Lak Attack is
the near-consensus greatest roadster of all time, in a special poll
of the game's longtime veterans.
CLICK ON THE
PHOTO TO SEE THIS WEEK'S ALBUM (REQUIRES FLASH PLUG-IN)
Poll picks premiere
by Jay Suburb
These may be Sunday Morning Road Hockey's "glory days,"
but many of the young stars who've breathed new life into the venerable
game have yet to earn a place amongst the league's all-time great players.
That's the consensus of an elite panel of veteran roadsters who's careers
or ongoing interest in the game have spanned its many disparate eras.
"The new guys are much better than some of the old guys
were, but there's some classic guys," says notorious gameshow host gone
bad Wink, who, along with the Living Legend, is one of the last original
roadsters, beginning his career in the league's first game 12 years
ago at the old tennis courts. "I think you've got to consider a player's
longevity, their passion for the game and skill."
"The new guys are great, they've made the game better,
but the real test of greatness is being able to maintain that commitment
over the longhaul," says the Legend, the league's founding father.
"You want somebody who's been out here for a long time,"
says Paul One, who's career dates to the league's second season at the
tennis courts. "A great player is a guy who comes out, consistently
performs and helps his team. He doesn't give up. He can be a game turner."
The great players also had to adapt, from the informal
pickup atmosphere of the first two seasons at the tennis courts, to
the rough and tumble season at the lacrosse box, to the dark, dismal
days a few years into the hockey court era, when attendance was sparse
and tempers on edge.
"The old days I remember used to be more hack and whack,"
says Wink. "There was a greater discrepancy between the stars of the
game and the bottom rung guys, but now there really isn't that great
a difference between the top guys and the bottom guys. Now we've got
a whole bunch of guys who can play."
"The games started out as more of a social thing, an excuse
for a bunch of guys to have some laughs and get some exercise," says
the Legend. "But over the years, the skill level and fitness have definitely
gotten better. The league is more competitive."
"I think you looked for somebody who...can take it to
the next level," says Paul One.
And that applied no matter which era a roadster played.
"I don't think you can judge them based on how they would
play in today's game," says Paul One. "I think you've got to judge them
on when they did play, with what they did in the game when they played."
To compile the list of greatest roadsters, roadhockey.net
surveyed some of the game's stalwart veterans, and one Hall of Famer,
who've played against, or alongside, many of the players who've ever
slapped the evil orange plastic ball in anger. They were asked to nominate
two all-time lines and a goalie, along with honorable mentions:
Lak Attack: While modesty prevented
him from naming himself, Lak Attack was otherwise the only unanimous
selection. A star from the moment he joined the league, shortly after
the move to the hockey courts, he's been able to use his superior fitness,
speed and stickhandling ability to single-handedly turn a team of moribund
mates into winners.
"Shifty, creative, great shot, great drive, I sometimes watched in awe
as he worked his way around several defenders to get into a scoring
position," says goaltending stalwart Wawrow, Sunday Morning Road Hockey's
first Hall of Famer.
"He's turned games into wins by himself," says Paul One. "He's played
for years, he's played at a consistently high level."
"He's fit, feisty and fearless," says the Hired Gun. "Offensively, Lak
is very shifty, protects the ball well, and is a very accurate shot."
"Probably the fittest roadster who ever played the game," says the Living
Legend. "Speedy and a crafty stickhandler, but he's been struggling
a bit this season as he tries to do too much on his own."
Defensively, he's no slouch either.
"He played net when needed, and wasn't a bad goalie," says Wawrow, his
sometime netminding nemesis.
"(He's) very active on the backcheck and hustles back into his zone,"
says the Hired Gun, a defensive specialist who rarely left his own end
of the court. "I have a lot of respect for him." "Greatest player ever,
enough said," says Wink.
Hollywood Paul: A veteran of the tennis
courts, lacrosse box and hockey courts, he was arguably the game's first
bonafide superstar, and the first roadster to score ten goals in a game.
"He made the game seem effortless," says goaltending stalwart Wawrow.
"He was the smoothest stickhandler and always knew where to be on the
court for a scoring chance. I'll always recall how he managed to beat
me from in close when I thought I had all the angles covered."
"He was a force to be reckoned with," says Paul One. "He had an eye
for the net and the quick hands."
"Fit, levelheaded, smart player at both ends of the court with great
scoring touch," says the Living Legend.
"He was a great two-way player, one of the few offensive threats who
played defense," says the Hired Gun.
"Great defensive player, with the quickest and most accurate shot,"
says Lak Attack. "Best scorer until Kid came along," says Wink, who
continues to lobby for his frequent foe to be inducted into the Hall
of Fame. "One of the harder guys to check."
