It’s Time For Lord Stanley: Four Reasons to Love Ice Hockey
Don’t get me wrong, I like baseball as much as the next New U columnist. But amidst all the hoopla over the new season (and what a good one it is thus far), it is time to show a little love to the national pastime of our friendly neighbors up north.
As a kid, my parents grew tired of me always checking my little brother over the grocery store “boards,” nearly, but not quite smashing his face into boxes of baby bok choy or granny smith apples, and signed me up for an ice hockey league.
Sadly, my helmet was too tight on my head, always giving me a piercing headache by the end of practice, and my skating skills were not up to par. I learned gleefully that falling with pads did not hurt, and checking people was a lot harder when they were skating around faster than you. That was pretty much the extent of my hockey playing career.
Luckily, hockey is probably one of the greatest spectator sports — the fastest game on earth. Without further ado, the Payoff Pitch presents four random reasons to watch hockey, especially now during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- “Be careful man, it almost hit me that time!”
- “Have you guys ever seen a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? It’s beautiful. Pretty awesome the way they all stick together. Ducks never say die. Ever seen a duck fight? No way. Why? Because the other animals are afraid. They know that if they mess with one duck, they gotta deal with the whole flock.”
- “and they form … a V! I’ve heard of this before, but I’ve never seen it before. It’s the Flying V!”
- “You may make it. You may not. But that doesn’t matter, Charlie. What matters is that we’re here. Look around. Who ever thought we’d make it this far. 1-2-3 Triple Deke. Take your best shot. I believe in you, Charlie. Win or lose.”
Hockey goalies have always struck me as having the coolest get-up in sports. First, there’s the personalized and cool art-decorated mask. Then, there are the huge and bulky pads that goalies still have to be spritely and catlike in. Finally, there is the all-important glove to make the dramatic stop. When the goalie stands on his head, it is a truly impressive and awe-inspiring display of dominance. No other position in any other sport arguably has such a difference-maker on the defensive end.
People who think that hockey fights are mere savagery could not be more misinformed. When the enforcers drop their gloves and participate in a careful dance of brute strength, they are either sticking up for someone else on the team who has been targeted or hit, or they are trying to swing the momentum and pump up their teammates.
Besides all of that, there is just something great about an impromptu fight breaking out. What warm-blooded fan is not invigorated by that?
Ok, so the “Flying V” does not work in real life, but when there’s an odd-man rush heading towards the goalie, the puck sliding back and forth is a thing of beauty. If everything goes to plan, the needle threading, the one-timer, and the goalie desperately trying to slide back to the other side of the net in vain all happens in the matter of seconds. Everything is so silky smooth and suave. No wonder the toothless hockey guys still get all the hot chicks.
Hockey has a one-on-one aspect as well. In the regular season, games still tied after an overtime are decided by the team’s best three scorers streaking in on the goalie one on one. Just the showdown scene of it all is enough to send chills through your bones.
In the playoffs, it’s just a never-ending chain of sudden death overtimes. Talk about being on the edge of your seat.
So even though there is no way the Ducks can beat the Sharks this year, and some of the jerseys have names that are hard to pronounce, take a break from April baseball and get enraptured by Lord Stanley’s madness.