When I was a kid, I routinely watched the NHL All-Star Game with my dad and my brother. It wasn’t something I looked forward to or anything, but it was mildly entertaining to see the best players in the league playing hockey with and against each other.
I had not planned on watching it this year, but my eight-year-old son decided he wanted to watch it, so I watched with him. My dad and my brother are among the hundreds of millions who don’t get the channel on which the game was televised.
They didn’t miss much.
Goals, lots of them. Some dizzying camera work, a broken microphone. Alex Ovechkin eating potato chips on the bench. But it was enlightening to see the game with my son, something I’m not often able to do, unfortunately.
“How come nobody is hitting anybody?” Well, they just don’t. It’s not “real” hockey.
“Maybe if just one guy would have the courage to hit someone, everyone else would start doing it too.” Yeah, maybe. But don’t hold your breath.
“What’s with the sweaters?” Those aren’t sweaters, son. Those are systems. And if you want one, you’ll have to save up $424. Euphemisms don’t come cheap.
When the goals really started pouring into the nets in the second period, my son observed, “You could be losing by 10 goals and still have time to catch up.” Not so in his youth league, where a 10-goal lead means the end of the game.
When Mike Emrick announced that there had not been a penalty in an All-Star contest since Sandis Ozolinsh’s hooking minor in 2000, the boy literally began laughing out loud. “Seven years???” Well, there was no All-Star Game last year because of the Olympics and none the year before because of the lockout. “Still …”
At one point, we logged on to NHL.com to check the real-time scoring sheet. We wanted to see if any player had actually been credited with a hit. To our amazement, the Western Conference’s Billy Guerin had one. He was the only guy who had one. But when I checked again after the game, the hit had vanished. Not a single player had been credited with a hit; it was a no-hitter. My theory: they checked Guerin’s pockets after the game and the pre-game eggs they gave him were in pristine, unbroken condition. No hit for you!
I told the boy how the new “systems” are supposed to make everyone like nine percent faster. He doesn’t really understand percentages yet, but he was quick to pick up that nobody really has an advantage if everyone is faster (sorry, Derian Hatcher). I told him that with these spiffy new “systems” and bigger nets that some people would like to see introduced, we might someday see most regular season games resembling this one, at least in terms of the final score. He kind of made a face at that.
He had to go to bed after the second period. I recorded the rest of the game for him. This morning at breakfast, I mentioned that the third period was there for his viewing pleasure. He thanked me, asked me what the final score was, and then asked when the next Caps game would be on. 12-9. And the Caps play tomorrow, I said.
“Good. You can delete the third period.”
We were both happy that Ovie scored, happy that Ovie led all forwards on both teams in ice time, and happy that Ovie was enjoying himself. It was nice that Mike Green got three assists in the YoungStars Game. We both agreed that the updates sent back from Dallas by the Caps’ Nate Ewell that chronicled Ovie and Green’s All-Star experiences were better than the actual game itself. But one of these games every three years is plenty, thank you.
By the way, it was lame that NHL.com lumped Ovie with the pointless and minus-4 Sidney Crosby, with a headline that read “Better Luck Next Year” and a caption that read: “Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin didn’t figure in much of the scoring in Wednesday’s NHL All-Star Game, but the super sophomores had a blast all the same.”
How about this instead:
“Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin didn’t figure in any of the scoring in Wednesday’s NHL All-Star Game and Tuesday’s YoungStars Game, respectively, but the super sophomore and the Russian rookie had a blast all the same.”
Much better, and infinitely more accurate. I’m sure had Sidney managed an assist, there would have been no story in the first place. The story liberally quotes Crosby, but no one bothered to ask Ovie how disappointed he was with his one-goal performance. Hmmm.