Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I believe in Miracles

No, not the miracle that would have to happen to see NHL hockey any time before 2025, the miracle that happened 25 years ago today in Lake Placid. Dubbing it a miracle is probably a stretch, but Al Michaels etched that title in stone.

We've all heard the underdog college kids from the US upsetting what amounted to a pro team from the USSR story a number of times. We've heard the comparisons of it being the equivalent of Mt. Union beating the New England Patriots in football.

How I remember is a bit different than all that, I was 8. Didn't really understand hockey, as it wasn't top of the "To Play" list in central Ohio in 1980. Also, I only watched bits and pieces of the game. Part of the reason was we already knew the result when it was aired, and my brother and I were busy re-playing the game in the kitchen with two yard sticks and a mayonaise lid. And, even though I didn't watch the game from beginning to end, I bought books and posters of the team, and watched whatever I could on it. It was an amazing story, and still is.

Now, I have the game on DVD (thanks to a buddy with a DVD burner and TiVo), and have seen it more than a few times. Yet, every time I watch that or Miracle and hear Al ask, "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" it still sends chills down my spine.

Friday, February 18, 2005

So, Skip hates hockey

Skip Bayless has decided to inform us in his column on ESPN's Page 2 that he hates hockey. Goes into great detail why he hates hockey.

The article brought a question to mind: If you hate it so much, Skip, why spend a substantial portion of your day (or week), and three pages of space on the 'Net telling us about it? I mean, c'mon, Skipper, take your own advice and don't pay attention to it. (On that note, the NHL is making that pretty easy for you at the moment.)

Over the last 6 months, I've heard and read from a lot of people on how much they dislike hockey, how they don't miss it, how they don't know it's gone, and don't care if it comes back. Well, GOOD FOR YOU PEOPLE!! Me, and other hockey fans like me, aren't going to miss you and probably never realized you didn't care to begin with. It would be like me going on a 5 page rant about the NBA...I don't like it and don't watch it, but that doesn't mean some NBA fan out there doesn't enjoy his favorite sport.

Now, with rumors of meetings to save the season, that means a whole new round of Skip-esque articles on how hockey screwed up by cancelling then (hypothetically) uncancelling the season. I can hardly wait, because if those articles start it means that Skip can once again be annoyed by hockey, and I'll have my NHL back.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's the little things

Since the NHL is still cancelled a whole day after they said it would be, may as well see what I'll be missing out on besides the hockey...

First and foremost, I'm going to miss heading to downtown Columbus for a game. I still get down there, sure, it's all of 7 miles away. But, no pre-gaming at Gibby's for their $2 beers, wings, and outstanding grilled ham and chees sandwich. No post game radio shows. No meeting 50 different people in the concourse during intermissions. And no more $8 beers at the arena...wait, that might not be a bad thing.

At home, I'll miss the away games, and the Center Ice. It seems every night I get to fall asleep to a Kings or Canucks game. And, even though Ohio is still in the US, I'll miss Hockey Night in Canada. That cheesy theme song just seems to prounounce hockey like nothing ESPN has ever put together.

But, here's the big one, I think...I'll miss the road trip to Nashville. The home of the Preds takes a ton of heat for being new, in the South, and not packed to the rafters every night. But, this is hands down one of the best road trips an NHL fan can make, and only 5 1/2 hours from Columbus makes it an annual trip for a few of us from Jacketland. Preds fans before and after the game are great. (During the game...well, they're just like the rest of us. :) ) The GEC is right in the middle of downtown, walking distance to 100 bars, 90 resturants, and plenty of hotels.

At the top of that bar list is Wolfy's. The home of the self-proclaimed best chili-cheeseburger in Nashville (might be World, apologies to Wolfy's for not recalling), and it lives up to the bill. As an added surprise, I found on my last trip to this fine establishment that they are now serving Bohanon's Vanilla Ale. Bohanon's is a brew pub we discovered during our trip to the 2003 entry draft, and their Vanilla Ale was only on tap there. But, they're now shipping it the three blocks to Wolfy's, so I can kill two birds with one stone.

So, Gary and Bob, I want to thank you for many things in acting this stubborn, but you both owe me a chili cheesburger and a pint of Vanilla ale.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is Hockey Dead?

In a word, no.

Yes, here we are, February 15th, 2005 - the day the NHL died - but that's it, the NHL died. Hockey, the great sport that it is, is still alive and well in spite of the stewards of its highest level treating it like a toilet after a night of draft beer and White Castles. Sign number one that hockey is alive: My son's mini-mite practice tomorrow night at 6:00 was not cancelled today at 1PM, and the CMMPA (Columbus Mini-Mite Players Association) did not offer a rebuttal at 4PM.

Seriously, I'm a hockey zealot, it's true, but the game itself will survive, it has to. The NCAA playoffs aren't too far off - they weren't cancelled. Next Tuesday will mark the 25th anniversary of the US beating the Soviets in Lake Placid - it won't be cancelled. The Calder Cup will be handed out to the AHL champion, the Memorial Cup will go to the Major Junior champion - neither of them cancelled.

Just because the NHL and the NHLPA are too stubborn/greedy/shortsighted to allow hockey to thrive at its highest level doesn't mean the death of the game. True, it won't help, but Andrew Schembri at Ohio State, Dan Fritsche of the London Knights, every kid in the Junior Jackets Mini-Mite program, and those like them lacing 'em up for the thrill and love of the game will make sure the sport of hockey keeps its pulse.