Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, January 18, 2021

royal
The trend has definitely set in: This is the fourth time in a row that the iPod Random 5 updates during holiday time. My iTouch must have a thing for commemorative events.

As luck would have it though, none of the songs that spewed from my music player jibe in any particular way with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But I liked the sequence, regardless. So here’s the random shuffle-generated list, with the customary lyrical tease from each:

1. “No Time (Sh*t Robot Remix)”, The Juan MacLean - Saw you dancing with the human.

2. “My Love Is For Real”, Paula Abdul - Gave you excuses with each storyline.

3. “Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) [Club Mix]“, Freemasons - Long as I’m moving it feels true.

4. “Play With Fire”, The Rolling Stones - Not in Knightsbridge anymore.

5. “Casey Jones”, Grateful Dead - Trouble ahead, trouble behind.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/18/2010 11:23 PM
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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what's my line
While watching the Islanders game the other night (I’m a Rangers fan and thus anti-Isles, but a game is a game), one of the announcers offhandedly proposed nicknaming the trio of Sean Bergenheim, Kyle Okposo, and Josh Bailey the “First Round Line”, owing to each player’s status as a first-round draft pick.

Nice moniker, if you disregard that most of the Isles forwards seem to be former first-rounders. But beyond that, that quip reminded me that it’s been a long time since I’d heard a noteworthy nickname for a National Hockey League forward line.

Bestowing a colorful label on an established line combination used to be a regular exercise in the NHL. As this lovingly-compiled list shows, there have been several over the years, with the wordplay for some coming off better than others. The “Production Line” during the Red Wings’ Gordie Howe era, for instance, jibed perfectly with the popular imagery of Detroit’s then-dominant industrial output in the auto industry. Buffalo’s “French Connection” from the early ’70s was a clever play on both those players’ Quebecois backgrounds, with reference to the popular box-office fare of the day. Line nicknames also served to spotlight another aspect of the sport, something between the individual star players and the whole team, to capture the fans’ imagination.

But nowadays, you just don’t hear these catchy line nicknames taking hold anymore. Maybe they do locally, but they never make it to a league-wide level. To me, the last nickname that caught on in hockey-media and fan circles across the NHL was Philadelphia’s “Legion of Doom” line of Eric Lindros, John LeClair, and Mikael Renberg. And that was some 15 years ago! Since then, nada.

The common reason cited for this is the lack of stability in modern-day line combos. Coaches seem quicker to mix and match players whenever goal production dips for more than a couple of games, thus making it hard for three players to form a recognizably cohesive unit. If anything, it seems like a two-player rapport develops on the top lines, with the left-wing slot usually being a revolving door for a plugger. Longer-term, free agency makes it harder to keep line partners together (although trades and minor-league demotions in the past probably created just as much player movement, so I doubt that’s much of an impediment).

It’s a shame to see this unique hockey contribution to the greater sports lexicon fall into disuse. I don’t know what can be done to revive it — the emergence of a hotshot offensive line? Grassroots marketing from the league/media/fans? — but whatever it takes, I’d like to start hearing those clever nicknames again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/18/2010 01:13 PM
Category: Hockey, Wordsmithing
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