Hockey: The Best Team Sport If You Care Enough

Hockey:  The Best Team Sport If You Care Enough

I have only been a real fan of a major sports team once in my life.  As a child growing up with season tickets to the LA Kings, I lived and died by the bounce of the puck.  I labored through the days of the purple and gold Kings, haunted by early playoff exits usually at the hands of Joel Otto’s Flames.  My favorite player wasn’t known for his finesse in those days.  They used to joke that he needed to hold on to the side of the rink to skate.  When I was 4 years old we had the same number of missing teeth…Brawler Tiger Williams was my hero.   But when the Kings turned black and silver and raided the most famous of the Edmonton lines I was pumped.  Wayne Gretzky!  Jari Kurri!  Marty McSorley!

Finally, we rode the great one to the Stanley Cup…  I was nervous all day, like I am now when my best friend is about to fight.   I couldn’t think about anything else… It completely consumed me.

I sat in the Great Western Forum amongst a sea of converted hockey fanatics and saw a game tied 3-3 at the end of regulation. It was game 3, with the series tied 1-1 following a game won by a sneaky stick measurement from the crafty Hab coach.  Then the moment came where I will never forget.  Only a minute or two into overtime, the Montreal Canadiens scored the sudden death goal.  It is then that I learned that the sound of heartbreak is a deafening quiet.  It is impossible to describe how 16,000 fans in a dome shaped arena can be so quiet that you could hear a blind referee fart and a Hab’s groupie queaf on opposite sides of the Forum.  For the next 2 games I watched Patrick Roy turn my heart cold as he walled the net like a Stone Golem. One wink told the story.

But when I moved from LA to Austin at age 14 I slowly began to drift away from the sport.  I still called myself a Kings fan but I checked in on the team less and less.  As the names I grew up with like Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake either left the team or retired, I eventually couldn’t tell my kings apart from any other team in the league.

Then the 2010 playoffs came around.  My curiosity reignited by a stirring Olympic performance from the USA, and the emergence of superstars Oveychkin and Crosby, I turned on Versus HD at the recommendation of a fellow Kings fan and started to reacquaint myself with NHL of 2010.  It was fun.  I missed the game.  But the turning point came after I had a good enough understanding where I could put a little money on some teams.  I bet the pens – 1.5 and the sharks +1.5 with the Over.

Fuckin hell yea.  Now I remembered what it was like to watch hockey as a kid.  I wanted every check to plaster a player on the glass like a cartoon villain run over by a steamroller.  When they fucked with Sydney Crosby I couldn’t wait for the goons to come storming in fists flying, just like McSorley did for Gretzky.  Each power play, as the pressure mounted it was like building toward an ejaculation that you didn’t know if you were gonna get.

What other sport has the excitement of ‘goals’ and the violence of a fight?  Look at Soccer… Goals are exciting yes.  But as soon as someone so much as touches someone else, they fly to the ground and start rolling on the grass like they just got sodomized by a gorilla.  That is of course, until the magic fairy spray can gets trotted in by a trainer and sprinkles on their ‘boo boo’ at which point they hop up like nothing happened.

A hockey player will take a fucking stick to the face, skate his ass off the ice leaving a trail of blood, get stitched up on the bench and make it in time for his next shift.  If someone hits them they don’t put ice on it, they put the motherfucker who did it on the ice.

And if two athletes decide they want to punch eachother in the face, say on the basketball court or on the field, there are fines, suspensions, announcers calling it a disgrace, referees charging in.  In hockey, the refs wait til the fighters are tired and their punishment lasts all of four minutes as they sit in “Time Out” for adults!  And even the goalies get in the action.  Only in hockey can two players who have never come within 90 feet of each other all night fight eachother just because they didn’t want to be the only ones in the locker room that didn’t get some action.

Its not a game for primadonnas, and hold-outs, and whiners.  It’s a game for men.  It’s the frozen sport of kings.

So if you are not a fan of the sport, I challenge you to sign up for a betting site, and put some money on a game.  And then tell me what you think.  Its my guess it won’t be long until you start yelling at your screen.

— WP

Baddest Goalie in History Ron Hextall Bonus Video Below:

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  • Spadiator

    The Kings were meant to win the cup in 93. They had everything going for them and the whole team was playing at the top of their games. Kelly Hrudey had an amazing post season and saved the Kings asses more than once. None of that mattered, the Stanley Cup was won that year by one person, Patrick Roy. I remember how much I hated Patrick Roy during that series, no matter what the Kings threw at him, he turned it away. That was the first time I saw a true champion in action. Losing was never an option for him in that series. As crushing as that series was to a 10 year old, it was also equally inspiring. After that series I become a goalie, and a diligent student of the Roy School of Sportsmanship. I studied his technique, bought his identical gear, and adopted his confidence. I had a strong 10 year hockey “career” but hung up the skates shortly after discovering the joys of being 21. Hockey remains the greatest and most under-appreciated sport of our time. With Roy long since retired, I desperately need a new asshole/hero between the pipes to re-spark my love of the game. This classic clip of Roy says it all, it is the quip that ended the famous exchange of quotes between him and Jeremy Roenick during the 1996 Western Conference Finals (Roy went on to win his 3rd Stanley Cup that year, Roenick retired with none)

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  • marble

    Just FYI, that picture isn’t a guy skating off the ice after getting a stick in the face. It’s a guy skating off the ice after getting his neck sliced open by a skate, which all the more illustrates your point.

    • WP

      So savage! I will amend the info on the site to reflect it… I went to a few Stars games last year, it was still wicked fun. Mark Cuban throws a good party to go along with a great sport.

  • mac

    The picture of the guy bleeding — That’s Richard Zednik, and it wasn’t a stick he was hit with, it was a SKATE that cut his neck. He lost 5 units of blood (10 cups.. ~2.5 litres.. more than a big bottle of Coke).

  • Jack Martin

    God, the ’93 playoffs still give me chills when I think about them. That was my introduction to hockey as a Southern California kid and I never looked back. The excitment of that entire playoff, McSorley’s battles with Toronto’s Doug Gilmour and Wendall Clark we’re epic. I’m still holding on to those memories and hoping for more. So glad to know someone else enjoyed them as much as I did… Also enjoy hearing you on the Joe Rogan podcast Aubrey.. Keep it up

    • WP

      It was a golden era for sure. I miss it! Thanks for reminiscing with me

  • Rum Braker

    I absolutely loved this blog entry. Thank you for the eloquent and spot-on musings about the greatest team sport on the face of the earth. I have only two loves when it comes to sport: Hockey and Martial Arts. All the rest are games…Both are natural extensions of the people and land who birthed them.

    • WP

      Right on! I am likely going to start spending some more time in LA so i’m looking forward to watching kings games again. Thanks for the read!

  • Cotton

    I saw this posted on the Rogan Forum today. I figured I would let you know about Fried Chicken’s Hockey Fights ( because it seems like you like hockey fights, Aubrey. It’s the “old school” hockey fight website and forum. If you like fight talk and clips, check it out. I have been there for like 10 years and help moderate the site.

    PS. As a Flyers fan I miss Richards, but fucking LOVE Simmonds!

    • WP

      Good shit, thanks for the info. I’m gonna try to get to some Stars and Kings games this year myself