Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mostly Forgotten Goalies Who Were Cool

The position of goaltender is obviously the most unique in hockey. Not surprisingly, the most unique players have often been and still often are, goalies. As much as I love the sport, it's sadly true that I find the personalities of most pro hockey players painfully boring. But if there's a guy on the team who's favourite music is NOT country or bland rock, who is not necessarily into the outdoors, hunting, fishing and that kind of crap and who did NOT just marry the first girl who came around to instantly start a family, it's most likely the goalie. No, goalies aren't often the typical jock - usually they're the intellectuals of the game. They earn university degrees, taste wine, play chess. There are always exceptions to this, but we're talking about the rule here.

Ken Dryden is easily the most recognizable player of this calibre - nevermind he only played like nine years, won six Cups, the Vezina several times, the Calder Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy (which he did BEFORE he won the freaking Calder!!) - he did it all his way. Anyone who knows anything about hockey knows Dryden decided to take a year off from hockey right when he was emerging as a superstar, winning the Canadiens perhaps their most unlikely championship in 1971, to study law at Mcgill university, working as a clerk and making a fraction of what he could make in the NHL. The Habs had a rare seventies playoff miss with him gone then he returned and calmly won them a bunch more Cups. He also lent an intelligent and refreshing perspective to the famous 1972 Summit Series he played in against the Russians.

But Dryden is about as decorated as a player can possibly be - he'll never be overlooked or forgotten. So this is a tribute to those masked men who were not so famous, successful and perhaps memorable in the traditional definitions of the terms. Here's to the forgotten goalies who were cool. Keep in mind I said "cool" - that's my own definition. So maybe you think guys like Rogie Vachon or Mike Liut should be here. Nu uh.

5. Pelle Lindbergh (1980-1985)
Yes, he won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender so he can't be THAT forgotten but I wanted to get a guy on here who'd accomplished that feat. And I feel that he is probably the most overlooked goalie to ever win the award, not counting guys from a million years ago. And, unlike Jim Carey - who more or less proved his Vezina year was a fluke - Lindbergh showed no signs he was a one-hit wonder. He just...died. Intoxicated, he drove his car into the side of a school and succumbed to his injuries the next day.

But in his short career he accomplished a lot. First holding his own against the best in the world (except for the Canadians) as an amateur in the 1980 Olympics. Then he tore it up in the AHL (winning league MVP) before being called up to the Flyers. He was just as good there, winning forty games in 84/85 to win the Vezina (first European goalie ever to do so) and winning twelve playoff games in a lengthy run. The next season he was poised to accomplish much the same if not even better until his tragic and untimely death.

I've always sort of thought of him as "the phantom goalie" because of his early death and that simple, white mask he always wore, sort of ghostly in appearance. He's still widely regarded as the best goaltender the country of Sweden ever produced.

4. Al Smith (1966-1981)
Where do I start with this guy? Well, like Lindbergh, he's dead but he died in 2002, well after his playing career was done. And what a career. He started as a Maple Leaf and in 66/67, their last Cup-winning season to date (sob), was one of five goalies to have played for them (one game). Because of an injury, he wound up in the backup role for the last 3 games of the finals. His name is not on the Cup. He wound up playing in the All Star game in '68 in a relief role, stopping 13 of 14 shots. That was it for the glory in his NHL career but lots more happened. He bounced from team to team, no stop being too memorable before joining the infamous WHA in 1972 where he was fairly successful, recording 3 straight 30 win seasons for the New England Whalers.

He returned to the NHL in 1976, playing for the Buffalo Sabres. His best known playing moment came in 1977 when he was scheduled to play a game, then was yanked at the last minute for a callup (Don Edwards). After the national anthem played, Smith stepped off the bench, saluted the team owners and returned to the dressing room. So I guess it wasn't a real "playing moment". He never played another game for Buffalo. He returned to the WHA and won the award for the league's top goaltender in 1978. He was traded to the NHL's Colorado Rockies for cash in 1980, where he finished his career.

But weird stuff kept happening. He worked all sorts of different jobs, selling cars, picking fruit and other stuff. But he wanted to be a writer. He took a job as a cab driver to support this and he worked on a play (about a goaltender attending an art show) and a novel. In 1998, he was awarded $34 000 from the NHLPA as a pension settlement and used it to produce his play, Confessions to Anne Sexton, in Toronto. Seventeen people came to see it in its first and only performance. Smith continued to write, unsuccessfully, up until his death at 56. People said he never had much talent as a writer but the guy never gave up.

3. Darren Pang (1984-1990)
Panger isn't exactly forgotten because he works as an analyst on TSN as well as commentator for the Phoenix Coyotes. But since his career was cut short (no pun intended) by injuries, I'm not too sure how many people really remember him as a player. Standing only 5'5, Pang is one of the smallest players to ever play in the NHL at any position. The running joke was that as a goalie, Pang had an additional spot to cover - the "six-hole" - right above his head. But he had a lot of promise and talent. You'd have to be good at stopping the puck if your body took up so little room in the net and he made it to the highest level - NHL starting goalie.

For his strong play with the Blackhawks, he was named to the NHL Rookie Team in 1988. He also owns a franchise record for assists (and obviously, points) in a season, recording six in 87/88. In reference to this record, he often says it was more because of the players he played with than anything he did but I've seen tape of him and he could handle the puck very well. And like infinitely more famous goalie, Glenn Hall (um, Mr. Goalie), Pang practiced the pregame ritual of puking up his guts.

A knee injury in 1990 ended what could have been a very interesting career. Current Rangers backup goalie, Steve Valiquette, names Pang as his favourite player growing up and wears the unique number 40 in his honour.

2. Gilles Gratton (1972-1977)
Grattoony the Loony. Oh, how I love this guy. The straight facts first: The native of Lasalle, Quebec was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres while playing for the Oshawa Generals in junior. He would get to the NHL and play for both the Rangers and the Blues but before that he played in the WHA for three seasons and that's where people first became aware of his bizarre personality. For one thing, many teammates and coaches suspected he actually hated the game of hockey as he would often fake illnesses and come up with strange excuses to miss a game or practice. At least once, Gratton refused to start a game because he claimed the moon was in the "wrong place in the sky" that night. He also had strange tendencies such as hanging out naked in the dressing room after practices and telling people that his somewhat famous mask design, which was based on the astrological sign, Leo, was actually a tiger. Opposing players have also been known to mention they'd heard him growling while tending net during games.

And that's not even the best stuff! No, what's really great is Gratton's well-known and outspoken belief in past lives. He claimed that he'd had many and he could remember most of them, some stretching far back in history. One nickname he had was The Count - when asked to explain that, Gratton said it comes from a past life of his wherein he was a Spanish count...a Spanish count who would often have commoners lined up and stoned to death. Sometimes he'd beg off from a game, claiming pain caused by an injury he'd sustained from a lance which ran him through in a battle during the Spanish Inquisition (this was not the same life as the Count, by the way). And here's something that caused some to wonder if he really had lived past lives: many teammates claim to have seen him play classical piano masterfully despite never haven taken a lesson in his life, at least not this one. Gratton often stated that he became a goalie as pennance for sins committed in his past lives, figuring being subjected to frozen pieces of rubber being blasted at him at 90 miles an hour on a nightly basis was fitting for someone who'd stoned people.

