A record-setting performance, a dramatic overtime goal in the playoffs, a scintillating individual effort that typifies the skills of a famous player… In sum, a “Dealer’s Choice” tribute to a player or game that deserves eternal recognition.
Three of the principals remaining in this this year’s playoffs shared a moment of comedy in great contrast to the immense pressure all are coping with as the third round comes into view.
If such levity seemed a long time ago to Vernon Fiddler, Kevin Bieksa and Alain Vigneault, then they are all correct.
On Feb. 26, 2012, in one of those moments the viewing public is not supposed to be privy to, Fiddler, while playing for the Stars went one better than trash-talking Bieksa, who was with Vigneault’s Canucks at the time: He trash-faced him.
The camera first catches Vigneault smirking and then we see why. Fiddler is skating off the ice with a cartoonishly grumpy expression on his face. Vigneault clearly understood that Fiddler was contorting his face in such a way that it resembled Bieksa’s.
The impression so unraveled the usually stoic Vigneault that he was forced to hold his game notes up to his face to conceal his reaction.
Bieksa emerges as a class act next, as the camera catches him laughing hard enough that his shoulder pads move to accommodate his tickled ribs.
Vigneault, meanwhile, doesn’t quite have milk coming out of his nose, but his efforts to mask his amusement are clearly failing. Two fans behind the Canucks bench are also hip to Fiddler’s mimicry and they too can’t contain their laughter as they see Vigneault’s eyes start to water up in his failed bid to suppress an increasingly imminent belly laugh.
Fiddler may wind up getting the last laugh again this season, as Vigneault’s Rangers and Bieksa’s Ducks each need to overcome 3-2 deficits to advance to the conference finals.