(Ed. Note: Our series "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" features puckheads from all walks of life revealing five things that either made them a fan or that keep them watching hockey. It will run every weekend. Have a suggestion for a "5 Reasons" guest blogger? Hit us on email. Enjoy!)
Tyler McKinna is a commercial banker by day and a self-described "NHL Evangelist and Hockey Junkie by night". You can find him talking hockey on his website, NHL Digest, or you can engage him in some puck talk via Twitter. Whatever your choice, Tyler is a promoter of the game and also loves to play it. You can find plenty of equipment reviews as well as strong opinions from Tyler and other contributors, including this take on hockey in the Olympic Games:
"Forget March Madness. Forget the Super Bowl. Forget baseball and basketball (as if you had to). This is it. We’re spoiled rotten. We have the best trophy in professional sports, the best Olympic event regardless of season, the best sport and the best athletes. We’re spoiled rotten as hockey fans and we want more.
Hockey may have lost its spot on network television but it hasn’t lost its edge, its passion, its heart or its place in our living room. No matter what channel or time it is on, I’ll certainly be tuned in to each game from here on out."
With that, here are five reasons why hockey blogger Tyler McKinna loves hockey.
1. The Athleticism
At the risk of alienating readers in the first sentence, Pierre McGuire is right, hockey players are Monsters! Think about it. Professional hockey players are some of the most well rounded athletes in the world. These are athletes that can shoot a rubber disc 100 miles per hour, propel themselves 30 miles per hour, circumnavigate a rink in less than 15 seconds, all while balancing on steel blades 1/8 inch thick. But, these athletes don't just have a sprinter's speed, strength and power. Hockey players also have agility and balance, which in combination with the sheer speed of the game, is unmatched by any other sport on earth.
There are countless stories of mind boggling dedication to fitness by hockey players. Take your pick. It could be Chris Chelios(notes) riding a stationary bike in the sauna or Joe Sakic(notes) crushing out reps under the squat rack until midnight AFTER a game. Sure, there are physical specimens like this in every sport, but Shaq is still better at shooting free throws than he is at doing crossovers.
2. Shot Blocking
I've always thought goalies were a little crazy, wanting to throw themselves in front of vulcanized rubber, traveling at speeds fast enough to break plexiglass or rip a hole right through the net! But then there are those guys that sell out to block shots. That's just insane in this day an age. The wily veteran of shot blocking, Craig Ludwig, used to block a ton of shots with his ultra-wide shin pads back in the 1980-90's and Guy Carbonneau would slide in front of almost every shot that came from the point when he was on the ice. I thought they were out of their minds, but had to respect them for what they did to help their team win. Amateur players have died after blocking shots that hit them in the chest, but when Josh Gorges(notes) of the Montreal Canadiens blocked a Mike Green(notes) slapshot with his head earlier this season, it proved on the biggest stage, just how dangerous blocking shots can be.
Gorges is fine and thankfully it wasn't another slapshot to the throat of a Montreal player like Habs forward Trent McCleary received back in 2000.
3. Rink Burgers
Mmmmm...Rink Burgers. For anyone who has played or watched the game for any length of time, you know exactly what I mean when I say 'Rink burger'. There just isn't anything like a burger from your local arena's concession stand. It's amazing to me that seemingly every group of volunteer hockey parents, working small town rinks across North America, can slap a ground beef patty on a day-old bun, wrap it in aluminum foil and make my mouth water every single time. Delicious. Don't dare confuse this with that of getting a hot dog from your favorite ball park. It's not the same. No hot dog could hold a candle to a Rink burger!
Quite possibly the biggest gaffe in hockey uniform history, the long pants worn in the early 1980's by the Hartford Whalers and the Philadelphia Flyers made an impression on many; despite the fact that they saw NHL ice just a few more times than Darren Pang. While the long pant style of the Cooperalls lasted but a season in the NHL, the legend lives on. In fact, the two piece style of the protective girdle covered by a nylon shell was very comfortable and actually preferred by many players who continued to use them simply by trimming the pants to the traditional length above the knee. The two piece girdle + shell style is actually making a comeback as many manufacturers including CCM and Bauer have developed these products again. It might only be a matter of time before we see the long pants back in the game!
5. Hockey Hair
There is still something spectacular about long flowing locks, trailing out the back of a helmet, that just says "I'm a hockey player". There's really no mistaking hockey hair when you see it. Yes, it can come in different forms, from Scott Hartnell's(notes) red tribute to Jaromir Jagr's(notes) mid-90's mullet to the sleek coiffed mane of Coach, turned analyst, turned coach, turned analyst, Barry Melrose. But, when you see it, you recognize it.
I, along with many of my teammates through junior and college, went years without a haircut simply because that's what hockey players did. There were no questions from parents, coaches or teachers. They all knew you were a hockey player and they all respected (or at least tolerated) the hockey hair! And, as much as some women won't admit it, they love it. Just ask Kris Letang(notes).