And he really did have some talent - he was an All Star in junior and posted respectable numbers in the WHA. His NHL numbers were less impressive but no one ever said he was lousy. He finished his hockey career after one season in the AHL at the tender age of twenty-four. There are no substantial reports concerning where he went after that. It's been rumoured he was a photographer in Europe. I tell ya, only a goalie could have been that weird.

1. Daren Puppa (1985-1999)
I guess this one might be a bit of a disappointment as a number one but what can I say? I like the guy. Another really talented goalie whose career was ended by injury, Puppa didn't go the Major Junior route that is traditional for most Canadians, instead playing two years of university hockey in the States (the NCAA). His pro career began in the AHL, playing for the Sabres' affiliate after they drafted him in '83. After bouncing between the AHL and NHL clubs for a few seasons, he was called up to be the Sabres' starting goalie for the 88/89 season. His numbers during that time weren't amazing but he proved himself as a capable NHL puckstopper. In 89/90, he was runner up to Patrick Roy for the Vezina after winning 31 starts.

Then in the 92/93 season, he was included in a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was almost a throw-in in the deal, really. With the emergence of rookie Felix Potvin as an elite goalie, the Leafs could afford to trade veteran Grant Fuhr and get a lot in return. This was the trade that brought them fifty goal man Dave Andreychuck who they immediately paired with Doug Gilmour. Puppa was now a backup. He started 8 games and won 6 of them but never saw any action during the Leafs' somewhat magical playoff run that year. It was all Potvin.

Some new teams came into the league that year so in 1993 there was an expansion draft and Puppa was picked up by the brand new Tampa Bay Lightning. Here's where he really established himself. As the starter for some very weak teams (how would you like to have Chris Gratton as your leading scorer?) he kept them respectable, while playing a very entertaining style in goal that reminds me of, of all people, Felix Potvin. He wore the very unique number 93 (obviously not with the Leafs though) and I think it fit his somewhat flashy style. In 95/96, posting a 2.46 goals against average in 57 games, he was the Lightning player most responsible for their first ever appearance in the playoffs, where they lost to the Flyers.

Unfortunately, chronic back problems would limit Puppa to only 50 games over the next four seasons and he was eventually forced to retire in 1999. He wasn't a wacko as far as I know, and I guess his accomplishments weren't amazing, but I've always thought he was cool. I've never been into hockey cards but I have his rookie card and it's one of my very favourites.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Comic Strips That Totally Blow

Now that I got all that praise out of my system, it's time to dish out the hate on some comics that fill me with anger. These are the comics that excel at being lame, and totally missing the point that comics are meant to be entertaining, funny, or at the very least interesting.

5. Cathy (1976 - present)
It boggles my mind that a comic that is completely awful to read and look at, has somehow stuck around for more than 30 years. Why hasn't this gone away!? Have you ever met someone that has told you they like this comic? See? No one has ever said, "I love reading a comic strip about a guilt ridden she-ogre who sweats when she cries and cries when she sweats." Why should we derive enjoyment from a shrieking emotionally unbalanced ugly shopaholic. And calling Cathy ugly is being generous; she looks like someone put her head in a vise until her eyes met and then beat her face with a sack of lemons. Plus, while the comic seems to be aimed at women, it comes across as an offensive stereotype. I'm pretty sure there's been hundreds of strips done about Cathy eating something and then worrying about it going "straight to her thighs". It's dull, it's annoying, and it should have ended back in the 70's.

4. Family Circus (1960 - present)
Forty years of kids saying stupid things. Hooray. As far as humour goes, you'll find none safer than the 'jokes' of Family Circus. It's so tame and boring, it would put an elderly nun to sleep. Sure, I see the general appeal, kids say surprisingly honest and quirky things. They confuse the meaning or pronunciation of words and then one bowl of "Pa-sketti and meatbulbs" later, your grandmother has ripped the newspaper in half and is yelling at the dog. If you want a comic strip about kids saying the darnedest things, check out Calvin and Hobbes, or Baby Blues. They are both executed with much more style and substance.

3. Rose is Rose (1983 - present)
Anytime I've read this comic, I've been utterly befuddled by what the hell is going on, which is a big problem. The strip is centered around a wife and husband named Rose and Jimbo Gumbo, and their son, Pasquale. Sigh. I know it's just a comic, but goddamn what miserably stupid names. Are you honestly suggesting that we should care about a character named Pasquale Gumbo? Why don't you just go ahead and call their cat Peekaboo or some shit. What? The cat's name is Peekaboo? What the hell? I guess calling it Captain Fluffykins would be a bit much.

A lot of the comic's material comes from the character's elaborate fantasies, and I've seen whole strips with virtually no dialogue, but just extreme angles and weird psychedelic settings and images. You might think that sounds cool, but trust me when I say it isn't. Humour in the comic is non-existent, instead substituted with "cute". It's hard to explain, but the comic seems to just throw all manner of cutesy ass stuff at the reader to show love and happiness; like stars, hearts, and twinkling candies floating around. You're waiting for a punchline, and suddenly panel five is a bowl of lucky charms. I really don't get it. It's nice that a modern comic is so cheerful, but rainbows and toys erupting out of a cat's face is not an understandable joke.

2. For Better or For Worse (1979 - 2008)
I hate to attack one of the only successful Canadian comic strips, but this is not a good comic. I'm sorry. It's not. It has never been funny. It's never even been in the same district as funny. More often it ends on an awkward, stupid, wistful, or depressing note (I've actually seen the "punchline" be an elderly woman collapsed on the floor). People seem to like the comic for having a continuous storyline with characters that age and develop, but that's really not a good idea. Yes, it's unlike other modern newspaper strips, but why would we want to watch characters get older and die? And with an ongoing story running in "real time" each strip feels horribly incomplete, as if you're experiencing a somber drama a few lines of dialogue at a time.

I can admit that the art is quite good. The characters look like they're all part of a cohesive world, but everything they say and do feels pointless, painfully ordinary, or sad. Here's my example of how your typical strip would go:

Panel One: Elly and John are sitting at kitchen table.
Elly: "I still can't believe that Elizabeth is getting married. Did you call the Donnells to tell them."
John: "And steal that pleasure from you? Not a chance."

Panel Two
Elly: "Do you remember when she used to run around the backyard and get so dirty? You loved to chase her around and she'd laugh and laugh."
John: "How could I forget? Though I don't think these old bones would still be able to manage that sort of thing nowadays. You see, I've gotten older because I'm a real person."

Panel Three
Elly: "How true. Speaking of getting older, did know that Anthony's uncle had a stroke on Thursday? He's in a coma now, but the doctors say he may recover."
John: "We should really go to the hospital and see him."

