Monday, March 1, 2010

What is This Hockey of Which You Speak?

I’m going to take a brief moment and pretend that our readership cares about hockey. Forgive me if this is not the case.

For one brief week it seemed like suddenly everybody cared about hockey, that redheaded stepchild of major sports here in the ol' US. Not as violent nor as strategic as Football; not as gentlemanly nor as traditional as Baseball; not as flashy nor as high scoring as Basketball; it’s still a thoroughly watchable and entertaining sport. I had forgotten; I used to watch a lot more hockey. This is back when Yzerman was a player and not Executive Director of Team Canada this year; back when the Russians played in Detroit (now a days they’re all Swedes); back when I could probably still recognize the “Hockey Night in Canada” theme song – those Canadians always called a better game and I was close enough to the border to get their television, plus they have Don Cherry.

But then came the NHL labor strike in ‘04 and then a combination of other things happened that had nothing to do with hockey and before long I had just kind of forgotten about it. Now I have other favorite sports. Don’t get me wrong. I watch the occasional game or two a year and I’ll follow the scores for my hometown team but I can’t remember the last time I actually went to a game.

So for at least two games it was nice to be reminded that hockey can be a lot of fun. And hopefully enough other Americans watched to come to that same conclusion.

As for who won the Gold Medal round of the Olympic Hockey Tournament, well. Canada wanted it more. People here look at how much people love hockey in Canada and they get suspicious. Canadians love their hockey in a way that nobody here loves hockey. Alaska and Michigan love hockey. I think Pennsylvania and Western New York love it too. But not like Canada. Canadians freak out at the mere mention of “Hockey Town,” even when you’re just talking about the restaurant and not one of Detroit’s nickname (The other nicknames being “Motor City” and “Place of the burning buildings.”).

So in that regard, it’s probably best that they won. There would have been mass hysterics. Had Canada lost, the entire Olympics would have been for naught. This is not an exaggeration. And a minute in to overtime, you could just kind of tell. They were not leaving the ice without the win.

And so commence the comments about inferiority complexes and medal counts and little brothers and that “most Canadians live such and such miles from the border” argument that I never understood because the vast majority of Canada is uninhabitable so where the hell else are they supposed to live? and all the other grousing and moaning that you can expect when you lose a very close game to a very good team.

But you Americans can be happy with the following: (A) your national hockey team is young and nobody thought they would even make the medal rounds, much less to the final game, (B) they beat the most talented team once and played them to overtime on the rematch, and (C) you got to see a good game and a good representation of what hockey can be.

Hats off to you, Canada.

That said, I will now flip over to the NFL combine and salivate over a bunch of college seniors running their asses off for forty yards.


Chris Othic said...

"But you Americans can be happy . . ."

Don't you mean "we" Americans?

Are you a Canadian spy?

I will be watching you closely to see if you say "sorry" a lot or drink an inordinate amount of Molson and I have already seen your "Aboot" section on the Clever Title blog.

Nat Topping said...