This offseason, C Foster Culp left the Saskatchewan Shockers in free agency and signed with the Seattle Sailors. He was not widely missed by Shockers fans or management. After showing considerable promise as a rookie, he stagnated over the next two seasons, never breaking the 20-goal mark or surpassing the 31 points he amassed in his first season. He was far better known for his screwball off-ice antics and bizarre quotes than for anything he achieved on the ice.
As a result, when Culp returned to Saskatchewan for the first team in the season’s second week, the Shockers didn’t do anything to mark the occasion. After the game, the center admitted that he was miffed at the lack of recognition. “I mean, I wasn’t expecting them to retire my number or anything, but why wasn’t there a Foster Culp Night?” he asked reporters. “I gave these guys three years of my life, and I don’t get even a gold watch or anything? Not cool, man.”
When informed of Culp’s displeasure, Saskatchewan coach Myron Beasley barely managed to stifle his laughter. “He thinks we should have a night for him? Typical Bananas Foster.” Beasley explained that “Bananas Foster was our nickname for him in the clubhouse. Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guys and a decent player. But his elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, if you know what I mean. We’ve got some loose screws on this team, but Foster was something else again. We were just glad he didn’t wind up in prison.”
But in the wake of the exchange, some Shockers fans emailed and tweeted at the front office urging them to make “Bananas Foster Night” a reality. And given their past difficulties with promotions, the team saw an opportunity for an easy win. “If the fans want Bananas Foster Night, for whatever reason,” said GM Cooper Matthews, “then Bananas Foster Night they will have.”
When the Sailors arrived at Potash Arena on Tuesday, Shockers fans greeted Culp (who was a healthy scratch for the game) with cutouts of his face and stuffed bananas, giveaways from the team. And between the first and second periods, the team played a “tribute” video of Culp, with clips of him fumbling passes and shooting wide of the net interspersed with reminders of some of his more outlandish incidents, including the time he caused the team to be detained at customs with a smart remark about smuggling drugs, the time he was arrested for joyriding a baggage cart at the airport, and the time he microwaved a burrito for too long and caused the team’s practice facility to catch fire. In between, the video included clips of some of Culp’s post-game quotes, such as “If you can outscore your opponent, you’ll win most times” and “Practice is like masturbation: it’s okay if you have to do it, but it’s not as much fun as the real thing.”
After the video was complete, the crowd gave Culp a standing ovation and tossed their bananas onto the ice. Culp stood, blew kisses to the crowd, and took several sweeping bows. And after the game, a 2-1 Shockers win, he expressed appreciation for the tribute — sarcastic or not.
“When I first heard they were gonna do Bananas Foster Night, I was afraid they were going to set me on fire,” said Culp. “But this was cool, feeling the love of my people. A piece of me will always be here. Literally. One time I took a puck to the mouth and lost a couple of teeth, and I think they’re still here somewhere.”
Beasley also paid a compliment to his former player. “Strange as it seems, I do miss Foster a little sometimes,” the coach said. “Then I remember all the dumb stunts he pulled, and I got over it. But there’s no question that he’s one of a kind. He’s the only guy who wouldn’t get to play on his own tribute night.”