We have to respect ugly. Ugly is part of the game. It is smart and calculating. It does not rest on its past glory. It's out there scouring obscure corners of the globe, signing guys while they're still playing Midget, and — judging from Brad Park's draft photo — it has been for a long time. Ugly has its teeth in several young stars of the moment, and ugly will be around for a long time to come. We simply cannot beat ugly. We can, however, celebrate it.
If some of these guys look like they've been hit in the face with a bag of nickels, it's because they have. Yes, several have won Cups, and most (OK, all) could kick my short, skinny, rec league ass, but the roster must be made.
Note that none of these guys are the victims of a single especially bad picture, at an awkward time. And aside from Doug Favell, I took a pass on old-school goalies like Gump Worsley. They were easy targets, but as the Gumper himself liked to say, "My face is my mask" — and that's a tough nut you've gotta respect. Kasparaitis, on the other hand, well, he ain't got no alibi.
|Mike Ricci — Don't kid yourself it's all about the missing tooth or the long hair. Beauty might be only skin deep, but ugly cuts straight to the bone. (Warning: Click the thumbnails for a bigger pic only if you dare.)|
|Darius Kasparaitis — The man whose name sounds like a disease as bad as his mug. Darius, I'll always remember you losing in the fifth overtime, baby, when Keith Primeau shook you out of your jock. Now that was some beautiful ugliness.|
|Nick Fotiu — A tough fighter who was always a hometown fan favorite. Probably a great guy to go have a couple of pops with. But a puss that only Mrs. Fotiu could love.|
Rod Brind'Amour — Ah, Brindy. I love his game: he's all effort, all the time, and I'd be willing to look like him if it meant I could play like him. But he's first team All-Ugly in any league.
Doug Favell — One of the first guys to really start painting his goalie mask creatively, but like an ugly girl wearing gaudy jewelry, there was clearly some misdirection behind that. He always looked much better behind the mask.
|Eddie Johnstone — Even when I was a young kid, I remember thinking this guy kind of looked like a rat with a beak.|
|Slava Fetisov — Ugly in Russian? "уродско." A mainstay on the Soviet Red Army team, Slava was one of the best D-men in the world for a good decade before coming to play in the NHL at age 31. Shown here on the Wings, he proves that you can leave your country, but you can't leave ugly.|
|Tiger Williams — The NHL all-time career penalty minutes leader, and a stand-up ugly dude. I think of him in those old school, equally ugly Canucks "flying V" jerseys. Of special note, epicurean readers will be keenly interested to see that Tiger has not been idle in retirement. If you can find a copy, check out his cookbook: Done Like Dinner: Tiger in the Kitchen.|
|Esa Tikkanen — "The Grate One" was maybe the most accomplished pest of all time. And let's face it, the worst kind of pest is an ugly pest.|
|Gino Odjick — Lurch, why the long face? Tough as nails, it's still inconceivable to me that the "Algonquin Enforcer" was forced to retire early due to a concussion from taking a puck to the head. Gino looks like he makes pucks run away and wet themselves.|
|Jeff Odgers — Square jaw, busted up nose, accentuated by the Breathe Right strip. Frickin' beauty. Gotta love Odgers.|
Mike Bossy — Bossy was ugly in that stylish Iggy Pop sort of way that undoubtedly got him lots of action back in the Studio 54 days, and he was hands-down the most talented guy in this bunch, but he's one ugly dude.
|Kjell Samuelsson — Ugly is sneaky. Kjell tried to outgrow it, but even at 6'6" ugly was able to catch up to his face.|
|Marcel Dionne — The aptly nicknamed "Little Beaver" was another amazingly talented first team All-Ugly guy. And one with more staying power than Bossy. One of the few guys in the 700 goal club, 5th on the all-time points list, and center to the legendary "Triple Crown" line, with Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor. Neither of those guys were real strong in the looks department either, but something tells me they managed to get laid a lot with Marcel around for comparison, eh?|
|Bobby Holik — Holik's got that medical-experiment-gone-awry meets drill-sergeant thing going on. He just plain scares the crap out of me.|
|Brian Bellows — A point-a-game guy for a long time, but he never really learned to backcheck. And, of course, there's this damning evidence, courtesy of Bryan Trottier and Kevin Stevens (who, you know, was always a great judge of character). OK, OK, Bellows isn't really all that ugly, but I can't resist that ridiculous Trottier/Stevens clip.|
|Dennis Polonich — Ladies and gentlemen, we just might have a winner. By all accounts, Polonich was pretty much a grade-A asshat during his tenure in the NHL. Despite being roughly the size of the artist formerly known as Prince, he was a pest of the highest magnitude. I remember going to a Saturday matinée game in Philly and having the benches clear so the Flyers could get a piece of him. It was Donnybrook every time he came to town, and like any good fan, I hated his guts.|