My friend, Paul, also formerly from Toronto, put it precisely on the money:
“We love baseball. But hockey is in our blood.”
I attended a hockey game a while back. That game included one telling play, which I will presently describe. (Don’t worry. I’ll go easy on the esoterica. You know what a puck is, right? You’ll be fine.)
A player picks up the puck in his own zone. He heads up the ice, on the right side of the rink. You with me so far? Good.
The player streaks across center ice, into the other team’s zone. The defenders are in hot pursuit, but the guy, a waterbug on skates, is ahead of the pack.
There’s a spot on the ice, a certain distance away, and to the right (there’s another one on the left) where, if a player shoots the puck from precisely that angle, it maximizes his chances of scoring a goal.
The player in my story clearly knows where that spot is. More importantly – for this particular venue –
So do I.
When the player hits that special spot on the ice, and from my vantage point in the stands, I yell,
And he scores.
The people around me are dropping their beers in disbelief. They say, “How did you do that?” My answer, of course?
Well, as I said, that game was a while back. I’ve been here longer now. It’s quite possible my hockey instincts have worn off.
Last night, a friend generously invited me to a hockey game. It’s been years since I’d gone to one, and I rarely watch hockey on T.V., because the camera coverage of hockey on American T.V. is terrible – it’s basically one camera sweeping the ice, like a prison searchlight. Besides, it’s not the Leafs. (The Toronto team.)
It didn’t matter. On three separate occasions, I saw something in the way the play was developing, which, combined an ineffable sense of a building momentum, made me certain that a goal was about to be scored.
And it happened. All three times.
Hockey’s in our blood, all right.
And it’s in there forever.