All-Star weekend is essentially speculative fiction.
We gather together a bunch of hockey players and say, 'WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE BEST PLAYED A MEANINGLESS HOCKEY GAME TOGETHER AND THERE WAS NO CHECKING ALLOWED!?!?'
We then expand it into a series of televised events in a failed attempt to expand interest, asking, "WHAT IF CODY HODGSON AND MATT READ SHOT AT A BUNCH OF PLATES?!" or "WHO WOULD DANIEL ALFREDSSON PICK FIRST IN A FANTASY DRAFT!?"
As such, I gave in to a similar fantasy. I delved into my own brand speculative fiction...
On Sept. 15, the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement will run out.
Our scene opens on the 14th, and the agreement is minutes away from expiring. The NHLPA has a long series of demands that the owners don't want to give in to, until, finally they reach a compromise.
We'll give you everything you want, say the owners, one one condition: Instead of an All-Star game, we'll have a 30 players enter a wrestling ring in a last-man-standing, over-the-top-rope Battle Royal using Royal Rumble style rules.
Each NHLer draws a number, and whichever number they draw, that's when they enter. Every two minutes, a new hockey player enters, and the bludgeoning continues. Like the Highlander, in the end, there can be only one.
A slight tweak for those actually familiar with the actual Rumble is that tag teams may enter together using two separate numbers because, well, it makes things easier for me and funnier.
The winner gets $1 million, or $10 million, or some arbitrary amount of money that would make fighting a bunch of hockey players totally worth it. And a championship belt that looks EERILY similar to the WWE Title.
With the help of Mike Darnay's (check out his website and follow him on Twitter) elite photoshopping skills, something that I woefully lack, here's how I imagine such a Rumble would go, brought to you with the help of our crack commentary team of Mike 'Doc' Emrick, Pierre McGuire, and Mike 'The Brain Injury' Milbury...
...here is the first (and probably only) ever NHL Royal Rumble.
(Note: Most competitors' names are linked to entrance music. I recommend opening the link in a new tab, if you choose to do so... because half of the fun is the music.)
Doc: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first ever NHL Royal Rumble. I'm here alongside my broadcast partners Mike and Pierre.
Milbury: Pleasure to be here Doc, I'm just excited to see some good, old fashioned hockey tonight.
Doc: Well, Mike there'll be no skates, no sticks, no pucks. Just a bunch of millionaires hitting and throwing each other around for no apparent reason.
Milbury: Right! Good, old fashioned hockey.
Doc: Okay, Mike! Pierre, what've you got for us?
Pierre: Well guys, I'm sitting ringside so I can provide frequent bits of analysis that are often inaccurate and in the most fan boy of fashions.
Doc: We wouldn't expect anything else... okay, on to the match, who drew number one?
No. 1. Sean Avery
Doc: It's Sean 'The Model' Avery!
Pierre: Avery played junior hockey with the Owen Sound Antelopes before pursuing a degree in at the Handome Boy Modeling School. He has led the NHL in official player photo retake requests for the last eight seasons.
Doc: I'm surprised Mike, Avery seems like he'd be your type of competitor.
Milbury: Too much ducking, not enough decking.
Doc: Ducking could serve him well in this event. Now, who is Avery's sloppy seconds?
No. 2 Arron Asham
Doc: I know that music, it's Arron Asham!
Pierre: A well-known vegan hailing from Chicago, Asham grew up a huge fan of the Bears and William 'Refridgerator' Perry. The Fridge only lasted a little bit past the midway point of the Wrestlemania II Battle Royal, Asham will be hoping to last longer than that.
Doc: Asham dropped the gloves and is running to the ring at a breakneck pace. He's chasing Avery around the squared circle, and The Model wishes he was at a photo shoot right now.
Avery just got coldcocked by Asham. What a blow from the long-haired forward, showing the presence of a pugilist. Can Avery even get back up?
Wait, what's Asham doing?
Pierre: I believe he's actually signaling to his children that it's time to go to bed. Asham's a proud father, and the Rumble can't even get in the way of his parental duties.
