Prehistoric Hockey is an affront to the sport and paleontology

Wait a minute, Tyler Myers doesn’t play for the Habs…
Image via Barry’s Sketchblog

(Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Ryan Lambert, and was commissioned by us in exchange for a $50 donation to 826 Boston – an organization that supports the development and teaching of cretaceous creative writing skills to students aged 6-18 in Boston. If you’ve read much in the way of Boston Bruins blog content in the recent past, you likely understand why this is a worthy cause that could use your support. Donate here if you’re so inclined.

If, by now, you have not seen the Prehistoric Hockey video which began making the rounds earlier this week, well, lucky you. Here it is anyway, in case you feel like wanting die: 

I am obviously a professional observer of the sport of hockey, the NHL in particular, and the things that happen in this video with respect to the game are, in two words, achingly inaccurate. However, what is less known about me is that I am something of a dinosaur enthusiast (some would say nerd), and thus the problems with this video make Jurassic Park look like a paleontology textbook.

So aggrieved was I by this dreadful video that I decided I must list the inaccuracies contained therein so as not to boil over with rage and scream at a child on the street about what we really know today about tyrannosaurid behavior.

So, without further ado, here is a shot-by-shot critique of Prehistoric Hockey, the worst film made about the sport since Slap Shot 2:

0:01-0:08: This is a simple shot of the city of Calgary, where a hockey game is presumably about to be played. Off in the distance, there is an uncapped oil well burst reaching as high as Calgary Tower itself. I am neither geologist nor art teacher, but I have to assume that either that is the largest gusher in the history of oil drilling, or someone needs to be told how perspective works.

0:09-0:17: More establishing shots, this time of both the exterior and interior of the SaddleDome. This was one of the few parts of the video which didn’t make me want to scream.

0:18-0:28: Here is a scruffy Canucks player, shot from feet to head as though he were some sort of just-introduced superhero in a Marvel movie. All we know is that he has a little bit of a reddish-brown beard. It’s tough to say, though, who he is. Context clues provided later might tell us a little bit more.

0:29-0:32: The player looks up at the scoreboard and we learn that it is currently 5-1 Calgary. We know, therefore, that this video cannot have been based at any point in the last several years because Calgary leading anyone 5-1, at any point in the game, is a near impossibility. Then they score again, to make it 6-1. Clearly, this is a work of fiction, but an ingenious one because even when the Flames were good, they rarely shut anyone out.

(Horrible man Harrison Mooney, whom I will hate forever for bringing this video to my attention, suggests that it’s Trevor Linden’s final game, which the Canucks actually lost 7-1, but that game was played in Vancouver, rather than Calgary, so it shows what he knows.)

0:33-0:43: This sixth goal was perhaps one indignity too many for this unidentified Canuck, as he goes into a rage so intense that hair immediately grows all over his face, and he glowers for a full 10 seconds.

0:44-0:49: So intense is his rage, in fact, that a tyrannosaurus rex — identifiable by its two-fingered forelimbs, large head, rows of big nasty teeth, etc. — rises from the Earth so violently that the entire city of Calgary shakes. Viewers are left to wonder if this is meant to happen concurrently (i.e. an earthquake felt in Calgary rouses the tyrannosaur from its 66-million-year slumber) or if its approach to the city causes the tremors.

I can assure that in either event, this is junk science. No dinosaur could survive that long underground without a sustainable food source; our best guess is that tyrannousaurs needed to consume about 40,000 calories per day at a minimum to stay alive, and that’s roughly 100 pounds of meat. Even if we’re meant to believe that this tyrannosaur survived for 66 million years on its own — an unreasonable assumption on life span (which is closer to about 30 years, give or take) — that means it needed about 8.8 trillion pounds of meat, underground. If it’s not concurrent, however, we have to assume that Calgary is built on terrible engineering: An entire city shaking over the footsteps of an 18,000-pound animal? These architects should be in jail.

0:50-1:08: Those inside the SaddleDome, including an unbearded Miikka Kiprusoff, notice the shaking, further evidence to support the theory that it was the animal’s footfalls which shook the city. Moreover, this also seems to suggest that the unidentified hair-growing Canuck conjured the dinosaur from thin air, rather than rousing him from a subterranean slumber.

1:09-1:11: The dinosaur emerges from the runway, walking with a notable lack of biological factuality. Large bipedal dinosaurs of the tyrannosaurid family (not to mention other massive theropods such as spinosauridae and carcharodontosauridae) used to be largely depicted as walking on their large hind legs but dragging their tails behind them, a gait which we now know to be inaccurate due to the fact that this would have put tremendous pressure on their tails, and evidenced by the fact that there are almost never trail marks where a tail would go found with fossilized theropod footprints.

Let’s also, by the way, talk about the implausibility of a prehistoric creature making it from, say, Dinosaur Provincial Park, about three hours outside Calgary, to the SaddleDome after that sixth Calgary goal. Most computer models these days clock the t-rex, for instance, at running about 15 and 25 miles an hour.

1:12-1:22: It is revealed that the magical Canuck in question is… Zack Kassian? He’s only been with the Canucks since late in the 2011-12, when he came over from Buffalo in the Cody Hodgson trade, so based on the fact that we know the Flames goaltender is Kiprusoff, who retired last season, we can peg this game as happening either at the end of 11-12, or over the course of the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Anyway, Kassian nods at the dinosaur, and the dinosaur nods back.

