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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What a game! Sabres v Pens

First of all, I freely admit to screwing up a man-law already this year. It occurred Tuesday as the NHL outdoor game was coming to an end. My partner, Jane Rickard (who runs the blog site Powderhornhockey) and I had hosted a viewing party for the Sabres v Penguins game.

Most people were late in arriving. It was New Years Day after all. There was my brother. He and I grew up in a house with European farmer attitudes towards time and the fact he arrived the day he indicated he would speaks in his favor.

And Rik, a young friend who had partied hard the previous night. There was Barb and John, and my daughter too. All late. The first person to arrive showed up more than 90 minutes after the game had started and I had been put in authority over the Tivo. I set it to record, but didn’t set it for any additional time.

Hence, we watched as the game OT ended, and then moved to live television and discovered that we had no idea how the shoot out ended.

Rik asked for my man card and duly folded a corner back. It was a mere warning.

But what a great game. Snow falling, the remarkable charge of Sidney Crosby through the snowy surface, bouncing the puck on his blade, to bring the puck into the offensive zone. The crowd shots. This was a great game to watch and enjoy. I could see people, during the party, stealing away and watching the game: watching hockey on television.

The opening sequence of shots (was it on NBC or the 2 ½ hour special on the NHL network?) that showed kids playing pond hockey was fantastic. I wanted to cry! Wait, no, the man card wouldn’t take that too.

Anyway, it was great!

The NHL has to do this again. The Sabres should demand this as a New Year’s Day game every year. No more dull bowl games playing meaningless games in sunny Southern States. Which two teams are playing? No one ever seems to know or care. No, now the North has its own possibility of meaningless games celebrating our wonderful snowy heritage. Yeh!

And the fact that it was Buffalo was an added bonus. The Sabres are our adopted NHL team. (Sorry Thrashers fans). After all, the running joke in our house for most of the last decade was that Chicago had two minor league hockey teams (or its alternate, the NHL should consider putting a franchise in Chicago).

What went right? Snow and weather to start. Plus, a tight game.

As the buildup to the game was broadcast, I kept hearing how people hoped the weather wouldn’t effect the game. Damn right. No, seriously wrong. If weather kept people away due to being extreme or kept the game from being played due to damaging the ice. Well, that would be a problem.

But those shots of the snow falling and the guys skating? Oh my god! I wanted to be there, witnessing it, writing about it and shooting it with my camera.

This took the romance of the game, gave it a testosterone shot in the ass and put it on display for a national audience. It is the way I learned to play back in the day. And that’s not to say I’m an athlete. I’m a fan. But it brought home the games at Lafollette Park. There was the gridiron flooded with water, the rocks on the ice to symbolize the goals and the stuff sticking through. And it was a rough ice surface.

A symbol is a more powerful thing that the real item. And this game showed it. Now that there have been several successful outdoor games, the game can survive a bad outdoor tilt. History will record a great game in Buffalo and people will be challenged to remember if they watched it.

My opinion about the bottom line: any game that doesn’t require a degree in Latin mathematics to recall a memory is probably a good thing.

But I ramble: which is a thing abhorrent to this blog.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Pond hockey rules! I am of the camp that would like to see the Sabres do an outdoor game on a yearly basis. 70,000 screaming fans can't be wrong, Rich Stadium (Willison Field) never looked better.