Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful For -

In my cliche article of the week, I'm thankful for the following things about the game of hockey:

* The Stanley Cup - of course the Cup! It is without a doubt the single best trophy in all of sports. Seriously, you get to keep it for a whole day. What could be better? It also comes with it's own superstitions too - don't touch it if you haven't won it. Don't look it straight in the eye. But, best of all, your name gets engraved on it forever. Someday people, someday, there will be a Cup celebration in Los Angeles. There has to be, right?

* Game Sevens - The playoffs could have made the list on their own. Eight teams in your conference, all battling it out for a chance to simply play for the aforementioned Cup. That's why we're all here. Yet, it's more than that. It's about those game sevens. When a series is tied 3-3 you're almost guaranteed magic. Whether its a double overtime game or a dramatic game winning goal in the final minutes, it's always something. My favorite series of all time was the Leafs-Kings from '93...and yep, it had the best Game 7 of all time too, with Gretzky putting the team on his back, scoring a hat trick and carrying LA to the finals.

* The Jerseys - no other sport makes such a fashion statement with their uniforms. The colors, the logos, the's all there. And people get it into it - a far greater percentage of the fans show up wearing jerseys at a hockey game versus any other professional sport in North America. Fans also love to debate which teams have the best jerseys and the worst jerseys. By the way, the Blackhawks jersey is still the best. Worst of all time? Has to be the Kings 'Burger King' jersey. You could go with the Ducks green 'Wild Wing' jersey, yet - does it really even count? Their entire team merchandise was an embarrassment long before then. It's a frickin' movie, not a hockey team! Ok, I've purged.

* The Sticks - some might say it's an extension of the previous point and just lump it into a general category labeled the equipment. For me, they each deserve their own section. Like the jerseys, the sticks are so varied. And unlike the equipment of any other sport. Think about it, would it really be that exciting to see a Hall of Fame display in Cooperstown with 200 bats? They would all look extremely similar. In hockey you have many different manufactures, different colors, different styles...all unique. Then you have the way guys tape them - some go with white tape, some black. Some like tape from top to bottom, others have just a little on the blade. Again, no other sport has equipment so personalized to the individual player.

* Road Trips - traveling to see your favorite baseball or football team just doesn't bring the same intimacy of seeing a road game in hockey. Perhaps it's because those games are played in such larger venues, I don't know. All I can say is I've been to over 20 NHL arenas to see the Kings play and without a doubt, each one has special memories - regardless of the final score that night. Most fans welcome you with open arms, even when you fly the enemy colors. It's like a giant brotherhood. Funny thing though, the tougher the town is supposed to be (i.e. New York, Detroit, etc.) the nicer the fans are. Weird. Worst place to see a game, San Jose. Best place to see a game, MSG.

What hockey things are you thankful for?


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