I like hockey. I like its beauty, its physicality, and the endless struggle to combine both into something that makes us all insane. I like it’s individualism and it’s team spirit. I like that hockey players shouldn’t be forced to choose between team and self, that they can be one and the same.
I like that this sport almost exclusively caters to and attracts the insane. It’s a sport full of crazy giant monsters on skates killing each other to try and lift an age-old trophy that they don’t even get to keep. Obviously the people who follow and adore and love and hate the people who would take up such a pursuit are nuts.
I like that we’re still a ways away from the next lockout.
I like that almost every night, a team can come into your local building, and you can say “______ and the _____s” are in town, and that will mean something. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, Jamie Benn and the Stars, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks… all the way down to the young guns of the Oilers, Johnny Hockey and the Flames and Shane Doan and the Coyotes.
I like that I cover hockey, and I like that even if it has little affect on how I feel about the games, when I go to the rink, 90% of the people that I meet will be nice people that I’d want to have a drink with if we weren’t all wasting our lives chasing this sport. (I also like that pretty much every sport is this way.). I also like the community hockey has brought me, and the tons of friends I’ve made because we share this silly thing as a passion.
I like the analytics people. I like that they’re putting something on display that I have to learn and make an effort to get to know, and that it’s something that will make me feel like I know a little bit more about the game. I like that it caters to my inner obsessive, the person who finds something they like and wants to immediately know every damn thing about it, Harriet the Spy-style. I like that teams are recognizing their efforts and trying to use their methods to win in addition to the things they’re already doing.
I like that hockey Twitter exists, even if it bugs me sometimes, because I know 100 people who will be on my side when Mike Milbury tries to take Alex Ovechkin down a peg.
I like that Jaromir Jagr trudges on, not with the legs he had at 22, but the creative flare he had at 22 and 32, and the mind at 42 to know how to deploy it. I like that covering hockey has introduced me to what a thoughtful, hilarious human being he is. I like that I think his team will be a playoff team, and we won’t have to suffer the indignity of the great Jagr not in the postseason for the second time in his NHL career.
I like that PK Subban kissed Pierre McGuire.
When I think about it, I like PK Subban and pretty much everything about him. I like the textbook skill, offensive power and gambler’s instincts he brings to the Canadiens, and I like the personality and honesty he brings our sport. For fans who always complain about how they want to relate to their athletes, no one is living life as a hockey player the way I would want to the way PK Subban does.
I like the Canadians who have claimed this game as their own, who believe they love it more than anyone loves anything.
I like the Americans who see hockey as almost a kind of counter-culture in their country and think… no, we do.
I like that that doesn’t really matter.
I like that we get to wonder, when April and May come around, if we’ll ever see another hockey series quite like the one the Kings and the Blackhawks played last May.
I like that we all, collectively, like the Dallas Stars. I guarantee that they will be almost everyone’s side-team.
I like that, despite their messy offseason, the San Jose Sharks are still a team capable of making sure I never have to see Joe Thornton make this [sad] face ever again.
I also kinda like that we’ll all still wonder what really will happen if Jumbo Joe ever scores four in a game.
I like that for the next nine months, there’s nothing else. For the diehards who are stupid about this stuff to the point where it’s taken years off your life, that we’re all willing to do it again. Because it’s just another clean sheet, waiting."