I like pretty much any sport, even the fringe ones like lawn darts or walking or Canadian football. But my one true sports love is hockey.
It doesn’t need to be the playoffs or even a big game for me to be interested. I can watch Florida play Phoenix in mid-January and I’ll be satisfied.
But if you want to see me “literally explode” (as the sports anchors like to say) it needs to be a Boston Bruins game.
My dedication to the Bruins is such that I get severely annoyed when people ask, “So now that the B’s are eliminated, who are you cheering for?”
The question doesn’t even make sense to me. Once the Bruins are out, I cheer for plane crashes. If Montreal and Toronto ever hold an outdoor game in Tenerife, I’ll watch with great interest.
I do have a pecking order of teams I cheer against.
I hate Montreal most because that’s what is written in the Hockey Guide To Fandom, then San Jose for reasons too arcane to go into here, then Philadelphia because they are jerks.
After that, I hope whatever team I know the least fans of wins, so I might avoid the inevitable summertime gloating. Go, Columbus, go.
Hockey is great because it gives people in this country something to talk about. The lost hockey season a few years ago wasn’t sad because of the loss of the National Hockey League, which doesn’t know it’s ice from its elbow, but because it left us with nothing to discuss.
In the depths of winter, it’s nice that downtown Toronto and northern Alberta have something in common. It’s like talking about Betty White with your grandmother so you can avoid discussing how often you’ve used that rosary she made you.
And for me personally, I like hockey (and sports in general) because it gives me an excuse to be irrational. I spend the rest of my life depressed by religion, scared of nationalism, and pissed off by mysticism.
But along comes hockey and I can be completely consumed by joy or anger or fear all because I like the team with the B on its sweater.
It makes no sense, which is what makes it fun. It means everything and it means nothing — all of the joy and fear with none of the real-life risk. What could be better?
Well, the Montreal Canadiens literally exploding, maybe. But that’s it.