Post season post

So it’s July. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, because it was just last week that I was delighted by a rhyming series (Pens-Sens) — which went well enough. Of course, the series that followed didn’t rhyme (except, come to think of it, with “ruins”), and then it was over.

Confession? I didn’t watch the Cup final. Actually, I didn’t watch any of that series, although I heard from reliable fans that it was a good one. I don’t think it was sour grapes (although if I had been rooting, it would be Chicago over Boston — please, please forget that year when I had a temporary lapse of sanity and was rooting for … yes, Boston and Tim Thomas). I’d like to think it’s because I was too busy to watch, but that’s not entirely true, either.

This season was shorter than the others. I had more opportunities to watch regular season games than the others. And yet, by the time Pittsburgh had been humiliated by Boston, I didn’t have much left in me in the way of spectatorship. (I am fan — and narcissist — enough to believe that I share some responsibility for the Pens’ downward spiral — because I was in Chicago working 15 hour days and unable to watch the final two games except in snippets in a hotel lobby bar. Actually, now that I’m writing this, it’s clear that I inadvertently became a talisman for Chicago, arriving in time for them to take back their series from Detroit. Damn. I doomed my team and brought Chicago back from the brink. Now that’s fandom.)

My best hockey guy told me a while back that I was something of a spoiled fan, having my first “team” win a Stanley Cup my first viewing season, with a national Olympic gold not far behind. I always thought it was just how these things went, but now I’m beginning to see that fandom is far more complicated than that. (Of course it is.)

But maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s that the honeymoon phase of fandom for me is over. Those first golden years were filled with voracious reading and intense conversations, a hot burn towards knowing everything I could about this game that I had fallen for. That kind of intensity doesn’t last, as well we know. So now I’m in the post phase. Where sometimes it’s work to stay up with the trades and moves and bruhaha. Where sometimes I’d rather be outside frolicking than inside watching. It’s more like steady work now, like knowing that it will pay off and I’ll enjoy it, but it’s more about staying the course than about the squeeeeee of the next game.

I’m going to try to stay a bit more in contact, world. It’s a contract, between me and my Pens, between me and the world of fandom, between me and the millions of words floating about hockey. See you in a few.

When the Pens-Sens

This is going to be all kinds of fun for me, this series. The rhyming possibilities of the team names along have me squealing with delight. (I’m compiling a list. Suggestions welcome.) The Pens have not dissolved into a brawling mess as they did against the Flyers last year (thank the gods). They haven’t played all that consistently, either, and the Islanders nearly routed them.

(Question: do you refer to teams by their city or name? I find myself doing both, sometimes in the same sentence. Is there an etiquette? Is using one form over the other one of those hideous “I’m new to this but pretending I know more than I do” things? Does it matter? I’m trying to remember if commentators use both or just one form. Damn.)

We had the pleasure of watching the game last night on a very big screen. I was feet from it, having been given the best spot in the house by my gracious hosts. We’ve been watching the game at home on my trusty laptop (this one, here), and it’s been pretty fantastic. Watching the game on a screen like that, though, is something else entirely.

Confession: I’m not a baby person the way some people, often women, are baby people. I don’t squeal over them, I don’t need to hold them, I don’t find them all that interesting until they’re old enough to imagine and have conversations. So — when we were invited to a friend’s place to watch the game on their very big screen, I was concerned. They have a new baby. We haven’t seen them in a long time. It would be very, very rude for me to ignore said baby and hole up in a corner with eyes on screen, right?

Shout-out to Phil and Beth: you are quite possibly my favourite people and parents in the world right now. Not only were you extraordinarily good hots, as always, your little one was all she’d been advertised as; your consideration in PVRing so that we would be able to pause, rewind, and fastforward as needed is unparalleled; I had the chance to juggle a glass of wine in one hand with a baby on my shoulder (sleeping), my girl on the other side (ogling said sleeping baby), and a giant screen of Pens schooling Sens in front. You two are the best. (We supplied the food and some of the drink; they supplied everything else.)

I wish I were watching the Leafs begin their second series tonight, but I’ll have to content myself with Detroit-Chicago, two teams I haven’t been following or watching thus far. Tracking two teams has been a handful — but that’s what the playoffs are.

Into the Pens den!

 

 

 

Heart. Break.

I’m writing this directly to my Leaf friends, those who have been stalwart and true to the most disparaged team in the game. The Leafs-Bruins series was an unexpected revelation for those of us who haven’t been watching the blue-and-whites for years. We didn’t really know or understand the kind of heartbreak that defines the Leaf fan’s loyalty. I do now.

No one thought the Leafs would play as well as they did play, or that they would recover from their 3-1 standing to push the Bruins to a Game 7. They did play that well. They did push the older playoff veterans until the very last minute (if we’re being literal, until the very last period). For the last three games, the Leafs played like a team that believes in spite of their history. I kinda love them for that.

The 4-1 score in Game 7 emphasizes everything they did well. The eventual 5-4 loss in OT highlights that they’re still figuring it out. I’m annoyed by the rhetoric that, because they didn’t take Game 7 and move into the Conference Semifinals, they didn’t play well in this series. The loss was a big one, to be sure. But they defied expectation in their play of this series, and they’ve tired out the Bruins sufficiently, I hope, that Boston doesn’t stick around much longer either. (My like for Seguin and Bergeron aside, I can’t stand Boston.)

The Bruins earned that win, fighting hard for three goals in the last half of the 3rd period. Lucic could not have been more gracious about the Leafs in his post-game interview.

So the heart breaks. But in its breaking, it reminded itself that it is a heart. That it beats.

Then it was April.

