The Wysh List publishes every Friday.

The Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League announced that they’re allowing their players to select personal goal songs this season.

It’s not a trailblazer of an idea — the Vancouver Canucks had done it for multiple seasons, for example — but the Checkers appear to be having a lot of fun with it. Julien Gauthier chose “It’s Raining Men.” Saku Maenalanen chose “Crazy Frog.” Josh Wesley chose the most memorable theme from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Immediately, NHL fans reacted with envy, asking why their favorite players couldn’t have customized goal songs. So as a public service, The Wysh List presents its goal song selections for some of hockey’s biggest names. We really think we captured the spirit of the thing:

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: “Me, Myself & I” by De La Soul.

Or when one player basically accounts for half of your overall team offense.

Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets: “GoldenEye” by Tina Turner.

No other song evokes both video games and expert sniping. Also, it’s entirely possible Laine is working for Finnish Intelligence and this is all an elaborate cover.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood.

Or as Ovi calls it, “the first two minutes of the parade.”

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: “The Sound A Knife Makes When It Scratches A Glass Bottle.”

Why would anyone use a knife on a glass bottle? I don’t know. Why would a hockey player lick another hockey player like they were one of those lollipops made to look like a rainbow unicorn horn? I don’t know. The point is that a 2012 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience concluded that a knife scraping over a glass bottle was, in fact, the most annoying sound in the world. And we could not think of a more appropriate sound for Brad Marchand’s goal song, for it’s likely what his opponents hear in their heads anyway as they see him celebrate.

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings: “Save Me” by Aimee Mann.

Or by Queen or Shinedown or Remy Zero or XXXTENTACION or … well, you get the point. It’s not been the best season in LA.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: “Symphony No. 9 in D minor” by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Child prodigy, technically perfect, improving with time, a decorated success whose influence will span the generations, a definitive performer for the ages and among the greatest who ever lived. And yet no matter how stirring the presentation or faultless the composition, some people just hate classical music.

P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators: “Folsom Prison Blues” by P.K. Subban.

While many of you might know this song from Johnny Cash’s 1955 single, the definitive version was performed by Subban at Tootsie’s in Nashville a few days after his trade by the Montreal Canadiens in 2016. And while Subban isn’t the kind of player who would have a song he performed himself as his official goal song … wait, of course he is.

Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks: “Baby Shark (doo doo doo doo doo doo), Pink Fong.

I mean, who doesn’t want to see and hear this?

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins: “All-Star” by Smash Mouth.

I mean, there’s really nothing else to say here, but we’ll just spell it out anyway: ‘Twas a time when Kessel was treated as a complete joke, a meme-able punchline, not the sharpest tool in the shed. Then came the slowly building appreciation of his virtues. Then came undeniable gratefulness of his peculiar, shabby gifts, and his status as a unassailable cult icon was established. Even today, when some dare criticize sweet Phil’s effectiveness or effort, you can faintly hear his supporters whisper-singing: “Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on. Go. Play…”

Matt Duchene, Chris Wideman, Thomas Chabot and Chris Tierney, Ottawa Senators: “Ridin’ by Chamillionaire.”

Pretty easy to catch them ridin’ dirty when there’s an Uber driver sending video files to every reporter in Ottawa.

Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets: “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande.

Look, no hard feelings. Relationships just end sometimes. They’re not putting John Tortorella’s picture in their Burn Book or anything. Just moving on. (We’ve included Sergei Bobrovsky here on the off-chance he scores a goal, using the experience of having watched so many pucks fly by him this season to his advantage.)

James Neal, Calgary Flames: “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.

Brad Treliving, ya got Rick-rolled.

Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals: “Oops … I Did It Again,” Britney Spears.

“Oops, I did it again/I aimed for your head/Got tossed from the game/Oh baby, baby/Oops, you think I’m a thug/But I’m just gonna shrug/Arbitrator said I’m innocent.”


Maybe You Trade Tarasenko?

St. Louis Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford caused a stir when it was reported the team was open for business and everyone was available, including Vladimir Tarasenko. Like most times a beat writer says something on the radio and it’s written up on Twitter, his report was mangled, and Rutherford had to clarify that “A COUPLE of general managers around the league have said that they’re HEARING the big names are on the block, everything is open, even Vladimir Tarasenko. A GM said, ‘I HEARD Vladi is available.'”

So there you go, I guess.

