In sportswriting, there's nothing more cliché than opening a column with a dictionary definition — such as: Webster's defines "grit" as "firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship." I define it as ... the Arvada West girls basketball team.
But since I'm writing about Avalanche forward Marc-André Cliche, I shall point out that a cliché is "a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought," which, of course, is my bread and butter.
The editor asked me Tuesday if my plan really was to write a column about Cliche while using a bunch of clichés.
I told him it was, and that I'd naturally give it 110 percent.
The penalty-killing forward Cliche finally has gotten an NHL chance this season for the Arvada West-gritty Avalanche, which enters Wednesday's game at 37-16-5, third in the Central Division. Indeed, the Avs have been bringing their A-game, though taking it one game at a time, because, of course, the NHL season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Now, to be honest, Cliche is pronounced "Kleesh," though to have a cliché-spewing athlete named Cliché is kind of like saying "you are what you eat." That being said, our guy Cliche is Canadian (a Canadian hockey player, huh — I'll tell you what that is), so to use the vernacular from up there, the phrase "Cliche, eh," is actually pronounced cliché. So when the French-Canadian says his last name, he has an accent — but his last name doesn't have an accent.
"No accent on the E — the computer puts it, though," Cliche told me, which I'm finding it out right now, going back and furiously deleting the accents on all the Cliches like there's no tomorrow.
"My favorite cliché," Cliche revealed, "is giving it one day at the time."
I wanted to find out more about my favorite silly-word-named athlete since former Houston Astros infielder Bill Onomatopoeia. So I went to Avs coach Patrick Roy, who said of Cliche: "Every day, he comes to work. He pushes the other guys.
"We were looking to have a 13th forward who could play penalty killing and a good defensive role as much as possible. And a right-handed shooter for faceoffs, that would give us some options. When he became available by the Kings, it was a great opportunity for us. It was a great fit, and I'm very happy with him."
Before joining the Avs this fall, the 26-year-old Cliche had played in only one NHL game — he had a cup of coffee, if you will. He's scored only one goal and has five assists, but Colorado star Matt Duchene gushed about Cliche on Tuesday: "He's just a hard-nosed, gritty player, and he's got more skill than people think too. It's shocking to me that he only has one goal, because he has had so many great chances. He's taken some great shots, made some great moves but had the goalie come up big on him. But he's a guy who's going to be big in our future."
Talking about returning to action Wednesday, now that the Olympics are over, Cliche said, "The break felt good, but I think everybody's obnoxious about starting again." A Cliche malapropism— the way former New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers would use malapropisms as clichés.
"We'll do all right," Rivers once said, "if we can capitalize on our mistakes."
Benjamin Hochman: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/hochman