against the Buffalo Sabres in a Stanley Cup Semi-final Playoff game (2007)
…..AND HE MAKES IT LOOK SO EASY!!!!!
As far as sports go, there are two games which I would not dare to play for fear of loss of life and limb or at least a few teeth. These are rugby and ice hockey. Yet strangely enough, these are the two sports that I watch and follow with a passion. If the New Zealand All-Blacks lost a finals or a series or if Team Canada failed to secure the ice hockey world championship, I’d just feel that something was not right in the world. Maybe even the sun won’t rise the next day.
This is strange cause in my part of the world and really in most of the world, soccer rules supreme. However, having watched ice hockey when I was in Canada, I couldn’t help notice that soccer seemed to be played in slow motion. It was like watching 22 snails on a large playing field. Why do I like these two violent, full contact sports?
The truth is these games are played with more passion and sense of fairplay than most non-contact games. Soccer is riddled with shameful acts like Maradonna’s Hand of God incident. I used to play basketball and believe me its a dirty game of elbowing and tripping. The most contact for a non-contact sport. Also strangely inspite of the mayhem on the playing field (fights are regular in both ice hockey and rugby), the fans are generally well behaved.
This is in contrast to sedate games like cricket where fans fight, umpires are beaten up and even coaches are murdered. Soccer too is full of violent fan related incidents. So maybe part of the appeal of watching rugby or ice hockey is that I feel very safe in the stands while watching my team work out my aggressions for me on the field or ice rink.
I did not grow up with ice hockey, so what made me pick up the fever. I have to say the combination of speed, agility and precision passing and shooting. When it all comes together it is like a well choreographed dance. And what an adrenaline high to watch a game in multiple overtime and playing sudden death.
When I was studying in Ottawa, the Senators were only just re-formed. I was so excited but then later disappointed when almost all the tickets were snapped up for the whole season. At any rate, it was a bit too costly for my student budget. However, the newly formed Senators were pretty much the whipping boys in those days so I didn’t miss much. The teams that were doing well included the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers. I was there when the great one moved to California. A day of national mourning in Canada. The names I remember were names like Fleury, Messier, and the notorious Lindros.
Today, the Senators are 3 games up in the best of 7 semifinals against the Buffalo Sabres. The Senators are on the ice and heading for the Stanley Cup. Go Sens Go!!!!
Two years ago, I was in Denver for just a couple of nights but I was thrilled that I managed to get tickets for the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers game. This was my one and only live NHL game. I went with a friend who had never been to a hockey game before either. Our tickets turned out to be as far up in the rafters as possible. I’m told they are called the nose-bleed seats because of the high altitude!
I went dressed for the occasion in an All-Blacks Rugby T-shirt just to confuse everyone. To my surprise, a guy just two seats away was also wearing the exact same T-shirt. What are the odds of two nutters wearing a rugby shirt to an ice hockey game? We were pleasantly surprised.
It was a great experience even though I was supporting the Oilers who eventually lost 5-3. I am now plotting for an opportunity to go to an international rugby game wearing the Ottawa Senators T-shirt!
(all photos except the first one are by LGS in Denver 2005)