Hockey Fanatics Tribute to Bob Cole


There has been a lot of discussion as to whether Hockey Night in Canada’s Bob Cole will be calling his last game this Spring in the NHL Playoffs.  Since 1952, Bob Cole who was born in 1933 in St. John’s, Newfoundland as Robert Cole has been a part of Hockey Night in Canada.  Bob Cole is a play-by-play legend.  

This past December, in what we feel is a terrible move for hockey fans in Canada, Rogers acquired the television rights for NHL hockey in Canada with a $5.7 billion dollar deal which will mark the end of the NHL on TSN as we know and marks the end Hockey Night in Canada (what is CBC thinking anyway?).  Yes HNIC will be on for four more years but Rogers has complete control over the programming and the advertising revenues.  When the deal was announced, Bob Cole was left wondering what the future would hold.  Even at this stage, details have been sketchy.

I’m a little young to remember the great Danny Gallivan and I grew up with the as great Jim Robson calling a lot of the great Oilers games of the early to mid-eighties.  Hockey Night in Canada has had the best of the best when it comes to announcing NHL hockey games.  Bob Cole is another of the greats from HNIC.  Bob Cole’s voice is a masterpiece as this article from the star.com illustrates.  When it comes to the smooth skating game of hockey there is no bigger master of the mic than Mr. Cole.

5 Reasons Why Bob Cole is One of the Best in the Biz

  1. The Simplistic Delivery of Hockey’s Most Exciting Moments – Mr. Cole has an amazing ability to make the simplest of hockey terms lift the hockey fan out of their seat.  His announcement of “Scores” as the puck enters the net or the “Oh Baby” or three syllable drag out of a players name is classic and trademarks of Bob Cole’s tremendous broadcasting skills.
  2. His Knowledge/Interpretation of the Game – it is pretty easy to see that Mr. Cole is a fan of the game of hockey.  He still loves doing what he does and as he nears 81 would like to continue doing play-by-play until he is no longer able to do so.  It feels like he knows the players intimately and this comes across in the broadcast.
  3. Classic Statements – Mr. Cole has the great ability to make the classic statement that hockey fans will remember forever.  “They’re going home…” when the Russians left the ice in a game in 1976 vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.  “The Edmonton Oilers have won the Stanley Cup!”  His matter of fact commentary makes hockey fans take note and listen.
  4. His speaking as if he is in the living room with hockey fans – Mr. Cole has that “old-school” (and I mean that in a good way” of speaking that converses directly to the hockey fan as if we are old friends.
  5. His Ability to Read the Game and Tell a Story – many say that this is when Mr. Cole is at his best as the tale unfolds of an epic battle between two heated rivals, or when a great play is made, he’s able to add a single term or ask a question to describe the moment.  “Wow, just wow” or “Can you believe it?”

Here is a look at his best over the years at Hockey Night in Canada

Calls in Chronological Order:
Gretzky Breakaway goal vs NYI 1984
Mario Lemieux vs. North Starts “Oh Baby!” 1991
Russ Courtnall Game 7 OT winner Montreal vs. Hartford 1992
Doug Gilmour behind the net goal vs. St. Louis 1993
Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Final vs. LA Kings 1993
Steve Yzerman vs St. Louis 1996
Oilers shock Starts – Cujo and Marchant 1997
Steve Thomas vs. Senators 2000
Joe Sakic Golden Goal 2002 (Audio Only)
Fernando Pisani Short Handed OT Goal vs. Carolina 2006

Awesome stuff!  Here is a little more of Bob’s great calls.  All videos courtesy of YouTube.

And who can forget this?

Bob Cole: “They’re Going Home!” The Soviet Red Army leaves the bench after the Flyers’ Ed Van Impe hits a Russian player in the first period.

A broadcasting legend all the way. He Scores!!!!  Tonights’ three stars as chosen by hockey fans everywhere:

Tonight’s first star from St. John’s:  Bob Cole.

Tonight’s second star: Bob Cole

and tonight’s third star from announcing all of those great Leafs games:  Bob Cole.

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2014 NHL Playoff Predictions


2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs LogoWe are on the eve of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.  Only one Canadian team in the playoffs makes it difficult for Canadian hockey fans to determine who they are going to root for this Spring.  Las Vegas has made the Boston Bruins the favorites to win the Cup this year, which is funny because the West has dominated the Eastern Conference pretty much all year.  There are some solid teams in the West and right out of the gate two very strong teams will be out in the first round if we look at the St. Louis/Chicago series and the San Jose/LA series.  Which team is the hottest coming into the playoffs?  The three hottest team as we enter the playoffs are the Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and the Anaheim Ducks.  Teams limping into the playoffs include the St. Louis Blues and the Philadelphia Flyers.  Ready for some solid hockey predictions?

