Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

From the Dub: Shootout, what shootout?

2014 is turning out to be a “do-over in summer” year, in which I’ve experienced the following: gotten into a car accident; seen my car insurance increase from a two-year old speeding ticket; watched the Portland Winterhawks lose the WHL title to the Edmonton Oil Kings in Game 7 and now, the cherry on top, lost my job. Here in the Dub, the off-season has begun for every team that isn’t the Oil Kings, who are enjoying an extended season as they celebrate their Memorial Cup victory. So you won’t be surprised to learn that on Thursday when my doctor who is still learning the game asked me “didn’t one of the games with Edmonton go to a shootout or something like that?” I drew a complete and total blank on Game 6, which I’ve written about at least three times in the past two weeks. I’m referring to Game 6 of the WHL finals, where the Portland Winterhawks launched an epic third-period comeback from a 5-2 deficit to a 6-5 overtime win, courtesy of top prospect Keegan Iverson.  The good news is that it can only go up from here and taking an unplanned break from the rat race means more time for more important matters like Game 7 of the Western Conference finals and the NHL Entry Draft. Still, the Game 6 brain freeze made me realize that for fans whose off-season is already taking shape, now might be a good time to refresh on the signs and survival tips for the season non-hockey fans refer to as “summer.”

No, Sam, your other left. Portland is divided into four geographical quadrants by the Willamette River; for nine months out of the year, I mainly cross from the Southwest sector to the Northeast side of town to attend games in the Rose Quarter. I utilize the off-season to catch up on movies, books, music, drinks with friends and to try new restaurants, the latter of which frequently require driving to the East side of town from my Northwest neighborhood. This normally takes 20 minutes and ends in free street parking if you get there before rush hour. However, if you’re a hockey fan and therefore autopilot your car to the Rose Quarter, it turns into an hour-long excursion plus 20 minutes to drive in circles looking for the scrap of free curbside parking that could result in a ticket for parking perilously close to a loading zone. Treatment: Appointing what I like to call a directional designated driver to this task is really best in the first 30 days of the off-season, for the safety of oneself and others. Alternative option: If you live in a mass transit-friendly town like Portland, take the bus or train. 

Behold the four food groups. That short-term memory loss may very well be the result of poor nutrition, lack of sleep and minimal physical fitness throughout the hockey season. Between September and May, dinner consists of either barbecue nachos or a Killer Burger. Beer is optional and dependent on whether I plan to do interviews after a game. While these yummy nibbles are chock full of protein, iron and flavor, they’re also full of fat, salt and carbohydrates, mortal enemies of anyone who actually cares about the size of their waistline and the state of their cardiovascular system. Does the knowledge that a Killer Burger could in fact kill me stop me from eating it? No. Because they’re a little piece of heaven on earth and fans need protein to prepare for a game. Does it matter to me that a pile of chips, beans, cheese and barbecue chicken probably contain more salt than a human should eat in a day? Absolutely not; because as we all know, calories consumed while we are suspending our real lives to watch a game don’t count. Treatment: As the Winterhawks like to tell McDonald’s addict Brendan Leipsic on Twitter; #mixinasalad. Alternative option: Put the Killer Burger down and walk away. If anyone has tips for how to do this, I’m open to suggestions.

Wardrobe malfunction. Via Twitter and their website, the Portland Winterhawks encouraged fans to wear white during playoffs to encourage a whiteout at home games (hashtag: #wininwhite). I did as instructed and for the past two months, I’ve donned my festive game day apparel automatically on weekends. Like autopiloting the car, I continued doing so even after Game 7 went down the hard way for the Hawks. The solution here is easy: Show your fan pride by continuing to wear your team swag all off-season long as a reminder of winning days gone by. Alternative option: Stick a post-it to your closet door reminding yourself that it’s ok to break with tradition and wear non-hockey related clothing on what would have previously been game days. 

Shootout, what shootout? My doctor is an exceptionally nice guy, so he didn’t push me on the whole shootout thing, but he probably should have. That would have prompted me to actually remember Game 6 on the spot instead of 11 seconds after walking out of his office. My point being that when relative newbies can remember a recent game better than you, it might be time to run and hide until the New Year. Personally, I plan to abandon my summer plans to travel and train for a 5K in favor of moving to a cave, where I will subsist on Hostess Sno Balls and extra crunchy peanut butter until someone notifies me that 2015 has begun and it’s therefore safe to leave. If five-star accommodations are more to your liking and you have the means, substitute a hotel room for the cave and room service for the sugary snacks. Forgetting non-hockey details in the off-season is not uncommon, but when you can’t remember the most exciting and heartfelt game of your favorite team’s post-season, that’s the sign of the apocalypse; prepare for battle accordingly. The battle will have to wait until after the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NHL Entry Draft. After that, it’s off to Costco to purchase a lifetime supply of Sno Balls and peanut butter; I’ll see my fellow Portland fans on or around January 1.

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petshark's avatar

Good stuff. Sorry about the job. My own brain freeze struck quite unexpectedly during a podcast, and expressed itself in the form of forgetting how many games LA and Chicago had played, and then proceeding to mispronounce every player name I possibly could. I blamed it on Nutrasweet, but clearly it is common malady in the offseason. Thanks for the tips!

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 05/31/14 at 02:28 PM ET


Thanks for another wonderful article, Sam. Sorry to hear about the job; “when one door closes another will open.” But, I do hope we see you before “January 1st” or you’ll miss half the season ... God Forbid! Thanks Sam, Appreciate you!

Posted by John Fisher on 06/01/14 at 04:50 AM ET

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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