Tarasenko’s “availability” is probably either a result of teams asking about him or the Blues opening up their ears to the possibilities in case someone comes a-callin’ with an offer they couldn’t refuse. And it would have to be a blue whale of an offer: Tarasenko is sixth in the NHL since 2015 in goals per game (min. 200 games). He’s 27 and he’s locked into a $7.5 million cap hit until 2023. Is there another player with that combination of youth, offensive dominance and cost certainty that team could actually hope to acquire via trade?

Look, the Blues are an absolute mess. While I still think Doug Armstrong’s summer additions aren’t bad, the rest of the team clearly is. The vultures are circling Alex Pietrangelo, who has a no-trade clause and is signed through 2020. They’re circling Colton Parayko, who is 25 and signed through 2022 and shouldn’t be traded under any circumstances.

If they’re circling Tarasenko, conventional wisdom is that you tell them to buzz off, but again: This team is an utter mess. He’d bring you back outrageous value in a trade. I know the default setting is to laugh off the idea, or to fit Armstrong for a straightjacket if he entertained the notion. I know people see it as The Pronger Trade, Version 2.0. I know Tarasenko could pop 50 goals with the right centerman and make any deal look instantly terrible. I know this.

And yet … I’m intrigued?

Like, maybe dealing away this asset for something that delivers a goalie and a blue-chip center prospect, plus a bunch else?

There are trades where you’re making yourself a larger problem rather than finding a solution for your ills. Why don’t I see dealing Tarasenko as one of those trades?


The Week In Gritty

Our sentient nectarine was named one of Jezebel’s “Thirsty 30” of 2018, as in the individual whose taste of fame soon morphed into an uncomfortable thirst for attention:

“Gritty once topped our fall crush list, but now that the cool winter weather has finally settled in, it’s clear that it was a one-season fascination. The new, endearingly [expletive’d] up Philadelphia Flyers mascot was unveiled in September, skating straight into the blackened hearts of Philly’s phreakiest residents, bringing smiles to all who bore witness to his luscious orange floof, his unmistakable belly roll, his fight with that one child that one time. But now the loyal, mischievous, snow-eating, hot dog-downing East Coast monster just wants it too much.”

He joins an esteemed list that includes “YouTubers” and “Pete Davidson.”

Perspectives, a Publicis Health Media Blog, decided to use Gritty as a cautionary tale for [checks notes] pharmaceutical marketing:

“I’ll close with a challenge to my fellow innovators: next time you have a meeting with a publisher partner, instead of asking for case studies or harping on why something won’t work, ask how you can be the first to know about a beta opportunity or how you can create something new. Challenge the status quo. Disrupt the norm. Create your Gritty. Embrace strategic risk and drive real innovation in healthcare marketing.”

CREATE YOUR GRITTY AND PUSH THAT ENDEMICALLY RELEVANT CONTENT, BIG PHARMA.

Ben Travers of IndieWire notes that the “Pooka” episode of “Into The Dark” on Hulu, by director Nacho Vigalondo, nearly serves as a Gritty bio-pic:

“So, intentional or not, “Pooka” is our means of reckoning with Gritty. There’s no hard and fast explanation for where Pooka comes from. He’s beloved by the masses, but the toy is quite clearly designed to be disturbing – he’s cute and creepy, just like Gritty. How a symbol of innocence can be corrupted by those with a more seasoned perspective is nothing new. Plenty of folks thought Barney was a weirdo, and then there’s Tickle Me Elmo. But Gritty seems to play into its duality more than other mascots. Just look at his ‘break the internet’ tweet or his ‘Star Is Born’ meme. Those aren’t meant for kids, so much as they’re playing into Gritty’s surprising appeal with adults.”

Finally, in a surprisingly busy week for the Flyers’ orange pile of snuggles, Entertainment Weekly has [yet another] interview with Gritty:

Q. What’s next? How can you possibly top your 2018?

“I thought Next was that dating show on MTV. They canceled that I think if I remember correctly. Shame. But, to top my 2018? Probs counting down til’ midnight with [Flyers player] Claude [Giroux] – dream big ya know?”

And that’s the week in Gritty.


Recalibrating Goalies

Through 24 games, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens has a save percentage of .904. At first glance, this is pretty mediocre, although admittedly better than the .900 he posted in 49 games last season. But taken within the context of this offensively ridiculous season — one in which teams are averaging 3.10 goals per game, which would be the highest average in 23 years — it’s actually above average.

