Lionel Richie is way too admirable an icon these days to even say hurtful things about his career. Partly because he’s lasted a long time as a performer, producer, vocalist, and mentor and that’s a rare thing these days. The staying power of a musicians career is about as short-lived as an NFL linesman. But every once in a while, like Richie, the timing is just right enough, the music just schmaltzy enough, that things go swimmingly for a very long time.
The album Can’t Slow Down is a monument to the stellar career of the former disco-kid turned crooner, Lionel Richie. Released in 1983 it would eventually be certified diamond (10x platinum), spawn five highly successful singles, and be a mainstay of prom/wedding/proposal moments in the years of 1983 and beyond.
Arguably the key moment in the career of Richie was when the song “Hello” was released to the world. It almost instantly became a classic. Simply speaking, “Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?” is an iconic line that has be regurgitated throughout pop culture for the next 25 years (and beyond). And I’ll be the first to admit, it made it on to a mixtape (CD) for my future wife in 2002. I just couldn’t help myself.
So what about “Hello” makes me think of the Oklahoma City Barons? Everything, mainly.
Now I realize this song is about as stalker-like as they get, but the overall sentiment of yearning can be easily equated to that of a minor professional hockey team headed towards the playoffs (or at least in my mind). And as goofy as it sounds, the framework for this song will always be the question, “Hello?”. And I did the same thing over the last week, when the Barons won three straight games when they needed to, when they could have easily slid back into a pattern of terrible. I said, “Hello!?”. They’d win games by a margin of +2, +4, and +3, and that’s been a rare thing for these Barons. “Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?”, now has an answer. In an alternate universe, “Yes!”, responds the lady, “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for”.
And I’ll ask for more of the same, knowing that our Barons have what it takes to get it done. But it’s going to be difficult.
Friday is big, facing the Texas Stars whom have made a complete 180 in a years cycle. They are currently leading the Western Conference and will no doubt secure the West #1 seed with a couple of good wins. And so they are looking to finish strong, while the Barons look to do the same but for different reasons.
But the key matchup is a two-for against the Chicago Wolves, both at home. As you read this, the Barons are in 7th place, one point up on the 8th place Wolves, with the exact same number of games remaining. There’s a scenario where the Barons lose both, and suddenly are on the outside looking in, with Milwaukee and Rockford nudging them out. There’s a scenario where they win one and lose one, and the playoff race gets even murkier. But the ideal scenario has the Barons beating this team twice in regulation. That’s a tall task given that the Barons haven’t been able to do that to Chicago all season (losing once horribly, and most recently in a SO).
But the eye has to be for playing strong all weekend against two very good opponents, at a very crucial time. I’m predicting at least one loss, and I’d favor the one against the Stars if I’d have to choose right now. Winning those head-to-heads with Chicago are the make or break games of the season (and potentiality for postseason). Hello, Barons. I’m looking for you, the good you. Now go!
Likely Barons Lineup:
Philippe Cornet – Mark Arcobello – Jonathan Cheechoo
Toni Rajala – Chris VandeVelde – Teemu Hartikainen
Curtis Hamilton – Ryan Martindale – Tyler Pitlick
Darcy Hordichuk – Tanner House – Antti Tyrvainen
Martin Marincin – Taylor Fedun
Nathan Deck – Alex Plante
Brandon Davidson – Andrew Hotham
Interesting notes to the lineup. Josh Green still battling a rib injury will likely scratched this weekend. Colten Teubert also out with an ankle issue, but possible. Ben Eager could be an option on the last line with Hordichuk, especially against Texas. But it’s hard to discontinue Antti Tyrvainen when he adds so much energy to the back half of the forward lineup.