne's play was that it was an intentional pass, not a mistake. It simply did not cross his mind that the goaltender might not be in a position to receive a blind pass at that very moment -- unfortunate, because Price was 40 feet away at the bench.

6) Hartnell glove throw

The inspiration behind this list. We will never know what was going through Scott Hartnell's mind at this moment. Did he think he was being clever? Did he think he was going to get away with it? Did it just smell that bad?

5) Kovalev Oscar clip

For many fans, this was the defining moment in Alexei Kovalev's career. Faking an injury is against the moral code of hockey. Faking it in the playoffs, at center ice, during an offensive rush, and floating around shaking your hand afterward, and screening your own backchecker out of the play because you're not paying attention to anything other than your own selfish need to have your boo-boo recognized, thus allowing the opponent to score, thus leading to a double-OT defeat... that's an affront to the Hockey Gods. Only the '04 Bruins could have failed to put away a team with that sort of 'leadership'.

4) Phaneuf drops the gloves, his ass

So many things went wrong on this play. First, Phaneuf manages to get leveled by the most annoying player in the Western Conference at the time. Then he misinterprets Ruutu's yapping as an overture to fight; Dion's gloves have barely touched the ice when Ruutu's butt touches the bench. Then, naturally, Phaneuf falls flat on his ass at the very moment that everyone in the hockey world is paying attention. But worst of all is the humiliation of having to pick up his gloves right in front of the Vancouver bench, one of which fell right in front of Ruutu. Imagine if Ruutu had been mike'd for THAT one. Finally, the refs really could've called him for unsportsmanlike conduct... if they wanted to really rub his nose in it.

3) Statue of Liberty

This was the precise moment when Patrick Roy's legacy began to fade. He had made a career and a legend out of his unique combination of arrogance and "money" play. So it was arresting to see him, with less than a minute to go in the first period of an elimination game against the arch-rival Wings, mindlessly waving his glove over his head as Brendan Shanahan scored the game-winner.

2) Patrik Stefan's career microcosm

Buckner. Webber. Norwood. Some players make a single mistake that overshadows an outstanding career. But Patrik Stefan didn't even have a track record to fall back on -- the biggest draft bust of the millenium also happened to play the starring role in what is arguably the worst play in the history of the sport.

"Grandad, can we watch a highlight of you back when you played in the NHL?"

1) Elisha Cuthbert

'Nuff said.

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Unknown said...

So, am I the ONLY person who sees Ruutu put his stick blade behind phaneuf's knee in #4?

Tom said...

In a sense, it's even worse that Ruutu knew he owned Phaneuf but 99.9% of spectators think at first glance that Phaneuf simply fell down. Besides, it's an awfully small hook to cause such a graceless fall.

Amanda said...

Really great blog! I must say the Wideman clip is my favorite. I still can't figure out what went so terribly wrong that he flew up into the air like that.

Hebsie99 said...

I agree completely with the Stefan play. Not only does he miss the net but he inexplicably falls and turns the puck over after! If he had just stood up and kept the puck in the corner his team still wins. There are a thousand things he could have done instead that all result in his team winning.
The combination of whiffing that close and then falling i think makes it the worst play of all time. How improbable for Edmonton to be able to get the puck up ice fast enough to score before time runs out. How perfect.

I do take excepion to the hartnell play. That wasnt bad so much as bizarre. And in the end it didnt hurt the team. i nominate McCabe classic gaffe

this play not only cost the team a much needed win and snuffed whatever momentum the team had that season, but basically was the nail in his coffin in his career as a Leaf. He was hearing from the fans before that play, and after that, there was no way he would ever win them back over. He waived his no trade clause eventually to get out of T.O.

This play ended his career in Toronto and surely is one of the 10 worst of the decade!

Anonymous said...

Good list....but you gotta cut Cuthbert a break. She may be a hockey dunce....but at least she's a HOT hockey dunce. Would you rather watch her or Patrik Stefan at the rink? Enough said... :)