Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Bowling with the NHL’s future: the winter edition

I went bowling for the second time in my whole life this past Monday with some of the Portland Winterhawks. As I did last time, I learned a few lessons, picked up a few good tips for better bowling, learned what to watch on TV and finally, how to explain an injury in the politically correct WHL-approved way. And once again, I’ve found that when it comes to the NHL’s future, you are what you bowl.

#1 way to get on my you-know-what list: If you are a young 17 or 18-year-old rookie, do make sure the first thing you ask upon meeting me is whether the two tweens I’m bowling with are my daughters (they were not – it was out of necessity since they had an open spot in their team/lane). This is an excellent way to not only remind me that I’m old, fat and ugly, but also to guarantee at a minimum that I will give you the evil eye every time I see you at the rink. Now mind, I am old enough to be the boys’ mother, but dudes, don’t remind me. I do enough of that on my own.

Even injured, they’re still fitter than thou: Captain William Wrenn showed up with a cast on his right arm and the politically correct “upper body injury, day to day” explanation. But that didn’t stop him from bowling really well with his left hand. Come to think of it, they all did what I like to call the “power bowl” in which they put the bowling ball in the palm of their hand and pretty much threw it down the lane like a baseball.  I know they’re hulking huge and fitter than I ever was or will be in my life, but I had no idea how fit until they hurled a 12-plus pound ball down a lane at the speed of sound. I may occasionally ding the players for things like poor sportsmanship, bad penalties or lazy play, but I will never ding them for fitness. Because it’s clear they’ve got that covered

It’s good to have hobbies: In between bowling, you get the privilege of chatting with hockey’s future, where you find out choice tidbits like what TV shows they like to watch. Here in the Rose City, the program du jour is “The Bachelor”. Now, I must admit, I had no idea why a bunch of teenage boys would want to watch a bunch of Stage 5 Clingers battle it out over a wedding band. But a good blogger is an informed blogger, so I took it upon myself to tune in later that evening, right as one of the candidates was taking off her robe and running amok on a beach in her underwear. And let me just say, I require no further description or explanation of why 16 – 21 year old boys are into this show. I got it. Thank you.

Better late than never: One of the trade deadline moves the Hawks made was one of their best ever. They acquired forward Cam Reid, who was attending St. Cloud State University up until now. Among the choice bits that prompted him to leave and join the Winterhawks was the promise of playing on a line with Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie. Not long after signing on the dotted line, he promptly went out and scored his first WHL goal in his first game, which was also the team’s first goal that night. Since then he has scored two more goals, both of which were the team’s first goal of the game. When he’s not doing that, he’s just a really good, stand-up guy. And of course, watching “The Bachelor.” Due to the wacky overage rules here in the Dub, though, he’s an overager, so we’ll only have the privilege of getting to know him for a short time. But the good news is he was drafted in 2009 by the Nashville Predators, so hopefully his time here will jump start his NHL future. If it does, get ready Nashville, because this one’s definitely a keeper.

They clean up good: I often do a double take when I meet the boys at community events, or see them on draft day, because I’m used to seeing and smelling them after a game when they are sweaty, smelly, their hair is all tangled and matted down and they usually have an injury, bruise, bloodied knuckles or ice attached to one of their limbs. Not a pretty sight. Which is why I always have to look twice when I see them at community events in their jeans and t-shirts and baseball hats and hair care product action going on…because it’s like looking at totally different people that I barely recognize. And I must say, hockey players young and older clean up good in their suits and their street clothes. I was so inspired I went out and did a little shopping myself in a vain attempt to get fashionable and I have come to realize that it’s time to employ the off-season training regimen about six months early.  Which brings me to my final conclusion; fitness is key to fashion. If you are in the prime condition of your life, you can pretty much wear anything well.  And that hockey players do.

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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

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com