In honor of the LA Kings just having won the Stanley Cup, we are re-posting Eric Baker’s piece from September 25, 2011 at the beginning of the season, handicapping the Kings’ chances.

BAKER STREET

by Eric J Baker

Ice hockey is a metaphor for adultery.

Yeah, I know, everyone says that. But it’s true: You have a guy with a long, stiff shaft trying to score into a soft, willing receptacle that does not belong to him. The other guy is trying real hard not to let that happen. It’s a game of inches, as they say, and you can interpret that how you want.

But Baker, you ask, what about soccer and field goals in football? Doesn’t the metaphor extend to those games? No, because they depend on the human foot, which is the least sexy part of the body and has no business participating in lovemaking (unless you have a weird fetish or are into S&M). You could make a case for lacrosse, since there’s also a stick, but everybody scores in lacrosse and they do it often. I’d say lacrosse is more like your younger sister’s freshman year at college, but that’s a different blog post.

Los Angeles Kings center and former Rachel Hunter boy-toy Jarret Stoll

Ice hockey has something for everyone. For straight guys, you have speed and power and aggression, and for the rest of you, you have:

  1. Young, handsome muscular men, who…
  2. Are frequently naked together in a steaming shower, and…
  3. Play their sport on ice skates, just like Johnny Weir and Brian Boitano do!

Figure skating and ice hockey: exactly the same.

My hockey-loving female friends (don’t call them “puck bunnies” unless you want trouble) tell me there is quite a bit of slash fiction out there involving hockey teammates. When did girls start liking that kind of, uh, literature? I once mentioned to a hockey-chick friend that I thought a certain player was handsome, and she said, “Do you ever think about making out with him?” What? When exactly did this paradigm shift occur in which women like watching men make out? We’re the ones who are supposed to like watching you. Stop subverting our perversions!

Moving right along:

The National Hockey League’s 2011-2012 season is upon us, promising plenty of action and intrigue and sure to deliver star-making performances, deft displays of skill, and quickly changing fortunes. And unlike Michele “the animal” Bachmann’s followers, you’d be wise to get on the bandwagon early when it comes to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are poised for a breakout year, thanks to the maturing of young talent and some smart off-season additions. The team’s biggest move of the summer was acquiring one of the NHL’s best all-around players, Mike Richards (pictured above and below, and, no, not the Seinfeld actor of the same name), in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. Go ahead; call Mike Richards “Kramer.” He’ll kick your fucking ass.

Mike Richards, who will be violating Hollywood starlets faster than you can say, “That was the best puck I ever had.”

Los Angeles also sports a hot-shot young goalie in Jonathan Quick, a couple of studs on defense in Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty (who is still in contract negotiations), and a balanced scoring attack led by Richards and veteran Anze Kopitar. The last time the Kings showed this much promise was in 1993, when Wayne Gretzky (who dominated his sport like no athlete in history) captained the team to the championship series, which they eventually lost to the Montreal Canadiens. This despite the cheering of Goldie Hawn, who stopped going to the games after Gretzky left. Typical puck bunny!

Other than beating all the other good teams, the Kings will need to keep Richards focused on the game if they hope to win the Stanley Cup. After all, the Flyers didn’t ship out their best player for no reason. Young Mike appeared in the Philly newspapers for his wild partying almost as often as he did for his hockey heroics, and management had had enough (so goes the rumor).  To be fair, it’s tough to be a hockey player: You’re tall and rugged, with 8% body fat and piles of money. No wonder the ladies are after them. I mean, take a look at Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers (below), who my hockey-chick friends tell me is objectively the best-looking guy in the NHL. He could easily bag a babe like Kristi Yamaguchi, if she weren’t already married to now-retired defenseman Bret Hedican of the Carolina Hurricanes. Plus, it’s high time a girl showed up in this post.

Legal Disclaimer: Henrik Lundqvist and Kristi Yamaguchi are not a couple and never have been. Though, if they were, their kids would be cute as buttons.

I had a rant about politics planned at this point, but I’m blowing my weekly chance to load up PFC with images of good-looking women. As you may know, Ron Paul is not an attractive woman (by most standards), so I’m going to talk about a couple of new TV shows that debuted this week instead.

First up is the reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which airs Thursdays on ABC. Like the ‘70s-era hit, the 2011 edition features three crime-fighting babes who take orders from an unseen millionaire and are somehow above the law. The show retains the theme song and the glamorous, airy feel of the old series. Which is bad, because the old show was pretty awful and so is this one. The nonsensical storyline in the premiere was just a weak excuse to get the Angels into skimpy dresses as often as possible, and the frenzied pacing resembled that of a Power Rangers episode. In fact, the whole thing feels a bit like the Power Rangers. A karate-chopping, top-secret team fighting cartoonish villains may have worked in the days before Law and Order and NYPD Blue, but now it’s an anachronism. If Malibu Barbie had decided to start a production company, this would be her first series. The only thing that kept me around until the end was the presence of Minka Kelly, below, who got an embarrassing number of close-ups… about every other shot, it seemed. Hell, my better half, who’s the cop-show junkie in our apartment, almost turned lesbian at the sight of Kelly. “Oh my god. That woman is soooo good looking,” she said at least five times.

Minka Kelly, turning PFC writers’ wives gay since 2011.

The other new show on this week’s slate was Prime Suspect, a gritty (yawn) cop drama from NBC, which also airs on Thursday night. Starring the excellent Maria Bello, Prime Suspect tells the story of Jane Timoney, a hard-nosed female cop who joins a new squad just as a beloved veteran of the team drops dead from a heart attack. Her seeming lack of concern for her deceased colleague alienates her from the rest of the gang, which makes her job of catching dangerous perps all the more difficult.

As cop shows go, I prefer the cold semi-realism of the Law and Order franchise to the glitzy flash of CSI, but Prime Suspect may take the stark approach too far. Color is nearly stripped away, leaving a gray world full of bitter, cold people whose actions are based on self-preservation and getting ahead at the expense of others. The level of violence is surprising even for this genre, particularly during a scene in which Bello’s character is repeatedly punched in the face by a thug as she lies helpless on the ground.

Maria Bello, sans grit.

That doesn’t mean the show isn’t well constructed and promising. The gloomy cinematography feels real (unlike the cheaply garish Angels), the performances are strong, and the story in pilot cruised along nicely. I’d advise the producers to try making the characters at least a little bit more appealing, but, given the mediocre ratings for the pilot (about 6 million viewers), Prime Suspect might not be around for long. Perhaps the saturation of similar shows isn’t helping, as we can already watch the grating Kyra Sedgwick on TNT in The Closer, the equally grating Dana Delany in ABC’s abysmal Body of Proof, and the surprisingly likeable Against the Wall, starring Rachel Carpani, who, unlike the others, doesn’t play an irritating know-it-all. On Lifetime channel, no less!

Honestly, all those shows can get cancelled for all I care. At least then I could get the TV back and watch one of those kick-ass hockey games I’ve been telling you about.