In March 2002, a girl named Brittanie Cecil lost her life after an accident at a Columbus Blue Jackets game two days before her 14th birthday. A hockey puck flew into the stands and struck the young girl in the left temple, causing a traumatic brain injury that would prove fatal a few days later. It was the first time in the National Hockey League’s history a fan died because of a flying puck. Now, over 17 years later, it is still just as important for NHL fans to practice spectator safety.
On a Thursday night in early June 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights were defeated in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals by the Washington Capitals after Lars Eller of the Capitals scored the game-winning goal with 7:37 minutes left to play. While many across the nation celebrated Washington's first Stanley Cup win, others sat back and admired the grit, determination, spirit and never-give-up attitude of the Golden Knights.
On a Tuesday night, late in April 2019, the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights played one of the most memorable Game 7s in sporting history. A chippy and aggressive series, the first round of playoffs for the 2019 season already had plenty of talking points. There were two players who lost teeth during the best-of-seven series and numerous players were taken back to the locker rooms during the games for various injuries. The hits were strong and plentiful; the embodiment of hockey. There was a goal scored that was quickly waived off due to goalie interference, changing the game's momentum. But it's all part of the game. Athletes put their bodies on the line every day, for an ultimate goal. Usually, these goals are personal, maybe the athletes want to create a good and stable life for their family, or they want to prove someone wrong, or win the biggest game, or create ever-lasting fame. But sometimes, playing for a teammate can be the most powerful and motivating goal.
Hockey players practice almost their entire lives to reach the highest of levels—be it to America's National Hockey League (NHL), the Eurasian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Sweden's Elitserien (Swedish Elite League/SEL), Finland's SM-liiga, or any of the other various leagues out there. Most notable players started out when they were around four or five years old, and when coaches and managers draft them to an elite league, everyone watching expects huge things from them.
I am what you could call athletically challenged. You know, I was the kid who was always picked last for scrimmage football, schoolyard baseball and road hockey. But even though I never played on any organized sports team, my life has been touched by the sport of hockey.
As this piece is being written, there are still a lot of questions pertaining to the roster for the 2019-2020 edition of the Winnipeg Jets. By writing this piece, the writer is by no means diminishing the importance of individual players such as Kyle Connor or Patrik Laine. These individual players have their own strengths and weaknesses, and certainly, there have been many who have been writing stories in this manner.
With the Boston Bruins in China as part of Bruins global, it gave us the chance to look back at other times the NHL has traveled outside of North America. Such as when, in 2010, six NHL teams played in Europe. This involved the Bruins who played two games against the Coyotes (splitting the series one a piece) and a game against HC Liberec of the Czech Republic, along with a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland to play the Belfast Giants Select hockey team.
The Ottawa Senators have been the butt of all jokes lately. We've seen them in the news for the 2018 season and with good reason. Recently, the ridicule has gone so far as to reach a Simpsons episode where Lisa Simpson was to be assigned a hockey team in Canada. She was muttering to herself please not Ottawa and she was given Ottawa.
2019 Stanley Cup Finals: What teams will make it through? There are eight teams left, but only one can win that trophy, so here is a list of teams still in the running:
I love hockey. From the time I was about eight or so, I would occasionally watch games with my dad (if they were before my bedtime). I was born into a Habs-loving family in the center of a Maple Leaf-centric city, so when I was given my first piece of Canadiens merchandise, I quickly understood the taboo of it, but still wore it proudly, claiming I was my elementary school’s biggest Habs fan. My favourite player was (and still is) P.K. Subban, so I was notably devastated when he was traded from my favourite team, and that his "bromance" with Carey Price was being censored. Among my friends, who are largely not hockey fans, I’m something of an expert on the game. How could I not be? I can name more than five players in the NHL, I understand the rules, and I actively cheer for not one, but two teams (the second being the Nashville Predators, naturally). But not that I would ever admit this to another fan, I’m a poser. I really don’t know that much about hockey, aside from the league’s biggest moments, and I don’t follow it religiously, save for a few key players on the most popular teams. My hockey knowledge is conversational, but has absolutely no depth. This has led me to develop a feeling of inadequacy when it comes to discussing Canada’s game with literally any hockey fan outside of my small gaggle of hockey-ignorant friends. Why is it that every NHL fan can spit stats or discuss plays from across that league for the last 10 years at the drop of a hat? And I’m left to stumble my way through playoff bracket conversations.
There’s a rot that exists inside the culture of hockey that is a top-down type of disease. This malady can be easily understood as the Thug Mentality. It starts with the likes of Don Cherry, currently a prominent NHL analyst and commentator and former head coach of the Boston Bruins. Eventually it trickles down into the leagues of the little ones because the veins of the hockey culture are clogged with this viscous disease.
Sports movies, in general, have the inherent ability to instill something in its viewers that many films are unable to organically inculcate—the feeling of hope.