Y'all wouldn't understand

Ryan Lambert
August 06 2009 01:22PM

jr

The retirement of Jeremy Roenick probably means very little to you Canadians, except that the odd-looking loudmouth guy is finally gone.

But I can honestly say that, as far as American hockey goes, there might not have been a more important player in the last two decades.

Yeah, you can rest your hand on the track for a quick second and feel the slow train coming: JR's retirement means it's time for the Best American-born Player shoving match into which we are so fond of getting down this way (you can't count Brett Hull and end it prematurely).

Roenick was probably not the best American-born player of all time, since that honor, I think, goes to Chris Chelios, but he was certainly the most iconic (and certainly I'm a little biased because Roenick was born and grew up about 20 minutes from where I sit right this second). To try to put a Canadian spin on it, this is like when Mark Messier retired. Roenick embodied what American hockey was, for better or worse, over the 20 years of his career: talented but not overly-so, reliable, brash, and extraordinarily entertaining as long as you didn't take it too seriously.

You can rattle off the stats all you like: 1,363 games, 1,216 points, 513 goals. He had a coupla 50-goal, 100-point seasons back in the early '90s (but who didn't?). Good numbers. Probably gets a guy into the Hall of Fame come 2014. But Jeremy Roenick will forever be famous for two things: his mouth and his video game persona.

Roenick is nothing if not hilariously self-aggrandizing. My secret feeling is that he's retiring due to a rotator cuff injury he picked up while fervently patting himself on the back a la famed professional wrestling doormat Barry Horowitz. It was, after all, Roenick's belief that Roy was too busy looking for his jock in the rafters following a breakaway in Game 3 of the 1996 Western Conference finals that inspired the famous "Stanley Cup rings in my ears" comment. And it was Roenick who, when told that some fans felt NHL players being greedy and petulant led to the lockout in 2004-05, invited said fans to "kiss [his] ass." And it was Roenick who openly criticized USA Hockey for leaving him off the roster for the Turin Olympics in 2006 because he was a lot better than his stats, which I believe was about .3 points a game at the time, indicated. He's also the only NHL player I can think of besides Sid Crosby to do more than a few late night talk shows where he was, admittedly, a natural, since he was free to do nothing but talk about himself for eight minutes.

As for his status as legendary video game superman, it's really difficult to put into words just how amazing he was. I'm sure it's tough to imagine for you nice Canadian folk, but hockey was — and indeed, is — not as pervasive in culture down this way as it is up there. And for a lot of kids, even me, their first prolonged exposure to the sport was through video games. I had Blades of Steel and Ice Hockey for the NES (and I'd absolutely slaughter you in both of them), but the first hockey games to truly capture my attention and imagination was NHLPA '93 and NHL '94 for the Sega Genesis. I found God in those games, and his name was Jeremy Roenick. He was faster than Matt Lombardi on crystal meth, more skilled than six Gretzkys and a Howe, a more devastating hitter than Dion Phaneuf behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler and quite literally impossible to dislodge from the puck. If you picked the Chicago Blackhawks, you were 100 percent absolutely no-question-about-it certain to embarrass each and every one of your childhood friends to the tune of a 12-1 win with 82 percent attacking zone possession time.

And even if all he had at the end of his 20-year NHL career, taking away his being the third American ever to score 500 goals and the helping the US win a silver medal in Salt Lake City and the millions of dollars, was an entire generation of kids who knew and loved simply because they made their friends feel bad with him, then I think you'd have to call that a pretty damn good career. Especially for an ugly American.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 b1ackhat
August 06 2009, 09:00PM
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Roenick retiring brings an era to an end. I bet he finds a second career in the game though. I'd even bet Snyder brings him back to Philly.

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#2 gdawg
August 06 2009, 09:04PM
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JR was a great character for the NHL. Tough to replace

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#3 Librarian Mike
August 06 2009, 09:09PM
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Nobody was better at scoring goals and making Wayne Gretzky's head bleed.

I really hope he stays in the game in some form. The NHL is far less interesting without him.

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#4 Millertime
August 06 2009, 09:14PM
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NHL94, I couldn't care less about hockey before it, can't get enough after it.

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#5 Harlie
August 06 2009, 09:14PM
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great read!

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#6 gdawg
August 06 2009, 09:15PM
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@ Librarian Mike: I see JR going into TV in some capacity. I wonder if the network that hires him would put some restrictions on him? JR uncut and uncensored would be fun

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#7 Librarian Mike
August 06 2009, 09:19PM
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@ gdawg:

Oh, I hope so. If there's one thing the NHL needs is personalities, specifically ones who are aware that the Cold War is over. I'd love to watch JR interview a player and then rip him on the air for giving stock "just keep plugging away and give 110%" responses.

