I just realized that I have a new favorite sport for the off-season (i.e., the non-baseball months of the year). Hockey. Yes, hockey. I’m choosing to watch hockey games on television instead of basketball (especially given that interminable season that is pro basketball).
And I’m hooked thanks to the Washington Capitals and their superstar Alex Ovechkin, the Great Eight. (Ovechkin wears #8 on his jersey.) He’s a terrific talent – fast and strong with a wicked shot – and he has the teammates to support him.
A friend of mine from New Orleans once said Southerners had learned to like hockey because it was the closest legalized sport to cock fighting. A good line, but the fighting is not what I find intriguing about the sport. I just watched a game between the top two teams in the Eastern Division of the NHL: the Capitals and the Boston Bruins. Although this is just after the All-Star break in the middle of the NHL season, these two teams played at a speed and skill level that was breath-taking. Incredible puck handling, stop-on-a-dime turns, unbelievable stops by both goalies…this game had all the drama of playoff hockey. As befitted such a well-played contest between the top two teams, the game went into overtime. Ovechkin just missed a game winner due to a great stop by Thomas in the Boston goal, and in the ensuing rush up the ice the Capitols took a penalty. On a bad bounce the Bruins with the power play won in overtime. Nonetheless, it was a great game no matter your team.
Thomas Boswell, the baseball-loving columnist for the Washington Post, recently wrote a column that explains the appeal of this Capital team. It ends with:
Sometimes, over the years, the Caps have been sportswriter spinach and fan repellent. And sometimes, they’ve been fun. But they’ve never been a thrill, never been the best show in town, never been the team whose tickets you gave to your family for Christmas. Until now.
It’s a strange new place we find ourselves, to be sure. But we can probably learn to enjoy it.
It is indeed a thrill that I’m enjoying a great deal.
More to come…