Senators on Ice

on Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mike Fisher scores for Ottawa Senators, a short-handed goal
against the Buffalo Sabres in a Stanley Cup Semi-final Playoff game (2007)

As far as sports go, there are two games which I would not dare to play for fear of loss of life and limb or at least a few teeth. These are rugby and ice hockey. Yet strangely enough, these are the two sports that I watch and follow with a passion. If the New Zealand All-Blacks lost a finals or a series or if Team Canada failed to secure the ice hockey world championship, I'd just feel that something was not right in the world. Maybe even the sun won't rise the next day.

This is strange cause in my part of the world and really in most of the world, soccer rules supreme. However, having watched ice hockey when I was in Canada, I couldn't help notice that soccer seemed to be played in slow motion. It was like watching 22 snails on a large playing field. Why do I like these two violent, full contact sports?

The truth is these games are played with more passion and sense of fairplay than most non-contact games. Soccer is riddled with shameful acts like Maradonna's Hand of God incident. I used to play basketball and believe me its a dirty game of elbowing and tripping. The most contact for a non-contact sport. Also strangely inspite of the mayhem on the playing field (fights are regular in both ice hockey and rugby), the fans are generally well behaved.

This is in contrast to sedate games like cricket where fans fight, umpires are beaten up and even coaches are murdered. Soccer too is full of violent fan related incidents. So maybe part of the appeal of watching rugby or ice hockey is that I feel very safe in the stands while watching my team work out my aggressions for me on the field or ice rink.

I did not grow up with ice hockey, so what made me pick up the fever. I have to say the combination of speed, agility and precision passing and shooting. When it all comes together it is like a well choreographed dance. And what an adrenaline high to watch a game in multiple overtime and playing sudden death.

When I was studying in Ottawa, the Senators were only just re-formed. I was so excited but then later disappointed when almost all the tickets were snapped up for the whole season. At any rate, it was a bit too costly for my student budget. However, the newly formed Senators were pretty much the whipping boys in those days so I didn't miss much. The teams that were doing well included the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers. I was there when the great one moved to California. A day of national mourning in Canada. The names I remember were names like Fleury, Messier, and the notorious Lindros.

Today, the Senators are 3 games up in the best of 7 semifinals against the Buffalo Sabres. The Senators are on the ice and heading for the Stanley Cup. Go Sens Go!!!!

Two years ago, I was in Denver for just a couple of nights but I was thrilled that I managed to get tickets for the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers game. This was my one and only live NHL game. I went with a friend who had never been to a hockey game before either. Our tickets turned out to be as far up in the rafters as possible. I'm told they are called the nose-bleed seats because of the high altitude!

I went dressed for the occasion in an All-Blacks Rugby T-shirt just to confuse everyone. To my surprise, a guy just two seats away was also wearing the exact same T-shirt. What are the odds of two nutters wearing a rugby shirt to an ice hockey game? We were pleasantly surprised.

It was a great experience even though I was supporting the Oilers who eventually lost 5-3. I am now plotting for an opportunity to go to an international rugby game wearing the Ottawa Senators T-shirt!
(all photos except the first one are by LGS in Denver 2005)


mist1 said...

Hockey is the only sport that I understand. Sometimes, when I meet a guy with a split lip, I wonder if he's a hockey player or if he just fights in bars. I don't live in a big hockey town, so usually, I can be assured that the lip injury is from a bar fight.

Anonymous said...

"...watching 22 snails on a large playing field." oh the visual, I love it!!!!! hee hee hee

I would say you've well defined yourself beyond just your cultural upbringing to embrace many things.


nancycle said...

Your post takes what I consider common sense towards the sport and supports itself with fact. Congratulations.

Hockey has come a long way from a protective perspective. Personally, with 20yrs primarily devoted to dental health where prevention is a key componet to oral health (as well as our overall health) the "hockey smile" is most definatley becoming a thing of the past.

What has not changed is that hockey is our Canadian sport and capturing the very essence of what it means to be Canadian, we are proud of it.

Great post on a source of great exercise, great entertainment and a great reason to drink beer!


Jocelyn said...

I was laid up with strep throat last year during Minnesota's high school state hocky championships, which take over the airwaves for a week. This state BREATHES its hockey.

Anyhow, I "got" hockey for the first time. I was croaking at the tv, rooting for new favorites, etc. When it's good, it's so good.

geewits said...

We watched our ice hockey team win tonight ALSO ON THEIR WAY TO THE STANLEY CUP. The Red Wings beat the ducks 5-0!! I don't know how the matchings work but I hope it's not your team vs. mine for the cup.

Or maybe I do. :)

evalinn said...

"...watching 22 snails on a large playing field."

That is so true LGS, I totally agree (for a change) with u!

Becky Wolfe said...

yep, you can't live in Canada, even for a short time, and not get caught up in some sort of hockey fever. i try not to watch it too much, because it can become addictive. The only season I really watched was 3 years ago when Calgary Flames were in the finals (I only bother with the finals cuz OH MY its a LONG season for hockey these days) But I also enjoy non NHL games. The non-pros have a lot of passion as well & I enjoyed getting to know a local team for a season too!

Odat said...

Go Devils! (even tho they got kicked out of the finals ;-(

Great take on hockey...


Janice Thomson said...

I'm not a sports fan but I have seen a couple live hockey games as well as football and must admit I did get caught up in the game.

patterns of ink said...

My Red Wings are still doing pretty good. =) Hey, my current post features a famous kite flyer from Vancouver (I didn't know where he was from until after I wrote the post.)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. Apart from split lip, missing teeth are another sign of a hockey player. :)

Watch soccer and tell me it ain't so! I am a very embracing person (metaphorically). Physically I am extremely shy.

I am so envious of you over the next couple of weeks. I wish you a big Stanley Cup celebration at the end of that period and ask for lots of photos on your blog of Ottawa going wild (which is such a rare thing).

Absolutely, When it's good, it's good. I even enjoy watching 6 year old girls play ice hockey although the entertainment value isn't so much from spectacular goals but spectacular spills.

I think its Red Wings vs Senators. Sorry, we can't both be happy! So all I gotta say is , "We will , We will ROCK you." :)

Ah, at last we agree. Skol.

I used to follow the flames when Fleury played. Oooo. Long time ago.

The Devils can't do well every year! That would be so sad for the other teams. :)

I am thinking what poem we could write from the perspective of the hockey puck being slapped around at ridiculous speeds. Glad you are a fan.

So sorry but for my sake, we are going to have to demolish the Red Wings at the finals.

evalinn said...

He he, u mean skål. Close enough!

squirrel said...

My husband and I are big hockey fans also!

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