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The 10 unlikeliest hockey references in pop culture history

Peter Hook Peter Hook pays tribute to the Spits on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (Screen grab via YouTube)

By Allan Muir

I know I wasn't the only one who tuned in to Jimmy Fallon's show on Thursday night specifically to see Peter Hook sit in with the Roots. Hook's a legendary bassist, a musician who defined the sound of both Joy Division and New Order, and a guy whose style I spent painful hours trying to mimic. The guy's a genius.

But I'm guessing I'm the only one who was wearing the same Windsor Spitfires shirt as him.

The odds of catching me in Spits gear are pretty good. I mean, half my wardrobe consists of Spitfires t-shirts, which isn't all that odd for a guy from Windsor, Ontario. But for a British rock god to have one and actually wear it on national TV? That's a jaw dropper.

And probably not just for me. It was the sort of tiny moment that hockey fans obsess over. Every time a celebrity or character on TV or in the movies mentions a team or wears a jersey or has a photo of a player on the wall, it's like a win for us, a secret nod to our shared devotion to the great game.

While the Spits shirt ranks as one of the unlikeliest sightings to date, it's hardly unprecedented. Here are nine more bizarre moments of hockey entering pop culture.

Devils in the House

House

The Fox drama "House" featured a running stream of hockey references over the years, but the craziest came in a Season Eight episode in which a defendant's innocence swings on his claim that he was at home watching the New Jersey Devils on TV when the crime was committed. But the prosecutor (above) exposes the lie by proving that he only read about the game in the paper. It was the sort of legal twist that Perry Mason -- played by the fine Canadian actor Raymond Burr -- would have admired.

Who hates the Great One?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T4kWWcTzX4

Everybody loves Gretzky, including Chris and Drew on the Fox show "Everybody Hates Chris." In a Season Three episode entitled "Everybody Hates Gretzky," the brothers skip school to get the Great One's autograph, but it requires a train ride to Long Island, New York. Naturally, they run into trouble along the way, only to be saved by one of the most egregious jersey fouls of all-time.

Fashion Sens

Rihanna in Senators sweater

Remember that time onTwitter when Rihanna turned wearing a vintage Ottawa Senators jersey as a dress into a thing? Those were better days.

Nuthin' but the tooth

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejcbs1wbybs

So here's how taking a slapper to the mush was one of the greatest things that ever happened to Ian Laperriere. The devastating injury essentially ended his career, but there was a consolation prize. The producers of the film "This Is 40" were looking for a hockey player with no teeth, and when their first choice, Dan Carcillo, couldn't get work clearance, Lappy stepped in and brought along Scott Hartnell, James van Reimsdyk and Matt Carle for a scene in which they awkwardly try to pick up Megan Fox and Leslie Mann. Too bad that wasn't his actual bridge that Fox put in her mouth.

Rockin' the Original Six

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMLiqEqMQyQ

It may be the second-biggest beatdown song you're likely to hear at the rink (right after Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2"), but at least Queen's "We Will Rock You" has some hockey bona fides. Check out bassist John Deacon wearing a Blackhawks jacket for the video. Yep, he was into 'em before liking the Hawks was cool. Around the same time (1977), Pink Floyd's guitarist David Gilmour was occasionally seen rocking a sweater that belonged to the dynastic Stanley Cup champion Habs.

Monster of a ruse

During a Season Seven episode of "Psych," Shawn and Gus go undercover in a Swedish bar in Santa Barbara as they try to track down a girl. When the bartender calls them on their Swedish heritage, Shawn introduces Gus as Jonas Gustavsson. "The Toronto Maple Leafs goalie," he asks? "Sure . . .why not?" he replies. Probably wouldn't have been as funny if he'd said he was Mark Owuya.

You could see New York from there

palin-jersey

Sarah Palin's "hockey mom" bit during the 2008 election cycle earned her invites to drop the puck at several games and the gift of a few personalized sweaters along the way, but she wasn't in the habit of wearing them in public. Apparently she got plenty of use out of them at home, though, at least going by Julianne Moore's wardrobe when she played Palin in HBO's "Game Change."

His Cup runneth over

Plenty of shows regularly worked hockey into their universe, but none did it with a knowing wink to the sport's underdog status the way "30 Rock" did. The highlight was a Season Two episode in which low-life Dennis Duffy becomes a hero for saving a woman in the subway. He chooses a day with the old mug for his reward, and he puts it to use trying to impress girls. "That's the Stanley Cup, baby. It's hockey's ultimate prize. And me and it are teaming up to fight illiteracy!" Genius.

The Simpsons and Howe

Gordie Howe on The Simpsons

This is hockey's greatest pop culture moment, and it's not even close. In a Season Three episode of "The Simpsons" entitled "Bart The Lover," a photo of Mr. Hockey is cut from a book to service a prank on Mrs. Krabappel, prompting Bart to utter the immortal phrase, "Strap on your skates, Gordie. You're going in." The career stats (including WHA!) at episode's end was a nice touch.

(s/t to the great blog, Hockey In Pop Culture, which does an amazing job of cataloging this stuff)

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