Panel Four
Elly: "Good idea. His wife has been a wreck. First her youngest son loses his arm in that snowplow accident, then this. We're so lucky that out children have all their arms. Let's go after we finish breakfast."
John: "Okay, but remind me to get a load of laundry started before we leave, and I should really call Lawrence and-"

What a great way to start your day. Some incomplete sappy rambling.

1. Beetle Bailey (1950 - present)/ Hagar the Horrible (1973 -present )
I don't care if you think I'm breaking the rules by using two comics for one entry in the list. These comics are interchangeable. They might as well be the same comic they look so much alike, and I can't believe there hasn't been a major lawsuit over it. Hagar and Sarge look identical except they wear different costumes, plus their dopey counterparts Beetle and Eddie also are practically the same. Hagar has a dog named Snert that wears the same viking helmet as he does, and Sarge has a dog named Otto that wears the same clothes as he does. Both comics have only one pretty girl character, and both comics have an overbearing bossy wife character.

Besides looking like two comics that are drawn by twins separated at birth, they also share the same painfully lame jokes. An ageless kind of lame that makes it impossible to tell if your reading a bad comic written this week or 35 years ago. The two comics are about a group of inept men who are trained for battle and constantly screw things up. Hagar/Sarge is the fat short-tempered boss figure who is constantly dismayed by the bumbling ignorance of Beetle/Eddie. And that's about it. A fat guy and a skinny guy. It's abysmal.

Oh wait! I almost forgot! Sometimes there are jokes about mother-in-laws. Whew...I almost forgot to mention that. That must be why these comics have been running for a combined 95 fucking years.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Best Newspaper Comic Strips

I've always enjoyed reading newspaper comics, collecting favorite strips, and buying collected works in book form. They inspired my drawing style and got me interested in cartooning. That said, it was actually difficult for me to pool together 5 strips that I think are great. I think in part it's because I'm too critical of the styles and humour they present, but it's also because so many comic strips fall under the categories of "mediocre" or "just plain lame". The more I researched, the more I realized that there are only a handful of awesome ones, and the rest are just okay. Also, you're not going to see "Peanuts" here, because despite the adoration Charlie Brown and his TV specials receive, that comic strip is completely boring. I've never laughed, snickered, or cracked a smile while reading a Peanuts strip. I've simple sighed and moved on. It's called the Funnies page, people!

Also, while it was hard to find the best, I had no trouble tracking down the worst comic strips. So you can expect that list in the near future.

5. Dilbert (1989 - present)
This comic has been criticized for being simplistic and crude looking, but the clever writing makes up for it by far. The comic centers around Dilbert, an engineer working in an office filled with incompetent fools mismanaging everything and making horrible business decisions. Much of the humour comes from the bureaucracy of the office setting, and the weird supporting cast. A character like Dogbert (while poorly named) is actually quite interesting with his obsessive ambitions for power and dominance. In a way, Dogbert may have paved with way for a character like Stewie Griffin. Also, while the jokes aren't always hilarious (which is a lot to expect from a prolific art form), they are well crafted, and even edgy at times. Scott Adams received criticism for a comic that poked fun at nuns the same week that Mother Teresa died. Zing.

4. Garfield (1978 - present)
Whoa, this comic has had a long run. More than 30 years. Seriously? Whew, well that's probably part of the reason why it didn't make a higher spot on the list. Anyway, the characters are likable, and Garfield is the perfect cat stereotype; a self absorbed, greedy, lazy, jerk. Pair that up with his owner Jon Arbuckle, one of the greatest losers ever created, and Odie the drooling dog with a vacant expression, and you got comedy gold.

Garfield's laziness and gluttony is relatable enough to us to enjoy, and Davis has been able to capture some hilarious bits of physical comedy in his strip. I was brought to tears over two injuries to Jon in particular: when he put on jeans straight from the dryer and experienced "hot zipper", and when Garfield fired a toy bow and arrow, which we discover has hit Jon in the back of the head, causing his face to be plunged into an over sized bowl of dip resting in his lap as he sat down to watch TV. Besides being a great looking and funny strip, the comic was turned into an equally hilarious Saturday morning cartoon show, as well as several awesome specials. In recent years, it sadly went the route of live action movie with cg cat, and I knew everything was over at that point. I stopped following this strip almost a decade ago, but any time I drop in to see how things are going, I find more of the same, which is good and bad. As much as I like the characters, when you're recycling the same 10 jokes over and over without innovation, I feel it's time the series said farewell. Also, the movie had Garfield dancing to the Black Eyed Peas. Enough said.

3. The Adventures of Tin Tin (1929- 1983)
Okay, before you freak out because you've never seen Tin Tin in a newspaper, I'll have you know that the comic book novels you read growing up were originally published as a serialized comic strip in a Belgian newspaper before they gained popularity and were collected into the books we know today. Also, it's my list, so I say it counts!

Tin Tin is awesome all around, and is a great balance of mystery, adventure, and humour. The characters are charming; who doesn't love Captain Haddock? Well, people who have alliteration phobias for one, I guess. The strip should be commended for the research involved alone for the diverse stories and settings. I've yet to to meet anyone who doesn't love the books, or the animated series based on the books. I hear tell on the Internets that a feature film may be in the works, and that has the potential to be awesome (or terrible, as movies based on beloved characters go). Interesting heroic characters combined with compelling stories, and a clean focused art style make this series one of the best comics period.

2. The Far Side (1980 -1995)
Thank you, Gary Larson. Thank you for fusing wit and insanity like we've never seen before. This comic is king of the one-panel variety and showed us glimpses into a strange world of fat bespectacled stupid people, intelligent shifty-eyed animals, and all manner of awkward situations. Any fan of this strip has favorite ones they can quote and describe, making "The Far Side" the newspaper equivalent of "The Simpsons". As far as comic strips are concerned, this one has caused me to burst out laughing more than any other, and when you're working with a single image, it's an impressive feat to present such a strong joke.

1. Calvin and Hobbes (1985 - 1995)
I'll admit that I barely ever read this strip while growing up, but I've since read enough to recognize its greatness. Following the antics of six-year old Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, this comic captures all the best elements of childhood innocence and imagination. Any of the strips involving Calvin and a cardboard box are damn-near brilliant. The conversations and Calvin's logic are so great to read; he's the epitome of the kid that "talks back". And that's where the genius of the strip comes through. Although Calvin can be a sarcastic, selfish character who may lose his temper from time to time, he never comes across as a brat. Sure, he's a mouthy kid, but he represents the curiosity, creativity, and friendship of youth. We all can relate to him.

The writing is intelligent, clever, and funny. The characters have depth and the drawing is highly stylized in the way it captures growing up. If I could sum up the art in one word, it would be "playful". Calvin in Hobbes is a hilarious, thoughtful comic and what all cartoonists should aim to achieve.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Worst Crap Robin Williams Has Ever Done

Like any popular actor out there, Robin Williams has made some poor choices. And that's ok because his good work is really good and he's succeeded in establishing himself as more than a standout comedic talent - not an easy thing to do.

