I write just moment after the Flyers won 4-2 against the Canadians to take a 3-1 series lead in the conference semis. I did not watch. I was watching the Phils game, though, when the crowd erupted between pitches of an otherwise inconsequential at-bat. At first I was thinking either a) streaker or b) college night brawl but I soon found out it occurred because the Fly-Guys scored a go-ahead goal to go up 3-2 in the third period. It was at this moment that I had an epiphany: The Flyers are going to win the Stanley Cup in about a month. There will be parades and celebrations and shirtlessness that only men like Reekie and other assorted women abusers can really cherish. And for this championship-starved fan living in the ultimate championship-starved city, I will be fucking pissed.
Hockey really stinks. I must admit that I am biased, though, because I hate cold weather and I can’t skate. I never followed it growing up nor did any of the male role models in my life (my Dad and Phillip Banks). I realize that I’m in the minority here- especially in Philly- but just hear me out.
First off, I can’t imagine a worse spectator sport than hockey. I honestly think polo would be easier to follow on TV. The puck is too small and the action is too fast. I used to love the “Fox Streak” thing that would follow the puck around, but apparently hockey purists were able to do away with it. Line changes occur mid-play and there is never enough time for cameras to zoom in on players’ faces like they can do in baseball or basketball. So, I bet you’re thinking, “What about Football? There are unlimited substitutions and you can’t see players’ faces there, either.” Let me cut you off right there. If you’re really comparing hockey to football you live in Calgary, own Molson stock, and worship Jim Carrey. Stop reading this blog and feel free to proceed to www.ilovecanadabutnotasmuchasgaysexanddavecoulier.com.
Goals in hockey are always really tough to figure out and/or get excited about. Almost all of them occur either as a scrum in front of the net where some Canuck finally bulldozes an Eastern Bloc refugee and the puck just happens to cross the line or some deflection off a slap shot that happens so quickly the viewer can’t react until the resulting face-off. (Note: I do respect the skill and hand-eye coordination of those forwards who are great deflectors of the puck, it just sucks to try to follow as a fan). In soccer, goals occur after fierce counter-attacks, winding free kicks, or individual efforts worthy of international praise. Hockey goals are the heavy-handed, awkward, and clumsy cousin to Maradonna’s and Ronaldinho’s messiah. Think: an aqua velva approach vs. officer harper’s approach.
If this blog had an editor who pared down the length of our articles, all paragraphs of this entry except this one would go. Hockey’s tradition, customs, players, and overall outlook on life are ridiculously un-American. The players come from Canada and Eastern Europe, the announcers and ESPN commentators all have that weird “ah-boot” and “eh” twang to their drawl, and the sport has almost no player base in American like AAU basketball teams, Pop Warner football teams, and American Legion baseball teams. As a result, there will be no influx of American talent or interest in the sport in the next generation. I say, let’s let lacrosse or soccer be the fourth major sport in our market.
I’d like to conclude with the recent trends in the National Hockey League which hammer home my point that hockey stinks. Fighting is all but prohibited now. This is absolutely ridiculous. If I have to sit through two and half hours of a glorified Canadian speed-skating contest, I sure as fuck better see some god damn fists-of-fury action. Forget Gretzky and Messier, I’d prefer a little more Holyfield and Hopkins. I suppose this is so the sport can become more “family friendly.” Its real consequence, however, is weeding out Broad Street Bully aficionados and rolling out the red carpet for Jort-tastic, vegetarian couples with kids from Manitoba. Next, there are now points for overtime losses. Let me say this again. You get rewarded in hockey for losing. Could there be a more perverse statistical category in the history of sports? I mean, we’ve all fooled around with out 3rd cousins at in-laws’ weddings, but we don’t a gold fucking star for doing so. Next, there are now safety nets which cover approximately a third of the area around the arena. As if the puck wasn’t hard to enough to follow in the first place, Batman and Wonder Woman’s superhuman robotic kid couldn’t even see the puck at this point. Lastly, the size of the goals has increased while the dimensions of goalies’ pads have decreased. Can you think of a more gimmicky ploy? What if Bud Selig decided, let’s push the pitcher’s mound back to 70 feet and pull the bases in to 80 feet. America would be up in arms. You know no one gives a shit about hockey when none of these BS “alterations” to the game caused any sort of reaction other than “who the fuck is Gary Bettman?” It’s simply not our national pastime or even tolerated adopted step-child of a sport. It’s more like that lingering dutch-over fart that no only ruins morning sex, it ruins your boxers, too.