Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 8, Rule 8

The game: Edmonton vs. Colorado.

Why I chose it: It's Sunday, it's 5:45. It's this or the 7 minute highlights on the Versus On-Demand channel.

My peeve: It's Sunday, 5:45 and no other games are happening at the same time. This Center Ice package is a trap - now that I have it, I need at least 7 or 8 games going at once or I go into withdrawal.

The rule: Section 2, Teams. Rule 8, Injured Players.

Number of sections in the rule: 3.

Definition: This rule should be simple: player gets injured, player leaves ice, other player is substituted. But like life, what should be and what is are not the same. It takes eight paragraphs to explain when the team can substitute a new player, where the injured player must exit the ice, when the injured player can come back, what to do if he incurs a penalty and can't serve it (no, you don't get out of jail free), and it outlines the strict requirement that a bleeding player must leave the ice. It's also way more unmerciful to goalies. It only takes five paragraphs to explain the requirements for netminders.

My favorite highlight:
As if stopping pucks going the speed of sound wasn't hard enough: If a goalkeeper sustains an injury or becomes ill, he must be ready to resume play immediately or be replaced by a substitute goalkeeper and no additional time shall be allowed by the Referee for the purpose of enabling the injured or ill goalkeeper to resume his position. No warm-up shall be permitted for a substitute goalkeeper in all regular season League and Playoff games. The Referee shall report to the Commissioner for disciplinary action any delay in making a goalkeeper substitution.

Number of times rule violated: 0.

The final score: Edmonton 5. Colorado 3.

The morals of the story:

The game: No matter which position you play, there's no free ride. Not even when you're injured. Sure, the players get a few more minutes to get their substitution act together, but you get a penalty if you misstep even a little. And if you're a goalie, well, you pretty much better be bulletproof. And if you aren't, don't apply for the job.

Life: Hockey players risk everything everytime they step on the ice: their safety, their winning streak, and if the injury is bad enough, their dreams and their futures. But that doesn't stop them. They play on, one way or another. We should be required to live by this rule in life. Most of us live lives of silent dreams and loud fears. We are afraid of "what if," we get caught up in life's crosschecks and two minutes for roughing and we give up. We let someone else be substituted for us while we leave the ice. Next time life injures you, get back up. Play on. Just like hockey, rules and all, you can always come back.

Bonus life lesson: As if you couldn't tell from earlier blog entries, I have special admiration for goalkeepers. Well, ok, one in particular. But still, here's the deal:

One of my friends once told me that he could never play goalie because he'd be bored from "just standing there all night." I can see where he was misled. The men who guard the NHL's nets are hidden from us. By their masks, by their equipment and by their own desire to operate alone. It's easy to think that they only play that position because they are afraid. I beg to differ. Tending goal requires the following: 1) Mental fortitude. 2) Physical resilience. 3) Fearlessness of anything, including fast pucks, big men and being alone. 4) Being 100 percent trusworthy and reliable, all the time, every time. If you can do all those things while you're "just standing around" and making no conscious effort me. I want your secret. I'll pay for it.

Next up on 11/9: Section 3, Equipment. Rule 9, Uniforms.

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