But even when he's not being funny, Williams has shown he can deliver an effective dramatic performance under the right circumstances. Whether he's balancing that with some of his funniness as in Good Morning, Vietnam or Dead Poets Society or just being straight-up like in Good Will Hunting or Insomnia. And when he's being funny, he's usually one of the very best. So he should be commended for his talent and accomplishments.

But not here. Not today. No, today, we're here to slam him for his worst offenses ever put onto film.

5. The Final Cut (2004)
I'll admit I have very little to say about this one as it was so horrendously boring, I could barely pay attention to it. But when I first heard of it, the plot sounded interesting. Williams' involvement actually meant little to me as I understood this to be a drama/thriller with sci-fi elements. I just assumed he'd fit in fine. I suppose I can't fault him for being especially bad in this movie. It's just an especially bad movie where an actor like Williams seems ridiculously out of place due to its tone. Now I've noted Williams is capable of fitting into a darkly toned movie but there's just no chance of it here.

In a not too distant future, he plays a "cutter" - a person with the task of editing a person's experiences, recorded via a chip implanted shortly after birth, into short little films called "rememories" to be viewed upon the person's death. The movie has 1984-like themes with some bureau sort of editing history as they see fit but just let me save you some grief by telling you to skip it cause it is booooring. Williams can be entertaining even when he's bad but he's such a non-presence in this movie (as the main character) I have to mark it down as one of his worst.

4. RV (2006)
This is more familiar territory for Williams. A lacklustre affair about an annoying, dysfunctional family enduring wacky happenings as they vacation through Colorado in a large RV. It's the same old crap we've seen before but this time with JoJo!

Williams is the patriarch of this irritating little ensemble and he's shown to be drifting from his wife as he concentrates on his career and he's more or less alienated from his stupid, adolescent offspring, a boy and a girl. The plot is what we've already seen a thousand times and the "humour" is lame piled on more lame.

One especially awful scene features Williams trying to make his son appear hip to a group of wiggers by "speaking their language". You know, in 1993 we could at least crack a smile as Williams attempted rapping with a toy velociraptor. But in 2006, Robin Williams trying to speak "street" or "fly" or whatever the fuck is unforgivable. Now, it's not like his attempt wins the kids over and it does embarrass his son but it's still just so painful to watch context simply cannot excuse it.

Everything else is just Williams' character trying to hold together his pathetic family (don't ask me why) while at the same time deceiving them that they're on a regular vacation while in fact he's trying to get ahead in his job yet again. I'm pretty sure there's a part where a hose blasts shit - a good metaphor for this film.

3. Jumanji (1995)

2. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

I actually saw this animated abortion in theatres. Before you move to condemn me, allow me first to point out: 1. I was nine years old. 2. I didn't actually intend to see it - my sister and I had gone to see Beethoven and it was sold out so we were stuck with the only other movie with a G rating.

As for how truly terrible this movie is, I don't even know where to begin. I mean, have you seen it? And Tim Curry also somehow found himself mired in this mess as well. I could weep. But instead I'll just get angry. The animation, while not on par with Disney, was decent. After that, every single aspect falls far, far below the comparatively Olympian level of decent. It's a movie with a message - save the goddamn rainforest! But this isn't really communicated too well. Basically, it tells the poor kids duped into seeing it (as I was) not to cut down the rainforest. Well, since I'm pretty sure most kids aren't loggers in Brazil or whatever, I guess they could leave this movie feeling pretty good about themselves. Actually, no, they couldn't. Because this movie is shit.

Now to Williams - he voices a bat. Guess what his amazingly hilarious schtick is - crashing into stuff. And he does so, over and over and over. Which is actually tolerable when measured against his horrific "musical" number wherein Williams, as an animated retarded bat that has been repeatedly experimented on...raps. I could bring up lots more vomit-inducing elements this movie features but for the sake of my sanity as well as yours (and you should save your vomit for the next one), I'll stop here.

1. Popeye (1980)
Maybe you think it's unfair of me to include this one. Well, let me tell you something: life isn't fair. Which is the precise reason why I, a person who DESPISES Popeye with every fibre of his being and wishes he could travel back in time and somehow obliterate it from history (that's right, even ahead of Woody Woodpecker and Scrappy Doo) was exposed to a feature-length film about him with no means of escape.

How did this happen, you ask? Well, as a result of apparently having absolutely no screening process whatsoever, Acadia Lines managed to employ a sadistic and highly insane bus driver who one frozen February night a few years ago, chose to forego the company's long ago established policy of no longer showing movies on trips and, guided by the hand of Satan himself, selected a VHS copy of Popeye to expose his passengers to - good, decent people who actually PAID for this hellish voyage under the pretext that they wouldn't be subjected to excruciating torture. The regular torture of a winter Halifax to Sydney bus voyage, sure, but not this. But we were. And so, even though it was only on a tiny screen and the volume was low, I saw the movie, Popeye. My batteries were dead and reading on the bus makes me sick. Needless to say, I got quite sick.

Anyway, I don't care if this is a good representation of Popeye or decent or bad or whatever - I simply HATE Popeye and all interpretations of him - I can't even play the little Popeye game included on 31 in 1. It was all just so horrible - it looked like it was filmed at the very edge of the world somewhere. There were no trees, just rocks and water and....sorry, I blacked out for a moment there. The sad fact is that even though I did everything I could short of sleeping or suicide to resist, I have seen this movie and I can never unsee it. So yeah, Williams was a no-name guy at the time (well, I guess he was recognized by the name, Mork) and just wanted to break into films but I don't care.

For doing this movie - which hurt me for EVERY SINGLE SECOND it ran, and it even featured SONGS for christ's sake - there is a special place in hell reserved for Robin Williams and no amount of good work can save him from this fate. I know that's in direct contradiction to what I said in my intro but...but it's POPEYE. No forgiveness.

Jason Voorhees' Most Innovative Kills

With the release of Friday the 13th (2009) looming on the horizon, I thought it best to make a "Friday" themed list. This isn't the "best" kills, this isn't the "coolest" kills. This, my friends, is a list of Jason's most innovative, and in some cases most convoluted, kills in the Friday the 13th franchise.

In writing this list I needed to put some rules on myself, so only Jason Voorhees proper counts. No kills by anyone else in any of the films, such as Pamela Voorhees From Friday the 13th (1980) or the Roy/Jason from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. That's not due to hate for Part V. I actually love that film and consider it in my top three of the series. The title is Jason Voorhees' kills, however, so Roy just doesn't count. Also, you won't see any of the Jason-inhabited victims in Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday because it only counts if it's the man himself, and well... fuck Jason Goes To Hell.

5. Sheriff Garris (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives)
Jason Lives is the father of the Zombie Jason half of the Friday the 13th films, and what would become the "Jason" films when the series hit New Line Cinema. At the time a lot of people thought that the series was dead in the water (chuckle), but director Tom McLoughlin was brought in and given pretty fair reign to bring Jason back in a whole new way.


