October 02 2012 08:48AM
Esa Tikkanen, I don’t know man. Somewhere, in the deepest recesses of my gut, probably located somewhere in my small intestine, I had the slightest notion that maybe this guy didn’t deserve the scorn. He was a bit player on a juggernaut, and what could ever compel anyone to hate someone so insignificant?
And then it dawned on me that that feeling, way down there in those deep recesses of my gut, probably located somewhere in my small intestine, was not a notion at all, and in truth was Esa Tikkanen’s stick, slashing me so hard that that’s where the blade ended up.
So yeah, it’s on.
Esa, this is your Two Minutes Hate. In Finnish, they would call it “Kaksi Minuuttia Vihaavat”. In whatever the hell language you spoke, it would be called “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...” (As this kind of ringing sensation is what I imagine it would sound like after listening to “Tiki-Talk” for more than a minute)
Tikkanen or Tikkannot?
Everything I could ever say about Esa Tikkanen can be summed up in the following sentence:
“Though he predicted that he and his two linemates would finish 1-2-3 in scoring, he finished tied for fourth on his team”
That statement is in reference to a time in 2004-05 when Tikkanen was the player coach, the Finnish Red Dunlop, for Anyang (Annyong!) Halla, a South Korean team in the Asian Ice Hockey League. So to recap, and I implore you to remember this, a man who had a storied 15 year NHL career could not even finish first in scoring on his own team IN KOREA. What a pro.
(By the by, that season, again IN KOREA, Tikkanen wouldn’t even crack the Top 30 in points, but did lead his team in PIMs, and was amongst the league leaders. Which sounds like the perfect Esa Tikkanen microcosm I need to illustrate my point here)
Such is the crux of what I believe it is to be Esa Tikkanen: here was a decent to good player, rife with the undeserved good luck to end up on a bit of a dynasty that inevitably leaves those who witnessed it with an over-inflated sense of that player’s worth. Actually, Glenn Anderson has a bit of this going on too, but you know that’s a lesson in hate for a day that is not this one.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Esa was a bad player by any means, in truth he was very capable in playing two way hockey. I guess. Sort of. Also, he was particularly adept at being a slimy bastard. But he wasn’t great - opportunistic, but not great. The man’s career arc should have gone down a very different angle (and probably vocation), but due to some unbridled good fortune, this reprehensible leech finds his hand adorned with way too many Championship Rings.
Consider that as a young goat, or boy, or whatever, Esa started his inroad to hockey by being a mascot for his hometown club Jokerit Helsinki. This says it all. Someone with a face like that and a complete failure to grasp ANY commonplace language, Tikkanen was only destined for one of two careers: Team Mascot or Third Line Pest. Thanks to the recommendations to some nameless scouts from Europe and North America, who should all be locked away for hate crimes, Tikkanen is known as the guy to ruin Theo Fleury’s greatest all time goal celebration (Thanks, Messier!) by scoring a series winning playoff goal one game later, and not as, presumably, this:
It’s just not fair.
I Mean Come On Now
Tikkanen played one game, ONE GAME, in the 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it wasn’t even the Finals, it was the second round. Yet because he skated, and aggravated so many Winnipeg Jets, for MAYBE 5 minutes while Gretzky and Messier and Kurri did their thing, Esa Tikkanen had his name forever etched onto the Stanley Cup. What a tremendous hockey player.
What’s worse, as an Oiler, he was dumbfoundedly fortunate enough to appear on that storied piece of hardware three more times, because, as brilliant a tactician that Glen “Well Maybe I Can At Least Open The Bench For These All-Stars” Sather is renowned to be, he had the shrewd vision to put Tikkanen on a line with Gretzky and Kurri. Like for real. And more than once. The idea behind this truly brilliant ploy was for Wayne and Kurri to play keep away from the lead footed 1980’s NHL defenseman, while Tikkanen would “handle the defense”, which essentially meant occasionally skating back into the defensive zone to tell Grant Fuhr to stop trying to flirt with girls in the crowd while the play was still going (Obviously, the language barrier was an issue here, as history will show that Grant Fuhr usually seemed to have, oh, other things on his mind or in his nose other than hockey).
For this “defensive responsibility”, Glen Sather frequently lauded Tikkanen for his prowess in this regard, and he and a chorus of Edmonton faithful often openly suggested, somehow, that Esa should win multiple Selke Trophies. Thus, as most of us had confirmed from an early age, proving once and for all that Glen Sather and Oiler fans are way out of their damn minds and their opinions should be wholly ignored by everyone everywhere always.
A Diversity of Douchebaggery
It’s hard to hate on Tikkanen for only his stupid Jofa made lucky horseshoes and the career he managed to maintain, when there’s a whole other body of detestable work on his part that is far more palpable. Certainly, Tikkanen made a career out of doing abominable acts that he appears to be ever proud of. A 1.22 PIM average over more than a thousand games in the NHL only scratches the surface.
The trash talk. Bearcat H. Murray, the trash talk. They came to know it as Tiki-Talk, because it certainly wasn’t English, it wasn’t Finnish, and it wasn’t some weird Finnglish hybrid. It was truly unique and grating, and it made opposing players want to kill him and his family and every person he had ever met in his entire life. It’s quite possible the regional Tikkanen dialect suffered the same fate as those poor Germans, and it inflects his words into an overly aggressive timbre, resulting in what may have been very kind words being interpreted as sounding callous and offensive. Such a lack of communication is downright frustrating and possibly led Esa to react unfavourably towards those who played against (or with!) him.
Or he was a donkey. Reader’s choice. I think you know which one I’m choosing.
The guy was so good at getting away with little jabs and spears that you just know it was something he practiced. He became so precise, so subtle, that it seemed like sometimes he could even get away with the OBVIOUS stuff. Some call it “win at all costs”. I call it cheap ploys and a sideshow farce. I have a theory that half the time he got away with what he did because the refs didn’t want to have to get close enough to him to have to listen to the absolute bedlamite explanations in half language slurs that he was renowned for.
I will say this: Dude should have had his own talk show.
Let That Hate Flow
I can't believe they traded Esa Tikkanen straight up for Doug Weight. Glen Sather, ladies and gentlemen! People wonder where Kevin Lowe got it from.
In fact, if you look at Esa's trade history, you begin to see how people caught on about what an absolute plug this guy was, as everytime he gets moved, ostensibly for "playoff experience", you see he gets traded for either garbage (some of whom ended up on the Flames. Thanks Al Coates!), or other equally hyped up, only kinda good money pits. We're talking Petr Nedved, Brian Noonan, Dwayne Hay, and Ville Nieminen. I'll let you figure out who's who in these scenarios (Dwayne Hay was garbage)
Esa Tikkanen: Loathsome dolt. In the hierarchy of hockey, Tikkanen falls somewhere in between Dan Cloutier and Ryan Getzlaf's hairline. He is probably the best all time mediocre player, and as such is forever a part of hockey lore. And that's wrong, because he warrants the merit about as much as he's able to capably explain why he warrants the merit. So in an effort to try and sway the vote on what to remember this clown for, may you permit me to end this Two Minutes Hate with a moment that is so unabashedly Esa Tikkanen that you can all remember him by?
That'd be swell, thanks:
(Note how Tikkanen is unable to score on neither an empty net, nor Chris Osgood, which sounds borderline impossible. Great stuff, Esa)