Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why I Love Hockey - Part 4

But first! How lame is the NHL Awards show? Even if you put aside all the scheduling mix-ups, the show is just not good. Every year I get excited about this and every year I zone out fifteen minutes into the show. Last night I watched the red carpet stuff and the presentations of the Pearson and the Selke and then I left the room, got on the computer, and listened to the rest of the show from down the hall. I applaud the NHL for trying to do something different and special with their year end awards but lame jokes and a band no one's ever heard of isn't the way to go. It didn't help that almost no one I wanted to win won. I was pulling for Niedermayer for the Norris, Luongo for the Vezina, and Pahlsson for the Selke and I came up empty. I can't really argue with anyone who did win except for Rod Brind'Amour who was just a terrible choice for the Selke - the least deserving of the three nominees and probably less deserving than some of the other guys in the top ten. Like say maybe Chris Drury.

Why I Love Hockey #4 - Incredible Athleticism
I was a pretty good athlete in my day - and I can still hold my own, thank you very much - and I'm absolutely amazed at the level of athleticism involved in hockey. As much as I love baseball, I can admit that you don't have to be a great athlete to be a good hitter or a good fielder. You just have to be really strong at a certain skill. John Kruk famously said, "I'm not an athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player." Successful hockey players have an unbelievable combination of skills - speed, quickness, flexibility, strength, hand-eye coordination, hand-foot coordination, vision, and balance. And then they need to be able to flip all those skills on in a split second because the game moves so fast. The thing that amazes me most about Maxim Afinogenov is not that he's so fast (though geez louise, the boy is FAST), it's that he can be going full steam ahead and then come to a full stop to make a play or cut in another direction. Andrew Peters get slagged on by Buffalo fans for being the least skilled player on the Sabres, but I would bet a decent amount of money that he's a better athlete than half of the guys in the Major Leagues or the NFL. There are so many games in a season that it's pretty easy to start taking what these guys do every night for granted but we really are watching world class athletes do things most people couldn't dream of doing. Amazing.

Something About Me #4
I have three brothers. My two older brothers are 10 and 11 years older than me, my younger brother is 2 years younger. Despite the fact that everyone automatically assumes this is why I was such a tomboy as a kid, I was the most serious athlete in the family. I played basketball through part of high school but fastpitch softball was really my sport. I played at school and on a travel team in the summers. I probably could've played in college, atleast at some level, but I was burned out by the time I got through high school. Softball was still definitely one of the best parts of my youth though.


kate said...

At first glance, I thought you were about to suggest that the NHL Awards were one of the reasons you love hockey, and as a result, I was mere moments from flying into an insane rage at the memory of suffering through that terrible event. The NHL awards made me question not only my love for hockey, but my love for humanity.

I am totally in awe of the athleticism involved with hockey. For some reason I have a much more vivid appreciation for what it takes to skate that I do with almost any other sporty skill. I've been on ice skates, and while I'm alright at skating in rink-sized circles, I think skating is pretty hard. These guys are skating like maniacs while pushing a little puck around with a stick while charging into one another with great ferocity. The very first time I watched hockey all I could think was,"sweet merciful heavens, these guys are incredible athletes."

Schnookie said...

What is this, Kate? The NHL Awards Show wouldn't be a Reason You Love Hockey? I think it might be at least 50 of my 118 reasons.

Heather, you are SO RIGHT about how staggeringly athletic hockey players are. And as a lousy, lousy skater myself I really take it for granted. I often find myself kind of randomly remembering from time to time, "Oh right! They're doing all of this on skates!" Such a beautiful thing, the skating.

Heather B. said...

I could've sworn I had something in there about hockey players doing everything on skates but I must've lost in the half-asleep postmidnight writing/editing process. But yeah, that's the truly amazing part. I can *barely* stand on skates and even then it's not long before my legs are shaking and throbing. It's remarkable what these guys are doing.

KMS2 said...

While watching the Sabres during the postseason (and yes, I did jump on the bandwagon, but how can you not like a team full of great guys), I was very impressed with Maxim's skating. He's an unbelievable skater and I wish I could see more of him during the regular season.

Schnookie, you are doing 118 reasons, so I think even Sean Avery might end up on your list somewhere. ;)

LeeAndrew said...

You're the most serious athlete? I'm the one who played basketball for fifteen consecutive years. Beat that!

I tried skating once. On my difficult things to do list I put it somewhere between skiing and splitting an atom.