But, say some of the veteran roadsters, Hollywood's star will always
be somewhat tarnished by his ungracious departure from the game he once
"It's too bad his career was cut short due to him being seduced by unsanctioned
ice hockey," says the Hired Gun.
"The only blemish was the way he left the game," says Paul One, his
Wink: A fellow founding father, the notorious
gameshow host gone bad forged his early career as a thug and ruffian.
But as the caliber of play improved, he was forced to adapt, becoming
the game's preeminent defensive quarterback who gave no quarter in his
own end and could dominate the boards with his heavy elbows.
"He didn't need speed to make up for his tenacious play and hard shot,"
says goaltending stalwart Wawrow. "As a goalie, you always wanted him
on your team because of his desire."
"Sunday Morning's heart, a defensive quarterback who's very presence
on the court reminds everyone of their backchecking responsibilities,"
says the Living Legend.
"He's dependable, he's dedicated and he wears his emotions on his sleeve,"
says Paul One, who, like most roadsters, has felt the wrath of Wink's
admonishments when his own defensive play lapsed. "He's been around
for years, and has mastered the 'psych game.'"
"When he's grumpy, he'd crosscheck his own grandmother through a fence
without thinking twice," says the Hired Gun. "On those days, you pray
at the stick-pull that you're on his team, and even then there's no
guarantee that you'll leave the court unscathed."
"One of the best defensemen in the league," says Lak Attack. "He has
an excellent hard and accurate shot from the blueline."
And that shot left an indelible impression on many a roadster.
"He will shoot from anywhere, practically behind his own net, at center
court, or through an opposing player," says the Hired Gun. "I've been
hit by many Winkian blasts over the years, and I have the welts and
bruises to prove it."
Living Legend: While the Legend's skills
and ability to impact the game have waxed and waned according to his
fitness, his desire and commitment to the game are unmatched. Sunday
Morning's original roadster and the oldest active player, he's also
the league's reigning ironman; he hasn't missed a game in three seasons.
"He is what road hockey stands for, and what has kept it going," says
goaltending stalwart Wawrow. "His total commitment to road hockey made
up for whatever he lacked in defensive skills. Always there, always
putting the game first."
"An original, a stalwart, someone who has kept the game alive," says
Paul One. "His game is like a bad smell. You know it's there, it just
keeps hanging around and it's in your face. Sometimes it's stronger,
sometimes it's weaker, but it never leaves."
"His slapshots have a mind of their own, and he's seldom found in his
own zone, but the reality is that without the Living Legend, there would
be no Sunday Morning Road Hockey," says the Hired Gun.
The Kid: Although he's rarely a force in
the defensive zone, the Kid may be the best pure goal scorer in the
game. Small and speedy, he can turn on a dime, to rip rapier snap shots
into the smallest spaces around unwitting goaltenders. On breakaways,
he's almost unstoppable.
"Best scorer ever," says Wink.
"He's an all-offensive player who can influence the outcome of the game,"
says Paul One. "He's got the young attitude, young legs and young heart."
"Best wrist shot in the game," says Lak Attack. "Great ability to finish
on breakaways, strong on the ball, good at give-and-goes and ability
to read the game."
"He's not that big, but he scores in bunches," says the Hired Gun. "He
can seemingly put the ball wherever he wants. (He) also probably has
the best hands of any player."
Henchman: Perhaps a darkhorse nominee, Henchman's
contributions on the court were often overshadowed by the controversy
he fostered off it.
An original Philbud who joined the league in its first wave of expansion
at the old tennis courts, he tried to instigate a brief coup d'etat
against the Living Legend's administration of the game shortly after
it moved to its current home, at the hockey courts. He was also the
first player to breach the chainlink fence when the roadsters found
themselves inadvertently locked out of their facility one Sunday morning,
inciting some concerned neighbors to summon the police to investigate.
But when the evil orange plastic ball dropped, the Henchman could play,
says Wink. "I think (he) was just a really great passer, and that would
fit in perfectly in today's game."
"Had it all, but didn't play long enough," says goaltending stalwart
Wawrow of his frequent foe, who's career petered out to sloth and coed
volleyball and its attendant potential for unsanctioned sex before he
finally officially retired to pursue a career opportunity in a faraway
"Good shot, and ability to handle the ball," says Lak Attack. "He was
one of the rare moments I've played with good defensive men."
Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow: An original
roadster, goaltending stalwart Wawrow would scoff at the game's current
generation of goalies, sheathed in thick leg pads and heavy body armor.
