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Ever since I was old enough to skate, I loved hockey.
I’ll never forget the magical year of 1994. I was 6. “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!”. Rangers won the cup in 7 games in a thriller 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Fucking Canadian teams. Ever since then, I was hooked.
Everything about hockey is great. There are very few, if any, politics involved. Very rarely do you hear about players cold cocking their wives, dog fighting or any other bullshit. Instead, you hear about Jaromir Jagr pulling 18-year-old tail that tries to blackmail him while he doesn’t give a fuck.
Unlike the NBA finals, which is boring, hockey playoffs are incredible. Every year, it seems the NBA is the same players, LeBron, Steph Curry, whatever, who cares? Teams stack the deck and no one is surprised when teams made up of superstars win it all. It just jockeys to different cities, like Miami a few years ago. In hockey, cities like Nashville that embrace their team (even if Smashville is a stupid fucking name). They were also an 8 seed. How often do you see the 8th place team in a conference playing for the cup? Anything can happen in playoff hockey.
Take it from someone that has played the sport for 20+ years: the athleticism that is necessary to play hockey is unparalleled. For one, you have to learn to skate. It is quite a feat to move on a thin piece of steal on frozen water, while avoiding people trying to put you through glass, handling a frozen piece of rubber and shooting on a guy that takes up 85% of the net without moving. I have about 20 stitches attributed to my hockey time along with countless bruises and cement mixer wrists, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Look at the greatest players. Wayne Gretzky could have never scored a goal in his entire career and still have more points than the second place person (Jagr). One of baseball’s biggest names, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, was a fat fuck that drank beer and ate hotdogs during the game. Great for him. I don’t blame him one bit to make baseball bearable, but playing cricket light isn’t exactly that tasking. The only time baseball was really ever interesting was when people took steroids.
Hockey players are the toughest athletes. You ever see those guys lose a tooth and be out on the ice the next shift? I took a hit open ice my first shift of varsity hockey. I was on the receiving end of a buddy pass across the middle on a breakout and ended up getting hit from behind. My helmet hit me and cut open my face. I was back out there 10 minutes later after a few butterfly stitches. You see those pansies on the court or the pitch, diving and acting to get a call. Hockey players regularly play through injuries. Like this or this, and that’s just this year.
Hockey is constant action. Rather than sports such as football, where there is like 11 minutes of actual playing, hockey players are always on the move. Hockey has a grueling 82-game season. The NBA has a similar in length season, except rather than physical exertion, they jog up and down the court while playing 30% effort on defense. If anyone even thinks about touching another player, they get a foul. This also applies for soccer, but at least they are always kind of running and it requires a lot of effort so soccer (piss off those of you who have to call it “football” or god help me “futbol”).
If you hit someone in hockey in a shit manner, gloves get dropped and you get to have a 5-minute time out for fighting. I won’t even bother with golf. I’ve seen some of the fattest fucks ever during my caddy days walk 18. While golf may require some hand-eye coordination, the ball isn’t moving, you walk (while some idiot like me carries your bag, reads your puts, gives you distances and everything short of a handy). The hardest part about walking 18 is having to wear long pants.
No other sport parties like hockey. Look no further than this year’s Penguins player. It is actively encouraged to chug beers from the cup or really do whatever you want. The cup is also awarded to the players first, rather than the owner.
I dream of a day where hockey is more mainstream, not for any other purpose than for everyone to enjoy it. Every year, it seems more and more people are getting into the sport. It’d be nice to see some ESPN coverage to balance out whatever political bullshit is happening or circle jerk LeBron, Brady, Tiger Woods, whatever. I still have PTSD from the Tebow years and his failed attempts to be an NFL QB or play baseball.
Now begins that death march between hockey season ending and college football beginning. With about 70 days left, it’ll be a long time in between. Oh well, 364 days until next year’s hockey tryouts. I have to toughen up..