Steve Spatafore / Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 | 11:54 a.m.
Cuba Gooding Jr. at 2014 NHL Awards at Wynn
2014 NHL Awards red carpet
2014 NHL Awards
2014 NHL Awards
Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. was skating on thin ice after his bizarre onstage antics at Tuesday’s 2014 NHL Awards live telecast from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.
It certainly sparked the audience at the normally subdued awards, even more so than our energetic Luxor headliner dance crew the Jabbawockeez, who were among the entertainers.
NHL writers and critics lambasted presenter Cuba overnight. One called him “out of control.” Another labeled him “a hot mess.” And Sean Gentile, who writes the official NHL report, went as far as to say, “He may have been banned from NHL events for the rest of his life.”
Another wrote: “Cuba is making everyone uncomfortable, and he might have been over served. Either that or he’s the weirdest dude on the planet.” Another sports writer said, “Cuba is probably drunk, but it was the best part of the awards,” adding kindly, “It’s an event that could use a bit of excitement, and this year that excitement came from Cuba Gooding Jr. being a tad strangely behaved.”
However, they all agreed that fans probably loved it and won’t be criticizing the actor who won an Oscar in 1997 for “Jerry Maguire.” In fact, there’s a movement already underway this morning to draft Cuba as next year’s show host.
Here’s a YouTube video of Cuba’s shrieking, 8-minute raucous routine on live TV suggesting a “double-stuffed reverse Oreo” with Mark Messier and Adam Graves, “reaching out” to Andrew Ference’s wife, asking Mark twice to unhand his ass, kicking a box offstage and asking the NHL to spend more money on wide-angle cameras.
Despite the yelling and strange stage antics, the audience of NHL stars, wives and staff loved the show. The night itself belonged to the Colorado Avalanche and handsome Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, completely recovered from serious concussion injuries and who waltzed home with three trophies, including the Hart Trophy for the second time.
Our contributing videographer Richard Corey captured the stars, NHL players and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the red carpet. The list included David Boreanaz, David Walton and Pia Toscano and current and former NHL players Sidney, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings (who have been celebrating here), Mark Messier, P.K. Subban, Chris Pronger, Luc Robitaille and Patrice Bergeron.
The 2014 NHL Awards celebrated the best of the 2013-14 season on and off the ice. Before the two-hour live broadcast, each of the celebrity presenters — including Colin Hanks, Eric Stonestreet, Retta, Matisyahu, David Boreanaz and David Walton — walked alongside NHL stars.
Rumors were flying that the NHL will renew its Las Vegas contract for three more years after its sixth year here in 2015. There also was great agreement by the players that an expansion team headquartered in Las Vegas should be added, but the commissioner was respectfully hesitant.
Hockey announcer and commentator George Stroumboulopoulos, who recruited former Flamingo headliner George Wallace and celebrity impersonators for his stage entrance captured on YouTube by the NHL, hosted the awards. Our thanks to Tom Donoghue of Donoghue Photography and Steve Spatafore of Las Vegas News Bureau for their 2014 NHL Awards photo galleries.
Singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips, who won Season 11 of “American Idol,” presented the Moments of the Year with a performance of his new single “Raging Fire.” Check out NHL.com for the full list of Tuesday’s winners dominated by Sidney, Patrice and the Avalanche.
Even with all the glitz and shining silver of the sport’s revered trophies, the headlines this morning are all focused on Cuba. Maybe with all the unexpected media coverage, he will be back as host next year after all?
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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