My daughter Erin and I attended our annual professional hockey game last night. Each year I buy tickets from a client who sells them on behalf of her son’s minor hockey team. Consequently, these aren't the best tickets money can buy so we’re relegated to the rafters at the Air Canada Centre.
The fans in our section were kids and parents and they enjoyed the game for all the right reasons. Few of these people get to see more than one game every few years so for them it was a novel experience. In fact, it made me realize that professional hockey is children's entertainment. There isn't much there that will hold most adult's attention. My guess is, many fans follow the Leafs out of habit and because there's nothing better to watch on TV.
First of all, the players are children. Living in the cult like culture of professional hockey has denied these boy/men many of the experiences in life most of us take for granted; routine family structures and long term trusting and loving relationships. They're forced to prove aggressively prove themselves each day, both on the ice against the team they are playing against and within their own team as they try each day to keep their spot on the roster. Then there's the adulation they receive from naive young fans who place them on pedestals. How are they to keep this in perspective when they're 17 and living in close quarters with other teenagers? It's no wonder their behavior on the ice is so silly and ridiculous.
Another difficult part of being in the Air Canada Centre is tuning out the onslaught of commercials that come at you from all angles. The assault on the senses is tedious. I was hoping for at least a good hockey game and for the most part, it was.
Watching a game without the inanities that hockey broadcasters bring to the experience is a joy in itself. I'm allowed to decide for myself who is playing a good game and who is not. I also don't have to listen to their biases and their simple minded comments. They talk for the sake of talking and add nothing to the enjoyment of the game. But, the best part is, I don't have to listen to any of the players speak. I should feel sorry for them. They appear to be poorly educated, illiterate and frightened little boys who would rather be sitting in church than answering questions from other simple minded sports personalities. However, they make way too much money to waste my pity on them.
In this particular game against the Minnesota Wild, the skill differential between the best player on the ice, Sundin, and all of the others, was stunning. Is he that good or are they that bad? Maybe a bit of both. In spite of that, if you measure a game's entertainment value in terms of scoring chances, this was very good. There were a lot of long two line passes, bouncing pucks that induced mistakes and some bold offensive plays that all resulted in quality scoring opportunities. And if it wasn't for the Minnesota goalie, the game would have been much more one sided that the 3-2 score indicated
Here are the highlights. Erin's new hair-do was fabulous. Her attire was appropriate and nicely ironed. Our after game dinner was delicious. There was a penalty shot that actually resulted in a goal. No one expected that. Goalies usually win these battles. There were no stupid and childish fights. The penalties that were called were reasonable and expected. There were a few good hits but nothing mean and vicious. The lady sitting next to me left to go to the bathroom but once during the game - and she missed the penalty shot! But the very best part if the evening? I didn't have to listen to Don Cherry.