Monday, February 15, 2010

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

The game, which I had to go to because it's 48 hours until the puck drops on the mens' Olympic hockey and there's no NHL replays: Portland Winterhawks vs. Moose Jaw Warriors.

Why I chose it: Well, let's face it, I would have gone to it anyway. We lost 7 -6, but we didn't go down without a fight and in their defense, our team had just returned from back-to-back games in Prince George, which is an 18-hour bus ride from Portland. Even teenage boys need their beauty sleep, which I imagine is not easy to come by on a bus full of other boys snoring and texting and blasting their iPod headphones and what not.

Bonus celebrity sighting: Remember previous entries where I made fun of how cool it might be to see Anze Kopitar wandering around the Coliseum because his brother plays here? Well, it was no joke. I walked right past him on the concourse, where he was just walking among us peons with his girlfriend. Very tall. Very hot. And totally cool.

Now that I've read all 87 rules, here are just a few of my favorite things, in descending order:

10. Rule that should be added, with a "no excuses" punishment: Playing for the sheer love of the game and being grateful you get paid to do it. Players who have any other motives or who do any of the following will be placed on waivers so they can go re-think their priorities:

-- Turning down $100-plus million multi-year deal just to get out of being on a losing team.

-- After a team trades away three players to get you, leaving that team after they narrowly lose the Stanley Cup in Game 7, and announcing that you are doing so to join a team that has a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup.

-- Announcing that you don't want to play for your country's Olympic team unless you are the starting goaltender.

If you are a hockey novice, Google Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Miikka Kiprusoff. You'll see what I'm talking about.

9. Another rule I would add: punishment for bad calls or bias by referees in making calls.

8. Rule that should never be removed or changed: Diving/Embellishment.

7. Rule I will never understand, even after NHL Prospect Ryan Johansen personally explained it to me: Icing. Scoring opportunity or act of desperation? Inquiring minds want to know.

6. Another rule I don't get: Rule 9.4, Goalkeeper's Jersey. No "tying down" of the sweater is allowed at the wrists if it creates a tension across the jersey such that a "webbing effect" is created in the armpit area. No other tie-downs are allowed that create a "webbing effect." Still not sure why dressing like Spider-Man is banned, but it is.

5. Most pointless rule: Punishment for abusive or profane language. Why's going to get broken anyway.

4. Rules I will always mix up or get backwards: match penalty (suspension for balance of game, substitution allowed after five minutes), misconduct (ruled off the ice for 10 minutes, substitution allowed), game misconduct (suspension for balance of game, substitution allowed immediately).

3. Rule that needs to go, because it's in the way: Goalkeeper's restricted zone. They're taller than a Chistmas tree, they have to operate inside a space that's all of 6 feet by 4 feet, and they barely get to play the puck anyway. Let 'em have some space.

2. Favorite rule to see broken, repeatedly: Fighting. No game is complete without it.

1. Favorite rule: Rule 76, Face-offs. Because I had no idea what determined where a face-off takes place. Because I always wondered what constituted "encroachment." Because I always thought both players put their sticks in at the same time. And because I had no idea how important winning a face-off is to the outcome of a game. (Hint: Google Portland Winterhaws Dash for Cash and Chris'll see what I mean).

Next up: The puck drops on men's hockey at the Olympics tomorrow. I will be digging into the IIHF Rulebook next, as that is what governs the Olympics and international play.

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