Why should a city with lukewarm reception to its basketball, football, and baseball teams in recent years, be granted a NHL Hockey team. A more important question might be why the fans of the city would even want a team.
I will tell you why every person in the area should want a NHL team nearby. NHL hockey is as they say “The Coolest Thing on EARTH”
Sunday January 13, I attended a NHL game for the first time. As a veteran of countless highschool, college, and professional baseball, football, basketball, softball, volleyball, and softball games, I was almost expecting more of the same when it came to hockey.
For those who have been hesitant to give the cool sport a warm welcome, it may be time to give in. Resistance is futile. NHL hockey is truly the coolest game on Earth.
Ok I will be honest if it weren’t for a free pair of tickets provided by the good folks at the Rome-News Tribune; I probably would have never ventured to the Philips Arena to check out the woeful Thrashers.
I will also admit that while watching the game, I had no earthly idea who a single player on the ice was, and I own NHL 2000 for the PC.
Strolling into the magnificent structure known as the Philips Arena, I didn’t know what to expect. Tampa Bay Lightning against the Atlanta Thrashers; I took a quick glance at the standings before the game. Atlanta: 10-27-6-3, Tampa Bay: 16-22-4-2.
Without having to digest the meaning of the other two columns of numbers in the standings, I immediately recognized the sign of two bad teams. Basic formula: If number in column one is lower than the number in column two, then you have a team that is equally parts struggling and/or losing.
For those that don’t know column number three is for ties, and column four is a column unique to hockey and hockey alone. The infamous overtime losses column. Yes they actually give teams credit in hockey for losing, if it comes in overtime.
Okay that is one quirk about hockey that isn’t particularly pleasing. If a team loses in overtime they should get nothing- zero, zilch, nada.
A couple of things that hockey needs to get ride of to open up the game. In no particular order:
1. The offsides rule. In the NHL rulebook, offsides is defined as: The position of the player’s skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an offside. A player is offside when blah, blah, blah.
Put it this way, your team will be streaking down the ice for a break away and the ref. will stop play for seemingly no reason at all. When viewers are trying to watch all the action, no one wants to look down to check out what the skates are doing. I say “let em skate!”
2. The icing rule: For the purpose of this Rule, the center red line will divide the ice into halves. Should any player of a Team, equal or superior in numerical strength to the opposing Team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing Team, play shall be stopped and the puck faced off at the en do the blah, blah, blah.
I say if a puck gets cleared to the opposing team’s end of the ice, that team has to clear it out of there. Can you imagine the mad scramble to get to a loose puck?
But there are some good things about hockey.
For one, players are allowed to fight. If somebody is taking shots at your star player, its time to drop the gloves and go toe –to-toe.
One of the most awesome parts of hockey is the way penalties are handled. If a team loses a player because of a penalty, then they must play on with out that player. That’s right six against five. Lose two players to penalties then it is six against four. Simple, but it adds tremendously to the fun factor of the game.
Even after watching the Thrashers and Lightning skate to a 2-2 tie, I was a happy camper. The entire hockey experience is different from any other sport. From the crowd, to the players, environment, and atmosphere, everything is just…. cool.
NHL hockey is definitely the coolest sport on earth.