He's back, once again on loan from A Price Above Bip Roberts, this time with a look at the NHL's version of Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. Now, Libby (as we know him around the THN water cooler) didn't mention the change in color scheme for the Mighty Ducks this year. Because you would have to imagine that the old school Mighty Ducks jersey was the NHL jersey of choice on pride day.
Not that Libby would know because he was probably too busy hanging out with legions of women, because he was such a stud.
Hello, friends. So delighted you chose to join me again.
There are certain athletes that we always group together: Jordan and Pippen (I ignore the latter phases of both careers, because Jordan in blue and white was just a ghastly fashion and career choice, and Pippen in various shades of red never looked as good on his older, sagging frame), Duncan and Robinson, Biggio and Bagwell (the latter - so small, yet so strong!), Ray Ray (so manly!) and Ed Reed, etc.
Those combinations, though, are because the men in charge often had the good sense not to trade one of their cornerstones. There are other combinations in sports that result because, well, maybe one of the athletes harbors a distinct fascination for playing alongside - sharing a locker room, seats on the team bus, and even a hotel room - the other.
Think Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis, for example. They found comfort in each other in Houston and Orlando, two cities as radically different as the redneck and aged populations that inhabit them. Frankly speaking, I'm sure Cuttino would love to cut and run from his current non-playoff-attending gig with the Clip Show for his secret lover's similar non-playoff-attending-and-even-farther-from-relevance gig in New York.
Still, basketball is an individual game, so the reliance on teammates for support is somewhat less, even in a busy, multiple-month travel schedule. A different type of game altogether is hockey, where teammmates travel all over hell and gone (sometimes literally - I mean, have you people been to Vancouver?) and often rely on each other through the grind of a long, hard, physical season.
Hockey's answer to Will and Grace, er, Cuttino and Steve: Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.
The difference lies, of course, in ability. Selanne - a former kindergarten teacher (like Princess Diana! Ooh, the ravishing one!) and Kariya are two of the best scorers in recent NHL history. But... and this is a rather sizable but - they seem to thrive even more when in each other's company. Consider: from 1995 to 2001, when they overlapped in Anaheim (a second-rate city, I'd say; the martinis at some of the tiki bars near Disney are just horrific), Selanne topped 100 points twice ('97 and '99), and Kariya also did it twice ('96 and '99).
That '99 season, it stands to reason, probably consisted of a few awkward moments - we've all been there, let's be honest - such as a couple of elongated hugs in the hallway, a few sidelong glances on the first line as some stupid gimmick was transpiring in the stands, a harmless comment in the locker room about "loving Kariya," or a kiss blown in one direction after a perfectly placed pass, the interpretation of which (the kiss) was left to the imagination above all else.
This was, indeed, Kariya and Selanne circa the turn of the century. They reunited in 2003-2004 with the Avalanche; Selanne scored 16 times (well, on the ice, at least), and Kariya lit the red light (literally, of course - we're not talking figuratively just yet) 32 times. Selanne departed again, back to Anaheim, and Kariya eventually found his way to Nashville.
So now, as the playoffs march on, one continues with a chance at Lord Stanley, and the other sits at home, eliminated by his best friend's former squad, San Jose. They fight separate battles at this moment in time - the frozen moment, if you will - but they will always, and forever, be linked to each other. That's the power of the winter of '99, and the moments in California that two grown men, swift on ice and in body, will never forget.