The fictional five

When hockey writers put together their lists of the Top 5 best players of all time, a few of the greats always get overlooked.

Where is the love for hockey's top imaginary players?

The Hanson Brothers, actors in the Slapshot movie series, (left to right) Dave Hanson, Steve Carlson and Jeff Carlson pose for a photo in Toronto in November 2008. ((Chris Young/Canadian Press))

When hockey writers put together their lists of the Top 5 best players of all time, a few of the greats always get overlooked. Where is the love for hockey's top fictional players?

In defence of the imaginary, here are our Top 5 greatest fictional players of all time.

#5 - Guy Édouard Raymond "Eddie" LeBec

Eddie Lebec (Jay Thomas) was a recurring character on Cheers, one of the most successful American sitcoms of the 1980s. He was a superstitious, French Canadian goalie playing for the Boston Bruins. Lebec's accent was about as Quebecois as the construction workers building the new Yankee Stadium. Eddie was married to acerbic waitress, Carla (Rhea Perlman).   After Eddie retired from hockey he got a job as a penguin in "The Wonderful World of Ice," a travelling skating show.  Then, in 1989, LeBec was killed off the show. Cheers writer Ken Levine says Perlman wanted Thomas fired.

Apparently, Thomas had complained (on his radio show) about how much he hated kissing Perlman every week on TV. Perlman heard every word. She pushed her bosses to give Eddie Lebec the kiss of death. A few weeks later, in the episode "Death Takes A Holiday On Ice", LeBec was crushed by a Zamboni.

Call It: TV's coldest character assassination.

Eddie and Carla's song: Oh, Canada.

If He Was Real: Former Bruins backup goalie Vincent Riendeau.

#4 - Jacques 'Le Coq' Grande

Another French Canadian goalie makes the Fictional Five: Jacques 'Le Coq' Grande (Justin Timberlake) from Mike Myers' film, The Love Guru.

Grande steals the wife of Toronto Maple Leafs star Darren Roanoke. Le Coq wears Speedos and the goalie mask made famous by puck-stopper Jacques Plante and Friday the 13th heart-stopper Jason Voorhees. His team is the L.A. Kings. On defence is non-imaginary NHLer Rob Blake. The last time Blake played a big game against Toronto, he was on the ice with Wayne Gretzky. The 1993 Kings beat the Leafs in seven games before losing the Cup to Montreal. The Love Guru gives Leaf Nation a little revenge. The Leafs win their first Cup in more than 40 years. It's fictional, but you can't have everything.

Actor Mike Myers and singer Justin Timberlake arrive at the premiere of Paramount Picture's The Love Guru in Los Angeles, Calif., in June 2008. Timberlake played Jacques 'Le Coq' Grande in the comedy. ((Kevin Winter/Getty Images))

There's plenty of Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) in Grande. Lemieux was the Quebecois goalie for the Charlestown Chiefs in Slapshot. Timberlake's a graduate of the Denis Lemieux school on how to speak hockey 'Frenglish.' He delivers some of the best lines in the film.

First Line: "Ding Dong. Did someone order the special Quebec pizza, huh? Uh, you know, like in the porno."

Second Line: "Don't look at me with that tone of voice or I will punch you in the shirt!"

Scouting Report: He's big between the pipes.

If He Was Real: There was a real Jacques Lecoq. He was an actor, called the "father of modern mime." Aren't you glad you finally know?

#3 - Hockey Superstar Big Bobby Clobber

In addition to being a hockey superstar, Big Bobby (Dave Broadfoot of CBC's Air Farce) is remembered for being the main reason for the mandatory helmet rule.

If NHLers are stereotyped as the dumbest of all athletes, thank Big Bobby. It's the chicken (cannon) or the egg debate. Did Big Bobby create the image of the dim-witted hockey bruiser or did 1970s bruisers create Bobby Clobber?

Either way, Big Bobby is a first-ballot, fictional hockey Hall of Famer. Here's an example of Big Bobby in his prime:

Reporter: When you look back at all of those years in hockey what do you miss the most?

Big Bobby: My teeth.

If He Was Real: Flin Flon, Manitoba's own hockey superstar Big Bobby Clarke. Captain of the goon squad Philly Flyers of the 1970s, Clarke once said "They always try to play with our minds. But that won't work with our club. We've got 20 guys without brains."

#2 - The Hanson Brothers (Slapshot)

Hockey's Hanson Brothers (Steve and Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson) were all hockey players, but not all brothers. Steve and Jeff had a third brother, Jack. He was supposed to be in the film but had a higher calling — a calling-up to the Edmonton Oilers, just in time for the 1976 WHA playoffs.

Of the brothers, Steve was the best player. He skated for the Oilers too, sharing ice with 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky in 1978-79. The next year he was in L.A. with the Kings and a teammate to another legend, Marcel Dionne.

It could be argued that no one, real or imaginary, did more to shape the image of the Canadian hockey player than the Hanson Brothers.

Call It: The official first line of Good Canadian Hockey. Not bad for three boys from the U.S. Midwest.

If They Were Real: Easy. Pick three of Viking, Alberta's Sutter Brothers.

#1 - Pierre Lambert, The Quebec Nationals

Lambert (Carl Marotte) was a hit in both official languages. He was the star of CBC's Lance et Compte (He Shoots, He Scores ). The show was the first series to be shot in French and English at the same time. It was a hockey soap opera, much like this year's edition of the Montreal Canadiens.

Fictional hockey legend Yvan Ponton, far left, with some of the cast members from Les Boys. ((Radio-Canada/Canadian Press))

Lambert was the hot-shot rookie on the Quebec Nationals, a fictional NHL team. All similarities to the Quebec Nordiques were purely intentional. Marc Gagnon was the, Lafleur-like, aging superstar. Special mention goes to Yvan Ponton who played no-nonsense coach Jacques Mercier. Ponton also played the assistant captain of the Charlestown Chiefs in Slapshot and Jean Charles in Les Boys. He's a fictional hockey legend.

The original series ran across Canada from 1986 to 1988. Several versions have aired in Quebec since then.

Roch and Roll: Juno winner Roch Voisine played Lambert's teammate Danny Ross in season three.

If He Was Real: Sidney Crosby (Separated At Birth). The young sensation sent to save a franchise.

Honourable Mention: Dan and Jerry Flynn. Main characters of Leslie McFarlane's book, Dynamite Flynns. McFarlane's son is Hockey Hall of Fame member and Hockey Night in Canada veteran Brian McFarlane.


  • Two names were misspelled in this article. The names of Dave Broadfoot and Rhea Perlman have since been corrected. We regret the errors.
    Apr 01, 2009 11:10 AM ET