Doc: Uh oh, and the clock is running down, as the crowd counts down ...3...2...1...
Nos. 3 & 4: Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis
Milbury: The only clear advantage I can see is Lecavalier wearing that visor. A visor-wearing ninny and a Lady Byng winner. Pffft. They'll be gone in a few minutes, and if not, I may have to do something about it.
Pierre: Few people know that Lecavalier and St. Louis' cohesiveness originated from a spell as partners in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Thus, their matching sleeveless vests.
Doc: And here they go to work hammering away at Asham while Avery sits dazed in the corner.
Lecavalier: VIVA QUEBEC!
St. Louis: VIVA LIGHTNING!
Doc: Let's get some thoughts from our colleagues providing commentary for our friends up north at the Canadian announce table.
Ron MacLean: Thanks Doc. Well Don, pretty good match we've seen so far, eh?
Don Cherry: Y'KNOW, THAT ARRON ASHAM'S A GOOD CANADIAN BOY, THROWS A LOT OF PUNCHES, GETS INTO CORNERS. MAYBE HE CAN SHOOT TOO, I'M NOT SURE. I THINK HE'S GOT A CHANCE AS LONG AS THOSE FRENCHY PUNKS STOP GANGING UP ON HIM. MANO-E-MANO RON, LET'S GO!
Doc: Thank's guys. And the count down yet again...
No. 5: Nicklas Lidstrom
Pierre: Wow guys, have you ever seen a guy in better shape than Nicklas Lidstrom? He could play til he's 45, or 50, or 55, or 60, or 65, or even 70, or maybe 75, or 80 if he keeps up at this pace.
Doc: And into the ring he goes, surveying the situation cerebrally, moving around like he's setting up a breakout while The Quebecers continue to pummel Asham. Avery, thinking Lidstrom is unaware, takes a blindside, leaping run at Lidstrom. But Lidstrom ducks, and his assailant flies over the top rope.
Elimination No. 1: Sean Avery by Lidstrom
No. 6 Trevor Gillies
Milbury: Here we go, a real hockey player. One who brings intangibles to the rink (and the ring) that any coach would love. And, luckily for him, there's no skates, no sticks, no pucks and no goals tonight. I didn't sign him, but I should've.
Nos. 7 & 8 Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban
Pierre: Two guys well known for their excellent teamwork and cohesiveness as a unit. Best buddies off of the rink, Tomas Plekanec would never hesitate to take a retaliatory punch for P.K. Subban after P.K. slew foots someone.
Doc: And they're going blow for blow with The Quebecers, their juxtaposing club and hometown situations leading to a random brawl. A line brawl, if you will. And fortunately for both sides, none of the participants can really fight, so there's not a lot of pain being inflicted here. Or from anyone.
Meanwhile, there's Asham delivering an elbow to Gillies while Lidstrom stares creepily like the scary German guy from Monster Squad looking out of his window. The ring is really starting to fill up here...
No. 9 Zdeno Chara
Pierre: Zdeno Chara's an 8'10, 635-pound monster of a Slovak. Manager Claude Julien really got a bargain when he reeled in this monster. Here he comes...
Doc: ...and there GOES Gillies over the top rope. And Plekanec. And Subban. And Asham. And Lecavalier. And St. Louis.
Elimination. No. 2: Trevor Gillies by Chara
Elimination No. 3: Tomas Plekanec by Chara
Elimination No. 4: P.K. Subban by Chara
Elimination No. 5: Arron Asham by Chara
Elimination No. 6: Vincent Lecavalier by Chara
Elimination No. 7: Martin St. Louis by Chara
Doc: Can anyone handle this monster? He's face-to-face with Lidstrom now, the cagey Swede having yet to throw a punch. Lidstrom's head is always up, and Chara's having a helluva time grabbing a hold of him.
Milbury: Gillies is gone? How dare that piece of Eurotrash eliminate an Islander.
No. 10 Brian Gionta
Doc: And it's little Brian Gionta drawn into this ring of legends and monsters. A scrappy player, forty-plus goalscorer and Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils... but can he match up with Lidstrom and Chara? Pierre? Mike?
