The prize for the winner will be the chance to have his name inscribed on the number "00" and have it retired to the rafters for all time. The number "00" was chosen to honour the hundredth season, and chosen over the number 100 since three digit numbers would just look silly. The number you see, has been taken out of circulation leaguewide after last being used by Martin Biron in Buffalo.
If I think back to training camp and the battle for the number 6 forward role (or the zero hole, as it is affectionately called by the chief contenders), the fact that it was given to the player with the best showing in pursuing the zeroes now makes sense.
The rules of "Incredible Zero"
A) The contest is only open to forwards
B) The player competing only receives points towards for "Incredible Zero" for games in which he made zero contribution to goals or offense in general
C) Contributions that negate a "Zero" game include scoring, assisting, shooting on target, screening the goalie, touching the puck before a teammate scores, making a bodycheck that doesn't take you out of the play, winning a battle on the boards, deking a defenceman, hitting the post, etc.
D) Points awarded increase with each game in a zero streak: game 1: 1 point, game 2: 2 points, etc.
E) There is a bonus of 20 points for going ten games in a row without making a contribution, after which the clock is reset on the bonus clock
The "Incredible Zero" competition
The competition for the "Incredible Zero" has been hot, with fierce competition from more competitors than initially expected. Most nights, fans can expect to see at least 6 forwards going hard to make zero contribution, deftly avoiding positive touches and narrowly missing affecting the play of their teammates.
Incredible Zero Leaderboard
|Canadiens forward ||GP ||G ||A ||Pts ||Goals created ||"00" games ||"00" pts ||Bonuses ||Longest "00" streak |
|Maxim Lapierre ||50 ||2 ||6 ||8 ||2.96 ||40 ||241 ||1 ||17 GP |
|Matt D'Agostini ||34 ||2 ||2 ||4 ||1.42 ||31 ||232 ||1 ||18 GP |
|Kyle Chipchura ||19 ||0 ||0 ||0 ||0.00 ||19 ||210 ||1 ||19 GP |
|Georges Laraque ||28 ||1 ||2 ||3 ||0.79 ||24 ||187 ||2 ||13 GP |
|Max Pacioretty ||49 ||3 ||11 ||14 ||3.71 ||35 ||140 ||1 ||11 GP |
It appears some fans got wind of this competition long ago, as the have been giving the contenders warm 00 support, or "ooing", them every time they touch the puck. The "oohs" can usually be heard when the keenest ooers cease to be drowned out by the mindless Ole Oles or Na na na nas.
Said Lapierre of his strong claim for the title:
"I already had three zero on my chandail, and more in my career stats, so it'd be pretty cool to be recognised for that."D'Agostini agreed:
"When you have limited talent, you have to be creative in securing a memory, so the chance to be among the immortals, it's too good to pass up."Pacioretty, for his part is a little despondent for having missed his bonuses and at the fleeting chance he'll ever catch Incredible Chipchura, despite his trade:
"I mean, it's hard, I can make sure to get beaten on the puck and that all my shots are ineffective, but if Metro starts a play after I accidentally touch it, there's not much to be done. For me, Kyle for playing so many games like he did and not even step foot on ice for a goal for is the best example – it's something I'm not sure I'll ever be able to match, but I am working at it, probably at about 32% effort, everyday."
Judging by last night, it promises to be an exciting end to this competition. I can tell you honestly that I'm anxious with anticipation for the night when Don Lever (who mentored most of these guys) and Guy Carbonneau are on hand to stand by the "00" protege as the number is raised. It will be a fitting final ceremony of this centennial program.
Anyway, what a great competition. What makes it so exciting is that the Habs really have a full stable of competitors to get behind in this one, unlike perhaps the hockey competition, that is...