Cause that’s how time goes ’round here. It’s been a busy three months since the last post — more injuries, more rivalries, more things I didn’t know about the game. Call it hijinks (which, if you didn’t know, was a 19th century drinking game. I kid not), because the gods of hockey are laying it all out this year.

Exhibit A: Crosby’s latest injury. Not sure how this could have been avoided (can most injuries be avoided? or are they the natural by-products of play?), but it was brutal. I could have lived without the media’s pruriant need to slow-mo the puck flying towards, then into, mouth — but they, apparently, could not. Sid’s still on the “indefinite” injured list — but since the Pens have secured their playoff spot, I’m hoping they will not fall apart (see last year’s series against Philadelphia) so he can get back on. Oh, and Malkin. And Neal. And Martin. If nothing else, you have the give the Pens their due for depth.

which brings me to…

Exhibit B: The Leafs are in the playoffs. I actually just typed that, you actually just read that. Crazy! I’d like to clear something up, since KM’s been giving me a hard time about it. The Pens are my team, hands down. They’ve been my team since I watched my first NHL game, and they’ll always be my team. But I live in and love Toronto, and I have a soft spot for their fans. Not the team, but the committed many, who have endured heartbreak and disappointment that no other fans have even come close to experiencing. These are stalwart folks. They’re tried and true. And they’re going to have a chance to see some playoff hockey with their blues for the first time in 9 years. So when I’m talking with a Leaf fan, like the owner of one of our local pubs, and he’s talking about “our team,” I don’t correct him. I haven’t shed the blood or tears that Leaf fans have, but I am a kindred spirit — and I’m thrilled that they’re moving forward. I’d even be thrilled for them to make the finals, so long as Pittsburgh does as well and then fights a tight battle to Game 6 wherein they win and I’m there to see it because someone has bought me good tickets and there is joy all around even though the Leafs didn’t win a cup. I’m good with that scenario. So: go Leafs!

Watching the games this season has been fun and challenging. It’s easier to watch playoff games, because the playoffs are (even if long) only so long. To dedicate time every week to games has proven beyond my capacity, particularly when they’ve been playing almost every freakin’ night. I’ve seen more, though, than in years past — and that’s been great. Shout-out again to hockeystreams.com; even if their streaming can be choppy, it’s a great way for a non-cable girl to watch her team play. And other teams. Did I mention also World Hockey and the minor leagues? Love this site.

Pens are in Ottawa tonight, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t become a fracas because of the Cooke-Karlsson thing. I’d love to see the super talented Karlsson back in the game and punishing with points. Cause that’s hockey.

 

And so it is,

just like you said it would be.
Life goes easy on me,
most of the time.
And so it is, he has
the shorter story,
no love, no glory,
no hero in her sky….

So, Damien Rice might not seem the most likely way to kick off this! hockey! season!, but the melancholy Irish chap seems about right to me (“What I am to you is not real / What I am to you, you do not need / What I am to you is not what you mean to me / You give me miles and miles of mountains / And I ask for the sea” — indeed). And it’s about how I roll these days, with mash-ups and pastiches and collages.

 

But the exciting news, for me and you, I presume, is that IT’S ON! And while we didn’t get the glorious walkout I had envisioned — my heart still stops at how tremendous that would have been, could it have been — we did get the game and a shorter season to go with it.
Which means, for me, the challenge to watch all the Pens’ games this year. I’ve faithfully bought my hockeystreams.com package (up till June!), and have watched 2 of the 3 games (Sunday was a miss — someone had turned me on to the BBC’s Lip Service, and I was so caught up in Glasgowian lesbian drama that I didn’t realize there was a game). Tonight’s the fourth, and after being beaten by the *Leafs*, the LEAFS, I expect my Pens to turn themselves around and get to it. Sid’s on the board for this season, which is of the good, despite his USL penalty (does anyone know what, precisely, he did to get that? I can’t find the narrative in any write-up, and the announcers at TSN didn’t let us know either. Bad commentators!), and I think it’s gonna be a good one.
Our game / are game? Let’s lace up!

Dear blog, it’s been…

almost two months since my last posting. Crazy how time flies when there’s no hockey to watch.

We’re now past mid-point November, and there’s no clear proximity between the two sides. Crosby is still the PR head-shaker, trying to gently prod the league toward a fair deal — he’s the line in the sand, it seems to me, about whether or not this season is going to be a thing. So long as he stays here, speaking on the diplomatic side of things, then there’s hope. The minute he throws in the towel and finds himself a league to play in (as Elliotte Friedman suggests, they may well give him a town with a team), that’s it for this season.

I’m still working up my walk-out revolution fantasy, which I hope will find its way into prose here, shortly. I’ve reacquired the two seasons of HBO’s 24/7, which I’m hoping will give me some hockey joy.

Also? Good news on the women’s hockey front, with both the Flames and Leafs putting some money into their league. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? The announcement of $230,000 over several years seems like the best thing ever — and yet the big boys are still fighting over their millions.

Things to do during the lock-out …

according to financial guru David Rosenberg, can be found here. They include, in no particular order, buying cars, fixing up the house, and making babies. Oh, and video games.

But these are male stats, and there’s no word as to what females fans get up to during lock-outs. Perhaps shopping, cleaning, and making babies? Oh, and scrap-booking.

Sigh. I’m still in a bit of denial about the lock-out, as if the season has been unavoidably (and regrettably) delayed, but will happen. Listening to people wax philosophical/economic about the lock-out is almost as depressing as the thing itself, although I am always keen to hear from people who understand the finances of this wackiness. Despite my best efforts, I’m still fuzzy on a number of issues still on the table.

So, dear reader, what are you doing when not watching hockey this fall?