May 27th, 2024

Oilers forward Zach Hyman hoping to teach ‘Shaq Hyman’ how to skate: ‘For free’

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on May 1, 2024.

If basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal needs to learn how to skate – for real this time – Edmonton Oilers' Zach Hyman is extending an invitation to teach him. O'Neal speaks during a pre-game press conference about the Orlando Magic retiring his jersey before the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kevin Kolczynski

EDMONTON – Zach Hyman is extending the invitation.

If basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal needs to learn how to skate – for real this time – Hyman will hit the ice with him.

“If Shaq wants lessons, no problem,” the Edmonton Oilers forward said Wednesday. “For free.”

O’Neal, a Basketball Hall of Famer and larger-than-life personality, has twice jumped onto the NHL on TNT broadcasts under the “Shaq Hyman” moniker during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The seven-foot-one, 325-pounder walked onto the set last Saturday holding a hockey stick before screening Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who said: “I need a ladder.”

And on Tuesday night, O’Neal “skated” into the studio with a hockey stick in his hands, a helmet on his head and two skateboards attached to his feet.

Hyman can hardly believe his eyes when he turns on the TV these days.

“Never thought in my life people would be calling him ‘Shaq Hyman,'” he said, laughing. “Pretty cool to share that nickname with him.”

Hyman earned the “Shaq Hyman” nickname for displaying his ability to score in the paint – the same area O’Neal terrorized defenders for over a decade on an NBA court – when he was with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies in 2015-16.

“When I was with the Marlies we called him “˜Shaq Hyman’ for a reason, because he got to the paint more and better than anybody,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said in March.

The six-foot-one, 206-pound Hyman can only imagine the kind of problems Shaq could pose on NHL goalies, and is impressed by the progress the big man is making in such a short span.

“He’s great, he just keeps improving,” Hyman said. “First he was in shoes then he was on skateboards, so next he’ll be on real skates – and that’s a big man in front of the net.”

O’Neal made US$292 million during his 19-season career and acquired millions more in endorsements thanks to his comical persona.

Long retired, he puts his personality on display weekly alongside fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley on “Inside the NBA” – TNT’s award-winning NBA studio show.

“I’m a huge Shaq fan, obviously an incredible basketball player and incredible panellist on TNT,” Hyman said. “Sometimes the basketball games are even more fun when he and Charles are going at it in the intermission, so he brings a whole other element to the NBA.

“It’s cool to see him on the NHL set and pretending to be “˜Shaq Hyman.'”

Hyman and the Oilers were leading the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in their first-round series heading into Game 5 on Wednesday night. Hyman has lived up to his and O’Neal’s shared nickname with six goals in his first four playoff games after scoring 54 in the regular season — often from the blue paint.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2024.

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