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#8 gdawg
August 06 2009, 09:24PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

then rip him on the air for giving stock “just keep plugging away and give 110%” responses.

It would be great. Too many respones like the one you said. Most players are too cliche, he would definitely stir things up. Sometimes Barnaby can cut loose but I'd hope JR would be ten times more brash.

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#9 Hemmertime
August 06 2009, 09:27PM
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God damn Roenick on Chicago was my brothers favorite player, owned me in many a early Hockey game

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#10 Racki
August 06 2009, 10:00PM
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Douchebaggery like crying about Gauthier hitting him in pre-season is how I'll choose to remember him, but I won't deny he was a damn good player and one of the games best.

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#11 viss.99
August 06 2009, 10:29PM
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I met JR a couple of times when he played for the Black hawks, One time they lost against the Oilers that night and after the game he still signed every autograph before he got on the bus, a real nice guy off the ice.

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#12 ronaldo
August 06 2009, 10:29PM
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NHL93 /94, the golden years of gaming awesomeness. I was always Chicago and would wup by younger bros arse. You see he had no choice to pick Chicago- birthday scoreboard. Although Blades of Steel (b/c you could fight) and Ice Hockey (b/c bouncy boards are the way hockey is supposed to be played) were both super awesome too, pioneering the way. Good times.

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#13 Hemmertime
August 06 2009, 11:06PM
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For those bored at work, classic hockey through browser and when you alt+tab it auto pauses for those pesky Boss moments.

Blades of Steel - NES Direct: hxxp://www.1980-games.com/us/old-games/nintendo/b/Blades_of_Steel/game.php

Ice Hockey - NES: hxxp://www.1980-games.com/us/old-games/nintendo/i/Ice_Hockey/game.php

NHL 94 - Genesis Direct: hxxp://www.thesmartass.info/play/genesis/19193/NHL+Hockey+%2794

My personal fav: NHL 95 - Genesis - Direct hxxp://www.thesmartass.info/play/genesis/19192/NHL+%2795

Thesmartass has all the way to NHL 98... god I remember looking so forward to those.

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#14 Hemmertime
August 06 2009, 11:08PM
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awaiting moderation my ass, hxxp: dont work with many links?

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#15 James Gunner
August 06 2009, 11:22PM
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Roenick would be my nominee to replace Don Cherry when the time comes, except he's an American and probably wouldn't talk about "our boys" enough.

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#16 Antony Ta
August 06 2009, 11:51PM
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James Gunner wrote:

Roenick would be my nominee to replace Don Cherry when the time comes, except he’s an American and probably wouldn’t talk about “our boys” enough.

He would be a good replacement for McGuire on NBC, though.

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#17 oilerzz
August 07 2009, 12:15AM
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the guy always said what was on his mind .. good or bad i can respect that .. great character for the game and he should be on tv calling games or the very least discussing them

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#18 MattN
August 07 2009, 06:30AM
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I kind of resent the implication that because I am Canadian I don't like/care about Roenick.

I am a hockey fan, I like hockey players. JR was great, great for the game and should be a first ballot HOF. His talent was bigger than his mouth in the early part of his career and vice-versa later on. I am looking forward to seeing him in the booth soon.

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#19 oilFan
August 07 2009, 07:28AM
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JR was good like never. Every team had guys that scored goals in the 90s. Every one of you guys bad talked him for his comments in interviews ect. It just like M J as soon as he dies every one cares. Give it a break JR should have retired in 2000 since that was hus last desent year. IMO Good read but belongs on another site Stick to Oil talk please

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#20 scorecoff hemmercules
August 07 2009, 07:47AM
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Millertime wrote:

NHL94, I couldn’t care less about hockey before it, can’t get enough after it.

Oh the memories. Great game for sure. Still play it from time to time.

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#21 OvenChicken8
August 07 2009, 07:55AM
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@ oilFan: I respectfully disagree. This site promotes hockey, mainly Oilers domination over all other teams hockey. But in the dog days of summer there are 5 things that I will not b/tch about on this site. 1. Oilers blogs 2. Oilers prospects blogs 3. Random Edmonton banter (RE: esks, caps, rush) 4. NHL retirement blogs (I didn't see you complain when there were a couple about Sakic earlier on) 5. Random entertaining blogs about pointless banter (RE: most of Wanyes articles)

Take care, now. Bye-bye, then.

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#22 Librarian Mike
August 07 2009, 08:05AM
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I'd LOVE to see 'JR's Ranch' or whatever they call it instead of the weekly wheel-out of Cherry. Anything that gets him off the air is good for hockey.

Just curious, who thinks JR should be in the hall of fame?

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#23 Zamboni Driver
August 07 2009, 08:09AM
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@ oilFan:

Yeah, it's MUCH more interesting to talk about whether somehow ole "Cogs" can learn to take faceoffs better, and whether "Tambo" can find a way to.....whatever the hell....

in AUGUST.

