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Archive for the ‘Reasons We Love Hockey’ Category

The last in our 118-part series.

The Stanley Cup

Lord Stanley’s Cup is the undisputed heavyweight champion of sporting trophies. Everyone knows all the reasons why: it’s the hardest to win; it’s passed on from team to team; it’s presented to the team captain (not the owner) on the ice (not in the dressing room later); it’s identified the world over and everyone knows immediately what its proper name is; it’s engraved with the names of everyone who’s won it (from the Rocket Richards to the Drew Millers); it’s freaking huge and weighs more than a guy with a previously undisclosed separated shoulder and 6 weeks of playoff wear and tear on his body should be lifting (but damned if Scotty Stevens wasn’t going to hoist it anyway). But here’s the real kicker with the Cup — there is nothing to prepare you for how stunningly beautiful it is in real life. We had the opportunity to have our pictures taken with the Cup after the Devils 2003 win. We’ll admit our enthusiasm for the event waned with each passing hour of standing in a lengthy line that never seemed to move. But when we got close enough to see the guest of honor, we suddenly understood what was taking so long. When you see the Cup, polished and especially shiny (we like to think it has a happier sheen when it’s graced with the names of your favorite team), there is nothing you can do but stand and gape with a ridiculous grin on your face. Each name is like a tiny pinprick of light in the glowing firmament of hockey history, each successive ring is a forged promise of the strong foundation of our favorite game, each engraved curlicue on the bowl is a filigreed embodiment of the grace and beauty of the game. And wrapped up in that trophy is a century of the hopes and dreams of every player and every fan who’s ever fallen in love with hockey.

And starting tomorrow, every team in the league is gunning for it!

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The 117th in our 118-part series.

Opening Night

What day of the year feels like your birthday, Christmas (or other similar religious holiday), Thanksgiving (or other similar national holiday), and every other fabulous holiday all rolled into one, but a zillion times better? That’s right: NHL Opening Night. After months of no hockey, and before that months of playoffs with its ever-decreasing number of teams (along with the decrease in teams comes a decreasing chance you’re going to like the outcome every night), Opening Night is like water in the desert. Or actually, more like manna from heaven. Except even that’s not quite a strong enough term to describe it’s soul-enriching succor. It just… Opening Night. One day you go from desperately hoping to find a preseason game — any preseason game — somewhere in the 600 channels on DirecTV, and the next day you go to having real hockey. And the morning after that, when you go online, there are real games, real standings, real league leaders, and a lineup of games on slate for that night. And the next night. And the next night. At the risk of stating the stupidly obvious, Opening Night brings hockey back! It is the single best, symbolic, significant day of the year.

Okay, so this season is starting with a wonky stutter-step, with these two crazy day games in London, then a few days off, and then what will really feel like Opening Night on Wednesday, but the fact remains: tomorrow it all comes back. And if you don’t want to count tomorrow as Opening Day, then defer the celebration until Wednesday. One way or the other, it’s time to break out the bubbly and start pommerdoodling!

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The 116th in our 118-part series.

Blogging

What are two girls to do if they have, over the course of over a decade of hockey fandom, met only a paltry few people with whom to share their thoughts on this wonderful game? Well, in our case, we spent most of that decade-plus grumbling unhappily about the dearth of fellow hockey-enlightened people in our lives. But recently technology caught up with us — first we found the marvels of the hockey blogosphere, then we realized that one doesn’t need any kind of credentials to jump right into said blogosphere. All it takes is having a lot to say, or maybe in our case, not a lot to say but lots of words to say it with. (more…)

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The 115th in our 118-part series.

The Hockey Blogosphere

For the last 12 years or so, we’ve been living in a veritable Plato’s Cave when it comes to hockey. We’ve been watching the projections on the walls — games, playoffs, championships, highs and lows, great plays and great players, bone-headed mistakes and disastrous trades, everything that’s made up the NHL over that span — but for all we knew these events were only shadows, and nothing more. By dint of having almost no friends who like hockey, and by dint of having so little faith in the MSM’s ability to correctly and interestingly analyze the game, we’d been reduced to watching our favorite sport in a vacuum. And then a beautiful thing brought us out of the Cave and into the brave new world of engaging in and interacting with the hockey universe — the hockey blogosphere.
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The 114th in our 118-part series.

