Thursday, June 11, 2020

What's the worst roster that kind of looks like an amazing roster? Let's meet the Off-Brand All-Stars.

Remember when you were a kid and you’d see some cool cereal or treat at the grocery store and beg your parents to buy it for you, only to be told that you already had some waiting at home? Inevitably, you’d get back only to find that your parents had not, in fact, bought you the item of your dreams – they’d settled for the off-brand version, which had a similar name but was never anywhere near as good.

It was a universal experience. I’m told it’s even become a bit of a meme. And today, we’re going to bring the concept to hockey as we build the most off-brand roster in NHL history. It’s the Off-Brand All-Stars, a collection of names that will seem impressive if you scan them quickly, but will turn out to be… well, not impressive.

If you’re a regular Grab Bag reader, you may know some of these names from the Obscure Player section. For the other 99 percent of you, you may be meeting them for the first time. Or maybe you’ve stumbled across a few of them in your own travels around the hockey record books. Or maybe they are you, in which case hi there, this is going to be awkward for both of us.

Either way, we’re going to assemble the worst possible roster we can build that sort of vaguely looks like the best possible roster as long as you squint.

Another way to look at this: This is the roster your spouse who only occasionally pays attention to hockey would spit out if you asked them to name all those players you’ve been talking about over the years.

Another way to look at this: This is the roster you would get in a video game that had its license agreement fall through at the last moment.

Another way to look at this: We’re in the middle of a five-month offseason and I am well and truly out of ideas.

Here are three important ground rules to keep in mind:

  • Preference will be given to players who actually played (or were at least drafted) in the NHL, although we reserve the right to round out the roster with a few names from other leagues.
  • We want to avoid players who have recognizable names because they were relatives of famous players, since that seems to go against the spirit of the thing.
  • This is a complete waste of time and you are right to be disappointed in me.

Let’s meet our Off-Brand All-Stars!

First line

Wayne Grotski

We have to start with the immortal Wayne Grotski. Unlike most of our roster, Grotski never made it past junior, but he still ranks as perhaps the greatest off-brand hockey superstar there ever was.

I mean, just the name alone is perfect. But amazingly, Grotski’s connection to the slightly more successful Wayne Gretzky doesn’t end there. Grotski’s junior years came with the Edmonton Crusaders and ended in 1978, meaning he was playing in Edmonton just a few months before Gretzky arrived.

Even better, look at the roster of that 1977-78 Edmonton Crusaders team. In addition to Wayne Grotski, they also feature a Tessier and Currie, and now I absolutely need to see a sci-fi movie where dynasty-era Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jari Kurri have to time-travel back to 1978 and go undercover on an obscure local junior team to save the world.

Grotski’s hockey career appears to end once he leaves Edmonton, which is indisputable evidence that he and Gretzky are the same person an interesting coincidence. He appears to have gone on to become a firefighter who has no patience for morons, and to this day his hockeydb page is periodically discovered by delighted hockey fans.

Wayne Grotski is hereby named captain of the Off-Brand All-Stars.

Taylor Hall

Since we’re starting off our roster with an Edmonton theme, let’s add a name that put up big numbers with the Oilers. A name, but not a player, because this is the other Taylor Hall. This one played five NHL seasons back in the 80s, debuting with the Canucks and later appearing in a few games with the Bruins. All told, this Taylor Hall’s NHL career lasted 41 games and saw him score seven goals before he embarked on a career in coaching and management with, of course, the Oilers. No, the other Oilers. Please keep up.

And what the hell, we might as well finish off an all-Edmonton top line…

Conor McDavitt

Much like his near-namesake, McDavitt produced consistent offense and led his team in scoring. That team would be the Skidmore College Thoroughbreds. On February 22, 2003, McDavitt recorded a hat trick to account for all of his team’s offense in that game. Connor McDavid has accomplished that feat exactly once in his NHL career, meaning these two are pretty much the same player.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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