Friday, December 3, 2010

Come on down: A history of the NHL's game show appearances

He later became a Leaf fan and
changed his name to Guy Frowny.
The NHL made an unexpected pop culture appearance this week when the Maple Leafs were the subject of a question on the game show Jeopardy!.

The question ("In action since 1917, this sports franchise is now largely owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan") may have been somewhat ironic given recent news of a potential sale to Rogers, but it wasn't especially difficult. Two of the three contestants knew the correct answer, including Tom, the eventual champion. Hey, plan the parade, right?

But while it was certainly fun to see the Leafs make a cameo on one of the world's most popular game shows, it wasn't an especially rare sight. It may surprise younger fans to learn that the NHL actually has a long and distinguished history of showing up on some of television's most beloved games shows, albeit with mixed results.

Here's a few of the more memorable examples.

2008 - After multiple attempts to explain the rules of the bidding portion of the game, exasperated producers for The Price Is Right are forced to disqualify Glen Sather after he is unable to grasp the concept of "without going over".

1994 - While trying to figure out a way to get the blood and shards of teeth out of his hair, Family Feud host Richard Dawson vows to never again get lippy with the Sutter brothers.

1999 - Despite following the proven formula of using a bland former lawyer as host, the NHL Network is disappointed by the negative critical reception and record low ratings for their production of Win Gil Stein's Money.

2004 - During an uncomfortable episode of Wheel of Fortune, Gary Bettman spends 20 minutes squinting at a board reading "NOBODY IN PHOENIX ENJOYS WATCHING HOC-EY" without being able to solve the puzzle.

1995 - The Hollywood Squares becomes incredibly dull and begins to plummet in the ratings during the years after special guests Jacques Lemaire and Lou Lamoreillo develop a strategy that involves never doing anything except going for the block.

2005 - An outraged Kyle Wellwood storms off the set off Tic Tac Dough after learning that he is playing for an assortment of cash and prizes, and not for actual tic tacs and dough.

2009 - In a short-lived effort to appeal to hockey fans, NBC launches a show called Deal or No Deal or To Be Honest I'd Love To Make a Deal But I Can't Do Anything Until The Trade Deadline Because of This Stupid Salary Cap.

2010 - Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis declines an invitation to appear on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? on the grounds that it would just end up creating more problems.

2007 - A special "Enforcers of the NHL" edition of The Weakest Link unexpectedly turns out to be the series' final episode, although it does teach viewers a valuable lesson about what happens when you accidentally call Link Gaetz "weak".

1984 - Frustrated Press Your Luck host Peter Tomarken stops the show to explain to a St. Louis Blues fan contestant that while inconsistent goaltending is certainly an issue for any hockey team, there's still no need to punctuate every spin with cries of "No Wamsleys!"

2006 - "NHL Arena Music Director" week on Name That Tune ends up being a disaster when it turns out that none of them are able to name any tune that isn't Welcome To The Jungle, Cotton-Eyed Joe, or that one where they just keep saying "Woo-hoo".

1986 - A young John Ferguson Jr. appears on Let's Make A Deal, trades a brand new car for a goat, and then immediately gives the goat a no-trade clause.


  1. Ah, the glorious return of the "Kyle Wellwood is fat" tag. Love it!

  2. The Kyle Wellwood one makes no sense.

    Tic Tacs are only 1 1/2 calories each. I think if Wellwood were to eat one, he would expend more than that amount of calories just to overcome the inertia of his massive jowls moving up and down.

  3. brian burke... "ill take vesa toskala for the block... wait, what?"
    circle gets the square..

    ~ cheers....

  4. Nice that the goat got an NTC... well earned.

  5. *Later became a Habs fan and changed his name to Ben Mulroney

  6. I heard a rumour that everytime Kyle Wellwood grocery shops its like an episode of Supermarket Sweep

  7. I was inspired...
    Wheel of Fortune

    Another brilliant article, keep up the good work!

  8. The JFJ one had me rolling.

  9. Link Gaetz reference! A1! (He has the same birthday as me!)

  10. I love the Ellis reference.

  11. can't beat a good dan ellis joke

  12. Good to see more Kyle Wellwood and Dan Ellis jokes again. And on Name That Tune, I think all the NHL music directors would think that "Rock and Roll Part 2" was the only song that existed (The "Hey!" song played after a goal)! :)

  13. One of the better posts in a while.

  14. I see Kyle is having a great season in the KHL so far.