Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Start Your Engines

It just occurred to me that I haven't posted on this blog since August, largely due to the fact that I'm also a Formula 1 race fan. The battle for the Formula One Drivers' World Championship may be decided next weekend in Brazil. If Nico Rosberg wins, he will capture the title, regardless of where his Mercedes teammate and current world champion Lewis Hamilton  finishes. On six previous occasions, the title has been settled in Brazil, including Hamilton's world championship win in 2008.  Rosberg would be following in his family's footsteps: his father Keke won the world championship in 1982. But it's what happened last weekend at the Mexican Grand Prix that made me realize why I like Formula 1 racing so much. You guessed it; it's a lot like hockey. 

Ya' Wanna Go?: If you missed the Mexican Grand Prix, here's the recap: It was bascially a Stanley Cup Final Game 7...in triple overtime...with a line brawl. In a battle for third place, 19-year-old sensation Max Verstappen left the track to gain an advantage and refused to yield to four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who launched into an expletive-laden rant at both Verstappen and race director Charlie Whiting. Behind Vettel was Verstappen's Red Bull teammate and Malaysian Grand Prix champion Daniel Ricciardo. You can imagine what happened next: Vettel changed direction under braking to keep Ricciardo from advancing. If race car drivers were permitted to get out of their parked cars and start a fight, the scene would have resembled a good old fashioned line brawl. But this is Formula 1 racing and what goes around the track, comes around at the finish line: 

Game misconduct: Verstappen was hit with a five-second penalty, which promoted Vettel to third. After celebrating third place on the podium with winner Hamilton and Rosberg, Vettel was then given a 10-second time penalty for erratic and dangerous driving.  The final race results: Ricciardo moved up to third place, Verstappen officially finished fourth and Vettel got demoted to fifth. It was assumed Vettel would later receive additional punishment for his verbal tirade, but like hockey, the rules around foul language can be somewhat of a gray area: 

Language lesson: After further consideration, FIA chose not to take disciplinary action against Vettel for his "repeated use of foul language," primarily because Vettel immediately and voluntarily apologized for his rant and expressed regret for his behavior. In hockey, such an offense is usually hurled at the officials and therefore could be considered "abuse of officials" under NHL rules. But let's face facts, in hockey foul language is part of the game and most officials let it go. Here in the Dub, such an offense was comitted two years ago, but it wasn't a player. Everett Silvertips Head Coach Kevin Constantine was given a bench minor and ejected from a game in November 2014. After the Portland Winterhawks scored, he refused to put his players back on the ice while he argued a non-call that he thought should have been a penalty against Portland. He was later assessed a $500 fine. And like Vettel and Verstappen, his heat-of-the moment anger had longer-term consequences: the Hawks scored again on the ensuing power play en route to a 7-1 victory.

Safety first:  We're all familiar with the pre-game warning that "pucks could leave the playing surface at any time. Please be mindful if one comes your way." In Formula 1, a similar warning is issued when you purchase tickets for a race. I'm headed back to Melbourne in March 2017 for the Australian Grand Prix. When I purchased my tickets online, I had to click a box in which I acknowledged that race car driving is dangerous and I know the risks involved in sitting trackside, including crashes or mechanical issues that could result in car parts leaving the track and flying into the stands. It's basically FIA telling fans you are watching a race at your own risk. I'm in the very back row of the Prost Premium section, so I should be safe. Even so, it's worth the risk. I've never been to a Formula 1 race before. If the provisional dates are approved, in just over four months, I'll be coming to you live from the first race of the Formula 1 season. That being said: 

Start your engines:  With this F1 season coming to a close, I think we can officially start a new countdown to my next Australian adventure, which will also take me to the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula.  In the meantime, back to topic: 

From the Dub: It was widely assumed when Mike Johnston returned to Portland that he would magically pick up where he left off. What's forgotten is that all those championships of years past weren't an overnight sensation. Which explains why, after a strong start to the season, the Winterhawks have amassed a 6-game losing streak since returning home from their road trip to the East Division. They are now fourth in the U.S. Division behind the Everett Silvertips, the Tri-City Americans and the Spokane Chiefs. How did the Ams move into second place? One big reason is 6'5" forward Michael Rasmussen. Drafted 7th overall in the first round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, he has played in 17 games this season. His overall WHL stats and standings tell the story: second in goals scored (14); third in power play goals (7); fourth in game winning goals (4) and fifth in first goals (3). And his linemate Vladislav Lukin is no slouch either: one of the team's two import players, he has 14 points in 17 games played this season. His fellow import player, defenseman Juuso Valimaki has 15 points in 17 games played. Meanwhile in Everett, captain Noah Juulsen and goalie Carter Hart will continue to keep things interesting for the rest of the U.S. Division. As for my Winterhawks, they are in Everett tonight and they have to play the Americans again on Sunday at 5 p.m. Based on the team's current status, my only pre-game prediction is to not make one at all. Call it reverse psychology. Call it superstition. Either way, that's my weekend game plan and I'm sticking with it. I'll let you know how it works out. 

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BrendonTO's avatar

Very cool, great read!

Posted by BrendonTO on 11/05/16 at 08:37 PM ET

Gary A$$ SUCK !!'s avatar

Vettel have been little grumpy all season..  btw very good read grin

Posted by Gary A$$ SUCK !! from Fort Myers, Florida on 11/06/16 at 03:47 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

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