Wildcard Wednesday 5/18/16

It seems unlikely that I wouldn’t care about hockey. Hockey fans absolutely love it and, at the base level, I seem perfectly positioned to actively support hockey as well. I enjoy most sports and I came from the north where hockey is prevalent. But, no NHL team calls my State home and the cost of participation precluded me as I grew. Those factors combined to make me agnostic when it came to hockey, despite my other predispositions.

I arrived to college a hockey blank slate. Smooth, like the zamboni just cleaned the ice between periods. While the fantastic cheer of my college’s fans (“that’s debatable,” after the arena announcer declared that both teams were “back to full strength” with the finish of a power play for our side) alone urged me to vehemently cheer for my college, other factors did not. 

Enter other factors. Most people know a "crazy" person. Not someone dissociated with the world, but kinda. In my definition, crazy people don’t care about consequences. That complete absence of concern makes them imposing adversaries if the circumstances warrant. It just so happens that the craziest (least concerned with consequence) person I knew from high school visited someone else I went to college with (obviously he wasn’t a fellow student himself since that would conflict with the crazy status). I was happy to occupy Senior Loco’s good graces which made us allies rather than adversaries. 

Sorry, this is a long story, but I worked at a bar in my college town. Friends, including Loco that evening, came to the establishment while I finished working. When I finished work we would all head for another establishment on a meaningless but, at the time seemingly very meaningful, escapade. 

Back to direct relevance, I worked with a member of the hockey team. Some of his teammates also visited the bar. A bunch of hulking He-men, whom although they might compete with their skates for intelligence, still retained more cognizance than Loco. 

Somehow a disagreement developed over who would win a fight between our Loco and the present hockey loco (because apparently there’s some way to differentiate them - I would have guessed all the hockeys were more or less crazy). It doesn’t really matter how the conversation came to be, all that matters is that it was. The two locos exchanged some coarse words and some coarse looks but after significant efforts from others, including myself, blatant conflict was avoided. ‘Whew,’ I thought with relief.

After I finished my shift our small group, 5 or 6 or so normal humans, began our trek through the mean streets to our next destination. Unfortunately our little group unintentionally led another. A second set of at least as many hockey players…people WHO PLAYED COLLEGIATE HOCKEY and regularly athletically trained and basically fought for fun…were in tow. While I had confidence that our one crazy David could defeat their one crazy Goliath, no matter sizes, I possessed little confidence in our ability as a group to defeat their numerically and physically superior group of giants. 

They followed us, not saying anything, not needing to say anything. Just following, and in the manner of following strongly implying a desire to fight. I think that team rules probably prohibited them from clearly provoking a fight but did not prohibit them from self-defense. So, they aimed to provoke self-defense. 

I had helped avoid an outright fight earlier while I worked. Now the work induced abstinence served me well by tempering my ego. Those of us aware of the unfavorable odds guided our group into the first business possible for a drink. Where didn’t matter as long as it was somewhere that did not involve being tailed by a bunch of long-haired, thick skulled behemoths.

As if their purpose wasn’t obvious enough, the sudden absence of prey to provoke quickly led to traveling hockey mob's disappearance. “Poof” just like that, like Kaiser Soze, they were gone. 

So, a little more than a year later, when the school's Hockey team won the National Championship, I cheered. On a school pride level I was very happy. But on a personal level, not as happy as I might have been had a group of lunatics not attempted to instigate a fight involving me the previous year. 

To summarize, I don’t really follow hockey because it never held a significant place in my childhood. That, and the one group I would naturally cheer for were jerks. While I would take those hockey jerks above any other school’s hockey jerks, it might take me a while longer still to overcome the personal difficulty of it. Maybe this was just a minority clique on the team. Maybe this small faction's actions shouldn't represent the entire larger group but, like most things in life, that’s debatable.

          Slap Shot 1977 Universal

          Slap Shot 1977 Universal