Don't Die, It's Only Hockey

... only hockey? After all my ranting and raving over the Bruins this season, how my boyfriend can honestly think telling me that "it's only hockey" is a rational idea is beyond me. The list of things that will always cheer me up is as follows:

1) Hockey
2) Dana Carvey
3) Titanic
4) Forehead kisses

In that order. When all else fails, it's hockey. A sport that has somehow always been so easy for me to get wrapped up in. I live and die by the Bruins and make no apologies for it. But beyond my love for this team is a love for this game that is absolutely unparalleled.

I'll spare you all the details, if you care to know why Olympic hockey is superior to the NHL, about.com does a great job of summarizing it here. I recommend reading it if you are both unfamiliar with hockey and also planning to watch some of the upcoming matches. If you're in it for the fights, don't bother - they are nonexistent in international play.

"Hockey is entertaining but I don't share your passion for rule variations. I enjoy it for what it is: grown men skating with sticks." Seriously? How I am dating this boy is sometimes far beyond me. But apparently his less-than-obsessive interest in hockey is on par with my absolutely hateful feelings toward Dr. Pepper, we agree to disagree.

The thing is, it's not just grown men skating with sticks. The USA/Canada game yesterday was played well. The most basic of fundamentals were adhered to for a solid sixty minutes. The Canadians out-skated USA but the Americans were able to take better advantage of the elusive powerplay. Each team was comprised 100% of NHL players. So why was that the best hockey game I've seen in a very long time?

Two words: salary cap.

Olympians, by definition, are the best of the best. Salary caps prevent these teams from ever being duplicated by the NHL and I am in support of that. The last thing the NHL needs is the hockey version of the New York Yankees taking over because this would also lead to teams that become the equivalent of oh say, the Padres. Because of the nature of the Olympics, the best of the best from every country are pretty damn good and there aren't too many teams at a disadvantage (okay, if Jamaica had a hockey team, then maybe).

And so, you see, it isn't "only hockey." It's Olympic Hockey. It's sixteen days of the best hockey the world has ever seen. Sixteen days of hockey fundamentals that just aren't a part of the NHL. Sportsmanship that isn't part of the NHL. Beyond anything, it is sixteen days of hockey played the way hockey has always intended to be played. It isn't "only hockey," it's hockey. Plain and simple.

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