TAMPA, Fla. — Well, they had to pass the time somehow. One became a movie star, others met a rock star. One flashed winning looks on the silver screen, others swapped words backstage about pucks and life.
Two memories. Two ways Tampa Bay Lightning players beat the NHL lockout lull.
“The first initial thought was it was pretty awkward, I guess,” said defenseman Matthew Carle, who made a short appearance in “This Is 40,” a movie starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann that released in December. “But it was something you never forget that you’re a part of … You can check it off the bucket list, you know?”
“It was pretty cool. He’s probably my favorite musician,” said winger Teddy Purcell, who, along with winger Ryan Malone and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey, met Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder after a show in nearby Clearwater, Fla., in December.
“We met him and his family, which was pretty cool. We got a picture with him and talked for a few minutes. It’s a blowup picture I’ll put on the bar one day.”
Back to Carle. He calls himself a “pretty big movie buff,” so his 47-second appearance in “This Is 40,” filmed in August 2011, was as much an education as anything else. His film career began when director Judd Apatow envisioned a scene in which a woman, played by Megan Fox, joins Mann’s character at a club and crosses paths with a hockey player with fake teeth.
The athlete, played by former Philadelphia Flyers winger Ian Laperriere, is flanked by teammates from the time: Carle, who played in Philly from 2008-12, and wingers Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk, now with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, a technicality made Carle’s appearance possible. Rules from the Screen Actors Guild at the time said the players involved must either be American citizens or own a Green Card, allowing them to work in the United States as a permanent resident.
Carle, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, said he was one of few Flyers players who fit the guidelines.
“We were on set there for 14 hours,” said Carle, who is in his eighth NHL season. “It was fun to be there firsthand and see how everything kind of comes together.”
Meanwhile, a solid connection made possible a chance meeting between Purcell, Malone and Vedder. The musician was playing before a small crowd at Ruth Eckerd Hall as part of a solo tour. Through one of Quincey’s friends, also with the group that day, the players were able to slip backstage after the show and pick Vedder’s mind.
They talked hockey: “He asked if we were hockey players,” Purcell said. “He said he has been to a few games before. The first game was in Vancouver.”
They talked giving back: “He’s big into charities and organizations,” Purcell said, “so we talked about that for a bit.”
They came away impressed: “I’m a big fan,” Malone said. “I got the opportunity to do something cool. It’s something you’ll always remember … He’s a very deep, deep man.”
Two experiences. Two ways to melt the hours without hockey on the brain.