Okay, so that's not true. However, I read an article today referred to me by Puck Daddy that reminded me why some people don't like hockey. In an article on the L.A. Times website, columnist T.J. Simers wrote about how he essentially had no choice but to write about a Kings game. He spends the first three paragraphs literally apologizing for forcing his unfortunate readers to read an article about hockey. Well, there was a smidgen of hockey in the article.
Let me share a choice exerpt with you. This was from Simers' visit to the Rangers vs. Kings game. (Note that “Dwyre” refers to Bill Dwyre, another L.A. Times columnist):
“The first period ended with no score, and while Dwyre loves writing about nothing happening, it would have been also way past his bedtime, so in his honor, I went home.”
The part that stuck out to me was “nothing happening”. So the players weren't playing? They were just standing around?
Okay, I get it. It's hyperbole. He meant it was uneventful, at least to someone who is ignorant to hockey, because there was no scoring. This is the mindset that is instilled in the American sports fan. What do I mean? Consider this; when you miss a hockey game what do you do? You check the score, read the summary, and that's about it.
So why watch games at all? Why not just catch the highlights on Sports Center? Because we don't just watch hockey for goals. I once had a conversation with a friend of mine who was not what I would consider a hockey fan. I told him how the league was considering making the nets larger to create more scoring, and how Roberto Luongo vowed to retire if that were to happen. My friend said why not? Hockey could use some more scoring.
I tried to argue my point. Hockey doesn't need more scoring. It's a frivolous change. It does nothing to improve the game.
My arguments fell on deaf ears.
That is until I put it like this. Imagine you are writing a paragraph that leads up to an emphatic point. You punctuate that sentence with an exclamation point. Now imagine every sentence in that paragraph ending with an exclamation point. It's lost all importance. It has been devalued by overuse.
All a bigger net and more goals in hockey would do is devalue the goal. Yet, that's what so many other sports that are popular in America do. It's a stat-crazy sports nation and the more the better. Over time, the NBA has ballooned scoring to a ridiculous amount. Just a few weeks ago, a record was set for the highest scoring NFL playoff game in history. And how many times have you heard this: “Stepping to the plate is John Doe. His batting average this year is .275. His average against left handed pitchers is .310. His average against this pitcher is .430. His average on Tuesdays is .137.” And on, and on…
We are constantly bombarded by stats, except in hockey. Before the game you hear the star player stats, goaltender stats, then nothing else until a goal is scored generally. So what is in between? Well, “nothing” if you ask Mr. Simers.
But in reality there is a lot happening. The players lay hits, dictate pace, battle on the boards, control the puck, run systems. All of that stuff is important. The player who is standing the furthest away from the puck on the ice is crucial to the play, believe it or not. If he happens to be out of position it could be costly for his team. However, Mr. Simers wouldn't notice that player was out of position because he would be celebrating the goal.
I'm not trying to say other sports are flawed. I'm trying to say that the sports that are popular in this country appeal to fans who are interested in a plethora of scoring and stats. Hockey is a sport of intangibles, I would argue more so than any other sport. If you want to understand hockey you have to pay attention for 60 minutes, not just every time that flashing red light above the goal comes on.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney