Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Extent of My Distraction

I have become distracted.  I am almost embarrassed to admit the reason.  It is this:

It's as if I have entered another dimension of time and space, one in which suddenly and surprisingly, the sport of hockey has meaning to me.  It never did before.  I dated a goalie in high school and I thought that was enough hockey watching to last a lifetime.  Not to mention the fact that being from Toronto, you get used to having a home team that isn't very good, rarely makes it to the playoffs and even if they do, they don't stand an ice rink's chance in you-know-what of getting past the first round.  I swore I'd never get sucked into believing that Toronto's team, they who haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967 (since before my sister was even born, as she has often remarked), would ever amount to much.

But this year was different.  For one thing, the Toronto Maple Leafs did make it to the playoffs, for the first time in nine years.  They played against the Boston Bruins and suffered a gut wrenching loss in sudden death overtime in the tie-breaking Game 7.  I watched some of those games, including that very last game, kept track of the score and game totals, had a little bit of hope that they might actually make it to the next round but enough common sense to know they wouldn't.  I kind of enjoyed it.

They didn't but I didn't mind, because there was always Chicago's hockey team - the Blackhawks.  Unlike Toronto, Chicago had been practically unbeatable this year.   Of course, the NHL players were on strike for a good part of the 2012-2013 season (another reason for scorn on my part) but in the 48 games that did eventually take place, Chicago won an astounding 36 of them, the best in the league.  They have since made it through 3 rounds of playoffs to take part in the Stanley Cup finals against Boston, the same team who brought such heartbreak to the long suffering Toronto fans several weeks ago.

Normally, I wouldn't care about any of that, except for one important fact that makes Chicago different from all the other teams:  longtime family friend, Mike Kitchen, is one of their assistant coaches.  He's been involved in the NHL for years now, first as a player, then as a coach.  This is the first time he has been part of a team as they fight for the Cup.  I could not be more excited for Mike and I am wholeheartedly cheering on the team as a result.
Mike Kitchen (right) coaching Jonathan Toews, team captain (left)
Their quest has become mine.  I am living for each game, eagerly watching every minute, sometimes late into the evening when there are multiple overtime periods.  I'm Googling players and hockey terminology, reading articles, dissecting plays and discussing strategy.   I am eagerly looking forward to the next game on Saturday night, as they return to home ice advantage in Chicago with the series tied at two games apiece.

Late last night, just as I was closing my eyes to sleep after one of the most exciting hockey games I had ever seen (won in yet another sudden death overtime by Chicago with a score of 6 to 5), I realized the extent of my absorption.  I knew I was seriously hooked when I realized I had been so distracted by the game that...I had forgotten to blog!

So here I am, wishing Mike and the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks team the best of luck in these last 2 (preferably) or 3 playoff games that remain in the chase for the Cup.  I will be watching every minute with fingers crossed and a heart full of hope, cheering them along every step of the way.  The rest of the time, you'll have to pardon my distraction.

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