His name is Kid Rock, and he's the best damn musician to ever live.
At least that is the opinion belonging to former NHL star Jeremy Roenick, who was very thrilled to hear that Mr. Rock has been commissioned to perform at the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay later this month. Roenick, who now serves as an analyst for NBC Sports, spoke to the musician during a television segment this week, and he had some wildly lofty praise for the Detroit rocker.
"When I talk to people about you, I say, 'Kid Rock is the most talented musician, I think ever, on the planet, because you can put any instrument in your hand or on your mouth and you can play anything and rock a house and sing any kind of genre."
Even Kid Rock himself seemed a little uncomfortable with that level of admiration, timidly responding to Roenick with a self-deprecating "jack of all trades, master of none" joke.
But while Roenick is giddy about the musical selection for All-Star festivities,. In fact, a large percentage of the reactions shared following Tuesday's announcement seemed to be negative. Not all of those negative sentiments were entirely related to Kid Rock's musical ability and relevance, either.
A number of people took issue with the selection because of the musician's politics. The 47-year-old Detroit native has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump since prior to the 2016 election and is a staunch conservative who frequently used the Confederate Flag as a prop in the past. More recently, he's been known to go on right-wing rants during his shows, including one in which he voiced transphobic views and ripped NFL players -- namely Colin Kaepernick -- for protesting during the national anthem.
It would seem some hockey fans feel that the NHL enlisting Kid Rock's services at a marquee event is a contradiction to the league's initiative to be more inclusive and feel it could potentially hurt the league's appeal to a broader audience.
Roenick has seen the backlash in response to the selection, but he doesn't agree with it. In fact, it actually drives him crazy. In an interview with Sporting News published Wednesday, the analyst went on a bit of a rant about the criticism.
"See, this is where I get driven crazy by people today. Why does anything have to do with politics or where he stands with politics when it comes to entertaining and singing to people at a sporting event? It drives me crazy. All these people have their panties so hung up they can't think even straight. They don't understand the performance. Entertainment has nothing to do with whether he likes (Donald) Trump or he doesn't like Hillary Clinton. Let him perform, sing his songs that have nothing to do with politics. All these people have got to stop with this narrative that's going around and the divide they're bringing to this country. It's driving me crazy."
Ironically, the politically-charged criticism is exactly why Kid Rock has tried to lay low for a while. While speaking to NBC on Tuesday, he said he has stayed off TV for a while because "it's a turnoff with all the politics that go into it, what you can and can't do."
Whether or not you agree with the backlash, the selection is somewhat of an interesting choice considering the NHL's insistence on painting themselves as an apolitical brand. Commissioner Gary Bettman has made it clear he would prefer players not use NHL games for political activism, and the Pittsburgh Penguins said they were putting politics aside when they accepted Trump's invite to the White House as Stanley Cup champions last year.
But Kid Rock has arguably earned more headlines for his strong political views than his music in the past few years, so the choice is a bit of a head-scratcher. If the league truly wanted to keep politics out of its entertainment selection, league officials could have chosen a safer option. They probably should have known this choice would ruffle some feathers, so it kind of seems like they're either -- at best -- kinda tone-deaf and dumb, or -- at worst-- just baiting their own fans into anger.
At least Jeremy Roenick is happy, though.