2014 NHL Playoff Predictions

Here is a look at the 2014 Stanley Cup playoff predictions from The Hockey Fanatic.  Starting with the first round.  You can see that we are predicting that in the first round there will be no seeps but there will be a couple of five games series and a couple seven game showdowns.

2014 NHL Playoff Brackets

As we move into the second round here is whom we think will be moving on.  In the West we will see the following second round matchups:

Colorado vs Chicago:  Prediction:  Blackhawks in six games.
Anaheim vs. San Jose:  Prediction:  Sharks in seven games.

In the Eastern Conference:

Boston vs. Montreal Prediction:  Bruins in seven games.
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia Prediction:  Penguins in six games.

The Conference Finals will shape up like this:

Western Conference:  San Jose Sharks vs.  Chicago Blackhawks.  Prediction:  San Jose Sharks in six games.

Eastern Conference:  Boston Bruins vs. Pittsburgh Penguins.  Prediction:  Boston Bruins in seven games.

Our matchup for the Stanley Cup final?  The San Jose Sharks vs. the Boston Bruins.  The Sharks win on home ice in six games.

 

San Jose Sharks 20142014 Stanley Cup Champion:  San Jose Sharks

We are calling it.  you heard it here first.  The three Californian teams are all very strong but it is time for the Sharks to take a bite out of the Stanley Cup.

Now we also have a couple of underdog picks or darkhorse picks for the Cup.  If the stars align we think that the Montreal Canadiens can become the first Canadian team in 21 years to hoist the Stanley Cup.  We also think that the Chicago Blackhawks have a chance at repeating as Stanley Cup champions.  Let the games begin.  Giddyup hockey fans the fun begins tomorrow.

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Ryan Smyth: The Best Edmonton Oiler Ever?


Ryan Smyth:  The Best Edmonton Oiler Ever?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “classy” as having qualities that make someone or something special and attractive; or showing impressive character : very good, kind, etc.  It is this second meaning that resonates with me when I think about Ryan Smyth.  Showing impressive character.  As a hockey fan and fan of the Edmonton Oilers since their inception into the NHL in 1979 I have seen many superstars dress for the Edmonton Oilers.  The Wayne Gretzkys, the Mark Messiers, the Paul Coffeys, the Grant Fuhrs, the Doug Weights and the list goes on.  I have always said that Messier, Coffey and Gretzky (in that order) are my three favorite hockey players of all-time.  However there is another.  Yesterday was a difficult day for this hockey fan.  I mean as an Oilers fan who are we kidding this season has been the worst ever. The Edmonton Oilers will be missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season.  Hockey Gods please stop the banishment of the Oilers from the post season.  I’m not sure if the Oilers sold their soul to get to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals (only to lose in game seven) but that was the last time the Oilers were in the NHL playoffs.  Getting back as to why yesterday was a difficult day for this hockey fan.  I turned on the TV to watch the Oilers/Kings game on TSN or at least have some background noise as I played with my son.  When I flipped over to TSN Ray Ferraro was discussing Ryan Smyth and then I learned that Ryan Smyth was going to retire after the next two seasons.  Here I was thinking, hoping that the Oilers would sign Smyth for one more season.  The news of Ryan Smyth preparing to retire was devastating to this hockey fan.

Rayn Smyth has been my favorite player for quite some time.  My wife says that I have a man-crush on him.  Well the fact is that I have great respect for Ryan as a hockey player, as a person and as a family man.  Ryan Smyth is a hockey players hockey player.  Grit, determination, tenacity, hands, work ethic, hockey sense and pride.  I don’t know Ryan Smyth personally, but I think if we ever met we would be lifelong friends.  Ever interview that I see Ryan in he carries himself with class and professionalism.  Ryan has the classiness and passion of Wayne Gretzky, he rocked the hockey hair ok mullet like nobody else.  He is Captain Canada and bleeds orange and blue.  He should never have been traded from the Oilers in the first place… remember how the Oilers went in the tank for the last 20 or so games of the season after that? (thanks for that Kevin Lowe).  It is fitting that Ryan Smyth played his junior hockey for the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League.  The man is a warrior.  He has 386 goals and 456 assists for 842 points in 1,268 career NHL games with the Oilers, New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.  He needs one more powerplay goal for the Oilers to take sole ownership of a team record.  With all due respect to Glenn Anderson come on Hockey Gods make this happen tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.  Is a Ryan Smyth hat-trick too much to ask for?  Who else remembers the story of Glenn Anderson running over a young Ryan Smyth’s foot at a team Canada training camp in the mid-eighties.

