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Links, and Reasons To Love Hockey

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Okay, so not all those columns I mentioned yesterday have run yet.  The Puck Preview did (and was bang-on, back-pat back-pat back-pat), but not til 6 EST.

Today, the links I’ll provide will be a JOE THORNTON COLUMN and a DUNCAN KEITH COLUMN.  But in the meantime….

After a comment on yesterday’s blog, I realized my readership has quadrupled over the course of the year, so many of you may have missed my “Five Reasons I Love Hockey” that I did for Puck Daddy.   Well, here they are – I’d love to hear yours in the comment section too.

*****

From a player’s perspective, we bring you Five Reasons Justin Bourne Loves Hockey.

1. Clean Ice.

If a stiff breeze hit that glass-like pre-period ice, it would advance the puck.  What that means is, an on-ice snapshot is gonna peel paint off the post.  Zero percent resistance, 100 percent awesome. It’s the only time that the canvas is predictable and true, without ruts and bumps, just pure, cold smoothness. 

A saucer pass will land with that flat “smack” sound, skating is easy, and it just looks like shiny, glossy, perfect, happiness.  I imagine heaven to be that sheet of ice, with a perfectly-taped brand-new blue and orange CCM Vector one piece (from six years ago), taped in white with light wax (oh, and a good goalie who loves taking breakaways). But that’s just me.  I used to love those Bauer commercials – “A clean sheet – what are you going to write?”

2. The Good Kind of “Ting!”

That miniscule, high-pitched “TING!” that’s barely audible when you score just inside the post and catch just the tiniest piece of it. Not the metallic “thud” of a puck hitting the post solid. Only those crazy goalies like that one.

It’s the perfect shot – as far to the outskirts of the net as possible without having the puck rejected like a basketball off the back of the rim. Ideally, the “ting!” would come from the top-corner, off the elbow, glove hand. That’s the good stuff right there, that good, crisp “ting!”. And if you’re lucky, the net is wound super-tight, so it spits the puck right back out, making you feel like you’re packin’ Ovechkin-style heat (you’re not).

Wait, the Leafs scored?

3.The Simultaneous Bench Pop-Up.

You just get to the bench. You spray yourself with water. Your team has the puck deep in the offensive zone, battling for it along the wall. It’s late in the third.  Someone gets a handle on it and moves it up the wall to the d-man, who walks it to the middle and loads up a slap-shot – a seeing-eye slapshot – that sparks the red light. At that exact second, every single guy bumps his head on the rafters, hugs six people at once and has a mini-seizure.  There’s just nothing as cool as that shared experience.  Only in hockey, man.

4. The Roller Coaster of “Oo’s” and “Aahs”.

Its one of my favourite hockey observations I’ve ever heard, from my friend Neil Corbett – “no game makes you think ‘oh, this is good, this is good, oh, this is bad, this is bad’ as much as hockey.”

As a player, in a back and forth game that doesn’t have many whistles, when it’s just rush – rush – rush – rush, you love the audible crowd gasps.  If there’s a big hit, or someone hits a post, or better – there’s a breakaway – it’s just too intense.  You know it’s going to be a huge reaction from the streaking opportunity either way, so you can almost feel everybody holding their breath as the player skates towards the opposing goal, with the quiet-but-growing energy about to explode. What other major sport is a breakaway not guaranteed to wield something? Football? Basketball? Please.

Pure adrenalin.

5. The Breakthrough.

Hockey games are frustrating. “Ooo just about” “I almost had it”  “I just missed you man, sorry”.  So there’s no feeling like that breakthrough where it all finally goes right for a play, after all the frustrating could-have-beens. 

 Tic-tac-toe, Gooooaaaallll! When everything clicks just right, it’s a completely serene sense of peace, with a dash of jubilation.  Stats padded, a moment of relief washes over you. For the first time that game, there was literally nothing better you could have done.  It was your ultimate goal, your best-case scenario, and you can go sit down on the bench and pretend that you don’t want to continue smiling until you tuck in for bed that night.  Cause you do.

I love this game.

Comments

30 Responses to “Links, and Reasons To Love Hockey”
  1. caps says:

    awesome.

  2. Andrew says:

    For a rec leaguer like myself, my top 5 would have to be:

    1. Making the perfect breakout pass. – What better way to contribute to your team than to start the rush off well.
    2. Goals, scoring or assisting. – For a guy who never got to play as a kid, getting a goal or an assist is like proving to yourself that you could have played and played well if you had the chance.
    3. Skating. Just…..skating.
    4. Post-Game carpooling – You get to talk about all the great (or not so great) plays you and your team made.
    5. Getting better – Winter rolls around, rinks start popping up around the city, and you go out and play hockey for 3-4 hours because it’s fun but all the while you’re actually getting better. Love that.

