Thursday, March 26, 2009

Understanding Male Behavior Through The Magic Of Ice Hockey

Stumbled across this little item on Puck Daddy yesterday. It's a must-see video featuring Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin in a cooking segment with Alyonka Larionov, daughter of hockey Hall-of-Famer Igor Larionov (featuring a special appearance by Pens defenceman Chris Letang as "The Gimp".)

Alyonka became well-known in hockey blogging circles for accompanying a certain Washington Capital who also happens to be Russian to last year's NHL awards ceremony.

Now who knows if Alex Ovechkin and Larionov are still an item but after watching that video and seeing Malkin, dressed like an Abercrombie model, relentlessly flirting with a girl every hockey person knows was seen with Ovie, can we say that Malkin is pursuing Ovie's "sloppy seconds?"

Here is where I will digress and go on a tanget specifically for the amusement (or maybe not) of the female readers out there. Allow me to maybe shed a little light on male behavior through ice hockey players.

Women, of course, are like cats, specifically lions.

Like lioness', women form close knit groups, similar to a lion pride, that are generally self-sufficient. The pride does everything together. They rely on each other to survive. During the hunt, each member of the pride has a defined role. The pride will usually carry one or two males around for intimidation and other purposes. They watch each other's backs and are resistant to outsiders, especially other females but also other males. It works that way for lions and seems to work that way with humans. Right or wrong ladies?

Now, men, we're like dogs. Then again, you ladies already knew that. But really, we are. Much like dogs, groups of guys establish a pack and therefore a pack order. How outsiders (like new girlfriends for instance) are accepted depends on the pack. Sometimes the pack will accept a new person and sometimes they won't. If I were a dog psychologist or a better writer I would explain how but for now, just roll with me on this one. Needless to say, the pack has certain defined roles. Let's take the Washington Capitals for instance. Anybody that has followed the team the last two years knows they have a close knit bunch with certain key members playing certain key roles. Here now are those roles followed by the corresponding Cap and a description of what the role does. So ladies, next time you are around a group of guys, you will now be able to identify each member of the group by their role. See, I told you there would be some edumacation here.

Alpha Dog- Alex Ovechkin

The Alpha Dog is the main man in the group. He's the guy everything revolves around. The alpha is very easy to spot, since usually he'll have most of the group members around him. Sometimes there is more than one alpha dog in a pack, but its usually only one. For the Caps, Ovie is obviously the alpha dog. He's the most talented, most charismatic guy on the team and his teammates love him. Got the hardware and the scoring records to back him up.

Wingmen/Beta Dogs- Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin

The wingmen are very important to the alpha dog. They watch the alpha's back, assist him and help prop him up when necessary. They can also take over the pack in a pinch. While talented in their own right, the wingmen don't quite have the charisma of the alpha and they can't really carry the pack for long stretches. But without them, the group would not be as dynamic. It's no coincidence that Ovechkin's two best friends are the team are Backstrom and Semin.

The Glue Guy- Viktor Kozlov

An underrated member of the pack. The Glue Guy is not flashy and he's not often pretty. On his own, he's not much. But the glue guy holds the thing together (you could also call him a "Lebowski Guy"). There's no logical explanation for it but without the Glue Guy, the group wouldn't be the same. The Glue Guy can also be confused with the alpha dog because he's often a popular guy, albeit for different reasons. He's quick with a joke, buys drinks at the bar and keeps the pack loose, either by being funny or being a willing target for the other pack members jokes. The Glue Guy has a good sense of humor about him and doesn't take himself seriously. In Kozzy's case, he brings Ovechkin and Backstrom's line together. He does the dirty work in the corners and doesn't mind playing third banana to Ovie and Backy.

The Wise Man- Sergei Fedorov

He's usually the oldest member of the pack. The Wise Man has seen it all and done it all and typically serves an advisory role. He's not the alpha dog in this particular pack but has been one in other packs. The Wise Man has the respect and admiration of the pack, which is why he was accepted in the first place. The Wise Man can seem a little aloof and his role in the pack can seem uncertain to outsiders but those within the pack understand his importance. All those things would describe Feds, who the younger Russian players on the Caps revere. When he came aboard last season, the team really took off. Plus, that toque he used to wear on his head all the time made him look very wise.

The Fun Guy - Mike Green

The Fun Guy is an essential part of any pack. He's the guy that will do all sorts of stuff to keep the pack loose. The guy that will fart in someone's face, crack jokes, dance badly, get a goofy haircut, drive a fast car, get tattoos, you name it. He's not all about that of course, there are usually several sides to the Fun Guy, but within the pack that's his role. In Greener's case he fulfills three of those things: his got two huge tattoos, drives a Lamborghini and made the faux-hawk a fashion statement. He also looks like he just woke up half the time. But on the ice, he's one of the best defencemen in the NHL.

The Cleaner- Evgeni Malkin

The role of the Cleaner is a strange one and can be rather loosely defined. The Cleaner is usually not a member of the pack, in fact, he's often in a rival pack. He's more like an associate of the alpha dog. The only way a Cleaner comes near the pack is through a relationship with the alpha. Lower members of the pack typically are not allowed to bring Cleaners around. What exactly is a Cleaner? He cleans up things on the periphery of the pack. In other words, he's the guy that will date a pack member's sister or a pack member's ex-girlfriend. He's the guy that will usually eat the last slice of pizza and bum cigarettes from everyone. These attributes are why he's not in the pack in the first place. The Cleaner is not even the alpha dog in his own pack, which is why he is able to co-exist with other packs. So what are Malkin's cleaner credentials?

Member of rival pack?


Friend with another pack's Alpha Dog?


Messing around with the an ex-flame of another pack's membership?


So there you have it. I hope my little educational session was helpful. I am sure the Discovery Channel will be calling me about the documentary soon. With that being said, let's have The Bloodhound Gang send us on our way with a song about nature.

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