He was old school all the way, shirking all but a flimsy pair of knee
pads, a frayed blocker and faded baseball mitt until the waning days
of his career, when he finally relented to wear a helmet and face shield
and a pair of nylon-covered foam leg guards. But when the game was on
the line, there was no other goalie most roadsters would rather have
"(He) came up big in the clutch, and his game didn't falter with the
addition of the bigger shooters," says Wink of the belligerent ballstopper,
who was automatically inducted into the Hall of Fame when he retired
to pursue a career opportunity in a faraway city.
"Great team leader, he was always able to motivate his team and able
to take responsibility for his own mistakes," says Lak Attack. "Great
reflexes, best glove in the game. His competitive nature rubs off on
"Lightning reflexes, always played with passion and emotion, even when
hung over," says the Living Legend.
"How he played the game without any protective gear early in his career
is incomprehensible to me," says the Hired Gun. "And how can anyone
forget the confident cackle whenever he made a great save. He's nuts."
The Honor Roll
Sniper Dave, Paul One, Bunyan, Guy Called Mike, Hired Gun, Elvis,
Philderama, Whirling Dervish, Mr. Rick, Captain,
Lobsterboy received enough votes to earn a place as the second team
goaltender. A number of other players were also mentioned as worthy of
consideration to be counted amongst the game's all-time greats:
Lobsterboy: "A gamer," says goaltending stalwart Wawrow of
his longtime rival. "As a goalie, he always kept his team competitive.
As a forward, he was always around the net. Bonus points for nickname,
and, occasionally, like me, showing up hungover."
"Another big game guy," says Wink.
"He's been the most resilient, best long-term goalie in the game," says
Paul One. "No others have played a fiercer, more emotional and competitive
"I can't understand what he's saying half the time due to his accent,
but he seems to be an affable person," says the Hired Gun.
Sniper Dave: "Quiet, yet driven," says goaltending stalwart
Wawrow. "While his shot lacked punch, he was adept in getting it off quickly
and accurately. Also a great playmaker."
"Rarely missed breakaways," says Lak Attack. "Always had a knack for going
to the net and scoring."
"Quick and deceptive, he could score ten goals before the defense even
noticed him," says the Living Legend.
"Clutch player who could be depended upon in close games," says the Hired
Gun. "The trick was to ensure he never got going early in the game because
you knew it'd be a long morning once he potted a few."
Paul One: "He was arguably the best natural athlete to play,"
says Wink. "He had a penchant for stepping up in big games."
"Fit, solid two-way player who can score goals in bunches," says the Living
"He didn't have the best shot or best defensive skills, but you could
always count on him to make a big play," says goaltending stalwart Wawrow.
Bunyan: "The most talented player I've ever played against,"
says Lak Attack of his rival, who's star shone ever-so-briefly during
one season at the hockey courts. "Great stick handler, awesome shot, lots
of speed and awesome at jumping up into the play."
"Could've challenged Lak Attack as best player," says goaltending stalwart
"Could've been one of the best to ever play the game, if his career only
lasted more than one season," says the Hired Gun. "This guy was absolutely
awesome. Great passer, wonderful vision, and an accurate shot from the
"He didn't play that long, but he made an impact," says Wink.
Guy Called Mike: "Had the hardest and most accurate shot of
them all," says goaltending stalwart Wawrow. "He beat me top corner more
times than I care to remember."
"In his prime, he was one of the best," says Paul One. "A deadly wicked
shot coupled with sweet moves."
"GCM is dangerous everytime he touches the ball," says the Hired Gun.
"He's very quick, is a good stickhandler and a real competitor. His heavy
shots are more accurate than Wink's."
Billy Idol scored a career-high seven goals in Sunday's game, and
his team needed every last one of them, as a late swoon cost them an 8-goal
lead and almost their 25-23 victory.
"We hung in there, we didn't get a goal for at least an hour,"
said Idol, of his side's sudden scoring drought. "Finally we got
it together and put it away."
Although not without some tense moments. Up 23-16 and seemingly well on
their way to an easy win, Idol's scoring touch dried up, Kid couldn't
find a corner, Bird and the Living Legend seemed to fire every shot straight
into a rejuvenated New Guy. And, as they pressed in the offensive zone,
their attention to the defensive zone broke down completely.
Led by Elvis, who crashed the net with abandon, and Unabomber, who was
able to tee up at the point without challenge, the underdogs scored eight
straight goals to take their first lead of the game, 24-23.
"They just turned it on," said Billy Idol. "Elvis had a
great game and New Guy just picked it up, he turned on his glove."
But facing the prospect of giving up one of the great comebacks of the
season may have been just the wakeup call his side needed, as Kid and
Bird combined for three straight goals of their own, to eke out the win.