And now, the five nicest things I can say about Hockey

 

 

Everyone who knows me is well aware that I can’t stand Hockey. No point going into the reasons right now, just trust me. Let’s just chalk it up to my California upbringing in lieu of forcing my to say some things we’ll both regret later.

Anyway, I did catch a bit of the Stanley Cup Finals, specifically the deciding Game 6, if only because I was passionately rooting for the New jersey Devils if for no other reason that to spite all the LA King bandwagon-jumpers that have been popping up all over my city. Trust me when I tell you I’ve seen more of those stupid King car flags in the last week than I’ve seen in my entire adult life.

And now, so that it can never be said that I have nothing positive to say about this hoser Sport, I give you my five favorite things about Ice Hockey.

 

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The Playoff beard really is a sweet concept. Most, but not all people look good with a beard, and the concept works both as a neat little show of solidarity and an aesthetic reminder of the postseason’s importance. Plus, nobody who ever played this game could be considered anything less than somewhat tough, and tough guys wear beards. It’s just a fact.

Of course, some guys just can’t grow ’em to save their lives, but they’ll do it anyway for the sake of the team. Gotta admire that.

 

All the respect stuff is just beyond classy. Seriously, I watched the Devils wait patiently until the King players were done dry-humping each other, just so they good do the handshake line and congratulate their conquerors before skating back to the losing locker room. I’ve really never seen anything like that, and I have to say, it was way out.

First thing I thought about was the way the Detroit Pistons, after three years of dominating the Bulls in the playoffs and damn near sodomizing Michael Jordan every time he drove to the hoop, walked off the court like the true punks they were after getting swept by Chicago in 1991. No handshakes, no “good luck”, no nothing. Hell, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo essentially did the same thing last weekend when they headed off the court before the final buzzer even sounded.

Now, I’m not saying I can’t sympathize with their reaction. In fact, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing. If you are a competitor, if you are the kind of dude that can’t stomach losing, it’s a perfectly understandable emotional reaction to getting your ass kicked. I’m sorry, but if you asked me to sit around and watch you kiss my girlfriend so I can congratulate you on how well you did it, I’m probably gonna pass.

That’s why the handshake line is so great: It forces you to be dignified. Props to Hockey for making it part of their code.

 

What, you know of another sport where missing your front teeth is considered de rigueur?  Yeah, I know I keep coming back to the whole tough guy thing. Hey, I’m a guy. Well, Hockey is a tough guy sport, not to be confused with a meathead, fratboy sport. In this game, you stand a pretty good chance of getting losing your teeth sooner or later. Some guys choose to wear false ones when they aren’t playing, but some of these dudes can’t even be bothered.

It’s what you get in a sport with a “no regrets for doing shit I had to do, I was hardheaded, and yeah I still am too” mentality.

What’s not to love about this?

Now THAT is how you celebrate a championship. First thing’s first: The Stanley Cup is the coolest trophy in sports, and it ain’t even close. The fact that every member of the winning team gets time with the trophy during the season and gets his name engraved on it make it that much cooler.

The ceremony kicks ass, too. watching everyone get a turn skating around with the Cup while the fans shower them with affection was emotionally stirring, even for someone like me who had no dog in the fight. Watching one guy almost get taken out by a camera man and another almost drop the fucking Stanley Cup was icing on the cake.

 

It gave me this, the greatest of all gifs. From what I’ve gathered on the internets, some porn star was able to secure font row tickets for the express purpose of distracting the Devil players. Fuck yeah, she did.

 

-John Hathwell

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