Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A brief history of hockey's weirdest own goals

Welcome to the club, Patrik Laine.

On Sunday night, the rookie took a break from the monotony of scoring highlight-reel goals for the Jets to try something new: Scoring a highlight-reel goal against the Jets. It turns out he’s really good at that, too.

From a purely artistic perspective, that’s a pretty sweet goal. Stick on the ice, quick release, far corner, all done late in a tie game with the pressure on. It would have been nice to see him go bar down there, but he’s only a rookie.

He's also got plenty of company. NHL history is filled with players scoring into their own nets. So today, let's celebrate that history by taking a look at 10 of the more entertaining own goals from NHL history. This won’t be a comprehensive top-10 countdown, but a sampling of some of the more creative ways to put the puck into your own net. And we'll rate them using the following criteria.

Situation: Timing matters. An own goal in the preseason is just funny. One that comes in the playoffs might be career-defining.

Cringe factor: How bad did it look? Accidentally tipping a point shot or having a centering pass deflect off your skate isn't a big deal—that stuff happens all the time. We're looking for a goal that makes you scream "What was he doing?" at your TV.

Notoriety: Hindsight is funny thing. Some of these goals seem to stick in the hockey world's collective consciousness, while others fade as time goes on.

We're not sure yet how Laine will fare on that last category, although you'd imagine he'd do reasonably well in the first two. He'd certainly wind up with a decent overall score.

But you're not alone, Patrik. And a few guys have had it a lot worse than you did.

Paul Coffey, 1996

Situation: 6/10 – This one came in the opening round of a conference final. And not just any conference final—one between the two greatest rivals of a generation, the Red Wings and Avalanche. Everything that happened between these two teams was memorable, from the crazy brawls to the cheap shots to the embarrassing bloopers.

So why does barely anyone remember this one?

Well, here's the thing: It's from game one of the 1996 series between the two teams. In game six, this happened, and the rivalry was on. But at this exact moment in time, the Wings and Avs were just two teams.

Cringe factor: 7/10 – You can see exactly what he was trying to do, but it still ends up looking awful. And we'll award one bonus point for the Detroit crowd's reaction, and another for Bob Cole's fantastic call.

Notoriety: 4/10 – This one didn't resonate the way so many of the future moments between the two teams would. Still, this was a key goal in a game that went to overtime and that Colorado won. They took the series in six, so if this play never happens... well, who knows?

Overall: 5.7/10 – If only Coffey had been shown a cautionary example of the danger of defenseman own goals back in his formative years as an Oiler. Oh look, the "ironic foreshadowing" light on the dashboard just started blinking.

Bryan McCabe, 2007

Situation: 5/10 – On the one hand, this goal was from a mid-October game between two teams who'd miss the playoffs. On the other hand, it did come in the dying seconds of overtime. We'll split the difference.

Cringe factor: 7/10 – You can see what he's trying to do, and in a goal-mouth scramble it makes sense to try to get the puck out of the crease as quickly as possible, but it still looks bad. And the top-down camera view with the ticking clock in the corner doesn't help.

Notoriety: 8/10 – Considering this came in a game that ultimately didn't remotely matter, it's kind of strange that so many fans remember it to this day. A big part of that is the context here, which is that the Maple Leafs were bad and their fans were getting sick of it. Rightly or wrongly, McCabe was already becoming the lightning rod for that wrath, so everything he did was magnified. A few months later, the Muskoka Five were born, things got even worse, and this goal came to retroactive signal everything that was wrong with the JFJ era.

Overall: 6.7/10 – Like we said, hindsight is a funny thing. On the merits, this one probably shouldn't rank all that high. But some of these goals just stick, and this is one of them.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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