Hat tricks

We didn’t get to see tonight’s game with the Islanders, but rumor has it Gio scored a hat trick. It probably goes without saying that hat tricks? Are awesome! As Devils fans, we don’t get to see many of them, but seriously, what’s cooler? Okay, short-handed goals are cooler, but you know what we mean. Hat tricks are so we will even grudgingly admit that we like the displays at the Flyers arena of all the hats thrown for hat tricks on that ice. Of course, hat tricks are tough when you’re attending the game in person; if you are a hat-wearer, do you toss your favorite chapeau on the ice, never to be seen again? What it it’s a special, lucky hat? Is it worth it? But is it kosher to bring a reserve hat just in case? Or does that mean there’s no way one of your guys will pot three goals that night? And what if you’re sitting just a hair too far from the ice and don’t have much of a throwing arm? Where is the demarkation in the arena, beyond which it’s socially acceptable to not even attempt the toss? It’s all so rife with difficulty! But it’s still crazy cool.

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The 113th in our 118-part series.

Devils banners

Tonight we caught a glimpse of the new Devils arena under construction, and it looked decidedly like there were a few certain, special white banners with Devils logos on them hanging from the rafters already. There weren’t seats in the arena bowl yet, but there were banners! We absolutely love our team’s banners; for starters, they’re beautiful. Simple, easy-to-read, without any goofy bells and whistles that some teams like to employ when they go for the random, meaningless, “we’d like to hang something from our rafters, but we’re the Coyotes and have nothing to put up there that reflects any actual accomplishment” commemorations, the Devils’ banners are straightforward celebrations of team accomplishments. Secondly, we love the team’s approach to the banners. Obviously, the Stanley Cups get big, tasteful, elegant celebrations (in as much as any banner-raising can be tasteful and elegant), but hilariously the lesser banners — the division titles, the conference championships — are just quietly slapped up into the rafters without the slightest bit of fanfare. All those years of winning the division but not winning the Cup are like a mark of shame in the moment, but something Lou recognizes will be well worth looking back on with pride years from now, so after each Cupless year we’d show up for opening night of the next season and remark, “Huh. There’s the banner for last season, hanging up already.” But our favorite thing about the banners was the way in 2003, when we arrived for the first game of that year’s postseason, we happened to glance up at the banners and spotted something remarkable. Where previously they had been spaced in such a way that they spread across the rink with no apparent space between them, now they had been shifted. It was the early rounds still, but there was a perfect, Cup-banner sized space cleared in the middle. Lou knew. And that just cracks us up.

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The 112th in our 118-part series.

Doc Emrick

We know he’s something of a controversial figure among our less-enlightened readers, but there’s no denying that, for us, Doc Emrick simply makes hockey better. Sure, it helps that we’ve never known another regular play-by-play guy for the Devils, so hearing him do a call makes us feel more at home, but even so, the man is incomparable. He has a marvelous, welcoming voice that has none of the “well, aren’t my pipes so special” pomposity of some big-time sports broadcasters (*cough*JoeBuck*cough*), his vocabulary is colorful and creative, and his love of hockey (and knowledge of the game) just radiates off the television in waves. When you watch a game called by Doc, you know you’re getting narration from a guy who can’t think of anything he’d rather do than work a hockey game. Any hockey game. He speaks with fondness about all manner of minor-league and largely irrelevant games that he’s called over a staggeringly long career, yet still makes every game he’s calling in the present feel like it has the significance of a Stanley Cup Final. There are some broadcasters who confuse volume with excitement, or who get overly worked up over the smallest things, but Doc is always pitch-perfect in conveying the urgency (or lack thereof) at any point in a game. No one works the ebb and flow of hockey with the same honesty as Doc, who’s not afraid to pipe up about it when things are getting dull, but who is unparalleled in his ability to make the casual observer leap out of his seat when things are getting thrilling. A worked-up Doc isn’t like the broadcasters you chortle at for getting shouty; rather, you don’t even notice he’s shouting because the game just requires it. It’s only when things calm down again that you realize your heart is racing, and Doc is suddenly sounding quieter.
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