As of Thursday, the average team save percentage in the NHL is .902. Compare that to the last decade:

2018-19: .902

2017-18: .908

2016-17: .910

2015-16: .910

2014-15: .911

2013-14: .911

2012-13: .909*

2011-12: .911

2010-11: .910

2009-10: .909

2008-09: .906

(* dumb, stupid lockout)

It’s gotten to the point where you can count the reliable goaltenders in the league this season on two hands (and maybe adding a toe or two). This has made things exciting and unpredictable, but maybe not the best for, you know, goalies.

I think as hockey fans, we’ve been slow to recalibrate how we view the effectiveness of goaltenders in this era of burgeoning offensive dominance. Sure, it’s easy to look at Pekka Rinne or Frederik Andersen or Andrei Vasilevskiy or John Gibson and acknowledge that their seasons have been exemplary.

Yet look at Marc-Andre Fleury: He has a .909 save percentage in 29 games, way down from his .927 last season. And yet five of his 18 wins have been shutouts, or the same number he had in his previous two seasons combined. He’s given up three or more goals in five of his last 10 games; the other five, he’s given up two or fewer. Was he a liability in those higher scoring games? Outside of that five-spot he gave up to the Kings, not really.

Bill Ranford, Los Angeles Kings goalie coach and survivor of the offensive explosion of the 1980s, had a good take on this recently with Kevin Woodley of NHL.com:

“We’ve probably had five or six nights this year where your goalie gives up four or five goals and you are like, ‘Wow, he played pretty well tonight,'” Ranford said. “The rules have changed to allow these dynamic offensive players to be more successful. There’s a lot of lateral plays, a lot more stress on the goalies, you can’t box out as much because it’s a penalty, so teams are better with traffic, which makes it tougher on the goalie. I think the game-in, game-out strain on the goalie has really increased.”

So not only is it a struggle to keep the puck out of the net more than in previous seasons, it is a more physically taxed brand of hockey on the keepers, too.

But hey, silver lining: No one’s whining about widening the nets anymore.


Jersey Fouls

From the recent Islanders vs. Golden Knights game:

Is that Islanders jersey a Michael Grabner tribute? Did he never go backhand? And as for “SPORTSPUCK,” it’s a total Foul but an endearing one for anyone that’s ever been mocked by one of their non-fan friends for watching too much “Sports-Ball.”

Meanwhile in Montreal:

This is a reference to that Habs fan who said Tomas Tatar’s name all sorts of funny and actually got to meet the guy. The eternal question: Would you rather be the “TATA” or the “AAAA” or the “AAAR?”


Listen to ESPN ON ICE

Emily and I had too much fun talking with Calgary Flames star Matthew Tkachuk about his chirping, his family and what impact that William Nylander contract is going to have on him. Plus, Tracey Myers breaks down the future of the Chicago Blackhawks and we mull over that rumored playoff expansion plan. Stream here, and iTunes here.


Puck headlines

This interview with Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon was a firecracker ($). It’s under paywall lock and key, but Carolyn Christians had the top excerpts here. So what’s it going to cost to keep Mikko Rantanen?

Brianne Jenner, two-time medal-winning Canadian hockey Olympian, had some pointed words for the way women’s hockey is covered: That in college, it was about the games, but at other levels there were more questions about the future of the sport and other unrelated minutia. “She questioned whether, for example, NHL superstar Sidney Crosby would be asked by reporters if he feels lucky to have such a nice dressing room after every practice.”

USA Hockey steps in to suspend a player after a brutal stick attack.

If Wayne Simmonds is available, here’s a list of potential destinations. They include the Toronto Maple Leafs, who would in theory have watched James van Riemsdyk leave for the Flyers an then acquired a player he made expendable (in theory) there.

Yost looks at whether NHL teams are finally compensating for score effects. “Another more direct and obvious theory is that some teams have recognized that extreme conservatism late in games leads to diminishing results, and that, to some degree, score effects late in games have been coached out of players. But not only is that merely speculative, it doesn’t answer why road teams don’t have the same ability to mitigate score effects the same way home teams do this season.”

Nice piece here by Mirtle on Auston Matthews’s mother, who is on the Leafs’ “Mom’s Trip.” ($).

A quick summary of this NY Times article: “HOC-KEY?! IN … SEATTLE?!?!?!”

Finally, another great awkward moment in the unending awkward moments of Pierre McGuire’s existence.

Hockey tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)

Here is Dellow’s deep dive into which top lines are performing the best this season ($).

In case you missed this from your friends at ESPN

So happy to have Dimitri Filipovic writing for us now, and here’s his look at which players carry the biggest offensive burdens for their teams.



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