Thursday, May 13, 2010

Turn Right At Milepost 46 to Watch the Pittsburgh Penguins Win the Stanley Cup

What's a girl to do when there's a whole night with no hockey?: Oh, I know. Think too much about where I was at this time last year.

Same time, next year?: I watched last year's Stanley Cup final Game 7 on the eve of graduation from grad school, in a bar/resataurant that anchored an upscale RV park. When we asked the innkeeper in Eugene where we could go to watch sports, she said "The Holiday Farm Resort. Turn right at Milepost 46."

The Holiday Farm Resort, if one is an RV afficionado, is a must. Mostly because it has a wide screen TV right in the middle of the bar and most of the residents appear to be hockey fans. And it has a table for two right in front of it that was conveniently not occupied on that particular night.

Funny thing about cable TV: It can connect you to places you may never go. Like Stanley Cup finals. And thanks to cable, in a tiny bar by a river, after 8 pm on a Friday, alongside fishermen and construction workers and waitresses, I watched that second Max Talbot goal and I waited for the clock to run down while Marc-Andre Fleury made one last save. And I watched Sidney Crosby lift the Cup and I clapped out loud when Malkin won the Conn Smythe trophy. It was the middle of nowhere on an otherwise average night, but it felt and sounded and looked like the center of the world.

Moral of the story: Why do we care so much about who wins and who goes home? Why do we watch replays at 3 in the morning so we can see that game winning goal one more time before we nod off? Because it reminds us of the potential greatness that humans are capable of. Because it gives us something to live for when not much else is going our way. Because it binds us in spite of our differences, no matter where we live, and no matter who our favorite team is. And because it inspires us to lift a Stanley Cup of our own. Like master's degrees. Or our own homes. Or that triathlon we always said we'd train for.

The Pittsburgh Penguins' run at a second Stanley Cup is over, for now. I doubt they'll make the same mistake twice. And they do have a new building in which to start over next year, and so with it will come new memories and a new future that some day will be part of history. It is someone else's turn this year, and we will cheer them instead.

It's easy to say "that's it. My favorite team is out. I'm done. I'm going to go watch Tiger Woods meltdown at the Masters." But let's face it...we couldn't go that long without hockey if we tried. I did try it for tonight. And let me just say, that will be quite enough of that.

And for future reference, chocolate covered Oreos and wine are not part of the USDA food pyramid and as such should only be consumed in desperate circumstances, like starvation or when one is for example, going 24 hours without live hockey.

Next up: Ok, tomorrow I'll really get back to the rules. And Boston better get it in gear.

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