LAS VEGAS – While everyone else was scuttling around NHL Awards media day trying to pry interesting quotes out of nominees, I had a different idea. I decided to play a game.
Without the protection of a PR person, Brent Burns, defenseman (and occasional forward) for the San Jose Sharks was open to my experiment. All Burns had to do was name six of his Sharks teammates based on their faces from NHL15. (Key is to remember it’s NHL15 and not NHL16, something that will be revisited later.) Burns did not see the actual headshot of the teammate. I added that later. He just saw the digital version.
Here’s what happened! Enjoy!
PUCK DADDY: Did you realize you’re wearing an American flag hat and Canadian flag shoes? Just wondering…
BRENT BURNS: Huh?
PD: I like it, though. It’s a transnational outfit.
BB: This is uh… this is uh… [Takes off hat, hair explodes everywhere, looks at it] OH YEAH! I didn’t know which hat I was wearing.
PD: See! Look at you!
BB: I got it at Disneyland.
PD: I didn’t know they sold Quicksilver at Disneyland.
BB: They do! I found it there. Fresh from the Indiana Jones ride.
PD: Ok. Let’s get down to business. I am sick of writing about hockey. So, I’m doing a different kind of interview. I want you to guess who your teammates are from NHL15 based on their face.
PD: Who do you think bachelor number one is? And talk me through it.
BB: These guys are on my team?
PD: All of them were on your team through the 2015 season.
BB: Uhh… [long pause] Jesus. No visor. Has a beard…
PD: Ooh, I didn’t even think about the visors. [Note: I put bacon clip art over numbers and sponsors on helmets, when applicable.]
BB: Is that Jumbo?? Did they keep that as Jumbo?
BB: It is??
PD: I forgot my notebook with the answers. I’m pretty sure that’s Joe.
BB: Geez. That looks like Jumbo when he’s like 24.
PD: I know. Really. I was surprised there was no beard [makes hand gesture to indicate a full beard].
BB: [Laughing] They gotta’ give him way more gray now.
PD: Waaaaay more gray?
BB: Way more gray. [Grinning and laughing]
PD: We’ll pass that along for NHL 16. So, who do you think that is?
BB: Uh… [long pause]. Geez, that’s a tough one. Uhh, I’m going to say [long pause]. I’m trying to think of our guys right now.
PD: [Cracking up] Do you not remember them? Has it been THAT long?
BB: [Giggling] Nooo. I’m just trying to think who wears visors…
PD: You’re over thinking it, dude. I need a snap decision!
BB: Yeah, I don’t know. That’s uh… [long pause]
PD: Hurry up! One answer. NOW!
BB: [Even longer pause] Um, jeesus. I don’t know that one. That’s a tough one.
PD: That’s Pavelski.
PD: That look like him?
BB: Yeah, yeah. That could be Pavie. Yeah, it’s got the red. It’s pretty good.
BB: That’s Pickles! [Marc Eduard Vlasic]
BB: And that is Patty Marleau.
PD: Yep! And the last two?
BB: Uhhhhhh… [Points to his avatar] Tommy Wingels?
PD: [Snickering] No.
BB: [Melker] Karlsson?
BB: [Long pause] Oh geez. I don’t know who the next two are.
PD: You don’t know?
BB: Uhh, let’s see. [Longest pause ever] That’s not? Wait. That’s not Cooch is it?
PD: Who the hell is Cooch?
BB: [Logan] Couture.
PD: OH. DUH. No. The first one isn’t, but the next one is. Good job!
[NHL guy steps in. “Brent you’re done after this.” Burns just waves him off. Cool dude.]
BB: [Exasperated] That’s Cooch?
PD: It doesn’t look anything like him. One last guess.
BB: I don’t know who that one is.
PD: IT’S YOU!
BB: What?! I just saw a picture of me with no teeth and a beard!
PD: Nooo! This is the one we got from the game while you’re playing. So apparently when you get dressed for games … [Burns bring out his iPhone] Wait. You’re going to show me?
BB: Yeah! Because I would have never guessed that was me.
PD: This is the one I have that’s you.
BB: [Shows me the picture that looks exactly like him, beard, no teeth and all. NHL16 got it done right!]
PD: Is that from NHL16…
PD: … or 15?
BB: 16! [Points to the picture I showed him] This is the old one!
PD: Welllllll excuuuse me! I don’t have the new one! I’m not important. I’m not a player.
BB: That’s cheating! I didn’t …
PD: I TOLD YOU!
BB: No way! [Laughs]
PD: I told you it was NHL15. Well, thank you for being a good sport…
BB: Let me see it again. Hmm, really?
PD: You have a chiseled jawline.
BB: Yeah I do. I was gonna say.
[NHL guy looms over me]
PD: Thanks, Brent. [Goes for awkward fist bump. End up messing with my hair instead.]