This week, Defector has chosen to curate a collection of writing inspired by two entities that have had an indelible effect on North America: the upper house of the United States Congress and Eugene Melnyk’s pro hockey team. This is Senators Week.
When the Defector Information Science Team (DIST) and I began the research phase on a post about which United States senator would get absolutely vaporized by a bruising check from hard-hitting Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk, we all agreed that it simply could not be done half-assed. I had my own suspicions regarding just how poorly Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy would respond to being slammed up against the boards at the Canadian Tire Centre. But I am just a passionate layperson, and the nearly two dozen Ph.D. physicists, mathematicians, and information design professionals that make up the DIST would be able to prove or disprove those suspicions using not vapid conjecture or political bias or my own childish fixation on the image of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul being vigorously checked by Tkachuk and then flying through the air like a child’s doll thrown from the window of a moving car. They would use science. I said I would not write this post until the data was in front of me, and I meant it. My insistence delayed Senators Week by nearly two months, and strained several workplace relationships nearly beyond repair.
I will not bore you with the lengthy explanations or full-color diagrams that the DIST eventually delivered. Just know that our proprietary projections re: which United States senators would fare worst in an on-ice collision with the fourth pick of the 2018 NHL Draft were the result of a great deal of consideration and a great deal of work. This was the residue and result of a shared dedication to taking this moment’s biggest questions seriously, and getting the answers right.
5. Sen. Mike Lee (Utah)
A surprising result, here, as the arch-conservative Utah senator was not expected to figure highly in our rankings at all. And yet, in test after test, the results were the same: A bone-rattling hit from Brady Tkachuk, sending Sen. Lee crashing into the plexiglass partition above the boards, would not only knock all the pomade out of Lee’s signature slicked-down hairstyle, but render him curly-haired forever.
4. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)
Our projections found that Cruz would go “euuuuuggggh” if checked roughly into the boards by Brady Tkachuk. He would produce a sound similar to someone dumping cat food (the wet kind) into a cat’s dish from an elevation of five feet.
3. Sen. Tom Cotton (Arkansas)
Per our testing, no member of the Senate was more likely to emit a disconsolate, Waluigi-style “wahhh” upon receiving a clean but forceful open-ice check from Brady Tkachuk than the junior senator from Arkansas. If Tkachuk were permitted to generate a sufficient head of steam, Cotton’s neck would become four horrible inches longer as a result.
2. Sen. Joe Manchin III (West Virginia)
Though solidly built and pugnacious in his own right, our DIST models showed that the West Virginia Democrat, one of the state’s political legends, would be no match for a suitably vicious Tkachuk check. Our projections showed that his whole suit would just go flying off and land, perfectly folded, on a seat in section 215 of the Senators’ arena. (This is right in the heart of the Molson Canadian Fan Deck; all senators are to be imagined wearing the clothing they wear on the floor of the Senate.)
1. Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa)
The irascible 87-year-old Iowa legislator was expected to rate as one of the senators worst equipped to absorb a game-speed check from Brady Tkachuk, but our program was not prepared for just how poorly this would go. For reference, in each of the instances mentioned above (and the other 95 I had the DIST run on the rest of the Senate’s members) our team produced a brief “report” replete with diagrams, tables of projected trajectories, speculative audio renderings of the sounds that each hit would generate, et cetera, per the predictive kinematic algorithms and the like created for this project. For Grassley, no matter how many times we ran our tests, the only result produced was a single English sentence fragment: “like driving a minivan through a large pile of autumn leaves at 70 miles per hour.”