I’ll admit it. I never really paid much attention to hockey growing up. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I just wasn’t exposed to it, we’ll say. Sure, we had the Capitals down the street from where I grew up in Crownsville, Maryland. Back then( and even to some people today) they were known as the Crapitals! Makes you wanna jump behind the team wholeheartedly when you’re a young brother from the suburbs, right? “What’s red, white, and blue and golfs in the spring?”, the joke goes. “The Washington Crapitals!” Nope, didn’t watch much of the game as a kid and that’s too bad.
We now fast forward to 2009 and my job doing mornings on a classic rock station in Washington, D.C., home of the aforementioned hockey club. As co-host of the show it was my privilege to interview the affable and erudite Bruce Boudreau every Monday morning during the season. This is when my true appreciation for this complicated and fascinating game took root. I couldn’t show my lack of hockey knowledge, I’m better than that and I wouldn’t disrespect him that way. I brushed up, watched the games, asked questions of my crew who had always paid attention. I found out hockey’s pretty damn cool! Hell, it was my question to Boudreau about Madison Square Garden in the spring of 2011 (right before the Caps ran into a buzzsaw named the Lightning) that prompted him to call the place a dump and rile up the Rangers! Lucky for me the Caps won that series. That would be their last series win that season.
Now I actually WORK with a hockey player. A two-time Stanley Cup-hoisting enforcer of a hockey player! You’d better come correct. Don’t get me wrong, Dingman’s been great, but that’s because he knows I respect and appreciate the game. Hockey guys are all about respect, I learned. I mean, it’s not a locker room, it’s a dressing room. The owners are all referred to as Mr. So and So and the players can maul each other on the ice and tip a few together after the game. Then there’s the game itself. Do you skate the puck up or do you dump it into the corner? Is your team finesse or physical and do they play together? Can your team stand up for itself and can it last the war that is the NHL playoffs? And, these guys almost never show up on the PUP list. They just don’t. Broken nose and spitting teeth, they’re goin’! It’s an intense and interesting game. I’m glad I finally figured it out. If you’re not a fan, well that’s too bad.