Last night I had the distinct pleasure of attending a hockey game with some excellent seats, and over the course of the game, I thought some thoughts. Because I write for a living, I thought “Hey, maybe if I jot down these thoughts, I can write said thoughts in a post about my thoughts.”
Anyway, the game was between the New Jersey Devils and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
These are those thoughts.
I can’t help but think how absolutely overwhelming (and awesome) it must be for the boys and girls who get to skate out before the game, cut a lap with the flag, and stand on the blueline for the national anthems in Toronto (or anywhere). I played in front of some sizeable crowds over the years, and I gotta say, I never really got over that part. It’s always cool. You can hear the whole crowd sing along to the anthem, which is better than being in the crowd, in which case you can only hear the terrible person behind you. Also, you get to rock on your skates, which is a pretty fun habit to get into. (Just don’t forget to take off your helmet like I did in North Dakota, cage and all. I was a little preoccupied thinking about my first shift.)
Has to be a lifelong memory for those kids.
The Grocery Stick Skate during TV timeouts
For those of you who don’t know, “grocery stick” refers to a player who gets off after a shift, shuffles towards the middle of the bench as players roll out, then doesn’t get his number called for a long time, so he ends up just being the divider for the d-men and forwards.
Every sports fan has “that game.” The lucky few of us have more than one “that game.” I live in Toronto so I only have one. Thankfully, my “that game” is the shared by almost the entirety of Canada. I am speaking, of course, about the 2010 Gold Medal game between Canada and The United States. Three years ago today the game was played. Three years ago today I became a Sidney Crosby fan. I remember…most of it. A lot of people point to game 2 of the 1987 Canada Cup as the greatest hockey game ever played. I get that but I’ve watched that game recently and, with some distance and hindsight, I can pretty safely say that 2010 topped it. Maybe it’s the being there aspect but, for my money, there has never been a greater game than the one that was played on February 28, 2010.
I am going to do my very best to not turn this into a screed against Don Cherry as I really don’t intend it to be one. Okay, I kind of do. But, still, bear with me. I have made it known in no uncertain terms that I am not a fan of Cherry. I think he’s a xenophobic, semi-racist, ignorant, militaristic, and possibly slightly senile old man who once served a purpose but is now just a beacon for ratings and money. And that’s kind of my point.
On Saturday, Cherry went on another one of his patented tirades that don’t make any sense claiming that there is no crime nor drugs in hockey because of the level of respect that is prevalent in the NHL. And because hockey players wear ties to the rink. Or something. I’m not going to get into the depths of how factually untrue this statement is as it ignores decades of hockey players with drug abuse problems (Derek Boogaard and John Kordick spring immediately to mind and the rest of the list is a long one), we’re used to Cherry saying ridiculous and false statements. At this point, the exercise of slamming Cherry or calling him ignorant or pick your adjective is an exercise in repetition. We know. The interesting point to come out of all this comes from our own Drew Fairservice who tweeted this on Saturday night:
Someone explain how Don Cherry is entertaining if we aren’t taking him seriously? I don’t think satire works like that.
I’m no goalie expert, so when I heard that the tender being called up to start for the Calgary Flames – Danny Taylor – wears his gear differently from others, I was intrigued and reached out for an explanation.
To say that NHL goaltenders are particular about their equipment would be a major understatement.
Try more like obsessive-compulsive.
If you were asked to stop slappers from Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara, you’d be a bit neurotic about your gear, too. And like all pro hockey players, as goalies get older, they gain an intimate comfort level in certain brands and modifications that allow them to use their tools of the trade with full confidence.
“Look good, feel good, play good,” is easily one of the most popular mottos spoken by goalies across the globe; these days, style and swagger seem like they might be as important as protection.
Today the news came down that Mikhail Grabovski will not be suspended for allegedly biting Max Pacioretty.
My thoughts on this are very complex:
Kay. …I’m good with that.
