I am sometimes asked why I like hockey so much. Why hockey rather than some more elegant sport like soccer or a more tactical sport like football? What’s so special about hockey?
I can only respond like Tom Hanks’ character in Sleepless in Seattle when he is asked what was so special about his wife:
It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together.
Full disclosure: Sleepless in Seattle is my wife’s favourite chick flick. I only watched it when she made me watch it. And I watched it because I love her.
Anyways, this isn’t about how much I love my wife, but how much I love hockey. While I love the big things in hockey – big goals, big saves, and big hits – all sports have big moments. What really makes me love hockey is the million tiny little things, the ones that mean we’re supposed to be together.
Here are five of the little things I love about hockey. Feel free to share the little things you love in the comments.
1. The glorious *ping* sound when a puck goes off the post and in.
I swear the post makes a different sound on a goal than when it hits the post and comes back out. That sound is more of a dull *clunk* sound, full of disappointment and sadness. The *ping* of a puck that goes off the post and in is full of joy and happiness. Listen to the sound the post makes on Cody Hodgson’s goal in the video above. Then notice the sound the Boston crowd makes afterwards. That’s a hostile crowd, but they sound a lot more like they are impressed than angry. It’s that *ping* of the post. You can’t be angry at that sound.
2. Flying water bottles.
If you fast forward to 2:28, you can see a historic moment in Penguins history. Rookie Sidney Crosby, in his first game against a Canadian team, scored the first shootout goal in franchise history with a pretty move to beat Jose Theodore to win the game. It’s undoubtedly a big goal. My favourite part, however, is a little thing: the way the water bottle goes flying off the top of the net. It’s a beautiful sight.
3. Early goal celebrations.
This is a pretty great save by Ryan Miller, but the best part for me is the early goal celebration by Chris Thorburn and Jim Slater. It’s especially fun to watch early celebrations as a goaltender, laughing at the overconfident forwards and their crestfallen expressions as soon as they realize the goalie made the save. Does this happen in any other sport? The closest thing is the early touchdown celebration in football, but that’s just embarrassing. The early goal celebration in hockey is a glorious moment for a goaltender.
4. Hockey hair.
The entire point of a uniform is conformity. Everyone on the team is meant to look the same. Hockey players are completely covered in gear, with the only identifiers being the name and number on the back. Hockey has always celebrated the team over the individual, which makes seeing a shock of hair sticking out the back of a helmet so much fun.
5. The too-full penalty box.
There’s something hilarious about this being the outcome of a line brawl. It also makes me wonder how players decide who gets to have a seat and who has to stand for the duration of their penalty.