Even though he plays the role quite effectively, it's still jarring to see Keith Olbermann as MSNBC's political commentary firebrand when you can still vividly recall him as the ESPN SportsCenter goofball making Berman-lite "Rob 'Hold' DiMaio" jokes over hockey highlights.
This ESPN classic, posted on YouTube by flg8or over the weekend, is a gem: Olbermann, with a near-mullet and what appears to be the "Daniel Plainview" on his upper lip, breaking down the Tampa Bay Lightning's inaugural home game against the defending Campbell Conference (sigh) champion Chicago Blackhawks in 1992:
As Keith called it, "The first hockey game south of Atlanta." We're talking still-the-Minnesota North Stars here.
Man, what a weird team that expansion Lightning club was. Veterans like Rob Ramage, Adam Creighton and Basil McRae. Journeyman Brian Bradley was the leading scorer, Pat Jablonski was the leading goaltender and Terry Crisp was the coach. And Chris Kontos went from being the guy who scored nine goals in 11 playoff games for the Los Angeles Kings to the guy who hung four goals on Eddie Belfour on Tampa's opening night.
As for Olbermann, it's all rather odd. Not his look or seeing him on ESPN circa 1992. It's just odd seeing a clip on the Web where he's not talking about "President Bush's failed policies," Sen. McCain's "negative campaigning" or any of his other usual MSNBC talking points. Hell, we were half expecting to hear how Chicago's giving up seven goals was somehow Bill O'Reilly's fault.
Sports misses you, Keith. And the Sunday Night Football gig doesn't count.