McLoughlin is known as a Universal horror buff, so he thought that bringing back Jason like a monster out of the 30s was a great idea, and in a lot of ways it was. I'm more of a fan of the real, live Jason (sort of) from Parts 2 - 4, but that's a thing of preference.

Anyway, in bringing back Jason, McLoughlin also brought back a meaner, more shark-like Jason (C.J. Graham). Now that he's been dead and buried for so long, he came back with an attitude, and no other kill in Jason Lives shows this moreso than the death of Sheriff Garris (David Kagen). The wise-cracking, kick ass Sheriff of Forest Green (formerly Crystal Lake) gets his at the (bare) hands of Jason Voorhees when he folds the man in half... backwards.

Although Jason has had some interesting kills, this is one of my favourite that he's done with nothing but his mitts. In fact it was so loved that it was mimicked in Freddy Vs. Jason when Jason (Ken Kirzinger) stabs Trey (Jesse Hutch) with his machete and proceeds to fold him up in his bed, again, backwards. That shit is for real.

4. Dr. Crews (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)
Although, like many of the films on this list, not one of my favourites, The New Blood is a very original entry into the series. It also introduced Kane Hodder to the role of Jason, one that he would reprise in the next three Friday/Jason films.

The director of the film, John Carl Buechler, is a well-practiced special effects designer, and as a result, brought a different kind of flare to the film. Although heavily edited by the MPAA (come on Paramount, we need an uncut!) this film is still known for it's special effects in both the look of Jason, as well as the many innovative kills.

It's like Jason walked into some crazy gardener's tool shed in this flick... actually, that's exactly what happens.

As each kill continues to top the last, one of my favourites is when Jason is chasing Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser - Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's!). You wanted this prick to get it the whole movie, and finally when Jason finds Crews blundering through the woods, we hear the crank of a motor and find Jason holding none other than a tree-trimmer. What a moment.

He proceeds to stalk Crews as only Jason (and possibly Michael Myers) can and then finally buries the tree-trimmer into Crews belly. Someday we'll get to see it in all it's uncut glory. Someday...

3.Adrienne (Jason X)
Considered by many to be the nail in the coffin for the Friday the 13th/Jason franchise, Jason X is the film where New Line felt the need to jettison Jason into space. It's been rumoured, and somewhat confirmed (by Todd Farmer in His Name Was Jason) that this was so that no one could screw with the timeline before Freddy Vs. Jason (like timeline ever mattered anyway). Whatever the case is, this film has it's moments.

A lot of people complain about it being too "Canadian" and most everyone hates Uber-Jason at the end of the film. I certainly don't hate the film, although I rarely watch it (maybe because I'm a Kraft Dinner loving, milk-bag drinking, Canadian) and I actually love the look of Jason (Kane Hodder) in the opening sequence before he becomes Uber-Jason. I don't know what it is; the new shape of the mask, the fact that you can sort of see Hodder's face, I just like it. Whatever.

Anyway, the film houses one of the best kills in the series. Jason, after being just woken up after a cryogenic freeze of many, many years, awakens to find himself in the presence of a young woman, Adrienne (Kristi Angus). A possible nod to Adrienne King, the original heroine in Friday the 13th? I think so. She, however, gets one of Jason's more brutal kills.

First he proceeds to manhandle the poor woman, beating her around the futuristic emergency room. Then, he dips her head in some form of nitrogen (it appears to be liquid - whatever it is, it does the trick). This freezes Adrienne's face. Just when you thought that was enough, he drags her face out of the freeze bath and then bashes it to hundreds of pieces off of the counter.

2. Kate (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)
Easily one of the most forgettable characters in the whole franchise (although she did show up in the documentary, His Name Was Jason) Kate (Diane Almeida) has one of the more shocking and hilarious deaths in the series.

In a scene around the middle of the film, Kate and her boyfriend are spending some "alone time" in a van while they await the birthday boy, Michael (William Butler) who is mysteriously missing (oh, if they only knew). When her boyfriend, Ben (Craig Thomas), thinks he hears Michael outside he grabs the nearest noise maker before stepping out to check and see if his buddy has finally arrived at the weekend birthday extravaganza. Ben then gets it by one of Jason's most preferred methods, the skull crush.

Kate waits a few minutes, wondering where her boyfriend could be, and then probingly ventures out of the van, only to get the noisemaker, a horn, right through her eye, presumably into the brain.

I'm sure that this scene was, as well, heavily cut, and I can only hope that there was more horn noises while Kate slowly succumbed to Jason's vicious hate for parties.

1. Judy (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New
I hate to admit it, but none of my favourite Jason films made it into my list. I wanted to go for innovative, and I guess it was the later films in the series that really had to take it up a notch.

That being said, one of my favourite kills in the series did make it onto this list, and no less at number 1. You might think I'm biased, but read on.

The kill in question is on poor Judy (Deborah Kessler) from The New Blood (I told you it was an original entry). While awaiting her boyfriend, Dan (Michael Schroeder), she attempts to keep warm in their tent. Dan has, predictably, already been dispatched by Jason, via machete.

I don't know if it's the sight of the tent that brings Jason's rage out, or the fact that she was suiting up (or down?) for a little semi-outdoor sex, but he puts a hurt on this poor woman like no one else.

Jason goes to the tent, drags little Judy out, still in her sleeping bag, scoops her up in the sleeping bag, and proceeds to hammer her off the nearest tree.

Again, this scene is heavily edited by the MPAA. In any version of the film you'll see Jason bash Judy off of the tree once. If you were to, however, I don't know... search on YouTube, you might come across a scene that shows Jason bashing her off of the tree until he bloody well gets tired. I believe this is also featured in the "killer cuts" on the DVD box set from Paramount (Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan). Although I believe Buechler is often quoted as saying that Jason only hitting the young woman off of the tree once has more "impact" (easy with the puns, John, that's my job) I think once you see Jason run out of breath while smashing this chick off of a tree half a dozen times, you'll be of the opinion that would've been way better.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Perfect Snacks for Gaming

As is usual here at Five-O-Rama this isn't an all encompassing list by any means, but these are five of my favourite snacks while enjoying a nice long video gaming session. In some cases it may even be a combination of snacks, due to the inclusion of a well celebrated drink or a legendary side dish.

Get ready to pwn some n00bzorz... man I hate that "gamer" lingo.

Note: Please notice that there is no mention of Mountain Dew or Gamer Grub on this list. If you drink copious amounts of Mountain Dew while playing games just because they market themselves as the gamer's "drink of choice", you are, in fact, a tool. If you drink it because you enjoy it, that's a different matter.

If you eat Gamer Grub you're just a tool.

5. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Although this is simply one of the best sandwiches ever, as well as the easiest "on the go" lunch ever invented, just by its very nature it of course makes this list.

There are certain things that every human being has in their home cupboards. Random spices, Kraft Dinner (if you're Canadian anyway) a tin can of tuna/salmon, peanut butter and some concoction of jam/jelly. Oh, and honey (which can also make for delicious peanut butter sandwich).

