5 reasons why it's so easy to hate hockey
Tonight, the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals may come to a close if the Chicago Blackhawks win at home, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning and winning the cup for the third time in five years.
The world is in a frenzy. Or at least some of the world is in a frenzy.
One place the frenzy does not exist is in my house.
I have a long history with hockey. I knew Lloyd Pettit, who wanted to build an arena (the Bradley Center) so he and his wife could bring an NHL team to Milwaukee. Pettit was a play-by-play guy for the Blackhawks when he met a zillionaire and married her, changing her name to Jane Bradley Pettit. As long as he was around, the discussion about an NHL team was alive.
I had lunch with Pettit at the Pfister Hotel once where he tried to convince me to write a column about how wonderful it would be if Milwaukee had an NHL team. I asked him about the problem of not being able to see the puck. Once he realized I wasn't going to buy into this, he said I must need new glasses if I couldn't see the puck. I didn't write the column.
And since that day I have never been able to see the attraction in hockey. And when you get down to it, there are five things about hockey I can't stand.
I've seen hockey in person and on television. And I can't see the puck. Once, when I was between planes, my sports editor sent me to Minnesota to see a three-game hockey series with the University of Wisconsin playing. I remember vividly that there was a total of 18 goals scored. I never saw one of them. Oh, when the light went off, and the team started celebrating, I knew a goal had been scored. But I never once actually saw the puck go into the goal. The problem is exacerbated on television. Not only can't I see a goal made, I only see the puck about 50 percent of the time. Imagine watching a basketball game or a soccer match where you only see the ball half the time and never see it go into the hoop or net.
I don't have a clue what the rules are regarding substitutions. All I know is that it seems like players are shuttled in and out virtually every couple of minutes or so. It apparently doesn't have anything to do with whether the guys on the ice (there is also a dumb play by that name) are playing well or not. First, you have one line then another line and then another line and so on. It sounds like a bunch of rich people doing coke.
Brutality and boards
Watch hockey at the highest level, and the brutality is astounding. The loudest cheers you hear are for a goal. The second loudest is when some guided missile missing a few teeth barrels at over 20 miles per hour into some other guy with a few missing teeth and crashes him into the boards. The crowd goes nuts. It sounds like you're at a Mixed Martial Arts fight or something. Bring on the blood!
I love speed, but hockey never stops so you never have a chance to even try to figure out what's going on. Players moving in and out, sticks swinging, referees flinching whenever a player comes close. The action never stops. Basketball is a fast game, but you don't need to have a timeout to know what's happening. It would be a lot easier to follow a hockey game if they took away the skates. Or you could at least make three players on each team wear sneakers while the others wore skates.
Hockey is a game that is meant to be played outside, on ice. When you have a game inside an arena, the crowd is hot, and the ice is cold. It would be a lot more interesting to play hockey outside, say in Lambeau Field or Miller Park or Camp Randall. Take down the boards. Put down a rink and a foot high pile of snow around it. Make the players wear scarves and mittens and knit hats. And let's have some cheerleaders serving hot chocolate.
Now, that's a game I could love.
The Puck - In order to see the puck, you must actually watch the game. Free hint - the person that is skating and stickhandling with purpose? He's likely got it. Watch, and he may do something with it like pass it or shoot it. But again, you have to be WATCHING the game. Substitutions - They are called line changes. Same number go on as go off. Every 45 seconds to say, minute and a half on the far end of it, ideally. Makes for good strategic coaching as well. Home team gets the last change, so you want to get your best match up out there at any one given time. This can mean change the entire line or just one guy. I know you do not know hockey, so just take my word for it that for instance, when the Penguins play the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Pens coach seeks to avoid a Sidney Crosby (Pens) Brandon Dubinsky (Jackets) matchup and will change lines accordingly. To put this in baseball terms, it's like bringing in a righty to face a righty only to have the other team pinch hit with a lefty.... Brutality and Boards - Hope I never read a positive piece on football from you if you can't handle checking and keep it in perspective of what it accomplishes (slows down player, removes player from puck). Perhaps you enjoy soccer where players writhe in pain after a stiff breeze blows by them... Too fast - Not understanding the playing of or rules of hockey make it difficult to watch because you expect certain things to happen based on the zone the puck is in, where the players are headed or what the situation is. If you cannot actually comprehend what's happening and blame it on the pace of hockey, than you aren't really trying and furthermore you are just making an excuse to hate on it. It's the speed of the game that makes it so exciting, but I guess you'll never understand that. Too indoors - Although the Winter Classic is great, why in the world would "too indoors" ever be a reason for any criticism in hockey? I hope to never catch you writing a positive article on basketball, a sport which earns it's true grit on asphalt, OUTDOORS in most every city across the US. Basically, I get it. You hate hockey and feel especially lonely when people are celebrating it during it's highest point. Instead of either leaving it be and finding something else to write about or joining in to find out what brings such great joy and elation to millions of people, you just want to lash out with all of your editorial angst. Real mature. Maybe you can do a little hit piece on the "Puppy Bowl" during next year's Super Bowl while you are at it.
"Substitutions"? are you serious? Yes they're called shifts and the reason for them is to have fresh players. Hockey is an intense sport where you're always moving. Yes they're athletes and are in shape (probably not able to out run a Doberman like you), but they eventually get tired; you might understand that if you played the game.
Oh Dave. Why you watch, talk about, go to, or especially write about sports is beyond me. I think the Facebook comments say it all....
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