Watching a hockey game is like sitting in on a meeting of a secret society that you are not a member of. You can decipher the gist of what is going on, but you have no idea how the details work, or how they are implemented.
Every few years I’ll go on a playoff hockey watching jag. This has been one of those years. I watched a lot of our local San Jose Sharks, who went deep into the playoffs, but were eliminated earlier this week by the Vancouver Canucks.
First of all, let me say that hockey is an amazing sport to watch. How these guys are able to make pin point passes on skates at break neck speed while being pursued by 250 pound gorillas is beyond me. And they still have time to fight!
Hockey is a non-linear sport. Viewing it on television, you never know who is on the rink at any given time. Think about it — they’re constantly changing lines. You are at the mercy of the announcers to let know who is on the rink. In baseball there’s a set lineup — you know where everyone is at every moment of the game. Sure, in football and basketball there are in-game substitutions, but they occur during breaks in the action. Hockey players are change on the fly.
How do they know when to change? The announcers won’t tell me. They must know — half of them are former players. I think they don’t want us non-hockey people to be in their exclusive club.
You have the three-man lines, as wellas the two defencemen. Do the defencemen work in tandem as pairs, or are they separate entities? Do they see more ice time than the forwards? How do they know when to get off the ice?
These are mere quibbles. Hockey is a great sport, albeit a perplexing one. And they have one of the great traditions in sport, in which the players line up after the conclusion of a playoff series and shake hands. I watched the victorious Boston Bruins shake hands with the Tampa Lightning after tonight’s game 7. The players appeared to have genuine affection and respect for one another. Good job out of them.