Monday, September 18, 2006

Sex and Hockey

I have now been to an NHL game at the Saddledome.

Okay, so it was an exhibition game. The first exhibition game of the season for the Flames, I might add. What that means for all those who don’t know much about hockey is that you won’t get to see all the big names. The teams are restricted on how many regular players from their routine line-ups they can put on, because they don’t want the pricey guys getting injured in the pre-season play.

In fact, Florida had more names out there that I recognized. And that was good, because it meant Calgary was playing from a less-known vantage, while Florida had a bit more strength to the line-up, as far as I could tell. Certainly in terms of guys who’ve seen a lot of ice time, Florida had the experience edge going in.

Why is that good? You do cheer for Calgary, don’t you Sandra?

Well, when Calgary scored the first goal, just minutes into the game and dominating the play out there solidly through the first half of the first period, I thought it was looking very good for Calgary. If the guys without as much ice time behind them were looking that solid, it was good news indeed.

And what a surprise to me when Calgary scored. I didn’t realize they actually shot flames up when that happened. Of course, they do that from above the viewscreens, but the place actually rises in temperature.

And the fans went wild.

Of course, they started to tire in the second half of the first period, and Florida rebounded to get a goal.

But Calgary returned strong in the second, scoring two more goals, the first barely seconds into the game. I think by then Florida had pulled Ed Balfour from net. I must say, seeing a guy who’s in the Hall of Fame get his butt kicked made me feel a bit sorry for him. That, and the fact that parts of the crowd kept cheering, “Balfour sucks!” Talk about psychological attack. I don’t know if they can hear stuff like that or not, but it’s remarkably quiet between goals and fistfights, because you don’t get the running commentary that you do on TV.

Well, until Butthead #1 and Sidekick decided to find their seats, which were right behind me. You know the type. Butthead #1 was talking on his cell phone with increased volume. And he was a guy, so his voice carried solidly anyway. In fact, Sidekick finally told him to get off the phone.

The guys had missed both goals by the time they arrived late in the first. You really want to ask yourself, what’s the point? They left early to get something to eat, but not before assessing every fucking thing going on and making sweeping pronouncements and stupid observations. Do I see two guys named Ference out there? No, couldn’t be. Could be, jerkwad. I mean, if you’d been there for the warm-up or opened your fucking eyes…

Then it was That’s not Balfour in net. Can’t be Balfour. Yep, that’s right. Thousands of people cheering against Florida’s goalie must be wrong. After all, you were here to hear the starting line-up… Oh wait. You weren’t. Stuff a sock in it, buddy.

Then there was the fistfight. Yes, when two hockey players drop sticks and gloves on the ice, you know what’s coming. Well, I actually thought the referees would prevent it. They certainly could have, but that’s not what the crowd wanted. The guys behind me were screaming every encouragement, telling the Flames guy just how to take the Florida guy down.

I’m trying hard to remember the last time I watched two grown men go at it. I mean, on any given night I suppose I could drop by the bar, but the bars around here aren’t my scene. Testosterone and adrenalin make for a bad combination, I suppose. I’m sure they make their mothers proud.

But it does make it kind of multi-sport. Hockey, with boxing. Has a wider fan base appeal, I guess.

Out of all the behind-me commentary my personal favourite had to be, Flames have never looked stronger on the power play.

Now, granted, the first goal we got last night was on a power play. And the power play did have solid look to it. Almost complete control. Seemed to instinctively know where each other were. The moves were down.

But for crying out loud guys, who told you a power play was supposed to be like foreplay and end there? Yeah, yeah. Nice stick handling, very nice job showing everyone that you know exactly how to handle a power play, short of one critical thing: scoring. What they need is a female coach to go in there and ask them if they want a woman to get them all warmed up and then just waltz off? Because handling the power play so well and failing to score each time, except once – including when they had a five on three – is pretty frustrating to take. Well, especially since where we were sitting wasn’t center ice (as Kevin had thought) but was actually just to the side and up from the goal. Since Florida was in that net in the second period, and that’s when the Flames had a bunch of power plays and scored twice, we got to see the best hockey up close.

I’m not complaining about the outcome of the game. Just, fellas, when you have a power play quit fucking around and showing off and score a damn goal.

My only other regret? Bertuzzi wasn't in the Florida line-up for the night. Damn, I'd actually enjoy seeing someone kick the crap out of him. Oh well, another time...

I know people might find it odd to think of me as a sporty person. I’m not really. But thanks to my grade 7 teacher, Bruce Dart, I know a lot about sports. Mr. Dart was also our physical education teacher, and he liked sports. For each sport he would let up watch a few games start of the season, then pick a team. All the team lists were posted in the room. When the playoffs were finished and a team had won the championship/cup/whatever, he would buy a certain amount of candy and it was split between the winners.

But there were extra prizes with hockey, this being Canada and all. We also got to pick top goal scorers. Back then, only rule was nobody could pick Gretzky. There would be no point.

So, I made my list. Of course, the boys in class drooled over the stats at length and discussed pre-season play, yaddi yaddi yadda… and made their lists too.

Top three people with the highest overall goals based on the players they picked got prizes. I came in second.

Much to the supreme annoyance of a lot of boys, who wanted to know how I did it.

If I told them I looked over who was scoring well at that point, and picked the people with names I liked from within a certain range, I’m sure they really would have hated me.

