Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

From the Dub: Rock On

You’d think buying tickets to a Pearl Jam show would be a no-brainer for fans like me. That is, if you don’t also have a hockey game competing for your precious free time.  In this case, the band rolls through town the same night the Portland Winterhawks are playing the Spokane Chiefs in an away game. Given that Pearl Jam doesn’t come to town every day, they won the war. But this momentary dilemma in my social calendar made me realize that this iconic band and hockey fans have a lot in common.

We seek the truth. I’ve never met the members of Pearl Jam; I only know what I’ve read or heard about them through the Pacific Northwest grapevine. But one thing’s pretty clear from listening to their music for 20-plus years and reading their interviews: they are honest in everything that they do, on and off stage. Now, what’s one of hockey’s biggest selling points? Players, coaches, fans and officials can handle the truth. In fact, it’s why we love the game. If you look at how concert fans behave compared to hockey fans, you’ll notice it’s very similar. True, hockey fans don’t jump into a mosh pit at games, but we show the same enthusiasm every time we cheer a goal, applaud an epic save or chirp a ref when we disagree with a call. Whether it’s a Pearl Jam concert or a hockey game, honesty and truth equal beauty. Speaking of chirping the officials:

We challenge authority. In 1994, Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster to challenge their ridiculous fees and price gauging, boycotting them and refusing to play venues that contracted with Ticketmaster. Fans challenge referee’s business practices of bad or missed calls on a nightly basis. Alas, it doesn’t change the call, but we do it anyway because like Pearl Jam, we don’t turn a blind eye to injustice.

We never give up and we never give in. After 20-plus years as a band, Pearl Jam is still together and still doing what they love. In short, they never gave up on the play, which is also the Portland Winterhawks’ signature move. Ask any local fan about milestone moments in the team’s history and you’ll get a long list that includes two things: 1) The third period of Game 2 versus the Kootenay Ice in the 2011 WHL Championship Series, in which fans played a huge role in the team’s comeback; 2) The first trip to the Memorial Cup in 15 years this past May. The Halifax Mooseheads ultimately prevailed as the Memorial Cup Champions, but the Winterhawks’ valiant effort to come back in the final five minutes of the third period to close their goal deficit from 5-2 to 5-4 tops my personal list of great sports moments. 

We play a full 60 minutes of hockey. A good hockey team racks up championship titles and winning streaks because they come ready to play during all three periods, OT and the shootout if necessary. Loyal fans watch the full 60 minutes and stay through the three stars, even when the team loses. Likewise, I’ve been to many a Pearl Jam show in my day and the band has given 150 percent to the audience every time. Ditto for their CDs, which are worth listening to in their entirety. It’s notable because most of today’s CDs are made for marketing. They contain the obligatory 2 to 3 hit songs for mainstream radio and MTV videos and maybe one decent “b side” type track because they are made to be chopped into little bites for a mobile device. That’s where Pearl Jam differs from the mainstream. Every minute of their CDs and live shows, like a full 60 minutes of hockey, is always worth it.

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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