Nikolai Khabibulin, Bengt Gustafsson and Pekka Rinne just to name a few. Hockey fans tend to have to deal with some of the more difficult names in North American professional sports.
The added bonus being that we are getting a nice little primer course on the Russian, Swedish and Finnish languages and maybe, just maybe, a tiny glimpse into those countries cultures. You can watch the Detroit Red Wings and almost feel like you’ve been to Sweden.
But, with all respect to Marcel Goc, I don’t think Germans and their cultural ideas have had the same kind of impact. Which leads me to a concept some people might be unfamiliar with, but deep in their heart of hearts, most hockey fans with have been living with since the very first day they aligned themselves with their favourite team, home town or otherwise.
Simply, it just means finding joy in the suffering of others. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a particularly noble thing to associate yourself with in real life, but in the world of pro sports, there’s not much that’s better.
So, why am i writing this now? Earlier this year, the NHL saw one of the great comebacks in its history and I found myself not being able to think about the brilliant young Chicago Blackhawks team, nor their erasing of a five goal deficit that can only be described as amazing. No, I couldn’t help dwelling on WHO they did it to. Here’s a hint – this same team lost its tenth in a row last night to the Dallas Stars after leading by two goals.
Yes, the Hated Calgary Flames!
A bit harsh? I guess it’s time for full disclosure, I’m a dyed in the wool Vancouver Canucks fan. Whether the dye is blue, green, mustard, red, black, burgundy, silver or finally blue again. Now with the Stanley Cup seeming to be an ever elusive goal around these parts, I seem to be finding just as much joy in bad Flames beats as I do in Canuck victories. Thinking of all those so-called "stacked" Flames teams and their never ending stream of first round losses just puts a smile on my face. And the fact the I can get an early season reminder of that great feeling, well I just have to say thanks to Jarome and company. Now don’t get me wrong, Flames fans have the same right to feel that way towards the Canucks and their fans. If i’m being honest the Flames franchise history looks like Yankees compare to what the Canucks have accomplished. Still, it’s days later and when I think about that game you can’t slap that old smile from my face, although sure many Calgarian would love to give it a shot.
And isn’t all this a big part of what makes sports so fun? The great rivalries. Yankees vs Red Sox, Michigan vs Ohio State, Leafs vs Humanity. Finally, in a cheap ploy to get all those Flames fans back on my side, or off my back for at least a minute, there’s one rivalry we both hope comes to an end. Gary Bettman vs hockey fans.