Monday, June 19, 2006

15 Thoughts While Watching The NHL Finals

Favorite LinksTonight, the Carolina Hurricanes won the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup. For the uninitated, that is like winning the World Series for a professional baseball team or the Super Bowl for a professional football team.

And the sound that went up from most of North Carolina - a deafening collective yawn. Oh, the crowd was loud in Raleigh. The TV crew kept referencing their refusal to sit for any part of the game. However, for the most part, North Carolinians are in that strange season between basketball and football. Hockey? Never heard of it!

But, it IS nice to be a champion! And because I live here, I am a champion. I hereby claim the Carolina Hurricanes as my favorite professional hockey team.

Thoughts I had while watching the final period:
  1. Hockey is a very fast-paced game with moments of amazing anxiety. Any action around the goal will definitely draw you in, especially action around your own goal while nursing a one goal lead.
  2. I think I can name seven or eight hockey teams off the top of my head, besides the two in play tonight. I'll give it a go: Detroit Redwings, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Lightning, Atlanta Thrashers (? - a guess), Winnipeg Jets or something (?) and . . . that's about all. Hmm, better than I thought - twelve names and two guesses. Can you think of any more? How many are there - 30, 32, 100?
  3. I do not know why television went away from the "glowing puck" from a few years ago. That seems like such a common-sense idea. You only capture brief glimpses of the puck as it skits around the ice like a laser. It would be nice to be able to see the thing.
  4. I believe I heard the announcer say something to the tune of "back in April in the first round of the playoffs." Now, that is utterly ridiculous. Three months of playoffs???
  5. Why would anyone want to grow up to be a hockey goalie? That is an insane thing to do. And it is a remarkable thing that anyone can do it well. The puck comes flying in at you, which would be difficult enough to absorb the blows, or it comes flying in near you, forcing you to track it with your eyes and get your body to block it by any means necessary. Sometimes that means using the handy-dandy oversized catcher's mitt or your stick (I can't believe any goalie is able to deflect a puck with that thing) or your body. Often while stretched out in a way that would make Mary Lou Retton wince. My hat is off to you, Cam Ward!
  6. "Pulling the goalie" is a pretty exciting portion of the game. This is the strategy of the team that is losing whereby they remove their goalie from the game in order to get an additional offensive player on the ice in an attempt to get a quick goal. Of course, this leaves absolutely no defense on the other side of the . . . what is it, RED line or BLUE line. That happened tonight at around the 1:30 mark of the final period (I keep wanting to say "quarter") and sure enough, a Hurricane (that sounds silly, doesn't it) broke free and scored an easy goal to make it 3-1.
  7. What is "icing?" It happened repeatedly tonight and I'm still not sure what it is. It seems to be when a player shoots the puck towards his own end of the ice to stop the action.
  8. I am not surprised there is fighting in the NHL. With all the banging around, I can't believe there isn't MORE fighting in the NHL.
  9. There doesn't seem to be much for a coach to do during a game. How can you coach the chaos that seems to be happening out on the ice. It all appears so random. All the Carolina coach did was chew on his fingernails and look silly in a suit. As for the coach's attire, I guess it could be worse - at least he didn't wear a hockey uniform like his players (as they do in baseball).
  10. When will the politically correct pressure come against the Hurricanes and force them to change their name? We don't like mascots named after Native Americans. The Washington Bullets changed their names to Wizards. After Katrina and Andrew and Hugo and all the other disasters, someone is sure to complain about the emotional distress from hearing that name over and over and looking at the ominous Hurricane symbol all game long.
  11. How do hockey players move so quickly and stop so suddenly and spin so gracefully with all that equipment on?
  12. I was astounded by the announcers' ability to name all the players and accurately detail the action. Some entirely indecipherable action would occur, the announcers would let us know what happened. Sure enough, the soon-coming slow-motion replay would prove them right almost every time. Tonight, over on ESPN, I heard a baseball announcer start giving the end-of-inning rundown (0 runs, 2 hits, 2 left on base) when there were only two outs. Baseball is absolutely bucolic and the announcers can't stay on top of the game. Hockey is like describing the landscape looking straight out a car window travelling 100 miles per hour and the announcers can keep up with it - and keep up with all the foreign names (and not easy names like Gomez and Rodriquez but hard names like Farxzydinksiywak . . . or something like that).
  13. The NHL is not exactly the bastion for racial diversity, is it?
  14. The "beard-to-nonbeard" ratio is pretty high. Is that a playoff solidarity bonding thing or is the de rigeur among hockey players?
  15. How come more people don't like this game? Now, soccer - I can understand the apathy towards that game. Put soccer on a field the size of a hockey rink and you got some action. Play soccer out on the North-40 like they do and . . . zzzzzzzz. Huh, where was I? (Sorry, Chuck - I await your rebuttal and will take it like a man.)


Mike Cline said...

I too enjoyed watching this exciting sport. I have been told for years from my relatives from the North that I would like it if I ever watched. Please don't tell them, but I did.

impossibleape said...

Congrats from your friends north of the 49th.

Glad to see such a big turnout for your post cup celebration.

hockey just might get a toehold in the south afterall

2 straight years that the cup is held hostage below the maison dixie line

I suppose that when we get it back we will be tasting mint julips as we drink from the old tin cup again