It’s the Holidays, which means 24/7 has Returned!
This is a weekly feature that will highlight The Good, The Bad and The *fill in the blank* exciting things that are currently happening in the NHL. Did Ovechkin catch up to Kessel in points? Did Roberto Luongo overcome his shootout-phobia? Did a Blackhawk have anything enlightening and insightful to say? When it comes to hockey, anything is possible.
The Good: Having the Best Power Play in the NHL … I Mean Rivalries, Yeah Those Are Great Too.
What would hockey be like if everyone involved in it just got along? If hockey hugs happened with players from both teams? If fans didn’t trash talk other fans and players didn’t trash talk other players? Rivalries need to exist because they make the game more exciting for both those watching it and those who are playing it. Each time division, playoff or state/province rivals face off, it brings an increased intensity to the game and undoubtedly makes watching hockey at the local pub far more enjoyable. We all have friends, spouses, or family members that are fans of teams we despise (Hi dad, Flames suck) and given the chance to verbally spar with an opposing fan and make bets on who will buy the next round of shots, I’ll take it. Be careful though because friendship can end in some cases (Hey Jeremy, how’s Boston treating you? Yeah I don’t really care).
The Bad: The Concussions Epidemic in Hockey
There are many things in life which we partake in that have an element of risk involved. That risk is elevated when your job is a full contact sport in which your head is a vulnerable component. I am convinced that the NHL has turned into the twilight zone because it is too eerie to be called coincidental that so many top players have been diagnosed with concussions, in such close succession.
Sidney Crosby, Chris Pronger, Marc Staal, Ryan Miller, Mike Richards Jeff Skinner, Claude Giroux and now Milan Michalek, and that is just naming a few. Your brain is not supposed to move around in your skull like a beach ball, and yet that is exactly what happens when your head gets hit by an elbow that is attached to Boston Bruin… or the knee of a teammate or even your own brother.
Our bodies are pretty smart and have a highly intelligent healing mechanism, evidenced by the fact that bones can grow back together. The brain, however, is not something that you want to have shaken and stirred like a cocktail at happy hour. I hope all these guys are not going to be tormented the rest of their careers and I hope that the NHL finds some way to reduce the risk. Imagine a world where Crosby never plays hockey again? That would be tragic. He’s in my hockey pool.
And HBO’s 24/7: I Hope That John Tortorella Makes Bruce Boudreau Look Like a Disney Character.
I loved watching 24/7 last year, mostly because of the high French Canadian contingent on the Pittsburgh Penguins team and hey, Liev Schreiber has a sexy voice (come on guys, he does). It was also a fascinating and rare peek behind the curtains of what actually happens on and off the ice, the various personalities and how the coaches really feel when their star players are not performing. Like any good show or movie, an equally successful sequel is tough to pull off when you change the cast members. Fortunately for me, one of my favorite stars is back again. Yes Max Talbot, I have forgiven you for your treacherous betrayal of moving into enemy territory and am looking forward to seeing you once more, even if you are wearing that orange jersey.
John Tortorella is such a passionate guy which equates to him being entertaining because you never know what he is going to say and boy does he have a temper. That is precisely the kind of key ingredient that makes television so delicious that you want to devour ever bit of it (and French Canadian hockey players). I suspect that where Tortorella will provide the ‘tough cop’ character in the impending drama, Ilya Bryzgalov will be the comedic relief and share his deep insight into life. At least I am hoping!