“You do that, you go to the box, you know. Two minutes by yourself and…you feel shame, you know. And then you get free.” – Denis Lemieux in Slap Shot
Hockey is just different. That’s why we love it and miss it so much.
The last two months have given us plenty of time to think. Sometimes that’s not a good thing. Other times it leads to introspection about the important things in life.
If the powers that be can make it work, it looks like we may have hockey this summer. That’s a big IF. Fans are split between wanting it back any way they can get it and wanting to focus on next season. I’m conflicted as I see both sides but that’s not what’s on my mind. I want to know what it is about hockey that makes us love it so much.
If you are like me, hockey fills a part of your life that nothing else does. The elation and sometimes even despair your team puts you through is very real and important. Without it, you might even feel a little lost.
Hockey is the only sport that pulls me in this way. My daughter would roll her eyes and say it consumes me. My son, who plays hockey, says I talk about it too much. Is that even possible?
I remember my first experience with hockey very vividly. I wish there was a profound reason for this but the thing that stood out first was the smell. There is no other smell that comes close to hockey. Cold sweat is the worst.
It wasn’t bad enough to turn me off the game because while the smell is strong enough to burn your nose hairs, the sight of players wearing blades on their feet and skating gracefully on ice quickly caught my attention.
And then there was the check into the boards and a brawl. Blood appeared. A fan was born.
The dichotomy of hockey fascinates me. Ultimately, I think this is why I love it so much. It is both elegant and brutal at the same time. These things shouldn’t go together and yet hockey brings them together perfectly in a way that still surprises me after all these years.
The sights and sounds and even the smell of hockey are part of what makes it so unique. Put together the speed (hockey is the fastest sport in the world with players skating up to 30 miles per hour while being chased, hit, and chirped at) and add the sound of the skates on the ice and the bang of the glass when a player is checked and there’s nothing else like it.
How about 18,000 fans singing Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Places“ or the crack of the stick as it hits a puck towards the net at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour? And don’t forget the goal horn echoing through the arena and everyone leaping to their feet.
Hockey’s x-factor will be different for everyone but in the end it draws us all to the same place. Whether you are at the arena or in front of the TV, hockey adds a spark for us that we are missing right now.
There are things more important in life than hockey. And it is, in fact, a game. But for some of us, it isn’t just a game.
And I’m waiting eagerly and not so patiently, along with all the other hockey fans, for the day it comes back and brings all the feels with it.
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