Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

“You can always hope right?”

That's a Tweet posted by Portland Winterhawks rookie Alex Schoenborn four days ago. On the other end of the spectrum, in September Penguins prospect Derrick Pouliot Tweeted the very best and most honest thing I've ever read about the current state of affairs; "lockout, not cool." While I was attempting to occupy what would have otherwise been quality Winter Classic viewing time, it occurred to me that we can learn a lot from the NHL's future about hockey, life and starting over in 2013. Inspired by top prospects who live and play in Portland, Oregon, I came up with a few New Year's resolutions designed to make 2013 a little better, brighter and more hopeful.   

There is always hope. In late November, the WHL handed the Portland Winterhawks the harshest sanctions in the league's history. You'd never know it by the team's current record of 32-5-1 or the fact that they are on top of the U.S. Division, the Western Conference and the WHL. The league may have taken the team's head coach for the season and a boatload of future draft picks, but it didn't steal their hope. If 16 to 20 year old hockey players can perservere in the face of adversity, then surely the rest of us can do the same. If we let the lockout, sanctions or any other negative action take away our hope, then we have all lost more than just a hockey season. Losing hope is like losing your soul, and nothing is worth that. 

It's better to be lucky than good. After a 2012 where I was good but not lucky, I've realized that hockey players are right about this one. If we are very lucky, 2013 will start as the fall of 2012 should have: cold brew in hand, watching the L.A. Kings raise their Stanley Cup banner and cheering on the rest of the league as they get back to the business of playing hockey.

Now is the time to cherish the great moments of the past year and put the bad ones behind you. This comes courtesy of a Seth Jones Tweet on New Year's Eve. I interviewed him recently for a rookie profile, and according to him, it's also the best advice his father ever gave him about succeeding as a professional athlete. Only in that case, he was referring to celebrating great games and putting bad ones behind you. We all know it's easier said than done, but I've come to realize that the NHL's future is smarter than me, so I'm heeding their advice. It's hard to just put something like a lockout behind us (if indeed we can in a few days time), but dwelling on what's been lost isn't going to help anything either. There were great hockey moments this year; the lockout obviously wasn't one of them. And there are great hockey moments happening right now; in Russia, at the World Junior Championship; in AHL rinks around North America and right here in the home of the NHL's future, where the regular season is at the halfway mark. There is much hockey to be played in 2013. If luck and hope collide in the next few days, much of that hockey will be played in an NHL rink.

#ienjoywinningicehockeygames. Taylor Peters sometimes Tweets this after a Winterhawks victory. I agree and I love it even more when my favorite NHL teams are winning. Sure, I could express my true feelings about the lockout by boycotting the NHL if the season does indeed start this month, but I know I won't. Why? Because metaphorically speaking, enough blood has been spilled in this battle. It's time to get on with the show.

Moral of the story: Yes, Alex, we can hope. If we don't, what's the point of life or hockey?

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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