Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has established a reputation as one of the NFL's brashest trash-talkers, but his comments about how he could "probably crack" an NHL roster in six months has struck a nerve with hockey players.
After taking verbal shots at New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and about half the NFL's quarterbacks this summer, Ramsey told ESPN that he's so confident in his athleticism that he could likely make an NHL roster in six months, if he trained.
"I think it's insulting to our league," Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel told ESPN. "For us as players, we've dedicated our lives to be playing in the NHL. To think after six months you could come play arguably one of the hardest sports in the world? I mean, I think it's ridiculous he would say that. It's ignorant."
NHL players pointed to one key fact in Ramsey's argument.
"It's so funny to me," Kreider said, before breaking down the mechanics: "I think he's an unbelievable athlete, but skating is a skill set unto itself -- just like running is, just like swimming is. Think of someone who has never swam before. If you've never been in the water before, no matter how good of an athlete you are, chances are, you're not going to be an Olympic-caliber swimmer in six months.
"I'm sure with his pedigree and his athleticism he could play in the NHL, but it would take a lot longer than six months."
"I think it's awesome, I mean, I'd like to see him skate," MacKinnon said. "I think it would be pretty funny. He wouldn't be able to stand up. I think he just likes to talk. Whatever."
MacKinnon was also entertained by the idea of athletes speaking out in general. Hockey players are notorious for being deferential, rarely calling out their peers -- or even calling attention to themselves.
"It's good for the NFL, for someone to go out and talk like that. It brings a lot of attention," MacKinnon said. "If it happened in hockey, it would make the sport a little more popular, too, and we'd take it."
MacKinnon, for the record, said he might be able to take a crack at playing professional football.
"You can start football at like 23 and make it," said the 23-year-old MacKinnon, who added he'd probably play strong safety, so he could deliver big hits.
Tarasenko wasn't as confident.
"If I practiced for six months, I could not make the NFL," he said. "I don't even know the rules."
"I don't think I'd look like an idiot," he said. "But I definitely wouldn't be pro-ready."
"I would like to see that, for sure," Kuznetsov said. "He can come; we can help him. It's cool if an athlete wants to try something new."