#NHL: The Forgotten Sport

iginla fightHockey: the Canadian pastime. America doesn’t really love it, unless you’re in Beantown (Boston Bruins), New York City (Rangers), New Jersey (Devils) or Hockeytown USA (Detroit Red Wings).

Hockey is amazing. Just watch “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky at his best:

And you know what? It’s sad to me because I love all sports.

I don’t know many hockey fans here in the D.C. area, even though the Washington Capitals are the better team in town. Still, we all know that the NFL’s Washington Redskins, the Washington Nationals and then the Capitals and maybe the lowly Wizards round out the D.C. area pecking order.

sidney crosby

The real problem is that it is ingrained in the Canadian consciousness, but not in America. We have a variety of sports, while in Canada, I assume it’s hockey. They have minor and junior leagues that develop talent like a Sidney Crosby. The U.S.? Our college system has the Frozen Four, but only a handful of Americans outside of North Dakota, Minnesota and Boston ever watch it.

Americans used to make fun of soccer and how slow, unskilled and cumbersome the game was. Now, with the emergence of good, American-grown talent, it is becoming more popular by the day. The attendance to US men’s (and even women’s) national team qualifiers and friendlies is amazing to see, as a budding soccer fan myself.

Lacrosse is becoming a bigger sport as parents worry about concussions in football. It is super popular on the East Coast at powerhouse schools Syracuse, Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Duke, North Carolina and Maryland.

But, why not hockey? Hockey is soccer and lacrosse on steroids. It’s played on skates, in a hockey rink, allows checks like lacrosse and hits like in football, and has some amazing fights like this:

The hockey puck acts like a saucer and you have to be paying attention to find the puck even if you’re a fan. The goalies have to have top-notch reaction speed and flexibility, the players amazing puck and skate control. There are 3, 20-minute periods with short intermissions in-between. The rules are relatively simple: score the puck, don’t be offsides, don’t ice (where you clear the puck without having your player touch it) and no tripping/goaltender interference.

I’ve always argued that hockey is one of the harder sports to play because of skill and just the nature of it. I mean, watch this goal by San Jose Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl this year:

Oh yeah, that show-off goal broke the old-school rules of the sport. In a blowout, don’t show-off against other pros. Hertl got roasted by other NHL coaches and players.

I love hockey. I grew up watching the Capitals in the old Capitol Centre in Maryland before they moved to D.C.’s Verizon Center.

It’s just too bad Americans are missing out on this great sport.


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About Spencer Irvine

Fun loving, D.C. area sports fan, which means I'm frustrated and still can't get a grip on what a win truly means (or a championship for that matter).

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