Monday, May 17, 2010
Tips for Neophytes:The Curious Sport of Hockey
THE STANDARD HOCKEY INTERVIEW.
Monotonous, lame, dull, and emotionless.
ICING THE SKEPTICS. I promise you InstaPunk is not turning into a hockey blog. Promise. There will be more political posts before any other hockey entry disgraces these pages. However. The Flyers did pull off a professional sports miracle, two times over, the other night and I know some of you are now more interested in hockey (meaning, a few) than you were before (meaning, none). In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Flyers accomplished a double mathematical improbability which is unique in the annals of professional sport. They came back from an 0 and 3 start in a 7-game playoff series to win, which has occurred only four times in ALL professional sports, and they came back from an 0-3 game deficit to win a seventh game, which has occurred only twice before (never from an 0-3 series start). The Flyers have so defied the odds that they're playing with house money. Here's the specific situation we're talking about:
Totally unprecedented. Why some of you will be following the Flyers in the upcoming Montreal series. Which means it's incumbent upon me to explain something about The Hockey you'll never get from Puck Punk, who was candid enough to tell us that "All announcer of games are Canadian and they do not care to teach a class about rules for every show." That's why it's up to me, of whom PP says "The InstaPunk is only now discover the wonderful of the hockey."
I concede he's right. There is a "wonderful of the hockey." But what is it? What is "icing"? What is "offsides"? What is a "cross-check"? The good news. It doesn't matter. (But I will explain these technicalities below.) What matters is THE STANDARD INTERVIEW shown above, which is always applicable to everything that happens on the ice AND all the extraordinary things that do happen on the ice. Permit me to illustrate. This is what happens in NHL hockey every day -- bearing in mind that the sport is something like playing NFL football on concrete at twice the speed in about a third the physical space with no out-of-bounds to escape to:
MUSIC LYRICS = NSFW.
The thing that is important to remember is that after the games in which these plays occur, you won't get passionately controversial statements from Brian Cushing, Manny Ramirez, or Jason Williams: You'll get THE STANDARD INTERVIEW. No matter who you talk to. It will always be the same monotonic, forgettable, muttering nonsense you couldn't possibly believe you'd hear immediately after events like this:
Followed, of course, always, always, by THE STANDARD INTERVIEW. Which pertains even when what has transpired on the ice is fantastically beautiful:
Think I'm kidding? During the Bruins-Flyers seventh game, Philadelphia's Wachovia Center was filled with Flyer fans who were watching the game on TV. In an empty arena. Here's how excited they got:
But it always ends with THE STANDARD INTERVIEW(S):
That's why hockey is a curious game. As athletes, they're among the most determined, violent, and relentless competitors in the field of sport. In person after the fact, they make Phil Mickelson sound like Mike Ditka or Jack Lambert in comparison.
So. Does "icing" matter? Or "offsides"? No. What happens is, the NHL referees, who have no sticks and wear few pads, eventually reach a point where they have to blow their whistles and stop the action. Just to catch their damn breath. What should fans do? Watch. The hits. The fighting. The skating. The goals. The saves. And the drama.
Then wonder why the world's most violent game consistently produces the most mild-mannered of men immediately after the action. You could drive yourself nuts figuring that one out. Or you could drive yourself nuts wondering why beating the hell out of your opponent doesn't somehow produce innumerable other opponents who are sworn to, and successful at, killing you before you crush them. Maybe it helps to be good at what you do where you do it -- enough that you're better off speaking softly after rather than talking trash before. Just a thought.