No. 3: Surprise Heroics
No, we’re not talking fans who brazenly jump onto the ice to confront an official.
Rather, we mean the big-bucks, can’t-believe-that-happened heroics. This is name-making territory. Where the bread is won. You can be a bottom line player the entire regular season, but if you turn it on in the playoffs, woo baby. Man becomes legend.
Don’t believe me? Just ask any Dallas Stars fan worth their salt to name the hero in ’99 against Colorado. I’ll give you the answer: It was Mike Keane. He of six goals all season goes on to record two in Game 7 to send Dallas to the finals.
He’s remembered forever, and it took a single game. Dallas even invited him to be a guest during their year-long Reunion Nights celebration.
Chris Drury, too. He isn’t likely to make the Hall of Fame (though he’s still a super solid player), but certainly Avalanche and Sabres fans remember his playoff performances. I mean, how do you not? The guy is only tied with Mike Bossy and Glenn Anderson for sixth on the list of career game-winning goals in the postseason.
Finally, how about Tim Thomas? For a dude who had a largely unremarkable eight regular seasons as a goaltender in the NHL, I’ll bet Boston fans still have this guy’s poster on their wall. He backstopped them to the title in 2011 and also won the Conn Smythe. Three seasons later he was out of the league. To be fair, he was about 84 at the time, but still.
The list is endless, really, but the point is the same: We live for the underdog. For the stories that come out of nowhere. The players who add “clutch” to their permanent name tag.
We love that it could be anybody. Hockey is so dynamic that if you don’t crack it the first shift, you’ve got another coming up in roughly two to three minutes. No other major sport can lay claim to these kinds of wide open opportunities.
The question then becomes, who’s it going to be this year? We know it’s coming. And when it does, look out because…oh hey, another segue!