Do you remember, Gentle Reader, back in the first flush of summer when we all agreed to a creative challenge called “Chasing Sidney”? The due date for that challenge was set for the opening of Training Camp, which for most teams is this week. Based on conversations around here, we’re fairly confident no one has a completed entry, but we know at least some of you had ideas for what you would have done, if the unusually tough off-season’s absence of hockey hadn’t killed any interest you had in all things funny and good. But why let those good ideas go to waste? We’d like to hear what you were thinking, planning and scheming for Sid and his European love.
Archive for September 10th, 2007
The 86th in our 118-part series.
Overtime marathons between teams you don’t care about.
As Fall hockey fast approaches, with all its attendant intensity-free charms, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on that special type of game at the opposite end of the spectrum: the overtime marathon between teams you don’t care about. Even haters of hockey are in agreement that the NHL’s unlimited, sudden-death OT is one of the best things any sport has to offer. And while OT after OT after OT can be excruciating when it’s your team playing, when it’s two teams you wouldn’t normally otherwise watch, those epic games are a wonder to behold. Who doesn’t find themselves, as the clock ticks down from the halfway mark of an OT period, hoping no one scores so the game can go longer? Who doesn’t find themselves hoping this crazy, random first-round matchup between two teams who you know aren’t actually going to make it to the Final will become one of those “all-time longest” classics? Who doesn’t find themselves feeling extra-comfy and cozy all pajamaed and settled in on the couch, with midnight already a memory and the players on TV stagger around in the fourth overtime? Sure, super-long overtimes are great when you do have a vested interest, but when you don’t really care, you get to revel in the spectacle.
The 85th in our 118-part series.
One of the joys of going to a game rather than watching on TV is getting to the arena early enough to take in skate-around. It shouldn’t be exciting, really. On the surface, it’s just a bunch of guys doing the same old drills they do every night. But in reality, skate-around has several key elements that make it a reason to love hockey. The first is suspense. Is tonight going to be the night Marty’s back-up finally gets a shot? Is Colin White still out with that mysterious injury we’re never really told anything about? Which Lowell Devils have been called up in Whitey’s place if he’s not ready to go? The first burst of guys out of the tunnel, set to some music more fitting a championship game then a mere practice, will answer all those questions. Or at least give more fodder to try and figure it out yourself. The second element is getting a feel for your team. Seeing the players outside the pressures of the game itself gives you some insight into who’s buddies with whom, who’s happy to be at the rink, who’s mind is elsewhere, who’s the loner who’d rather be left alone. It’s a window into the inner workings of the team relationships, and it’s a window that you don’t get elsewhere. The third is appreciation for the skills needed to play the game. Skate-around is one of the few times when anyone can get an ice-level view of the game, regardless of how much they can spend on tickets. Being up against the glass even for a practice session gives you the perspective needed to fully understand the size and speed of the game. Also, we’re man enough to admit it’s humbling to not be able, after 41 skate-arounds a year, to figure out the pattern of the drills.