By Scott Timpano
Before the National Hockey League melts away from the American sports scene, please go see a game. The NHL’s lack of popularity lately is really troubling for me. We’re the same country that doesn’t like soccer because it’s too slow, loves football for the violence, and tolerates baseball because nothing sounds sweeter than a wooden bat hitting a round ball.
Hockey has it all, yet we’re relegating Canada’s reason for existence to the Outdoor Life Network. C’mon America, this is the sport that gave us Gretzky, Guy, and Gordie. It also is the sport that ripped the Whalers from my backyard, but as Rocky says in the 4th installment, “If I can change, and you can change, everyone can change.”
You’re absolutely right Mr. Balboa. America needs to change back into the hockey loving country it once was. It’s been 26 years since the Lake Placid miracle but it seems even further when franchises like the Chicago Blackhawk’s struggle to put more than 8,000 fans in the house. Granted, they don’t have the NHL ’93 one man wrecking crew, Jeremy Roenick anymore, but they should still be able fill a third of the house.
What else are American’s looking for in a past time? This is a sport that has body checking,100 mph slap shots, fist fights, and needs 6 ways to describe punishable stick offenses: slashing, spearing, hooking, high sticking, tripping and cross checking. And when you do one of the aforementioned, you get the adult version of being sent to your room and have to go sit in a penalty box for two minutes. Or as Denis, the goalie from the film Slap Shot, says, “you go to the box, you know. Two minutes by yourself, and you feel shame.” Instead, we’re watching a sport who’s most climactic moment is an overweight chain smoker pushing a pile of chips over, declaring “All In.” We should be the ones that feel shame. We’ve become a country that would rather watch seven guys who still live with their parents play cards? It’s about time America steps away from the table and back into the chilly confines of hockey venues across the nation.
Consider this article a plea to stop a startling American sports movement. Before your kids starts asking you for a pack of his favorite poker players cigarettes, get a couple of hockey tickets and help save a great sport.