So apparently I get to keep watching hockey for a little longer.
I like hockey. It’s my favorite of the four major sports in the US, which only goes to show you just how far out of touch I am with my own culture since most Americans wouldn’t think to list it as a sport until well after competitive eating or people driving around in circles at high speeds.
Don’t even get me started on what my newfound appreciation for soccer means. Most Americans don’t even know soccer exists, which is why the fact that there is indeed a professional soccer league in the US – two, in fact, one for each gender – is frankly odd. But the rest of the world enjoys it immensely, and I have begun to understand why. World Cup in two weeks!
The nice part about watching soccer is that unless I’m watching international play where I know the countries involved I really don’t have any idea who to cheer for. They broadcast the entire English Premier League season here last year and while I watched quite a few of the games (excuse me – matches), I never did develop a particular fondness for any individual team. Lauren liked Chelsea because their uniforms were blue and they seemed to win a lot, but I tend to have a hard time cheering for Goliath. I have no favorites, not yet, so I can just relax and enjoy the game.
In hockey, I have favorites.
First on the list, of course, are the Flyers, my home team. They are the coolest team in American professional sports, and it is just my bad fortune to be cheering for a team that hasn’t won a championship since Nixon was still in office.
There are a number of other teams that I like and cheer for. The Pittsburgh Penguins, from when I lived there and used to watch Mario Lemieux do things that even now I would swear are physically impossible. The New Jersey Devils, because I like their name and logo – anything that ticks off the Religious Right is fine by me, and really how can you not like a successful team from New Jersey that actually advertises that it is from New Jersey? Take that, “New York” Giants, and stick it in your Meadowlands. I’ve long had a soft spot for the Carolina Hurricanes, mostly because I went to a game where they played the Flyers and their goalie just seemed like a decent guy. I also like the Minnesota Wild, for no particular reason that I can discern.
Then there are teams I don’t like.
Most of those teams are on that list because of things they’ve done to the teams I like, though the Boston Bruins are there just on principle. I’ve never liked the Rangers, for example, and I still haven’t forgiven the Detroit Red Wings for their ruthless destruction of the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals a few years back. Neither have I forgiven the Chicago Blackhawks, for much the same reason.
Which brings me to this year.
The Rangers – who eliminated the Flyers in the first round, only adding to their nefarious nature as far as I am concerned – are in the Finals.
The Blackhawks had fought their way back from a 3-1 deficit in the Conference Final to tie up the series at 3, heading home for Game 7.
My continued interest in hockey this season rested on the Los Angeles Kings.
Now, the Kings are another team that I like. It has always struck me as faintly ridiculous that there should be a professional ice hockey team in Los Angeles, for one thing, and ridiculous things appeal to me just for their sheer absurdity. Further, given the player moves of the past few years, they are essentially the Flyers West and it feels like cheering for my own team sometimes.
They had to win. A Blackhawks-Rangers Final would just be a dismal end to a great season.
And so they did. In overtime. After clawing back from behind three separate times. It was an exciting game to watch, for the four or five dozen of us tuned in.
Meanwhile, vastly elongated men were tossing a large orange ball into a bucket half a mile in the air in front of large television audiences. This is why the nation is in decline, I’m sure of it. Any sport where good defense consists of limiting your opponent to double-digit point totals is clearly a travesty, and the fact that it is inexplicably popular just confirms the imminent fall of the republic as far as I am concerned.
So I’ve got at least four more hockey games to watch – possibly as many as seven – which should tide me over to the World Cup quite nicely.
Life is good, sporting-wise.