Brethren: This day, three weeks ago, I attended my first NHL game. I had been to professional hockey games to see the ECHL's Charlotte Checkers play, but I hadn't ever been to the game played at its highest form. Needlesstosay, I was not disappointed.
I went to Madison Square Garden three weeks ago and saw the New York Rangers play the Florida Panthers. First off, it was weird to root against a professional sports team named the Panthers, but after ignoring my quick-triggered sports concscience, I enjoyed the experience immensely. I like to do things right when I do them for the first time (a la staying at the MGM, playing golf, and being rowdy on my parent's dime when I went to Vegas for the first time). And one thing I can sure say about that Sunday night: I did my first NHL game right.
Some fine thoughts, a quick note about the beginning of March Madness, and perhance some Nacho musings, desde:
Brethren (cont'd): First off, my field trip to Madison Square Garden was courtesy of a buddy's parents, with whom I share this island we live on. They are Canadian. They are very Canadian. My friends and I simply call our buddy, "Canuck," because he's a dirty, dirty man who hails from Toronto. Canuck's dad is the CEO of Bank Of New York Mellon -- and I'm his boss, as I own 11 shares of that fine company. As the saying goes, he's kinda a big deal. He's also one of the most fascinating persons I've ever met. He's unapologettically Canadian, extremely quick-witted, and used to tell his son, Canuck, that they like his sister better every night Canuck went to bed when he was 8. This is the kind of father I aspire to be: a baller, hilarious, and kinda a dick to my kids, in that loving way.
So Canuck's dad was sick and I got called up from the proverbial bullpen to accompany Mrs. Canuck and Canuck's two (even more) Canadian cousins to the game. When I got the call that I'd be attending the game, I immediately assumed our seats would be kick-ass. They were. We were sitting on the 6th row, center ice, opposite the benches. At hockey games, sometimes you don't want to get too close so you can't see the entire rink. We weren't too close. It was just right.
After depositing ourselves in the club seats, our waiter immediately showed up and we ordered beers. He punched in the order, which was electronically sent to the concession stand, far away. I like that our waiter himself didn't have to deliver our order himself. It kinda made me think that soon enough at sporting events, I'll just be able to muse that I'd like a Bud Diesel, and it'll show up.
The two teams entered the ice, and then we had the national anthem. Sung by a deep-voiced New Yorker, I knew before the end of the song that this was not your typical NFL or NBA game. People were hootin and hollerin throughout the duration of the rendition, and cheers poured throughout the arena. I had never heard a crowd so excited about the national anthem. At SEC football games, people go crazy for the tradition, but usually remain somewhat quiet during the singing. Not hockey fans.
As the game started, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that hockey fans pay attention quite well. Because the game is so fast and a scoring play can unveil itself so quickly, you're pretty much forced to keenly pay attention, and the MSG crowd did not disappoint. The game itself was a blowout, with the Rangers winning 5-0. I had no idea Jagmir Jagr was even still in the league, and he scored a goal.
Of course, the true highlight of the night was the fact that the Rangers got into two fights. The first one was a strict 15-minute penalty because the two kept fighting after the refs tried to separate them after they hit the ice. The second one was interesting because it seemingly escalated out of nowhere. Each fight wasn't particularly rough or had a great punch, but grown men being allowed to fight is always awesome.
I also appreciated all the line changes more in person. As Canuck's cousins explained to me, ideally, each player would like to play in 30-60 second sprints, because that's the optimal way to play. You need to be at full bore the entire time, and you need a talented team to pull off a solid three lines. All-in-all, I feel much more knowledgeable after one live hockey game, and I hope to be back soon.
NCAA thoughts: Unless UVA's in it, I'm not much of a watcher of Selection Sunday. I don't get real excited about whether or not Drake's a six seed and whatnot. Just get me those brackets, let me dissect 'em, and take people's money.
One thing that did tickle me green this afternoon was during the ACC Championship game. Clemson grad JLew was up in NYC for the weekend, and he and I were watching the game. I'm sure somewhere else in Blogfrica (I'd imagine Awful Announcing's on it) this will be documented, but I had to mention it: sometime in the second half, Mike Patrick was talking about Tyler Hansborough's missing contact. In an attempt to tell a related story, Dickie V started off a story by saying, "Let me tell you about that -- my wife was on her knees this morning..."
Now I'm sure the story had something to do trying to find a contact on the floor, but neither JLew or I heard the rest, as we couldn't stop cracking up at Dickie V's intro. I'm sure his wife hasn't blown him in years, but here he was on national TV, lying about it to the watching sports world. I would have loved to seen Mike Patrick's face when he heard that story intro.
Good old Dickie V. Great to have him around.
Nacho: I'll say this and only this: Gonzaga, Davidson's gonna be a helluva game.