Panko and backhands. Boarding and fleur de sel. “Season at every step” and “We’ve got to get pucks to the net”. Searing, visors, lemon zest, and Gary Bettman.
Some things just go together.
I have a lot of friends who have really unfortunate hockey fan skills. Most of these people also call themselves Flames fans, but that’s really another post. To give these pals of mine their due, they wear their nosebleed red jerseys (jersey, not a shirt. They live in Calgary) with pride. And they know enough about hockey and their team to make it work. However, the narratives they run on other teams are more than a smidge narrow. My dear friends rarely look beyond Sportsnet West for hockey knowledge and, for many, Tampa Bay must be really, really good because they beat the Flames and won Lord Stanley.
Now, I love these pals. They are top notch. Importantly, they have a multitude of other talents and TV loyalties. While their hockey fan skills might be those of a slightly spacey but ever loyal kitten, their Bachelor, Storage Wars, Real Housewives (of anywhere – limited storylines here, people), and Grey’s Anatomy skills are out of control. I have friends who can regularly whip out a triple sow kow of Criminal Minds or bowl a perfect game of Duck Dynasty. It’s impressive. It almost makes up for their hockey fan skills.
As a friend, I want to help these people I love. I want to reach out to them and speak in their mother tongue – to make the entire NHL of 2013 meaningful in the language of their heart.
After careful research, I can conclude this: my friends speak fluent Food Network. Effortless, confident, articulate Food Network.
And so, my mucho loved amigos, meet the teams of the 2013 NHL season and their Food Network show soul sisters.
Anaheim Ducks: Ace of Cakes
It’s a mismatched roster of loveable personalities that makes the Ducks shockingly interesting to watch. Koivu and Selanne have a Duff – Jeff dynamic and Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, and Belesky have killer chemistry, not unlike Mary Alice, Anna, Katherine, and Ben.
Boston Bruins: Barefoot Contessa
Classic. They have staying power. Sometimes they have mega seasons (like when Ina bakes perfect lemon squares) and even when they aren’t great, they are still really, really good (like when Ina invents this).
Buffalo Sabres: Tyler’s Ultimate
They’ve been so good it’s dirty. In recent years, they’ve had players (and dishes) that are mind boggling good. But, it’s starting to have been a while since what they fielded was a smash. It’s a rebuilding year.
Calgary Flames: Worst Cooks in America
This show needs new competitors and a reinvented format. Leadership that sets up outrageous tasks and makes icky faces when their charges make peanut butter marinara sauce is just cruel.
Carolina Hurricanes: Dinner Impossible
Their leader is strong. He’s fierce. The team is always in the mix, and in the end, they generally put on a respectable showing. Sometimes they serve mac and cheese as a side and sometimes they end up in 9th place, but generally it’s adequate. A less than stellar conference/being the only chef who will cook 97 roast chickens on Mars with only 14 firecrackers helps their success.
Chicago Blackhawks: Iron Chef America
They can do no wrong. It’s brilliant.
Colorado Avalanche: Oliver’s Twist
2001 was a great year. Since then, there’s been a lot of dabbling in other projects and some glorious successes (Matt Duchene and Jamie at Home) – rebuilding is a process. Regardless, there’s still something unique about them that makes a Wednesday evening spent watching them a worthwhile endeavor.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Food Jammers
Nope, I haven’t seen it either.
Dallas Stars: Chopped
You want to hate them. You do hate them. But you can’t not watch. Something about the format or the cast of characters has you hooked. Every once in a while someone uses truffle oil to garnish a dish and it hurts, but then someone mixes veggie dogs, capers, and cotton candy and it’s beautiful.
Detroit Red Wings: Diners, Drive Ins, and Drives
When watching, you feel mostly sadness: you just can’t get what you want. That thing that makes them great, their Datsyukian-homemade pickle-Zetterbergish–basted in butter-deadly weapon, isn’t yours. And you can’t have it.
Edmonton Oilers: The Next Iron Chef
Maybe I’m a little biased. We can still be friends. But actually, take potentially skilled but untested competitors, jam really tricky challenges in their face, do some team relays, and eventually brilliance will prevail.
