Q & A with Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy

If you ask a hockey fan familiar with the blogosphere about Ryan Lambert, they probably either hate him or think he's hilarious. Why the fine line? Why the hate? Is it different once you know the man behind the Simpsons avatar? I caught up with Ryan in order to find some answers. Enjoy!

MT: Obviously, Nashville and Detroit don’t care for you, but they’re not alone by a long shot. Why do you think so many people feel so strongly about your work? Is it the work itself, or the fact that every blogosphere needs a good villain?

RL: I think people don't like to have someone who isn't a fan of their favorite team run that team down. That's fair enough, I guess, but I also think people have too thin a skin in most instances. For instance, when I say something even slightly bad about, I don’t know, the Islanders (to use an example from this week), what am I supposed to do? Find a way to paint a rosy picture about a team that's dropped nine of the last 13? The Isles blow. Sorry.

And honestly, if there's something praiseworthy out there, I'll back it. I'm very enthusiastic about the things I like. In this week's What We Learned, I'd say it was actually heavily neutral or positive, but if people want to say that what I wrote about Kessel was overtly Leaf-hating, then that's fine. They're just wrong.

MT: One of my followers on Twitter called you, ‘ The Sean Avery of Blogging’. Would you take that as a compliment? Ever considered a ‘Vogue’ internship?

RL: I would (though I'm sure it wasn't intended that way) but only because I admire Sean Avery for a number of reasons. I grew up watching a lot of pro wrestling in the '80s and I can appreciate a good heel gimmick, and he runs it despite rarely (if ever, these days) crossing a line. He's entertaining. That people get upset about what he does shows how well he does his job. If people care to view me as an Avery analogue in that context, I guess there are worse things to be.

MT: In regards to Gretzky, you’re definitely NOT ‘Superfan 99’. What do you wish more fans knew about Gretzky?

RL: I think the thing most people today don't realize about Gretzky is how much better Bobby Orr was than him. Most of the people on the internet these days were either young adults or kids when 99 was scoring 92 in 80 against goalies who could have been replaced by Shooter Tutors without anyone noticing, so there's this mythic quality about him that Orr deserves just as much if not more.

That no one in the NHL can ever again wear No.99 while a guy like Clayton Stoner or Cody Franson - not to pick on them - can wear No.4 is irritating beyond words.

MT: I’m not sure if many fans bother to find out, but you’re a Calgary fan. Are they going to make the playoffs this year? If so, how much does it speak to Sutter’s incompetence that the team pulled it together once he was fired?

RL: Well, they probably will just to annoy Flames fans. But, I don't know if it has anything to do with Darryl one way or another. Granted, they were put together with an astonishing lack of foresight or consideration, but they were also pretty unlucky, statistically, through the first half of the year. I think most people probably thought they were a borderline playoff team in October, and with this little run of results, they're living up to that. Whatever. They've been brutal to watch.

MT: You live in the Boston area, what are your feelings towards the Bruins?

RL: I covered the Bruins for parts of two seasons for a local newspaper so I still like some of the guys on the team and want those guys to do well personally. But with that being said, I loved them blowing a 3-0 series lead more than anything, and they could go either 82-0 or 0-82 and I wouldn't care one way or the other.

MT: Who do you think is the most underrated player in the NHL? Overrated? Why?

RL: I've said it a lot but I love Frans Nielsen from the Islanders. He's an incredible two-way player. It's legitimately astonishing how well he balances his play in all three zones without the overwhelming talent of a Datsyuk, surrounded by a bunch of humps like the Islanders current roster. I'm pretty sure he's a UFA this summer, and if there's any justice in the world, he'll have 30 multi-year offers worth $2.5 million per on July 1.

For the overrated player, let's go with Chris Osgood, at least for his whole career and not necessarily this year, though people still do seem to operate under the delusion that he's a serviceable NHL goaltender.

MT: Marc Savard is out for the remainder of the season and Crosby has missed time for the same reason, concussions. Are you in the 'something has to change' group, or the 'that's just hockey' group?

RL: I'm a little of both, actually. On the one hand, yeah, obviously concussions are becoming a big problem. But on the other, I think a lot of hits that result in them have been the result of hockey plays that just get noticed more due to the Rule 48 hysteria and all that. That the NHL is suspending to the extent of an injury is laughable, because that's no way to judge intent.

MT: What do you think is the biggest problem in the NHL today? How would you fix it?

RL: Supplementary discipline is a huge problem. No one knows what's worth what in terms of suspension, and there are too many vague rules that leave open too much room for interpretation. If the league was stingy and quick with its decisions (how was the Thornton headshot on Perron four times less-bad than the Paille hit on Sawada?) then people would stop viewing it as such a colossal joke.

MT: Speaking of supplementary discipline, what were your thoughts on the Matt Cooke/ Ovechkin incident on Sunday?

RL: Cooke should be suspended for a good long time, but only because he's got a way longer history than almost anyone in the league.

MT: I know you're pretty sold on Vancouver coming out of the West (as we all should be), but who will make it out of the East this year?

RL: At the beginning of the year up until the last few weeks, I predicted Boston to come out of the East but they really need a center now that Savard's shut down for the year. I'll stick with them for now but Philly's making a strong case for itself.

MT: As a person who covers the Flyers, I'm well aware that you've pointed to their goaltending as their major negative. It would be remiss of me not to ask you who/what is their major positive?

RL: I think they have an excellent group of forwards and the top half of their D corps is one of the best in the league. They're going to limit chances on their slightly-better-than mediocre goalies (which by the way, is all you really need to make the Cup finals these days anyway) at one end, and make opponents pay for mistakes big-time at the other. It's really very simple.

MT: Let’s say that you were a GM for a 2010-11 fantasy draft, who would be your first forward, defenseman and goalie that you would take? Caveat: you can’t be Glen Sather.

RL: Crosby, Doughty and Rask. The reasons why are obvious.

MT: I can’t finish this interview without a Simpsons-related question; who would you rather have in net, Milhouse tied to the goal or Dan Ellis?

RL: There's a joke in there about "blowing" but I haven't gotten to it.

I want to extend a special 'thank you' to Ryan for participating in this interview. Now, as I look up Milhouse’s game splits, feel free to follow me on Twitter or email me at mtrible@thecheckingline.com