Once crafted, you can easily eat this sucker with one hand (depending on how much jam you apply). Its portability works very well with the Nintendo Wii.

So, make sure your lazy ass, at minimum, snags some wonder bread and you're set. As far as jam is concerned, go with what you like, but I would suggest apple jelly and grape jelly for variety. Trust me, it's amazing. Break free from your strawberry bonds! Oh, and if you even feel so inclined, get some milk. In peanut butter and jelly sandwich land, it's the only way to fly.

4. Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk
I am well aware that I am a complete child for having this on my list, but facts are facts people... and according to 69% of the food scientists out there, the facts don't lie.

The mightiest of the cookies, the chocolate chip persuasion, contains all the best things in the baking repertoire. Actually, you don't even have to bake this stuff and it's goddamned delicious.

If you were making them fresh, pop those suckers in the oven and they come out gooey and completely irresistible. Add milk and it's game over (hopefully not in your game, but that's completely possible). I would dare say that most gamers would be relishing in this little suckers via bag, however, so go for the moist ones, people. Hell, if you can get a freshly baked variety at your local supermarket, do so. As much as I like a good Chips A'hoy occasionally, if you can have them as close to "mom's home-baked" quality as possible, spring for it.

3. Pizza
Most people would expect this to fly higher on my list. Well, the fact is, most often while enjoying pizza and playing video games, one has to stop to eat the pizza. That's not a problem, however. This is what the pause button was made for. That being said, it's inherent deliciousness distracts the gamer from his/her game and, as a result, it lands at number 3.

With all that behind us, pizza is always a great idea when enjoying games with friends. Everyone can throw in a few bucks and have some hot 'zas delivered cheaply and plentifully.

I would also include pizza snacks/frozen pizzas into this category. Delights such as Pizza Pops/Pockets, Delissios, and Bagel Bites (pizza variety, of course) are a nice quick fix when you're in need of a late night gaming snack that always satisfies. I would suggest Coca-Cola/Pepsi or some fruit punch to wash down all that pepperoni.

2. Baked Nachos
Nachos can fit into many categories. Now often seen as the premiere party finger food, it's also finding its way into movie theatres (one of my faves) and corner stores (resembles the theatre 'cho, however often vomit inducing). They go great with movies at home, or just watching some TV, as well. While playing video games is the next logical progression.

I have a very specific way I enjoy mine, but that's the same for anyone. I like to place some chips on a baking sheet, load on some salsa and for cheese I enjoy the fakest shit possible. I'm not a huge cheese lover, so I'm all about that salty, ugly step child of cheese... the cheese sauce (personal fave being the Tostito Con Queso sauce). Fire them on broil for a few minutes and you've got one scrumptious treat on your hands (which will be very hot and burninating).

The best thing about nachos is that you can do whatever you like to them, much like pizza, I suppose. Top 'em how you like, but I would always suggest baking them. Warm nachos versus straight out of the bag is like having a barbecued hot dog versus a boiled one - there's no contest.

1. Barbecue Chips and Coca-Cola
Now we've hit the big time. I know this one should be more generic. The title should read, "Potato Chips and Pop (Soda for you American readers)". That's just not going to happen.

Of all the chips that exist in the world, barbecue by far outclasses them all. Many can be too sour and dry out your mouth. Others taste good for the first few handfuls, but soon you can't even stand the smell. With barbecue, though... the party is lasting all night.

Alright, I'm biased. So what? It's my list! As a kid (and Cole can attest to this) Hostess (RIP) barbecue chips were a mainstay for any snacking occasion. It is, however, one of those situations where you don't realize what you've got til it's gone. Hostess eventually folded and was taken over by Frito Lay, and as such Hostess barbecue chips came off the market. I've since switched to Humpty Dumpty (which was also taken over recently by Old Dutch, but they still have the Humpty Dumpty barbecue flavour) and I think I can say I enjoy them equally. To this day, however, whenever I play Final Fantasy 6 (3 US SNES) I think back to my younger days sitting down to a bag of Hostess barbecue chips and a bottle of Coke, while kicking Kefka's crazy ass.

The Coke was, and is, essential to the mix. They were the perfect combination of sugary drink to salty snack ratio. Pepsi, although very good, took the sweetness just a little too far.

I do have other combinations of chips and pop that I enjoy. Ruffles All-dressed and root beer/Dr. Pepper is also one that I've been known to sample while playing some games. All that doesn't matter, however. In the end, the ultimate combination of snacking and gaming will forever be barbecue chips and Coke.


Alright, Coca-Cola... pony up the cash already!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Marvel's Greatest Arch-Enemies

The Marvel Universe (that's Universe 616) is chalk full of heroes and villains. But the most compelling battles are between those characters who have clashed time and time again, inflicting massive damage - both physical and psychological - to each other. One of the major challenges in presenting characters that have faced off for decades in real time is keeping things fresh. It can be really tricky to not allow things to become repetitive and tiresome. It's for this reason that you'll notice the absence of some of the more famous rivalries - you won't see Captain America (by which I obviously mean Steve Rogers) vs The Red Skull here for the precise fact that I see their continuous battle as stale and boring. So here's my best stab at those enemies whose eternal strife has been the most significant and entertaining over the years.

5. Mister Fantastic vs Doctor Doom
I like this one because it extends far beyond any physical struggle. Sure, they have tangled that way, matching super stretchiness against Doom's various technology-infused abilities but mostly with these two, it's mind versus mind. Doom is easily the Marvel U's biggest ego - his megalomania extends far beyond that of any villain I'm aware of - and he actually views the great mind of Reed Richards as woefully inferior to his own. He maintains this belief despite being defeated by the FF - almost always because of Richards' brain - over and over. No matter what happens, Doom can find an excuse for it - nothing is ever his fault as he's always above error.
I'll admit I'm not too versed in Fantastic Four lore so I can't really bring up any specific examples of Richards vs Von Doom but I still count their rivalry as one of the absolute best.

4. Daredevil vs Bullseye
One might argue that the Kingpin is a greater nemesis for DD than Bullseye since a lot of Bullseye's initial blows against him came courtesy of the giant crime lord. But in this case, it's the physical battle that I really like. And Wilson Fisk is really no physical match for The Man Without Fear. But Bullseye is perfect. His abilities are extremely similar to those of Murdoch and Daredevil's enhanced senses are the ideal foil for the assassin's out-of-this-world aim. Being able to dodge Bullseye's attacks with regularity was more than enough to drive him nuts and the guy was already plenty nuts to begin with. And, as I mentioned earlier, while their rivalry began because of the Kingpin, it became deadly personal very early on with Bullseye killing Daredevil's sort-of love interest, Elektra in a battle to determine who was the number one assassin. And THEN, all on his own, Bullseye goes on to murder a much more stable love interest of Murdoch's, Karen Page.
The two are so remarkably similar and yet such polar opposites they make perfect enemies. An especially great illustration of this is an arc in which the two trade costumes and identities as they slug it out, each attacking the other emotionally as much as physically.