 

Sure wish the Oilers would have made Smytty the Captain this season.  Sure wish that Craig MacTavish would offer Ryan a contract for next season, but hey that might be too much of a bold move…  Ryan Smyth’s retirement press conference is set for a couple of hours.  You can bet it will be emotional.  The man wears his heart on his sleeve.  His is one of the last players that puts the game of hockey first and and puts his team first ahead of himself.

5 Things Ryan Smyth Brought to the NHL

  1. One of the last, if not the last player to use a wooden hockey stick in the NHL – Ryan Smyth scored most of his goals from his “office” around the front of the net.  Ever had a good luck at his stick?  Check out this YouTube clip where Ryan discusses why he used a wooden stick and how he prepares his weapon of choice.
  2. The Mullet – c’mon you know you had one, heck maybe some of you still do.  There is even a Facebook page dedicated to Ryan’s infamous flow.
  3. The #94 – selected for his draft year, no one in the NHL has rocked the number 94 like Ryan Smyth has.  A few years ago we were at a community garage sale here in Kelowna, BC.  It was early May and kind of a rainy day and I spotted something interesting on a rack of clothes in a driveway about three houses down.  It was an Oilers jersey, in fact a white Ryan Smyth jersey circa late ’90s.  I started to run over to the house then to my devastation a lady strolls up and grabs the jersey and buys it.  I stopped in my tracks.  I paused for a second and walked over to the lady and told her that I would pay double for what she paid for the jersey.  She replied with “sorry its not for sale”.  I lost out on that one and still to this day have not been able to obtain a Ryan Smyth jersey for my Oilers collection.  #94 has been elusive for me.
  4. Work Ethic/Passion – very few NHL players in the past 20 years exude the work ethic and passion that Ryan Smyth does.  Even when he was benched for the first time in his career last season, the proud Smyth defended his ability to play and to contribute.  He adjusted his game and was arguably one of the Oilers most consistent workhorses this season.  Sure the numbers have dropped off, but Ryan Smyth has nothing to prove.  The man’s efforts speak for themselves.  Another reason why Smytty will be missed.
  5. Last of the Boys on the Bus – you get the sense that Ryan Smyth is a huge fan of the game and a huge fan of the Edmonton Oilers.  If any of you Oilers fans remember watching the Boys on the Bus documentary from the mid-’80′s you will know what I am talking about.  Ryan could have fit right in with those high flying Oilers of the ’80s.

 

Ryan Smyth - Edmonton Oilers

Ryan thank you for all of the entertaining hockey that you have provided us with over the years.  Here is but a sample of what some of your fans have to say about your tremendous career courtesy of tsn.ca:

No one got more out his talent than he did by sheer hard work, guts and determination. He is the last of a group of players that puts the team first ahead of his own needs and will be missed. Always a class act off the ice and while he does not have the numbers for the hall he certainly has earned a place among the Oilers franchisefranchise elite for who he is and what he accomplished. Congrats on a great career.

As much as Smytty’s play has deteriorated over the past two years, I still love him. He’s the epitome of class and the heart and soul of the Oilers. It’s gonna be tough to watch him hang up the skates, but I’m glad that he gets to play his last game ever with the Oilers at Rexall Place. I just hope he can get that elusive power play goal.

As an American, I always enjoyed watching Smyth. He’ll always be Captain Canada to me, and for good reason. Tons of class, grit and heart! May not have been the most talented guy to ever play for the Oil, but is and always was a fan favorite – again for good reason. Congrats Ryan!

Smyth was one of my favourite players growing up and still is. Who can forget that run to the Cup in ’06. If you ask me, they deserved that Cup a heck of a lot more than Carolina. Also, the playoff battles of ’97 & ’98 come to mind when I hear Smyth’s name. Wish the Oilers players now would play like you & Arnott did back in the 90′s. Enjoy retirement Ryan. You will be missed.

