I love springtime. As the thick blanket of depressively-soul-crushing bitter coldness begins to slightly lift, something Magical happens: the professional baseball and hockey seasons intersect, making it truly the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams tune notwithstanding).
I’ve written at length on why I love baseball, so this proclamation of hockey adoration might seem like it’s come out of nowhere. And in a way, it sort of does. I look forward to the start of each season, but not until it begins do I remember: Oh, man! I really like this!
I went to my first (and perhaps only) game of the season a few weeks ago (ticket prices be crazy, y’all). As I discussed the night with a friend, he summed up my feelings nicely: “I like hockey, but when I go to a game, it’s suddenly like ‘Oh! Fuck yeah, hockey!'”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, but I’ll try. Here are my Top Four Reasons* Why I Fucking Love This Game (the NBA really should have used that verbiage for their 2006-07 marketing campaign instead).
4. The players.
They’re scrappy, they’re tough and they give each other the best nicknames. I imagine the wussies are weeded out of this game by about age 5. They take a hit, hop over the boards, and get stitched up right there on the bench! Overall, these are tough mofos. Yeah, you hear about some nasty injuries in other pro leagues, but other pro leagues don’t have razor-sharp blades as part of their equipment. Just ask Clint Malarchuk. Oh, and the nicknames? To find yours, just shorten your last name and add “ie” or “s” to the end. Simple and elegant.
3. The fans.
I don’t really get off on the fights like some other folks do, but I admit that I find the drunken antics of some NHL fans to be pretty amusing. I mean, some of these guys (sometimes gals) really really get into the game. 9 times out of 10, it’s not in an annoying, unruly kind of way (thanks, Canadians!) so it’s all in good fun: the yelling and the trash-talking is, in a lot of ways, just an extension of what’s going on down there on the ice. The folks up in the nosebleeds are the seventh man, indeed.
2. The speed.
Watching a play unfold – the skating, the passing, the stick-and puck-handling – is like watching live art. High-speed live art, that is. Don’t blink now, you might lose the puck. Talk about an adrenaline rush! And when that horn sounds and the lights flash when a goal is scored? Sublime.
1. The Canadians.
I am fascinated by Canadians. Who isn’t?
* Why four? Why not four? I could have chosen seventeen, but I doubt you’d keep reading.
Stay tuned for part trois!