Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a Long Way To The Top, But At Least We Can See It From Here

The games: Canada vs. Germany. Portland Winterhawks vs. Tri-City Americans.
Why I chose them: Ok, Canada's back. No need to panic. Yet. It's full-on pre-playoff mania as Portland faces off against the Tri-City Americans. Every game and every point counts, in the Olympics and here in the Pacific Northwest.

Ok, maybe it is time to panic with a small p: With Mac Carruth starting in goal, Tri-City just scored on us three times, only 52 seconds into the game. Letting three goals in early in a Tri-City game must be a right of passage for Portland Winterhawks goalies. Ian Curtis had a similar experience the last time we faced Tri-Cities on their home ice...it just took a smidge longer before he got pulled. That being said: I think it might be safe to say goal-letting-in-lightning has struck twice, therefore defying the odds and therefore guaranteeing it will never happen again, ever.

On the other hand...Woohoo!: The Swiss team advances to the next Olympic round, cutie pie goalie Jonas Hiller and Winterhawk Luca Sbisa in tow.

The rules: 160 - 172, Dressing Rooms, Rink Lighting, Smoking in the Arena and Music in the Arena.

How's this for motivation?: The dressing rooms for the linesmen/referees and players are required to be separate. But what if you made them share it? Players might be less prone to talk smack about what they're going to do to the other team, or to do it, if they knew the officials were in the locker room with them to keep watch and remind them not to. Oh wait...what am I thinking?....perhaps it's better to keep them separated.

In between these rules, there's this: It is not permitted to appoint a goalkeeper, Playing Coach or Manager as a Captain or Alternate Captain. The NHL allows goalkeepers to serve as captains but they don't allow coaches to play. If, during the game a team cannot place the correct number of players on the ice because of penalties or injuries, the Referee shall declare the game a forfeit.

Ooohh, did I say that out loud? I kind of want to see the game where there's so much carnage it can't continue. It's free stress relief. Forget that yoga class. Don't bother with the "Soothing Sounds" ocean sound effects CD. Skip the expensive glass of wine. Just give me a full scale, emergency room-inducing line brawl with mitts flying and jerseys being ripped off. I love those fights where you can't even see what happened until mitts go flying in the air and helmets hit the ice and several other guys decide they want a piece of it. If you're ever in Portland and wonder who instigates all the cheering when Luke Walker head-butted that guy while still wearing full-on face protection because the refs broke up an almost fight that (I think, well, let's face it I hope) he started, or when Brett Ponich saluted us after pounding Andy Blanke to a pulp... it was me. I admit it and I'll do it again.

Morals of the story:

Tonight it seems more appropriate that the morals be about the games and not the rules, so here it is:

Life/game: Every goalie can be pulled. Every player can be benched. And even the hometown favorite can fall back momentarily. Trying is not enough. Wanting it is not enough. Ultimately, there are some things even the best players cannot control. So, here's the lesson, which, like the red and green lights, is backwards: Sometimes the best way to hang on to what you want is to let go. Forget about points and playoff berths and seeds in playoffs and medals and NHL scouts. Like life, it's easy to get caught up and totally forget why you did this in the first place. It's easy to forget the first time you wobbled onto a frozen pond in December. That's why sometimes the best thing to do is to play like you never left it. I don't mean play without caring or get sloppy or slack or any of that crap. I have found in life that if you play like there's nothing to lose, chances are you won't. Try it sometime. You'll see what I mean.

Next up on 2/25: Section 2, Teams, Players and Equipment. Rule 200, Players in Uniform. Rule 201, Captain of Team.

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