Thursday, March 5, 2009

Things that get me to football: The NHL

This may or may not become a regular feature on things that help me make it from the BCSCG to Labor Day weekend and the start of callllllllage footbawl season.

Today we are 184 days and exactly six months from the start of Hokie football.

Wednesday night was one of those nights I'm glad I have three TVs with three separate DirecTV feeds in my living room. It was the day of the NHL trade deadline, the Hokies were about to play the Tar Heels and the slumping Sabres were about to face the hated Habitants Canadiens.

My attention and my loyalties were divided. As much as I love Hokie football, Sabres hockey ranks way above Virginia Tech basketball in my sports pecking order. The Sabres and Red Sox play the Twice A Prince and My Gallant to Hokie football's Secretariat. Why do I love the Sabres? Well, a lot of it has to do with this guy:

I don't know why I became so interested in hockey to the point I'm willing to drop the huge price tag DirecTV puts on NHL Center Ice. However, I can understand why most college football fans don't like hockey. It's pretty simple, most college football fans are in the South.

Hockey isn't covered by the media in the South and is seen as a niche sport, most of the southern teams are terrible, not growing up watching the sport means southern fans aren't familiar with the rules and most of them probably don't know how to pronounce Antero Niittymaki or know he's from Finland.

But I love the sport. I love watching guys like Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane make magic for Washington and Chicago. I love watching Marc Savard quarterback Boston's top line and Miikka Kiprusoff make sprawling saves for Calgary. I love watching Brian Campbell K.T.F.O. people with their head down in open ice. Even if he's doing it in Chicago now instead of Buffalo.

I love Hockey Night in Canada wondering what the hell Don Cherry's going to wear and who he's going to piss off this week.

The playoffs in the NHL are the best of the four major sports in my opinion. They're grueling and they have the incredible tradition of the Stanley Cup and getting your name engraved on it. And the only reason games on the East Coast go into the wee hours of the AM are because they last four overtimes. Not because they started at 9 pm EDT.

And oh yeah, there's fighting. A lot of fighting.

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