JR is a legend - not as a player, but as a character in a time where athletes talk about "taking it shift by shift...as long as we finish our checks and are responsible in our own end, good things....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ"

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#24 Greg MC
August 07 2009, 08:22AM
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Always entertained listening to JR, someone who would speak his mind. I didn't always agree with him, but major respect Mr. Roenick!

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#25 Colin
August 07 2009, 08:46AM
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I don't think he's good enough for the HOF (less than PPG), but he certainly was a very good(not great) player.

Comment wise I always thought he came off as a bit of a self-centered douche, but they were usually entertaining at least.

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#26 Bob Cob
August 07 2009, 08:47AM
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I always liked JR, yeah he was talkative and liked to give his opinion, what made him different was that he had the skill to back it up. Also when he spoke about the game it wasn't just to hear himself talk like that jackass Sean Avery, 500+ goals and 1200+ pts, should be a Hall of Famer.

He is in the same class as Hull and Chelios in my honest opinion, all he is missing is the Stanley Cup ring.

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#27 Wanye Gretz
August 07 2009, 08:53AM
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Antony Ta wrote:

He would be a good replacement for McGuire on NBC, though.

Anybody with the capability to make audible noises would be a good replacement for McGuire.

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#28 daveeed
August 07 2009, 09:02AM
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JR was a force at his peak, and I caught the TSN Top 10 Jeremy Roenick moments, and truly, hockey could use a few more personalities like him. He was pretty ineffective the last few years but I don't knock the guy playing to get his 500 goals either.

But Chris Chelios the best American player ever? Really? I would agree that he was in the top 10 (maybe top 5). I have to say as a Canadian and Oiler fan, no American player would make me cringe more seeing him with the puck than Mike Modano. I would put Brian Leetch, Brett Hull, Keith Tkachuk, and Joe Mullen ahead of Chelios too.

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#29 The Fish
August 07 2009, 09:21AM
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Loved JR. Hockey just got alot more bland with him retiring.

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#30 Ssseth
August 07 2009, 09:47AM
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Glad to see I wasn't the only one who picked the Hawks back in the old NHL 94 days. It's probably one of the reasons I have been pulling for them as a second favorite team behind the Oil ever since. Belfour, Chelios and Roenick was an epic trio in that game for sure (yes I feel dirty saying that about those players).

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#31 Smitty
August 07 2009, 10:48AM
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I'll admit, there was a time when I hated JR, and I mean HATED. He grew on me though. When he threw the water bottle at the ref: classic! The guy was pure entertainment. He will be missed (and this is coming from a Canadian)

oilFan wrote:

Stick to Oil talk please

You do understand that this posting isn't just on the OilersNation site, right? In fact, if you look at the drop down menu "Voices of the Nation" TLP isn't even listed on your site. Why then, should he stick to Oil talk?

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#32 Kingsblade
August 07 2009, 08:09PM
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Colin wrote:

I don’t think he’s good enough for the HOF (less than PPG), but he certainly was a very good(not great) player.

Right....because they never let in any forwards under a point per game. Unless you count guys like:

Glenn Anderson Igor Larionov Cam Neely Mike Gartner Michel Goulet

That's just off the top of my head from the last 10 years or so. There are many many more.

Roenick is closer to a point per game than some of those guys. Plus he had 9 all-star appearances. He was top 40 all time in goals and points and top 10 in game winning goals. Not to mention the fact that he was an important figure nationally for the sport of hockey in the US.

Like him or not he is not really questionable as a hall of famer.

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#33 Colin
August 08 2009, 08:50AM
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@ Kingsblade:

And most of that list shouldn't be there either.

Let's be honest the hall has made some questionable selections at times, but there is no need to continue it.

At least 3 of those players won multiple cups as well, how many did Roenick win again?

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#34 Librarian Mike
August 08 2009, 09:47AM
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Colin wrote:

Let’s be honest the hall has made some questionable selections at times, but there is no need to continue it. At least 3 of those players won multiple cups as well, how many did Roenick win again?

Realistically, JR had three great seasons and a lot of good ones. I don't think that's really good enough for him to get into the Hall of Fame. Then again, if they're willing to accept players like Clark Gillies, Glenn Anderson (yeah, I went there), and Bernie freaking Federko, he probably will get in.

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#35 Colin
August 08 2009, 02:56PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Realistically, JR had three great seasons and a lot of good ones. I don’t think that’s really good enough for him to get into the Hall of Fame. Then again, if they’re willing to accept players like Clark Gillies, Glenn Anderson (yeah, I went there), and Bernie freaking Federko, he probably will get in.

I agree that the hall should be reserved for the truly great. And I agree that no one on your list should be in either.

Roenick will make it, he probably shouldn't though.

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