Former NBA star Charles Barkley and future NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan weren’t just among the best players of their eras, they were also at the top of the heap in their respective sports when it came to speaking their minds. (This probably explains why they’re currently staples on TV for the NBA and the NFL.)
If you had to pick an NHL team’s dinner for the two to crash, the Minnesota Wild probably wouldn’t be high on that list. Yet Wild center and former New Jersey Devil John Madden still has some ties to Strahan since the two lived in the same neighborhood, which opened the door for an unexpected night of fun during the Wild’s rookie dinner last weekend.
Michael Russo reports that Strahan and Barkley regaled the young players with stories (and sometimes cautionary tales) while taking in the delightful sight of watching the rookies go through time-honored hazing rituals.
“Suddenly, Charles started getting all these crazy ideas in his head. I was just like, ‘Oh man, here we go,'” rookie defenseman Jared Spurgeon said.
Yup, the rookie hazing of Spurgeon, Cody Almond and Clayton Stoner began.
“We gave a speech, told a joke, did three skits and sang a song,” Almond said, laughing. “All the boys were howling pretty good and [Barkley and Strahan] were loving it, too,” Almond said.
Spurgeon, who made his NHL debut on his 21st birthday Nov. 29, sang Travis McCoy’s “Billionaire,” where Spurgeon wants to be “on the cover of Forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen.”
Guess the teammates’ reaction on that one. “It was the first song that popped in my head, and the lyrics are pretty easy,” Spurgeon said.
Almond, 21, did a scene from “Step Brothers” where Will Ferrell sings Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” — the scene where John C. Reilly tells him, “You’ve got to know, that’s a voice of an angel … a combination of Fergie and Jesus.”
It’s a little disappointing that Almond didn’t perform another popular “song” (NSFW) from that movie, but chalk that up to a rookie mistake. Russo reports that the dinner set Spurgeon back $5,000, which might not sound like much, but it’s almost 10 percent of the $526K he makes if he stays at the NHL level.
The rookie maximum has been a great thing for NHL teams, but it makes these hazing rituals pretty tough on these young players’ wallets. Then again, can you really put a price on a night of unedited stories from two greats (and great talkers) like Barkley and Strahan?