Very good player with the Oilers. Never seemed to be the same player after leaving EDM. Same as Linden in that regard. Some guys just fit a certain team and to me Ryan Smith fits that bill. Truly was a warrior for Team CAnada. Class guy. Good luck in your retirement.

A warrior on the ice, and a gentlemen off of it. THIS kind of player is what is sorely missed in the game today. I am so glad you are retiring as an Oiler player – not with some other team, then taking a ceremonial contract with the Oilers so you could retire as an Oiler. So much pride in you.

Ryan played the game the right way, brought it every night, played with his heart on his sleeve, and its rare to get guys like that. From a Canuck fan, i say congrats on your career, you were Great!!!

Next to Gretzky and Messier he is my favorite Oiler. He showed people how the game was supposed to be played, you give 110% every shift and sacrifice your body not for the $ but for the game. He should be an inspiration to any hockey player whether you play in the NHL or not. All heart.

As a flames fan,nothing but respect for Ryan. Class act.

There you have it.  Ryan Smyth you are a class act, a true hockey player and one of the last of a dying breed.  You make watching hockey fun for all of the right reason.  Good luck and best wishes to you and your family.

Ryan Smyth’s career stats are available at the Internet Hockey Database:

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=11264

 

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What is Wrong with Canada’s NHL Teams?


Not since 1993 has a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup.  It just does not seem right does it?  It looks like the drought will continue this season as only one of the seven Canadian teams in the NHL is poised to make the playoffs, that being the Montreal Canadiens.  Since the Holy Grail was raised by the Canadiens, all of the remainder of Canada teams have made it to the Finals (save Toronto) with the Vancouver Canucks twice (1994 and 2011), the Calgary Flames (2004) and the Edmonton Oilers (2006) all taking it to seven games.  It almost seems like there is a curse because quite frankly the Canucks should have won in 2011, the Oilers should have won in 2006 and the Flames should have won in 2004 as those teams were firing on all cylinders and it could be argued that some questionable calls or unexplained circumstances lead to the US based teams winning the Cup those years.

So just why are the Canadian teams struggling so much?  The Hockey Fanatic looks at seven reasons the seven Canadian teams are struggling to win the Stanley Cup.