3. Professor Xavier vs Magneto
Former friends often make for the most compelling of enemies. After first meeting in Israel, these two together dreamed of a world where mutants and ordinary humans could live side by side in peaceful harmony. But the harsh reality of most humans shunning and downright despising mutants soon was too much for Erik Lehnsherr to bear and he quickly adopted an "us against them" mentality, ultimately deciding that the only way for mutants to get along in the world was to dominate the humans. He also adopted the title, Magneto, Master of Magnetism. Xavier believed it was best to continue his efforts towards a peaceful coexistence and Magneto became one of the biggest obstacles standing in his way. Over the years, the two have faced off countless times and some encounters have left very deep scars, perhaps the most memorable being Magneto magnetically ripping the adamantium from X-Man Wolverine's skeleton, very nearly killing him while putting him through unimaginable physical agony. This prompted Charles to do something he thought he would never resort to - use his telepathic gift to erase the mind of his longtime foe. As it goes in the world of comics, both Wolverine and Magneto recovered from these injuries but the emotional scars will always remain. The Age of Apocalypse timeline showed that in a world where Xavier had perished, Magneto could be a hero carrying on the ideals of his friend but the normal continuity drives home that while the two coexist, they will forever be enemies.

2. Wolverine vs Sabretooth
While this pair were never exactly friends, they did at least once fight on the same side. In the sixties as agents of the Canadian government's secret team, Team X, they were deployed together on lots of missions and mostly got along. But after a disastrous encounter with Russian super-soldier Omega Red, where Sabretooth followed team protocol leaving behind teammates in an escape, Wolverine was furious. The two had actually been enemies decades before with Sabretooth raping and seemingly murdering Logan's lover, Silver Fox. But when they joined Team X, both of their memories had been altered and they didn't remember each other. But eventually they both came to remember plenty and have had tons of battles, all intense and vicious. Even besides their awesome history together, they make for such great enemies because of their extremely similar powers and natures. Sabretooth is stronger and faster but Wolverine has always been able to make up for this by being craftier- when they fight, it's usually to a standstill but only after some ferociously brutal action.

1. Spider-Man vs The Green Goblin (Norman Osborn)
No two enemies within Marvel have had a more personal and devastating struggle. Since almost the very beginning of the web-slinger's career as a costumed hero, The Green Goblin has been around to torment him. Fighting him as the heavily armed, halloween-themed Green Goblin and also employing other villains to attack his foe, Osborn's assaults against Spider-Man were the most obsessive and relentless of all until Venom showed up. Father of Parker's close friend, Harry, Norman Osborn was the very first villain to deduce Spider-Man's civilian identity and he exploited this advantage to the fullest. Parker would also eventually learn the identity of his nemesis and let me tell you, it made for some pretty awkward moments. This would culminate in the Goblin's ultimate strike against Spider-Man, the murder of Parker's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. With Spider-Man looking on, Osborn threw Stacy off Brooklyn Bridge to her death. This prompted Parker to beat the Goblin nearly to death before coming to his senses. Then Osborn wound up impaling himself with his glider in an attempt to skewer his enemy. And so he was believed to be dead.
But his legacy lived on. Harry would lose his mind and take up the mantle of the Green Goblin as well and a chance discovery would lead to several Hobgoblins and even a demonic Demo-Goblin from hell.
Now I'm usually strongly against the resurrection of a dead character, especially a major one like Green Goblin, but I must admit his return to life in comics was actually a stroke of genius. And the reveal that, while believed dead and working from the shadows, Osborn was actually responsible for the entire clone saga gave that annoying storyline some punch and meaning. In a less cool reveal, it's shown he'd also seduced and impregnated Stacy before killing her. And since then, Osborn has gone on to elude justice, even once his identity became known. This is such a mockery of all Spider-Man has worked for and suffered through that it ramps up the hatred and intensity all the more. Now with the Skrull invasion averted and Osborn seen as a hero, you can bet the rivalry between the Goblin (oh, he's still in there) and the Spider will only grow.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Shane's Favourite Nes Era Music

If you grew up in the 80's like me, then I'm certain that your childhood was defined by the addictive boops and beeps of 8-bit Nes music. And what a wonderful thing that was. Limiting myself to one song/melody from a series, here are the tunes that have been stuck in my head for the last 20 years or so.

5. Fever (Dr. Mario, 1990)
Listen. Well, I have to include this on the list simply because from the first time I played Dr. Mario, this tune laid eggs in my brain. Eggs that periodically hatch to attack my memory lobe. It's stupid, but it's stupid catchy, and I've found myself babbling out its melody at times - struggling to pinpoint where I know it from. As far as puzzle games are concerned, this has some of the best music ever. I would listen to the title screen theme for huge chunks of time without even playing.

4. Overworld Theme (The Legend of Zelda, 1987)
Listen. A memorable theme, no doubt about it. Every time I hear it I want to fire up that game and relive the adventure. It perfectly captures that sense of danger and heroics that the series is all about. The song isn't very fast or intense, which suits the exploration you do in the game, and really feels as if a bard may be playing it, telling the story of your journey. That's right, it's awesome because it makes me think of minstrels and lutes. It's classic!

3. Dr. Wily Stage 1 (Megaman 2, 1989)
Listen. In a game that is rich with amazing music, it's hard to pick the one that I love most. Also, I know that Megaman 3 has some equally face-rocking tunes (title theme!), but I have to give it to my favourite Megaman game ever. After defeating all of the robot bosses, you head off to take the fight to Wily, and you got this bitching number to set the tone. After all the fun and excitement that the game dishes out, this theme says "Hey! You're just getting started! Hold onto your ass, cause you ain't seen nothing yet!" If this music doesn't pump you up, you're legally dead.

2. The Moon (Ducktales, 1989)
Listen. I think many people might overlook this game as far as music is concerned, but the level themes in this game are really top notch, with the moon being the absolute best. It starts off and sounds pretty tame, but quickly picks up and turns into something epic. It tells a story of adventure, excitement, and an elderly duck seeking fortune in space. To sum up, it kicks ass.

1. Level 1-1 (Super Mario Bros, 1986)
Listen. If you don't know this theme then, I daresay, you must be a luminescent fish living thirty thousand feet below sea level. The fact that seemingly everyone knows and loves it is a testament to its greatness. I still hum it with glee all the time, and if someone is nearby when I do, chances are they will join in; maybe to harmonize, or to incorporate maracas. It's music that represents video gaming, defined a generation, and still is incredibly fun to listen to.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Best Retired Power Forwards

In the early nineties, the term power forward was coined to describe a new sort of player that had emerged in the mid to late eighties. These were players who combined offensive skill with rough, physical play. There's no hard definition for the power forward - different people have different criteria once you get past these main two aspects. But I'm going to define a power forward by these factors: strength, toughness, nastiness with a willingness to fight and goal-scoring ability. I place less importance on assists as I believe power forwards are finishers rather than playmakers.