Pierre: He has great tenacity and a real eye for goal, shoots at every opportunity and gets into ugly areas. Gionta's made a career of proving people wrong.
Nos. 11 & 12: Mike Richards and Jeff Carter (w/ Joffrey Lupul (of course))
Pierre: Finally, one of the greatest combinations in NHL history reunited. It took a ton of leadership from Mike Richards to make it happen, but here we are. Joffrey Lupul being in their corner really completes the equation.
Doc: They've finally gone into the ring and... wait, what's that Lupul's got in his hands? Is that Jagermeister?
Pierre: Nectar of the Gods and Richardses.
Doc: Wait... are they... taking body shots off of Lupul's toned belly?
Pierre: It's a method of team bonding, Doc.
Doc: Wait, Chara just kicked Lupul out of the ring. He has Richards and Lupul by the throat. Foiled by fratlife once again... call it fratricide.
Elimination No. 8: Mike Richards by Chara
Elimination No. 9: Jeff Carter by Chara
No. 13 Alexander Ovechkin
Doc: It's Ovechkin! It's Ovechkin! Pierre, what've you got for us?
Milbury: Pierre ran away yelling "NO NO NO NO NO NO" when Richards was eliminated, Doc. I dunno if he'll be back. But hey, did you just see Chara headbutt Gionta? Quality hockey.
Doc: Sure. Ovechkin hits the ring lacking some of the star power and game-changing ability from earlier in his career. But make no mistake, he is still a threat to concuss unaware defensemen. Chara and Lidstrom would do well to be on their guard.
Milbury: Well, Chara's busy headbutting Gionta, picking him up and... there goes Gionta.
Elimination No. 10: Brian Gionta by Chara
Doc: And here comes Ovechkin from the blind side! Knee-on-knee and a brutal one at that, wow. There's some of that game-changing ability right there. The big man's feet are wobbly, can he stay in?
Milbury: No! Ovechkin leaps and catches Chara with a shoulder to the head. He crashes over the top rope and to the ground. How dare that piece of Eurotrash eliminate a Bruin!
Elimination No. 11: Zdeno Chara by Ovechkin
Doc: Ovechkin's jumping all around the ring, fist pumping and acting like it's the first time he threw someone out of a wrestling ring, while Lidstrom looks upon him quizzically.
Milbury: Well, it probably is the first time he threw someone out of a wrestling ring.
Doc: Yeah, I guess that explains it this time.
No. 14: Kyle Wellwood
Doc: And here come sleeper favorite Kyle Wellwood, wearing some interesting ring attire. He could pose problems for opponents trying to actually lift him out of the ring. Lidstrom's looking at him warily while throttling a Shake Weight.
Milbury: Wellwood looks to be in the best shape of his career. What a boon to the Jets.
Doc: Lidstrom hasn't been touched in 20 minutes, Ovechkin's congratulating himself and Wellwood seems to be eating toffee. Exciting doesn't even begin to describe things, eh Mike?
Milbury: It's definitely a step up from watching guys shoot a puck really hard into an empty net. Tonight, we're seeing real hockey skills on display.
Doc: And as we near the halfway point of our competition, who will come out of the curtain next?
No. 15: Evgeni Malkin
Doc: That's... that's Evgeni Malkin's music! He's flying into the ring and heading right after Ovechkin.
Milbury: Two Russians who don't fight trying to fight. Where's that empty net at?
Doc: This is literally the one development that could make me legitimately excited to read the second part of an NHL/Royal Rumble speculative fiction...
Right on cue, Doc. Thus ends the overlong, probably painfully difficult to read first installment of the NHL Royal Rumble. Questions on tap for Part 2...
- Will Evgeni Malkin triumph over Alex Ovechkin?
- Will Nicklas Lidstrom continue to deftly avoid contact?
- Did Kyle Wellwood bring seconds?
- Will the Sedins show up? Or Scott Hartnell? Or Phil Kessel? Or Craig Adams? Or Tim Thomas? Yes. Yes. No. Yes. No.
- Who will win this malfeasance of a match?