NHL Teams in Canada

7 Reasons Why the 7 Canadian Teams are Struggling to Win the Stanley Cup

    1. US Expansion – arguably the number one reason is that the NHL has expanded into a number of markets in the US.  Throughout most of the 80’s and into the early 90’s one third of the NHL’s teams were based in Canada.  The odds were obviously better for a Canadian team to make it deep into the playoffs back then.  Many fans will debate the fact that the talent pool in the NHL has been watered down as well due to NHL expansion where the rich get richer and the poor get… well you know where this story goes.
    2. NHL Players Desire to play in “hot” markets – pun intended, it is no secret that hockey players and in many examples their girlfriends or wives prefer to live in a warmer climate.  As recent as last month when Roberto Luongo was traded from Vancouver back to Florida (where he met his wife) there are numerous examples of players not willing to waive a trade to destinations such as Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary or even Vancouver.  Of course Luongo’s case was a little different but it is no secret that Florida was #1 on his list of preferred trade destinations.  I bet if we polled the players who in fact have special trade clauses or lists of teams that they would not like to be traded to that list would almost always include a couple of Canadian cities. (Which is quite surprising considering the great country that Canada is…).  The fact is that in Canada, the weather is colder, winter is longer, the taxes are higher and the cities are smaller so player are less conspicuous in Canadian markets.  Rumors persist that one of the reasons why Chris Pronger requested a trade from Edmonton was because his wife did not like the city.  While I’m not sure what the exact story is, the fact remains that the Canadian NHL teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to signing free agents or attracting big names in trades due to their location.
    3. The Canadian $$$ – while not as much as an issue as in the nineties when the drought started, the lower Canadian dollar has worked against the Canadian teams in being able to attract and more importantly keep talent north of the border.  The Edmonton Oilers come to mind in reviewing all of the great players they lost in the nineties.  They probably should have won another couple of Cups in the early ‘90s but the team was dismantled and was unable to remain competitive.
    4. Relocation – Both the Quebec Nordiques and the original Winnipeg Jets relocated in the nineties moving to Denver (Colorado) and Phoenix.  In the case of the Nordiques they went on to win the Stanley Cup the year after they moved from Quebec to Denver beating the Florida Panthers four games to zero to hoist the Cup in 1996.  Talk about adding insult to injury.
    5. Pressure – you would think that professional athletes would be better able to handle the pressures of playing their sport.  The fact is that regardless of what Canadian market you are in as a player or coach you are under a microscope and there is most certainly extra pressure on the players to perform in these cities.  Jeez how bad do Toronto Maple Leafs want their team to win the Stanley Cup?  Or how about the Vancouver Canucks or Winnipeg Jets?  Or what about storied franchises of the Montreal Canadiens or Edmonton Oilers?  Add to the mix the Ottawa Senators and you have a lot of fans of Canadian teams who are thirsty for a win and a sip out of the Stanley Cup.  Players are competitive and they want to win, but there is some extra pressure to perform in the Canadian markets.
    6. The League Itself – do you think the NHL as a League would be happy if year in year out a Canadian team was winning the Stanley Cup?  Seriously, with the large TV deals and market potential of the US based teams the League was obviously trying to grow the sport throughout the US.  Expansion to sunbelt areas was no coincidence.  While Wayne Gretzky is credited in growing the game in the US, it was really the mastermind of the likes of Gary Bettman and Bruce McNall and certain members of the Board of Governors who wanted to expand into US markets.  Personality conflicts aside it is np coincidence that the League did not want to sell a franchise to Canadian billionaire (at the time)  Jim Balsillie because he was quite vocal that he wanted to move a team to Canada.   On three occasions he was denied attempts to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes.  Gary Bettman works for the owners and there is a somewhat old gentleman’s club where the billionaire owners call the shots and for the most part treat their team as a business (which they should) but the buck stops with the owners and Gary Bettman.  He has grown League revenues albeit through multiple work stoppages.  (The NHL is the only professional sports league to miss a complete season due to labor unrest).  Call it a conspiracy theory but the League has made a number of changes that have worked against the Canadian teams when it comes to being able to win the Stanley Cup.  Does anyone remember the fact that the League gave an extra day off between games six and seven?  Or the additional day off between games one and two?  The Vancouver Canucks had momentum in both cases which was stalled by these small facts.  The Canucks were flying high after a game 6 win of 4-1.
    7. The Canadian Curse – While I’m not a believer in curses, many hockey players are superstitious.  Hockey fans as well.   In 2004 when the Flames were taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning, there were some questionable calls that resulted in power-plays for the Lightning who had a pretty lethal power-play,  and scored on a few of these chances.  I’m not suggesting that the League had anything to do with it but for whatever reason strange things happen when a Canadian team has been involved in the Finals as of late.  Luongo’s commentary on the Bruins Tim Thomas during the 2011 Finals seemed to be the turning point.  Dwayne Roloson of the Oilers getting hurt in game one of the Finals vs. the Hurricanes turned the tide for that game and the entire series.   In game one, Carolina tied the biggest comeback in Stanley Cup Finals history, overcoming a three-goal deficit to win, 5–4.  In the third period of this game, Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson suffered a series-ending knee injury in a collision and was replaced with backup Ty Conklin. With 32 seconds to go in regulation, Conklin misplayed the puck behind his own net, and it deflected off Jason Smith’s stick to the front of the empty net where Rod Brind’ Amour of the Canes buried it. I still lose sleep over this.

It has been way too long of a drought for long suffering fans of Canadian NHL teams. It does not look that the drought will be ended anytime soon.  Fans of the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks have had to endure teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars hoist the Stanley Cup.  It sure is sad that no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup in over twenty years.  Wow, just wow.

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The Fun of Watching Hockey Games


Keep Calm Watch HockeyBeing a die hard hockey fan means that there are certain elements that one experiences when watching hockey games.  A number of hockey players are superstitious and hockey fans can be just as superstitious.  That is part of the fun of watching hockey whether you are live at a game, at a sports bar or from the comfort of your home.  Ever wonder why hockey fans enjoy watching hockey games?  The Hockey Fanatic has come up with twenty reasons why its fun to watch hockey.

Ever ask your husband or your boyfriend why they love to watch hockey (no we are not suggesting that only men watch hockey…)  There are just so many great things that make watching hockey fun.  Whether it is the trade deadline, opening week of the season or the playoffs watching hockey is a heralded past time throughout the world but especially here in Canada.