Florida Panthers: Private Chefs of Beverly Hills
They try so hard. But they are just on the wrong channel. In so many ways.
Los Angeles Kings: Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels
They used to be so good: a Stanley Cup, 30 Minute Meals. Like, solid gold. But then, they pulled up on what they do best and started coasting. It hasn’t been great since.
Minnesota Wild: Unwrapped
Learning how potato salad is mass-produced. Watching ¾ of a game played between the two blue lines. It’s not really something anyone ever needs to see. But it is effective.
Montreal Canadiens: Paula’s Home Cooking
It’s because of history that something deep inside forces you to smile when they succeed. They have a legacy of cream cheese and hockey trailblazers that compels your underdog bone to smile at their resurgence. You can only hope that they manage to keep the Krispy Kreme donut burger coaching fiascos under control.
Nashville Predators: Food Network Challenge
Sometimes mediocre things stay mediocre and no one knows why.
New Jersey Devils: Giada at Home
New York Islanders: What Would Brian Boitano Make?
No one really knows what is going on here. Aren’t there qualifications to cooking/running a team? Their youth and energy are magnetic – if only you could figure out what is actually happening.
New York Rangers: Best Thing I Ever Ate
Every all-star gets to do what they love. But wait, while macaroons and chili rellenos both sound delicious, shouldn’t we at least try to make them work together? Coherence and flow are so overrated.
Philadelphia Flyers: Cupcake Wars
Proving oneself is a major theme here. Raw skill is plentiful, but that earnest effort has to be channeled or there won’t be enough cumin white chocolate ganache in that black bean and corn puree cupcake for the judges to taste all the ingredients (extended metaphor for Bryzgalov crunch time?).
Phoenix Coyotes: Road Grill
Will someone please grab hold and start steering this ship? You cannot make Yorkshire Pudding on a barbecue. You cannot base a franchise in Glendale. PLEASE.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Boy Meets Grill
These people live a charmed life. Bobby’s grill is literally always the right temperature and try as they might to have all their stars sustain major injuries, Pittsburgh just can’t not make the playoffs. It must be hard drinking homemade sangria up on that million-dollar patio with the sweeping city views. Really rough.
Ottawa Senators: 3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay
Another thing could not go wrong. It simply isn’t possible. Your liquor license is delayed, an offensive star goes down, the sidewalk in front of your restaurant explodes leaving a gigantic crater that potential patrons have to repel through to enjoy your hot wings – the best defenseman in the league has his Achilles chopped. Just stop already, world.
San Jose Sharks: Down Home with the Neelys
They are nothing if not consistent. You know there will be barbecue sauce involved and it’s basically a given that someone named Joe will get a point. Some things are just comforting.
St. Louis Blues: Ten Dollar Dinners
I’ll be honest – I’ve seen it on and heard good things, but there is nothing to grab my attention. Canned tomatoes and free agents can only go so far.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Good Eats
It’s good, then it’s bad, then Richards gets traded, then they draft Stamkos, then the food puppets come out and no one really has any idea what to do. We know Alton and Stamkos are game changers, but beyond that everything is unclear.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Emeril Live
There’s a storied history here. We all love you for what you did. But BAM? That stuff goes bad. Their legacy still stands as remarkable, but since then, it’s only been in brief appearances that their potential brilliance sees the light – and there’s really no return to greatness in the works for now.
Vancouver Canucks: Sweet Genius
Washington Capitals: Semi Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee
The comedy potential is just out of control. You almost feel sorry for them, but then…. this is on them. You can’t be held responsible for fading stars and calling balled up store-bought frosting a truffle.
Winnipeg Jets: Top Chef
We were all nothing but thrilled when it came back. Another season? Yes please.
It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Irving
What’s that? Hockey mixed with the Food Network? By my count four unprovoked shots at the Flames in the introduction? It can only mean one thing, Nicole is back with a vengeance. Can we all appreciate Nicole’s description of the Canucks? The sports hate is sizzling, what a homer.
I’m not going to lie this post just activated my appetite, maybe Nicole’s telling me that I need to write a Fanboy Friday about food? Trust me, it’s coming, but for now I need food and nourishment.