Above the Glass
Many thanks to Paul for connecting me with the guys over at the “War Room” on NHL Home Ice, where I literally had my 15 minutes of fame this morning. We talked about all things hockey, and I think hosts Mick Kern and Peter Berce might be bigger Winterhawks fans than I am. There is no better way to start the day than a little chat about my hometown team. I think I made some new friends in the fearless hosts, as we talked about the Winterhawks, my local prospects to watch, whether the NHL could be successful in Portland and my early bet for this year’s Stanley Cup champion.
I myself choose not to, but I was so amused and inspired by Paul’s fan email and Pierre LeBrun’s responses to his readers that I was moved to write an entry about the only thing fans love to do more than watch the sport. Sure, I’m a little perplexed by why the Edmonton Oilers, with all its young talent and Captain Cutie Pie Sean Horcoff, can’t get its act together and put together a few huge wins in a row. But if the Oilers up and moved to Portland, Oregon tomorrow I would be the first person to line up for season tickets and purchase a Jordan Eberle jersey, and I’d tell others to do the same. Maybe it’s just because I don’t live in an NHL town and you always want and appreciate what you don’t have. Or it could be because it’s just not in my nature to wig out over any sport. Which makes me wonder why so many people get so caught up and make such a simple game so complicated. Why is ranting as inherent to hockey as spitting, fighting, swearing and trash talk?
Three things to know about me: 1) I love Anze Kopitar. 2) I love him even more when he roars out of the penalty box and dekes to the forehand to score his second career hat trick. 3) I have absolutely no idea what a deke is. Therefore, now would be a good time to learn. While I’m at it, I’ll cover dangle, dipsy doodle and of course, spinorama: made famous by players named Savard, made infamous by Linus Omark.
So, to keep track; Pavel Kubina’s down for three games because he wonked Dave Bolland with an elbow, Zdeno Chara’s right back in the game for totally crushing Max Pacioretty and Sidney Crosby is in limbo for an unpenalized wonk to this upper body. Refresh me, when and how exactly does Rule 48.1 apply? Wait, don’t answer that. I’ve got it. I have a better idea. Hockey is a simple game, so I propose a simple solution to this most complicated of issues: make the punishment fit the crime.
I’ve read two rulebooks and half the collective bargaining agreement and I still feel like a newbie watching the game for the first time. On the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing. But I did manage to learn a few things along the way. Like why hockey players like golf, how icing qualifies as a scoring opportunity and how exactly the New Jersey Devils got away with the Kovalchuk deal.
Greetings from the WHL, where the all NHL-draftee line of Nino Niederreiter-Ryan Johansen-Brad Ross pulled off a humdinger last night by leading the Portland Winterhawks to a 9 - 1 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Sure, you’ve heard of them and you’ve seen the little snippets on NHL.com about where they grew up, when they started playing hockey, what scouts think of them, blah, blah, blah. But there’s more to the NHL’s future than their stats, and it’s way more fun.
Now normally, I hate it when hockey players and coaches use vague soundbites to describe a particular situation, like “it’s just one of those things you can’t predict, we’ll have to take it day by day and hopefully I’ll be back soon.” Most of the time, I tune out. But when my very favorite honkin’ tall French Canadian Tampa Bay Lightning Captain who’s on the comeback trail uses one, I tend to listen. And learn. So why do some players get put on day to day status and others are moved to the injured reserve list? Because this is hockey and there’s a rule for everything.
So, I waited in vain on deadline day for THE trade. The one that would make my neck hairs stand on end, and prompt me to stand up in the middle of a death by powerpoint meeting that was one hour too long (where I was also multi-tasking on the Crackberry so as not to miss a single minute of this epic event) and declare “That’s it! That’s the one! That’s a Stanley Cup winner, for sure!” Alas, it never came. No Brad Richards waiving his no movement clause. No purging of salary cap talent in Pittsburgh. Nothing. Not even a kibble. Still, since the NHL did go to all the trouble of changing their rosters to make the push to the playoffs, perhaps now would be good time to reflect on the following: does having a roster full of hockey names up your chances of winning the Stanley Cup?
Until I started blogging about hockey, I must admit I had no idea what all the trade deadline fuss was about. Now that I’m giving it my undivided attention, I noticed that a lot of teams are trading future picks or considerations for veteran talent. So being a bear of very little trade deadline brain, it made me wonder…why would any NHL team mortgage its future to pay for the present? I think part of it might be a little thing called “hockey related revenue.”
Greetings from Portland, Oregon.
I have been blogging about hockey since 2009, when the humiliation of claiming to be a hockey fan who didn’t even know what a hat trick was became too much. Since then, I’ve learned and blogged about the NHL Rulebook, the IIHF Rulebook, the Collective Bargaining Agreement and a few things in between. I don’t live in an NHL town, but I’m lucky enough to be a season ticket holder for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, home to the 4th and 5th overall draft picks from the 2010 Entry Draft.
Above the Glass is named for the location of my season tickets and my overall, big picture take on the game. I don’t claim to be an expert on stats, who will be snatched up at the trade deadline, who you should put on your fantasy team or why the Calgary Flames’ Heritage Classic retro jerseys made them look like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. What I can tell you is that I love the game of hockey and I love what it can teach us about life. Among the hot topics on my mind are: “does having a roster full of hockey names up your chances for winning a Stanley Cup?”; “who invented hockey terms like dipsy doodle, spinorama, deke and dangle and how high were they when they did so?” and “how to use hockey clichés without injuring yourself or others.” I hope you’ll enjoy these and the other content you’ll find here.
When I’m not trying to make sense of all things NHL, I’m busy trying to make sense of all things junior hockey in my Portland Winterhawks blog on www.oregonlive.com/hawks.
About Above the Glass
Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.
I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.
Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass