Last week I had the opportunity to attend my very first hockey game. It was a pre-season matchup between the Nashville Predators and the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is how I was able to score two 4th row tickets right behind the Predators bench for $10 a piece. When I entered the stadium, I knew nothing about hockey except for what I’d learned from watching “The Mighty Ducks” movies hundreds of times. During the game, I ate a giant pretzel, yelled “WELCOME TO SMASHVILLE!” every time a Tampa player got crushed up against the glass, and generally had a rollicking good time. I also took notes. Here are some assorted thoughts, observations, and philosophical questions from a hockey virgin…
1. The coaches really do wear suits and slick their hair back like Emilio Estevez in “Mighty Ducks 2″! Have these coaches never seen “Mighty Ducks 2″? Don’t they know fancy suits isn’t what hockey is about?! Sigh.
2. All of the players look exactly the same. I’m not a geneticist, but based on my observations I’m fairly confident that the entire team shares a common Canadian ancestor.
3. So fighting is good? A fight broke out in the first period, and the refs halfheartedly tried to break it up (they basically acted like WWE refs) while the crowd went BONKERS. I must admit it was very exciting. Especially because hockey players are wearing so much padding that they must throw all their gloves and helmets and pads on the ice before pouncing on each other, so there’s a lot of fight anticipation time while they strip down.
4. The penalty box seems like the ideal place to be. I watched player after player get sent to the penalty box as punishment, but as soon as they’re in there they just got to chill out and eat snacks. If I were a hockey player I would always try to get sent to the penalty box immediately, and I would keep a sleeve of Oreos under the little penalty box chair to reward myself.
5. Hockey refs are the bravest people in the world. They’re out there zigging and zagging between giant men on sharp skates throwing each other into walls, and they’re barely wearing any padding! Their lack of fear is both troubling and inspiring.
6. I want to be a Zamboni driver when I grow up. Seriously though, this guy is living the dream:
7. I hope the opposing teams’ goalies have access to good post-game therapy. Because Predators fans are especially ruthless after our team scores a goal. A popular chant that rang out around the arena to celebrate a Predators goal was “YOOOUUUUUU SUCK!” followed by “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” This was all directed at the other team’s goalie, who hung his head in shame as I silently hoped he didn’t have any lingering childhood guilt issues that thousands of strangers were now dredging up because he failed to stop a puck.
8. Carrie Underwood’s husband is a beautiful man. Carrie’s hubby Mike Fisher plays for the Predators, and I spent much of the game wondering what kind of conditioner he uses on his flowing locks. I also wondered if any of the guys on his team call him “Mr. Underwood” in the locker room and if it makes him mad or if he’s like, “Yes I’m married to a high-achieving woman and I’m damn proud of it!” I hope it’s the latter.
Hello, Mr. Underwood.
9. Hockey fans are really funny. At one point during the second period I asked the woman next to me how many more periods there were in the game. Despite being a season ticket holder, she said, “I don’t know, I’m always so drunk by the second period the rest of the game is just a blur.” Duly noted.
10. The Flying V is apparently rarely used in professional hockey. As much as I enjoyed myself during the game, this revelation was deeply disappointing.