Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

On the Stanley Cup Final: think, think, think

When I first moved to New York City in 1994, the first thing I did was spend all my extra income on a ticket to see the Rangers raise the Stanley Cup banner. After growing up in cities without NHL hockey, it was the first time I attended a real live major league game. I had $3000 in the bank, an entry-level job I got after answering a classified ad in the New York Times and everything I owned fit in a storage locker in the West Village. 20 years have flown by since then and I'm living on the West Coast these days, but that night still seems like it happened five minutes ago. It’s the reason I’m still a Rangers fan to this day, but the Stanley Cup Final has posed a major dilemma; I’m also an LA Kings fan. You could say it’s a win-win situation for a bi-coastal hockey fan, but when you’re actually watching the game it’s a major dilemma: how do you choose a side when you’re rooting for both teams?

Think like a sportscaster. My mom, who claims not to know anything about this game, noticed the other night that the play-by-play announcer and color commentators switch allegiances throughout the game. “They love the Kings until the Rangers score, then it’s yay Rangers!”  I’m putting this theory to the test tonight, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that mom knows best. When you love both teams, thinking like a sportscaster is one way to solve the moral dilemma of which team to support. Just cheer the team that scores: problem solved. It’s hockey after all; gotta keep it simple.  If the game goes scoreless in the first, this is my back-up plan:  

You’ve got to take it one period at a time. There’s a rule for everything in hockey, except for fans. There aren’t any formal rules for us aside from don’t throw objects on the ice, refrain from swearing (emphasis on refrain) and watch out for flying pucks; otherwise, we can do what we want. If that includes changing which team I cheer when the teams switch attacking zones, so be it. 

Employ reverse psychology.  This is how the hockey version of reverse psychology works:  1) If the ref makes a bad call against my favorite and/or hometown team, I join my fellow fans in swearing at him, flipping him off and booing him for his apparent lack of knowledge about the game. If he makes a bad call against the opponent that gives our team the power play, we applaud and cheer him like one of our own players just scored, quietly thanking him for the brilliant move. 2) If my team’s would-be game winning goal is waved off, the linesman is automatically an idiot and public enemy #1. If the opponent’s would-be game tying goal is waved off when my team is ahead by one with 15 seconds to go in the third, the man is a genius and should be applauded accordingly. When cheering both teams and changing allegiances during the game, this could get frustrating and possibly be injurious to one’s health.  But if you think about it, watching a hockey game can be frustrating and possibly injurious to one’s health anyway. Why should tonight be any different? On that note, one thing that never changes is this:

Get loud or go home. Whether I end up cheering the Kings or rooting for my underdog Rangers, I expect both teams to give their best to the game tonight, so I figure I’ll give both of them my very best. Choosing a side in a game like this is pointless. I like both teams, I'll cheer both teams. The rest is up to them. In short, I've realized that Game 4 is a really good hockey-to-life lesson. I can't control the outcome of the game, but I can go forth, get loud and give it my very best.  As my mom says, that's the most important thing, in life and hockey. And like I said, mom knows best.

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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