NHL lockout has reduced Barry Melrose to dressing as Santa, rambling to ESPN staffers (VIDEO)

Complain all you want about the NHL lockout and what it's taking from us, but the labor stoppage has also yielded its fair share of unintentional comedy, from Guy Serota to the podium.

And now: Barry Melrose, dressed as Santa Claus -- sorry, "Barry Claus" -- in one of the most depressing segments you're ever going to see (courtesy of Awful Announcing).

Wearing the suit tends to infuse a person with Christmas jollity. Not so for Melrose, who looks downright defeated to be inside Santa's fur-lined get-up, perhaps because the segment appears to be little more than a half-hearted attempt to get ESPN's hockey analyst some screen time when there's no hockey to analyze.

When I say half-hearted, I mean it. If there's a script, it's the worst script ever. If not, Melose's knowledge of other sports leaves something to be desired. He tells the Lakers they need Kurt Rambis, producing the head of Kurt Rambis on a stick like an awkward Jeff Dunham (but somehow, funnier). Then he comments, "Do you think anyone on the L.A. Lakers would wear those glasses? They care too much about what they look like."

Clearly, he isn't aware that Dwight Howard plays for the Lakers.

On Mark Sanchez of the Jets, he expresses his hope that Sanchez resurfaces "either with the Jets or another team." This is, I presume, supposed to mean something.

Even the hockey stuff is strange."We need Crosby and company meeting President Obama at the White House," says Melrose. Well, uh, he wouldn't, but OK.

But that's nitpicking. What really brings this bit to a grinding halt are the props.

Barry Claus' bag of gifts is full of athlete heads on sticks. And his set is decorated with poor, uninterested ESPN staffers sitting around him in a semi-circle, like children being read to. You can practically see them trying to work out an escape route. Guarantee you, as soon as this was done, at least one guy stepped out into the rain and Shawshanked.

Did no one tell these people they were supposed to look interested?

For some reason, the camera pans around the semi-circle frequently, giving us many glimpses of these poor bastards wishing they were anywhere else. Like this guy, who's wondering why he didn't pursue a degree in the Sciences:

The camera captures pretty much every guy on the floor wishing he was somewhere else.

That is, except for the guy in the blue polo shirt. He can't get enough of this bit!

"Man! Melrose is killing it up there!"

Guarantee you blue polo shirt is ESPN's head of programming in two years.

s/t to Awful Announcing.

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