The World According to Keitho

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What’s the deal with hockey?

Posted by keithosaunders on May 28, 2011

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.

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4 Responses to “What’s the deal with hockey?”

  1. topshelfbk said

    That’s a great description of hockey. I love hearing it described by someone who clearly didn’t grow up steeped in the sport the way we are up here in Canada. You see it with fresh eyes. And I think you’re right – the hockey announcers want to keep the sport a secret. Judging by its lack of popularity in the U.S., the announcers are doing a great job! 🙂
    – Brendan Kelly

    • Welcome Brendan, and thanks for the kind words. I’ve noticed that some of hte announcers are better than others at letting you know when they have changed lines, and when the current line is in need of a change. Can you explain when the players themselves know how to do it, and if there is an order to which line comes next?

  2. Blair Ivey said

    When you asked ‘What’s the deal with hockey?’, I thought you were going to ponder on why a winter sport is still being contested when people everywhere, yes, even in Canada, are breaking out the shorts and BBQ’s. In this respect I’d lump basketball under the same heading. By about the end of April I find it hard to care about either sport.

    I do enjoy watching hockey live; not so much on TV. At the game you can see the whole rink and watch the flow of the game. This doesn’t show up well on the small screen. I went to a fair number of Lightning games when they were based in St. Petersburg, and had the pleasure of attending their first playoff win. Still, when the gloves and bats come out, it may be time to hang up the skates.

    • Of course the one year I want the NBA to go a little longer it’s ending a little sonner than usual. The final game, if it goes 7, will be June 14th, which is the day I arrvie in NYC for a 7 week visit. I wanted to watch some finals games with some NEw York buds. Oh well.

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