  3. kitten fister says:

    It took you all afternoon to copy and paste an old article you wrote (that I have already read)? booooooo.

  4. kitten fister says:

    To your credit it is more than I have done at work today.

  5. jtbourne says:

    Chill, what I’ve been working on will be up at Puck Daddy asap. The blog is free, homie.

  6. Nadeau says:

    Top 5

    5) Sitting In The Room Yaking about everything other than hockey with the boys

    4) The coach who adds a Y or Ski to everyones names

    3) BAR DOWN!!!!

    2) Fresh Ice

    1) The break from real life you get when its just you the ice and 20 Others guys all wanting the same thing!!!

  7. Dave says:

    Saw your pick for the cup finals on the Puck Daddy live chat. I had to look twice, you have the Hawks in the Stanley Cup Final? Wow, didn’t expect that..You’re turning into a Niemi believer!!

  8. jtbourne says:

    Dave – You can have that I expressed Niemi is their weakest spot (like being the shortest center in the NBA), and you’re right, I’ve come around on him. But again, as for your team:

    I picked them to have the best record in the league this year.
    I picked them to go to the Conference Finals (but Detroit to move on).
    When Detroit was eliminated, I picked Chicago to beat San Jose.
    I picked them to beat Nashville in round one.

    The only time I said they’d lose was round two… other than that, I’ve been pro-Chicago!

  9. Greg says:

    my favorite post to date…well done Bourne!

  10. Joe G. says:

    What do I love about hockey? To quote Russell Hammond, “To begin with, everything.” I’ll echo others on here, but I’ll take a stab (based on my limited experience):

    5) The anticipation right before you hit the ice.
    4) The non-stop ball-busting, from the second you walk in the locker room, to the hail of insults you get as you walk out. The locker room’s the great equalizer, you could be a fund manager or a janitor, but in there you’re all the same.
    3) Those fleeting and way too few moments where you feel a sliver of what an NHL player feels when the puck hits your tape and you put it right where you meant to.
    2) As a fan, moments like “The National Anthem” at the old Chicago Stadium, or my new favorite, Canucks fans singing the middle part of “O Canada” (made that much better by the guy singing the anthem, what the hell is that exactly?).
    1) Like Nadeau, those couple of hours where the rigors of everyday life melt away, and you’re a kid again, and all that matters is the next shift.

    I tell you what, if life was just like a hockey game, the world would be a better place.

  11. ms.conduct says:

    LOVED the Thornton piece. What’s in the heart and mind of a player… that’s the stuff. Great work.

  12. Nathan says:

    “Canucks fans singing the middle part of “O Canada” (made that much better by the guy singing the anthem, what the hell is that exactly?).”

    Mr. Bourne’s top five pretty much sums it up for me, but I’ll add to Joe G.’s from above:

    Playing a three-on-three tournament in the 1st place game and finding out Canucks’ anthem singer Mark Donnelly just finished playing on the other sheet of ice and has agreed to come sing ‘Oh Canada’ while still wearing the bottom half of his equipment before the game. He wears suspenders to keep his hockey-pants up.

  13. Dave says:

    Just yank’in your chain…I did like your USA Today article regarding the ol’switcheroo. An angle I never would have thought of. Being a player, you see things from a different angle.

  14. Mike says:

    Big props for all the postings and tweetings and yes, pastings. This one was worthy of the paste. I can’t narrow down five but if I could, this one would be in there: as a defenseman, the (long ago) feeling of a solid hip check that sends a guy ass over tea kettle. Like the other guy’s skates are up near your head, like you hit the guy, stand up and somehow he is completely vertical too- but upside down. That’s nice.

  15. Travelchic59 says:

    You’re holding your own quite well over at Puck Daddy. Great job!

  16. mikeB says:

    The ting of the inner bar that causes the puck to shoot back out as fast as it went in. Especially when only you and the ref know it went it.

    Any crowd noise. Any at all. When I played in front of parents, and fans and they actually cared what happened and made noise, good or bad, it always fired me up. Now in Mens League the girlfriends are care more about what happened the week before than whats happening on the ice. The feeling is not the same. If there was one thing about the hockey games I used to play, that is it. Playing for someone who isn’t a teammate. Playing for a crowd.

