Thursday, September 29, 2016

Turn On The Red Light

I was planning a post about my favourite sports nicknames when suddenly, I realized I only had one choice for the top spot.  The clear winner was former Montreal Canadiens goalie Andre "Red Light" Racicot.

If you don't remember the Red Light, that's probably not a surprise.  He was only a backup for five years with the Habs (1989-1994) and ended up appearing in just 68 NHL games.  Oh but what games they were!  Racicot retired with a sterling 3.50 goals against average and a .880 save percentage, numbers that would make him fit right in with your average Maple Leafs goalie from the last few seasons.  Oh who am I kidding, several seasons.

There was a lot to love about the Red Light, starting with that beautiful nickname.  Doesn't it just roll off your tongue?  "Red Light Racicot."  I daresay its double-R alliterative brilliance is even greater than that of another certain double-R Habs superstar…actually wait, I just had an image of Maurice Richard's ghost coming to me in the night and glaring at me with his famous crazy-man stare, oh god, Rocket, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, please don't kill me.  (This is also the plot of Paranormal Activity 9, by the way.)

Aside from the nickname's melodious tone, it also was simply beyond fitting.  If you were writing a hockey comedy and had to think up a name for a crappy backup goalie, "Red Light Racicot" would be your best possible choice.  The name conjures up the thought of a good-natured but awful French-Canadian goalkeeper, who keeps his teammates loose in the dressing room even while they all live in fear that he'll actually be one day called upon to actually play for the team in a clutch situation.  And sure enough, the plot would dictate that the star goalie would get injured, and thus Red Light would be called upon to save the day.  He'd overcome the odds with help from his loving girlfriend and his mentor, a Finnish ghost who haunted the rink after being murdered there 70 years prior due to a gambling debt.  Okay fine, the script is a work in progress.

And the best part is, Canadiens fans actually had to hope against hope that this scenario didn't come to pass in real life.  You see, what made Racicot's ineptitude even more glaring was the fact that he was backing up Patrick Roy, arguably the best goaltender of all time.  It's very rare in sports that you have such a first-to-worst gap on one team at one position.  Perhaps the only comparable situation that comes to mind in recent memory was that Colts season when Peyton Manning was injured for the whole year, leading to The Man They Call Curtis Painter actually being used in a professional football game for anything besides manning the Gatorade cooler.  As long as the Canadiens had Roy they were contenders, but if anything ever happened to him, they would've been beyond screwed.  Racicot would have allowed seven goals in his first game and also somehow ordered a plate of nachos to be delivered to him on the ice during the second period.

The best part about the nickname, however, is that it could potentially go two ways.  While I described in detail the saga of 'Red Light' being a perfect nickname for a crappy goalie, it also fits equally well as the nickname for a hotshot winger from southern Quebec.  Just as Racicot the goalie would lead to the red light being turned on after allowing yet another goal, the fictional shooter version of Red Light Racicot would be lighting the lamp himself after yet another goal for the Habs.  By the way, if any Canadiens fans are reading this, they are now openly drooling.  You've seen how up in arms the Habs get about having a French-speaking head coach….can you imagine what they would give for a Francophone superstar to lead the team?  I think Marc Bergevin would literally give up one of his children to make this happen and you could probably talk him into a second if necessary.

Since I have no other way of finishing this post, here's a YouTube video of U2's song "Red Light," often considered one of the band's weaker tracks (I think it's okay, though).  The song was released in 1983, so it sadly wasn't inspired by Racicot's play.  U2 can only be connected to one Montreal sports team at a time, you know.

For all the Police fans who surfed onto this page and expected at least a link to "Roxanne"….uh, look over there!

/throws smoke grenade
/dives out window
/lands on car
/curses stupid getaway plan while in the afterlife

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