Mr. Serious Presents: 5 Reasons You Should Be Watching the NHL

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by Corey Chapman @chapmanrunner

in Mr. Serious

The NBA lockout is in full effect, and experts believe that even if the 2011-12 season can be saved, the players wont be back on the court until at least January. As days grow into weeks, the likelihood that the season will be scrapped looms over basketball fans everywhere. Fans have alternate outlets to get their hoops fix, namely college basketball. But what if the collegiate game doesn’t get you going until March Madness? There is always the NFL! Oh wait, those games are reserved for Sunday. What does a hard core sports fan do Monday to Saturday?

 

Watch hockey.

 

Wait, don’t laugh. Seriously. Its time you got off your patriotic high horse and give Canada’s pride and glory some much needed face time.

 

First of all, the earliest variation of football originated in Britainin the mid-19th century, in which a football is kicked at a goal and/or run over a line. And basketball? Created in theUS by a CANADIAN! Now that we have that out of the way, here are 5 reasons you should turn your attentions away from “NBA Lockout Updates” and focus your evenings watching poetry on ice.

 

The Shoot Out

Sounds like something out of an old spaghetti western, doesn’t it? Beginning in the 2005–06 season, if the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. Three players for each team in turn take a penalty shot. The team with the most goals during the three-round shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the three shootout rounds, the shootout continues but becomes sudden death. There have been arguments from traditionalists that this exciting update has ruined the sanctity of the game. Hogwash! First of all, there isn’t anything worse than committing a few hours of your life to a sporting event and it end IN A TIE. I want a winner! And watching the most skilled players race down the ice trying to get the puck past a goalie one on one is thrilling, and yes, like the final showdown in a Clint Eastwood western.

 

The Winter Classic

The NHL had great ratings success in Canada in 2003 when they pitted the Edmonton Oilers against the Montreal Canadians in the Heritage Classic, the first regular season outdoor pro hockey game. Attendance for the game was 57,000 fans and it provided great buzz in the US. Five years later, the NHL’s marketing geniuses decided it was time to bring that extravaganza to the States. Played on New Years Day, the Winter Classic games are played in non traditional hockey venues: NFL & MLB stadiums, which draw huge crowds and have provided hockey a much needed spotlight during the long days of winter. Outside of matching up superstars and playoff contending teams, part of the fun is watching for the uncertainty of the weather, the quality of the ice surface, and the fashion accessories some players need to stay warm! This years game is in Philadelphia, where the Flyers will host the New York Rangers.

Rivalries

Sure, the Red Sox-Yankees,  Cowboys-Giants, and Celtics-Lakers rivalry grab the national headlines when they square off, but most of the players don’t have a real sense of rivalry in those sports. When you grow up in Southern Ontario, there is nothing you despise more than the Montreal Canadians and their fans. There is a genuine dislike for the sweater of your heated rival. Recently, Flyer fans booed a “Hockey Fights Cancer” commercial at the arena, not because they like cancer, but because Sidney Crosby was featured in it. Whether its geographically based (Devils-Rangers) or a history of bad blood (Avs-Red Wings) every game has an extra edge to it. Its palpable. The last few years, you cant not watch a Capitals-Penguins game. Its well known in the league that Alex Ovechin does not like Sidney Crosby. And these aren’t fringe players, they are two of the top stars in the game. The intensity level rises when those teams meet.

Blue Collar Attitude

Its not easy to relate to jet setting millionaires if you aren’t one, and in the four major North American sports, hockey players are as close to living the blue collar lifestyle. There are no hockey players making $30 million a year. No player comes close to that even with endorsements. Most don’t have private jets, and if they did wouldn’t have any idea what to use it for.

Young, skilled players like Steven Stamkos, John Taveres, and Tyler Seguin, (all under the age of 22) are leading their respective clubs in scoring.

Hockey players work hard on every shift, they don’t do just one thing. They play offense and defense, work the power play and kill penalties. If you dog it in any way, you ride the pine. Superstars get benched while the hard working 4th liner gets moved up for his hustle. Its that lunch pale attitude that earns the respect of the spectator. Fans work hard, spend their hard earned money to bring the family to the game, and see that same drive from the players on the ice. They are relatable. And, they are the only ones that make mustaches look good.

 

The Quest For Lord Stanley’s Cup

Its been said it is the hardest to win and most sought after trophy in all of sports. There is but one Stanley Cup. Winners have their names engraved on it. Champions drink champagne from it. Players get one day alone with it. Its been left in the back of a NYC taxi cab, babies have been baptized in it. After a crazy celebration at Mario Lemieux’s house in 1992, the Cup was found the next morning at the bottom of his swimming pool.

Hockey players are so superstitious that they do not touch the Cup until they win it. Most players who make it to the Finals will not even pose with the trophy or be in the same room with it. It is the Holy Grail of Hockey.

 

 

There hasn’t been a better time to jump on the band wagon. There is plenty of room. Teams with rich history and years of losing (Bruins, Blackhawks) have won the Cup in the last few years. Young, skilled players like Steven Stamkos, John Taveres, and Tyler Seguin, all under the age of 22 are leading their respective clubs in scoring. Don’t wait for the NBA to settle their labor dispute. Start watching hockey now, you wont be disappointed. You may even be inspired to grow out your mullet.

 

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