The hat trick is one of few moments in sports in which both players and fans actively participate. The hats rain down from all over the arena. Players celebrate the feat. Then, local charities are provided with those hats tossed onto the ice. It's a win all around.
What's even more rare is seeing a player eclipse a hat trick. While watching live games either on TV or in person, I've only seen it happen 3 times. I remember watching Sergei Fedorov score all 5 goals for the Red Wings, including the game winner in overtime, back in 1996. He also scored 4 goals the previous year, but I don't remember that one. The other two I've seen, one in-person and one on TV, were by the player we lovingly call the Mule.
Johan Franzen quickly became my favorite player a couple years ago after signing a long-term contract with the Wings. His dedication to the team and city, along with his hard-nosed yet finesse style of play is endearing. He goes to the net hard, but can still snipe with the best of them. Ken Holland made him a career Wing after having to choose between him and Marian Hossa. Hossa's a great player, but I think Holland made the better choice.
Franzen is an absolute beast when he's
What's even more impressive about those two performances is the situations in which they came. The Wings nicknamed Franzen "Mule" because he would do the dirty work. Well, he's earned it for another reason. He puts the team on his back. The 4 goal, 1 assist game came when the Wings were on the brink of being swept out of the playoffs last year. He wasn't going to let that happen. Last night was the first game back after the All-Star break. Most of the Wings, defensemen and goalie chief among them, looked slow - a product of having a long break. Not Franzen. He was flying, and decided that his team was not going to lose. He also had a monster playoffs 2 years ago, scoring something like (off the top of my head) 24 goals in 18 games. With a couple hat tricks tossed in, for good measure.
Thanks to the un-human-like play of Franzen, Wings fans now have terms for these 4 and 5 goal games. The boys over at the blog Winging It In Motown (a blog I frequent and recommend) coined the 4 goal performance a "Mule-trick", and last night's 5 goal bonanza the "JoHaTrick". So next time your favorite player goes off for 4 of 5 goals, make sure you honor the man who does the dirty work. He quietly appreciates it.