Photo Breakdown: Victor Hedman is tall, Yanni Gourde is not
A look at one of the few moments of fun in a bleak season
It’s the off-season. Things have slowed down a bit in regards to news about the Tampa Bay Lightning. Therefore, we’re running a small series where Raw Charge writers break down a random photo in our archives.
Why do we find certain photographs interesting? Who knows? After all, photography is a form of art and art is extremely subjective. Despite not being a religious man, I like the Old Masters depictions of religious subjects. My wife is bored by them. She leans to newer art, she finds depth in certain pieces while I just see a 2x4 painted three different colors.
I can’t speak for others, but I enjoy photographs with stark contrasts. For instance, a baseball photo recently made the rounds. It was actually a fairly staid photo. It was taken during a break in action and consists of two players just standing next to each other.
What made this photo so popular? Well, one of the players is diminutive hit-machine Jose Altuve who might be, at best, 5’6”. Towering over him is the Aaron Judge, a Bunyon-esque goliath of a man who stands 6’7” and treats baseballs with a violent disdain usually reserved for telemarketers and pop-up ads.
That photo reminded me of a similar one featuring a couple of Lightning players. The tall guy/ short guy dynamic has long been a staple of Lighting photos thanks to the prowess of future hall-of-famer Marty St. Louis. Seeing him standing next to Vincent Lecavalier celebrating another fantastic goal was always fun to see.
Now, the tradition continues thanks in part to General Manager Steve Yzerman’s team building strategy. He likes big defensemen and smaller forwards. Well, maybe he doesn’t target forwards based on size, but he does look for undervalued players. In the NHL that usually means undersized.
When a team has players of such contrasting heights, it increases the chances of seeing photos like this:
Large human Victor Hedman and not-so-large human Yanni Gourde celebrating Gourde’s overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks. Unlike, the Judge/Altuve photo there is a little more action in this photo. Both players are leaping into the air and the crowd behind them is in full celebration mode.
Here is the goal that led to the celebration.
Both players in the photo contributed directly to the game-winning overtime goal. Hedman knocked the puck off of Artemi Panarin’s stick and Gourde did the rest, beating Scott Darling (hmm...both Blackhawks players are no longer with the team. Coincidence?)
If photographer Kim Klement had just taken a photo of the two of them standing next to each other, it would be interesting enough, but capturing it at the moment she did adds another additional element - joy. Both players are experiencing that moment of pure fun that sports can provide when something exciting happens in the moment.
There is a great range of reactions in the crowd as well -
The Hawks fan who looks a little too much like Rick Tocchet on the right side of the photo is not impressed.
The woman in front of him in the Lightning shirt is super pumped about it.
The white-haired gentleman in front of her looks like a proud father while the kid next to him looks like he might be realizing what a mistake it is to be a Blackhawks fan.
There are times, especially during disappointing seasons, that one of the reasons we like hockey is because it can be so much fun. Not only for the fans, but also for the players. We get buried in stats (both old and fancy), contract details and other things that our dear commissioner thinks fans don’t care about and lose site of the emotional element of the game.
At the end of the day, the Gourde goal didn’t really matter all that much. It wasn’t a playoff off overtime goal. In fact, it didn’t even get the Lighting to the playoffs (although it kept them in the race for another day). Other than the sheer joy of disappointing Chicago fans (in looking at the photo there were quite a few who spent a lot of money to sit along the glass in Amalie Arena) it didn’t really accomplish much. Yet, in that moment, nobody in that photo cared about the bigger implications of the goal.