    A warmup where you feel everything is right. The shots feel good, the passes are crisp, the skates feel fast, and the hands are smooth. Its the one moment where you know that something is going to right for you on the ice tonight.

  17. Marc says:

    One specific puck on post noise for me – The cross bar ping slapshot. You know, the one that rockets in, tips the bar and redirects at such an extreme angle it hits the ice inside the net before getting to the netting? Mmmmmm thats nice.

  18. Steve C. says:

    …sometimes when you’re skating out on the river, a stiff breeze will advance the puck.
    That’s my top one.

  19. Fish says:

    I read that post again, ’cause it gave me goosbumps the first time I ever read it… It still does.

  20. Freeman77 says:

    Great writing Justin – keep it up!

  21. Joe G. says:

    “Playing a three-on-three tournament in the 1st place game and finding out Canucks’ anthem singer Mark Donnelly just finished playing on the other sheet of ice and has agreed to come sing ‘Oh Canada’ while still wearing the bottom half of his equipment before the game. He wears suspenders to keep his hockey-pants up.”

    Nathan, that had to be outstanding. The fact he plays makes it even better now.

  22. Frank says:

    What I love about hockey is how hard you have to work at it to get better. Running, which is used in baseball, football, basketball, soccer, etc. is intuitive, skating is not. I love the moments in a game where I finally do something without thinking about it that I’ve been working on for months. (FYI, I put on skates for the first time at the age of 28).

    In addition to the moments on the ice mentioned above, I also like the beers in the locker room after the game with the team and the usual BS that goes along with it.

  23. KarenfromRochester says:

    I love the sound of the skates on ice, the sticks hitting the ice and the sound of the puck rocketing off the glass!

  24. JIllian says:

    As an avid fan… there are quite a few things that make hockey the be all end all of sports.

    1. Getting into the arena early and seeing some of the team out on the ice messing around… doing trick shots off the glass and just having a good ole time… makes me realize, these guys don’t just play for the paychecks (like some other sports) but for the love of the game.

    2. The gut renching heart pounding action that starts at the drop of the puck and sometimes doesn’t stop until well after the final horn sounds.

    3. The sudo “wave” that appears in the arena as the team scores a goal and everyone bounds up from their seats to cheer.

    4. The look on the players faces when they in fact just had that perfect tic-tac-toe GGGOOOAAAALLLLL!

    and 5… I agree with Karen from Rochester… the sound of skates on ice and a crisp smack of the puck hitting a stick after the perfect pass.

  25. sk84fun_dc says:

    Re. your twitter question about Game 7′s

    According to a recent article in the Ntl Post before the PHI BOS Game 7: “Home teams have won 80 of 132 or 60.6% of previous Game 7’s in NHL history”… so now the record should be 80 of 133…since the home team lost that game 7

    http://sports.nationalpost.com/2010/05/13/hey-everyone-the-flyers-could-make-history/

    Here’s some other Game 7 info., a little dated…but might be of interest even though this is not the finals

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=425387

  26. Deirdre says:

    Those days when the puck really does look like a beach ball and you can put your hand out and catch them with no apparent effort…plus the look on the shooter’s face when you do just that.

    …made even better when I’ve put up with 20 minutes of jibing pre-game because I wear a junior catcher :-P

  27. nightfly says:

    Sweet. Especially the “aaaaaaaaah OHHHHHHH” sound. Once my buddy and I got caught in traffic on the way to a game, and we missed the opening faceoff. There was an early chance that just missed before we got off the concourse. Just hearing a packed barn do that all at once put chills up my spine and a goofy grin on my face. There’s just nothing like the Lord’s Own Hockey.

    Of course, the wierdo goalies have a slightly different list:

    5. “PING!” – and the solider, the better. We get to shrug and tell the shooter later, “I had everything else, bro.” Because we’re liars.

    4. Knowing where they’re going and getting there first – about the closest thing there is in life to being an actual Jedi Knight. Not only are you absolutely sure, you’re absolutely right. When you do it perfectly it never feels like hurrying, and the save is a foregone conclusion, and it looks like they just blew the chance.

    3. Hat’s off to you – sometimes the shooter just gets you, and with such a great play, you admire him for it (the bastard). Once in an open hockey, I got to face Tony Szabo (roller hockey all-star). Even at half-speed it was obvious he was just goofing. He broke in on me, and I knew – KNEW DAMMIT – where he was going, got there first… and he just stopped in the middle of his move and let my momentum roll me out of his way, and then slid the puck into the open net. It was ridiculous. I would have stoned anybody else on that play. I’m laughing just thinking about it now.

