Saturday, June 11, 2005

 

Why Hockey is Worth It.

Before my Saturday Rant, A quick update on the state of negotiations...

The speculation now has shifted from "if" a deal will get done to "when" it will get done. There are many, many, many differing opinions out there, with the mainstream media being as cautious as possible, while certain sources lend strong hints that they may just be further along then we expect. As one source just said to me this minute on the phone, "I'd call the mood optimistic caution."

What you will start to see in the next week will be very telling...Teams are starting to operate again...The Florida Panthers for example, this past week reserved space at a rink in Vail Colorado for training camp. You will see more jobs being posted. If you ever wanted to work in hockey, this will be your chance...

According to one source, "The word is going out and teams and the league won't be able to wait much past July 1 to populate..."

On to my rant...

Today's rant "Why Hockey is Worth It."

They say the sense of smell is the sense that is tied closest to memory.

The second you walk into an arena, like i did last night for the Calder Cup clinching game, you smell the ice and you start to remember...

Remember what it is like when the lights are turned off and spot lights swirled on the ice....

Remember a goalie marking up hi crease, back and forth, head down, as players circle him cameras flashing, "Welcome to The Jungle" ramping up the crowd...

Remember players shifting nervously on the blue line through the final bars of the national anthem-a pause before an explosion....

Remember a puck dump into the corner, a defenseman looking over his shoulder as he goes to get it...the crowd growing louder as the checker approaches him...

Remember a player arms held out head turning as he coasts past a referee signalling "tripping."...

Remember a breakaway, puck bouncing over a stick, a blown line change, having to stand up to see, a collective, "OOOOH!" from 20,000 people as the puck slams off the glass, sitting back down after the miss...

Remember the fat rebound and the player bearing down on the puck with the goalie out of position...

Remember holding your breath as the puck heads towards the twine, a split second of silence prior to the puck hitting the net, the red light, jumping up, the horn....

Remember the announcement of the goal, the players name flashing above, leaning over to high five a guy in the row before you....

Remember the game falling into a lull, listening to conversations behind you, some guy who won't shut up talking about organized religion and its merits in the modern world, remember turning around at one point and asking yourself, "How is she with him?"

Remember the intermission, meeting friends behind section 216, near the pop 'n shot basketball games, I'll be wearing the "eklund is a fraud" T-shirt....

Remember the teams returning, waving towels with the team logo (and the Toyota logo) whipping up the air, a player taps his goalie's pads, twice on the left pad, three times on the right one, twice more on the left....

Remember the enforcers prior to a face-off leaning on their sticks, one has his stick on top of the other, the other one's head turned towards the him as he lifts his stick and puts it in front, the the puck is dropped, the play moves away, the enforcers stay put, stand tall, the crowds rises, one puts his hands down, start to shake his gloves, the other skates away...

Remember the rumble in the crowd as the power play shot from the point rings of the post, "the goalie never saw it," the guy behind you says..

Remember the opposing player getting boo'd as he lay on the ice after taking a slapshot on the face, "Get up and play,"...

Remember the home team power play, "Shoot the puck!"

Remember the goalie racing towards the bench, the extra man out, your team trying to clear the puck along the near boards, not being able to see the puck, looking at the players for clues if it is out. It is!

Remember the goalies arms raised as the puck hops and bounces towards the opposing empty net.........

Remember players hugging on the bench, the puck being dumped helplessly back in to zone, the goalie reaching up to glove it, the players pouring over the bench, gloves flying through the air, the goalie's swarming....

Remember the handshake, guys embracing former friend from junior teams in places like Oshawa, Helsinki, Moscow, and Ann Arbor......

Remember the president of the league congratulating the opposing team and presenting the cup to a captain wearing a new hat that says, "Champions."

.................

This year away has been terrible, but last night 20,000 people got to experience the reason we need to make this sport right again. It is in our blood. It is a part of our lives. And guess what?

It may be June 20th, July 1, or July 15, or some other date, but I will tell you this...

IT WILL BE BACK!



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