As part of our pursuit of all things New York, Carol and I recently experienced the thrill and excitement of professional hockey. Our seats were not the best. We were well out of range of the Kiss Cam. We had to look down to see the championship banners. I wanted to shout “Hey, Zebras! What game are you watching?” but was not sure that made sense from section 209, row 22.
We saw our friends John and Jill Scibilia on the Jumbotron reading the fans’ code of conduct. I believe the Islanders asked John to do this because he is a fan who needs to be reminded of the fans’ code of conduct.
Hockey is not a big sport in Georgia, so my knowledge is not extensive. The Islanders’ mascot, an underpaid person in a colossal blue and orange head, is, for reasons I do not understand, Sparky the Dragon. I also do not understand offsides or icing—which seem to comprise about 2/3 of the referees’ calls.
Hockey has better nicknames than other sports. Islanders opponents include Blues, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Ducks, Devils, Penguins, Maple Leafs (shouldn’t it be leaves?) and Predators (actually “Predators” seems like an unfortunate choice).
Hockey is a little like soccer on skates and a little like human pinball. There were beautiful moments when a skater would turn, spin, and glide majestically across the ice. Those moments often ended with a huge person knocking the graceful skater into a wall. Michele Kwan, meet John Cena. Dentists must love hockey.
I tried to sing along with the tribute to the New York Rangers, “If you know the Rangers suck, clap your hands.” I offered to buy Carol tickets for Mother’s Day, but she wants to consider other possibilities.
This leads to the perfunctory theological insight that closes church e-news columns. (I admit this is a stretch and if you only read this column because you love hockey stop now. You do not need to check this—which may be the worst hockey pun in this column.) The deep, profound insight is: “We don’t have to stay with what we’ve always known.” Hockey is now my favorite sport on ice. (Curling is also a cool sport).
We are tempted to decide what we will do by its proximity to what we have already done. Maturity is learning that “haven’t been there” doesn’t need to mean “won’t go there.” There are chess fans who would love hockey if they gave it a chance. If today is just like yesterday, it may be because we are not seeing the possibilities.