If you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably seen it as often as you’ve seen Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at the screen, or Captain America understanding that reference, or Jack Nicholson aggressively nodding. Writers tweet it. Fans tweet it. Teams tweet it. The NHL itself has tweeted it. Hell, NBC Sports devoted a whole segment to rebooting it.
It’s Chance The Rapper, hosting “Saturday Night Live,” bundled up and freezing, playing an MSG Network basketball reporter named Lazlo Holmes, filling in as the rinkside reporter during a Rangers game. He knows nothing about hockey. He can’t pronounce Brady Skjei’s last name. He describes the action as “Lots of White dudes on skates running into each other at full speed; I don’t get it.”
And of course, he utters the character’s endlessly GIF’d catchphrase, “As they say in hockey, let’s do that hockey.”
The league, naturally, rushed to embrace its rare moment in the zeitgeist, sharing the video bright and early the next morning. Not only was a cool person talking about hockey, a cool Black person was talking about hockey. Literally overnight, Lazlo Holmes, a fictional character, became hockey’s Black Friend.
Leave it to the NHL to think it’s in on the joke when it’s quite clearly the butt of the joke.
The whole point of the SNL skit was to underscore how hockey is almost exclusively White, and has utterly failed to make any significant inroads into Black culture. The skit’s funny, for sure. But it’s laughing at you as a hockey league and as a hockey fan, not with you.