20 Reasons Why Its Fun to Watch Hockey

  1. Hockey is the fastest sport on ice – hockey is a fast sport and there is nothing like end to end action to get hockey fans up out of their seats.  Watching the speed of the players as they skate back and fourth, make line changes on the fly is something to behold.
  2. Hockey has cool rules – there are a lot of rules in hockey.  Where else can a team play one or even two players short (due to penalties) giving the other team an opportunity to score a powerplay goal?  What about icing and having the faceoff go into the offensive zone?  Of course there are some lameo-O rules, but there are a number of unique rules in the game that makes it fun to watch.
  3. Hockey Sticks – Hockey is the only team sport that allows all active players to use a piece of equipment to engage in the play.  In baseball you have batters hitting one at a time, but in hockey all players have a stick in hand which can be used to score, save, poke check, cross check or take a slapshot with.
  4. Team Rivalries – as in any sport, hockey has its share of rivalries.  Like the Battle of Alberta or the New York vs New York matchup.  How about Philly vs the Pens?  Come playoff times rivalries heat up making it even more fun to watch.
  5. Great Play by Play – at least in Canada, the play by play of NHL and CHL games is exceptional.  TSN have some great and veteran hockey announcers and some of the best in the biz which makes it very entertaining to watch hockey games.
  6. Hockey is a contact sport – if you get the chance to attend a live hockey game and get to sit up close to the glass you will know what we mean.  There is a certain element of toughness with the game.
  7. Outdoor Games are fun – hockey originated outside in frigid temperatures on lakes and ponds.  The NHL’s Winter Classic and stadium series have proven that hockey fans love out door games.  It’s an experience like no other.
  8. Hockey Arenas have great atmospheres – the smell of popcorn or hot chocolate.  Ice girls, mascots, 50/50 draws, you cannot beat attending a hockey game whether it is in small town Saskatchewan or in the heart of New York city.
  9. Hockey has a great history – whether you are a Toronto Maple Leafs Fans, Montreal Canadiens fan or a fan of the Ottawa 67s, the history of the game of hockey is rich and epic.
  10. Hockey is a skilled game – you have to skate, shoot, check and skate some more to be able to play the game.  Those lucky enough to play in semi-pro and pro leagues are some of the best athletes in the world.
  11. Hockey players are classy – sure there are a few bad apples, but for the most part, hockey players are classy and give great interviews and are very personable and respectful of fans.
  12. Hockey Fights – ok we need to state clearly that we do not condone fighting in hockey, in fact the time may come to remove fighting from the game, but have you seen how the crows reacts to a classic hockey tilt?  The fans get excited, the players get pumped up and the level of excitement gets amped up.
    Here’s a peek at the top hockey fights of all-time courtesy of TSN via YouTube )
  13. Penalty Shots – where else can you find a good ol’ fashioned one on one, mano o mano play in a team sport?  Penalty shots make watching hockey games even more exciting.  The penalty shot is often referred to the most exciting play in all of hockey, maybe in all of sports, especially if it is in Overtime… and speaking of OT…
  14. Sudden Death Overtime – are you kidding me?  There is no nail biting in hockey, but there is nail biting during sudden death overtime as the next goal wins.  Especially in the playoffs as OT periods can sometime go three or four periods before a winning goal is scored.  That’s pretty exciting especially if your team scores the winner.
  15. You get to wear your teams’ jersey and colors – there are some cool jerseys in hockey.  Watching hockey allows you to throw on your teams colors and cheer on your team.
  16. Best of Seven Playoff series – the first team to win four games advances or wins the Stanley Cup.  How cool is that?
  17. Shootouts – players try some pretty crazy moves in the shootout.  Love them or hate them, shootouts can lift the fans out of their seats.
  18. Playoff Races – with 16 of the league’s teams entering the post season (we are speaking of the NHL here), the playoff races heat up in the final few weeks of the season and often come down to the final week or final day of the season which makes for some great scoreboard watching.
  19. The Stanley Cup – by far the coolest trophy in all of sports.  The quest for the Holy Grail ends with the captain of the winning team hoisting the Stanley Cup overhead and passing it to his teammates after a long hard battle of winning 16 games over a two month battle for hockey supremacy.
  20. Parity – while I personally long for the return of the dynasties, there is parity in the NHL like never before.  On any given night any of the 30 NHL teams can beat the others.  Take the 2006 Stanley Cup final, a seven game series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers with the Hurricanes prevailing.  Neither team was expected to get out of the first round that season.  Fans were excited for the Cinderella run of both teams.

Watching hockey is fun, but you know what is even better?  Playing hockey.  You are never too old to start.  Whether it is road hockey, ball hockey, ice hockey or other give it a try, you too may just become a hockey fan.

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