July 31, 2010
(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. We're bringing it back periodically. Have a suggestion for a "5 Reasons" guest blogger? Hit us on email. Enjoy!)
The Nashville Predators blog scene is a strong one. One member, Ryan Porth, is the architect of Red Light District Hockey, which has been around since 2008. A native of Franklin, Tennessee, and a stone's throw from Nashville, Ryan is a regular visitor to Bridgestone Arena. Along with maintaining his own blog, Ryan also contributes to From the Point and Inside Hockey, and was recently named the Nashville correspondent for The Fourth Period. Keeping busy talking about hockey, Ryan also hosts a weekly podcast, "RLD Hockey Talk" and can be found on Twitter at @RLDhockey.
As the dog days of summer are upon us, we decided to revive the "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" feature and hope to sprinkle some of them in over the next little while.
Here are Five Reasons Ryan Porth Loves Hockey.
1. The Stanley Cup Playoffs
I remember coming home from work on May 1st, 2006 thinking there was no way the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers were going to finish off the Presidents' Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings. Detroit was simply too good and too talented. Thanks to Ales Hemsky(notes), though, Edmonton did the impossible ...
The 2006 Oilers epitomize what makes the Stanley Cup playoffs so great. Throw records and statistics out the door - David can beat Goliath on any given night, in any given series. The slipper fit the Cinderella-like Oilers, who went on a magical run that we hockey fans will never forget.
I'll always remember my first playoff game: Detroit at Nashville, Game 3, 2004. Gaylord Entertainment Center (now Bridgestone Arena) was deafening as the Predators defeated the Red Wings 3-1 that day. After those three hours, I was 100-percent convinced hockey was the best sport on earth (as if I wasn't already!).
I get goosebumps just thinking about 20,000 towel-waving fans going nuts.
The fans cheer everything happening down on the ice. The penalty kills, the checks, and the scoring chances - you name it! No other sport can match the atmosphere and intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The craziness of watching the first round - four games a night for two weeks - is something I look forward to every year.
Two months of playoff hockey is what the other 10 lead up to, ending with one team lifting the greatest prize in sports. I love it.
Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in football. But in the NHL, there are so many great rivalries for us fans to drool over. We always have meetings between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens to circle on our calendar. When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers get together, it's always a bloodbath. The Original Six duel between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings is always fantastic, too (especially now that the ‘Hawks are relevant again). And how can I forget the great rivalries of the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils; the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche; Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens; and the "Battle of Alberta", the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers?
But we also have the new-school rivalries. With Sidney Crosby(notes) and Alex Ovechkin(notes) in top form, the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals rivalry has become a must-see every time they play - so much so that they'll be the next Winter Classic in January. The Californian rivalry of the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks is one my favorite to watch as well, and was taken to new heights when eighth-seeded Anaheim took down their top-seeded nemesis in the first round in 2009.
Even if these games are played in mid-November, it doesn't feel like a regular season tilt. I love it.
3. Patrick Roy
No. 33 was my favorite player growing up and will always be viewed as the greatest goaltender in NHL history in my mind (even though I'm probably in the minority here). But that's a discussion for another day.
Patrick Roy brought an extra flair to the game that made him a lot of fun to watch. When I was the goalie playing street hockey, I'd always try to emulate Roy and put extra emphasis on every glove save. I even wore a replica goalie mask of his!
The lasting images I have of Roy are his fights against Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood in the 90's, his countless number of highlight saves, and the ovation he received at his jersey retirement in Montreal (when many thought it'd be a mixed reaction given the way he left town).
Four Stanley Cup's and three Conn Smythe's. I love it.
4. The Fans
Hockey fans are a different breed than baseball, basketball, or even football fans. Every hockey fan knows who Joe Sakic(notes) passed the Cup to in 2001. Every hockey fan knows Wade Redden(notes) is vastly overpaid. Every hockey fan can roll the Original Six right off their tongue. Every hockey fan owns a jersey of their favorite team or player. Every hockey fan knows Brett Hull's skate was in the crease. Every hockey fan thinks of one team, and one team only, when they hear "Chelsea Dagger" (and can't get the damn song out of their head).
Hockey fans will go to great lengths to watch or go to games. Whether they live in New York with three area teams, or in the middle of Kansas where you can only catch the game at a bar, they will get their hockey fix! Since the Worldwide Leader in Sports doesn't carry the NHL anymore, it can make it even more of a challenge to find Versus ... but they find the game one way or another.
Hockey fans are the most passionate out of any other sports fans. They'll go to work the next morning with a hoarse voice, and they don't really care. They'll stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks in a quadruple overtime thriller. I love it.
5. The uniqueness of the sport
It's the only sport where your name is etched in the championship trophy if you win. It's the only sport where there's no out of bounds. It's the only sport where the draft is held in a different team's arena every year. It's the only sport where you don't hear about arrests or steroids on a weekly basis (like football and baseball). It's the only sport where it's constant motion for 60 minutes. It's the only sport that translates to the Olympics well. It's the only sport where fans throw hats on the ice for a hat trick. It's theonly sport that uses a Zamboni.
The game of hockey is unique in so many ways, that this list could go on and on ... I love it.
I love hockey!