Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Conversion theory: hockey’s back, now what?

I’m as excited as the next person about the start of the NHL season, but it also means adios to things like free time, going to bed at a reasonable hour and spending money on non-hockey endeavors. With the NHL regular season around the corner, it’s time to re-enter major league hockey’s atmosphere by switching gears to all hockey, all the time mode. That means late night replays instead of sleep, chips and beer in place of three course home-cooked meals, and of course, counting the days until the Calgary Flames lay out the welcome mat for Sven Bartschi.

Non-hockey free time: Why bother? Totally overrated. Sure, I loved catching up on reading, exploring Portland’s bike trails and learning how to bake a three layer devil’s food cake with orange buttercream frosting, but as we say here in Portland “hockey first, everything else second.” Enough with the failed chocolate cake recipes and "War and Peace"; bring on the hockey.

One can never watch too much of a good thing: Especially if that good thing is Sven Bartschi. Now that he’s back from injury, I’m tuning in to see if Jay Feaster honors what he told the media prior to the lockout; that Sven would join their NHL club this season. I hope he makes good on it. Calgary fans have waited long enough and they deserve to enjoy every minute of their new superstar. Take the greatest of care with your prize Calgary; he’s worth the wait. Of course all that Sven viewing time cuts into this, but it’s worth it:

Sleep: Ask junior hockey players and they’ll either tell you or Tweet that it’s for the weak. Anytime I feel too tired to do something, I remember that somewhere out there is a bus full of teenagers who are playing in 3 – 4 games a week -- with bus travel in between -- and I man up and order another triple latte. When it’s time to refuel with a nap, I’m pretty sure this will do the trick:

Take a lap: In my efforts to better understand the Portland Winterhawks, I attempted to watch an episode of their favorite TV show, The Bachelor. I made it about 10 minutes in and I was out like a light. Ironically, in this one instance I must agree with a player from an opposing WHL team (Medicine Hat Tigers). After viewing the first episode, forward Jacob Doty Tweeted "Sean taking notes from his buddy on how to kiss. #duds #takealap."  He's right; if you are the star of a national TV show and you haven’t even mastered the fundamentals, take two laps and call the producers in the morning. As for the Winterhawks, you’ll be pleased to know that they always pick the nice girl and they generally don’t like the psycho crazy high maintenance chicks. Of course, the Bachelor rarely picks the nice girl, but that’s his problem. Which is why the Winterhawks should get a side job picking the chicks; then I’d actually be inclined to actually stay awake. During which time I’d likely be munching on a few snacks: 

60 minutes or less: I was taking cooking classes in vain effort to finally learning how to roast an edible chicken and marinate cherries in port wine sauce, but the heck with that. This will now be simplified to remembering the things that go with beer and can be prepared in an hour or less: tater tots, pizza, hot dogs, nachos, cheese dip, chips. Class dismissed. And finally, no season is complete without a few Winterhawks in an NHL jersey:

Nino, Nino, Nino: That’s what local Winterhawks play-by-play analyst Andy Kemper used to say every time Islanders top prospect Nino Niederreiter scored, which was practically every game. So you can imagine how painful it was for Portland fans to sit here and watch him sit out there. I hope his time in the AHL served him well and he will have an opportunity to play with the Islanders this season. Wherever he lands this year, as long as Nino’s playing, Portland fans are good; we’ll be even better when he’s playing in the NHL. Ditto for his former Winterhawks linemate Ryan Johansen. It’s time for Islanders fans to be treated to what Nino can really do; let’s hope Garth Snow and his coaching staff agree.

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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