Friday, June 10, 2011

A Hockey Article Worth Reading

 Michael Ryder celebrates in Game 4 as Tanner Glass skates away.  Elise Amendola, AP
Any good attention for hockey is, well, good.  Bill Simmons, writing for his new site, Grantland (via ESPN) is a very polarizing figure (See Riley, Rick) and yet I really don't have a strong opinion about him.  His writing is fine and he can be quite funny, but he's also a Boston suck-up.

Yet that works to his advantage in this column, as he has rediscovered his hockey mojo.  He makes several salient points (not the least being his brief aside about Bruce Springsteen - "Born in the USA" is perhaps my least favorite album of his). 

I don't like the idea of being a front-runner, so Simmons loses me there.  Once you're a fan, you should stay a fan, and I've hit this topic before.  If you have had the nerve - oh, the humanity! - of becoming a Yankees fan say since 1996 (or 2009), at least stay loyal.  Or if you, say, became a Steelers fan after watching them win Super Bowl XIII when you were 10...

Still loyal.

But whatever - bygones.  Simmons hits on most of the things that we hockey fans already knew.  Yes to me the sport is still flawed but those flaws aren't going away.  That's what made 1994 so oh-so-extra special (as Simmons points out).  Casual fans were watching.  New York was the epicenter.  There was no shootout, just a crazy penalty shot showdown between Pavel Bure and Mike Richter (SAVE BY RICHTER!).

As Simmons also notes, 1994 was before the Devils began to lull us to sleep and before the Europeans really took the game over.  There was less glitz; hockey players weren't fashion models.

Times change, and these items aren't going away.  Yet those of us watching these playoffs (and this Finals series) know that we've seen the things that brought us to the sport.  The speed.  The intensity.  The hitting.  The justice (who didn't love Thomas swiping at Burrows?).  The heartbreak or euphoria (Games 1 and 2 were just nuts).  The controversy (Burrows - the bite of Game 1 and the performance of Game 2 and shame on the NHL for allowing it).

That and so much more.  It's been brilliant.

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