I Love Hockey


I love hockey.

Which is ironic because I hate the cold.  (Which reminds me, if anyone knows of any jobs in Phoenix or Vegas, please let me know…)

When I was a kid growing up in downstate Illinois nobody watched hockey.   And I mean nobody, despite being just three hours away from the Chicago Blackhawks and about the same from the St. Louis Blues.

To make matters worse, my family was one of the last in America to get cable TV, so I couldn’t even watch hockey growing up.   So although I was interested, I never really got a chance to watch the game, and as a result I formed no allegiance to either of the local teams.

When my family finally did get cable (while I was in high school), one of the first things I did was watch National Hockey Night on ESPN.

And that was how I discovered the Buffalo Sabres.

I had never even heard of the Sabres.  But they had a cool logo and a badass young Russian defector (yes, it’s all Cold War politics to me) named Alexander Mogilny, and after one night I had my favorite team.

It is a decision I have come to regret.  Over and over again.

It didn’t start out all bad.  Despite being the last team in the playoffs from the Adams Division, they swept top-seeded Boston 4-0 in the first round.  I thought it was meant to be.

But then they got swept themselves in the next round by Montreal.  And since then it’s been nothing but heartache.

–There was the no-goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals.  Or the less-remembered 2000 “Six Hole” playoff game against Philly, where the puck went through a hole in the net and the refs counted it anyway.

–There was the magical run in 2006, brought to a screeching halt by injuries that forced the Sabres to play three minor-league defensemen in the 7th game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

–There was the brand new scoreboard falling to the ice in the brand new arena.

–There was the team owner and his son being indicted for embezzling more than two BILLION dollars in 2002.

–And now there’s this year.  It started off with much excitement: a new owner that for the first time in franchise history was willing to spend money to build a winner.  The Sabres entered the season with the highest payroll in the NHL… and currently sit in 11th place… in the Eastern Conference.  They’re 23rd out of 30 teams at the moment, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

So it’s safe to say that the Sabres have been the bane of my existence for the past 20 years or so.  And yet, like an abusive spouse, I just keep coming back for more.

But this post isn’t meant to be an angry tirade against my poor decisions in sports teams.  No, this is my attempt to create a few more hockey fans.  So, in that spirit, I give you, the non-hockey fan, five reasons why you should give the sport a try.  (And I promise, “the fights” will not be one of my reasons.)

Chicago Blackhawks

#5- Best logos in sports — Maybe it’s because the logos are bigger in the chest of a hockey jersey than on a football helmet or on the shorts of a basketball player, but hockey logos are more stylish, more intricate, and just all around much, much cooler than other sports.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Minnesota Wild

Columbus Blue Jackets

Winnipeg Jets

#4- Sudden Death — There is nothing more exciting than the drama of overtime playoff hockey.  By comparison, overtime basketball is boring, and the NFL’s farce of sudden death doesn’t come close.  It’s edge of your seat excitement from the first drop of the puck until it finally finds the back of the net, whether it takes two minutes or three extra OT periods.

#3- The Olympics — If the 1980 Miracle On Ice team doesn’t give you goosebumps then you’re no doubt a commie pinko spy.  And while that drama of beating the Evil Empire may never be matched again, the excitement of Olympic hockey is still pretty amazing.  This goal in the 2010 Olympics that forced overtime with Canada will forever be one of my favorite sports moments:

#2- Ice Girls! — Most sports have stupid kids wipe up the sweat or pick up the kicking tee.  But not hockey!

Need I say more?

#1- David Backes — Ok, I lied.  A little.  I don’t normally like hockey fights all that much, I think they’re way overrated.  (Let’s face it, the guys are on skates, it’s not that hard to knock someone off balance.  One lucky punch, or tug for that matter.  Doesn’t mean you whipped someone’s ass just because they fell down.)  But in 2010, in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, American David Backes decided to send a message to Team Canada before the games even started.  On January 2nd, he picked a fight with Canadian Olympian Jonathan Toews:

On January 7th he introduced himself to Canadian Olympian Cory Perry:

And on January 12th he let Canadian Olympian Rick Nash know the games were right around the corner:

Now if that’s not patriotism I don’t know what is!

So what d’ya say?  How ’bout you give hockey a chance?  Who knows, it might just grow on you.

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20 Comments

  1. I will admit; I really like hockey now.
    It is funny that you post this today. Just yesterday, while watching the Redwings shut out the Sabers (sorry), I was asking why the Sabers were your team and Deadwing said that was a question I would have to ask you. Thanks for answering it 😉

    I will agree (though Deadwing might kill me) The Blackhawks have one of the best logos and mascots in sports. That game last week prompted my questioning your allegiance to a New York hockey team, but I digress.

