Monday, March 1, 2010

Have Full Face Gear, Will Travel

The game: Colorado vs. Detroit.

Why I chose it: The NHL is back in action and in the playoff hunt. This is the only game on tonight.

And here in Portland: We face the Tri-City Americans tomorrow night, this time in the Rose Garden. Better venue, better food, better beer, better opportunities for all-out vengeance. Yes, they have our number. On speed dial. But that doesn't mean we need to let them dial it. I said it before and it worked and we won the one game against them, so I'll say it again: Tri-City Americans are Toast. T-O-A-S-T. Toast. With extra crunchy peanut butter.

The rule/I always wondered about this: Rule 224, Player's Face Mask and Visor. 224.b. All players born after December 31, 1974 shall wear, at a minimum, a visor. 224.e. Players and goalkeepers in the category under 18 years and younger shall wear a full face mask. The mask must be constructed so sticks and pucks can't get through. Rule 226.b. Players and goalkeepers in the category 18 years and younger shall wear a neck and throat protector. Rule 224 applies for players:
Born in 1989 - for season 2006-2007.
Born in 1990 - for season 2007 - 2008.
Born in 1991 - for season 2008 - 2009.
Born in 1992 - for season 2009 - 2010.

Best reason for wearing a full face mask that isn't in this rule: Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker, who trekked to the US World Junior tryouts a mere week after being clocked by a puck and enduring what his coaches called the worst injury they'd ever seen. And with what must have been a monster headache and a metal plate in his face, but who still got on the team even after they almost kicked him out of a scrimmage. Did he get a lot of ice time? No. Did he score a lot of goals? I don't recall that he did. Nor did he need to. He went, he beat all the odds, he played, he brought the bling back to Portland. If that doesn't impress you, I don't know what will.

That's enough to impress me, but then again, if that was me I would have moved to a closet with a Walmart sized bag of Reese's peanut butter eggs, a case of wine, a few illegally obtained Vicodins and a very large blanket under which to hide in the event someone actually found me in my secret hiding place. And I wouldn't come out until it all blew over and the sugar rush/Vicodin coma combination wore off. So perhaps I'm not the best person to judge. But still, he could have chosen to bag it and sit on a couch watching re-runs and slurping his holiday dinner through a straw, but he took the path of most resistance. And so, I will file it in my top 10 list of the bravest things I've ever seen.

Final score: Colorado 2, Detroit 2 at 15:00 in the third period.

Morals of the story:

The game: I love it. They make you wear all this face and neck protection as a minor, but the minute you turn 18, good luck and stay out of the line of fire. And if you are returning from a world competition to the WHL in the US and Canada, you can go right back to wearing a mere visor and getting clocked by clearing shots. Plus, how can players get in a serious fight with all that gear on? Half the point of watching a game is lost. Speaking of fights, Portlanders who weren't at the Memorial Coliseum missed one hell of an ending to the third period. It was very nearly a full-scale line brawling misconduct, instigator, unsportsmanlike tangle of foul language, shoving, dirty looks, dirtier words and full-on carnage. Now, I know I shouldn't be condoning such behavior in impressionable young boys, but let's face it. It was really cool. I say let 'em go and sort it out later.

Life: How hilarious would it be if executives in corporate America had to wear some form of a helmet/face gear in meetings? Only instead of age being the determining factor, it would be based on your title and how responsible you are for other people's crap. Say, if you're me for example and you are responsible for the outcome of projects and building stong media relationships, but the buck stops higher up with my directors - maybe I'd just have to wear a visor and no neck protector. But for the presidents and VPs and what not, who have to take all the blame if other people whiff it and as a result tend to go right for each other's throat in an attempt to assign blame elsewhere - definitely full face gear for them.

Next up on 3/3: Going backwards a bit to Rule 223, Player's Helmet.

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