1:23-2:06: Now things get really crazy. The dinosaur demands that the coach, who looks nothing like Alain Vigneault, by the way, put him into the game. The coach, terrified, replies, “Yeah, sure.”

Now, I don’t know what about this is the least-credible, the fact that Vigneault is in no way amazed by the fact that: a) a dinosaur has showed up to a hockey game, some 65 million years following the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event; b) a dinosaur can speak English to him; c) a dinosaur wants to play for the Canucks at that moment.

Moreover, though, this is in stark violation of NHL rules, which state that game rosters have to be turned in before puck drop. However, the referee here at least tries to do his due diligence, asking the dinosaur if he’s “Even on the team,” to which it replies that it was just on the toilet.

“I believe you,” says the ref. “You have an honest face.” If his actions didn’t favor the Canucks, I might be inclined to say this level of incompetence hints that the ref is Stephane Auger.

Presumably, though, the use of a player of any species to the roster after that point would render the game a forfeit, let alone the implications of playing a player that presumably hasn’t even so much as signed a tryout contract. If nothing else, this is going to create a cap nightmare for Vancouver.

2:07-2:22: The dinosaur takes a draw and wins it. This in itself is ludicrous as we are all well aware of the relatively small and useless nature of its forelimbs. While they were in fact powerful (they could lift a combined 800 pounds or so) one has to wonder how useful they would be in even gripping a hockey stick, let alone using it to great effect. Plus, that stick can’t be regulation size. They must have just taped a few together, right? That’s against NHL rules. Two minute minor, maybe a 10-minute misconduct.

2:23-2:49: The dinosaur is show shooting the puck with tremendous force past Kiprusoff, 90 times. Ninety. It is, frankly, unlikely that even if you pulled the goalie, you couldn’t score 90 goals in even 40 minutes of hockey. Obviously a dinosaur would be a tremendous physical force out there, but no one is that much of a difference-maker in terms of driving possession.

2:50-3:08: A Calgary Flame, identified as Olli Jokinen and therefore definitively pegging this game as having taken place during the final 27 games of 2011-12 season (and specifically the game on 3/31/12, because it was the only game Kassian played against Calgary that season, though again, that game was in Vancouver), lines up for the faceoff after the goal that made it 91-6, and is somehow still full of hubris and a panache for making inexcusably terrible puns.

“Hey T-rex,” he says, “or should I say, ‘Get-wrecked?’ Hahahahahaha.”

Everyone stands around in abject horror, though whether it’s at the pathetic wordplay, the inability to recognize when his team has been beaten, or the suggestion that maybe you don’t insult the third-largest predator ever to roam the earth, is difficult to say.

Of course, everyone might have also been shocked at Jokinen’s insistence on definitively calling this dinosaur a t-rex. While certainly the best-known of the tyrannosaurids, the tyrannosaurus rex was not apparently a native to Alberta. At Dinosaur Provincial Park, a wide variety of specimens from all types of classes (troodons, styracosaurs, corythosaurs, and hilariously enough edmontonia), only two tyrannosaurids have been discovered there: The decidedly smaller but no less fearsome daspletosaurus and gorgosaurus (both only about 2.5 tons and nine meters long).

3:09-3:11: For his affront, Jokinen is launched by the dinosaur out of the SaddleDome and into the sky. Can’t say I blame him. While normally you’d say one can’t blame Jokinen for his mistake, so considerably has t-rex dominated the popular culture surrounding dinosaurs, but if you can’t tell this difference between a 2.5-ton and 9-ton predator, you have bigger problems than the fact that you’re about to be devoured.

3:12-3:15: It is revealed that the dinosaur has been suspended by the league for 65 million years, which seems like an overreach from the NHL Department of Player Safety. While obviously launching a player out of the arena is a suspendable offense, and worthy of a long sentence, that’s the longest period of supplementary discipline ever handed out by roughly 65 million years. Plus, if he was suspended we can presume he was subject to the league’s collective bargaining agreement, meaning that he must have signed a contract after all to be a part of the NHL Players’ Association after all. Where’s the appeal from the PA? Doesn’t this guy have a duty to his fellow union members to fight a ban of this length?

3:16-3:24: The blink-and-you’ll-miss-them credits reveal that the music for the video is entitled, “Son Goku is the Strongest Afterall!” which is some kinda song title.

3:25-3:34: In a post-credit sequence which are all the rage these days, it is revealed that somehow the dinosaur has been hired as the NHL’s Head of Player Safety, which given his track record — 1 GP, something in the neighborhood of 80 or 90 points (we cannot assume that he had a hand in every one of the 90 his team scored after he came in, but he has to be up there), and a 65-million-year suspension — seems crazy. But then, the league always did protect its stars.

And in his reign as the head of DOPS, there wasn’t a single player injury in 79 days. Talk about nerfing the game.

(Author’s note: By the way, I wrote this post to raise money for 826 Boston, a nonprofit tutoring and creative writing center for kids at underserved schools in the city. If you liked it, or even if you didn’t, I hope you’ll consider making a donation.)