I’m not exactly sure why Grabovski biting Pacioretty brought about such a whirlwind of disagreement (you shouldn’t bite people – no s*** – vs. you shouldn’t put parts of your body in or on angry people’s mouths – no s***) when, from what I can tell, the facts are pretty clear:
A) Mikhail Grabovski bit Max Pacioretty
B) The league doesn’t care
Again, I’m fine with this arrangement.
This tweet from Darren Dreger makes me laugh:
The evidence didn’t support supplemental discipline for Grabo, but the safety dept says it went to great lengths in search of the truth.
Mostly because of the terminology “it went to great lengths in search of the truth,” but mostly because BULL****. I mean: Player A wraps his arm around mouth of Player B, who makes a biting motion, Player A immediately reacts saying he got bit, because he got bit, for gosh sakes. Innocent until proven guilty or whatever, but I figure innocent until Let’s Not Play Dumb is fair too. Read the rest of this entry »
Definitely. And I’m not fully sure how to feel about these changes.
First off, the truth: when I was playing hockey as a career, I tried to avoid the team as much as possible away from the rink, save for a roommate or two. It’s not that I didn’t like my teammates, it’s just the obvious: you see them at morning skate, pre-game meal, game time, at practices, on planes and buses, in the dressing room, in the hotel, in the weight room. And, the season is long and comes with very few breaks.
There are probably plenty of you out there who like your co-workers just fine, but find 9-5 more than ample in the “time spent together” category.
Combine that with the hockey player “dude” mentality – farts and chicks, you guys – and holy hell is it nice to get a little alone time. I was occasionally chirped for reading a book while we traveled. It gets grating.
So, I get wanting your own hotel room. I roomed with one of my best friends in the world for a lotta years in college, and we’d have both happily spent our time apart on the road just to have a little space. Hell, I was tempted to pay for an extra room some nights. And I was lucky I spent that time with a buddy – sometimes you’re with the guy who likes the AC set to 30 below, sleeps with the TV on and snores. That stuff affects your play.
The Los Angeles Kings raised their Stanley Cup banner and got their Cup rings on Saturday which is always cool (and as you can see, the rings are so, so sharp), but if you follow me on Twitter, you know I loooooaaaaaaatttttthhhhheeeee that the new thing is for teams to raise the Cup one last time before the first game of the regular season. I hated it last year, and I hated it so much this year that I ended up getting a DM from a smart NHL person basically saying “Dude, the NHL makes them do this now, back away from the ledge.”
Here’s why I feel so passionate about this:
It is the start of a new season, the exact moment where summer ends and a new season begins. The team you are starting that new, fresh season with is not the team that won the Stanley Cup last year. I don’t care if there’s so much as a single human being – a trainer, whatever – that’s different, this is a new group starting a new year embarking on a new mission. There is a million days where you can honour the great Stanley Cup winners of past seasons. If the team didn’t win it at home, well that’s the way the cookie crumbles – TVs are pretty prevalent now, and the fans got to see their boys lift it at the parade. It is so un-hockey to do this.
What a curse to grab the thing on the day the 2013 season is getting under way. And I don’t mean that from a superstitious standpoint, just…it takes a lot of mental focus to succeed at hockey, especially at the start of the year, and here we’ve got a team preening all about the rink basking in past accolades. (The Kings fell behind 4-0 before losing 5-2, by the way. The Bruins lost to Philly the year before too.) The first day of the NHL season is about beginnings, not ends. It’s bad enough that they took the post-Cup-victory team lap around the rink from us for media purposes, but now they’re physically lifting it above their heads mere minutes before a scheduled 2013 game.
All that said: I’m not mad at the Kings, I’m mad that this appears to be a new mandate from the leauge. It sounds like this wasn’t their choice, as it may not have been Boston’s last year. I just think it’s a terrible idea in general. You already get to raise the banner, you’re given your rings, and the Cup is in the building. Those things honour the players’ achievement, and are great. But the active celebration of holding it above your head on the ice on the day of a new game? For shame. Read the rest of this entry »