Q. What do you get if you combine all three together?
A. Sheer brilliance, aka hockey
Hockey embodies aspects of three of my favorite sports
WWE/Smackdown: the sacrifice of the body with body checking
Polo: High-speed sport with body checking
SlamBall: pure adrenaline-filled entertainment with body checking
Hockey is 60 minutes of pedal to the metal, balls to the wall, full throttle action. You won't see high-flying RVD frog splashes or a shooting star by Evan Bourne, but you'll see MEN diving across the ice to take a slap shot to the face. Sure, you may lose a tooth or break a nose, but if that's what it takes to win, so be it (see picture above)! This sport used to be played without helmets or face guards, for crying out loud. If you see an opponent screening your goalie, clear him out. If you see a player coming in along the boards with the puck, check him, and stop him cold. The refs will even allow a bit of fighting (though there is a penalty). As the great Rodney Dangerfield once said: "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out." What other sport allows so much physical contact without fear of being penalized or ejected?
Players are always playing at full speed -- always skating, always moving around. That's why they play in shifts. If you've ever played indoor soccer, you know how tiring it gets playing just five minutes all out, but this fast-pace action with substitutions that don't require stoppage of play makes hockey that much better.
As a born and bred Texan, I know firsthand how little love hockey receives in the South. If you have never watched a game, I strongly encourage you to try it out with an open mind. As an audience member watching on television, you will be engaged the entire time; though it's even better live. For me, it's the sounds of the game -- the crashing of the boards, the slicing of the skates, the clanging of a shot off the goal post, and the blasting of the fog horn whenever the home team scores. I can honestly say that if I had a choice of any live sporting event, I'd choose hockey over anything else.
For your viewing pleasure:
If you find that you hate it, that's cool too.
Photos and video courtesy of Seattle Times and youtube.com.