Oh dear. I hope you’ll forgive me. Like a lot of people, the minute my head hits the pillow on Thanksgiving night, I’m done with actively thinking about the reasons I’m thankful and really don’t care about anybody else’s reasons either.
But I am so overwhelmed with gratitude, particularly regarding all things hockey, that I can’t resist this opportunity to whip up a little thanksgiving sandwich – a veritable Dagwood of gratitude — and fawn over hockey a little bit more while it’s still not completely seasonally awkward.
If you want to get in the mood by throwing a little turkey and dressing in the microwave, I’ll wait for you.
(If you’re Canadian and you still have turkey and dressing from your Thanksgiving, maybe just take this time and go throw that in the garbage. Eww.)
Here we go:
It wasn’t until I started playing goal myself that I realized how physically demanding it is to be a goalie, in ways I never expected.
They say the position is 90% mental, but what they mean is, once you have the physical part down, the position is 90% mental.
Everything about goaltending is terribly unnatural. The butterfly isn’t really how humans are supposed to bend. Powerful lateral movement is something you have to build pretty much from scratch because we generally just move forward. Mastering telekinesis might be easier, honestly. I should have looked into that first.
Anyway, real goalies make it look easy, but that’s because they’ve spent a lifetime building up the muscle structure that supports goaltending. Groins, hips, abs, thighs, all strong and limber.
You know what else strong and limber groins, hips, abs, and thighs are good for?
Looking at. Because I’m married. *sigh*
Add the “behind the net” camera they use during power plays, too. No better way to appreciate how hard the crease monkey has to work than that angle during a power play.
Canada’s Culture of Hockey Love
On our recent hockey trip, I saw the goalie mask beer taps at Air Canada Centre and had to fight back tears of… I’m not sure what. Bliss? Homecoming? Warm fuzzies?
I also nearly started crying when we walked past Burkie’s Dog House (the hot dog concession named after Brian Burke) because Burkie is just this gargantuan hockey figure in my mind. And they had Poutine Dogs: hot dogs with poutine fries on top. You so crazy, Canada!
And then I DID start crying when they started passing the Canadian flag around the lower bowl of the arena. I’ve seen it on TV dozens of times, but here I am in person for hockey night in Canada. Mecca.
Canada is the country equivalent of my best friend. I don’t want to BE Canadian (I’d just screw it up by being too American), but I feel like Canada gets me and I get Canada. Canada is hilarious and warm-hearted and funny and friendly.
We’ve had some hijinks, too, like that time we flipped our rental car on black ice driving from Yellowknife to Edmonton for the Grey Cup. Even a busted rotator cuff in High Level, AB was kinda zany fun, thanks to Canada being so kind.
My entire career as a goalie has been one long blooper reel, so when I see a guy being paid $3M a year to let in a knuckle puck from center ice, it makes my whole day.
Or does something like this:
It’s not so much a schadenfreude thing, as I would never wish ill on a fellow goalie (well, I do enjoy LuongoFail), but it’s a level-setter. If THAT guy can eff it up THAT royally, the fact that I only do that once or twice a year is probably not that bad, right?
Ah, screw y’all.
I never would have expected hockey players to be all that modest around female reporters, but towels were quickly and strategically placed and doors started to close as soon as I and my female colleague arrived outside the visitors locker room last Saturday night to interview Coach Torchetti after an Aeros road game.
I can’t decide if they were being modest, trying to be gentlemen (please don’t), or just trying not to get eye-molested.
Regardless, that’s where Under Armor (or pick your brand of skin-tight gitch) is heaven sent. I get all the pleasure of seeing the scads of eye-popping muscle definition, without the boys revealing so much that it’s a battle to maintain eye contact. Or at least above-the-waist contact — let’s keep our standards realistic.
After such a tragic summer for hockey fighters, I had to take a hard look at my feelings about fighting. For a while, when the season started, I was repulsed by it, but my stance has softened.
Mainly because, when I watch other sports, namely football, it seems so wussy that they don’t get to punch each other in the face over blatant shows of disrespect.
But mainly I’m thankful for fighting because no fighting = no goalie fights. And that would be tragic.
Goalie fights are rare, hilarious, and instant classics, regardless of the level of play. They are one of the silliest things in sports and it would be sacrilege to eliminate them. Even goalies* love goalie fights!
(*Exception: Rick DiPietro)
Pad tap to @TheGoalieGuild for passing this along via Twitter yesterday:
So, tell me, what are you guys thankful for? Is there anything left after a couple of full gear goalies dance like sumo wrestlers and then sit on each others faces? Pretty sure it’s time for pecan pie after that.