    2. Getting me back on the rink – getting pulled for the extra skater is the worst, because it means that I put my guys behind the eight-ball… but when they tie it up, and you get back out and get another chance to contribute… sweet.

    1. Tie games late – everything is riding on the next thing you do. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that you have their back, that you’ll keep things level until they get their chance, and that after you take care of them, they’re going to go down and take care of you.

    After that, huddle up, then hit the handshake line and the bar. Bust on each other, toast the valiant opposition (sometimes with them buying!), and long live hockey.

  28. Anna S. says:

    Told you earlier that the ‘bench pop-up’ bit was maybe my favorite thing you’ve ever written, and it still is. In that spirit, my top five as a fan (in no particular order):

    1. Morning skates. I love watching players just goof off, fire the puck off the glass near the pretty girls to startle them, screw with each other’s heads when a forward decides to take a shift in goal and the goalie fires gentle shots off him while he tries unsuccessfully to imitate the butterfly. My favorite hockey memory to this day involves a pre-game skate with the Blackhawks, in a town where we were having a blizzard. Eight inches of snow on the roads, and since I live in the South, no snowplows. Driving in that weather was a sign that you had balls. Only a few Hawks showed up for the pregame skate, and the only other spectator was John Wiedeman, of Blackhawks Radio. Only two people there, me and him, who both loved hockey and got into a great conversation about the game and the team while watching practice. Afterward, the players came out to the lobby of the tiny rink and just sort of hung out with us both, half an hour or so of casual conversation as they trickled out of the locker room and seemed reluctant to get on the bus (not that I blame them, it was white-knuckle driving for me in my snow-chained, four-wheel-drive car, I can’t imagine what it must have been like in a bus with no snow chains and no all-wheel). Still, a great memory for me as a fan.

    2. The smell of the ice. Standing down next to the boards, watching the warm-up skate, I love that smell of chill and soft ammonia from the zamboni. It’s hard to describe to someone who’s never been there, but there’s something a little wild about it that gets in your bloodstream and almost seems to fuel the action of the later game.

    3. The whacked-out, sprawling glove save. I adore goalies who lay it all on the line, and there’s nothing more fun to watch than a glove save from a goalie who’s making his second or third save of the sequence, and reaches back like a greyhound all stretched out to grab the puck in the most improbable way possible. The satisfying “thwipp” you can hear when the biscuit hits leather is so very exciting, and when he lands on his side or on his back, cradling that glove to himself with the self-satisfied expression of a goalie who knows he’s done well, I just melt. There’s nothing like it for pure fannish adrenaline rush. You’re so sure it’s going in, but then your goalie pulls off a miracle.

    4. The anthem at the United Center. Yes, I’m a Blackhawks fan, but I live further south than the Hurricanes, so I’ve only gotten to experience the anthem at the UC twice. Still, every time I hear it (even on TV), it sends chills down my spine. Twenty-two thousand voices all screaming their heads off is a remarkable display of patriotism and solidarity, and I can only imagine what it much be like as a player to set foot on the ice after that, with all that energy still buzzing in the building.

    5. The pure wrister from the slot. There’s something innately satisfying anytime a player manages a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall cannonball from the top of the slot, and manages to slide it past the goalie and whatever screen is working on the crease at the time. There’s just something poetic about that wind-up-and-fire motion, I love it every time I see it.

  29. TimmyHate says:

    5) That first cold chill that hits you when you enter the rink – coming from a temperate climate (Auckland, New Zealand) – bliss just knowing your going to get out on the ice. (Or entering the Rink at Jobing.com on a hot day getting to watch my coyotes…only done it a few times but such a perfect feeling.)

    4) Fresh Ice is amazing – smooth and perfect – but I think the ice late in the 3rd is just as awesome. Chopped up, snow spray everywhere and everyone has to be bang on to make the play. Hockey is one of the few sports where the playing surface changes this much every game.

    3)The boys. Talking crap in the locker room over a cold one after the game. Win or Lose its awesome.

    2) That split second where time slows down, the puck is within a few inches of your stick on the pass and the goalie is out of position – its all on you to put it away.

    1)The fans. Greatest fans of the Greatest sport on earth. Being now known as New Zealand’s #1 Coyotes Fan among some of the yotes’ fans.

  30. Pat says:

    I make my living in the rink and for me there’s nothing sweeter than making the ice and then being the first person to skate on it, and being the last person to skate on the ice before taking it out for the season. There’s something almost spiritual about being first on and last off of a sheet of ice. It makes all the work worth the while.

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