    Lastly, sudden death also happens in Water Polo…maybe that is how I have taken a liking to hockey; Its pretty much water polo on ice 🙂

  2. I….am a hockey fan.

    There is an absolute grace that you cannot find in any other sport. Gliding backwards as you watch for an opening to take a small puck away but use of a stick??

    It’s sex on ice.

  3. Too late! Already love hockey. In fact, was a NY Rangers season ticket holder until my daughter was born.
    Some of my favorite NHL moments:
    Matteau! Matteau! MAtteau
    Esa Tikanen kissing to draw a penalty:

    I think the Sabres got robbed that year. Since then I have secretly rooted for them.

    Great post hockey rules!

    • KISSING???

      HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    • I’ve never had anything against the Rangers with the exception of Sean Avery.

      As a longtime Rangers fan you will probably think this is sacrilege, but I do hate your jerseys. So boring. Especially when your alternate logo, the Statue of Liberty head, is so f-in’ cool! I should have posted that one, it’s probably my favorite logo in all of sports.

      Your boys look pretty tough this year. It’d be good for the game to have the Rangers make a deep playoff run.

  4. I guess I would be a pinko commie myself if I did not comment on this one. Deadwing of course, comes from my love for the Detroit Redwings. Hockeytown sure does love their Wings. Am much as I know how much the Redwings are hated by the author of this blog and much of the NHL, I love them. Growing up, I remember they where called the “Dead Things” for their horrible play. But they have turned it around and now represent the Original Six with pride. I could go on and on about my favorite memories and players. Stevie Y, Draper, Federoff, Holmstrom, Konstantinov (yes he is the one that was paralyzed in the car accident), Osgood, Maltby and the Grind Line, Scotty Bowman and of course the best defenseman that ever played the game Nicklas Lidstrom (not LiNdstrom). There are just too many to name, including the great Gordie Howe and todays stars Howard and Datsyuk.

    Admittedly, I would have liked to see a few more Stanley Cups and 2009 still hurts, I will take it. I know that my beloved Redwings are hated as much as the Yankees, but they my team (I wish they had more Russians on their team, like the good ole Redwing Army days) and always will be. How can you not love a team that has one of the most recognizable logos (albeit, one of the most confusing) in sports that plays in an arena named after a fighter and throws octopi on the ice during the playoffs? You can’t!

    Even though I am from central Michigan, I still get chills when I hear Don’t Stop Believin’ played during a game and the the crowd yells “Born and raised in South Detroit!”. If you have never seen it here is video of it

    LETS GO REDWINGS!

    • While I will never actually like the Red Wings, I have to give them their due respect. They are a model franchise. And I don’t hate them near as much as I do Ottawa or Philly.

      • You hate Philly??

        Thank goodness I live in Texas. But I despise the Stars.

      • The Flyers have always been one of the dirtiest teams in hockey.

        I still hold a grudge against the Stars for winning the tainted Stanley Cup in 99. Not really their fault, it was a bad rule and bad officiating and bad enforcement, Dallas just happened to get the best end of the deal out of it. Still stings to think about though.

      • I guess the Wings are better than any team from Canada!

      • Let’s not get crazy. I’ll still take Calgary over Detroit. Or Vancouver. Or Edmonton. Or Winnipeg. Hell, I’d take the Maple Queefs over Detroit. Not sure about Montreal, you may have them beat.

  5. I grew up watching the Sabres – it’s part of why I’m still into hockey today.

    Oh, and I’m sitting in my living room in Phoenix watching the Coyotes play the Red Wings right this second ;-).

    • Doh – started the game on Tivo and it’s Anaheim – Detroit is later this week.

    • I went to a ‘Yotes game a couple years back when I was in Phoenix thawing out from another cold Utah winter. Nice arena and a scrappy, gritty team. I’m a big fan of Keith Yandle, would love to see him in a Sabres jersey someday.

  6. […] Single White Alcoholic Seeks Same […]

  7. Not a big professional hockey fan…. went to college at a school that hockey was the only Divison I sport (Clarkson Univ in Potsdam, NY)- like to go to our San Antonio Missions games…. I think they are 2 levels below NHL- a lot of fun to watch.

  8. I got to see a game in Buffalo back in 2005 against the Lightning. Buffalo won 8-5 in front of a packed house on a weeknight. See your first game in a town that loves hockey, and you’ll be hooked.


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