One of the things I discovered last night was how bonding sports is. It is the community coming together, mutual purpose, united in focus. People tend to be in a good mood. There was a lot of buzz in the Saddledome.

And I had a good time. The last time I was at the Saddledome was for a Sting/Annie Lennox concert (Shhhh Steve. I know how you feel about Sting. But let’s be candid here – you think I was going to miss Annie Lennox? And I like Sting. Well, not him, but some of his music. This was the biggest concert I’d ever been to, and I enjoyed it.) but there was a completely different atmosphere for the hockey game. A large sporting event is like radio – it beats the tribal drum. It pulls people together, into a shared experience. And people will phone the radio stations after games to give updates on plays and exciting developments. You want to be part of it.

I remember a few years ago, when Calgary made the Stanley Cup Finals, against Tampa. One of the Tampa sports reporters commented on the fact that Calgary had (I can’t remember exactly then – we’ll say) 900,000 people living there and 899,997 were Flames fans.

There doesn’t seem to be anything that unifies us more than a love of sports – in particular, hockey. I was still working during that playoff run and that mean going all over the city. From the statues downtown to every other vehicle on the road, Flames flags were everywhere. People just driving by pedestrians would honk and wave and yell, ‘Go Flames Go’ out the window.

It has my wondering why sports has such a significant impact on us. Why Kevin’s employer would shell out hundreds of dollars so we could go to a game. Why a hockey game and not the Elton John concert, for example? Because everyone likes hockey. Duh. That’s the thinking.

And they aren’t really wrong. Kevin was shocked when he read my blog. He remarked that he’d never known I’d always wanted to go to a hockey game.

Well, what I really want to do is see the Flames play the Leafs, because then I can cheer for everyone. I’ll watch hockey on TV sometimes, just not often, because I don’t have time for that.

I’d rather watch figure skating.

But I’d go to a hockey game again, in a heartbeat. I had fun, and if it wasn’t for Butthead, the evening would have been 100% pleasant, but since they didn’t stick around, I survived.

Now I get to look forward to catching up on The Wire tonight. ☺

Deletta (who is a Flames fan!) sent me this joke

A moron takes his dog for a walk. After awhile he gets thirsty so he ties his dog to a parking meter in front of a bar and goes in for a couple of beers.

After he has been there for an hour or so the local policeman enters the bar. "Whose dog is tied up out front?"

The moron responds, "That's my dog. Is there a problem officer?"

"Well she's in heat," says the cop."

"Oh, she'll be all right. It's shady out there."

"That's not what I mean. Your dog needs bred."

"I gave her a half of a loaf this morning. She's fine."

At this point the policeman is becoming a little upset. "Listen fellow. You don't seem to understand what I am talking about. That dog needs to be screwed."

"Go right ahead officer, I've always wanted a police dog."


JT Ellison said...

Ha! Next we need to get you rooting for the Predators, cause we're gonna kick some serious Canadian (and American) ass this year.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Dream on JT! Oh, I'd love to go to a game with you in Nashville sometime.

I bet instead of smoochcam they have guitar pickin' in the intermissions.

stevemosby said...

I'm confused now. Have I ever mentioned Sting before in conversation? It's weird, because I can't remember ever saying anything, and yet somehow you're quite right. [scratches head and frowns]

Sandra Ruttan said...

How drunk were you Steve?!

You forbade dancing to Every Little Thing She Does is Magic at the Harrogate Quiz Night. Your words were, "There will be no dancing to Sting at this table."

Or something close and a bit more colourful.

JT Ellison said...

Sandra, the last game I went to -- Web Wilder did a live set. "Human Cannonball" resonates off the ice.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I love Nashville. Really, truly. Live music? I'm so there.

stevemosby said...

Good god! That sounds like the kind of thing I would say, so you must be telling the truth. But I can't believe I was that drunk. Or even that assertive.

Lynn can't remember either, though, so that's okay...

Sandra Ruttan said...

Steve, I said it! So of course it's the truth!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh God, hockey already?! I live in the middle of Detroit Redwing country-I don't even want to think about the NHL season starting!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Sorry to break it to you Norby...

Eileen said...

I love the hockey. I have 1/2 season tickets and I can get face painting kind of scary.

Trace said...

I'm ashamed to say that I've only been to one hockey game in my life, and I was a kid at the time.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Do I need to ask who you cheer for, Eileen? :)

Trace, I used to go to OHL stuff sometimes, but it's been a long time. A very long time. I worked with lots of kids who played hockey, so I'd go to their games sometimes. It meant a lot to them.

Julia Buckley said...

Hey, cool new black blog!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Julia. It's a bit of a shocker, but it is more in keeping with my website design.

angie said...

Well THIS is unexpected - radical change to the blog look. Take a girl to a hockey game and then there's no telling what will happen next...

S. W. Vaughn said...

Love the new look, Sandra!

I admit I've never been to a hockey game, but I have seen Slapshot three or four times... does that count? :-)

Bill Cameron said...

What's hockey?


Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie - yeah, every now and again you need to do something mindless. Messing with my blog is always done with brain disengaged.

SW, thanks. Well, maybe when you're as old as me, you'll have made it to a hockey game.

Bill - ha! I'm going to school you, boy!

Bill Cameron said...

Way back in my ill-spent youth, I actually played hockey! I think. Bent stick, ice skates, busted teeth and bloody noses, right? Yeah, I sorta remember that.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yep on the teeth and nose.

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