The War Room with Mick Kern of Tomas Vanish (Vanek) fame , love that joke, was talking the other day about what you missed most about the NHL. Most of the the things I either was too young to know about or I had never experienced but it got me thinking.
What I missed was those full on ice fights with goalies involved, listening to the games on my old record player with an antenna I created myself to listen to some random game and knowing all the players of every game.
I know I’ve written about Chris Simon before and watching the Washington Capitals but when you have Home Team Sports and all they play is Caps games you start to learn about all the players . One of the most memorable fights was in 1998 when the Bruins and Caps fought a complete on ice brawl which included the goalies for both teams: Olaf Kolzig and Byron Dafoe. The ice was littered with sticks and gloves and equipment. It was an absolutely amazing sight to be seen.
I understand that the NHL wants to bring in the fans who want to see scoring and fancy passes and goals. The thing about fighting though is that there has to be a place for it in hockey. You can’t allow someone to take liberties with your stars. I guess now though they’ve done a lot to do away with the cheap shots with penalties and the NHL got tired of the joke about going to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out. I just miss the enforcer. I miss the days when teams hated each other so much they’d have full out 6 vs 6 brawls and you were so compelled to watch. Not that I want to see Crosby fighting Nash or Lundqvist fighting anyone but hey if you gotta do it you gotta do it.
It’s like those old Colorado and Detroit series that I used to watch in the playoffs. There was so much hate and so much violence and you knew these guys would leave teeth and limbs on the ice to get to the next round. It just seems like we’ve toned it down a bit so that we could introduce a different kind of crowd. It’s a different kind of game too. I have adapted and I still love hockey I just miss those guys.
With the introduction of the Internet, satellite radio and cable TV you can pretty much watch or listen to any game you want. So back in the day when I crafted my own antenna and scanned the AM stations at night to find the Toronto station to listen to the Leafs it was like finding hockey nirvana. The sounds of Potvin and Gilmour my two favorite Leafs of all time and dreams of playing alongside in the packed house of the now defunct Maple Leaf Gardens. I can’t tell you how cool it was for me to lay there and imagine the miles and miles the signal traveled for me to pick it up. A Leafs fan in southern Virginia. Years later I’d see the inside of the MLG right before the closing of the beloved building on a trip to the great North when my father pulled on one of the outside doors on a whim and ushered me in. It’s buildings like that and the Forum we will never get back. We have to cherish them when we can.
Of all the things I miss the most is being able to play. I’ve gotten old, street hockey isn’t a viable option and certainly neither is ice hockey. I wish I was closer to a rink maybe I’d try, maybe it’d be easier who knows. But in summer you sit around and think about the past season, what I miss: hockey. Is it back yet? Drop the puck already!