This is my 400th post on my blog, and recently, some of my recent entries have involved hockey intertwining with other sports. So how does hockey intertwine with…the beautiful game: association football, or what’s commonly known in North America as soccer? Well, a lot of hockey teams play hallway soccer or “two-touch” to warm up for the game. The rules for “two-touch” are pretty simple: you can’t touch the ball more than twice per turn, and if you drop the ball, you’re out. As a warm-up exercise, “two-touch” loosens the muscles, and it helps the reflexes for the game ahead. The United States have made a name for themselves in the soccer world in the last decade. In 2010, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team won their group and played in the Knockout Stage of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2002. Four years later, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team survived the Group of Death and played in the Knockout Stage of the FIFA World Cup in consecutive tournaments for the first time ever. At around the same time, two British men gave a unique and fresh spin to the world of soccer: America’s Sport of the Future since 1972.
About a decade ago, Michael Davies, the founder of Embassy Row Productions (you know, the one who brought Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? to the United States) met New York Times journalist Roger Bennett at a wedding for a mutual friend. That day was July 9, 2006: the date of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Italy in Berlin. Davo was sulking, and Rog struck up a conversation with him. They talked all night about soccer, the infamous headbutt by Zinedine Zidane, and the shootout winner by Fabio Grosso, and something special began. In 2012, Davies and Bennett gave their unique take during ESPN’s coverage of the UEFA European Championships. calling themselves The Men in Blazers, both men did all their commentary inside a closet-sized room using commentator’s headsets, much like what Statler and Waldorf did on The Muppet Show. they were so popular, they began creating podcasts for Bill Simmons’ Grantland site, to talk all things soccer. When NBC Sports was awarded exclusive broadcasting rights for the Premier League in the United States in 2013, something was needed to give a fresh take to the weekend that was in Premier League. After the 2014 FIFA World Cup, The Men in Blazers headed to NBC Sports. Not only did they continue to do the podcast, they got their own 30-minute show on NBCSN to do whatever the wanted. The Men in Blazers Show premiered on September 22, 2014, and their first guest in the “panic room” was the actor, author, host of NBC’s Food Fighters, Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, Man Finds Food, and die-hard Tottenham Hotspur fan Adam Richman. In that episode, they talk about soccer and food. During Super Bowl XLIX, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was the special guest of the show. In that episode, they talk about who had the best facial hair in soccer. Back in May, NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs pushed back the airing of the Men in Blazers Show to sometimes past Midnight in the Eastern Time Zone. It led to the recurring joke that “they’ll air the show when Jeremy Roenick said so.” To further integrate the worlds of hockey and soccer, one infamous play made headlines across the sports landscape on the night of May 19, 2015. Game 2 of the Western Conference Final saw the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks tied at 2-2 in the middle of the second overtime period. The Ducks were penalized for having too many men on the ice. On the ensuing power play, Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw scored the game winner in double overtime…or so did he?
From NHL on NBC feed:
From Hockey Night in Canada feed:
After the game, which the Blackhawks won in Triple Overtime, Andrew Shaw famously said during the postgame media scrum, “Maybe the Premier League’s going to be scouting me.” So during that week’s Men in Blazers Show, which was the penultimate episode of that season, Rog and Davo took their own take of the play, this time with commentary from NBC’s lead Premier League play-by-play announcer Arlo White:
Which lead to Monday night. NHL on NBC studio analyst Jeremy Roenick finally visited the “panic room” to talk about how hockey and soccer are not that much different in the latest episode of The Men in Blazers Show.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I just want to thank everyone who has ever visited this blog, commented on this blog, linked this blog; the only reason I do this is because I love this sport and I want to share what I love with all of you. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost here, and I’ll do whatever I can to keep you informed or entertained for whatever’s to come. I’ve done 400 posts in the last 5 seasons, and believe me, I will do the best to reach 500 posts sometime in the 2016-17 season…if I can.