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Archive for the ‘Confessions’ Category

A small sample of how the rest of us feel

I have two confessions to make:
1) I am (was?) a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.
2) I have never cared less about a team I once liked ever than I do with the Toronto Maple Leafs right now.

I have not watched the Toronto Maple Leafs play a game in over a month and why would I? The team is awful, there has been no semblance of effort on the ice and they’re going to miss the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season. I could get the same amount of catharsis from having my toenails ripped out or being strapped to a chair and having Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs do his worst. It’s a little sobering that I work here for a living and the team that I’m supposed to cheer for hasn’t made the playoffs since I was in the ninth grade.

Last week when the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk wrote a column titled “Brian Burke should apologize to Leaf fans” you better believe my response was “Hell yeah he should.”

Feschuk captures the scenery beautifully with his final 200 words and the outlook, for lack of a better term, is bleak. Read the rest of this entry »

I am a terrible hockey player.

The biggest issue is that I can’t skate worth a damn. I have no sense of how to shift my weight or control my blades. Stopping is a 50/50 proposition: sometimes I stay on my feet, sometimes I get spun around and fall. It’s part of the reason I ended up as a goaltender, but I’m not a particularly good goalie either.

There’s a simple reason why: I didn’t grow up playing hockey. I only went ice skating a few times each winter with school groups or with friends, all of whom could skate circles around me. I played street hockey and floor hockey frequently, but as soon as the game hit the ice, I was and am terrible.

So now, when I play hockey, I am constantly thinking and directing my body through a series of actions. Thanks to years and years of watching hockey intently, I know to a certain degree what I should be doing, so I attempt to put that knowledge into practice. It doesn’t work because that knowledge is all in my mind and none of it is in my body.

Professional hockey players have years and years of hockey knowledge embedded in their bodies. When Steven Stamkos takes a one-timer, he doesn’t think through the steps of shooting and enact each step one by one; he simply acts from his body, through his stick, into the puck. It’s such a core part of his being that it seems natural to him, like he was born with that ability.

What hockey players do on the ice bears such a strong resemblance to instinct that we lose sight of the immense amount of time and preparation that goes into every action. Each player made a series of choices that led him to be as good as he is at hockey and shaped the type of player he is.

This leads me to Matt Cooke.

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome back to the Shelf’s recurring feature from its frequently-humbled editor, “Well, I was wrong.”

When your job is to watch sports, you’re supposed to know a little something about them. I like to think I do, so I gamble and make pre-season predictions and just generally run my mouth about them a little too often.

I know this news will rock you, but it’s true – I occasionally get stuff wrong.

Below is the latest list of predictions I’ve made that I’m already glaringly wrong on.

Read the rest of this entry »