A social media-driven fan craze based around a young Denver-area professional athlete is gaining in popularity by the day -- and it has nothing to do with Tim Tebow.
Fans all around the Mile High City have latched onto a new craze -- Landeskoging.
"I think it's pretty funny," the subject of the fad, Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog
, told NHL.com. "I think it's our fans and how great they are with coming up with funny things and how involved they are. It's a lot of fun. Denver is a great sports city with the fans, social media and everything."
Landeskog said the pose -- face-down on the ice, legs bent at the knees, fists clenched next to his head -- was far from planned.
It was March 12 and Landeskog was questionable for a game against the Anaheim Ducks due to a bout of the flu. In overtime, Landeskog forced a turnover in the Anaheim zone, got the puck back from teammate Matt Hunwick
, skated into the left circle and blasted a shot that beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller to give the Avs a 3-2 victory.
"I didn't have any energy," Landeskog said. "Then when I scored I was just so relieved I fell to the ice. And then this guy tweeted a picture and said he was Landeskoging and said it was the new Tebowing."
Landeskog liked the picture so much he invited his 22,000-plus Twitter followers to send him their best Landeskoging pictures.
"There was one that was Landeskoging on the back of a horse, which is pretty remarkable," Landeskog said. "And there's one, half of her body was inside of a dryer and her legs were sticking out of the dryer, that was pretty funny. Some of them are pretty creative. Some of them are in other hockey rinks and on the floor of different things. It's been pretty fun."
Landeskog's teammates haven't gotten into it yet, but in the spirit of the locker room, they've certainly made their feelings known on the existence of the fad.
"There has been some grief given out," he said. "They've been giving it to me a little bit, but it's been fun."
Beyond the fun of the Landeskoging pose, the substance behind it is what really mattered -- two points the Avalanche desperately needed in their quest to grab one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
With five wins in their last seven games, the Avs enter the weekend eighth in the conference, with 81 points, the same as seventh-place Phoenix. However, San Jose, Calgary and Los Angeles are just one point back.
Regardless, Landeskog said he's not doing any scoreboard watching.
"No, not at all," he said. "I'm not that type of guy to do that. I'm more of a guy who'll look at the standings when I get to the rink. ... I'm sure some of the guys are doing that, I'm sure the coaching staff and other guys are doing that ... but it doesn't change what our game plan is. We've got to win every game from now on and take as many points as we can. That's our goal, to win every game. We should win each game and see where it takes us."
Landeskog has stepped up his effort to take his team as far as it will go. The 19-year-old left wing, taken with the second pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, has emerged as the team's leading goal scorer with 20, and he's second on the team with 46 points. He's also a team-best plus-19 while playing all 72 games and averaging 18:28 of ice time per game -- third among the team's forwards.
He also leads all NHL rookies in goals, and is tied with New Jersey's Adam Henrique in scoring. He's second in plus/minus rating, power-play goals and game-winning goals. And he leads all rookie forwards in ice time per game, all of which has earned him serious consideration for the Calder Trophy.
However, Landeskog said he's trying to block out all that talk.
"It's tough not to hear that kind of stuff," he said. "We've got nine games to play and we're trying to make a playoff push here. That's the most important thing. ... I think for me to be able to look back and say it's been a successful season, I want to be able to look back at the playoffs first and foremost. That's our main goal and that's my main goal as an individual, to make the playoffs and to have a good playoff push and a playoff run-- that's the most important thing."
That's the kind of attitude that very quickly has endeared Landeskog to his teammates.
"He's a rookie, but he plays like a veteran out there," defenseman Shane O'Brien
told NHL.com. "He acts like a veteran. They got a good one in him, for sure."
"He's such a great guy, coming in and having the success he's had and still working hard and not letting the success get to his head at all," linemate Ryan O'Reilly
told NHL.com. "It's a huge thing and it's a great thing for the team. Definitely, he's been phenomenal all year."
Landeskog credits O'Reilly, the team's leading scorer, for much of his success this season.
"We're two guys that go and work hard and try to out-work our opponents," Landeskog said. "We've been fortunate enough to play with each other ever since training camp, except for two games. It's been a real treat and it's been a lot of fun. We're just trying to have fun with it. We're two young guys and we don't have anything to lose. Just going to go out there and have a blast with it and we'll see where it takes us."
It makes sense that Landeskog and O'Reilly have developed chemistry together, as Landeskog has followed a similar path as O'Reilly -- both were stars in the Ontario Hockey League who were high draft picks that made it to the NHL at age 18.
"He's been through pretty much the same thing I've been through," Landeskog said. "Just how mature he is and how he handles himself on and off the ice, the way he prepares himself for games and all that kind of stuff. I really look up to him, even though he's just (two years) older than me. He's kind of been sort of a mentor for me."
O'Reilly even has offered a little advice on the whole Landeskoging craze.
"We saw it next day (after his goal) on Twitter and the boys kind of gave it to Landy a little bit," O'Reilly said. "It was kind of funny the way he kind of keeled over and died when he scored the goal. I guess a couple boys said he should keep it going when he scores, but I don't know if he will, that might be getting a little carried away, I guess."
Landeskog agrees that while fans can keep Landeskoging away, they shouldn't expect to see him do it again.
"It wasn't like I planned to do anything like that," he said. "The guys wanted me to celebrate like that in Buffalo, too (the next game)."
However, say, he scores the goal that gets the Avs into the playoffs or wins a postseason game ...
"You never know," he said. "If it's a big goal or anything like that, you never know. But I can't promise anything." Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor