Once more, with feeling: Michael Jackson never dropped the puck at a Canucks game

The Simpsons have had some incredible guest stars over the years, but the best of the bunch, in my humble opinion, is and will forever remain Michael Jackson’s turn as Leon Kompowsky in “Stark Raving Dad”. In the episode, Homer  is sent to a mental institution, where he shares a room with Kompowsky, a large white (yellow, in this case) man who insists he’s actually Michael Jackson.

And he is. For contractual reasons, the Simpsons weren’t allowed to credit Jackson for the voice work, instead attributing it to John Jay Smith — a great running joke, as nearly every character created by the Simpsons has the middle name Jay. But it was Jackson, who loved the show, and actually reached out to Matt Groening to arrange the guest spot in the first place.

It was not Jackson, however, during the singing of “Happy Birthday Lisa”. After Sony told Jackson he couldn’t sing on the show, he hand-picked a sound-alike named Kipp Lennon.

Similarly, Michael Jackson did come to Vancouver in 1984. His Victory tour played three shows at BC Place on November 16, 17, and 18. And this photo would indicate that, on the first night of the three-night stay, he shimmied and shamoned his way across town to the Pacific Coliseum and dropped the ceremonial puck before a game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But alas, while he was in town, the puck drop, like the performance of Lisa Simpsons’s 6am birthday jam, was done by someone else.

Despite numerous sources pointing out the fakery, this photo continues to spread. At least once a day, it shows up in the Canucks stream on Twitter thanks in large part to popular accounts like @HistoryInPics that tweet photos of note with no context whatsoever.

The truth about the appearance comes from a postgamer written by Shelley Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the Canucks, who were truly terrible then, skated away with a 7-6 victory. It was only their fourth win in 18 games. They had recently lost 9 in a row. There was really no excuse for losing to the crummy, Stan Smyl-captained team, and after the Penguins did, Anderson let them have it. This is great:

If you’re struggling to read that, let me write out the opening two graphs:

A Michael Jackson look-alike dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff before last night’s National Hockey League game in the Pacific Coliseum while he real pop star was opening with his brothers across town.

Then a team dressed like the Penguins skated out before the crowd of 11,249 and dropped a 7-6 decision to the Vancouver Canucks, the team that was tied with the New Jersey Devils as the worst in the NHL.

Thank you to Shelley Anderson for giving us the truth in her efforts to creatively burn the Penguins for sucking so bad.

There are other things that indicate it’s not the real Michael Jackson, like the fact that his glove was usually worn on the other hand and the sash was usually hung in the other direction. And you’d think that the real King of Pop would at least get a red carpet. I mean, granted, the guy was light on his feet, but expecting him to moonwalk across the ice is a little much.

Furthermore, Jackson’s show was supposed to begin at 7:30, and this puck drop would have come at about 7pm. Anyone who lives in Vancouver knows that’s a tight turnaround at any time, let alone on a Canucks game day with a freaking Michael Jackson concert happening across town. He would have really had to… beat it.

Impersonators play such a large role in the King of Pop’s mythology that it’s difficult to ever be truly confident about anything he did. With such an iconic voice and look, Jackson spawned more imitators than any performer besides maybe Elvis. But what set him apart is that he employed a few himself, so as to dodge the paparazzi, confuse people, and make more appearances than humanly possible.

An impostor, some say, made Jackson’s 2009 appearance at London’s O2 Arena. Members of Michael’s family believed an impersonator did much of the work in “This Is It”. And Michael’s daughter, Paris, believes an impersonator was used on the posthumous “Michael” album.

And then, of course, there are the kooks that believe Michael either died in 1984 and an impersonator took his place thereafter, or that he has yet to die, and the impersonator took his place in the sweet hereafter. I found a book that claims Michael traded places with a double right before he received the dose of medication that killed him, then he went to a hotel, watched the news coverage of his death, then slipped away to Europe to start a new life.

It’s a very funny book.

Michael Jackson died with a lot of questions to his name, but we can be reasonably sure of a few things: “I Want You Back” is the greatest vocal performance ever by a preteen; Michael’s performance of “Billie Jean” at the Motown 25th anniversary special (where he introduced the moonwalk) is the best live performance ever:

“Thriller” is the greatest pop album of all-time; the “Black or White” video is the pinnacle of Macauley Culkin’s career. And Michael Jackson, the real one, never dropped the puck at a Canucks game.

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  1. Steve_May
    November 19, 2013

    Thanks for spreading the truth.

    I’d also suggest that “I Want You Back” is not only the best pre-teen pop vocal of all time – but the song itself is a Top 5 all-time pop song.

    Others in that list
    “Gimme Shelter” – Rolling Stones
    “Instant Karma” – John Lennon
    “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
    “Like A Prayer” – Madonna

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    • Harrison Mooney
      November 19, 2013

      Agree that “I Want You Back” is top 5, but if the list doesn’t have “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield, it is a sham list. Get Adele outta there.

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      • Naturalmystic
        November 19, 2013

        Get out of town. Any list not including “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys is a terrible list.

        Good Vibrations – Beach Boys
        Let it be – The Beatles
        I want you Back – Jackson 5
        The Twist – Chubby Checker
        Thank-You – Sly and the family Stone

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        • Daniel Wagner
          November 19, 2013

          I’m inclined to agree. “Good Vibrations” is a masterpiece. I agree with “The Twist” too. Top 5 pop songs for me?

          “Good Vibrations” – Beach Boys
          “Unchained Melody” – The Righteous Brothers
          “Like a Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan
          “The Twist” – Chubby Checker
          “A Day in the Life” – The Beatles

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          • madwag
            November 19, 2013

            “Pretty Woman” – Roy Orbison
            “Johnny Be Good” – Chuck Berry
            “Old Shep” – Elvis Presley
            “Bigelow 6200″ – Brenda Lee
            “Masters of War” – Bob Dylan

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      • J21
        November 20, 2013

        “Baby Don’t Forget My Number” – Milli Vanilli
        “Toy Soldiers” – Martika
        “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room)” – Paul Lekakis
        “Respect Yourself” – Bruce Willis
        “Dare to be Stupid” – ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

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  2. Steve_May
    November 19, 2013

    I knew leaving “Move on Up” would get a rise out of you. You’re probably right on that one though. I was trying to post something post-millenium.

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  3. Scott
    November 19, 2013

    Actually I vote for The Love You Save as the best pre-teen vocal ever. This is Michael Jackson’s stripped down vocal track. This guy is 12 years old. Amazing.

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  4. bob
    November 19, 2013

    Did the Canucks think they were getting the real item?

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  5. Dean
    November 20, 2013

    Is that the game Lemieux fought Gary Lupul?

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  6. J21
    November 20, 2013

    Now that is the real Stan Smyl in the picture, but obviously when the Canucks travelled, they would use a body double for security reasons.

    Also, for the record, before around 1992 or so, the start time for non-matinée games was always 7:35.

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