Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pavel Datsyuk Grows Weary of these Pitiful, Tiresome Humans

Pavel Datsyuk.
Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, having learned long ago to conceal the powers granted to him by our warm yellow sun, walks on most days among mere humans as if he were truly one of them. Standing just under six feet tall and weighing less than 200 pounds, he is physically unremarkable, his only unusual characteristic being a head that can, from certain angles, look a little bit like a guitar pick and/or a younger, better-hydrated Willem Dafoe.

It is only on the hockey rink that Datsyuk’s superhuman nature becomes apparent. Much like Superman or Spider-Man, Datsyuk’s escapades are witnessed by many, but recorded by posterity by only a few.1

Not Pavel Datsyuk.
Occasionally the mysterious Russian tires of pretending, and does his level best to make folks look stupid. He succeeds with cruel regularity. Granted, the man being consistently humiliated by Datsyuk in the clip below—Fox Sports Network reporter Trevor Thompson—is almost certainly not an NHL-caliber hockey player. But judging by his stance, footwork, mobility, and the puck-control skills he exhibited in the 0.08 seconds in which he actually has the puck, it seems likely that he’s played hockey at what your local beer-league player would consider a very high level—possibly juniors or college. So it’s not like Datsyuk is embarrassing somebody with no knowledge of the sport, such as certain Denver Post columnists or Gary Bettman.2

Nevertheless, the following footage is disturbing. Please watch it with caution. We can only assume that Thompson’s occasional utterances are sobs of shame:

Datsyuk does more than just make television hosts look silly. The following clip comes from an April 16, 2011 Stanley Cup playoff game against a real live professional hockey team.3

For those of you unfamiliar with hockey, it’s very rare to see a player attempt to shoot the puck with his stick between his legs in a real game because, well, it’s sort of ridiculous. One might occasionally see it from a player who’s screwing around—working on dazzling but impractical trick plays in practice, participating in an exhibition such as the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition, goofing off, or trying to relieve the boredom of  being stuck in a league well below an appropriately challenging skill level. The latter appears to be the case with Datsyuk, who has managed to put this particular kind of shot on net before:

He’s mean to goaltenders too:

For those of you unfamiliar with physics, we’re not convinced that the above is actually possible. Yet there it is.

Skills like Datsyuk’s are what make hockey fun to watch, and what makes this time of the year the happiest in an NHL fan’s year. We hope that the other six dozen hockey fans in this country appreciate his skills as much as we do, and we can only hope that, should one of Datsyuk’s miraculous moves succeed at curing cancer, the sport might actually get some attention over at ESPN.

1. It’s been suggested that Datsyuk is no other than mild-mannered photographer Peter Parker of the Daily Bugle. It is true that the two have, in fact, never been seen side-by-side.
2. The joke, here, for those of you who don’t follow hockey, is that Gary Bettman is the commissioner of the National Hockey League.
3. Technically, the Phoenix Coyotes are, in fact, still a professional hockey team. We had to look this up to make sure.

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