Thursday, February 3, 2011

Did You See That: The Mule Trick

Writer's Note: This is my (feeble) attempt at a sports humor column. It will be noted when one of these columns is appearing by the Pre-Title "Did You See That".

Sports fads get the most unusual names, don't they? Recently, Johan Franzén of the Detroit Red Wings scored 5 goals in one game against Ottawa and it was named a "Mule Trick". This name was weird, as before I wrote this, I had no idea of the origin of Franzén's nickname: the mule. Hockey always has a way with names, no matter how weird they may be.

Steve Yzerman got the nickname started when Franzén played his first season with the Wings. He loved his workmanlike nature, and the name "The Mule" comes from the fact that, "he carries the load". I have learned even in my few years of being a hockey die-hard to never question Stevie on anything hockey, which I therefore blame on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s successes….

So in that, "The Mule" did something only 2 other Red Wings ever did, but I wonder whether we'll ever hear the name "Mule Trick" again. Maybe it will stick and become a team tradition like those darned octopi. Maybe a mule will pop up on the jumbotron at the Joe every time he scores. I don't think that's been done already. Maybe fans will toss plush Mules onto the ice and then Al Sobotka will twirl them above his head. Important questions….

It seems now that every team has their own Verizon commercial. With the Caps, it was the infamous "Ovechtrick". The Flyers have one too where they go 82-0. Now I wonder whether Franzén will star in one for the Red Wings. Will he have shirts made with the name "Mule Trick"? Will he come into Sesame Street riding on a mule where the number of the day is 5? Will 5 strikes in a row now be called a mule instead of a 5 pack? You can only ponder….

The Coyotes have "Toss the Snake". The Panthers have "The Rat Trick". And now to add to the octopi fad, mules may now become forever a part of Red Wings lore, although maybe not quite the cult classic, or gain that much notoriety and cause a rule to be instituted.

Rats, mules, snakes and octopi. Those are just a few examples of hockey fads that may never go away, despite loose ties to team’s histories and creating many a fansite for them. Will a 5 goal game be called a "mule trick" forever? I doubt it. But at least the mule can now be used as a term of endearment, and nobody will question it. At least the poor man won't be mistaken for a pre-production car in testing. The question: "I'm a....... mule? Is that a good thing?" should now cease to exist, I hope.

Sports fads will always be strange, outlandish, and eccentric, but I guess that's why we have them in the first place. Without the rats, the Florida Panthers would be just the L.A Clippers of hockey. The Redskins may not be what they were without the hogs. And, the "Mule Trick" would just be a 5 goal game without "The Mule". Love thy fads, because nothing in sports is as good without 'em.

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