Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today, It's About More than the Rules

The game: USA vs. Canada.

Why today is special: Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the USA vs. Russia "Miracle on Ice" game. Thus, tomorrow is also the 30th anniversary of the day I discovered ice hockey.

Peeve alert: Why am I here and not in Vancouver? Oh right, I just escaped from grad school, there were no tickets online unless you wanted to scalp a few from the scammers who bought them all out, and I didn't pay attention to a calendar until just now.

So, it's about much more than the rules today: It's about why we watch the game. It's about what has changed, and what we have done in the past 30 years. And, just like then, it's about the hope that the best is yet to come. In hockey and in life.

And I can prove the best is yet to come: Part of hockey's future lives and plays here in Portland. Last night, after being in danger of going down for a third game, the Winterhawks rallied back to beat the Kelowna Rockets 3 - 2. The future names to watch for: Nino Niederreiter, Luke Walker, Troy Rutkowski and Mac Carruth. Best play: Luke Walker not giving up on multiple attempts to score. Not once. Not ever. And it worked: he scored the first goal and put Portland back in the game.

That being said, here's the rule: Section 1, Ice Rink. Rule 150, Signal and Timing Devices (encompasses Rule 151, Siren, Rule 152, Clock and Rule 153, Red and Green Lights).

What's the same/not too much is different: It's still backwards. Red still means goal and green still means stop (stoppage of play or end of game). But at least they explain why: "The purpose of the green light is to enable the Referee and Linesman to observe the goal and light in the same sight line and know exactly when the period ends."

The clock rule still doesn't include coaches, only spectators, players and officials. But it does include the names of the teams, time played in a period, penalty time remaining, score, time-outs, and intermission time.

Hey look, this actually happened once in the New Jersey vs. Tampa Bay game about a month ago: If, in the opinion of the Referee, there is not sufficient light to continue the game, he shall have the authority to postpone the remainder of the game or take a time-out, pending improvement of the lighting situation.

The puck just dropped and we're off: Ryan Suter, son of Miracle on Ice player Bob Suter, is the starting center. Team USA just scored at 19:19. Canada answered to tie at 1, and we just answered 22 seconds later. Ooohhhh, yeah... except for the fact it's Canada and not Russia, it's the same game all over again.

Morals of the story:

The future's so bright, we gotta' wear shades/the game: Ok, who really cares about this rule on a day like today? The son of a legendary player is in the lineup, we're kicking butt and asking later and it's the closest thing in 30 years to THAT day. Hockey's future is brighter than it has ever been, and I think it's safe to say there is indeed hope.

Life: I was a tad regretful that I didn't get my ass to Vancouver at all costs. but I have wine, I have chocolate, I have a sunset out my window and I have hockey. What else do I need? Well, maybe a few of the past 30 years back. But then again, there are so many I wouldn't trade if you paid me with free tickets to this game. #1) living in New York and seeing the world just like I wanted to, which included: Wednesday nights with the Niagaras at Mondo Cane; the first day I commuted in to New York for my first job; the first time I saw the Rangers in Madison Square Garden; Paris, Florence under a full moon, sunrise in Barcelona, surfing in Tofino, moonlight snowshoeing at Lake Louise, sunrise in Tahiti, our tour guide singing "Volare" to us on the bus when a rainstorm flooded Venice and we couldn't watch the jazz he had planned for us; my 34th birthday in London; breakfast at Bewley's in Dublin; watching the balloons get blown up for the Macy's parade every year; and New Year's Eve 1999 in Times Square (the only time I ever did it), the last good year before it all started to go awry.

In short, even if you didn't discover hockey that day, think about where you've been in the past 30 years (provided of course, you are old enough to do so). Did you do everything you wanted? Did you sell out or live it the way you wanted? If the answer is no: If you are here and you are reading this, then there's still time. Do it. Say it. Try it. Live it. In another 30 years, many of us who were there that day may not be here. Today's the day for much more than this game.

Next up on 2/23: Section 1, The Rink. Rules 160 - 172, covering Rink Lighting, Music in the Arena and Player's Dressing Rooms.

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