No, I don't think Mark Messier was a power forward - he was tough and nasty and obviously he could score but he didn't fight enough. Neither did Tim Kerr - a big body who could score garbage goals in front of the net. Joel Otto wasn't a scorer - he was sort of the defensive equivalent of a power forward. So all those guys are out. Consistency is also important so Kevin Stevens, whom I consider to be a one year wonder as far as power forwards go, won't be found here either.

This list doesn't take into account active players so apologies to Gary Roberts and Brendan Shanahan.

I'll be including the stats for what I pick to be the player's "best power forward season". Goal and PIM totals will be the most important factors here. Higher assist totals aren't really considered so what I pick won't necessarily be the most productive season from an offensive standpoint. Here are the purest power forwards no longer in the game.

5. Pat Verbeek (1983-2002)
Standing only 5'9, Verbeek had to work extra hard to make this list. Size is usually a really important factor in determining a power forward, but he made up for it. While not even six feet, Verbeek weighed a solid 190 pounds, giving him a very low centre of gravity. This made him difficult to knock off the puck and when he hit you, you felt it. Playing for the Devils in the eighties and then the Whalers in the early nineties, Verbeek was a terror, averaging close to 30 goals and 200 PIM's a season. He fought often and scored even more frequently. He was so nasty to play against, Verbeek actually earned one of the greatest nicknames in league history, "The Little Ball of Hate." Unfortunately, because of the teams he played for, he didn't see much playoff action until later in his career when he was less effective.

Best Power Forward Season: 1987/88 - 73gp 46g 31a 77p 227PIM

4. Dale Hunter (1980-1999)
After putting so much stress on goal-scoring ability, I pick a guy who never had 30 in a season. But he consistently scored over 20 and his PIM totals are epic. Hunter retired as one of the only players in NHL history with over 3000 penalty minutes. He probably fought with more regularity than enforcers in today's NHL do. And he did it all while being very important to his team, an offensive catalyst as well as a physical one.

While I do place less importance on assist totals, I will point out that Hunter easily has the most of anyone on this list. He had 40 assists in a season eight times, with over 50 in five of them. So while not as much of a finisher as other power forwards, his assist totals prove he had great offensive skill. Hunter put up an astounding EIGHT seasons with over 20 goals and 200 penalty minutes - I don't know if that's a record but it must be. And if you look at the stats, it's REALLY close to ten, with 19 goals in his rookie season and 198 PIM's in another. Hunter was also extremely durable despite his physical style of play, being injured far less frequently than most power forwards. He scored a very respectable 323 career goals while crashing, banging and fighting all the way. (No, I'm not cool with what he did to Pierre Turgeon that time)

Best Power Forward Season: 1985/86 - 80gp 28g 42a 70p 265PIM

3. Rick Tocchet (1984-2002)
Tocchet's years with the Flyers, where he had four 30-goal seasons along with another 20-goal one and tons and tons of penalty minutes, are enough to get him somewhere on this list. But he's higher than fourth or fifth for those years combined with what he did in Pittsburgh. While it was really his last hurrah as a true power forward, I feel his 92/93 season with the Penguins is perhaps the best power forward season in NHL history.

Tocchet also proved right away in his career that he was going to be an effective player with an impressive 11 playoff goals in just his third season. He fought all comers and was at times impossible to keep off the scoresheet, one way or another. Today people in extensive hockey fantasy leagues that count stuff like PIMs and reward more points for goals can only dream of a player like Tocchet. His fantasy value in such leagues would be through the roof in his peak years.

While already an extremely productive scorer in Philadelphia, Tocchet exploded when he was given the chance to play on a line with Mario Lemieux. He slowed down in later years so he can't claim number one but man, was he good.

Best Power Forward Season: 1992/93 - 80gp 48g 61a 109p 252PIM

2. Wendel Clark (1985-2000)
The curse of many power forwards is injuries and Clark's career is a great example of this. Accuse me of favouritism all you want - stats don't lie. Like Verbeek, Clark wasn't a physically imposing guy, at least not to look at. He was 5'11 and his playing weight never quite reached 200 pounds. But when he hit someone, he made him feel every ounce of it. Actually converted from defense, which he'd played all through junior, playing for the Leafs Clark immediately adapted to playing up front, emerging as one of the game's greatest power forwards. His checks were often devastating and always clean. He often fought players much bigger and heavier than himself and usually won.

Because of injuries caused by his kamikaze style of play, Clark only once ever played over seventy games in a season. Which is unfortunate for lots of reasons including the fact that I know he had at least one, maybe more, 50 goal season in him. Routinely scoring more goals than assists (a rare characteristic in most players and important mark of the power forward), he managed 46 in only 64 games once but that was as close as he got. He wound up missing almost entire seasons but was always effective whenever he played. He was just as good in the playoffs if not better and his PIMs there only seem down some because there is less fighting in playoff hockey. Because of injuries, Clark can't boast the gaudy numbers some of these other guys can but you'd only have to see him play one game to recognize him as a truly great power forward.

Best Power Forward Season: 1986/87 - 80gp 37g 23a 60p 271PIM
*1993 playoffs - 21gp 10g 10a 20p 51PIM

1. Cam Neely (1983-1996)
Anyone who knows anything about hockey shouldn't be surprised by this. While maybe some power forwards had established themselves as such before Neely did, I don't think anyone was using the term then. It was basically Neely that defined it. While his penalty minute totals don't match up to the other guys on this list, no one would dispute that he was tough as nails and that he was always more than willing to drop the gloves. Perhaps the fact that he never reached 200 PIMs in a season is a reflection of the possibility that no one wanted to mess with him. Have you seen tape of this guy throwing? He pulverized guys. And his scoring ability is far beyond anyone else here, which is really saying something. Who else could step over the blue line and rip a shot past Patrick Roy?

Like Clark, Neely had trouble putting together entire seasons, always getting hurt and missing games. If not for injuries, Neely could have scored over six hundred goals. Maybe even seven hundred. In his spectacular comeback season in 93/94, he scored 50 goals in an eye-popping forty-four games. No one not named Gretzky has ever done better. He was a scoring machine, putting them in every way possible - he could battle in front of the net like other power forwards, knocking in rebounds, but he could score the fancy finesse goals as well, deking around opponents before wiring it past some hapless goalie.

He was one of the most feared hitters in the game at the same time as he was one of the most feared scorers - Alex Ovechkin has that rep today but I'm telling you, Neely was better at BOTH, plus he would fight. His goals per game average is one of the best in NHL history and it's even better in the playoffs. When a player's career is shortened by injuries, people will make the argument stats like goals per game aren't quite as impressive because the player never got the chance to decline. But I just don't see Cam as the type of player who would have declined. A hit from Ulf Samuelsson is what wound up doing him in and it's too bad because who knows what further heights he may have reached.

Best Power Forward Season: 1989/90 - 76gp 55g 37a 92p 117PIM