(Ed. Note: Our series "Puck Daddy's Guilty Pleasures" features puckheads from all walks of life answering questions about their own hockey-related guilty pleasures. It will run daily during the month of August. Have a suggestion for a "Guilty Pleasures" guest blogger? Hit us on email. Enjoy!)
Today's special guests: Rudy Kelly, Earl Sleek and Megalodon of The Battle of California blog, where you'll get your daily update of Kings, Ducks and Sharks coverage mixed in with humor and cartoons.
1. The Player You Most Love To Hate
Rudy Kelly: Ryan Smyth. I hate a lot of people (Thomas Jefferson, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Greg Wyshynski) but most of them are for petty and possibly insane reasons. But I love to hate Ryan Smyth because my hate for him is perfectly justified. He's been overrated his entire career and he has been bestowed mythical Canadian qualities because his team sucked so much he was available for the World Championships every year. The truth is that he's a lazy backchecker, he hogs the puck, and he isn't even that good in front of the net (the commentators just point him out more). Plus, he's goofy-looking.
Then the hayseed idiot asks for a trade, freeing up the Kings to pursue Brad Richards and sign Simon Gagne, all while exposing himself for a selfish player that puts himself above the team. The Germans have a word for how I felt: It's "Ryansmythisstupidfreude." And gentlemen, that feeling is GLORIOUS.
Earl Sleek: His playing career is over, but I don't think I'll ever hate a player with the same extraordinary intensity with which I hated Patrick Roy. That was a special kind of spite — I hated him, and I was quite proud of myself for doing so. Nowadays, players can irritate me, but I don't particularly love the fact that I hate them. Well, except for Steve Ott.
Megalodon: Patrick Roy. He's an arrogant jerk who padded his wins total later in his career while playing on the insanely-stacked Avalanche team, and his horrible puck-handling was an embarrassment that he never got enough flak for. Also he married a woman with the same name as his father, which is eight kinds of creepy.
2. Other Than Your Own, The Team You Can't Help Rooting For
Rudy Kelly: The Atlanta Thra- Dammit! Team Russia, I guess.
Earl Sleek: I know I'm a horrible Ducks fan for saying so, but for me it's the L.A. Kings. What can I say? I can identify with the struggles of the Southern California hockey fan better than I can sympathize with east coast or Canadian hockey fans. Plus, the Ducks and Kings signed a pact to never meet each other in the playoffs, so I'll never have to confront that awkward situation.
Megalodon: The Capitals. The Sharks of the East. Alex Ovechkin is the most exciting player in the league.
3. Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time
Rudy Kelly: This series of donneybrooks in 2001 between the Kings and the Senators. Highlights include Kelly Buchberger losing a fight (surprising, I know), Adam Deadmarsh tooling Wade Redden and then yelling, "You're next!" to Andre Roy, Adam Mair jumping off the bench to protect Mikko Eloranta from Chris Neil, and Jani Hurme holding Felix Potvin's head down while a Senator on the bench takes off his goalie glove. Hockey owns.
Earl Sleek: While I do support the NHL's typical goon fights, it's the comical bouts between non-fighters that win me over the most. My favorite is probably an old Scott Niedermayer vs. Valeri Kamensky tussle, wherein Niedermayer manages to pull Kamensky's jersey over his own head before drop-kicking it on his way to the penalty box. Hilarious, Scotty — cracks me up every time.
Megalodon: Scott Thornton making Jiri Fisher's face bleed all over the place.
4. The Hideous-Looking Hockey Jersey You Secretly Love The Most
Rudy Kelly: I don't know, the Kings have always had great looking jerseys. Montreal's jerseys have a certain ugly charm, I guess.
Earl Sleek: No surprise — it's the Mighty Duck smashing through the ice. That's totally something I could see myself drawing in a moment of silliness.
Megalodon: The Backstreet Boys hockey jersey. I discussed it on Battle of Cali a while ago, but the idea that this garment exists inspires a kind of horrified fascination for me.
5. Your Favorite Hockey Cliché (terminology, traditions, announcer-speak, etc.)
Rudy Kelly: Whenever an announcer says that a player made a "hard dump" into the zone, I laugh. I'm 5 years old.
My least favorite: "He doesn't have to score points to be effective." It's used as a blanket statement to excuse some (read: North American) players from a scoring slump. Jonathan Toews doesn't score in 7 games: perfectly fine because he must be doing other stuff to help the team win. Henrik Sedin doesn't score in 7 games: he's a joke. It's dumb.
Earl Sleek: The one that cracks me up when they refer to a goalpost as the "goaltender's best friend." Sure, most hockey goalies are friendless lunatics, but no need to constantly rub that in.
Megalodon: I love "upper body injury" and "lower body injury" during the playoffs. The stubborn insistence to reveal serious player injuries is part of what makes hockey so great.
6. The Injury You Couldn't Stop Staring At (Non-Skate Lacerations Only)
Rudy Kelly: This relates to question 1: I could watch this for days. Look at Smyth's helmet go flying off! I want this playing in a continuous loop at my funeral.
Earl Sleek: In a car-accident sort of way? When Scott Stevens destroyed Paul Kariya in G6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. A shattering captain-on-captain collision, followed by death, resurrection, and unbelievable triumph. Even though the Mighty Ducks would go on to lose G7, that was the best hockey game I've ever attended, one last exclamation point on a fairy-tale postseason.
Megalodon: Paul Kariya knocked out by Scott Stevens, waking up on the ice with that huge, gasping breath, like he's coming out of cryo-sleep or something.
7. Your Favorite Cheesy Hockey Reference in Popular Culture
Rudy Kelly: My favorite is Marty McSorley inexplicably playing the co-pilot in "Con Air." He gets murdered almost immediately.
Earl Sleek: In "Naked Gun," when Ricardo Montalban takes a bite out of a hot dog only to discover that it's a human finger, I thought that was a nice tribute to Alex Burrows.
Megalodon: The roof street hockey scene from "Clerks."
8. Your Favorite Terrible Hockey Card Or Hockey Action Figure.
Rudy Kelly: Terry Murray's hockey card always cracks me up.
Earl Sleek: Take your pick.
Megalodon: A Steve Shields trading card that talks about how he is "now squarely the number one goaltender in San Jose" from the year when he hurt his ankle in the second game of the season and lost the starting job forever to Nabokov.
9. Finally, What's The Thing You Secretly Respect Gary Bettman For The Most?
Rudy Kelly: He has successfully trolled millions of Canadians for almost 20 years. He's pretty much my hero.
Earl Sleek: I think he brings a nice touch of humanity and vulnerability to the typically cold role of Commissioner Gordon in the Dark Knight series. Oh wait, Gary Bettman?
Megalodon: Actually going out on the ice to award the Stanley Cup when he knows he's going to be booed to all Hell.